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Martyred for the Gospel

Martyred for the Gospel
The burning of Tharchbishop of Cant. D. Tho. Cranmer in the town dich at Oxford, with his hand first thrust into the fyre, wherwith he subscribed before. [Click on the picture to see Cranmer's last words.]

Collect of the Day

The Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany.
The Collect.

O LORD, we beseech thee to keep thy Church and household continually in thy true religion; that they who do lean only upon the hope of thy heavenly grace may evermore be defended by thy mighty power; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Daily Bible Verse

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Is There A True Remnant Left?

The current crisis within the worldwide Anglican communion is a terrible wound in the visible body of Christ on earth. Jesus said that wherever two or three are gathered together in His name that He would be among them. However, the situation today is such that one has to wonder if there is much of a visible church left? Not only is there a wound, but gangrene has set in and the flesh is rotting.

The essence of the Protestant Reformation has become so muddled by the charismatic/pentecostal movement, and by the church growth movement that was spawned by the charismatic/pentecostal theology as well, that today hardly anyone understands where Evangelicalism began. The five solas of the Continental and English reformation movements are almost unheard of.

This is precisely what is wrong with Anglicanism as a whole today. The Tractarian and Anglo-Catholic attack upon Evangelicalism and the Protestant side of the English Reformation practically won out such that today one will not see many Anglican provinces or dioceses that advocate the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion as the Protestant document it truly is. Instead one hears ambiguous speech about the via media, Reformed Catholicism or Reformed Anglicanism. The truth of the matter is that the English reformers were all solidly Protestant and would be appalled at the state of Anglicanism today.

In fact, where the doctrine of justification by faith alone is taught in the eleventh article and in article fourteen Christians are said to be unprofitable servants and cannot do supererogatory works, Anglo-Catholics contradict this and take a more or less Roman Catholic view. The eleventh article also cites the homily on justification as a reference to establish the doctrine in more detail. Anyone reading the homily on justification will discover that there is no emphasis on good works as meriting salvation for Christians after their initial baptism.

The homily on justification is crystal clear. The English reformers understood that justification is an "imputed" righteousness and did not have the Anglo-Catholic view of an infused righteousness. The homily also makes clear that the English reformers understood justification to be apart from good works, albeit the homily also rejects any antinomian interpretation of this doctrine. (See http://www.anglicanlibrary.org/homilies/bk1hom03.htm for a firsthand read of the homily on justification).

Furthermore, it is the opinion of most confessing Evangelical Protestants, including Lutherans, by the way, that the very heart of the Gospel message is the doctrine of justification by faith alone. Without the doctrine of an imputed righteousness there is no Gospel. Thus, one may legitimately ask whether or not a great many Evangelical and mainline churches are preaching the Gospel today? One may legitimately ask if the majority of Anglican/Episcopal churches are preaching the Gospel today? While the doctrine may exist in some official document hidden from public view, for all practical purposes the doctrine of justification by faith alone, or sola fide, is not being preached from pulpits these days.

The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals has written an excellent response to the so-called "Gift of Salvation" document where Evangelicals and Roman Catholics have tried to reach some sort of unofficial agreement. The "Appeal To Evangelicals" response by the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals states the central issue between Protestants and Roman Catholics:

  • Central and essential to the biblical doctrine of justification and to the Reformation doctrine of sola fide is the concept of the "imputation" of the righteousness of Christ to the believer. Historically Rome has always contended that the basis of justification is the righteousness of Christ, but it is a righteousness that is "infused" into the believer rather than being "imputed" to him. This means that the believer must cooperate with and assent to that gracious work of God, and only to the extent that Christ's righteousness "inheres" in the believer will God declare the person justified.

  • Protestants disagree, pointing to the critical difference between "infused" righteousness and "imputed" righteousness. Sola fide affirms that we are justified on the basis of Christ's righteousness for us, which is accomplished by Christ's own perfect active obedience apart from us, not on the basis of Christ's righteousness in us. Thus, the good news of the Gospel is that we do not have to wait for righteousness to be accomplished in us before God counts us justified in his sight. He declares us to be just on the basis of Christ's imputed righteousness.

  • Without the imputation of righteousness the Gospel is not good news because we can never know if we are standing before God in a justified and therefore saved state. We will have to wait for some ultimate, but by no means guaranteed, salvation. The Gospel is not good news if believers may face thousands of years in purgatory before they come at last to heaven.

From: http://www.alliancenet.org/partner/Article_Display_Page/0,,PTID307086%7CCHID560462%7CCIID1415576,00.html

It is precisely this emphasis on justification which the English reformers held. In fact, many of them, including Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, Latimer, Ridley and others gave their very lives in martyrdom. Thus, I can only conclude that the majority of Anglicans today who refuse to accept the doctrine of justification by faith alone as it is taught in the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion and in the homily on justification are not accepting the very Gospel itself. Sadly, this is also true of a great many Evangelical churches these days as well. Where the Gospel is sidelined by church growth principles and meeting "felt needs," there is no gospel. Where tradition replaces Holy Scripture and the very Gospel itself there is no Anglican church.

Is there a remnant of true believers and true churches on the earth? One prays there is. But their number is becoming less and less. If there is to be a revival of the Gospel, there must be a call to return to biblical preaching and to the Gospel as God has revealed it to us in the Holy Scriptures. May the body of Christ and the true visible church never perish from the earth. One who believes in God's sovereignty knows that it never will disappear, but at this time things look bleak indeed.

Lord have mercy!

Christ have mercy!

Lord have mercy!

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost; as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.

Amen.


5 comments:

Jason Loh said...

Dear Brother Charlie,

What a joy to "meet" you again! I found your blog through Dan Dunlap's. I used to be on the co-anglican list too, under various handles, but my name is Jason, a member of the Church of England (Cont.). I remember sharing with you about the Traditional Protestant Episcopal Church also.

Where are you now?

So glad that you haveset up this blog ... a true Anglican blog in times of great apostasy, great defection from the truths of the Protestant Reformation, including those claiming to Anglicans, let alone Reformed or evangelical.

Kep up the good work!

Charlie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
William B said...

Since I deny sola fide, imputed righteousness, monergism, and penal substitution theory, I do not have a dog in this fight.

Charlie said...

Since you deny the essential doctrines of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, you cannot claim to be a Christian in any biblical sense of the word.

Charlie said...

Hi, Jason! Yes, I do remember you now. Unfortunately, you turned out to be correct about the Reformed Episcopal Church. The REC has departed from the English Reformation and from their own Declaration of Principles. Sadly, the bishops of the REC have agreed to merge with an Anglo-Catholic denomination known as the Anglican Province of America.

I had a run in with the rector of a local REC church here. He is still ordained with the REC but due to their concordat he is pastoring an APA church now. Go figure. Anyway, I was defrocked because I didn't agree with the concordat or the merger. The official reason was I "deserted the ministry." The real reason was they saw me as a troublemaker because I stand for the Gospel of Jesus Christ over against false gospels invented by Anglo-Catholics.

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