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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

Monday, September 03, 2007

What Is Sola Fide (Faith Alone)?

I have been thinking deeply about the state of "Reformed" Anglicanism lately and it is becoming more obvious to me that "evangelical" and "reformed" Anglicans in general have failed to call Anglo-Catholicism what it essentially is: a false gospel. This seems to be because the common enemy of conservative Anglo-Catholics and conservative Evangelicals is the theological and moral liberalism of the mainline Episcopal Church USA and other more modernist and postmodernist provinces within the Anglican Communion worldwide. (Please click on the title to see an appropriate definition of sola fide).

It seems to me that those who are "professional" clergy are in fear of temporal consequences in this life. Essentially, they become more concerned about losing their parish properties and their incomes for living and their retirements than about maintaining a significant witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Here is the problem. How do we define the Gospel of Jesus Christ? If we define the Gospel as merely preserving the morality of the Bible in the area of sexual ethics, then we might as well join the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church or the Anglo-Catholics who remain conservative in theology, practice, ethics and morality. After all, all of these groups stand against abortion and homosexual behavior as well as homosexual marriage. But are they preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ or are they preaching another gospel altogether? (Galatians 1:6-10).

If we define the Gospel as the Apostle Paul defines it, if we define the Gospel as the English and Continental Reformers of the Protestant Reformation define it, then the resounding answer must be an unequivocal no. If there is one universal and catholic and "evangelical" essential of the Gospel, that one essential according to Scripture and according to the Reformers is justification by faith alone or "sola fide." This is the great divide between Eastern Orthodoxy/Roman Catholicism and the vast majority of Protestants.

Make no mistake about it. Even if the Eastern and Western churches who oppose the Protestant Reformation agree with the first four ecumenical councils and the later councils on the doctrine of Christ, such as Chalcedon, that would not necessarily mean they are true churches. Even if the East and West agree with the catholic creeds and hold the trinity and the deity of Christ as essential to true faith, this would not make these churches true. There is more to true Christianity than merely the catholic creeds. If Holy Scripture is the final authority then we must conclude that salvation is by faith and faith alone, apart from the merits of good works.

What fellowship does light have with darkness? Who can mix oil with water? Apparently, Anglicans can manage this sort of compromise quite well, judging from the compromises we see among so-called "conservative" Anglicans who are joining forces with Anglo-Catholics in the fight against homosexual marriage and the ordination of homosexuals as priests and consecration of homosexuals as bishops in some provinces of the Anglican Communion.

An apostate is an apostate whether such person be a practicing homosexual who happens to be a bishop or priest or whether such person masquerades as a true churchman on the conservative side of the homosexuality issue while at the same time denying the true Gospel of Jesus Christ by holding views contrary to Scripture and the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion. This is especially true regarding essential doctrines of the Gospel like justification by faith alone, Sola Scriptura, salvation by Christ alone, etc. Additionally, heresies like veneration of and prayers to the saints, transubstantiation and a host of other departures from the faith must never be tolerated.

Moreover, the true churchman and genuine Christian must choose between pleasing God or pleasing man. The Christian must be willing to sacrifice the temporal pleasures and necessities of this life for the sake of the eternal rewards given to those who obey the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Remember the martyrs who literally died for the sake of the Gospel. Remember Archbishop Thomas Cramner who considered justification by faith alone so essential to the faith that he gave his life in opposition to the Roman Catholic doctrine of faith plus works. Remember the English Reformers who were burned because they refused to compromise with man's doctrines. What good is it to defeat homosexual marriage and ordination only to sacrifice the very Gospel of Jesus Christ on the altar of good works?

While the Reformed view does not deny the necessity of good works as a fruit of true regeneration and conversion, it by no means makes good works the source or cause or ground of the sinner's justification before God. The only merits which stand before God's judgment are the merits of Jesus Christ. All the good works in the world are worthless if not done by faith in Jesus Christ because even one failure or one sin deserves eternal punishment. There is only one way to heaven and that is through faith in Jesus Christ and the finished work of the cross. There is absolutely nothing the sinner can add to what Christ Jesus did in his earthly ministry or in his atoning sacrifice on the cross for the sins of the elect in the whole world throughout the ages.

It is precisely for this reason that I cannot in good conscience endorse the American Anglican Council or the Anglican Communion Network. Both of these organizations are in common cause with Anglo-Catholics and are therefore compromising the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I can mention the Anglican Mission in America, the Reformed Episcopal Church and others who have compromised with Anglo-Catholicism. Unfortunately, it seems that The Church Society is willing to compromise with Anglo-Catholics even though officially their doctrinal position is Reformed and Protestant.

Yes, there are many articles among them claiming to uphold "biblical authority" and saying that church councils may err. But this overlooks their denial of Reformed teaching of Scripture and the Articles of Religion. Also, Anglo-Catholics only admit councils err in regard to homosexuality and ordination of women in the present. Otherwise, they try to maintain some sort of view of revelation which includes an infallible Holy Tradition which goes beyond Holy Scripture. Anglo-Catholics speak with a forked tongue and refuse to accept the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion as the articles are plainly stated.

Sadly, Evangelicalism as a whole seems to be losing touch with Scripture and with the Protestant Reformation since most Evangelicals think the differences between Roman Catholics and Protestants have all but disappeared. Even notables like Billy Graham have made this false judgment. It only goes to show that appearances can be deceiving.

Ecumenical concerns and fellowship concerns should and must take a backseat to the Gospel. What fellowship does Belial have with God? I know this is a strong statement considering the emphasis today on evangelical unity. But a false unity and fellowship is no unity at all. It is merely compromise at the cost of the souls of many who think they have believed but have been deceived by a false gospel.

May God have mercy on us all!


Romans 4:1-8

1 What then shall we say was gained by [1] Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? 2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” 4 Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. 5 And to the one who does not work but believes in [2] him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, 6 just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works:

7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven,
and whose sins are covered;
8 blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”

Romans 4:1-8
English Standard Version

3 comments:

Charlie said...

Well, since we aren't in the same province - or even in jurisdictions that are in communion with one another -do me a favor and take my name off your mailing list. No reason we heretics should be harangued by the orthodox.

Michael L. Ward
Anglican Province of America

mward@ecwpca.com

Augustinian Successor said...

Amen to that, Bro. Charles. Amen ...

Charlie said...

The above comment by Michael L. Ward came from a private e-mail to me. He is sadly a graduate of Reformed Theological Seminary of Orlando, Florida. I find it truly appalling that graduates of a Reformed seminary seem to have no problems uniting with Anglo-Catholics. This fellow is a minister with the Anglican Province of America, an Anglo-Catholic denomination.

I know another graduate of RTS, Orlando who joined with the Anglican Mission in America, another denomination that mixes openly with apostate Anglo-Catholics. Of course the AMiA is a "charismatic" denomination which considers the charismatic gifts the only essential doctrine of the Christian faith. Nevermind the 5 solas of the Reformation or the very core doctrines of the Gospel itself.

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