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 Second Sunday in Lent.

The Collect

ALMIGHTY God, who seest that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves; Keep us both outwardly in our bodies, and inwardly in our souls; that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Collect from the First Day of Lent is to be read every day in Lent after the Collect appointed for the Day.

Daily Bible Verse

Monday, February 01, 2010

An E-Mail Response to a Former Sydney Anglican

My assessment of the Sydney Diocese is somewhat different from yours.  Their motives for removing the wearing of vestments and the use of the prayer book is not that they are "Puritan," but rather than they are buying into the church growth/pragmatism paradigm.  Many of their churches are into contemporary worship and all sorts of semi-charismatic worship and an emphasis on subjective, experiential worship rather than the tradition focus on the Scriptures and the 1662 Book of Common Prayer.
My own view is more Puritan than theirs but not exactly Puritan.  My focus, like that of the late David Broughton Knox, is on the prayer book and on Scripture.  DB Knox had many departures from a pure Reformed view, though.  I have his Selected Works and disagree with him on his Amyraldianism or 4 point Calvinism.  His son, David Knox, is my rector, btw.  We are continually arguing over the sacraments because as you know DB Knox in the end rejected the sacraments altogether and more or less became an Anabaptist on the sacraments.  My own views are 5 point Calvinist and I take the Reformed view of the sacraments as did Cranmer himself.
I recently attended a Gospel Growth seminar in Chicago and met Phillip Jensen and heard him speak.  I was not impressed because his emphasis is on innovation rather than reformation.  The principle of the Protestant Reformation is ecclesia semper reformanda, the church always reforming.  It is not "re-invent" everything as you go along.  This sort of thing has gotten the American Evangelicals into all sorts of theological problems, including pentecostalism, pelagianism, and pragmatism.
I spent 10 years in the Pentecostal/Arminian side of things and found it to be completely bankrupt in the end.  I even studied for my master of divinity at an Arminian school.  Asbury Theological Seminary finally proved to me how empty experientialism and the holiness movement actually is.
I am radically anti-Roman Catholic because I grew up here in the deep south, the Bible belt.  Churches here, despite their many imperfections, have always taught the supremacy of Holy Scripture as the final authority in all matters of faith and practice.  While it has taken me many years of continuous study of the Bible, I finally realized that God is absolutely and totally sovereign.  I greatly appreciated Peter Jensen's three talks:  Why I am a Protestant.  Why I Am Reformed.  Why I Am Evangelical.  If only Sydney were faithful to the ideas Jensen presented in those talks!
My beef with the Sydney Diocese is that they endorse the Anglo-Catholics as "orthodox" simply because some of them are theologically and morally conservative.  However, for me the issue is Tractarianism itself.  Tractarianism, as I have argued elsewhere, is a compromise with the Roman Catholic Church and Tractarianism is neither Catholic nor Protestant.  One has to choose sides.  If the Tractarians were consistent they would join Rome or join with Geneva.  Canterbury can't be something in the middle.   See my blog article:  http://reasonablechristian.blogspot.com/2008/05/anglo-catholicism-why-reformed.html  Also:  http://reasonablechristian.blogspot.com/2009/11/dr-mark-thompson-calls-anglo-catholics.html and http://reasonablechristian.blogspot.com/2009/11/sydney-anglicans-embrace-anglo.html
The problem with Sydney is now that they are "co-belligerents" with the conservative Anglo-Catholics they are now compromising and allowing that Anglo-Catholics are "faithful" to the gospel.  They are not.  Anglo-Catholics by and large are teaching the same views on justification that Rome teaches.  Therefore, they are teaching another gospel.  The Council of Trent officially anathematized the Gospel in the canons.  I could quote and cite the appropriate canons but I will not.
The short of it is Sydney has started down the road to a form of pragmatic liberalism like what we have here in the USA.  It will be only a matter of time before you see Moore Theological College begin to spiral downward.  While departing from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer and its evangelical and reformed liturgy might make short term gains, in the long term accommodating to popular culture to win disciples is like sleeping with a prostitute so that you can convert her to Christ.  Once you're in bed with the world it's hard to break the habit.
On the other end of the spectrum, Sydney has compromised with Anglo-Catholics and thus with semi-pelagianism.  As history has proved out in The Episcopal Church here in the USA, when tradition is the final authority over and above Scripture, the end result is that reason takes over and finally revelation in Holy Scripture becomes simply a nose of wax or a ventriloquist's dummy made to speak whatever the current fad of the liberal church says.  Today the Episcopal Church says it's ok to be gay.  What next?  Sydney is so stupid that they can't see that their current compromise on two fronts (Anglo-Catholicism on the one hand and church growth/contemporary worship pragmatism on the other) will lead eventually to what they are supposed to be opposed to!   It's called tunnel vision. 
I have had my e-mail exchanges with Mark D. Thompson via his blog but who am I?  Thompson has a vicar of Christ position at Moore College while I'm just a lowly redneck prophet from the orange groves and cow pastures in Florida!  Ha ha.
While I side with the magisterial side of the Reformation and oppose the Anapbaptist side, I can see that Sydney is moving in two or three directions at once and none of them are good.  Their allegedly "reformed" theology is on the side burner and soon to be dumped altogether if things continue in the direction they are going.    I oppose all pentecostal/charismatic/church growth/pragmatism/contemporary worship emphases because they focus  on subjectivism rather than Scripture.  I oppose all semi-pelagianism, Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholicism, Anglo-Catholicism because their making Scripture insufficient in fact leads to human traditions which negate Holy Scripture.
I realize this is a bit rambling but just as an impromptu response it is the best I can do.   I hope you will not be offended if I call you a heretic.  It's nothing personal but rather a statement of theological facts based on what I objectively know about the Roman Catholic official dogma and the Council of Trent.
Regarding your question about the congregation to which I belong I can only say it is a troubled marriage.   My rector is David Knox, son of the late DB Knox.  He and I agree on most things.  However, his rejection of the sacraments and of 5 point Calvinism are points of contention.  We are friends, however.  I can't figure out for the life of me how that happened, however.  I am most willing to argue with him if need be.   But he has been generous in allowing me to teach a Sunday school class on the 39 Articles and he has allowed me to preach several times.
Our church is a small one and the members of the church are not as Evangelical as I would like.  Some are more and others less.  They have been so immersed in the 1979 Prayer Book and the liberal Anglo-Catholicism they've heard all their lives that teaching them straight from the Bible is an uphill battle.  But it is a battle I am more than willing to pursue.  The church is very small because of attrition. 
The diocese here is half liberal and half conservative Anglo-Catholics.  There are no Evangelical congregations other than the one David is pastoring.  The Central Florida Diocese of TEC is mostly liberal from my perspective.  I would not attend any of the other TEC churches here. 
I'm not a lone ranger.  I believe church membership is commanded by the Lord in Scripture.  However, it is becoming almost impossible to find a gospel preaching Anglican church anywhere.  I might in the end be forced to find a conservative Presbyterian church.
That being said, however, I adhere to the principle of the priesthood of all believers and I also believe that churches should have an explicit confession of faith so that we know where a church stands.  Sydney seems to take the liberal view that minimalism is good.  I take the opposite view.  Spelling out our theological distinctives and differences is better.  That way it is all out in the open and we can have a good fist fight over it.  You beat me up or I beat you up.  All this silly pretense of minimalism, tolerance for other views, etc. just leads to liberalism.  Whatever happened to the good ol' days when we just burned each other at the stake????
Sincerely yours,

From: John Muir
Sent: Monday, February 01, 2010 9:01 AM

Charlie -
I'm no longer referring to the Catholic Faith.   My point of interest, though, is this.   What are your views concerning the Anglican Diocese of Sydney (in Australia)?   You seem to imply that Sydney anglicans are not Bible-based.   Archbishop Peter Jensen (and his brother, Phil Jensen) would be very amazed to hear you say this.   As you probably know, Sydney anglicans have distanced themselves from the rest of the anglican communion because of the extremely liberal stance taken by a lot anglican dioceses worldwide.   True - Sydney anglicans rarely use the Book of Common Prayer these days.   They are much more akin to being puritan now (rather than evangelical).   Before Peter Jensen took over from Harry Goodhew as Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, the Sydney Diocese was still evangelical (the anglican church that I remember so well).   Now things have changed drastically.   The use of the various editions of the Book of Common Prayer has diminished significantly - and anglican clergy very rarely wear vestments or robes of any description (whereas evangelical anglicans used to wear the simple surplus and academic hood.   In the olden days, clergymen used to wear a black cassock underneath as well).   Liturgy is now out completely - lay presidency of the eucharist has recently been approved by the anglican synod here in Sydney, and so is now in.   Church planting is also something that the Sydney Diocese stongly supports now.   The large majority of Sydney anglicans adhere to reformed calvinistic theology, and Peter Jensen (the archbishop) is a five-point calvinist.   Moore College affirms John Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion and all candidates/undergraduates are required to read this (alongside the Scriptures).   So I'm interested to know why you believe the anglican church in Sydney is deficient.
I do apologise if I have offended you in any way by my previous e-mails - please know that offense is not at all my intention.   Please do get back to me concerning the above, and also please give me details of the anglican diocese/parish you're a part of in the USA.   Is it in the Florida diocese - and is this diocese protestant/evangelical/reformed, high church/anglo-catholic, or a combination of all anglican/episcopal traditions?
I look forward to hearing from you.
Blessings - 
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Monday, February 01, 2010 2:51 PM

The Roman Catholic Church teaches doctrines which are idolatrous and it teaches that justification is by faith plus merits.  This is not the gospel.  According to St. Paul, it is another gospel.   Galatians 1:6-8; 2 Corinthians 11:3-4.
I would as soon shoot myself in the head as to become a papist of any kind whatsoever--be it Anglo-Catholic, Roman Catholic or whatever.  I would include the Eastern churches in that as well.   The source of apostolic doctrine is in the Holy Scriptures alone.  All interpretations of Scripture are subject to error, including Rome's interpretation.  Scripture is sufficient in and of itself to lead anyone to saving faith.
How in the world you could sell your soul to an antichristian and apostate church I have no idea.
You are the perfect example of what is wrong with the Anglican communion, Sydney, and pentecostalism.

From: John Muir
Sent: Sunday, January 31, 2010 10:03 PM

Charlie -
The Catholic Church is not apostate.   It's doctrine and practices can be traced right back to the earliest years (1st and 2nd centuries) and I can prove it irrefutably.   Therefore, it's the Church that Jesus Christ founded.   The anglican church, on the other hand, was founded by Henry VIII - an adulterer - and it's doctrines were partly founded on the erroneous and heretical views of John Calvin.   Reformed theology is therefore heretical in nature.   It would be advantageous, Charlie, if you could look into church history more thoroughly - as I have.   Please bear in mind that I, too, was once a staunch calvinist - as you now are.   It might be helpful if you listen to some talks by Dr Scott Hahn (once a presbyterian calvinist).   I'm sure this would help you.
By the way, if you're still interested in playing a game of chess with me online, an ideal website is:-
Blessings -
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Monday, February 01, 2010 12:35 PM

I appreciate you testimony, John.  However, you merely confirm my fears.  Sydney does not do a very good job of teaching folks the Bible or the Reformed confessions.  This is why you have wound up in an apostate church.
May God grant you the grace to return to the Gospel,
From: John Muir
Sent: Sunday, January 31, 2010 7:56 PM

Hi, Charlie!
I've read your blog, and I find it most interesting!   I, too, am a committed Christian (like you).   I was raised as an anglican (in the Sydney Anglican Diocese) and totally surrendered my life to Christ at the age of 15 (at my anglican confirmation service - on 1 December, 1968).   This is an event I will never, never forget.   I heard the wonderful truth of the Gospel for the very first time in confirmation class and this was truly a work of grace.   The night of my confirmation, I consecrated my life to the Lord Jesus Christ.   When the confirming bishop came to lay hands on me, I was overwhelmed my a "wind" who I realised was a Person - so very gentle, yet so powerful.   I'd hardly ever opened a Bible in my life at this point so I knew nothing at all about anything "charismatic" or "pentecostal".   When I went home that night, I rushed into my bedroom and knelt down by my bedside to thank Jesus for coming into my life.   The most beautiful language I'd never learned welled up inside of me and poured forth from my lips - although I didn't understand what I was saying, I knew it was a language of praise and worship from the depth of my being.   My life totally changed from that night onwards - transformed!   I went to my anglican fellowship and told them what had happened (thinking that this happened to everyone at their confirmation).   They said speaking in tongues had passed away.   I didn't even know what speaking in tongues was - and I replied (in my innocence) that "this is what the bishop gave me at my confirmation", thinking it must have happened to them too.   Not so!   They said I must be possessed by an evil spirit, and that my experience was definitely not of God.
Believe me, I definitely love and respect reformed anglicanism and my protestant heritage - for God used it most definitely in bring me to a saving knowledge of Christ.   However, what I was told definitely put me off.   I wanted to find out more of what I experienced and, of course, I found it in the pages of Scripture (in the Acts of the Apostles and elsewhere).   When I was in year 11, I discovered that the pentecostals believe in the infilling of (baptism in) the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues (together with other supernatural gifts mentioned in the New Testament).   I started attending pentecostal churches and at first this was most exhilarating and exciting.   However, it didn't take me long to realise there were severe negative issues as well (which I won't go into now).   In 1974 I was at Macquarie University, and one of my electives was History (and I particularly enjoyed Church History).   My one, burning desire was to find out what the primitive Church believed.   What was the early Church like - and how did they worship?   I delved into studying the Church Fathers (the ante-Nicene Fathers in particular, many of whom actually knew the apostles first hand).   To my absolute amazement - and shock - I found out that every single one of them was CATHOLIC!   I simply could not believe what I was reading.   My calvinistic anglican background taught me that Catholicism was definitely a false religion and in fact, the world's largest cult and to have nothing nothing to do with it.   During my protestant days, I was actually dissuading people from Catholicism.   Now, I was discovering that the Catholic Church traces its roots in unbroken succession right back to the early apostles and Christ Himself.   And, apart from my academic quest, I began to realise that Jesus Christ is truly and substantially present in the Eucharist (something that all Christians believed right up until the protestant reformation in the 16th century.   My finding were these:-
  • The Catholic Church is the only Church which can be traced directly back to Christ and the apostles - and so is the one true Church that Jesus Christ founded
  • The Catholic Church believes (and has always believed) in the continuation of the charismatic (supernatural) gifts of the Holy Spirit
  • The heresy of John Calvin's theology (particularly point no. 3 of his 5-pointed calvinism, namely that the atonement is limited and that there are those who are predestined for hell.   This is actually what he taught in Boox III, chapter 21, of his Institutes of the Christian Religion - TOTALLY contrary to Scripture)
  • Martin Luther, too, taught (and did) outrageous things - namely, ripping the 7 deuterocanonical books from the Old Testament.   And he nearly succeeded in eliminating some New Testament books as well (notably James - his "epistle of straw", and others).   Luther taught that we are justified by faith alone, something which is nowhere taught in the New Testament.   In fact, Luther's "sin boldly" idea (in his letter to Melancthon) is presumptious in the extreme.
As well as these, the Catholic Church's teaching on pro-life and the dignity of the human person is what had a significant impact on me.
I was received into full communion in the Catholic Church on 8 June, 1991 and - other than my conversion to Christ on 1 December 1968 - this was the happiest event in my life
Please don't get me wrong, here.   I'm not intending in the least to be arrogant.   I'm merely stating the truth (supported by an objective study of history, and theology).   Having said this, I must add that I'm totally ecumenical and still have regular fellowship with my protestant brothers and sisters in Christ whom I love (without necessarily attempting to draw them into the Catholic Church - that's ultimately the Holy Spirit's work, not mine).   If you're interested, some websites you may like to peruse are:-
  • www.ewtn.com (particularly The Journey Home hosted by Marcus Grodi - every Monday night at 8 pm (EST)
  • www.catholicanswers.com (particularly Catholic Answers Live aired every day - hosted by Patrick Coffin.   Catholic Radio on this site is EXCELLENT.
Both these are viewed and listened to by Catholics and protestants alike - and are most informative (and non-threatening in the least).
So, Charlie - in a nutshell, that's the precis of my spiritual journey with Christ (to date).   I would love to hear yours.
By the way - I'm a VERY KEEN CHESS PLAYER and am currently playing online chess with guys all round the world (using GameKnot Chess - www.gamesknot.com).   I also play chess on Facebook ChessPro and www.chessworldnet.com - if you'd be interested, I'd love to have a game with you!
Hope this finds you well, Charlie.   It would be great if I could hear from you.   My e-mail address is johnmuir@tpg.com.au.   I'll enclose a snapshot of myself (see attached) so you can add a face to my e-mail and see what I look like!
God bless you richly, Charlie -

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

1 comment:

Reformation said...

Interesting read. There is no Reformed Anglicanism in the US.

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