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

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Mark Thompson Comments: Sydney Anglicans I. Biblically confessional : Anglican Church League, Sydney, Australia

The following is an excerpt from an article posted at the Anglican Church League and at Mark Thompson's blog, Theological Theology:

The Thirty-nine Articles are most definitely a Reformed confession (as opposed to a Catholic, Lutheran or Anabaptist confession). This is confirmed by a study of the homilies. Cranmer was comfortable with the theology of Calvin and Bullinger (indeed prior to drafting the Articles he had sought a common Reformed confession which could be used by these churches in common). Despite John Henry Newman’s attempt in Tract 90 to suggest the Articles should be read in a Catholic fashion, a proper contextual reading does not permit the conclusions which he wished to reach.

However, while acknowledging and indeed assenting to the Thirty-nine Articles, Sydney Anglicans emphasise their derivative authority. In line with Article 6 they insist ‘whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation’. The Articles are authoritative insofar as and only insofar as they are a faithful account of biblical doctrine. Ultimately, we do not believe in the Trinity or the atonement or justification by faith only, on the basis of their appearance in the Articles but rather because these things are taught in Scripture.
My only complaint with Dr. Thompson is that the Sydney Diocese seems to think that the Anglican Church in North America is somehow superior to The Episcopal Church.  While it is true that the ACNA is conservative on moral issues the ACNA is thoroughly Anglo-Catholic with very few exceptions and many of those exceptions are high church Arminians.  Also, it should be pointed out that the Sydney Anglicans are by and large Amyraldians or four point Calvinists, which means they are not really "Reformed" at all.  The term "Reformed" cannot legitimately be extended to those who compromise any of the five points of the Canons of Dort.  By definition Dort was refuting the five points of the Remonstrants and therefore to agree with any idea of a general atonement or a hypothetical election compromises at least two points of the Canons of Dort.  Amyraldianism lends itself to what can only be called a "practical" Arminianism.  This four point agreement with Dort originates with the late D. Broughton Knox, who was the principle of Moore College in Sydney.

It should be further pointed out that the Archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen, is a five point Calvinist.  The problem, however, is that Jensen has been influenced by ecumenicalism via Billy Graham and other "neo-Evangelicals" who opened the door to compromise with false gospels.  It is well known that Graham invited Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches to participate in his crusades and that Graham recommended these churches to those who made "decisions" at his crusades.  Graham also advocated the "wideness of God's mercy view" of those who have not heard the gospel.  This is a direct contradiction of the Scriptures which teach that Jesus Christ is the only way of salvation (1 Timothy 2:5; John 14:6; Acts 4:10, 12; John 12:48; John 5:24-25).

Sydney, although "Evangelical", is not really "Reformed" after all since the original Reformers in Europe and England would have never compromised the gospel with Anabaptists, Roman Catholics, Anglo-Catholics and various other miscreant religions.  In fact, I would argue that they would not have agreed with any of the five points of the Remonstrants because all five points of the Canons of Dort are in fact biblical and can be expressly shown to be so.  Thompson wants to have it both ways.  He wants to affirm the confessional status of the 39 Articles but then he wants to take an Anabaptist approach to Reformed theology:

One of the lessons I remember learning from D. B. Knox as he taught Christian doctrine to the Moore College first year of which I was a part, is that every tradition and every theological system must be tested and repeatedly tested by Scripture. We must not pay mere lip service to the final authority of Scripture and the contingent authority of the Articles. The theology to which we are committed is the theology arising from Scripture and we are convinced that the Thirty-nine Articles are a faithful articulation of critical aspects of that theology. Our confessionalism is thus limited by a prior commitment to the final authority of Scripture as the word of God. It is biblical confessionalism, not strict adherence to a particular theological system (‘the Reformed faith’, ‘Catholic dogma’, etc.) or a particular theological account (Calvin’s, Cranmer’s, Luther’s, etc.). We might read Calvin or Cranmer or Luther or Barth or Knox, but we are not slavish followers of any of them in every particular.
Unfortunately, tolerance seems to trump sound theology for Thompson and the Sydney Anglicans.  Such compromises of the truth will in the end be their downfall.  J. I. Packer is another example of this sort of compromise of Reformed Anglicanism with Anglo-Catholic heresy.

Thompson goes on to say:

But the point being made under this first heading is a little broader. Commitment to biblical truth, as expressed in the Thirty-nine Articles and elsewhere, trumps institutional allegiance every time. That is why Sydney Anglicans have no difficulty standing against the denomination when it moves in directions that are contrary to Scripture. No amount of ecclesiastical consensus can overturn the teaching of the word of God. Furthermore, an opinion or practice is not simply to be accepted because it has a long history in Anglicanism or elsewhere. Everything must be tested by Scripture and if a practice  or doctrine is discovered to be contrary to the teaching of Scripture then it must be put aside.

This would be wonderful if it were indeed true.  Unfortunately it is not true.  The fact is Sydney, like most Evangelicals, has compromised the essentials of the Christian faith and have decided that the Protestant Reformation distinctives are merely adiaphora allowed by the 39 Articles:

It is important to note, however, that there is a third class of practices in particular: those about which Scripture does not speak and therefore about which it is perfectly appropriate for any fellowship of Christians to decide together (forms of church government, baptismal practices, etc.) In other words, this adherence to the priority biblical authority over ecclesiastical and institutional authority is not the same thing as the regulative principle of Presbyterianism: that only what is found in Scripture is permissible. It recognises more God-given freedom than that.

Some of the difficulty others have with the Anglican diocese of Sydney may well stem from a failure to appreciate this very deep conviction.
My response to Thompson here is that with "deep convictions" like those of Sydney who needs liberalism or theological enemies?  The Anglican tradition here in the United States and Canada is by and large Anglo-Catholic, which is not only not Reformed but also heretical in its soteriology and directly unconfessional in regards to the 39 Articles of Religion.  Anglican Evangelicals here are openly attacked and ostracized and even expelled from the The Episcopal Church.  They are treated the same way by the so-called "orthodox" Anglicans in the Anglican Church in North America and at the VirtueOnline website.

Although liberals have called Sydney puritanical, it simply is not true.  Sydney, like American Evangelicalism, is mostly pietistic semi-pelagianism at its best and outright pelagian at worst.  Phillip Jensen is  a regular speaker at the Gospel Coalition, a wimpy "Reformed" organization at best.  Phillip is the brother of Peter Jensen and an Amyraldian.  That in and of itself shows the Gospel Coalition is not Reformed.

If Sydney is "Evangelical" and "Reformed" first, then why is it that they still endorse the ACNA and participate in the Anglican Communion, which is mostly Anglo-Catholic even in the Global South?  These are hard questions to ask but questions that need to be asked of Mark Thompson and Sydney.

Logic requires consistency, congruency, and a lack of contradiction.  The article written by Dr. Thompson fails on all three points.  Perhaps it is possible to be both for Reformed theology and for Anglo-Catholicism at the same time?  Is this the result of Amyraldianism?  Compromise?  For the consistently Reformed, however, this would be impossible since the two religions teach contradictory doctrines and the Anglo-Catholics specifically deny the 39 Articles as even Thompson points out above.  It would appear that the Anglo-Papists do not have a monopoly on hypocrisy, duplicity and dissimulation.  J. I. Packer and the Sydney Anglicans speak with a forked tongue.


Sydney Anglicans I. Biblically confessional : Anglican Church League, Sydney, Australia

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