THE FCA IS FOR THE LOCAL CHURCH - THAT'S WHY IT'S NEEDED
by Julian Mann
Special to Virtueonline
July 4, 2009
Open evangelicals are attacking the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, to be launched on Monday, because they see it as a threat to their cherished inside strategy.
The line being promoted by Fulcrum and its new episcopal spokesman, Dr Graham Kings, is basically this: stick with the institution - even indaba if you have to - because if we pull out the revisionists win. Use the institutional instruments that are there - even if the tectonic plates take a long time to shift - because that is the only way that orthodoxy can prevail in good order both in the Church of England and in the wider Anglican Communion.
The inside strategy is not wholly wrong - a good evangelical bishop can do a tremendous amount of good for the gospel. The evangelical bishop of Chester from 1982 to 1996, Michael Baughen, was a very effective force for biblical orthodoxy in his diocese. He appointed some effective evangelical clergy and supported them when the flak flew.
It is in fact the case that conservative and charismatic evangelicals have been pursuing an effective inside strategy since the National Evangelical Anglican Congress at Nottingham in 1977 issued its clarion call for engagement with the structures. Against growing cultural and ecclesiastical pressures they have upheld the classic evangelical understanding of the supremacy of Christ, the inspiration of the Bible, penal substitution and personal moral transformation; they have continued to do evangelism for Christ in their parishes, launching effective nurture courses such as Alpha and Christianity Explored; and their churches by God's grace have grown in contrast to the plummeting attendances in the rest of the denomination. They have also been planting new congregations.
But by and large they have not pursued the inside strategy of seeking promotion within the institution. It is the open evangelicals who have ascended the pole of ecclesiastical preferment.
Therefore, it is hardly surprising to find open evangelicals feeling loyalty to the institution that has promoted them and expressing that loyalty by attacking the FCA, which appears to be a threat to its good order.
But what the detractors are signally failing to acknowledge is how keen FCA-supporting churches are to continue to pursue their inside strategy of transforming the national Church from within by effective ministry at the grass-roots.
And what the FCA detractors also fail to credit is the capacity of revisionist liberalism, deeply entrenched within the institution, to undermine the evangelical foundations that have been so painstakingly laid by godly ministers pursuing the right inside strategy for the local church.
It is the FCA's right evaluation of the corrosive threat of revisionist liberalism to local churches that is and must continue to be its motivation for collective action.
The forces of revisionist decadence must not by God's grace be allowed to take the good churches down with them.
---Julian Mann is vicar of the Parish Church of the Ascension, Oughtibridge, South Yorkshire in the United Kingdom. His weblog is Cranmer's Curate - www.cranmercurate.blogspot.com
On the Mainline
Worship with us:
Sundays at 4:00pm.
210 S. Wayne Ave, Wayne, PA