FCA'09: Archbishop Venables presentation to Be Faithful. - the danger of drift
recorded by Anglican Mainstream
First of all I want to say that I consider it a great privilege to share with you today and do so on behalf of the Gafcon Primates Council and indeed a very large multitude of our brothers and sisters around the world. The reason I do so is because as your colleagues we view the situation the church is facing both locally and worldwide as extremely serious and requiring a clear response.
I spoke with someone on an aeroplane recently who concluded the conversation with an expression with which we are all familiar: "One can't be sure of anything any more," to which I gave the obvious response, "I do hope the pilot doesn't share your philosophy." Sadly, many within the Christian church are saying the same thing yet the Bible tells us clearly that there is much of which we can be sure.
Hebrews 2, chapter 2 tells us that there is a really great danger that we might abandon the true Christian faith. The writer tells us we have heard the message - not invented it or created it ourselves - we have received it from God Himself. Yet, he continues, there is a real danger that we drift. And to drift we only have to do nothing.
As a youngster, I spent much time in boats on the south east coast and once lay back in a canoe to close my eyes for a brief moment. When I looked around I was almost out of sight of the coast.
It's all too easy to drift and the writer tells us that the only answer is to pay close attention to what we have heard.
Drifting is dangerous because of the nature of the message we have heard. It is about salvation. It's about eternal life and death and so it's a great salvation. It's great because it is unique. It's our only hope. There is no other. It's great because of its scope. It is complete and for all. It's great because it's from God Himself and a revelation of His great love for us.
Because of this something had to be done and Gafcon and this FCA have been a part of our response.
What has not been done? We have not set up an alternative church or communion. We have not set up an alternative leadership. We have not divided the church. That occurred when ECUSA ignored the voice of the Communion in 2003.
We have simply and necessarily affirmed the central truths of the Christian faith as received. We have raised a standard.
We did it at Lambeth 1998. We did it at all the subsequent primates meetings. We did it in Jerusalem last year and know that many of you are standing with us.
Flying over the Paraguayan Chaco once, the pilot confessed he had never been there before and asked if what he could see was the runway at the indian village we were visiting. I was able to say, 'Yes. That's the runway."
We are saying, "This is the runway. This is the one safe place to land and take off. There is no other. We haven't moved from it and we haven't moved the runway."
We are standing where Christians have stood throughout the last 2000 years - on the historic, biblical Christian faith delivered to the saints and received once for all. It hasn't changed because it cannot change and remain the truth. It's not relative, nor subjective nor a matter of interpretation. You cannot change the foundation of our eternal salvation just because you are following correct institutional procedures.
Why was it necessary?
It was necessary because we are called now as always to preach, teach, affirm, proclaim, defend and stand on this unchanging truth. Sadly it is very clear that the gospel of salvation is not being proclaimed throughout much of the western Anglican Church. Some said that we only stated in the Jerusalem Declaration what they too believe. Why then are they not proclaiming it?
It was necessary because this is about life and death. It is salvation from sin and death and hell. John 3, 16 says, "For God so loved the world that he sent His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life." And we are accountable for what we have received.
It was necessary because many have drifted away, false teaching has been introduced and had we not acted the Anglican Communion could easily have been taken over by a false gospel.
At a Primates meeting, an archbishop pointed out that the action of ECUSA was to make a hole in the hull of the boat and that we were sinking to which a north american Primate responded, "Let them fall in the water." That might be an acceptable option in postmodernism but not in the real world as God has created it.
What has happened as a result of what was done?
It was very interesting to observe the strident and swift response to Gafcon especially in the UK. "Why such a reaction?" is a question many must have asked.
The gospel plainly stated has always been resisted throughout history and in the same way the orthodox stance in recent times has been vigorously and even violently resisted; in North America openly and in the UK more subtly.
True orthodoxy is being outlawed.
Why should this be?
Ephesians 6 tells us that spiritual warfare is the underlying cause. We are not fighting flesh and blood but spiritual powers and principalities.
In addition, orthodoxy proclaims one unchanging truth at a time when that is unacceptable within western culture. Truth has become relative and to believe one truth which excludes others is to be intolerant, bigoted and dangerous.
There is also a non biblical belief that Anglicanism should include a diversity of beliefs even when they are contradictory and incompatible.
There is a false view of institutional loyalty which says, "Don't rock the boat." causing a fear of marginalisation and rejection.
And there is a spirit of rebellion and unbelief.
"To sone we are the fragrance of death, to others the fragrance of life."
What is likely to happen?
If we consider the track record after Lambeth '98, the primates meetings, Lambeth '09 and the recent ACC meeting, the message is that the Communion will continue to seek to accommodate incompatible and antithetical positions even though the Primates clearly said in this year's meeting, "We don't believe the same things and something needs to be done."
If the system is given its head, the liberal agenda will be pushed forward and since no synthesis can replace the gospel, non truth will simply swallow up true truth.
Unless there is a robust and clear voice in this part of the world as well as elsewhere, the very truth of Christianity will not only not be affirmed and proclaimed, it will be silenced in Anglicanism.
Hebrews 2 asks the rhetorical question, "How shall be escape if we neglect such a great salvation?" and the answer is that we shall not escape.
A God whom we do not meet in the unique revelation of the incarnation is not the Christian God.
A Jesus Christ who is not revealed in Scripture is not the true Christ.
True generosity does not say, "There are many truths, you must choose your own."
True generosity says, "Jesus is the way. He is the only way. There is no other way. There is no other name given among men by which we must be saved."
So we must stand together and support each other both locally and worldwide.
We must stand for truth in truth love for one anther which Jesus promised as he sign of our discipleship.
And we much stand, one with Him and one another that the world might believe.
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