THE TRUTH AND NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH
By David W. Virtue
"But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith." Romans 11:20
It is now apparent to even the most unenlightened or blind that there are two entirely different and opposing understandings of the Christian Faith now currently at work in the worldwide Anglican Communion.
The first understanding, and held by the vast majority of Anglicans, is that the Communion stands for biblical faith, doctrinal certitude, a belief in the primacy of Holy Scripture, alongside of which stand the 39 Articles, the Book of Common Prayer the Lambeth Quadrilateral, the creeds and a single view of human sexuality.
Added to which is a belief in a fixed understanding of the nature of salvation and how it is attained, (justification by faith) holy living, (sanctification), life after death, heaven and hell (though one should not presume on who will go where), mission defined as evangelism (gospel proclamation) and disciple-making, the return of Christ and the Last Judgment. None of these things are negotiable.
The second view, held by a small but vociferous group of Anglicans, believes in a moving and unfolding revelation, unfixed authority, diversity, (however it is defined), pansexuality, inclusivity (of sexual sin), doctrinal uncertainty, reductionist views of Scripture, and accommodationist to the culture.
These two views - one held by at least 22 Global South Primates represent the vast majority of the Anglican communion; the other loosely described as liberal and/or revisionist (some think of themselves as 'progressive') has, as its unofficial leader, Jack Spong, the former Bishop of Newark.
Some liberals will argue that they are not nearly as far down the icy road as Spong and would not necessarily embrace his 12 Theses in toto, but that is too disingenuous by half. Spong himself has said that once you depart from what he calls a literal understanding of Scripture and continue to believe its doctrines then either you must cease being a hypocrite, leave that "fundamentalist" pathway and join him, pied piper fashion, on his road to wherever it leads by faith in science and technology.
The issues cannot be parsed as pastoral or psychological, or simply the journey one is on, one could in fact be traveling along the wrong pathway. These are issues of faith.
It is these two views that face the Primates as they meet in two weeks time in Dromantine, Northern Ireland.
While the immediate issues will be the Windsor Report and human sexuality, underneath the sheets, if not the bed itself, will be the clash of two very different world views.
Those world views will reveal themselves in two sets of men. The first set, lead by Nigerian Primate Peter Akinola will argue that Scripture is the litmus test for the faith once delivered and he and they will not deviate from that. He will be joined by 21 or more fellow Primates.
The other world view will be lead by American Episcopal Presiding Bishop Frank T. Griswold. He will argue that pluriform truths makes no one single truth absolute, that God's revelation is unfolding (the Mormons would also agree with that), that homosexuality is hard wired and therefore must be brokered into the church's new progressive understanding of sexuality based on his perception of what science now says is true, whether it is or not.
He will be joined in his views by the Primates of Canada, Australia, Ireland, Brazil et al and tacitly, though not explicitly, by the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams, who would like to think that some doctrines are still hard-wired, but others, like the biblical proscriptions on sexual behavior are open to new and fresh interpretation, in a more progressive, enlightened society.
For his part Dr. Williams will be like Atlas standing in the middle as the rope is pulled both ways by the two groups. His hope is that he has both the strength and the brilliance to hold them altogether with the flexible cord of Affirming Catholicism, praying with all his might that the rope won't break.
But the truth is this; these two worldviews cannot live together, they are on a collision course, one will triumph, the other will, over the course of time, whither and die. Liberal Protestantism in the West has been slowly dying for 35 years, its epitaph will be written in my generation.
The Anglican Communion can also be likened to a patient with schizophrenia. Two voices living in one body each trying to outdo the other for attention.
The truth is this; the two cannot co-exist, any more than oil and water can mix or light and darkness can coexist, for as St. John reminds us, the light has overcome the darkness.
And that is why this primatial gathering is so desperately important and why what happens in Northern Ireland will determine the entire course of the Anglican Communion for perhaps centuries to come.
(The Roman Catholic Church is still recovering from the Reformation 500 years later.)
If there is a lesson Martin Luther taught the church, and he taught them many, it was that moral and papal corruption, the selling of indulgences was too high a price for the salvation of even one soul, and thus a new movement of God's Spirit was born.
It is not dissimilar today. A number of The Anglican provinces, the wealthiest, are morally and theologically corrupt and they are dying, and they want to drag the rest of the communion down with them. That is the truth and it needs to be stated boldly and declaratively.
And here is another truth, the Western Anglican Church is prepared to destroy itself, in a collective death wish and drag the whole communion down with it in the name of their pansexual god, rather than allow the orthodox to triumph in the spiritual and culture wars for the church's soul and therefore the souls of millions who follow them.
That needs to be said and understood with deep and profound clarity. The Western church's revisionists would rather go to hell for what they believe than ever repent, because they do not believe they need too, and they never will, despite calls by the Archbishop of Canterbury for all sides to repent.
Furthermore the issue is not now nor ever has been homophobia, that is a diversionary fiction, nor is it about crossing jurisdictional lives, that is a smokescreen; it is about the nature of the faith and an aberrant sexual behavior that has death written into its very DNA.
If the Primates do not grasp this central truth they will, over time, lose the whole communion, and God will do to the Anglican Communion what he did to the Roman Catholic Church more than 500 years ago, with splits that have never healed, and have, in time, only increased. One has only to look at the growing numbers of vagante Anglican churches.
This is THE kairos moment in the life of the Anglican Communion. If the Primates fail us at Dromantine then all is lost. The Episcopal Church like the Arctic ice cap will continue to melt at a faster rate with large chunks (read churches) falling away into newer splinter groups thus perpetuating the myriad forms of Protestant denominationalism, and that will be a tragedy of the first order.
And the greatest punishment of all is that God will lift his hand of blessing from the communion even from the African continent that is seeing massive revival, and He will place it on those who are faithful to His will and His Word.
Behold now is the day of our salvation.
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