Archive for the ‘Anglicanism’ Tag

GOOD CHURCH, BAD CHURCH

Posted 5/1/09

Never ever underestimate the blessing of a good church. CCB is not perfect. No perfect church will be seen this side of the New Creation. But it offers clear Bible-based teaching; it upholds faithful and unadulterated doctrine, for instance regarding penal substitution or justification by grace alone, accessed by faith alone; it acts on a longing for the lost of Balham and the world; and the community it brings together works lovingly for one another’s growth and good. The churches I visited over the festive period put this into stark contrast.

I don’t wish to be too harsh. It is good indeed that anyone would see fit to give up time and resources in order that Christ be praised and His followers be encouraged. It is even better that they do so when so much of our world deems such a use of time as foolishness indeed. And yet… how much better if they could do so without wasteful diversions; and not under the yoke of misled incomprehension. I have sat through a sermon based, not on a biblical passage, but on the song ‘Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer’. Even worse, having heard this red nose equated with the sin that makes us, too, ‘a misfit’, I have then heard that God ‘doesn’t mind our red nose (eg sin!)’ but ‘loves it’ and will ‘use it’! I have then delved back into the charismatic ranks where I wanted to learn good lessons, still believing that we are probably too shut off from fruits of the Spirit and joyful abandon. Instead I witnessed a church with no Bibles to be found or opened at the front, with our sin glossed over, the cross neglected and rather the Spirit proposed as that thing we seek – an elusive ‘sometimes near’ resource which we can grasp, given greater awareness and training, in order that we may be fulfilled.

How great then to return to Co-Mission. We are not ‘better’ Christians; my last post should make that abundantly clear. However, we are better taught, via a strict set-up of accountability, to the Bible and the scrutiny of those who know it well. This makes it far more likely that we will mature, by God’s grace, via the agency of those who diligently take responsibility for us within our congregations. To be at the Factory on Sunday was to be reminded of everything I’ve missed over the past chaotic month – to be reminded we’re a part of something growing and alive, to be told again of grace, true joy and of the cross… to have the Bible explained at the time I most needed to hear it. So yes, thank you God for good churches.

SO IT APPEARS I’M AN ANGLICAN…

Posted 2/3/07

Joining a congregation which has fought the battles familiar to CCB these past few years, I would never suppose to impart any wisdom regarding the issue of challenging liberalism within the Anglican church. Don’t take this for false modesty. I have never been an Anglican before, and it has taken me this long to realise that we in Balham are evangelicals, or exactly what that means (I still wouldn’t presume to venture a definition).

However, one thing I am coming to realize is that we have more right to be within this Church of England than do many of those who would gladly usher us out the exit door.It is in a spirit of conjecture therefore that I offer the following observation, if only to tie myself to the mast of what CCB represents: It is not the role of the church to appease or placate the world, nor to bend our values to fit those of society around us. We should be relishing the challenge that faces us. Of the many summarising statements applicable to Paul’s letters, one could certainly be ‘blessed are the persecuted’. Indeed I would suggest that the church thrives under such conditions. The early church spread like wildfire as a rebel organisation, as does the church today in Communist China. Nothing was so dangerous for the church in this country than to become safe, cosy and part of the cultural furniture – best represented in the eyes of the world as a cycling vicar in a sleepy country hamlet. Bend church doctrine to the will of the world and you render it ineffectual and essentially meaningless. Temper God’s word and you fight battle having left your sword at home. Removed from God’s message we risk becoming removed from God’s blessing, and then we are nothing but empty ritual and the bearers of vague reassurance. Besides which, the numbers sorely show that it is failing to pack in the punters. The Church of England lost 31% of its Sunday attendees between 1989 and 2005.

Now may I humbly suggest that there is a reason CCB bucks this trend of decline. We let God’s word do the speaking. The church as a whole must do the same. Perks has written on his blog that, whilst evangelicals were busy running the parishes, the liberals went and took over the positions of leadership. Reading this made me realise, even if from an inexpert perspective, how strange indeed is the discrepancy between the fact that, at the top, gay bishops are being ordained and archbishops advocating the blessing of civil partnerships whilst, at parish level, I have never heard of anyone supporting such a stance other than in a spirit of reluctant obedience – to church leaders rather than to their creator.

Now I am not au fait with how one goes about doing such a thing, but surely the priority must be for the body of the church to rise up, purge itself of such modernist nonsense and state boldly that we stand for gospel truth. That we believe in God’s message as stated through the words of the Prophets, his son Jesus and through his apostles. We need to give people a clear choice rather than a muddled apology – between the church and the world. Newspaper columnists would be up in arms, and we would be called all sort of names. The politically correct may even fling legal challenge and hostile obstacles our way… but, again, blessed are the persecuted. May their light be seen by all, and may they taste entirely salty. At least then people would know what we stand for. After all, if we are not following the gospel, we might as well make the whole thing up. I, for one, am up for a scrap.