Reformed Churchmen

We are Confessional Calvinists and a Prayer Book Church-people. In 2012, we remembered the 350th anniversary of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer; also, we remembered the 450th anniversary of John Jewel's sober, scholarly, and Reformed "An Apology of the Church of England." In 2013, we remembered the publication of the "Heidelberg Catechism" and the influence of Reformed theologians in England, including Heinrich Bullinger's Decades. For 2014: Tyndale's NT translation. For 2015, John Roger, Rowland Taylor and Bishop John Hooper's martyrdom, burned at the stakes. Books of the month. December 2014: Alan Jacob's "Book of Common Prayer" at: January 2015: A.F. Pollard's "Thomas Cranmer and the English Reformation: 1489-1556" at: February 2015: Jaspar Ridley's "Thomas Cranmer" at:

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

SGM-Mahaneygate: Detwiler/Associate Press Says "Celebrity" SBC Leaders Enabling "Celebrity" Wickedness

Critic says SBC leaders enabling sin

Wednesday, February 27, 2013Theology

Critic says SBC leaders enabling sin

Instead of promoting an embattled Calvinist leader, a former supporter says evangelical leaders should be confronting him about his sin.
By Bob Allen

A former associate of an evangelical leader accused in a lawsuit of covering up child sexual abuse says Southern Baptist leaders are enabling sin by continuing to promote the embattled preacher while serious questions about his fitness for ministry remain unanswered.
brent detwiler
Brent Detwiler
Brent Detwiler, one of four founders of Sovereign Grace Ministries, said in a statement he was deeply disappointed by popular author and speaker John Piper’s glowing endorsement of Pastor C.J. Mahaney in a sermon Feb. 17 at Mahaney’s church in Louisville, Ky.
Detwiler said that on Feb. 6 he sent Piper, founder of Desiring God Ministries and former longtime pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, a copy of the lawsuit accusing Mahaney and other Sovereign Grace leaders of enabling the sexual and physical abuse of children.

Piper was among 77 evangelical leaders that Detwiler asked in an open letter to stop promoting Mahaney in light of those allegations. Others included Daniel Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, who recently had Mahaney on campus, and Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

“Some of the greatest preachers in America have enabled C.J. in his sin when they should have been confronting his sin and taking action,” Detwiler said in a blog posting Feb. 22.

“These men continuously promote one another’s books, conferences, ministries and celebrity status. It looks like a mutual admiration society, and it often leads to a double standard of living.”
C.J. Mahaney
Mohler participates with Mahaney in causes including Together for the Gospel, a biennial gathering that the two friends co-sponsor along with Baptist pastor Mark Dever and Presbyterian Ligon Duncan.
“I am concerned that Together for the Gospel is equally about together for Mohler, Mahaney, Dever and Duncan,” Detwiler continued. “Joel Osteen promotes ‘health and wealth.’ Too many Reformed leaders promote one another and thrive off the recognition (and money) they receive in return.”

Along with Piper, Mohler, Mahaney, Dever and Duncan are leaders in a movement popular in some Southern Baptist circles that goes by names including Neo-Calvinism, the Doctrines of Grace and Young, Restless and Reformed.

Last year Sovereign Grace Ministries moved its headquarters to Louisville, Ky., in part to strengthen ties with Southern Seminary. Mahaney has spoken numerous times at Southern, including a conference on marriage and pastoral ministry last August. According to back issues of the seminary magazine, Mahaney has given cumulative gifts to the school totaling more than $100,000.

Sovereign Grace Ministries grew out of a charismatic renewal movement that took place in the 1970s. One of its main founders was a Catholic. Beginning in the 1990s, the movement became more Calvinistic, and some of its top leaders began to part ways. Recently, several churches have left the fold after losing confidence in Mahaney’s leadership.

Detwiler fell from grace after compiling more than 600 pages of documents and annotation about internal problems that he provided to the SGM board. Someone put them on the Internet, raising questions about whether Christians should be whistle blowers and drawing comparisons to WikiLeaks, an online nonprofit that publishes secret and classified information obtained from anonymous sources.

Recently, the former SGM pastor has focused attention on a class-action lawsuit filed in Maryland alleging eight victims and 143 counts that include failure to report allegations of sexual molestation to police, counseling accused pedophiles on how to avoid arrest and forcing child victims to meet with and “forgive” their abusers.

The Associated Press reported Feb. 26 that Sovereign Grace Ministries has filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit in Montgomery County, Md., claiming that courts cannot get involved in the internal affairs of a church.

SGM-Mahaneygate (ABC): SGM Seeks Dismissal of Child Sex Abuse Lawsuit

Church Seeks Dismissal of Sex Abuse Lawsuit

A small evangelical church group has invoked the First Amendment in asking a Maryland judge to dismiss a lawsuit accusing church leaders of covering up allegations of sexual abuse.

Sovereign Grace Ministries says in a motion to dismiss the lawsuit that Maryland courts can't get involved in the internal affairs of church business.

The church group's lawyers also say the case should be thrown out because its allegations are so vague. For instance, they say the lawsuit leaves unclear how old the plaintiffs were at the time they say suffered abuse.

The suit was filed in Montgomery County. The church recently moved its headquarters from Maryland to Louisville, Ky.

Greensboro, NC: Anglican Mission in America (AMiA) Collapsing

GREENSBORO, NC: AMIA Leader Notes Losses, Sees Hope in Formation of New Society

Bishop Murphy said two thirds of his parishes fled to other jurisdictions

By David W. Virtue
February 27, 2013

In his final address to members of the Anglican Mission in America (AM), outgoing Bishop Chuck Murphy admitted that he has lost two thirds of his churches to other Anglican jurisdictions, but said the best still lies ahead for the Anglican Mission, now transitioned into a Society of Mission and Apostolic Works.

"This is the first winter conference since the great realignment and we are now the same size we were four years ago," he said.

Addressing several hundred followers in Greensboro, NC at their annual Winter Conference, Murphy noted that in the first eleven years, the Mission celebrated one new church plant every three weeks with a total of 268 churches. However, over the past eleven months, two-thirds (about 179 churches) had transferred into another expression of church life, he said.

He called the last year of his leadership "brutal" and "painful" because of personal attacks. He described the experience as "awkward and difficult for us".

Murphy said he saw the attacks as "a work of the is part of the deal."

"We build a church and Satan builds a chapel."

He described what happened to him and the Anglican Mission, "As a very interesting chapter in a civil war," calling it surprising and hurtful on many occasions.

The Chairman admitted to a painful 2012 in the life of the Mission and personally. He interpreted those losses through the words and wisdom of others such as Bishop John Finney who talks about the pitfalls of movements in his book Fading Splendor.

"I can't deny that something happened and was very hurtful." Murphy likened his situation to the destruction of the twin towers on 911 calling it "very devastating and a BIG deal, real...and rough." He added there has been redemption in the formation of a Society of Mission and Apostolic Works.

"This is the first winter of the great realignment. We are about the same size we were four years ago. This is the first winter conference that we are constituted as a Society of Mission and Apostolic Works and talked of AMIA's 'new focus'", said Murphy.

Murphy announced this is the 13th annual winter conference and his last as chairman. He announced 11 new ordinations. He went on to say that this is "a pivotal moment in the history of AM. "It is an unusual occasion, an awkward moment. [Now] we must ask, what is the vision for AM's move into the next chapter?

"What we have been through is jarring so how do we see growth. In the first 11 years we planted a new church every three weeks for a total of 286 church plants."

He said AM is now entering an interesting chapter. "Some want a more denominational model which is not logical for us to ask. I do not believe God is to stop giving the growth He initiated, birthed and continued. He cited Bishop John Finney's book. Murphy also cited the Second Law of Thermodynamics where things wear out, become more alike and distinctions disappear.

"We started a new thing and then we became institutionalized. Every great movement starts with a prophet and ends with a policeman."

Murphy said the Mission Society is a religious organization dedicated to mission work. "This is all we want to be about. We were sent to further the work of mission. We came to recognize recruit, resource and release dynamic leaders. Our model is in the Celtic tradition. We want to establish mission abbeys and be deep in mission, in the way we do work. We will be led by dynamic leaders." He said the Office of Apostolic Vicar would be maintained "to make sure we maintain one call, one culture one community, a place to meet the living God."

He said he was modeling the future after the Celts who changed the face of Western Europe and the British Isles without the benefit of jurisdictions and provinces. He called it "an exciting banquet table of the things of God" that now awaits the Mission. Some items on the menu include a renewed focus on identifying dynamic leadership, the creation of Mission Abbeys in Chattanooga, Dallas, and Mount Pleasant, SC, gathering clusters of Cohorts for the care and community of congregations and missionary bishops doing the work of the ministry.

Murphy said he still believes in the three streams model - evangelical, catholic, and charismatic, but didn't foresee it tearing AM apart. "The older paradigm was a different kind of call. We want to be clear and defined with one call, one culture one community." He envisions that happening with the Society of Mission and Apostolic Works.

"We should be free to be innovative. There will be very real differences in Canada and Texas. We want freedom with fences. We want to be pioneers...the morning stars of the reformation."

Despite financial shortfalls, Murphy said he has received $800,000 "in cold cash" in the past few months to keep the society going. "We can maintain the infrastructure. We are not cleaning up, we are building. We planted five churches last month." Unfinished works will be the next chapter of the Anglican Mission.

"We must never step away from the vision we have been given. He described the AM as an "unfinished masterpiece.

"Don't quit stay with this thing."

The Chairman concluded his address by using a metaphor in the sculpture of David by Michelangelo. The sculpture, a work originally begun by another artist who abandoned it, was resurrected by Michelangelo twenty-five years later at the age of 26. He devoted two years chipping away at "everything that didn't look like David" completing the seventeen foot piece of classic art.

"We must never step away from the vision we've been given like Michelangelo who saw David in that six ton block of marble," declares Murphy. "We must keep chipping away at the work we've been given; chip away everything that doesn't look like the mission so that the finished work will emerge with more clarity. We need to hear and understand that the Mission is God's unfinished work and He will take us to new places that will be stunning."

Murphy did not announce who would succeed him.


Sunday, February 24, 2013

SC TEC Parish/Children/Quibbalists Over TEC Ecstatists

Yawn, these Atavistic and Backwoodish Anglicans, so backwards, so dignified and so...cough, cough...laughable.
The Episcopal Church in SC: One Parish's Tale of Two Bishops

Old St. Andrew's Parish disaffiliates from TEC. They will follow Bishop Lawrence

By Ladson F. Mills III
Special to Virtueonline
February 24, 2013

News Analysis

The Episcopal Church failed a critical test Sunday when Old St Andrews's Parish of Charleston voted to disaffiliate with the national church and follow Bishop Mark Lawrence. There is an old adage one should never worry about having all the answers since there is a good possibility one will not be asked all the questions. If this is accurate then the Episcopal Church clearly failed to respond meaningfully to the specific questions from concerned parish members. This election outcome was far from pre-determined. The parish was looking for a way to remain within the Episcopal Church.

Old St Andrew's Parish (1706) is the oldest surviving church structure south of Virginia. It is a thriving parish with an ASA of 259 which in 2011 made it four times the national average. The parish recently completed a thorough seven week discernment process in preparation for a vote which would decide its future. Of the 245 ballots cast at the February 24th parish meeting seventy five per cent voted to follow Bishop Lawrence. If there was ever a chance for TEC to make a compelling case to remain in union this was the chance.

As part of the discernment process Bishop Mark Lawrence and Provisional Bishop Charles vonRosenberg were invited to address the parish. By all accounts there was a stark contrast between the two men as well as their vision for the church in South Carolina.

Both bishops were sent advance copies of questions submitted by members of the parish. Bishop Lawrence answered the questions forthrightly and directly. He followed up each answer asking if he had responded clearly to their stated concerns.

Bishop vonRosenberg expressed concern with the format and requested a change. Rector Marshall Huey accommodated the bishop's concern.

In his prepared opening statement the provisional bishop offered an observation that was puzzling to many in attendance. He declared that if they were to look at the Anglican cycle of prayer for May 2013 his name would be the only one listed as bishop of South Carolina. One is left to surmise that the purpose of his statement is to suggest that Old St Andrew's would be wise to follow him because a publication had afforded him the status of legitimate bishop.

He went on to say that in leaving The Episcopal Church the congregation would be unable to call a future rector who is an Episcopalian. While this might prove to be an inconvenience Old St. Andrews existed for its first one hundred plus years with priest who were not from the Episcopal Church. The Rev. Thomas Mills D.D., seventh and last of the English rectors and of whom I am a direct descendant, was a graduate of Oxford University and seemed to do well during his tenure . He was certainly not alone in his success and one suspects they will somehow manage to survive.

I was surprised by the tone of vonRosenberg's address. I expected a charm initiative in the attempt to woo this important congregation into remaining in the national church fold. I would have expected him to present the critical a role they could play in contributing to the health and inclusion of this newly formed continuing diocese. In the images of the recently passed Valentine Season I expected they would receive a message that was loving and reassuring. If there were any roses in this presentation they were surrounded by thorns.

Those in attendance note that Bishop Lawrence answered all questions directly while the provisional bishop was perceived as obfuscating and avoiding any commitment. In this observation they were inaccurate. Bishop vonRosenberg's answers clearly reflect the position of the church he serves. It is sad to see this man reduced to the role he must play in order to represent the Episcopal Church's presiding bishop and the national church.

Perhaps the reason this hand was so poorly played is that there was no hand for him to really play. When examining the transcripts one gets the impression he does believe the arguments he is offering. When there is no bad news people have no need of the "Good News". When there is no sin there is no need of a savior. It is hard to recruit people into an organization where cheap sentimentality is offered as a substitute for genuine love and where the primary concern seems to be control of property.

There was a time when those ordained understood their accountability to the people whom they were called to serve. Whenever I preach at ordinations I remind the ordinand that unlike other organizations their authority is granted from those whom they are called to lead. Bishops and others in authority are not unimportant, but ultimately it was those we serve who determine the success or failure of a ministry.

Mark Lawrence and Charles vonRosenberg offer visions which are vastly different.

Lawrence must continually face the people he leads and make the case for his leadership. He has gained authority by his willingness to relinquishing it. Bishop von Rosenberg must also give an account to those whom he serves. He attempted to gain control through what was regarded as subtle threats and visions of fear. His own behavior reveals that he is answerable not to the people who elected him but to 815 which props up the continuing diocese.

The Episcopal Church has deteriorated to the place where we are forced to behave in a delusional manner in order give legitimacy for our celebrations of the inane. Even with life enriching events as the transgender inclusion resolution passed by the last General Convention there is still not much to cheer about these days. The loss of Old St. Andrews reveals the inadequacy of the arguments presented by those currently leading the Episcopal Church.

Several months ago I reported that many old school liberals have accepted that the leadership from the current presiding bishop is a failed leadership. Many blame her chancellor for the failure or her for listening to the chancellor. These old school liberals are the "old churchman" whose theology is based on what they believed to be the gospel imperative. They love the institutional church because to them it is the incarnational representation of Jesus Christ in the world. When they speak of tolerance and inclusion it comes from the Gospel not the shallowness which is now offered as a substitute.

So here's a suggestion. Read the transcript from Old St Andrew's. Learn from this in preparation to take the church back. For those who think it's too late for The Episcopal Church just remember the thief on the cross.

Ladson F. Mills III is a priest with over thirty years pastoral experience. He is retired and lives with his wife in South Carolina. He currently serves s Scholar in Residence at Church of Our Saviour Johns Island. He is a regular contributor to Virtueonline


St. Andrew's Parish Church Voting

Dear Members of our Old St. Andrew's Church Family:

Today, in a historic vote, the members of Old St. Andrew's present, qualified and voting decided by a vote of 184 to 60, plus one abstention, to amend the Constitution of St. Andrew's Parish Church to reflect our ongoing affiliation with the Diocese of South Carolina under the leadership of Bishop Lawrence. Provisional votes cast (those not fully qualified on the membership registers to vote) were 5 in favor of affiliation with the Diocese of South Carolina and 4 in favor of affiliation with The Episcopal Church, with no abstentions. This vote has been certified by the Wardens, Katherine Adams and Jim Gibson, who counted the votes in a sequestered room with Vestry members as witnesses. Great care was taken in all aspects of the voting.

On the question of the Amendment to the Canons of the Parish, the present, qualified, and voting decided by a vote of 207 to 23, plus 15 abstentions to amend the Canon. Provisional votes cast were 6 in favor of the Amendment, 2 in opposition, and 1 no response.

This historic vote completes a discernment process for our church family that began January 10, 2013. Our prayer is that all of the members of Old St. Andrew's, regardless of their vote, will know that we will always strive to "Welcome All, Worship Christ, and Witness God's Love."

We will continue to pray for Katharine, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Bishop vonRosenberg, Bishop Lawrence, and those in leadership positions who we pray will work for reconciliation and Gospel truth in the future.

We also pray that we will now continue with our God-given mission during our Lenten journey of study and service. All of us, as Christians, know that we all lay our burdens at the foot of the Cross of Christ, who died for all that we all might seek His forgiveness, love and mercy. May God bless us as we continue our three-century heritage of serving Him.

In Christ,
Father Marshall+
Katherine Adams, Senior Warden
Jim Gibson, Junior Warden

Friday, February 22, 2013

American "Non-Confessional" Baptyerians: Ligonier Ministries 2013

Day 2 — 2013 National Conference

from Feb 22, 2013Category: Ministry News

Today is day two of our 2013 National Conference, No Compromise: Standing for the Truth of God’s Word.

Christians began arriving as early as 7am this morning and at 10pm there were still Christians enjoying fellowship, discussing the Scriptures, and reading. Day two is the longest of the conference’s three days, and below is a summary and several highlights.

Today’s Sessions

Here I Stand from Steven Lawson
Steven Lawson explained why it is essential for the church to stand firm in their belief that the Scriptures are inspired, inerrant, and authoritative. We must be willing to defend its veracity. Here we stand. We can do no other.

Family Tradition from Cal Thomas

Cal Thomas explored the modern culture’s attacks on the family and how their worldview has sadly infiltrated much of today’s church. We must stand firm for family values in our post-Christian world.

Doctrine in the Dock from Sinclair Ferguson

Sinclair Ferguson refuted the idea that “doctrine divides while experience unites” and explained how doctrine is valuable and essential in the church. Doctrine transforms experience and helps us apply what we study to our lives.

Have Mercy from Alistair Begg

Despite the fact that Jesus associated with the sick, the sinful, and the socially outcast, many Christians have adopted an attitude similar to the Pharisees, who shunned those they deemed unworthy of compassion. Alistair Begg exhorted us to practice true mercy toward those outside the church and to be merciful to others just as our Heavenly Father has been merciful to us.

A Good Offense from R.C. Sproul Jr.

R.C. Sproul Jr. exhorted Christians to preach the foolishness of Christ crucified to this world and to stand boldly against modern evils such as abortion. The gospel is offensive and therefore we preach knowing that we will be hated for the sake of Christ.

He Is Risen Indeed from Ravi Zacharias

The last session of day two came as Ravi Zacharias expounded on the nature of resurrection life being inextricably linked to the miraculous nature of creation, the new birth, and redemption. Because of these truths, we through Jesus Christ, may have hope not only in this world, but also in the world to come.

Tweetable Highlights

Google Hangout

During our 2013 National Conference we’re “Hanging Out” with several of our guests. On day two, we interviewed Steven J. Lawson and discussed several of today’s messages, what to do if you’re struggling with sin, Scripture and the unbeliever, Martin Luther, doctrine, theology, and more. You can watch it here or see it below.

Note: Our conference messages will be on next week to stream for free. Stay tuned for an announcement of when they’re available.

"There They Go Again:" Ligonier & Derek Thomas on the Regulative Principle

Derek, please my good man.

The Regulative Principle of Worship

Put simply, the regulative principle of worship states that the corporate worship of God is to be founded upon specific directions of Scripture. On the surface, it is difficult to see why anyone who values the authority of Scripture would find such a principle objectionable. Is not the whole of life itself to be lived according to the rule of Scripture? This is a principle dear to the hearts of all who call themselves biblical Christians. To suggest otherwise is to open the door to antinomianism and license.

But things are rarely so simple. After all, the Bible does not tell me whether I may or may not listen with profit to a Mahler symphony, find stamp-collecting rewarding, or enjoy ferretbreeding as a useful occupation even though there are well-meaning but misguided Bible-believing Christians who assert with dogmatic confidence that any or all of these violate God’s will. Knowing God’s will in any circumstance is an important function of every Christian’s life, and fundamental to knowing it is a willingness to submit to Scripture as God’s authoritative Word for all ages and circumstances. But what exactly does biblical authority mean in such circumstances?

Well, Scripture lays down certain specific requirements: for example, we are to worship with God’s people on the Lord’s Day, and we should engage in useful work and earn our daily bread. In addition, covering every possible circumstance, Scripture lays down a general principle: “present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom. 12:1–2). Clearly, all of life is to be regulated by Scripture, whether by express commandment or prohibition or by general principle. There is therefore, in one sense, a regulative principle for all of life. In everything we do, and in some form or another, we are to be obedient to Scripture.

However, the Reformers (John Calvin especially) and the Westminster Divines (as representative of seventeenth-century puritanism) viewed the matter of corporate worship differently. In this instance, a general principle of obedience to Scripture is insufficient; there must be (and is) a specific prescription governing how God is to be worshiped corporately. In the public worship of God, specific requirements are made, and we are not free either to ignore them or to add to them. Typical by way of formulation are the words of Calvin: “God disapproves of all modes of worship not expressly sanctioned by his Word” (“The Necessity of Reforming the Church”); and the Second London Baptist Confession of 1689: “The acceptable way of worshiping the true God, is instituted by himself, and so limited by his own revealed will, that he may not be worshiped according to the imagination and devices of men, nor the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representations, or any other way not prescribed in the Holy Scriptures” (22.1).

Where does the Bible teach this? In more places than is commonly imagined, including the constant stipulation of the book of Exodus with respect to the building of the tabernacle that everything be done “after the pattern … shown you” (Ex. 25:40); the judgment pronounced upon Cain’s offering, suggestive as it is that his offering (or his heart) was deficient according to God’s requirement (Gen. 4:3–8); the first and second commandments showing God’s particular care with regard to worship (Ex. 20:2–6); the incident of the golden calf, teaching as it does that worship cannot be offered merely in accord with our own values and tastes; the story of Nadab and Abihu and the offering of “strange fire” (Lev. 10); God’s rejection of Saul’s non-prescribed worship — God said, “to obey is better than sacrifice” (1 Sam. 15:22); and Jesus’ rejection of Pharisaical worship according to the “tradition of the elders” (Matt. 15:1–14). All of these indicate a rejection of worship offered according to values and directions other than those specified in Scripture.

Of particular significance are Paul’s responses to errant public worship at Colossae and Corinth. At one point, Paul characterizes the public worship in Colossae as ethelothreskia (Col. 2:23), variously translated as “will worship” (KJV) or “self-made religion” (ESV). The Colossians had introduced elements that were clearly unacceptable (even if they were claiming an angelic source for their actions — one possible interpretation of Col. 2:18, the “worship of angels”). Perhaps it is in the Corinthian use (abuse) of tongues and prophecy that we find the clearest indication of the apostle’s willingness to “regulate” corporate worship. He regulates both the number and order of the use of spiritual gifts in a way that does not apply to “all of life”: no tongue is to be employed without an interpreter (1 Cor. 14:27–28) and only two or three prophets may speak, in turn (vv. 29–32). At the very least, Paul’s instruction to the Corinthians underlines that corporate worship is to be regulated and in a manner that applies differently from that which is to be true for all of life.

The result? Particular elements of worship are highlighted: reading the Bible (1 Tim. 4:13); preaching the Bible (2 Tim. 4:2); singing the Bible (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16) — the Psalms as well as Scripture songs that reflect the development of redemptive history in the birth-life-death-resurrection- ascension of Jesus; praying the Bible — the Father’s house is “a house of prayer” (Matt. 21:13); and seeing the Bible in the two sacraments of the church, baptism and the Lord’s Supper (Matt. 28:19; Acts 2:38–39; 1 Cor. 11:23–26; Col. 2:11–12). In addition, occasional elements such as oaths, vows, solemn fasts and thanksgivings have also been recognized and highlighted (see Westminster Confession of Faith 21:5).

It is important to realize that the regulative principle as applied to public worship frees the church from acts of impropriety and idiocy — we are not free, for example, to advertise that performing clowns will mime the Bible lesson at next week’s Sunday service. Yet it does not commit the church to a “cookie-cutter,” liturgical sameness. Within an adherence to the principle there is enormous room for variation—in matters that Scripture has not specifically addressed (adiaphora). Thus, the regulative principle as such may not be invoked to determine whether contemporary or traditional songs are employed, whether three verses or three chapters of Scripture are read, whether one long prayer or several short prayers are made, or whether a single cup or individual cups with real wine or grape juice are utilized at the Lord’s Supper. To all of these issues, the principle “all things should be done decently and in order” (1 Cor. 14:40) must be applied. However, if someone suggests dancing or drama is a valid aspect of public worship, the question must be asked — where is the biblical justification for it? (To suggest that a preacher moving about in the pulpit or employing “dramatic” voices is “drama” in the sense above is to trivialize the debate.) The fact that both may be (to employ the colloquialism) “neat” is debatable and beside the point; there’s no shred of biblical evidence, let alone mandate, for either. So it is superfluous to argue from the poetry of the Psalms or the example of David dancing before the ark (naked, to be sure) unless we are willing to abandon all the received rules of biblical interpretation. It is a salutary fact that no office of “choreographer” or “producer/director” existed in the temple. The fact that both dance and drama are valid Christian pursuits is also beside the point.

What is sometimes forgotten in these discussions is the important role of conscience. Without the regulative principle, we are at the mercy of “worship leaders” and bullying pastors who charge noncompliant worshipers with displeasing God unless they participate according to a certain pattern and manner. To the victims of such bullies, the sweetest sentences ever penned by men are, “God alone is Lord of the conscience, and hath left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men, which are, in anything, contrary to His Word, or beside it, in matters of faith or worship. So that to believe such doctrines, or to obey such commands out of conscience, is to betray true liberty of conscience: and the requiring of an implicit faith, and an absolute and blind obedience, is to destroy liberty of conscience, and reason also” (WCF 20:2). To obey when it is a matter of God’s express prescription is true liberty; anything else is bondage and legalism.

New Canterbury Head Will Attempt Reconciliation Upon Consecration

VirtueOnline - News

New Archbishop of Canterbury will attempt Anglican Reconciliation at Enthronement ServiceGlobal South Primates will not yield on fundamental theological principles

Special Report

By David W. Virtue
February 21, 2013

The Most Rev. Justin Welby, leader of 77 million Anglicans, will face the first test of his leadership following his enthronement next month in Canterbury, England. Global South Primates comprising more than 80% of the Anglican Communion's constituent members will tell the new Archbishop of Canterbury that he will be held accountable for how he deals with theologically renegade bishops like Episcopal Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori and Canadian Anglican Archbishop Fred Hiltz.

Sources in Africa tell VOL that archbishops from provinces like Nigeria, Uganda and Kenya say that they will continue their policy of not appearing at future primatial meetings if Jefferts Schori is invited and that the Communion will devolve into two distinct Anglican bodies with leaders from the Global South drawing together orthodox Anglicans from across the globe.

Welby is trying hard to get all the Primates in the same room while they are in Canterbury to try and take advantage of their natural desire not to offend a new ABC, the source told VOL. "If he succeeds we can expect the liberally positioned Anglican Communion Office to spin it as the dawn of a new age of Indaba."

To stave off the possibility of open dissension Welby, in one of his first official acts as the new ABC, has appointed Canon David Porter who is said to be widely experienced in peace building, group facilitation, and training, to a newly created position as "Director of Reconciliation" to "enable the Church to make a powerful contribution to transforming the often violent conflicts which overshadow the lives of so many people in the world."

Canon Porter's "initial focus will be on supporting creative ways for renewing conversations and relationships around deeply held differences within the Church of England and the Anglican Communion," the Lambeth Palace statement said.

Canon Porter may have impressive credentials in the reconciliation business, but they are fundamentally irrelevant to the problems of the Anglican Communion, the African source told VOL. "This whole 'conversation ala' strategy depends on treating the divisions in the Anglican Communion as essentially the same as violent political, ethnic and sectarian conflicts. This is muddled thinking and an insult to those GAFCON and Global South Primates who patiently endured years of fruitless debate before finally taking action to disassociate themselves from false teaching.

"At the heart of our Anglican difficulties is not relationship breakdown, but the undisciplined descent into moral and doctrinal incoherence. It is nonsense for the Archbishop of Canterbury to appoint a 'Director of Reconciliation' while at the same time the House of Bishops of which he is chairman embraces a policy which allows de facto gay bishops thus further alienating those very Global South Primates he wants, presumably, to reconcile."

In fact, the title "Director of Reconciliation" gives the game away. Reconciliation is a central part of any Archbishop or Bishop's ministry as an extension of gospel ministry. The appointment of a "specialist" implies that reconciliation is now seen as a matter of technique and particular skills, rather than something that is essentially theological. Therefore it is not about gospel ministry at all.

Until the issue of false teaching is addressed, as identified by the Jerusalem Statement and the Declaration of 2008, there is no theological way to heal the tear in the fabric of the Communion. There must be a willingness to repent of false teaching and reconciliation strategies which avoid this question earn the scathing rebuke of Jeremiah, "they treated my people's wound superficially, telling them, 'Peace, peace,' but there is no peace'." Jeremiah 6:4).

Although there is a new Archbishop of Canterbury, the underlying strategy of Lambeth Palace remains exactly the same - to conflate doctrinal breakdown with relationship breakdown. Obviously the two are connected, but to see everything as soluble by technique is a recipe for short term thinking and theological superficiality.

The leader of the Anglican Church of Canada had a "just say no" message to new Archbishop of Canterbury-elect Justin Welby in discussions on the Anglican Church in North America when the two men met recently.

Archbishop Hiltz is petrified that the new evangelical archbishop will recognize Archbishop Robert Duncan and the Anglican Church in North America as an emerging province thus diluting the influence of both the ACoC and The Episcopal Church USA. He and Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori both maintain their jurisdictions are the sole legitimate expressions of Anglicanism in North America.

Following legal actions by the ultra-liberal Diocese of New Westminster on sexuality, two new Anglican groups formed in Canada. They are the Anglican Coalition in Canada (ACiC) and the Anglican Network in Canada (ANiC). The ANiC is a constituent member of the ACNA.

The new Archbishop of Canterbury will have a very short honeymoon. His predecessor Dr. Rowan Williams failed to reconcile the communion with a Covenant that he hoped would bring reconciliation. He chose not to engage the US Presiding Bishop over the deep wounds caused by her heretical theological and moral positions. Welby will be forced to confront them or face rebellion from his most populace provinces. There will be no more talk of "Indaba" or "listening" that day is done.


GAFCON Heads: Defying English "Posh and Awe" over new head in Canterbury

VirtueOnline - News

Thank God GAFCON Primates are Defying English 'POSH & AWE'
By Julian Mann
Special to Virtueonline
February 22, 2013

The English ecclesiastical establishment can still play the 'posh and awe' game. Even though the United Kingdom is heading for a cataclysmic social disaster due to rapid de-Christianisation, a ceremonial event such as the enthronement of a new Archbishop of Canterbury is an opportunity to impress overseas visitors with the aura of an ancient cathedral, the ermine sheen of the House of Lords, and the musty whiff of an Oxbridge high table.

That is why orthodox Anglicans the world over should be enormously thankful for the gospel-motivated spiritual discernment of the GAFCON leaders. By God's grace, they are not dazzled by 'posh & awe'.

The GAFCON Primates know what God thinks of religiosity without righteousness: "I hate, I despise your religious feasts; I cannot stand your assemblies. Even though you bring me burnt offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them. Away with the noise of your songs. I will not listen to the music of your harps. But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream." (Amos 5v21-24 - NIV).

The GAFCON leaders will be doing a great service to orthodox Anglicans in the liberal-dominated Western provinces by continuing to refuse to attend primatial meetings if Mrs Jefferts Schori is present. The theological stand GAFCON is taking is hugely helpful in making crystal clear that lines of biblical conviction have been crossed and that indaba with false teachers cannot be given spiritual legitimacy.

GAFCON defies the revisionist plausibility structure that places institutional power politics above the revealed truth of the Lord Jesus Christ and indeed, in TEC, seeks to use jurisdictional claims against those who are proclaiming the biblical gospel. Ecclesiastical 'posh & awe' is part of that plausibility structure, so thank the good Lord that orthodox Archbishops and Bishops from the two thirds' world are not being taken in by it. We must pray that they continue to put Jesus first.

It is worth remembering amidst the ancient lustre of a Canterbury enthronement where the future of vital Christianity lies. The UK, for example, is becoming so anti-Christian that it could get to the point that British Christians end up seeking asylum in GAFCON countries due to the impossiblity of earning a living in their own country, let alone preaching the gospel.

So much for the posh & awe of the English ecclesiastical establishment when Christians are having to flee the country because of persecution. Julian Mann is vicar Parish Church of the Ascension, Oughtibridge, South Yorkshire, UK.

American Presby-Baptyerian-Evangelicals Discuss Lent

Should You Cancel Good Friday?

Should You Cancel Good Friday? avatar
Your Protestant church probably doesn't observe the church calendar that marks such events as Epiphany and Pentecost. You might even regard this structure as legalistic, subversive of the true gospel of grace.

But make no mistake: you follow some calendar. It might be the school year, based on the agricultural seasons of planting, growing, and harvesting. Or it might be the so-called Hallmark Church Calendar: Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, Fathers's Day, Fourth of July, Veterans Day, and so on. The same goes for our liturgy. Every church has a liturgy. The only question is whether it's edifying and biblical.

Perhaps responding to the secular calendars adopted by so many Protestant churches, many congregations across the denominational spectrum have reached back into Christian history to clean up and capture structures that follow the story of Scripture. Lent is one such season leading up to Easter marked by fasting, repentance, and anticipation. Though typically associated with Roman Catholics, Lent has been infused with gospel-centered theology by many evangelicals today.
But not everyone thinks it's a good idea to observe Lent. After all, it's not prescribed by Scripture. The fast may send mixed messages to believers with a Roman Catholic background. By requiring Christians to practice something not mandated by God's Word, we may be inhibiting spiritual freedom. And the church calendar—even Easter—may imply that some days are more holy than others. Good Friday and Christmas might have gone mainstream, but many Protestants even today believe they distract from the Lord's Day and thus do not mark them on their calendars.

In the latest edition of Going Deeper with TGC, host Mark Mellinger and I talk about the origins, theology, and practice of Lent with Ligon Duncan, senior minister of First Presbyterian Church in Jackson, Mississippi. He traces the roots of Lent to Pope Gregory the Great in the 500s and explains its explicitly meritorious purpose. And he citesthe history ofReformation in Switzerland, which began with eating sausages during Lent. Whether you side with Duncan or agree with Lutherans and Anglicans that we can keep liturgical ceremonies while adapting their theology, you'll benefit from listening to Duncan and going deeper with the sources he mentions:
As the podcast continues, The Gospel Project managing editor Trevin Wax talks with 9Marks editorial director Jonathan Leeman about the Old Testament wisdom literature. How do we read and rightly apply these passages? Leeman walks through Psalm 20 to show how we read through the lens of what Jesus Christ has accomplished on our behalf. Wax closes by asking Leeman how we should interpret Song of Solomon: is it a love poem or allegory of Christ and the church?

Finally, Mark and I wrap up by previewing Kathleen Nielson's new series on Flannery O'Connor. I also discuss Wheaton College president Phil Ryken's workshop at The Gospel Coalition National Conference on How Pastors Can Encourage Artistic Gifts. You can register for the conference and sign up to learn from Ryken. Stay tuned to the very end of the podcast to learn about an upcoming series led by Ryken on a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel beloved by many pastors today.

You can stream the full podcast below, download the mp3, or subscribe to Going Deeper with TGC on iTunes or through your other mobile devices.

Going Deeper with TGC, 2-22, with Ligon Duncan

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Dr. Carl Trueman: The 2nd Cent. Marcions Have Landed in 21st Century

The Marcions have landed. A warning for evangelicals

By Carl Trueman
February 20, 2013

When one asks the most influential thinkers in the modern evangelical church are, one might find names such as Jim Packer, John Stott, and Don Carson.

I would like to suggest, however, that there is one whose influence is perhaps much greater than we are aware of, yet whose thinking all but pervades the modern evangelical church: Marcion.

He's the man who gets my vote for most profound influence on evangelicalism, from canon to theology to worship practices. You never see his books on the shelves in your high street Christian bookshop; you never see him advertised as preaching in your local church; but, rest assured, his spirit stalks those bookshops and pulpits.

He's the man who gets my vote for most profound influence on evangelicalism, from canon to theology to worship practices. You never see his books on the shelves in your high street Christian bookshop; you never see him advertised as preaching in your local church; but, rest assured, his spirit stalks those bookshops and pulpits.

Marcion is - or, rather, was - a somewhat shadowy figure, with most of what we know about him coming from the hostile pen of Tertullian. Apparently, he was a native of Pontus (in modern times, the area by the Black Sea), who flourished in the middle of the second century, dying circa 160. His major distinctive was his insistence on the Christian gospel as exclusively one of love to the extent that he came to a complete rejection of the Old Testament and only a qualified acceptance of those parts of the New Testament which he considered to be consistent with his central thesis (i.e. ten letters of Paul and a recension of the Gospel of Luke).

So how does Marcion influence modern evangelicalism? Well, I think evangelicalism has become practically Marcionite at a number of levels.

Exclusively love

First, the emphasis upon God's love to the utter exclusion of everything else has become something of a commonplace. We see this in the collapse of the notion of penal substitution as an evangelical doctrine. Now, maybe I'm missing something, but of all the things taught in the Bible, the terrifying wrath of God would seem to be among the most self-evident of all.

Thus, when I hear statements from evangelical theologians such as 'God's wrath is always restorative', my mind goes straight to countless OT passages, the Bible's teaching about Satan, and NT characters such as Ananias and Sapphira. There was not much restoration for any of these folk - or are being swallowed alive by the earth, consumed by holy fire and being struck dead for cheating the church actually therapeutic techniques intended to restore the individuals concerned?

And when leading evangelicals tell me that penal substitution is tantamount to cosmic child abuse (don't laugh - this is seriously argued by some leading evangelical theologians), I'm left wondering whether I should sit down and explain the doctrine to them, or whether I should merely tell them to go away and grow up. Do they really expect the church to take such claims as serious theological reflection?

Out with the Old

Then, there is the constant tendency to neglect the Old Testament, in particular in our theological reflections, and our devotional lives also need to take full account of the Old Testament. We need to read the Bible as a whole, to understand each passage, each verse, within the theological and narrative structure of the canon as a whole.

As evangelicals we can often err by focusing purely on the straight doctrinal teaching of the letters in the NT and the great passages in John's Gospel. An NT scholar and friend once said to me that he thought the average evangelical's life would be pretty much unaffected if the whole Bible, except for the Gospel of John and the Letter to the Romans, simply disappeared. Hyperbole maybe, but probably not by much. We need a solid biblical theology - not one which downgrades everything to the level of economy at the expense of ontology but one which takes full account of the central narrative of the Bible and seeks to do justice even to those bits of the Bible we don't like.

God's songs

Then, in our church practice, we need to take the Old Testament more seriously. It astounds me, given the overwhelming use of psalms as central to gathered worship in the first four centuries, the absolute importance given to psalmody for the first two centuries of the post-Reformation Reformed churches, and the fact that the Book of Psalms is the only hymn book which can claim to be universal in its acceptance by the whole of Christendom and utterly inspired in all of its statements - it astounds me, I say, that so few psalms are sung in our worship services today.

Moreover, often nothing seems to earn the scorn and derision of others more than the suggestion that more psalms should be sung in worship. Indeed, the last few years have seen a number of writers strike out against exclusive psalmody. Given that life is too short to engage in pointless polemics, I am left wondering which parallel universe these guys come from, where the most pressing and dangerous worship issue is clearly that people sing too much of the Bible in their services. How terrifying a prospect that would be.

Imagine: people actually singing songs that express the full range of human emotion in their worship using words of which God has explicitly said, 'These are mine.' Back here on Planet Earth, however, there is generally precious little chance of overloading on sound theology in song in most evangelical churches as the Marcion invasion is pretty much total and unopposed in the sphere of worship. Yet I for one prefer Athanasius to Marcion as a patristic thinker and, in his letter to Marcellinus, he gives one of the most beautiful and moving arguments for psalms in worship ever penned (available at aletterm.htm). It is a pity more have not taken his words to heart

Making God unknowable

So what will be the long-term consequences of this Marcionite approach to the Bible? Ultimately, I think it will push 'the God who is there' back into the realm of the unknowable and make our god a mere projection of our own psychology and our worship simply into group therapy sessions where we all come together to pretend we are feeling great. God is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob - take that identity away and what do we have left? As the OT is the context for the NT, so the neglect of OT leaves the NT as more or less meaningless. As our reading, our sermons, and our times of corporate worship neglect and, sometimes, simply ignore the OT, we can expect a general impoverishment of church life and, finally, a total collapse of evangelical Christendom.

Indeed, there are mornings when I wake up and think it's already all over, and that the church in the West survives more by sheer force of personality, by hype and by marketing ploys rather than by any higher power. We need to grasp once again who God is in his fullness; we need to grasp who we are in relation to him; and we need teaching and worship which gives full-orbed expression to these things - and this will only come when we in the West grow up, ditch the designer gods we build from our pick-n-mix Bible where consumer, not Creator, is king, and give the whole Bible its proper place in our lives, thinking and worship.

Think truncated thoughts about God and you'll get a truncated God; read an expurgated Bible and you get an expurgated theology; sing mindless, superficial rubbish instead of deep, truly emotional praise and you will eventually become what you sing.

Carl Trueman is Professor of Theology at Westminster Theological Seminary, USA. This article is adapted from Carl's editorial in Themelios Vol. 28 No. 1 from last autumn and is used with permission

Reformed Anglicanism, 2013

Rermed Foundations, Reforming Future: A vision for 21st century Anglicans
Online Booking & Payment (see bottom of page)
1st June 2013 : 1pm - 6pm
Oak Hill College, Southgate, London


Church Society's annual half-day conference and AGM will be held on 1st June 2013. This year is the 450th anniversary of the issuing in 1563 of the Thirty-nine Articles, the Church of England's confession of faith. We'll celebrate the evangelical foundations of the church, and look ahead to the vital task of continuing to reform it today. A new Council will be elected at the AGM to take forward this work in the coming year.

Tea and coffee will be served from 1pm, with talks beginning at 2pm. The AGM will be held at 3.30pm


Standard: £15

Married couple: £25

Student: £10

Subjects and Speakers:

Director of Church Society,
will speak on "confessional" Anglicanism, and the usefulness of the 39 Articles.

former Principal of Ridley College Melbourne, will give us biblical and theological guidance on how to reform the church today.