Church

Trend: Young Evangelicals Becoming Catholics or Joining Other ‘High Church’ Traditions

Over at the Sacred Page:

… Now there’s an interesting piece on “The Christian Pundit”.

A friend of mine attended a Christian college where almost all of the students, including her, grew up in non-denominational, evangelical Protestant churches. A few years after graduation, she is the only person in her graduating class who is not Roman Catholic,  high Anglican or Lutheran…

Young Christians are going over to Catholicism and high Anglicanism/Lutheranism in droves, despite growing up in low Protestant churches that told them about Jesus. It’s a trend that is growing, and it looks like it might go that way for a while…

The kids who leave evangelical Protestantism are looking for something the world can’t give them. The world can give them hotter jeans, better coffee, bands, speakers, and book clubs than a congregation can. What it can’t give them is theology; membership in a group that transcends time, place and race; a historic rootedness; something greater than themselves; ordained men who will be spiritual leaders and not merely listeners and buddies and story-tellers. What the kids leaving generic evangelicalism seem to want is something the world can never give them–a holy Father who demands reverence, a Saviour who requires careful worship, and a Spirit who must be obeyed. They are looking for true, deep, intellectually robust spirituality in their parents’ churches and not finding it.

But not all kids who grew up in American evangelicalism are jumping off into high church rite and sacrament: congregations that carefully teach robust, historic Protestant theology to their children are notably not losing them to the Vatican, or even Lambeth…

“He cannot have God as his Father who does not have the church for his Mother,” said Cyprian, nearly two millennia ago. Perhaps if Protestant churches began acting more like dutiful mothers instead of fun babysitters, there would be fewer youth leaving their ecclesiastical homes as soon as they are out of the house.

Read the whole thing here.

 

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Church

Western Anglicanism Seriously Compromised

So says a Kenyan Archbishop:

The Primate of the Anglican Church of Kenya says the tables have turned in the Anglican Communion thus it is time for the Global South to assert itself and take the gospel back to the West.

In his New Year sermon delivered at All Saints Cathedral, Nairobi, The Most Rev. Eliud Wabukala commented that, “…in our modern context we need now to be thinking of mission beyond our borders. In the past we have been the recipients of missionary endeavour and we thank God for those who brought the gospel to this land, but now the sending nations of the West are in deep spiritual and moral crisis and it is time for us to take a lead in global mission.

“The majority of Anglicans are now in the Global South and that means we need to take greater responsibility in global leadership. We cannot simply stand by as we see many of the Anglican Churches in the West, including the Church of England itself, being severely compromised by the deepening spiritual and moral darkness of the societies in which they are set.”

The evangelical archbishop noted, “The GAFCON movement is one way in which global Anglicans are responding to this need and I am very happy that in October this year, we are expecting the second Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON 2) to be held here in Nairobi and we look forward to welcoming Anglican leaders from around the globe.

“I believe this will be a strategic moment in the reshaping of the Anglican Communion to fulfil our vision for global mission and a time when we will experience a foretaste of that glorious gathering of the people of God which Isaiah prophesied.”

Wabukala said that the emphasis on a ‘holistic gospel’, one which expresses both deed and word, must be truly holistic in the need to seek after the presence of the God who reveals himself in the Scriptures at the heart and centre of our life as a church.

The Kenyan Archbishop said Christians should be neither optimists nor pessimists, but people with a strong hope in the promises of Scripture and the power of prayer.

 

Church

The Calamitous Condition of Contemporary Anglicanism

In Virtue Online:

If Holy Scripture and Reformational standards are to be our measure the present state of the Anglican Communion is lamentable. Discounting those rare exceptions in academy, diocese, and parish where the roots of Cranmerian and Augustinian doctrine and devotion are still firm, and are flourishing with Gospel witness and works, the Ecclesia Anglicana and its offshoots have taken a terrible tumble into a morass of confusion, vacillation, and imprecision in matters of theological and ethical principle.

Anglicanism is an entity where sound belief is minimal and anything goes. Centuries of gradual drift from historic moorings have suddenly hurtled us into rapids that carry us to a rushing watery precipice of destruction. Seemingly gentle meanderings into alternative streams of freer thought facilitated by Biblical criticism of a skeptical turn, and “innovation” allowed by a recapitulation of Roman thought and practice, markedly weakened the stance of an honored member of the Reformed family of Churches.

Classic Anglicanism has waned as an influence of any importance or effectiveness in the Anglican fold which has become so inclusive and comprehensive as to have become nullified as a force for the unambiguous representation of the message of eternal salvation through Jesus Christ.

So far gone are we from the verities of the Word of God that we marvel at any mitred head that merely pronounces the name of the Saviour and mutters a feeble “Sunday School pupil’s” attempt at expounding disordered (re Ordo Salutis) and diluted elements (soften the matter of sin and its damning consequences) of the Christian faith.

How many public pronouncements of our leadership, especially on great festive occasions when more folk than usual nod towards the Church (and then nod off), would actually lead folk, as desperate and doomed sinners, to faith in the only Redeemer?

Behind the vagueness and moral and socio-political exhortation looms the specter of an easy-going, undemanding, fatally poisonous, notion of universalism, or a soul destroying confidence in sacramentalism and the mechanism operated by a priesthood now Scripturally obsolete (Letter to the Hebrews).

The tragic virus of irrelevancy neutralizes our Western sector of the Anglican Church as an agent of the good news of salvation, and more than that, our waywardness from truth, and into grievous error, imperils immortal souls. Our preoccupations are earthly and not heavenly. We are incapable of fulfilling the Mosaic mandate to “set before Israel life and death, good and evil” (Deut 39:19). We can no longer differentiate or declare these matters.

The seed of our defection is our initial concession to Arminianism (Archbishop Laud and all that) where ultimate choices are man’s and not God’s. Instead of ringing out the glorious, humbling, and encouraging fact of divine sovereignty we have a “god” wringing his hands over the control that recalcitrant men exert over him and his purposes. With God’s “wills and shalls” asserted in Scripture for us to receive (Spurgeon) unconditionally as absolute, Arminianism, as a humanistic philosophy that counters the Word of God,  always interposes the arrogant comment “if we concur”. It is the rebel cry of the usurpation of divine prerogatives. Once Arminianisn gains a grip all divine mandates become optional, all divine commands or utterances of desire become negotiable. Religion becomes man-serving, man-pleasing, and church life and practice becomes a hopeless melee.

Many Augustinians and Calvinists are cowed by the vitriolic accusations leveled against them. If we conscientiously preach and teach in faithfulness and love we cannot mute the express revelation of God on vital issues of sin and grace that address our consciences and inform our minds concerning self and a successful and sufficient Savior totally effective in carrying out his Father’s assignment. We have no right to trim the Word of God at the insistence of our critics, or question his wisdom in his disclosure of truth.

Truth is not our property but the Lord’s for us to handle with care and candor under his guidance and skill. We cannot negotiate its clarity and power away at the insistence of anyone – colleagues or controversialists. We must keep our nerve and do what is right with loyalty to God and charitableness to men (in so far as we are able). We are truth-speakers as well as peace-makers.

The present is dire, but from our vantage point the future is not fixed knowledge in our possession as it is in the Lord’s. We have a God who can and does raise up children from stones (Matthew 3:9 cf Ezekiel 36:26). We serve God with this hope ever in our hearts. We have numerous causes of inspiration and encouragement from the past in adhering to a worthy view of God and a salvation surely won for his people however much the Church defects and dithers e.g. ejected minister Christopher Ness (Antidote to Arminianism), energetic apologist Augustus Toplady (Historic Proof of the Doctrinal Calvinism of the Church of England, The Church of England Vindicated From the Charge of Arminianism), accurate preacher George Whitefield (“At least, I am sure, we are all Arminians by nature; and, therefore, no wonder so many natural men embrace that scheme”, solid advocate John Charles Ryle (Old Paths), and perhaps the most passionate of them all, the Church of England’s greatest preacher of the 19th century Hugh McNeile, about whom much more needs to be written and known (Does this character of God, this predestinating sovereignty, this distinguishing grace, this unchanging purpose, belong to the Being before whom we bend our knees? And are we indeed (so far as this truth is concerned) scriptural worshippers of the Lord Jehovah?).

A sovereign God can reverse the impending ruin of the Anglican Communion in our hemisphere. The message of prophet and apostle assures us of this. But it will not come through our editing of the edicts of heaven. It will come only through deliverance from compromise of truth and contention with it. We must not be hasty in settling for retreat or defeat but fervently trust that Scottish Presbyterian divine, William Hastie D.D., will be vindicated in his opinion that, “notwithstanding the vacillation and weakness of its doctrinal development” Anglicanism as a Reformed Church may attain its possible noble destiny in the brotherhood of Reformed Churches: “The ecclesiastical ideal of its Reformers was to make the Church of England the living centre and rallying point of all the Reformed Churches; and if its leaders and guides were to take up this splendid conception again and endeavour to realize it, they might be blessed in doing the greatest work for the Reformed Protestantism that the world has seen since the age of the Reformation” (Theology of the Reformed Church in its Fundamental Principles, T & T Clark, Edinburgh, 1904).

–  The Rev. Roger Salter

 

Church

The Decline of Evangelical America

Speaking of Evangelicals, the New York Times:

 

It hasn’t been a good year for evangelicals. I should know. I’m one of them.

In 2012 we witnessed a collapse in American evangelicalism. The old religious right largely failed to affect the Republican primaries, much less the presidential election. Last month, Americans voted in favor of same-sex marriage in four states, while Florida voters rejected an amendment to restrict abortion.

Much has been said about conservative Christians and their need to retool politically. But that is a smaller story, riding on the back of a larger reality: Evangelicalism as we knew it in the 20th century is disintegrating.

In 2011 the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life polled church leaders from around the world. Evangelical ministers from the United States reported a greater loss of influence than church leaders from any other country — with some 82 percent indicating that their movement was losing ground.

I grew up hearing tales of my grandfather, a pastor, praying with President Ronald Reagan at the White House. My father, also a pastor, prayed with George W. Bush in 2000. I now minister to my own congregation, which has grown to about 500, a tenfold increase, in the last four years (by God’s favor and grace, I believe). But, like most young evangelical ministers, I am less concerned with politics than with the exodus of my generation from the church.

Studies from established evangelical polling organizations — LifeWay Research, an affiliate of the Southern Baptist Convention, and the Barna Group — have found that a majority of young people raised as evangelicals are quitting church, and often the faith, entirely.

As a contemporary of this generation (I’m 30), I embarked three years ago on a project to document the health of evangelical Christianity in the United States. I did this research not only as an insider, but also as a former investigative journalist for an alt weekly.

I found that the structural supports of evangelicalism are quivering as a result of ground-shaking changes in American culture. Strategies that served evangelicals well just 15 years ago are now self- destructive. The more that evangelicals attempt to correct course, the more they splinter their movement. In coming years we will see the old evangelicalism whimper and wane…

Another obituary prematurely written ?

 

 

Church

New Principal for Moore College, Sydney

Dr Mark Thompson has been appointed to succeed Dr John Woodhouse at the evangelical theological powerhouse, Moore College, Sydney, one of the largest Anglican seminaries in the world.

Dr Mark Thompson has been appointed to succeed Dr John Woodhouse as Principal of Moore Theological College.

The President of the governing board of the College, Dr Peter Jensen, said “I greet the appointment of Dr Mark Thompson as the next Principal with great enthusiasm. Mark is thoroughly committed to Christ as Lord, and is a fine teacher and a caring pastor”.

Dr Jensen said “His gifts as a speaker, theological educator, author and theologian have been recognised internationally as well as locally. His clear and strong affirmation of the gospel and his capacity as a leader are going to be significant gifts he brings to the College”.

The Archbishop described the college as “well positioned to meet the challenges of change.” “The campus requires development and a new building is planned. The educational opportunities are new and they offer the possibilities of extending the teaching of the College and attracting even more students. With the help of the faculty and staff of the College, Mark is well equipped both to maintain the theological stance of the College and to oversee the developments we need to best serve Christ and his people” he said.

Dr Jensen said “I ask us all to pray for Mark, Kathryn and their children as he takes up this pivotal role.”

Dr Thompson has lectured at the college since 1991. He currently lectures in Christian Doctrine and is head of Moore’s Department of Theology, Philosophy and Ethics and has served variously as Academic Dean and as acting Principal.

Internationally, he has been a member of the GAFCON Theological Resource Group and has helped strengthen Moore’s international links and build its profile overseas.

Himself a graduate of Moore, Dr Thompson was ordained in 1987, serving in parish ministry in St Swithun’s Pymble, St Luke’s Dapto and Quakers Hill Anglican. He is married to Kathryn and they have four daughters. He and his family attend St Matthew’s Ashbury.

Dr Thompson is a member of the Diocese of Sydney Standing Committee and chairs its Doctrine Commission. As an author, he has researched, lectured and published on the doctrine of scripture including his recent book A Clear and Present Word: The Clarity of Scripture (in the New Studies in Biblical Theology series). A further interest is the importance of theological education to the future of the diocese. He is also a prolific blogger.

“It is a great privilege to be invited to serve the College in this way. I’m enormously excited because I believe that Moore College is on the cusp of a range of opportunities for providing strong, clear, biblical, theological education in a rapidly changing world” Dr Thompson said. “The resources we have at our disposal — a brilliant and diverse faculty, a remarkable library, dedicated staff, a rapidly expanding online presence, but most of all a growing family of gifted graduates who appreciate what they gained from their time at Moore — these all are God’s gifts to us and we have a responsibility to use them in the most effective and strategic way possible for the mission of knowing Christ and making him known.” Dr Thompson said.

Dr Woodhouse retires as Principal in early 2013.

Dr Thompson’s blog, Theological Theology, is here. It’s all about the God who has made himself known in Jesus Christ.