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Open letter to all Canadian Bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada

Open Letter to all Canadian Bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada

May 16, 2004

Your Graces,

All culture arises out of religion. When religious faith decays, culture must decline, though often seeming to flourish for a space after the religion which has nourished it has sunk into disbelief....no cultured person should remain indifferent to erosion of apprehension of the transcendent. Russell Kirk, Eliot and His Age

The Anglican Church of Canada (ACC) stands at a crossroad. Your vote at General Synod on the issue of blessing same sex unions will determine the future of the ACC. This letter is a plea to and a prayer for each of you as you prepare for this historical meeting.

My plea for each of you is that you will immerse yourself in fervent prayer and contemplative meditation on your role as shepherd. My prayer is that the Holy Spirit will lift the scales from all encrusted eyes so that the Truth will reign.

I make no effort to convince you on theological grounds, I am no theologian. I am a 56 year old lawyer/businessman who was born into the Roman Catholic faith and who practiced it diligently until my early 20’s. I abandoned church going and thoughts of the transcendent once I married, embarked upon my legal profession, bought my first house and sailboat…God had provided me with all I needed so I didn’t see the need for Him any more. I was ensnared by the sins of pride and avarice though I would have strenuously objected to the characterization at the time.

I became a Christian after our second child was born and after I heard the gospel message for the first time in the pews of St. John’s Shaughnessy in Vancouver. I became an Anglican shortly thereafter. Drawn back to a church by our desire to have our children baptized, my wife (an Anglican from birth) and I have been blessed by 23 years of worship and community at St. John’s.

This is some small context, in the light of which I ask you to consider what I am about to say. I believe my faith journey as an Anglican for more than half of my adult life is not unique. Despite this, based on face to face meetings both I and my wife have had with Michael Ingham, I have concluded he does not believe I understand what it means to be Anglican.

To the extent Bishop Ingham believes it is Anglicanism at work when he uses canonical laws and Anglican ecclesiastical structures to preserve his power and control over the “property and traditions of the ACC” at the expense of truth – he is right. I have little interest in an Anglicanism of power politics, nor do I believe should any of you.

We must all be wary of words like inclusivity, diversity and collegiality becoming shibboleths. We in Canada live in a secular ever more antinomian culture. As a Christian and an Anglican I cherish the freedom and privilege to worship in and witness through a community of fellow sinners and believers within the context of the 39 Articles and the Anglican liturgy.

What intellect I have – insufficient as it may be to convince you of the rightness of my position - has convinced me that to approve the blessing of same sex unions is to bless sin and as such is a first order issue.

There is nothing about the particular sin that is determinant. A motion to bless the sin of gluttony, or pride, or swindling – name your sin – would lead me to the same conclusion.

What has brought the ACC to this precipice is quite simple. Michael Ingham and those like-minded Anglicans have bent their knee to our culture and like John Dewey and Walt Whitman they now “hope to separate the fraternity and loving kindness urged by the Christian Scriptures from the idea of supernatural parentage, immorality, providence, and ----most important----sin”.1 That they fail to explain how there can be divine forgiveness and redemption in the absence of sin is but one of the flaws in their reasoning. The result is the proposition that one can be a Christian and an Anglican while still believing that Biblical truth, along with objectivity, value, or meaning are chimerical, and that all we can have, and all we need to have, is the warm security of our own opinions. This is the siren song of “inclusivity” and “diversity” and it leads inexorably first to the shoals of disbelief then to the rocks of apostasy.

An Anglican Church of Canada that denounces the belief in sin, the authority of Scripture and in our need to be forgiven and made righteous, and that moves to permit and approve the blessing of sin, is one which has abandoned the worldwide Anglican Communion. It is an empty vessel. Like the Diocese of New Westminster, it will be declared by the overwhelming majority of worldwide Anglicans to be out of Communion.

The future of the ACC is in your hands. Your choice is to exercise leadership as shepherd of your flock by voting against this revisionist motion, or to abandon your flock to the tribulations of a liberal secular culture.

Your unwillingness or inability to resist our culture will mean the ACC will be a Christian denomination in a formal sense only. The ACC will join the shrinking ranks of liberal Protestantism, and will be destined for further fragmentation.

My prayer is that you will be moved to act in obedience to your vows, and to feed and protect your flock. You are each on your way to Damascus, and I pray for the intervention of the Holy Spirit to turn the purpose of your journey from one of persecution to one of redemption.

The surrender by the ACC to post-Christian modernity will inevitably lead its members to join the rest of the secular society, at risk of succumbing to this bleak conclusion:

Most of us will surrender to a passive decay of will and aspiration, perhaps find fewer reasons to resist as government insinuates itself into the little liberties of the family, continue to seek out hitherto unsuspected insensitivities to denounce and prejudices to extirpate, allow morality to give way to sentimentality; the impetuous among us will attempt to enjoy Balzac, or take up herb gardening, or discover ‘issues’; a few dilettantish amoralists will ascertain that everything is permitted and dabble in bestiality or cannibalism; the rest of us will mostly watch television; crime rates will rise more steeply and birth rates will fall more precipitously; being the ‘last men’ we shall think ourselves at the end of history…. surely we can hope for a nobler fate.” 2

The choice is yours. You are at the precipice of an historical decision. I pray you will choose wisely.

Yours in Christ,

Ben Buan, is a member of St. John’s (Shaughnessy) Anglican Church in Vancouver, BC Canada.

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