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PLANO, TX: ACNA Leader says Anglican Communion Faces New Dark Age and New Reformation

PLANO, TX: ACNA Leader says Anglican Communion Faces New Dark Age and New Reformation

By David W. Virtue, DD
June 24, 2019

The Anglican Communion is in crisis and faces both a new Reformation and a new Dark Age, says the Rev. Canon J. Philip Ashey, President & Chief Executive Officer of the American Anglican Council.

In a stem-winding lecture on the state of the Anglican Communion delivered during the Anglican Church in North America's recent Provincial Assembly, the Anglican leader said that we are on the cusp of a once-every-500-year Reformation of Christianity!

"This time the presenting issues are around the meaning of human identity and "human flourishing." At the same time, we are in a time of unprecedented persecution and martyrdom of Christians. Within our own global communion of Anglican churches, we are in a "Kairos" moment--literally a "crisis" opportunity to choose between western secularism, cultural Marxism, radical Islam and religious pluralism (on the one hand), and the Biblical vision of human flourishing under the Gospel of Jesus Christ on the other.

"Will global Anglicans surrender to a new Dark Age fueled by western secularism? Or will we preach the Gospel, whatever the cost, and uphold the Biblical vision of human flourishing under the Lordship of Jesus Christ?" cried Ashey.

Drawing on Phyllis Tickle's evocative theory that Christianity undergoes revolution every 500 years and now faces a new paradigm shift, Ashey said the church faces tectonic shifts that we call reformation where the church is cleaning house.

Ashey points back to the Great Schism of 1054 and later the Reformation of the 1500s. The question was, what is the locus of authority in the church today?

Ashey pointed to the role of the Bible and the five solas - by Grace alone (Sola Gratia); Through Faith alone (Sola Fide); In Christ alone (Solus Christus); According to Scripture alone (Sola Scriptura) and for God's Glory alone (Soli Deo Gloria). Five hundred years later we are a global community, armed with weapons of mass distraction. The denominational era is over. Ashey took issue with Tickle's analysis criticizing it as "purely sociological."

"The issue today is how we define human identity and human flourishing." Ashey took issue with Justice Kennedy, who said that the heart of the matter is the right to define one's own identity which is one of radical freedom and radical autonomy. This is at the heart of the secular view." Ashey drew on N.T. Wright's more biblical view, that human beings are made in the image of God. So, who are we?

Ashey said that Roman Catholics and Anglicans were in a close place because of the theology of Pope John Paul IIs theology of the Bible with its teaching on natural law and the Bible when talking of two genders.

"The differences are not subordination coming outside of the Trinity. The issue is complementarity between male and female. Sex is on the surface, what is at stake is the doctrine of creation and the doctrine of marriage - the two shall become one flesh."

Ashey said the action of the New Westminster of Bishop Michael Ingham in 2002 was that it violated the doctrine of God and humanity.

"Does it have this authority? Do we believe in the clarity of the bible? Ashey slammed Archbishop Justin Welby who said Anglican methodology never shuts down any options. He is being duplicitous that the church will right itself. Come as you are, but let it root around Jesus Christ and change you from the inside out."

Ashey drew an analogy from the Titanic. "It sank because it happened below the surface."

Ashey cited Christian sociologist Dr. Os Guinness, who said we are moving from a cut flower culture away from bible and our Judeo-Christian heritage to one of infinite choices without any moral compass. Pluralism offers infinite choices. Christianity has become privately engaging but publicly irrelevant. We are in an aggressive stage of triumphant secularism even as secularism is becoming exhausted where individuals bump up against one another leading to violence and control.

Ashey blamed the liberation of the Episcopal Church's secular utopian ideas. "They use power and the ecclesiastical equivalence of violence."

On the global scene, Ashey said we might see the disappearance of Christianity in some places, especially the Middle East. He noted that the decline of the church in the secularizing west was a sign of a new Dark Age.

On the bright side, Ashey said that Africa was coming to the rescue of global Christianity. Most of GAFCON's primates are from Africa. Ashey said that Nepal recently confirmed 3,000 new believers, the same number as at Pentecost, and said that Nepal is probably the fastest growing Anglican church in the world.

"The locus and center of Christianity has gone from Jerusalem through Europe to the middle of central Africa. "The growth of Pentecostal Christianity comes with power with some 279 million Pentecostals in the world exceeding all non-religious groups. They are experiencing the Holy Spirit with signs wonders and miracles. This is a sign of a wonderful new reformation. We see mission from everywhere to everywhere. What we have is both a new dark age and a new reformation."

Ashey said biblically faithful missional Anglicans are flourishing everywhere. "At All Saints Cathedral in Nairobi, Kenya, 15 services are held every Sunday, drawing 6,000 people. There are 1800 young adults aged between 19 to 35." Ashey pointed to the thriving Anglican church in Recife, Brazil, which started with one diocese and now had four dioceses. It grew from four students to 70 students in three other dioceses with 14 new congregations, 400 cell groups, with Archbishop Miguel Uchoa establishing a vital outreach to the poor.

In Singapore, some 200 adults and 30 kids could be found in one new congregation. "Over 1,000 children and teens have committed their life to Christ."

In Sydney, Australia, 41 churches in the George's River region will work together in 2020 to spread the gospel to the 1.2 million people who do not know Jesus.

In Jos, Nigeria, there are flourishing Kingdom bishops. "All clergy are assigned and sent out on a two-week mission and told to take nothing with them. No bikes, no cars. This was started in 1992 with four churches, now there are 47 new churches planted. They have 300 trained pastors, with an increase of 2,000 new Christians."

Ashey highlighted seven new principles we can learn from.

1. A renewed commitment to the clarity and authority of the bible. Have an open forum on sexuality but hear what the bible has to say, not yielding an inch.
2. Leadership with a kingdom vision
3. A passion to reach lost people
4. Pray and call on the power of Holy Spirit
5. Prioritize and begin with children
6. The Biblical Principle of multiplication
7. Trust God and pray.

"We must overcome the gospel deficit. We reject the authority of those churches and leaders who have denied Christ and the gospel. Looking at the Anglican Communion, Ashey said we have an ecclesial deficit. "There is no communion structure today. We must say NO to false teaching. There is a missional deficit in the communion. GAFCON is like a mission society."

You can watch Canon Ashey's full presentation here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nf1G4I5NuJ4


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