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The Smooth Sounding Heretics in the Church of England

The Smooth Sounding Heretics in the Church of England
It is a kairos moment for Church of England evangelicals

By David W. Virtue, DD
November 27, 2023

There was a time in history when heretics and their followers were vigorously denounced from pulpit and throne. Many were caught, beheaded, and burnt at the stake. That was the fate of heretics.

Leaders of great heresies like Arianism, Pelagianism and Docetism, were brought before counsels forced to confess, and if they didn't they were cast into outer darkness to await the judgement of God. The church survived them all.

When leaders fought FOR the faith like St. Paul, Luther, Calvin and Cranmer, to name but a few; they were hunted down, chased out of cities, and, when caught, suffered similar fates of death, dismemberment and burning at stakes.

Today that is no longer the case.

Today's heretics come with unctuous, smooth sounding words couched in the language of inclusion and diversity, with terms like 'generous orthodoxy' made famous by the late Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold and walking together amidst diversity, dripping from their lips.

It is all so smooth sounding, like a second glass of port after a lavish dinner accompanied by two bottles of Chateau Lafite Rothschild. "My dear boy you must learn not to be so strident, cool your jets...all will be well, have another glass of port."

One commentator put it like this; "Western Church [heretics] are so pernicious because it is so saccharinely pleasant. Unlike the chest-beating, hubristic heresies of the early centuries, modern-day heresies come meekly and gently by softly spoken clerics, mitre-at-knee, wishing to avoid conflict wherever possible. Doe-eyed, these clerics suggest ever so gently and convincingly with reassuring, expensively educated tones, like so many episcopal opticians, that if we just made a little alteration to Scripture here, or reconsidered the historicity of this passage, or questioned the divine inspiration of this verse we could conform our spiritual vision to the metaphysical myopia of the modern world, which would lead souls flooding through the lychgate like pie-wielding fans through the turnstiles at a cup final."

It's hard not to think of the Bishop of Oxford, Steven Croft, or Justin Welby the Archbishop of Canterbury or the Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell not falling into these categories. "I love disciple-making," the Archbishop of York once told me smoothly at a coffee clutch meeting at a Lambeth gathering. Somehow, I was not convinced. I said nothing.

No one raises his or her voice; a glassy eyed look here, a look of contempt there. Dear Lord he didn't really say that, did he? He or she must really tone it down a tad.

"Would the Director of Reconciliation Mr. David Porter chime in to give us some much-needed contextualization for all this."

"I'm delighted to your grace. My lords will understand that our Global South brothers and sisters live in a pre-Neanderthal time warp which is not their fault, and they need to catch up to twentieth century understandings on human sexuality. We are hopeful that with money and technology it won't take them very long."

"As you all know, heresy is to be preferred over schism, though I must add it is harder to define heresy in an ecumenical and pluriform age. We must all learn to live with each other's truths. How else can we move forward together?"

And this is how it goes, until it doesn't. Some wake up from the faux wokery of inclusion and realize they have been hoodwinked. "More tea vicar," won't cut it.

The Church of England has lost the plot and the church's orthodox must decide whether to go along with the charade, or flee to more orthodox spiritual climes.

That is where the Church of England stands now. To flee or not to flee that is the question for thousands of evangelicals.

Based on history in other parts of the communion, many of whose provinces have rejected the leadership of the Church of England, the decision should not be hard to do. The American Episcopal Church experienced schism and will ultimately not survive. Age, dying, and shriveling parishes are its future. The Church of England is on a death watch.

"Come ye out from among them," is the biblical exhortation. The apostle Paul would unhesitatingly tell them to go. But will they, time will tell.


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