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THE VOICE OF ANGLICANISM: The Supremacy of the Word

THE VOICE OF ANGLICANISM: The Supremacy of the Word

"You must not quibble at his Word, find fault with it, and dispute it. Just hear it." Martin Luther

By Roger Salter
Special to Virtueonline
January 18, 2023

The vocation of Anglicanism is faithfully to give voice to the Word of God as it is heard in Holy Scripture, the sole and ultimate authority for everything Anglicanism is intended to proclaim. Reason and tradition in response to the guidance of the Word must be scrupulously in accord with the revealed mind of the Lord. There is no room for human inventiveness or convenient emendation. The speech of the Church should exactly echo the speech of God as much as it is enabled by the help of the Spirit of God.

The Church listens intently, and conveys carefully, the message of God to his world. Its aim and aspiration is to speak to mankind with spot-on accuracy, translucent clarity and infectious conviction. We fallible witnesses to the Word will not fully comply with the divine ideal, but the Spirit of God must be implored to resource the People of God with sufficiency of comprehension and skillful communication to commend Christ as Lord and Redeemer to the estranged mass of sinful humanity. Anglicanism participates in the general call imposed upon a faithful Christendom in presenting God to all sinful people, but in that actual universal religious chorus [of sorts, for the pure Gospel of God is largely muffled in the confusion of our time] what is the voice of Anglicanism, broadly speaking, currently contributing?

Anyone with a pair of ears, theologically speaking, knows that much of Anglicanism is seriously out of tune with its spiritual heritage; that the singers of our world-wide Communion vocalize a cacophony of discordant opinion and confessional statement. There is no prevailing harmony of expression. The voice of Anglicanism by and large is vague and variable in biblical content, and considering the widespread and blatant deviation from the Word of God in its Western version the denomination happens to produce effects that are malicious toward the eternal wellbeing of its members, casual adherents, and all who are even slightly influenced by it in any way.

Essential, that is constitutional, Anglicanism is meant to be driven by the Word of God delivered in the power of the Holy Spirit. But even an Anglicanism that achieves some degree of formal correctness, creed-wise and evangelically speaking, is markedly coy in giving a full-throated proclamation to what Scripture and our historical Confession teach about sin and grace. Our Bibles and Articles need to come much further to the fore in enunciating the saving truth of God in terms of our Reformational stance, standards and precious, indispensable, hard-won heritage. Our noble formularies are largely cast aside.

To characterize in detail this inheritance, that is currently being wasted, requires specific categorical description. Every profession of Christ requires content and explanation as to who he is and what he has achieved for our eternal redemption. Plain nomenclature must be ventured, not in any way to eclipse the purity of fealty to the basic vocabulary of Scripture by human wisdom, but to indicate where we position ourselves in relation to the plain propositions of divine revelation. Christian leanings need to be classified for the sake of identifying orthodoxy (systematic and organized theology), in order to avoid harmful error. Many conflicting notions are comprehended in claims to be of Christ, or of attachment to Anglicanism, but the views of such claimants may be sadly deficient or even dangerously bogus.

Authentic Anglicanism may be defined as decidedly derived from Holy Scripture with a sincere grasp of its totality as may be best achieved by prayerful study and humble dependence upon the direction of the Holy Spirit; and interpretively, Anglicanism is informed critically and rationally by the Augustinian tradition of asserting absolute human helplessness in a state of sinfulness and condemnation before God, and absolute dependence on sovereign and distinguishing grace.

As yet, no distinct branch of Anglicanism has arrived at this bold, and distinctive voicing of the stark predicament of sinners, and the divine provision of the masterful plan of salvation conceived by Almighty God. There is an inherent weakness in Anglicanism until it takes full hold of the sifting predilection of the determinant will of God. The absolute sovereignty of God is the missing element. Until then grace is cheap and requires the assistance of human effort (semi-Pelagianism is rampant throughout Evangelicalism) to be fully functional and completely effective, and this belief diminishes the serious fear of God, flatters the ability of man, boosts false hope, and reduces the appreciation of a wholly gracious and perfectly accomplished rescue through the mighty hand of God reaching out through Jesus Christ.

We present a limited Lord relegated to the sidelines of human restoration. As one prominent evangelist once implied, "God weeps and wrings his hands imploring men to accept salvation". But it is entirely a divine and certain donation. Our 17th Article is of prime importance as it tests us as to whether we are prepared to go the whole way with Holy Scripture. We cravenly compromise our reformational Confession.

"You may have observed, I have several times waived speaking about predestination or election, not that I am ashamed of the doctrine; because if it be indeed absurd, shocking and unjust, the blame will not deservedly fall upon me, for I did not invent it, but upon the Scriptures, where I am sure it is laid down in as plain terms, as that God created the heavens and the earth. I own I cannot but wonder, that persons professing any reverence for the Bible should so openly and strongly declare their abhorrence of what the Bible so expressly teaches, namely, that there is a discrimination of persons by the grace and good pleasure of God, where by nature there is no difference; and that all things respecting the salvation of these persons is infallibly secured by divine predestination."

JOHN NEWTON. (Letter 5, November 17, 1775, Collected Letters edited by Halcyon Backhouse, Hodder and Stoughton, 1989).

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