January 9, 2013

Transforming the Anglican Church of Canada - A Proposal

The Anglican Primate’s consultation on Church transformation to deal with declining finances comes at a time when most people can finally agree that something is not working – and that continuing in the present direction and expecting a different outcome is by definition insane. Let me propose that the current problem of declining attendance and funding goes way back to decisions made in the 1970’s to move away from the traditional sin / redemption emphasis and judgementalism of evangelicals; and make the church more relevant and appealing to the culture – the famous ‘comfortable pew’ of Pierre Berton. This was a good idea but it was taken too far and resulted in us caving in to non-Biblical political values and 40 years of conflict over theological changes in liturgy, the ordination of women, the blessing of same-sex unions and downplaying the importance of forgiveness and personal reconciliation. To put it simply and bluntly, paralleling the Prophecy of Isaiah adopted by Jesus as His mission (Luke 4.18), the Anglican Church of Canada needs to change from being politically anointed to being anointed by the Holy Spirit; from changing the Good News to proclaiming the Good News; from blinding people with political agendas to opening their eyes to God’s spiritual agenda and from imprisoning people in false teachings to freeing them Biblical spiritual teachings.

1.     Change from being politically anointed to Holy Spirit Anointed
The process of de-emphasizing the importance of really being guided by the Holy Spirit probably goes back to the Day of Pentecost, when some people felt missed and left out. Being human they would naturally propose alternative, more predictable and tangible sources of authority. So it was that our forefathers, very unwisely and un-Biblically, allied themselves with political authorities and pushed our charismatic brother, Rev. John Wesley and many others, out of the Anglican fold and substituted Scripture, Tradition and Reason (i.e. politics) as our sources of doctrinal authority. In our time Anglican and other churches that make a serious effort to be led by the Holy Spirit, as opposed to the current political agenda, are growing. The most dramatic example of this potential change is the New Wine Anglican churches in England which are filled to capacity right next door in some case to almost empty traditional Anglican churches.

2.     Change from revising the Good News to proclaiming the authentic Good News
The changes we have been debating in the Anglican Church are really about the authority of the Bible. This is part of a  200+ year-long deconstruction of the Bible as a source of spiritual truth and authority by skeptical academics and religious politicians. Many respected academics and Bishops have dismissed the supernatural worldview of the Bible (particularly the healing miracles) as primitive ‘pre-scientific superstition’. Others have dismissed the moral teachings of the Bible on sexuality as culturally biased and therefore not binding. The recent St. Michael’s Report for example ignored the whole issue of the holiness of God. Those with serious experience in prayer and the Healing Ministry know that the academics are wrong and that the Bible is an accurate (even ‘evidence-based scientific’) description of how things work in the spiritual dimension. The message of the Bible is by definition and intention both counter-cultural and offensive to some people. Taking out the spiritual hard bits about evil, sin and repentance that might offend people is dishonest, deceptive, false teaching and a failure to proclaim the need for and Good News of Salvation. The Good News is that Jesus provided a hard to believe but  unique way to overcome our separation from God and the spiritual evil at work in the world. Churches that proclaim this authentic Good News are growing.

3.     Change from blinding people with political agendas to opening eyes to God’s spiritual agernda
The Anglican Church has now lost two whole generations of young people because our focus was on the latest political issue – ordination of women, liturgical reform, blessing same-sex unions and inclusiveness. . We have two generations of adults who mostly never went to Sunday School and were baptized and Confirmed without a serious Catechesis process, never experienced the Holy Spirit or healing and are Biblically illiterate. Now, before we disappear completely, would be a good time to transform the Anglican Church of Canada into an organization that remembers the main thing is to remember to keep the main thing the main thing.

4.     Change from imprisoning people in false teachings to freeing them with Biblical spiritual teachings
Many people have left because they are tired of fighting and are not being fed spiritually. The Anglican Church of Canada can be accused of imprisoning people in false teachings which are contrary to the clear meaning of the Bible as interpreted in all places and at all times by all people. Recent examples would include dropping the Confession and Absolution from liturgies, teaching Inclusiveness (not a Biblical value), blessing same-sex unions and generally teaching Pelagianism (heresy of self-salvation through good works). 

We all need to pray for the anointing of the Holy Spirit to show us how to get back to proclaiming the Good News of God's love and forgiveness so that peoples’ spiritual eyes are opened and they are freed from the prisons of false teaching, guilt, physical sickness and spiritual oppression – just like it says in the Bible. 

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