The tipping point

If you are following Anglican current affairs, then you will know the importance of what is happening in New Orleans at the moment. I’m not planning on filling you in on that here, you can find all about it on good sites like T19 and SF.

What I’d like to do is consider the question – what next? It seems to me that as September draws to a close so we have reached a kairos moment, a tipping point if you will. Short of a deep heart turnaround, also known as ‘repentance’ there was only ever going to be two outcomes – costly discipline in the Anglican Communion, or even more costly anarchy.

At this stage it appears the one man who could have made a stand, and a choice, in this whole debacle has failed to do so. I am of course talking about Archbishop Rowan Williams, who holds a position of moral leadership, and who could have presented the choices that TEC needed to make, with appropriate consequences. Instead, it seems he has attempted to kick the whole thing down-field again.

When is a deadline not a deadline? When an Anglican Archbishop attempts to nuance the meaning, apparently. The time for talking, for dialogue, has come, and gone. More talking will not achieve anything. All Archbishop Williams has done is to refuse the position of leadership that he has. The consequences will follow.

And, it is the consequences that I really want to talk about in this post. Likely we will see an absolute mess as a result of this and it will take many years for it all to settle out. The trouble is, so many of us have been in this fight for so long, that the fight is all we know. What happens after the dust clears and whatever part of the immediate battle we are in is over?

What are we fighting for? Is it sometimes true that we are defined as opposition to our enemies? I can see plenty of examples of that on both sides of the fence. We fight for Christian orthodoxy – yes so, and it is a laudable aim. But more? Are we looking towards the status quo – bring it back to the way it used to be?

I do not think, in all honesty, that we can ever go back to being the way we used to be. We were brought through the fire in the valley of decision for other purposes. Cast your eyes about, and you see other denominations engaged in similar battles. Why? So that they, as well as we, may make decisions, choose our ground if you will. You can’t stay in the valley – you choose to ascend the mountain of the world, or the mountain of Christ.

The choice is the key – that is what we are about at this time. Our Lord is bringing a people, His inheritance, together at this time for His purposes. There are other things afoot, there are changes coming. He needs His Church to be ready for the coming times. So it is that we are forced through the valley of decision, that we might choose.

The time of choice will not last forever, by His mercy it has been extended as long as it has. Eventually all will be forced to choose – for you cannot serve God and mammon both.

Eventually the tidal wave of judgment, mercy, persecution and revival will sweep our land and the only ones who will withstand are those with both feet planted on the Rock. If we are ready – we will withstand and then shine like beacons in the gathering gloom, gathering a harvest even in the bleakest times. Do you not see it? It is coming, coming so very, very soon.

This would be my counsel, to look beyond what is currently at hand and see what the Lord is making us to be. Look beyond denominational strife to see the Church arise. For, we will be both bright and terrible to the darkness, shining light, being light, rescuing those who even now are far off.

Yes, look beyond, friends – look beyond the current mess and do not despair. For God is doing a mighty work, if only we have eyes to see it! The Church arises and puts on power! The belt and breastplate is fastened in to place, helmet placed on the head, shield raised for battle, sword lifted once more strong and deadly, far far more deadly than any weapon forged by man. So do not despair – all this He foreknew from long ago. All we have to do is lift up our heads, see what our Lord is doing, and do likewise. For our redemption draws nigh and the passion of the Church is at hand!

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24 Responses to The tipping point

  1. Pauline Bettney says:

    I agree with you entirely Peter. I have been following the proceedings in New Orleans and Rowan Williams has failed to take leadership and save the Communion. But we have to look beyond. It is obvious that God is producing new leaders for us who will stand. It may not be an ultimatum for RW but it is for the Global South and for many in ECUSA. It will be a terrible mess – but a mess in which we can stand for Christ. We are having a prayer day next Saturday and the scripture I have chosen is Isaiah 26:4 “Trust in the Lord forever, For in the Lord God You have an everlasting Rock”. Amen.

  2. Peter says:

    Amen – He is faithful!

  3. Robert Bonds says:

    The Anglican Communion IMHO is now dead. The performance of ABC has proven his stand on orthodox Christianity, namely he has no use for it. What we have across the world is a hodge podge of religious jurisdictions that claim to be Anglican but are so full of many of the innovations of what now emcompasses the TEC that they are a far cry from anything resembling orthodox Christianity.

    My recommendation is to stop fighting a war that can never be won. Given the pagan TEC and its minions what they want which is nothing more than material wealth. Go find One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church which is not tainted and that my friends is in the Orthodox East.

    Having made that departure nearly 2 years ago, my life is a lot calmer and I find myself enjoying my relationship with the Lord, which was something that I couldn not find as part of the Anglican battle.

  4. Rick + says:

    Amen to the post, and I think Robert above is also on to something. As a preist currently under the authority of a pagan heretic in Canada, I am jealous of my brothers and sisters who have made it out of the battle and back into the mission and freedom of the gospel. As a buddy, also ordained, said to me recently, “You need to get out of that pagan religious context, and back into the game brother.” So I wait in the Valley of Decision, in the Great White North, for the Lord to point the way forward. Church planting anyone?

  5. Gary Cartwright says:

    “look beyond what is currently at hand and see what the Lord is making us to be. Look beyond denominational strife to see the Church arise. For, we will be both bright and terrible to the darkness, shining light, being light, rescuing those who even now are far off.”

    Yes, I believe that God is cleansing his Church by allowing this conflict to exist. Denominationalism is artifical, and what matters most is the fellowship of those who have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as savior and Lord. We must remember that there is a distinction between the church as an institution and the Church (note the cap) as the people of God. To worship the institution is idolatry.

  6. Peter says:

    Robert – I think sometimes we are called to fight, and I’m not convinced that this particular battle won’t end up being fought in the Orthodox church too, in one form or another. I trust in the One who said that the gates of hell will not prevail. However, I’m glad that you have found a good home there. Many blessings!

    Rick + – Church planing works for me! 🙂 And you know, the Lord will point the way forward. He’s not slow to act, at least as some people understand slow. I think walking with Him is sometimes a misnomer – in that He likes to loiter longer than you expect, then He sprints when you weren’t expecting.

    Gary – As you say, there is a distinction between church and Church. Often I am glad that it is not us that do that ultimate definition.

  7. Allen Lewis says:

    Peter,
    A great post, especially the part about making the decision now so that we can be prepared for the future when it comes. This is something my wife and I have been trying to get across to the members of our Yahoo discussion group: TEC is dead, there will be no recovery which depends on human strength. Quite frankly anyone still in TEC is wasting their time, IMHO.

    My wife and I were received into the Anglican Catholic Church yesterday. After several years of being in the wilderness, we feel that we have found our proper home. But we will always have our loins girded and our eyes on the horizon.

  8. Dan says:

    This is a crucial issue; it is a Gospel issue. we have to remember that no insitution, denomination, congregation, church association is perfect. Sin and the devil will attack and fight against the mission of the Gospel. Many of the mainline denoms. are now working hard to undermine the purpose for which they were created. That is what the devil likes to do to the Body of Christ. One of the most effective ways to fight this spiritual evil is to ground ourselves, our people in God’s Word and Truth. That Christ accepts us as we are but does not want us to remain as we are- “neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more.” He didn’t die on the cross so we could wallow in our sins and be affirmed in our sins as a God blessed way of life.
    In the Lutheran Church (elca) much the same thing is happening. Due to fear of retribution by bishops many pastors are silent. Others are fighting within the system; most have seen that the elca has rejected the teachings of sin/grace, law/Gospel no matter what groups like WordAlone do. And many bishops do not want orthodox/confessional/evangelical/charismatic pastors in their synods because they know their first loyalty is to Scriptural teaching and truth.
    Make no mistake; this is spiritual warfare. Our choice is to concentrate on our local congregations and be an island of light witihin a demonic system. Or seek affiliation with other Biblically oriented associations. This is much more complicated for the Anglicans due to the property issues. The Lutheran tradition is a congregational tradition, so we can associate with other groups (even while remaining in the elca) or separating completely from the denom. and go with other groups; there are many Spirit filled congregations that have affiliated with LCMC- the vast majority are former/current elca churches (some, like mine ,dually affiliated).
    My point is that although the lion is seeking someone to devour, the Holy Spirit is also bringing significant groupings of Christians together for mission and fellowship and prayer. In or out of the liberal/pagan systems we can still be people of truth and light. And this is a move of the Holy Spirit. But there is and will be many painful battles in the process. Put on the armor of God and remain in Christ.

  9. Anne says:

    I am an Episcopalian, not an Anglo Catholic. I’ve also been following the New Orleans events or lack thereof and don’t really know what was expected as an outcome. What do you want TEC to do — unordain women and gays and put back a prayerbook from 1928? How do you unordain people who have been ordained? If the church does decide this is the plan they want, I’m done.

  10. St.Jon says:

    I do not understand how you can say these things. “Fight” “Battle”? Have you read anything Jesus has said? It is not our job to interpret God’s will but to let him work through us. Jesus never said to exclude anyone…in fact, he says repeatedly he came for the sinners, for it is they who need healing. It is the lost sheep who need their shepard. I am just mystified by the righteous tone in all of these posts. Is this what you think God is calling you to do? Is it what Jesus asked of Peter?
    God is not so weak and powerless that he needs us to fear for his church, he is all, he is everything. If he has called someone who is gay to speak of his love for humanity and ask for the service of their lives and labor, who are we to question that?

  11. Dan says:

    The New TEstament makes it clear that spiritual warfare is a reality. The powers and principalities are real whether we don’t beleive it or not.

  12. Dan says:

    Whether we believe it or not.

  13. Peter says:

    Dan – As you say, Amen!

    Anne – Welcome here. I think what would be a good outcome is to see a clear position come out of this. What many have said, and I agree, is that if you hold a belief, then state it clearly and live with the consequences, good and bad. As for me, I think you proably have got a false picture. Firstly, I’m in the ACoC, not TEC so I’m more in a position of interested onlooker – whatever is done is likely to affect us. Secondly, you can probably split issues of ordaining women from ordaining gays – I do not equate them at all. And, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a 1928 prayerbook, though I’ve heard of it. Just to say, we are not all what caracature would make us be.

    StJon – Welcome too. I suppose it’ll be hard to address everything without writing an essay, but I’ll try to get to the main points. Firstly, why not ‘fight’ and ‘battle’ ? Certainly this is not the only imagery to be found in the bible, but it is most certainly there, and would you not think that is describes our times? After all, Jesus Himself said He was bringing a sword on the earth to cause division – which is hardly peaceful talk. Sometimes it is indeed a battle that we are in.

    This whole exclusion thing – well, I don’t know if I can say anything different that has al;ready been said. My ‘side’ if you like, believe that sexual relationship outside of marriage – as traditionally constituted – is sinful. We all come as sinners, how can we be other? However we do not seek to bless sin but to name it for what it is and seek, in Christ, to change.

    I have seen, in many places, the charges laid against us – mysoginist, homophobic, self-righteous – I’ve seen it all. I know how we are viewed. And I would say that it is predominantly a caracature – it’s easier to despise an enemy if you demonise him or her first. No, and it’s not limited to one side either. Call it a symptom of a bitter divorce if you like. It saddens me greatly. There was a time once when I’d chat to folk over at Jakes place or others, until I realised how utterly pointless it was.

    So, if you think me righteous – by which I understand to mean self-righteous – then I am sorry. I don’t intend to come across that way, but perhaps I do, to some folk.

  14. Pauline Bettney says:

    Thank you for answering St.Jon Peter. It gets incredibly hard to continue any conversation. Today I read Genesis 6 – time for another Ark.

  15. robroy says:

    Peter, I have been saying this for a long time. It frustrates me that when I hear those telling Charlie Brown to trust Lucy, this time for real she won’t pull the football away. I listed a chronology here chronicling how RW has worked against the DeS communique even before its inception.

    I love the Anglican church. I want to be part of the reborn Anglican Communion. I have seen the church on fire for the Lord in Africa. I appreciate the spirituality and reverence that only a liturgical church can attain.

    I don’t want Mariology or icons.

    My hope is Common Cause and, in particular, ABp’s Orombi, Akinola and Venables. If any despair at the machinations and mendacity in New Orleans go to Anglican TV and look at Martin Minns installation where he takes up a tamborine and glorifies the one true God.

  16. faithwalk says:

    Revelations 19:10… I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”

    11 Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.
    And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. 16 And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written:

    KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.”,

    Jesus came as Lamb, the perfect sacrifice for our sins. He did not open his mouth to defend Himself but willingly laid down His life, and was gloriously raised from the tomb, victorious over death.

    But soon He returns as a conquering King ,riding upon a pure white horse with the Host -the armies – of Heaven accompanying Him, to make war and strike the nations for their sin.

    We are in a battle against an ancient and treacherous foe ,make no mistake!
    When we lose sight of this we set ourselves up for deception. This is a day of false prophets and false signs and wonders.

    When Jesus returns He is coming for a bride clothed in white linen ” the righteousness of the saints”. The saints not being those long dead who some men declared saints, it is you and I, and every born again, blood bought believer in Jesus Christ!

    If we do not take a stand now, we will not ten for we will already be fallen when the Lord returns.

    He is not coming back for any particular denomination; all are constructs of men! He is coming back for His Church, His Bride, which again, is comprised of every born again believer in Jesus Christ wherever they are. He knows them; they are His.

    I ask this: why fight for a system of religion, a denomination?
    Why not fight for the faith, pure and simple?!
    Plant a church, keep it real, filled with the Light and Life of Christ.
    Preach the gospel to the lost; teach believers the Word, equip the saints for the work of the ministry ( service)!

    Lets throw away our old paradigms and embrace the move of the Holy Spirit for this day and hour. It matters not the name over the door of where you worship, it matters whether truth is being proclaimed and LIVED by those who claim to be Christs within.

    There is a world in desperate need of the Saviour and they need to see genuine followers of Christ with a message of Gods love, hope and redemption. And He calls us to holiness, to be conformed into the image of His Son…
    It can only be through a vibrant faith and personal relationship with Christ that we can ever come into the fullness of this call, with His life being manifest in and through ours ,as Jesus said it would.

    I could go on, but guess I better stop now.
    Peter, if this is over the top you can delete it, I’ll understand.

    Lets follow the Lord wherever He leads; do whatever He says, and leave the apostate church to quibble over whatever sin they want. Of course we need to pray for them, but it’s time to go forward with the Lord or be left behind with empty lamps. The day is far spent; the night is at hand.
    It’s time to take a stand and folllow the Lord, and fight the good fight of faith clothed in the armour of God! Like it or not, we are in a war against evil in this present age.

    Blessings to one and all in Jesus Holy and Mighty Name!

    Susan

  17. white rabbit says:

    As the Turkish PM said, “I am sick of hearing about moderate Muslims for there is no such thing.” Neither can we say, as so many priests do, “Our Jewish friends.” Christ claimed to be the only way and we cannot get to God either by the Talmud, Kabbalah or the Koran. The Anglican leadership may believe that Jesus came to save sinners and that because Jews and Muslims are sinners he died for them too and because of that Jews, Muslims and Christians all worship the same god.
    Christendom is being rolled up into the so called NWO and the fight is in the current church not in some planted church or some far off leader in some far away land. No army in history has won a war by individual soldiers breaking away from the main army and starting a new planted regiment with “more pure” orders. Stand your ground and perhaps you will be fast forwarded up the ranks as the leadership falls off under the coming onslaught and then you can turn your theories to action.

  18. faithwalk says:

    Let me clarify that…
    “plant a church”, not as in start a new denomination, but as in wherever the Lord plants you, gather with other believers in true fellowship. It’s time we start being the church 24/7. Not just attending and assuming it’s enough to be confirmed an Episcopalian which is no qualification in and of itself for salvation.
    The fact is, for most professing christians their faith consists of going to church on Sunday mornings and giving scarcely a serious thought of the Lord Jesus Christ or the Kingdom of God afterwards during any given week unless they are in a crisis.
    Frankly IMHO too many people think their church membership will entitle them to eternal life and there is no scriptural basis for this presumption.

    Ah well, I fear I am not making much sense here so will desist from writing any further ramblings.

    Blessings!

  19. faithwalk says:

    Ok… sorry Peter, one more clarification.

    Make that it’s not enough to be a member of ANY denomination, Catholic, Protestant, Evangelical, Pentecostal , whatever…

    Now, I really better be quiet before I dig any deeper. 😉

  20. Peter says:

    OK, I’ll try to answer, though I do not have much time tonight unfortunately…

    robroy – just as you say. I’m most certainly on the protestant end of things, but I do find a good liturgical church provides the framework for worship and praise!

    Susan – I probably do need to write a lot to get my thoughts over, but I’ll try to summarise: Firstly – yes, absolutely – the Church and not the church! Belonging to one particular denomination is not grounds for salvation as you say, and indeed when hard times come it may be that any such lines will blur. It’s not worth fighting for a denomination BUT it is worth fighting for faith within a denomination, if that happens to be when you are called to be. Within any denomination there are gifts that the Lord uses to bless, for example Anglicanism, for all its faults brings, for me at least, a framework for worship and praise which I find really valuable – seasons in the life of the church etc. Even non-liturgical churches have liturgy, only it often isn’t so good 😉 We as humans work well with patterns, and seasons, I think – though indeed it can lead to dry and lifeless repetative church too. Which is all to say what? Only that I agree with you, you know where I’m coming from – but that also there are babies in denominations that we can take with us when throwing the bathwater out.

    One other thing about denominations that I am musing on. On one hand, they have the tendancy to become moribund and stale – lifeless constructs of men. But I wonder whether there is also some good – in that there are checks and balances that do not exist in a congregational setting.

    Really, the thing comes down to – where is there life? There is no end to the ways we can mess stuff up. So whether there is life to be found in Anglicanism, free church, RCs, whatever – I say bring it on. For out of all these traditions, with their richness and weakness, is the true Church consituted.

    There now, look, I’m rambling now 🙂

    White rabbit – interesting, but whom would you say has broken off? It could be said that the N American Division has broken off from the Army – in which case do we not form a new Company in keeping with our original orders? Stuff to muse on….

  21. faithwalk says:

    Good morning Peter!
    Once I again I failed to say what I intended 😦
    help me Lord ,to say it right this time…

    All though it came across that way, I didn’t mean to say everyone should jump ship and leave their church ( whatever denomination it may be ) but rather, be led of the Spirit of Christ; willing to go wherever He leads and do whatever He says. Too many seem to think their denomination is the only right one, or their form of worship the only right way., and therefore they have no choice but to stay even after the Spirit has departed.

    You are spot on in saying that we must be careful that we do not throw babies out with the bathwater, or tear up the wheat while pulling out the tares. However when the light within a person or church becomes darkened, how great is the darkness therein!
    We must be careful we do not get entangled in something that distracts us from the plan and purpose of God in our lives, or causes us to compromise our faith.
    The line has been drawn in the sand and judgment has already begun, first in the household of Faith. All of us have to choose which side we are on.

    But I didn’t mean to say a person needs to leave a church that they love, where you are fed, and have true fellowship, my apologies if it sounded that way.
    I do know your heart Peter, and it is a good one! 🙂

    May each and every one of us be led of the Spirit and trust one another to be likewise led, and be about our Fathers business, whatever that may be!

    Abundant blessings to you in Jesus love, mercy and grace,

    Susan

  22. Peter says:

    Ah, the difficulties of getting over thoughts and ideas using mere words on a blog 🙂 Just as you say – nobody was saved by being an Anglican, or whatever denomination. We grow where we’re planted, and as and when the Lord wants to transplant – well that too! Things certainly are going to change in our denomination, a seperation of sorts is underway. Interesting times.

    Blessings on you and yours – you’re moving this weekend, yes?

    Peter

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