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March 21, 2013


Welby’s Enthronement, Cranmer’s Legacy?

cranmercartoonToday is, of course, the enthronement of Justin Welby as Archbishop of Canterbury. It’s also the anniversary of the day (March 21, 1556) when his famous predecessor, Thomas Cranmer, was martyred under Queen Mary for holding to Biblical, Protestant belief.

Cranmer had famously recanted his protestant beliefs while imprisoned but on his last day the crowds who gathered for his execution were witness to a remarkable resurgence in his spirits and steadfastness. As he stood before the congregation in St Mary’s Oxford, having listened to a Romanist sermon from Dr. Pole, he spoke boldly and clearly:

“And now forasmuch as I am come to the last end of my life, whereupon hangeth all my life past, and all my life to come, either to live with my master Christ for ever in joy, or else to be in pain for ever with the wicked in hell, and I see before mine eyes presently, either heaven ready to receive me, or else hell ready to swallow me up; I shall therefore declare unto you my very faith how I believe, without any color of dissimulation: for now is no time to dissemble, whatsoever I have said or written in times past.

“First, I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, etc. And I believe every article of the Catholic faith, every word and sentence taught by our Savior Jesus Christ, His apostles and prophets, in the New and Old Testament.

“And now I come to the great thing which so much troubleth my conscience, more than any thing that ever I did or said in my whole life, and that is the setting abroad of a writing contrary to the truth, which now here I renounce and refuse, as things written with my hand contrary to the truth which I thought in my heart, and written for fear of death, and to save my life, if it might be; and that is, all such bills or papers which I have written or signed with my hand since my degradation, wherein I have written many things untrue. And forasmuch as my hand hath offended, writing contrary to my heart, therefore my hand shall first be punished; for when I come to the fire it shall first be burned.

“And as for the pope, I refuse him as Christ’s enemy, and Antichrist, with all his false doctrine.”

It was a remarkable moment, where Cranmer returned to the zeal for orthodoxy that had so saturated much of his work. Not least in the standard that he held out for ministers of the Church of England and particularly for bishops.

Cranmer’s 1552 Book of Common Prayer contains a service for the consecration of bishops, including the following charge,

The Archebisshoppe. Wil you then faithfully exercise your selfe in the said holy scriptures, and call upon god by prayer for the true understanding of the same, so as ye may be able by them to teache and exhorte with wholesome doctrine, and to withstande and convince the gainsaiers?
Aunswere. I wyll so doe, by the helpe of God.
The Archebisshoppe. Be you ready with al faithful diligence, to banishe and drive away al erronious and straunge doctryne, contrary to god’s worde, and both privately and openly to call upon, and encourage other to the same?
Aunswere. I am ready, the lord beyng my helper.

These charges have not changed substantively since then, although there has been some dilution of quantity. Even Common Worship’s service of consecration, however, has this,

Will you teach the doctrine of Christ as the Church of England has received it, will you refute error, and will you hand on entire the faith that is entrusted to you?

Ordinand By the help of God, I will.

The refutation of error, of course, always brings with it charges of disunity and unnecessary hostility. It takes a brave man to speak out against heresy in any climate but Cranmer was prepared to do it even when it took him to his death.

So what of Welby? He faces enormous problems in the Church of England and the Anglican Communion caused by the ongoing heretical positions of those who insist on the blessing and affirmation of same-sex activity. That issue over human sexuality is, of course, a symptom of an even deeper rejection of Scriptural authority amongst wholesale parts of the USA and Canada and in the Church of England itself.

Welby is famously committed to “reconciliation” but, sadly, this has led to his endorsement of “reconciliation” with heretics without their prior repentance. Most notably he recently promoted the “reconciliation” of Rev. Tory Baucum, Rector of Truro Church in Virginia and Bishop Shannon Johnston of the TEC diocese of Viriginia. Truro Church was one which was sued by the Diocese of Virginia under Johnston’s predecessor, Bishop Lee, while Johnston was part of the diocesan leadership. Johnston has since not recanted any of those views (not least the promotion of same-sex relationships) which he also held at the time and yet despite this Baucum pursued “reconciliation” with him and ++Welby affirmed them both in this process.

Due to the rising outcry over this, not least led by our team at Stand Firm, the process was finally halted by Baucum’s bishop.

And so as ++Welby is enthroned today the crisis is upon him. He simply cannot have “reconciliation” with heretics - at least there are large segments of the Communion who will not accept it. Following on from today’s celebrations he has scheduled a meeting of the Primates of the Anglican Communion, but many have said clearly that they will not attend such a meeting if the Primates of TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada (ACC) are present. ++Welby’s predecessor Williams did nothing about their heresy and so the faithful in the Communion took the decision themselves to do something; to not turn up. Since there has been no shift with ++Welby the outcome will still be the same.

So what should ++Welby do? Well the answer, surely, is in Cranmer’s words…

...banishe and drive away al erronious and straunge doctryne, contrary to god’s worde, and both privately and openly to call upon, and encourage other to the same

This comes, of course, with a call to repentance and then and only then to reconciliation. If TEC and the ACC were to step back from their position and repent of it they would find a most astonishing and gracious reconciliation opened up to them. But repentance comes first.

The pressing question for the Communion and therefore for ++Welby is simply this - will he pursue real reconciliation in line with the legacy that he has stepped into? If he will then surely there is still hope for the unity of the Communion. If not then he will be the Archbishop of Canterbury who truly presides over our final fracturing.

Driving away heresy will lead to great opposition for ++Welby. It took Cranmer to the stake almost 450 years ago. We ought to pray that ++Welby has the courage to do it.


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19 comments

Repeating the same thing over and over doesn’t make it true.  Baucum described his relationship as “peacemaking” and specifically said reconciliation was not possible given the depths of the disagreements between TEC and the rest of the Anglican Communion.

[1] Posted by Clive on 3-21-2013 at 02:08 PM · [top]

An assortment of prayers for Abp Welby and the CoE may be found at Lent & Beyond.

[2] Posted by Jill Woodliff on 3-21-2013 at 03:39 PM · [top]

Great post. Two additional observations: (1) These charges in the 1552 Book of Common Prayer are perfectly clear and easy to understand, and though Common Worship preserves them in slender part there is no reason to reject the “old wine” for the much-touted accessibility of the contemporary liturgies like CW. The problem many Anglicans/Episcopalians have with the old charges and confessions and prayers etc. isn’t really that they can’t understand them. It’s that they can. (2) In deciding who becomes a bishop in the ACNA, this criterion should be paramount—to “banishe and drive away al erronious and straunge doctryne” is what it means for a bishop to really be “missional.”

[3] Posted by Hitchhiker's Guide on 3-21-2013 at 04:15 PM · [top]

That excellent charge continued in the American Book of Common Prayer (and almost the exact same words were included in the ordination of priests as well) until the 1979 BCP, when it was taken out.  As the case of Bishop Pike revealed, bishops had long since failed to keep the charge; but, after 1979, the words no longer remained there as a reminder of their failure.

[4] Posted by ToAllTheWorld on 3-21-2013 at 04:24 PM · [top]

Well said David!

[5] Posted by Fr. Dale on 3-21-2013 at 05:15 PM · [top]

This is from the ordinal of ACNA (available at ACNA website, resources, liturgies):
Question
“Are you ready, with all faithful diligence, to banish and drive away from the Church all erroneous and strange Doctrine contrary to God’s Word; and both privately and publicly to call upon others and encourage them to do the same?”

Answer
I am ready, the Lord being my helper.

[6] Posted by Theron Walker✙ on 3-21-2013 at 05:59 PM · [top]

The questions are:

Does Welby - under the thumb of the British socialist government - have the power to ignore the idiocy and illogic of the leftist progressives in order to drive away heresy?

Does Welby have the spiritual revelation and discernment, sound moral convictions, understanding of the issues, intimate knowledge of the Bible and the Gospel to drive away heresy?

[7] Posted by St. Nikao on 3-22-2013 at 08:23 AM · [top]

Bishop Nazir-Ali says the issue of gay marriage may divide the church from the state or disestablish the Church of England:  http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/gay-marriage-could-bring-disestablishment-of-church-of-england-bishop-nazir

That, however, depends on how many real bishops (guardians of the faith) there are in England.

In the US - as far as TEC bishops are concerned - the secular fascist progressivist government can dictate to its heart content.  They are on board for any and every obscene and grotesque Obama initiative.

[8] Posted by St. Nikao on 3-22-2013 at 09:00 AM · [top]

You know, watching the parallels in the (becoming socialist) government and the (completely lost) TEC church leadership is one of the things that convinced me beyond any doubt that satan exists.  They are all marching to the same drummer - it’s all far too organized and strategic to not be led by satan, evil incarnate.

[9] Posted by B. Hunter on 3-22-2013 at 09:18 AM · [top]

RE: “Baucum described his relationship as “peacemaking” and specifically said reconciliation was not possible given the depths of the disagreements between TEC and the rest of the Anglican Communion.”

Yes, we bloggers did all notice Baucum’s scrambling to add in the “peacemaking” meme towards the end of the sorry year-long spectacle with Shannon Johnston, since his reconciliation [and naming Shannon Johnston as creedally orthodox and a brother in Christ and promoting his ministry] was demonstrated to be thoroughly opposed to Biblical teaching about how to deal with false teachers and led to its inevitable conclusion with Johnston unfortunately demonstrating just what everyone knew he was all along anyway.  It was a good try at a rhetorical shift, and Baucum certainly needed to try a new angle on what he’d done, but seeing as how he participated in the dog-and-pony Coventry show as the much-lauded example of “reconciliation” with false teachers less than one month ago, I think that attempted shift didn’t play very well.

Further, I note that Clive has indulged in a shift himself as well.  David specifically stated above in his post that Baucum pursued individual reconciliation with a false teacher and gross heretic—Shannon Johnston.  And he did.  David wasn’t commenting about a purported reconciliation attempt among organizations nor did he opine about what Baucum has said about that—so huffing about something that Baucum supposedly didn’t say that David didn’t comment on is merely an attempted red herring distraction.

Further, yes, Baucum *did* describe what he was attempting to create with Johnston as “reconciliation”—Clive doesn’t seem to have kept up with the rhetoric over the past year—as late as the Coventry Cathedral display:

And so I wanted to reach out to an adversary, and it was mostly for pastoral reasons, for the soul of our parish, for the kind of ministry I felt like God was calling us to do. And I did believe before being introduced to Coventry that reconciliation is very much at the heart of the Christian gospel, and mission. And so there was some of that motive as well.

Finally, this thread isn’t about Baucum’s debacle, it’s about Welby.  I’ve responded to this comment here in order to prevent, shall we say, an “attempted revisal” of the record. Clive is more than welcome to continue commenting about Baucum in the numerous posts about Baucum’s very wrong behavior with Shannon Johnston that we’ve produced over the past year.

[10] Posted by Sarah on 3-22-2013 at 10:19 AM · [top]

Thanks Sarah - spot on.

Clive, you will note from this list of Baucum’s own writing that the theme of “reconciliation” comes regularly from his own keyboard.

http://tbaucum.blogspot.com/2012/11/why-i-am-grateful-for-bishop-welbys.html

http://tbaucum.blogspot.com/2013/02/truro-in-coventry-community-of-cross-of.html

http://tbaucum.blogspot.com/2013/03/a-welcome-voice-on-blogosphere.html

http://tbaucum.blogspot.com/2013/03/coventry-in-retrospect-personal.html

http://tbaucum.blogspot.com/2013/03/truro-in-coventry-habits-of-conflict.html

Every single post has the language of “reconciliation” in it used to describe, in one way or another, the process that he is involved in with Johnston and wider afield.

[11] Posted by David Ould on 3-22-2013 at 10:32 AM · [top]

Now Clive, since we’ve taken some time to demonstrate the 100% fallacy of your claim, I’d appreciate you keeping this thread on-topic.

i’m sure we don’t have to (yet again) remind you of the consequences of not doing so

[12] Posted by David Ould on 3-22-2013 at 11:01 AM · [top]

[comment deleted—off topic; final warning to Clive; you will not be warned again on this blog]

[13] Posted by Clive on 3-22-2013 at 02:44 PM · [top]

Indeed, and yet in all of them it is Baucum quoting approvingly in the context of his own adventures. What is it with this desperate attempt to now separate Baucum from the word “reconciliation”? which only a week ago he was so keen to be associated with?

One would almost think a mini campaign was being mounted

[14] Posted by David Ould on 3-22-2013 at 02:53 PM · [top]

And now a final warning, this is a thread about Welby.

[15] Posted by David Ould on 3-22-2013 at 02:54 PM · [top]

On the topic of Welby, here’s a new PBS interview with him.  Enjoy!

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/religionandethics/episodes/march-22-2013/archbishop-of-canterbury-justin-welby/15308/

[16] Posted by Clive on 3-22-2013 at 03:16 PM · [top]

Now see—Clive is substantive at last.  And immediately we have something to disagree on that is grounded in fact.

It [reconciliation] is the process of enabling, of making yourself sufficiently transparent that people trust each other, of putting your most valued and passionate beliefs out for them to be examined, attacked, and then finding a way to love the person with whom you are dealing, quite probably not agreeing with each other, but disagreeing in love.

No, actually, that’s not what “reconciliation” is at all, and such a broad-as-a-truck definition is ridiculous, though highly useful for Welby.

If *that’s* the definition of “reconciliation” than I’m “reconciled” with dozens of pagans and hundreds of others with whom I disagree ardently about pretty much everything.

Of course, it’s not the definition of “reconciliation” at all, particularly in a Christian sense.

None of us, of course, are having problems with loving people with whom we disagree. 

So that’s not even the problem within the Anglican Communion at all, though Welby appears—by his clear words and actions—to be desperately trying to spin it that way.

What we are having a problem with is that we have allowed false teachers into the Anglican Communion and have not kicked them out and publicly denounced their teachings and repudiated their “ministries” [sic].

That has nothing to do with “reconciliation” or “loving people with whom we disagree” or engaging in enough indaba with the false teachers. It has everything to do with exerting appropriate church discipline with false teachers and wolves who devour the flock and in attempting to hold two groups of people within one organization, both of which people hold mutually opposing and antithetical goals, missions, values, foundational worldviews, and gospels.

[17] Posted by Sarah on 3-22-2013 at 04:00 PM · [top]

“If *that’s* the definition of “reconciliation” than I’m “reconciled” with dozens of pagans and hundreds of others with whom I disagree ardently about pretty much everything.
Of course, it’s not the definition of “reconciliation” at all, particularly in a Christian sense.”

Bingo.  Good to see that it was Clive who managed to find such an appropriate and focussed quote.

Despite various disclaimers from key people involved, ++Welby’s version of reconciliation appears to be precisely about “papering over differences”. 

He will need to do better if he wants this process to have tangible and positive results.

[18] Posted by MichaelA on 3-24-2013 at 06:02 AM · [top]

The church of England can keep ++Welby. The WWAC needs it’s own head.

[19] Posted by Fr. Dale on 3-24-2013 at 07:52 AM · [top]

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