On this past cold Monday morning, my heart was warmed by an op-ed from The English Churchman, “The Rise of the BINO.” It calls out the Bishop of Oxford in particular for his intervention on behalf of gay “marriage” and slaps upon his mitre the label of BINO:
This is another example of what we have often seen in church life, the rise of the BINO (Bishop in Name Only). These ecclesiastical figureheads have kept the title of bishop with associated dress, stipend and all social and legal niceties, but hallowed out the substance in terms of believing, teaching and defending sound biblical doctrine.
Oh, the editorial gets better:
Dear Bishop, thank you for your honesty as this point, but we knew it all the time. We noticed it so often when your fellow-bishops sounded forth on all manner of topics, such as Brexit, the environment or immigration, and confidently added a biblical proof-text as a garnish. We noticed then that bishops suddenly found it difficult to understand the Bible when it came to the single issue of human sexuality. We noticed how a fog of obscurity descended upon the Bible so freely cited elsewhere, thereby rendering certain texts mysterious and therefore unquotable to today’s generation. These verses and passages alone were evidently so confusing that they required endless papers, conferences, indabas and listening processes. It was not a fog of obscurity that descended, but a smokescreen that was erected. Rest assured, we noticed, and we were not fooled.
With thanks to Anglican Ink for bringing this to my attention, I encourage you to go, read, and be warmed yourselves. . . .
What? Not all would find such language against apostasy heartwarming? Some out there might think calling out Anglican clergy like that is not appropriate and even impolite and *gasp* not winsome?
Better warn these not to read some of my posts!
But whether or not people read my posts or other posts here at Stand Firm that call out false teaching, we are obligated to call out false teachers and deceivers. Why?
The Bible tells me so.
The Bible is replete with calling out false prophets and false teachers. That includes the New Testament, even the red letters. Read Galatians and Jude for some spicy samples.
Early church fathers, such as Ignatius and Irenaeus followed the example of Scripture and openly exposed, denounced and even mocked false teaching that had already infiltrated the church. With all the heresy and false teaching that has infiltrated and really taken over most of the institutional church today, how can a faithful church leader then bypass the example of Scripture and the Fathers and remain quiet?
Heresy and Apostasy Deceives and Kills
To repeat an analogy, if it is night and you are aware a bridge on a highway has been destroyed by some disaster, you do not give a friendly calming wave to those driving toward that bridge. You do everything you can to warn people and prevent them from falling to their deaths. You might not be very concerned about wearing a winsome smile as you do so.
False teaching that distracts from and denies the Faith of the Creeds is deadly. It leads people away from the life and salvation that is only found in Christ. Just like a road to a down bridge may look fine until it is too late, an apostate church may appear faithful and be pleasant but lead to death. St. Paul warns of this when he denounces those “having a form of godliness but denying its power” to save and give life. (2 Timothy 3:5)
This is especially a problem for us Anglicans. Anglican liturgy is attractive and superior, and we are very humble about that, of course. But what too many churches do, both in the U. S. and in England, is attach that liturgy to something other than orthodox Christian faith.
And the average attendee cannot be expected to notice that deadly deception. I’ve worshipped earlier this year at the Bishop of Oxford’s cathedral at Christ Church, and the liturgy and music were excellent for the most part. Thanks to that remnant of the tradition, I could worship there most of the time. (But I went there mainly to hear the choir to be honest.) But I fear for anyone relying on Christ Church for instruction and guidance in the faith. The English Churchman and others do well to warn people that what is taught there is not The Faith. This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for those who in years past warned me of apostasy in The Episcopal Church and other denominations.
We have an obligation to pass on what has been passed down to us.
A more subtle danger is our great Anglican tradition being watered down by neoevangelicalism or wokeism and other putrid isms with a veneer of a little liturgy slapped on. To steal an idea from The English Churchman, perhaps we could call this AINO, Anglicanism in Name Only. God is strong and gracious and can use such psuedo-Anglicanism to save people. I guess one can live on stale bread, canned beans and water, too. But we do a grave disservice to God and to our children if we fail to pass down to them the rich faithful Anglicanism that has been passed down to us. Calling out such sloppiness and even downright unfaithfulness within supposedly Anglican jurisdictions is meet and right.
Just this past Sunday, a great Anglican priest shared with me his disquiet about the Anglican tradition being diluted by churches attaching somewhat Anglican liturgy to beliefs and practices that are hardly faithful Anglicanism at all. What a twisted tragedy that even Anglican liturgy is so misused to dilute and shrink traditional Anglicanism. Already, many in our country have to drive an hour or far more to reach a traditional Anglican church.
I, for one, will strive to do my part to prevent and reverse that tragedy. And that includes calling out those who deceive and mislead people under the cover of somewhat Anglican liturgy.
This does not mean that we presume all must become Anglicans, as desirable as that might be. And we should know that we have much more in common with faithful Baptists or orthodox Roman Catholics than with, say, the Bishop of Oxford. Personally, I lead a small worship and study group in the Anglican tradition. But I am delighted to see people from different backgrounds attending, including Baptists and even a Greek Orthodox young man. I do not expect them to join my Anglican church (although I would not object to it, of course).
Nor should we be nearly as strict with learners and seekers as we should be with teachers. We have all been learners (and should continue to study and learn), and learners can be inadvertent little heretics at times. Even I was. Yes, I know — shocking! We patiently teach and remind and give people the space to learn and grow. It is those who dare to deceive learners and seekers, including those who pass off AINO as Anglican, that we call out.
And call them out we shall. To do less is to fail the great Anglican tradition. To do less is to fail future generations.