Ad Gloriam Dei

"Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." - 1 Corintians 10:31

"Let us pursue the things which make for peace and those by which one may edify another"- Romans 14:19

"As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend." - Proverbs 27:17

Sunday, July 02, 2006

The Command to Separate from Professed Unbelievers and the Immoral in the Church

Spot the Difference: Balaam Williams and Jezebel Schori - Peas in a Pod

"I do not sit with men of falsehood, nor do I consort with hypocrites. I hate the assembly of evildoers, and I will not sit with the wicked." (Psalm 26:4,5)

The current furore over the appointment of a woman who is supportive of homosexuality and calls Jesus "our mother" to be Presiding Bishop of the ECUSA has led to many within the Episcopalian churches questioning their communion with, and subordination to, such heretics. Amazingly, the Dioceses of Pittsburgh, South Carolina and San Joaquin, CA, have asked the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, who holds similar opinions to Schori, to assign them an alternative leader. (See here.) Why do they have a problem with being under Schori's authority, when they don't mind being under Rowan William's authority? What is the difference?

For many generations, evangelical believers and pastors have remained in communion with professed unbelievers who are heretics and/or supportive of, or engaged in, grossly immoral conduct. Is this in obedience to the will of God? What does the Bible teach? It is my opinion that Evangelical Anglicans and others are in clear disobedience of God's commands in this regard. But will they listen and be subject to Christ's sole headship of the Church, or continue to stop up their ears?

If We are Not to Have Company with Disobedient Believers, How Much More Professed Heretics?

"But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us… And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother." (2 Thess. 3:6,14-15)

Some may say that these heretics are professed "brethren", but even if they were, we should cut-off communion with them until they repent, if we are obedient to these Scriptures.

We are not to Keep Company with Sexually Immoral "Brethren"

"I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner - —not even to eat with such a person… Therefore '‘put away from yourselves the evil person.'’"
(1 Cor. 5:9-12)

We are to Reject Schismatic Heretics after They Reject Admonition

"Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition, knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned." (Titus 3:10-11)

The word "heresy" comes from the Greek "αιρεσις", which refers to choosing, i.e. choosing to go another way from the orthodox faith. These are those who divide from the true faith. Let us admonish them once and twice, but if they remain impenitent, we are commanded to reject them. Did Paul mean that we could remain in communion with them, although we "reject" them? In the context of other passages, it is clear that he did not mean this: by rejection he meant excommunicating them.

Christ'’s Words to the Seven Churches of Revelation on Communion with Heretics

The Church of Pergamos was condemned for allowing sexually immoral heretics in their midst and told by Christ to repent (Rev. 2:14-16). "But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam'” and 'you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans'”. How different is the Anglican Church and the PCUSA to this?

Also the Church of Thyatira was condemned because they "allow[ed] that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and beguile my servants to commit sexual immorality…" (Rev. 2:20-24) They should not allow a false teacher or one who committed sexual immorality, and encouraged others to do so, to continue to be in their church.

In contrast, despite its own defects, the Ephesian Church was praised because they "hate[d] the deeds of the Nicolaitans" (Rev. 2:6).

Some may argue that as long as they oppose such people within their communion in some way, then they have fulfilled Christ'’s command, but is this enough? They were not to "have them there" in their midst and they were not to "allow" them to continue their practices and teach their heresy in their churches (or be in communion with them?). They were responsible to eject them. If they could not eject them, should they remain in communion with them? Should they not separate themselves? We sin if we allow such in our midst.

The Heretical Church is a Synagogue of Satan and No Church of Christ (Rev. 2:9; 3:9)

Also in the Letters to the Seven Churches, Christ calls assemblies of the OT church "synagogues of Satan", when they denied God'’s truth in Christ. Although they were born into the olive tree, they were now cut-off as being unbelievers, and the same would happen to any Gentiles who professed to be Christians, but who apostasised (Rom. 11:11-29). How can we remain in communion with a "synagogue of Satan"?

We are not to Show Hospitality to Heretics

"Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds." (2 John 9-11)

If we are condemned for receiving heretics into our houses and greeting them, how much worse is it to remain in communion with them and how worse it is not to seek to get them disciplined? Do we not "share in [their] evil deeds"? These were not those who were involved in immoral conduct, but those who "[did] not abide in the doctrine of Christ".

We are to Avoid Heretics and Schismatics

"Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offences, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple." (Romans 16:17,18)

If we are to avoid those who cause divisions and offences, then how can we remain in communion with them?

Those Who Remain Impenitent and Will Not Listen to the Church are to be Treated as Heathens

"[I]f he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector." (Matt. 18:15-20)

Those who profess to be believers and are members of the visible Church must not be allowed to continue in sin. They are to be confronted and eventually disciplined by the Church. (If a church cannot discipline, is it a church? It cannot carry-out one of its institutional functions. This is why discipline is one of the traditional marks of a true church.) If they remain impenitent, they are to be treated as heathens. Can we remain in communion with heretics? Can we say they are brethren and say they are part of the Church? No, we must treat them as if they were no Christians at all, as if they were not part of the Church. We sin if we do not treat them as such.

We are to Come Out from Amongst Professed Unbelievers Rather than Commune with Them

"“Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: '‘I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God and they shall be my people.'’

"Therefore '’Come out from among them and be separate,' says the Lord. '’Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.' '‘I will be a Father to you, and you shall be my sons and daughters,'’ says the LORD Almighty."
(2 Cor. 6:14-18)

Fundamentally, we are of Christ and unbelievers are of Belial, so what fellowship do we have? How therefore can we be in communion with those with whom we have no real fellowship? How can we be unequally yoked and frustrated in our Christian living and witness? The unchurched see these heretics as "the Church". We should publically separate from them to make a clear distinction.

God'’s clear command to us is to separate ourselves from professed unbelievers (i.e. those who we know reject the Truth), false teachers and those who practice ungodliness in the Church. If we do not, we disobey our gracious Father and our loving Saviour.

"He who has my commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves me." (John 14:21)

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44 Comments:

Blogger Daniel Hill said...

Thanks for this thoughtful post, Timothy. It seems to me, however, that the Scriptures you quote are all directed at individual congregations or their pastors. But I belong to an evangelical congregation that does exercise biblical discipline.

Monday, July 03, 2006 7:20:00 am  
Blogger Custard said...

On what grounds do you think it is our place to divide the Church?

To discipline individual believers, certainly. But to explicitly do something that Jesus prayed against?

And what of 1 John 2:18-19? It is the leaving of the church that indicates people's status as antiChrists. If I am kicked out from the Church (as was Luther, etc), then that is one thing. But I don't see how a Christian can in good conscience ever voluntarily leave the Church.

Was Jeremiah called to leave the faithless nation of Judah? Not while they remained in the land. Elijah tried to leave faithless Israel, but was sent back. Why should we leave the Church?

Monday, July 03, 2006 7:35:00 am  
Blogger Timothy Davis said...

Daniel,

Yes, this is probably more of an issue for your pastor (and diocese?), rather than you. Which Church we attend must be weighed up in the light of various factors and I know that in England, the choice is more limited.

The question for your pastor is: is he exercising Church discipline by remaining in communion (and allowing his congregation to remain in communion) with heretics?

Monday, July 03, 2006 7:46:00 am  
Blogger Timothy Davis said...

Custard,

I have seen your comment and will answer when time allows.

A few quick thoughts: is excommunication legitimate? Is it not a "dividing of the Church"? Is it dividing the Church to reject "brethren" who profess to be "Christians", but who deny it through immoral conduct or professed unbelief of cardinal truths?

Monday, July 03, 2006 7:50:00 am  
Blogger Daniel Hill said...

Thanks for your reply, Timothy.

My pastor is in the Diocese of Chester. This diocese also exercises biblical discipline. So maybe it's a question for the Bishop?

You say that my pastor must ask himself whether he is `exercising Church discipline by remaining in communion (and allowing his congregation to remain in communion) with heretics'. But I'm not sure what you mean by `remaining in communion' -- none of the Biblical texts you quoted referred to this. Suppose my pastor remained in the Church of England but refused to give communion to 'heretics', would that satisfy you?

Monday, July 03, 2006 8:29:00 am  
Blogger Timothy Davis said...

Daniel,

Interesting... an Anglican Bishop that exercises discipline with regard to those underneath him? So he has no liberal clergymen, who deny the fundamentals of the faith, e.g. the infallibility of Scripture? If that is so, then I'm glad to hear it.

Assuming your diocese is in order, then it is his duty to look first at the discipline of those he knows to be in error in the wider Church, and then if the Church will not discipline, then it ceases to have one of the marks of the Church, and he should seek the separation of his diocese together with the other Evangelical Anglicans.

I'm using the word communion in the sense of fellowship, not the Lord's Supper. When you say that you are a member of the Anglican communion, then you are saying that you are in official fellowship with other Anglican churches within that communion. All my texts imply fellowship and the last text explicitly uses the word "communion".

Whether I am satisfied or not is irrelevant. Before your own Master, you stand or fall, not me. I do not judge you, but it is my duty to admonish my brethren at this important time. ("Admonish one another." Rom. 15:14)

What I am suggesting is no different than what other Evangelical Anglicans have done and are doing. One of my questions is why now and not before? What are the biblical criteria for separation/ lack of communion/rejection/not allowing in your midst?

Also, some are ending up with a compromise, where they are not in communion with the ECUSA and yet are in communion (and under the oversight?) of Rowan Williams.

In love, you brother in Christ,

Timothy.

Monday, July 03, 2006 9:04:00 am  
Anonymous custard said...

Timothy,

> A few quick thoughts: is excommunication legitimate?

yes, but should only be done with weeping and in the hope God will bring them to repentance.

> Is it dividing the Church to reject "brethren" who profess to be "Christians", but who deny it through immoral conduct or professed unbelief of cardinal truths?

No. Again, it should be done only in deep sorrow and a desire for their repentance.

And discipline should be performed by the congregation as a whole, to individual members of it (or even elders of it). I see no precedent for congregations refusing to speak to each other without first sitting down and humbly discussing their differences.

It is interesting what the Bible says people should be excommunicated for. IIRC: denying the physical reality of the Incarnation, practicing sexual immorality (especially incest), spongeing off the church, seeking to divide the church(!!). Are there any more God-given reasons to discipline? There may be a couple of others, but I don't see, for example, a reason to excommunicate (rather than just disagree with) Rowan Williams, especially without first speaking to him in detail.

We are not given license to divide over, for example, infallibility, which, while I agree with generally, I argue here is actually a flawed concept.

It is also worth noting that the rest of the Anglican Communion is seeking to distance itself from ECUSA.

Monday, July 03, 2006 9:39:00 am  
Blogger Timothy Davis said...

Custard,

Let me deal with each of your questions and comments in turn, brother. I appeal to you in the bowels of love, however sternly I may speak, for these are important days and serious matters. A day when we may see our Anglican brethren, who we dearly love, cast off their unequal yoke.

1. On what grounds do you think it our place to divide the Church?
It is not our place to divide the Church. I did not say that anywhere. Quite the reverse; I have stated that those who divide the church are to be disciplined. However, we are all clearly commanded in these passages to do the following:

a) not keep company with those who disobey the Apostolic tradition recorded in the Scripture,
b) put those who commit sexually immoral deeds away from us (which is clear is excommunication from the case in Corinthians),
c) reject a divisive man after two admonitions, and avoid him,
d) not allow false teachers (esp. those who promote sexual immorality) and the sexually immoral in our churches,
e) provide no hospitality for, nor greet, one who does not abide in the doctrine of Christ,
f) treat as heathen those who do not listen to the Church,
g) not be unequally yoked with unbelievers,
h) have no fellowship (or communion) with unbelievers,
i) come out from among unbelievers and separate from them.

Are not Rowan Williams and the so-called Liberals who deny the faith included in these admonitions? And are we not sinning, if we disobey these admonitions? Are not your brethren obeying these commandments by rejecting Schori et al. and should not Rowan Williams and Co. not be treated in a similar fashion? The true Anglican Church should be united, but they should also eject the heretics.

The Church is the "ekklesia" of God. The Greek literally means "those called out", which came to mean a congregation or assembly of people. The latter meaning of assembly comes close to the word "synagogue", which means "a coming together". Let us remember that the Church may unintentionally have tares, which are weeds that resemble wheat and are hard to distinguish. Those who are thorns and briars in the Church are easy to distinguish, are to be disciplined and are not those called out of the world to be part of the assembly of the saints. They are a synagogue of Satan, and no true Church.

2. You suggest that I am against the unity that Christ speaks of.
No, I am for the unity of all the faithful, and to this end I discuss the faith with those from other denominations, that "we all come to the unity of the faith… [by] speaking the truth in love, [that we] may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ…" (Eph. 4:13,15).

We belong to "one body and [have] one Spirit, just as [we] were called in one hope of [our] calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in [us] all." (Eph. 4:4-6) These are the ones who Christ wants united and we are the ones who must "bear with one another in love, endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." (Eph. 4:2,3)

Those who do not obey the Lordship of Christ, but preach contrary to it; who are not children of God our Father, but illegitimate; who have not the Spirit of Christ, but oppose Him; who do not share our hope and calling, but espouse a false gospel that is no gospel, are not part of the one body, but are parasites in the olive tree of Christ.

3. Does 1 John 2:18,19 teach us to remain in an institution in communion with heretics, until we are kicked out?
"Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us."

Let any candid man read this and tell me that is what it teaches. The passage tells us that the antichrists (in this case proto-Gnostics) left the ekklesia. It is a factual description of an event. It does not say anything about waiting to be thrown out by them. Look at the list of passages that speak contrary to the method of division from heretics that you propose. That is what should be obeyed appropriate to each person’s circumstances.

I don’t want you to leave the true ekklesia, but that the true ekklesia may cut off the false teachers, immoral and professed unbelievers from among them.

If the ekklesia won't discipline, then the Reformers would have said it lacked a mark of the Church.

4. Luther waited until he was kicked-out
Even the best of men can be wrong. Our rule must be Scripture. Luther retrograded in his doctrine of the Lord’s Supper in response to the Zwickau Prophets, so that he embraced consubstantiation, and in turn broke asunder the attempted union with the Reformed at Marburg. In this he was divisive.

Calvin was very clear on the need to separate from a corrupted Church, and I don't know what was the mature belief of Luther.

5. Does the example of Jeremiah and Elijah mean that we must not leave a corrupt pseudo-Church?
These were the very arguments that the Papists brought against the Reformers for leaving the Roman Synagogue of Satan and Calvin dealt with these arguments in his Institutes.

In brief, the circumstances in the OT were different, Israel as an ekklesia was different to now, the assemblies of the Northern Kingdom were not to be joined with (even though a part of God's people), the unbelieving branches have now been cut-off from the olive tree in this new dispensation, and those ekklesias of Israelites who would not believe were no true ekklesias (thus the Septuagint, contrary to our Dispensationalist brethren), but were synagogues of Satan, and not to be joined. Those who reject the doctrine of Christ are to be treated as heathens, even though they profess a nominal adherence to Christ.

6. You state that there are only a few, specifically-stated criteria for "division"
You name them as "denying the physical reality of the Incarnation, practicing sexual immorality (especially incest), spongeing off the church, seeking to divide the church".

I can name more from the passages I quoted: walking disorderly and not according to the tradition received from the Apostles (which includes a multitude of sins and false doctrine), covetousness, idolatry, reviling the truth or that which is sacred, drunkenness, extortioning, teaching false doctrine, not abiding in the doctrine of Christ, causing division within the true Church, causing believers to stumble (a better translation of offence in this case), not submitting to the legitimate discipline of the Church courts, and being an unbeliever.

Rowan Williams is on public record concerning his beliefs and acts in such a manner as to be guilty of several of these offences. We don't need to sit down and speak with him is detail.

Moreover although some of these offences are pretty general and not that specific at all, we are like the Pharisees if we stick to the letter of the law and ignore the spirit of it. These lists are not meant to be exhaustive. What about murderers, where are they? Do we remain in communion with them?

7. The the rest of the Anglican Communion is seeking to distance itself from ECUSA
Yes, but according to your criteria, they are dividing the Church. Are the ECUSA "kicking them out"?

It is inconsistent to reject the ECUSA and allow heretics in the rest of the Anglican Communion, and esp. to have the head as Arch-heretic Rowan Williams presiding over it.

The time has come for our brethren to do a complete work of cutting-off the unbelieving branches, who are no tares, instead of continuing in compromise and half-measures.

Brother, I exhort you to consider these Scriptures with due seriousness, for these are not my words, but your Lord's.

Monday, July 03, 2006 10:59:00 pm  
Anonymous custard said...

I apologise Timothy; I had made too many assumptions. Among them are these:

i) Many people within churches, even non-evangelical/reformed churches, even churches which are under the authority of the Bishop of Rome, are Christians and have been called by the grace of Christ even within their churches which we might not agree with. While we should discipline those who deliberately stray from the gospel, we should also seek to reach, encourage and strengthen those sheep who have just been misled. The difficult question then is how, when disciplining church leaders (such as ECUSA), we can lose as few of the genuine Christians as we can. It is the existence of those Christians who cause the arguments about dividing the Church and Elijah to become valid.

ii) Rowan Williams might admit to believing and doing things which you disagree with. He does, however, disagree over whether those things constitute grounds for discipline. For example, his well-publicised stance on homosexuality is that he personally believes that the Bible allows homosexual marriage, but that it is wrong to marry homosexuals publically without the consent of the Church as a whole. I think we agree over whether he believes things which are unacceptable to evangelicals. The issue is over why he believes those things, and whether that belief in itself is grounds for excommunication. And that's what I think should be discussed sensibly. FWIW, I think he gets some things right which a lot of evangelicals get wrong, particularly in terms of the implication of the Incarnation in that reducing the gospel to "saving truths" is essentially heretical. What little I have read of Dr Williams' writings suggest that he is a believer in Christ, genuinely seeking to follow Christ, albeit from a very different philosophical background to either of us.

I agree that there are some thorns and briars who should be disciplined. And I'm sure we could agree on the identity of some of them. However, I wouldn't want to say, for example, that Rowan Williams (or for that matter Joseph Ratzinger) is one. They may have done so, but I have not heard or read either deny an essential truth of the faith or promote immorality.

Have you read Schaeffer on the division within the PCUSA?

Tuesday, July 04, 2006 11:11:00 am  
Blogger Timothy Davis said...

Custard,

Thanks for your feedback.

As you say, Rowan Williams's "well-publicised stance on homosexuality is that he personally believes that the Bible allows homosexual marriage". The Spirit, speaking through the Apostle Paul, says that the very nadir of morality in a society is homosexuality. This is why it is so serious.

Revelation makes it clear that those who promote sexual immorality are Balaams and Jezebels and should not be allowed in the midst of the Church. Rowan Williams qualifies as a Balaam, and Schori as a Jezebel, although they may not practice it themselves. Brother, the Church must be obedient to these commandments. What does it mean to repent and believe? What does it mean to take Christ as Lord?

It would appear from these passages that Rowan Williams must first be allowed to repent in the light of admonishment, although some of the other passages would suggest that those convicted of false teaching get ejected without a chance.

I think that Rowan Williams has been admonished sufficiently by Reform and others. The Evangelicals should proceed to discipline.

Again, part of the problem is that it takes the promotion of sexual immorality to talk about discipline. The Scriptures speak of other offences that must be disciplined as well, and this has not been done. The difficulty of Evangelicals is that they have only so much strength and because of the unbiblical Episcopalian and Erastian nature of the Church.

I hope that in Nigeria and Sydney the current moves are the beginning of a re-establishment of reformation in the Anglican Church after the Great Ejection of 1662, when those who would not allow the King to usurp Christ's headship over the Church were "kicked-out".

May God grant that the Evangelical Anglicans might be united in one Biblical Church of England with the Non-conformists again, and not in an unholy alliance with heretics. (I say this in love, however hard it may sound.)

Tuesday, July 04, 2006 12:49:00 pm  
Blogger Custard said...

Sorry Timothy - I'm not sure I understand your point.

We agree, I hope, that Rowan Williams has come to the conclusion, after much thought and prayer, that the Bible does not forbid homosexual marriage to Christians, but that he would not allow it as it goes against the view of the Church as a whole.

We also agree that he seems to be wrong on this. We have, I trust, each come to the conclusion, after much thought and prayerfully, that the Bible does not allow homosexual marriage. I rather suspect that both of us have been involved in public debate, defending that point of view.

Rowan Williams is not encouraging, and as far as I can tell, has not encouraged people to practice homosexuality. I am not aware of anywhere where he has "promoted sexual immorality". I could be wrong of course, and if you can find a "go forth and fornicate" reference, then I am willing to stand corrected.

IIRC, he has in the past tried to encourage a debate over what the Bible teaches on the issue. We might well disagree with him on the usefulness of that. But he is nowhere questioning the authority of Jesus' teaching - he is questioning whether we are reading our own preconceptions into Jesus' teaching. And, due to our own depravity, that is often worth doing.

I am not a great fan of Williams. As I am an Anglican in the province of York, he doesn't have any authority over me in any case.

But I think that it is probably unjustified to label him apostate. For what it's worth, I'd put him strongly in the group of Christians with whom I don't agree on everything.

I'd be interested to see what you make of my thoughts about dividing ourselves from Christians who are inside churches led by false teachers.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006 5:32:00 pm  
Blogger David Shedden said...

I sympathise with the position of all who have left comments, and with Timothy too, of course. You are all in different situations, and you all seem to be trying to justify your own church commitments - how we all long to be doing the right thing!

I think the real difficulty we all have is applying NT principles of fellowship to organisations that are probably quite far removed from, well, NT principles of fellowship!

I think evangelicals in big 'liberal' denominations (I count myself in this category) can only really justify their position by claiming some personal historic continuity - in my own case, I was converted through the ministry of a CofS congregation - my leaders have chosen to remain within that grouping - who am I to leave without a seriously good reason, and, where would I go? If I was to leave the Church of Scotland, I'm not sure I'd have much inclination to join any other denomination at all - what would be the benefit or the purpose in such a move?

I don't know so much about smaller 'conservative' or 'orthodox' churches. The only thing I would say is that, at least in the history of Scottish Presbyterianism from 18thC onwards, the ideal of one national church finally exploded - our friend, Dr Gribben, would probably be able to explain how this actually happened in the 17thC. With the parallel emergence of evangelicalism, church unity became a rather abstract thing - today Christians are united by their adherence to theological traditions rather than ecclesiatical groupings - Anglicanism is the best example of this, but a rather different example might be the recent split in the Free Church of Scotland - two different groupings who just couldn't exist together because their theologies were different enough to cause serious practical problems - yes, there are still ecclesiatical rumblings and changes, but para-church movements are more important than denomintaional churches these days.

Christendom is dead - long live Evangelicdom - a federal kingdom where subjects have freedom to roam across wide expanses of territory, as long as they swear allegiance to the influence of the Holy Spirit in their life, whether through the Scriptures, through charismania, or through some other experience.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006 12:00:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Timothy,
I've merely skimmed your page - but it appears to me that you have concluded that Rowan Williams is not a Christian. Unlike, it seems, you, I don't have The Lamb's Book of Life Monthly updates, and so can't really comment on the dvision between the lost & the saved. However it does seem to me to be a little presumptious of you? Or perhaps you disagree? I agree with you that that homosexual practise is wrong, but curiously the church, which gets all cross about these things, ignores the grand sweep of Scripture on other issues. 2 million children will die this year because they don't have adequate food. That's more than the total population of the province in which you live. What are you doing about that? Perhaps move to a smaller house (rather than getting up that property ladder) to enable you to give more?



Remember the parable of the sheep and goats in Matthew.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006 5:22:00 pm  
Blogger Timothy Davis said...

Dear Anonymous,

You have wrongly assumed that I claim to know that Rowan Williams is not one of the elect. Firstly no one knows the elect, and secondly, I do not know if he is a professed believer, as I don’t know sufficiently all that he professes to believe. If he clearly professed unbelief as do some clergy in the mainstream denominations, then I would have to take him at his word and say that he is an unbeliever. If someone says that they do not believe, they are by definition an unbeliever. (Some of what I have read certainly comes close to unbelief.)

However, Williams does come under the head of being a false teacher and a promoter of immorality: that is sufficient for discipline. (By the way, please note this article is more than about Williams. It is about the disobedience to Christ’s commands by Evangelicals in the mainstream denominations in tolerating a whole range of offences, instead of seeking to discipline the offenders, or if they are not able to achieve that, to separate themselves from them.)

"Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them." (Matt. 7:15-19)

Those who are members of the visible Church, but who commit certain sins are to be disciplined by the Church for their wicked behaviour, and if they do not repent after admonishment (or possibly in certain circumstances immediately after conviction), they are to be excommunicated and treated as heathen. ("[I]f he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector." - Matt. 18:15-20) To treat someone as a heathen is to treat them as not part of the Church.

This discipline is to cause them to repent and to promote the health of the Church. In Corinthians we read that Paul condemns that church for not disciplining a professed believer for a serious sin (incest with his mother). After his rebuke, they repented of their sin of lax discipline and excommunicated this wicked man. That led him to repentance and he was re-admitted to fellowship. I have no doubt that if Paul were around today he would rebuke the Evangelicals in the mainstream denominations for their laxness in remaining in communion with heretics, and in not obeying the clear teaching of Scripture. This is not rocket science!

It is, however, highly unlikely that Rowan Williams is a Christian as his beliefs on sexuality and other areas are of such a serious nature and so contrary to true faith, that one has to seriously question his faith. "Thus faith by itself, if it does not have works is dead." (James 2:17) (And, yes, I am aware of the previous verses relating to providing for the needy.) It is also questionable that he even professes the orthodox faith. (I need to read Garry Williams of Oakhill’s assessment at the Latimer Trust again.)

Certainly believers are quite capable of shocking sins like David, but it is one thing for a David to fall into adultery and even murder through lustful passion, but another to deny the clear teaching of Scripture on homosexuality after much "deliberation"(?). He was not overcome suddenly by his lusts. David crumbled when confronted by his sin, Williams has not. This also makes me question his status. Where is the repentance that comes with saving faith?

Williams cannot excuse himself as coming across a difficult text. He is like one of those whom Peter refers to as "untaught and unstable people [who] twist [it] to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures [despite all his "learning"]." (2 Pet 3:16)

Your condemnation of the Church is misjudged. The Church does give greatly to those who are in need. Maybe the likes of the Roman Catholic Church pour money into ornaments and empty edifices, but not the Evangelical Church as a whole. It actually amazes me how the Church can give so much.

We are not to know what individuals give, but we are to respond to what we know they profess. You are judging the Church by what you do not know, but I am judging Williams by what I do know.

Believers do not continue in sin. If he continues in sin, John tells us that he is not a Christian: "No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God's seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God... We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning" (1 John 3:9; 5:18 ESV) Is Rowan Williams continuing in sin? It seems awfully like it!

I hope that we see Williams come to his senses and repent, but those who encourage him by withholding Biblical discipline are not seeking his well-being or that of the Church. If he does repent, he should not be allowed back into the teaching ministry as he is clearly unqualified for it.

It may interest you to know that I bought a house that was a lot cheaper than I could have (when such a thing was possible!) for various reasons associated with service to the Kingdom of God. I suggest that you listen to the lectures on money matters that are linked in another post to find out where I stand on giving, instead of accusing me without knowledge.

I think you should focus your rebukes on those who need them, like Williams. Famine (however unbelievably awful it may be) only kills bodies; Williams and other false teachers are killing souls.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006 11:12:00 pm  
Blogger Daniel Hill said...

Timothy, I'd still like to see a reply from you to Custard's last comment on this post, but I'm also still confused about what `communion' means in this context. It might help me get clear what you mean (or what you think the Bible means) if you tell me whether you think that you and I are in communion, and why or why not. Thanks.

Thursday, August 03, 2006 7:43:00 am  
Blogger Timothy Davis said...

Daniel,

Custard's last comment was as follows: "I'd be interested to see what you make of my thoughts about dividing ourselves from Christians who are inside churches led by false teachers."

I presume that our brother was referring to the following:

"Many people within churches, even non-evangelical/reformed churches, even churches which are under the authority of the Bishop of Rome, are Christians and have been called by the grace of Christ even within their churches which we might not agree with. While we should discipline those who deliberately stray from the gospel, we should also seek to reach, encourage and strengthen those sheep who have just been misled. The difficult question then is how, when disciplining church leaders (such as ECUSA), we can lose as few of the genuine Christians as we can. It is the existence of those Christians who cause the arguments about dividing the Church and Elijah to become valid."

Is this what you want me to address?

As for communion, as I understand it, there are 3 senses in which it can be used:

1. The Scriptures refer to the Lord's Supper as communion (1 Cor. 10:16)

2. Communion is an English synonym (i.e. alternative translation) for the word "fellowship" in the Scriptures.

3. In a more restricted sense, some denominations refer to the more particular fellowship that they have with other members of their ecclesiastical institution, e.g. "the Anglican Communion".

It is my opinion, based on the Scriptures that I have quoted, that we are not to maintain ecclesiastical fellowship with false teachers and others, e.g. the sexually immoral. We are to endeavour to seek the discipline of these false teachers through the church courts.

If the church courts don't discipline them, then then this body is lacking one of the marks of the church and although claiming to be a church is not. It is my opinion that we should then secede from this institution and not maintain any fellowship with the false teachers that we were previously trying to discipline.

The problem with seceding is where do you go next? There are additional principles of Scripture that come into play, but they are best applied to concrete cases. What can definitely be said is that disciplining of false teachers should be attempted.

This does not mean that we cannot maintain fellowship with those brethren who err in their application of discipline, although obviously our relationship with them has changed, just as we might acknowledge a true believer in the RC pseudo-church, but we aren't to have ecclesiatical links with the body to which that person belongs.

Of course, one of the problems with the RW situation is that an Anglican you are under him, whether as Diocesan Bishop of Canterbury, Metropolitan Bishop of the province of Canterbury, Primate of All England or Head of the Worldwide Anglican Communion. (Custard may say, "As I am an Anglican in the province of York, he doesn't have any authority over me in any case," but I would query that in the light of RW's other offices.)

The other problem, as I understand it, is that in the Episcopal system the disciplinary power resides in the Bishops (do priests have disciplinary powers?), and not only that, but the next Bishop up in the hierarchy has power over the other Bishops under him. Who can discipline RW? The Queen as Supreme Governor of the C of E? (Looks like you have a woman over you!)

Correct this Presbyterian if he doesn't understand Anglican ecclesiology!

Thursday, August 03, 2006 6:01:00 pm  
Blogger Timothy Davis said...

I see that the C of E now has courts that contain some non-Bishops, although these are those who have secular legal qualification. See this article.

Thursday, August 03, 2006 6:27:00 pm  
Blogger Custard said...

I agree that we should discipline false teachers and that the C of E doesn't do this well enough (but is seeking to introduce legislation to make it easier).

The minister of a church does have some rights to discipline people within the church, as do the wardens of that church. In fact, the wardens can get the bishop to discipline the minister.

Bishops are accountable to senior bishops, but they themsevles are in some senses accountable to synods. If General Synod were to vote to censure Rowan Williams, I can't see him staying.

I agree that we should not be in fellowship with serious false teachers (not defined merely as people we disagree with).

I think there's also a scriptural imperative not to be out of fellowship with Christians other than the immoral or serious false teachers. And there are an awful lot of those in the C of E (and in the RCC, for that matter). That's what worries me about your approach.

Thursday, August 03, 2006 10:52:00 pm  
Blogger Timothy Davis said...

Custard (do you have a name?),

I agree that there is a Scriptural imperative not to be out of fellowship with other believers. My approach doesn't suggest anything to the contrary.

There are Anglicans who have seceded to form other ecclesiastical bodies, e.g. C of E (Continuing) or become part of another national church, e.g. part of the Sydney Diocese (which is a bit questionable). This didn't mean that they ceased to have fellowship with the Evangelicals that remained. I would also question whether these Evangelicals began with trying to discipline first (even though it is doomed to failure as the majority are professed unbelievers, they should still try according to Biblical protocol).

Also what about the Christians in the free churches? Are you more obliged to be in an institution with false teachers or with fellow evangelicals in other denominations?

Thursday, August 03, 2006 11:31:00 pm  
Blogger Custard said...

Timothy,

I agree that I, as an Anglican, should seek to be in fellowship with true Christians (and not subject to church discipline) in every other denomination, including RCC, Eastern Orthodox, closed baptists and even presbyterians ;) (my sister's a presby). I'm glad we agree on that.

As far as I can see, we are then faced with essentially two options.

One (which seems to be yours) is to seperate yourself from as many false teachers as you can, then seek fellowship with Christians in those denominations on an individual (and informal) basis.

The other (which is where I'm at) is to seek to remain in "formal" (and informal) fellowship with as many Christians as possible, then to exercise discipline on a personal level (and push for it and contend for the truth on an institutional level).

[I sometimes consider it somewhat ironic that if all the people who aren't in the C of E because they consider it compromised were in the C of E, it would be significantly less compromised and much easier to discipline people.]

As far as I can tell, neither of those two approaches is ruled out a priori by Scripture. I take the second because I think it seems more loving to the weaker Christian and also because I think discipline is administered by us primarily to the individual, not to the congregation / denomination as a whole.

John

Friday, August 04, 2006 6:59:00 am  
Blogger Timothy Davis said...

John,

Although we recognise some RCs to be true believers, we must lovingly encourage them to leave such apostate institutions, which have become synagogues of Satan, and are no ekklesia of Christ.

Where is there evidence that Evangelical Anglicans are seeking to discipline false teachers? It seems that the rejection of fundamental doctrines essential to salvation is not worthy of discipline by Evangelical Anglicans, but promoting homosexuality is worthy of discipline.

It also seems that it's okay to discipline a foreign church (i.e. the EPCUS), but not the titular head of the worldwide communion and other professed unbelievers, false teachers and immoral people.

Are you being faithful to the Scriptures that I have quoted in not separating yourself in every sense from false teachers? You can't say that you must remain in the C of E (if it comes to that) because to do otherwise would to not be in formal fellowship with other believers, because you are already not in formal fellowship with other believers in the free churches.

Which is better for the advancement of the Gospel and the truth, and more in obedience to our Lord who has bought us with his precious blood?

a) Be in formal fellowship with some believers and a whole pack of unbelievers and false teachers.

b) Be in formal fellowship with some believers.

Many of the Non-Conformists exist outside the C of E because they were ejected in 1662, not out of choice.

Friday, August 04, 2006 12:54:00 pm  
Blogger Timothy Davis said...

I'm not saying that the application of these principles is simple. There may be many other factors in an individual's case. However, despite the actions of a few in seceding, I know of no attempt by the body of English Evangelical Anglicans to deal with false teachers in their midst.

Friday, August 04, 2006 5:29:00 pm  
Blogger Custard said...

I think we disagree as to what constitutes "fundamental doctrines, essential to salvation". You seem to put the inerrancy of Scripture into this category; I don't (and have said publically I think it's generally a poorly formulated doctrine). Nor do I see on what grounds you could put it into that category.

Inasmuch as there are doctrines essential to salvation, they must have been believed by the thief on the cross. As far as I can tell, saving faith is not belief in a set of propositions, but a throwing of oneself on the mercy of Jesus.

As I recall, apart from the multiple declarations of impaired communion, significant numbers of churches witholding parish share from their dioceses, evangelical churches in liberal dioceses seeking alternative episcopal oversight, etc, evangelical Anglicans narrowly failed to get a measure through General Synod in 2003 that would have made it much easier to dismiss clergy on grounds of doctrinal aberrations. If we'd had the non-Anglican evangelicals in the C of E, it would have got through.

Which is better, to be in formal fellowship with a million or so Christians, a few of whom are heretics you are seeking to discipline, or to be in formal fellowship with a couple of thousand Christians?
Is it right to formally break ties with a million Christians in order that I might also break ties with 200 heretics?

Friday, August 04, 2006 8:52:00 pm  
Blogger Timothy Davis said...

John,

One doesn't need a complicated statement covering every argument that false teachers throw against the orthodox belief regarding Scripture to believe in the inerrancy of Scripture. Again, I suggest you look at the Chicago Statement if you want one.

All you need to say fundamentally is that you believe that every word of Scripture is given by the Holy Spirit and is absolutely truthful. Do you believe that? RW doesn't, e.g. he believes that Revelation is the rantings of a paranoid lunatic called John!

If you also don't think that believing in Jesus involves propositions, then what about "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved"? Isn't this a proposition?

We also believe in a person and His work for our salvation, who is presented to us as a set of propositions. Paul anathematised those who rejected the set of propositions (a.k.a. the Gospel) he was presenting.

Abraham believed God and he was declared righteous. RW won't believe God speaking to Him in the Scriptures because he won't believe that it is God speaking to him. He is therefore not justified.

I regret to say that we're not going to get anywhere discussing the (slightly) more difficult doctrine regarding false teachers and seceding, when you are still struggling with fundamental orthodoxy, i.e. what does it mean to believe and be saved?

Maybe Daniel is better placed to help you.

Friday, August 04, 2006 11:04:00 pm  
Blogger Custard said...

It's interesting - I've never explicitly heard saving faith reduced to belief in a set of propositions before.

I agree that there are statements, such as "Jesus was raised from the dead" where to contradict them would display absence of faith. But I don't think that we can say that faith consists in assent to those statements.

How would you explain the thief on the cross, or the woman with haemmorrhagic bleeding? It seems to me that Biblically "faith" is a lot closer to "trust" than to "intellectual assent", and the issue is one of trusting and resting/throwing oneself upon Jesus rather than intellectually assenting to propositions about him.

My understanding of the doctrine of Scripture is much closer to yours than to Williams'. I would be interested to see how he thinks God speaks through Revelation, but even Luther, for example, didn't fully accept the canon of Scripture.

Though it is interesting that in WIlliams' discussion of Irenaeus' stance against the Gnostics, he writes this: "for Irenaeus there is no interest or value in "saving information" divorced from the human experience of the Saviour. To make salvation a matter of 'saving truths' is to yield the pass to the gnostic".

Saturday, August 05, 2006 7:23:00 am  
Blogger Timothy Davis said...

John,

Saving faith involves trust in Christ and the rest of the Godhead, who are persons, and faith in their work in salvation.

Intellectual assent to propositions is not enough. James has to correct this wrong notion about mere belief of facts when he says, "You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!" (James 2:19)

There are many professed believers who assent to the truths, but don't trust in the persons. This is not saving faith. Saving faith is described as faith in Jesus, i.e. trust in a person.

However, faith does involve intellectual assent, i.e. belief of a set of truths or propositions. These truths tell us who these persons are and what they have done for us and will do for us in salvation. Otherwise we just have faith in labels. Faith in Jesus as a good teacher won’t save you. Faith in him as merely a good man won’t save you either.

The initial knowledge and understanding of some believers may be very simple at first. It also must be understood that a person may profess faith before they actually savingly believe. Believers may also experience doubts at times.

As I think you’re going into Wycliffe Hall, you will be studying under my fellow Ulsterman Alister McGrath. He went through a period of liberalism after becoming saved as an Evangelical. This is not uncommon in Anglicanism, esp. when swimming about amongst all those false teachers.

So we need trust and faith, but what are we trusting in Christ for? Many don’t come to Him to really save them, i.e. save them from their sins. They go to "missions", are convicted by their sins, don't want to go to Hell and "come down to the front to say a prayer". The majority of these don't continue as believers, because they didn't come to Jesus as He presents Himself in the Scriptures:

"And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins." (Matthew 1:21)

We give thanks to God that some are saved at these rallies, but many tares are also sown in the church. One of the problems is that a partial Gospel is presented to them. They are not told to repent as well as believe, nor are they told to trust in Christ to save them from sin. In many cases these days, they are just told to take Jesus into their hearts so they can enjoy fullness of life, and sin, Hell, repentance and other awkward things aren’t mentioned. A lot different from Paul and Co.!

I don't think it is right to say that "Biblically 'faith' is a lot closer to 'trust' than to 'intellectual assent'". Faith necessarily involves both.

One definition of saving faith is as follows:

1. trust in persons (i.e. Jesus and God) and their work,
2. about whom you believe certain facts,
3. for full salvation as the Gospel defines it.

I would also add that trust in God as a person involves belief in what He says at a fundamental level, however we may have doubts and fears. RW doesn't trust God's Word - he doesn't even believe it is God's Word! He doesn't just have doubts and fears, he rejects it wholesale! He doesn't need to say, "I believe, help my unbelief!" because he doesn't even have basic faith.

P.S. Your future professor, Alister McGrath makes the following statements regarding propositions in salvation in a short biography that I have of him:

In his youth he thought, "How could accepting a few ideas as true change your life?"

Michael Bauman in writing about McGrath’s work, "Iustia Dei", states that, 'That saving activity [of God in Christ] entails three propositions: (1) God is righteous; (2) man is a sinner; and (3) God justifies man. "The quintessence of the Christian doctrine of justification," says McGrath, "is that these three propositions do not form an inconsistent triad."' I.e. he believes that saving faith involves propositions!

Saturday, August 05, 2006 11:22:00 am  
Blogger Daniel Hill said...

Thanks for the further posts, Timothy, and for the most interesting discussion with Custard/John (thanks to him too!).

You seem to be using `communion' in the second of your two senses to mean the same as `fellowship' (though initially I misunderstood you as using it in the first sense, of the Lord's supper). But I'm still rather confused, I'm afraid, over what exactly you mean by this. What was the answer to my question over whether you think you and I are in communion/fellowship, and why or why not? Thanks.

Saturday, August 05, 2006 12:21:00 pm  
Blogger Timothy Davis said...

Daniel,

From my knowledge of you, I can tell you are a Christian (as far as anyone can), so therefore we have one Lord, one Spirit, one faith, etc. We are in fellowship already in that sense (i.e. there is that commonality). We also have fellowship through our blogs.

We do, however, belong to churches which are not in communion. This denominational division exists for reasons of discipline and conscience: i.e. your Church tolerates heretics, so this lack of inter-church fellowship is a form of discipline; and we could not be under an Erastian and Episcopalian regime because that would involve subjection to those who are usurping Christ's headship (for which our forefathers were slaughtered).

Saturday, August 05, 2006 12:55:00 pm  
Blogger Timothy Davis said...

For your information, the RPCI's statement on inter-church relations is here and here are the Terms of Membership in the RPCI (if I remember No. 3 accurately following its recent change):

1. I accept the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as the Word of God and the only infallible rule of faith and practice.

2. I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the only Redeemer of men, supreme in church and state, and in dependence on Divine grace I take Him as my Saviour and Lord.

3. I promise to have a teachable and submissive spirit towards the teaching of Scripture as set forth in the Testimony of the RPCI.

4. I promise that by the help of the Holy Spirit I will live a life consistent with my profession.

In relation to the Lord's Supper, we have what is called "session-controlled communion". This means that access to the sacrament is controlled by the congregation's body of elders. Someone would have to make a profession of faith to these elders before access. An Evangelical Anglican would therefore have access to the sacrament.

Saturday, August 05, 2006 2:07:00 pm  
Blogger Daniel Hill said...

Thanks for the posts, Timothy, and for the link to the RPCI testimony, which I have read.

What's confusing me is this: if, as you say, you and I as fellow believers are already in fellowship (your second sense of `communion'), and if, as you say, I could have the Lord's Supper (your first sense of `communion') at an RPCI church, then what is to be gained by my leaving the C of E and joining (say) the RPCI (or its nearest English equivalent, the EPCEW)?

Thanks for your help with these tricky points.

By the way, I had fellowship at a recent conference with your pal Harold Cunningham from Shaftesbury Square.

Saturday, August 05, 2006 6:43:00 pm  
Blogger Custard said...

Ok - we're agreed that there are some absolute basics which it is required to believe for salvation.

I don't see any grounds for doing what you did above and extending that to include infallibility/inerrancy of Scripture.

John

Saturday, August 05, 2006 8:40:00 pm  
Blogger Timothy Davis said...

Okay, John. Give us a brief run-down on what you believe concerning Scripture.

Saturday, August 05, 2006 9:23:00 pm  
Blogger Timothy Davis said...

John,

Let me also ask you this question: do you believe that those who are saved believe that the Bible is God's Word, and that what God says is true?

Saturday, August 05, 2006 10:16:00 pm  
Blogger Timothy Davis said...

Daniel,

Please note that contrary to what you may perceive that I am saying, this discussion is not about why you should leave the C of E. It may be right for you as an individual to remain in the C of E, given your circumstances.

The primary point is that there are false teachers, professed unbelievers, and believers who are living immoral lives in the C of E who are not being disciplined, and with whom true believers should not maintain communion in any sense if they remain disobedient.

I don't see the English Evangelical Anglicans (esp. the presbyters) doing enough to say that they are trying to be obedient to the Scriptures that I have quoted.

Saturday, August 05, 2006 10:20:00 pm  
Blogger Custard said...

A fair few of my views on the doctrine of Scripture are here.

I don't think it is God's perfect revelation of himself to humanity (Hebrews 1 teaches clearly that that's Jesus), but it perfectly points us to Jesus and reveals truth about him. It is God's perfect, verbally inspired written revelation of his perfect revelation of himself. Or something like that.

Timothy - Do you think the thief on the cross was saved? Do you think his doctrine of Scripture was the same as yours? Do you think that Luther was saved, despite his view of the book of James?

I think that Jesus' sheep recognise his voice, so that people who trust Jesus will trust the Bible.

Does it mean that they agree with you over the genre of literature that each part of the Bible is? No - I understand that some simplistic types might take parables to be true stories. I also understand that some might take true stories to be parables.
Does it necessarily imply a belief in inerrancy? I doubt it. Could it include someone with the views of Rowan Williams? Quite possibly.

I suspect (but don't know) that RW would affirm that God speaks through Revelation in a way that Luther wouldn't have done about James.

Sunday, August 06, 2006 7:48:00 am  
Blogger Custard said...

Reading the Chicago Statement, I think there are a couple of bits that seem too vague at this time in the morning. I might come back to them later.

I also draw your attention to Article 19:
...We deny that such confession is necessary for salvation...

Sunday, August 06, 2006 8:01:00 am  
Blogger Timothy Davis said...

Guys,

I've continued this discussion on infallibility, etc., here.

Sunday, August 06, 2006 4:51:00 pm  
Blogger Daniel Hill said...

I'm sorry, Timothy, I'm now more confused than ever.

You say that `it may be right for you as an individual to remain in the C of E', yet the title of your post is `The Command to Separate from Professed Unbelievers and the Immoral in the Church', and you say that I `should not maintain communion in any sense' with the `false teachers, professed unbelievers, and believers who are living immoral lives in the C of E'.

Can you please say a bit more about what you mean by `separate' and `not maintain communion in any sense' if you don't mean `leave the C of E'?

Thanks.

Monday, August 07, 2006 11:52:00 am  
Blogger Timothy Davis said...

Daniel,

Sorry for confusing you. It is a somewhat confusing subject when you get down to the nitty-gritty of applying specific commands such as not associating with false teachers in the light of other commandments in Scripture.

I'd be interested in what you think an Evangelical Anglican's response to these passages should be both as a presbyter ("priest", bishop, etc.) and as a non-presbyter (which I will refer to as "members").The onus is more on the presbyters, rather than the members.

The fundamental issue is that the efforts mounted by Evangelical Anglicans cannot in any sense be said to be trying to keep these commandments.

In my opinion, the Evangelical presbyters ideally should bind themselves together as a church-within-a-church. They should then seek to get false teachers disciplined. If there is no significant movement on this issue, then they should leave as a body.

What is the church? Is it not the ekklesia of Christ, who are "called out" (the meaning of the Greek) from the unbelieving world to be a separate community sanctified onto God?

What should the member do? I think the first obligation of members is to ask the following questions (assuming that a person believes that Erastianism and Episcopalianism is okay):

1. Is my pastor a false teacher? If yes, then leave and contact the bishop about it.

2. Am I getting nourishment from the preaching of the Word and can I have fellowship with other believers? If no, then see if this can be resolved, and if not, then leave.

Assuming the above, then one should respectfully ask one’s pastor what he and other Evangelicals are doing to discipline false teachers in the light of the texts that I have mentioned, and maybe write to the bishop (if he is Evangelical) as well.

If the Evangelical presbyters won’t make any progression towards obedience to Christ in this area, then you need to ask yourself some more questions:

1. Is a body that is not exercising discipline in the most basic way a church a la the Reformation idea of "marks of a church"?

2. Is there another, more faithful church that I can attend? If so, then you really should leave the disobedient body to join with these other believers who are being obedient. If you leave, or if you stay, you are still separating yourself from believers. I think that separating yourself from the disobedient body is more in accord with the principles of Scripture.


Aside from this, I would ask the following, assuming you aren’t wedded to Erastianism and Episcopalianism:

1. Are you happy with a non-ordained person, i.e. the Queen, being the Supreme Governor of the C of E? The civil government is not trying to make a serious reconfiguration of the Established Church’s government by way of Reformation at the moment, so this is a usurpation of Christ’s headship.

2. Are you happy with submitting to the rule of a woman (the Queen) as head of the Church?

3. Are you happy being ruled by a heretic as the Primate?

4. Are you happy with a church government that is not the divine right form of government, i.e. Episcopalianism?

5. Do you have other options? Is the C of E the only legitimate Church to which you have access? Are all other denominations in England being schismatic?

Please note that "schism" is the division of a church into different parts. Someone going from one denomination to another isn’t.

P.S. If I was an English hymn-singing paedobaptist, then I’d be in the EPCEW, if I could.

Monday, August 07, 2006 6:51:00 pm  
Blogger Daniel Hill said...

Thanks for this, Timothy. I don't think I'm `happy' about many of the issues that you mention, but I'm not sure that that warrants defection.

How do I respond to the biblical commands? Well, if there were false teachers or unbelievers in my local fellowship I'd be making a fuss, but there aren't. In point of fact, we drive 30 minutes each way to church to avoid several local fellowships that are compromised in that area.

I'm not 100% certain whether my pastor is fulfilling his duty with regard to these commands. I'm pretty sure that he is, though, for he is Chairman of Reform for the local diocese.

I'm dubious that my Bishop is fulfilling these commands in toto, though he certainly does exercise some biblical discipline.

I'm pretty sure that my Archbishop isn't fulfilling these commands very much, though he certainly is to some extent.

But what should I do about that? Maybe write to them, yes. But leave my local fellowship, which is doing these things?

Friday, August 11, 2006 1:16:00 pm  
Blogger Timothy Davis said...

Daniel,

So, your pastor is the Chairman of Reform for the Chester Diocese. It would interesting to know how he thinks that the members of Reform are being obedient to these Scriptures.

Friday, August 11, 2006 5:24:00 pm  
Blogger Daniel Hill said...

Timothy, you can judge for yourself whether Reform and my pastor are being faithful to the Biblical commands by browsing their Web site at:
http://www.reform.org.uk/

Monday, August 14, 2006 10:32:00 pm  
Blogger Timothy Davis said...

Daniel,

I have listed the Scriptures without commentary and asked Reform how they consider that they are being obedient to these Scriptures.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006 4:39:00 pm  
Blogger Daniel Hill said...

Thanks, Timothy. How did you ask? Did you use their `contact Reform' page? Let me know what answer you get.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006 6:00:00 pm  

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