Britain’s Constitutional Crisis and the Politics of Sex

By Stephen Baskerville
http://anglicanmainstream.org/
It is now very clear that Britain is entering its most serious constitutional crisis since the war, and it is doing so under a prime minister who is its most unaccountable. Having departed from the accepted British norm of parliamentary government in favor of a popular referendum, Britain created a vacuum that has been filled by a government with a subtle but determined ideological agenda that makes challenge almost impossible. Because Britain is (as often) the leader in this constitutional innovation, how Britain extricates itself from this debacle will have repercussions for all of us.

How was this allowed to happen? Two decisions in particular demonstrate just how irregularly British government has operated during and since the referendum.

First, in trying to recover the sovereignty surrendered to the European Union, MPs (perhaps unavoidably) used the diffidence that always accompanies EU questions to depart from Britain’s customary parliamentary procedures and foist the decision on an always fickle electorate. Though the electorate spoke clearly, its voice can change (or be made to change).

Now, despite the fact that retreat would have serious consequences for constitutional government, the political class is applying pressure in any effort to defy the popular will even after having elevated it to the level of formal legal status. In a country less stable than Britain this could produce constitutional nihilism, and even Britain faces the specter of chaos.

But the second decision was far more momentous, for it began the journey toward chaos, and that was the decision to allow Theresa May’s putsch. It is very clear that the current prime minister is out of her depth and incapable of long-term leadership.

This is certainly not because she lacks political skill. It is because she herself came to power illegitimately and can survive only by creating more of the havoc that brought her to power in the first place.

Mrs. May and other leftist elements of the Conservative Party took advantage of the post-Brexit confusion to stage a coup. They spun the referendum results into a New Left platform that had nothing to do with the voters’ expressed wishes. Not only were they on the wrong side of the referendum result, they immediately set in to implement policies that were more extreme versions of precisely those that had been repudiated by the voters in the referendum, with bizarre words about “social reform” to benefit the “disadvantaged” rather than “the privileged few.” They continued the same spin through the election, which was interpreted as everything but what it largely was: a negative referendum on Mrs. May’s failure as Home Secretary to deal with terrorism.

In short, Mrs. May has no claim or credentials to be prime minister and consequently no authority to negotiate Britain out of its current dilemma — which indeed, she largely created. Any other Prime Minister would have been forced to resign long ago.

So why this “Teflon” ability to defy the basic principles of British parliamentary government? How could a politician with no popular mandate immediately begin by claiming one for policies the opposite of what the people had voted for? Further, how has she been able to continue this extraordinary immunity from responsibility, even after leading her party to a humiliating election disaster that was likewise widely attributed to her personal failures alone?

Not to put too fine a point on it, there is but one reason, the silver bullet that now silences all criticism so effectively that it need no longer even be stated (and cannot be stated by its critics), and it is the one that is now manifesting itself all around us: “gender equality.” Unlike any potential competitor, Mrs. May makes herself immune from responsibility by skillfully playing sexual politics. The role played by her sex was celebrated when she assumed power not only by her allies but also by virtue-signaling pundits, though few really wanted to dwell on the ironies and implications. But as the current wave of accusations demonstrates, the triumph of sexual ideology has now made it is virtually impossible to hold women leaders accountable.

This has more to do with ideology than with sex, and the exceptions prove the rule. The excoriation of Andrea Leadsom for her Christian values during the leadership contest confirms that marginalization is now the rule for leaders who are feminine without being feminist.

Moreover, Britain’s greatest post-war Prime Minister was a woman. The difference was that Margaret Thatcher never engaged in ideologically female politics. She never made an issue of being a woman and never invoked feminist or “gender” ideology with its oppressor/victim Manicheanism that intimidates dissent and opportunistically celebrates double standards. Indeed, her entire government was one long battle against ideology: socialism, self-aggrandizing functionaries, unions, the welfare state, unilateral disarmament — of everything, in short, that has since become ideologically feminized. She accepted full responsibility for her policies, including the inevitable end.

Mrs. May’s politics are fundamentally different. Though she waves the banner of conservatism, she picks and chooses the ideological currents that will win her power. As Home Secretary, this meant de-prioritizing terrorism and crime in favor of ideological programs targeting law-abiding citizens, usually under the guise of combatting “violence against women,” while likewise prioritizing same-sex marriage. Even when ostensibly combatting terrorism (or “extremism”), she concocted pointless schemes driven by ideology. Most extraordinary was her proposal for the state to register and vet all religious leaders — as if priests, pastors, and rabbis pose a serious terrorist threat.

Now her successor as Home Secretary Amber Rudd, who helped engineer her June 2016 coup, is following suit: downplaying terrorism and crime and instead using her office to intimidate the expression of unorthodox views by law-abiding citizens.

In the struggle for the Tory Party leadership, it is no accident that an obviously appealing candidate of proven ability and moral character, Jacob Rees-Mogg, has been blackballed and sidelined by nothing more than his widely shared opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage, the main shibboleths of the sexual left. Now, the expanding use of sexual accusations for political purposes (which has in fact been going on for years) confirms the ascendency of the sexual left, and the same methods employed by May and Rudd — and DPP Alison Saunders — are having much more serious consequences.

The Conservatives now face more than the relatively straightforward matter of choosing a leader who is acceptable to various party factions. They must come to terms with the sexual radicalism that is now the vanguard ideology of the left and that also increasingly grips and paralyzes most of the right.

Stephen Baskerville is Professor of Government at Patrick Henry College. He is the author of The New Politics of Sex: The Sexual Revolution, Civil Liberties, and the Growth of Government Power (Angelico, 2017).

Created Male and Female

image

An Open Letter from Religious Leaders, December 15, 2017

Dear Friends:

As leaders of various communities of faith throughout the United States, many of us came together in the past to affirm our commitment to marriage as the union of one man and one woman and as the foundation of society. We reiterate that natural marriage continues to be invaluable to American society.

We come together to join our voices on a more fundamental precept of our shared existence, namely, that human beings are male or female and that the socio-cultural reality of gender cannot be separated from one’s sex as male or female.

We acknowledge and affirm that all human beings are created by God and thereby have an inherent dignity. We also believe that God created each person male or female; therefore, sexual difference is not an accident or a flaw—it is a gift from God that helps draw us closer to each other and to God. What God has created is good. “God created mankind in his image; in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (Gen 1:27).

A person’s discomfort with his or her sex, or the desire to be identified as the other sex, is a complicated reality that needs to be addressed with sensitivity and truth. Each person deserves to be heard and treated with respect; it is our responsibility to respond to their concerns with compassion, mercy and honesty. As religious leaders, we express our commitment to urge the members of our communities to also respond to those wrestling with this challenge with patience and love.

Children especially are harmed when they are told that they can “change” their sex or, further, given hormones that will affect their development and possibly render them infertile as adults. Parents deserve better guidance on these important decisions, and we urge our medical institutions to honor the basic medical principle of “first, do no harm.” Gender ideology harms individuals and societies by sowing confusion and self-doubt. The state itself has a compelling interest, therefore, in maintaining policies that uphold the scientific fact of human biology and supporting the social institutions and norms that surround it.

The movement today to enforce the false idea—that a man can be or become a woman or vice versa—is deeply troubling. It compels people to either go against reason—that is, to agree with something that is not true—or face ridicule, marginalization, and other forms of retaliation.

We desire the health and happiness of all men, women, and children. Therefore, we call for policies that uphold the truth of a person’s sexual identity as male or female, and the privacy and safety of all. We hope for renewed appreciation of the beauty of sexual difference in our culture and for authentic support of those who experience conflict with their God-given sexual identity.

Sincerely Yours:

Most Rev. Joseph C. Bambera
Bishop of Scranton
Chairman
USCCB Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs

The Most Rev. Dr. Foley Beach
Archbishop and Primate
Anglican Church in North America

The Rt. Rev. Eric V. Menees
Bishop of San Joaquin
Anglican Church in North America

Rev. Eugene F. Rivers, III
Founder and Director
Seymour Institute for Black Church and Policy Studies
Church of God in Christ

The Rev. John F. Bradosky
Bishop
North American Lutheran Church

Rev. Dr. Gregory P. Seltz, PhD
Executive Director
The Lutheran Center for Religious Liberty

Most Rev. Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap.
Archbishop of Philadelphia
Chairman
USCCB Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth

The Rev. Paull Spring
Bishop Emeritus
The North American Lutheran Church

Most Rev. James D. Conley
Bishop of Lincoln
Chairman
USCCB Subcommittee for the Promotion and
Defense of Marriage

Rev. Tony Suarez
Executive Vice President
National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference

The Rt. Rev. John A. M. Guernsey
Bishop, Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic
Anglican Church in North America

Very Rev. Nathanael Symeonides
Ecumenical Officer
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America

Rev. Dr. Matthew Harrison
President
Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod

The Rev. Dr. L. Roy Taylor
Stated Clerk of the General Assembly
Presbyterian Church in America

Imam Faizal Khan
Founder and Leader
Islamic Society of the Washington Area

Andrew Walker
Director of Policy Studies
Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Most Rev. Joseph E. Kurtz
Archbishop of Louisville
Chairman
USCCB Committee for Religious Liberty

The Rev. Dr. David Wendel
Assistant to the Bishop for Ministry and Ecumenism
The North American Lutheran Church

Melchisedek
Archbishop of Pittsburgh
Orthodox Church in America

Paul Winter
Elder
Bruderhof

Who decides membership in the Anglican Communion? Not the Secretary General of the ACC!

The Rev. Canon Phil Ashey is President & CEO of the American Anglican Council. 

It is simply not true to say that ACNA is part of the Anglican Communion,” he [Idowu-Fearon] said. “To be part of the Communion, a province needs to be in communion with the See of Canterbury and to be a member of the Instruments of the Communion. ACNA is not in communion with the See of Canterbury—and has not sought membership of the Instruments.”  Idowu-Fearon added that “There is a long-standing process by which a province is adopted as a province of the Communion… ACNA has not gone through this process.”  <http://www.anglicanjournal.com/articles/acna-not-province-anglican-communion-secretary-general-clarifies/> Accessed 13 Sep 2017

 

The Secretary General’s statement that The Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) is not a province of the Anglican Communion is misleading at best.  It ignores the very process of recognition of the Anglican Church in North America by some GAFCON provinces as early as July 2009.  It ignores the public and published recognition of Archbishop Foley Beach as “a fellow Primate of the Anglican Communion” by those Primates of the Anglican Communion who installed him as the second Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America on October 9, 2014.  The Secretary General ignores the recognition of the Anglican Church in North America as a “partner province” of the Global South by the Primates of the Global South in their October 2016 Communique.

 

In other words, the process of recognition of the Anglican Church in North America as a member Church within the Anglican Communion is already a 10-year process initiated by Primates of the Anglican Communion, representing Churches of the Anglican Communion, and in keeping with their “long-standing” procedural authority to do so.  It’s certainly in the Secretary General’s interest in his Report to take pride in his achievement in helping to form a new ‘province” of the Anglican Communion in Sudan.  But that does not give him the right to take pride in misstating who decides membership in the Anglican Communion—especially by usurping the rightful authority of the Primates to do so while they are in the middle of an already ongoing process of recognition.

 

Perhaps the Secretary General is worried that the process has become so far advanced already that it would be difficult, if not impossible, to incorporate any of the ACC’s “suggestions” into the governing documents of the Anglican Church in North America.  That’s ok.  We can assure the Secretary General and the ACC that we have consulted some of the finest canonical minds in the Anglican Communion, as well as the widest possible range of governing documents among the Churches of the Anglican Communion, in shaping our own.  The recognition by the Primates and Provinces of the numerical majority of Anglicans within the Communion testify that we have done our job well.

 

So, let’s look at the authoritative documents of the Anglican Communion that address the question of membership.

 

  1. Recent events and publications question the necessity of relationship with the See of Canterbury as an essential prerequisite for membership

 

Yes, it’s true that Resolution 49 of Lambeth Conference 1930 defined membership in the Anglican Communion as a fellowship, within the one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, of those duly constituted dioceses, provinces or regional Churches in communion with the See of Canterbury.

 

However, the 2005 decision of the Church of Nigeria, the largest province of the Anglican Communion, to change its Constitutional definition of membership in the Anglican Communion from “relationship with the See of Canterbury” to relationship with those who uphold the historical formularies of the Anglican Communion (The Bible, the 39 Articles and the BCP 1662 and Ordinal) sent a shock wave through the Anglican Communion that Anglican identity and membership is in fact based on a common confession– and not geography or mere “bonds of affection.”

 

This in turn shaped the definition of membership in the Anglican Communion in the Principles of Canon Law Common to the Churches of the Anglican Communion (London: Anglican Communion Office, 2008).  According to Principle 10.4 of the PCLCCAC, “the relationship of ecclesial communion within the Anglican Communion is based on the communion of a church with one or more of the following (a) the See of Canterbury…; or (e) all churches which profess the apostolic faith as received within the Anglican tradition.” (emphasis added).

 

Clearly, relationship with the See of Canterbury is no longer the prerequisite that it was in 1930 for membership in the Anglican Communion.

 

And, in fact, the Archbishop of Canterbury has never refused to recognize as a member of the Anglican Communion any Church which has been moved forward by 2/3 of the Primates to the ACC for addition to the Schedule of Churches in the Anglican Communion. Whatever approval the See of Canterbury offers comes at the end of the process—not at the beginning.

 

  1. According to its Constitution, the ACC has only an advisory role in the formation and recognition of new Churches in the Anglican Communion

 

Under Article 5 of the Constitution of the Anglican Consultative Council,[1]which enumerates the specific powers of the ACC, Article 5.3 provides that the Council has power “To advise on inter-Anglican, provincial and diocesan relationships, including the division of provinces, the formation of new provinces and or regional councils, and the problems of extra-provincial dioceses.”[2]  (emphasis added).  It is simply misleading, publicly or privately, to suggest that the ACC has anything more than an advisory role in the formation of new provinces.  This is borne out by the very language of the oft-referenced Resolution 12 of ACC-10 regarding the formation of new provinces (see below).

 

Article 7 of the Constitution describes the Structure of the ACC, and defines membership within the Anglican Communion as those Member-Churches “which are included in the Schedule to these Articles”[3]  However, Article 7.2 does give the Standing Committee of the ACC (aka The Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion) permission to add a Church to the Schedule of Member-Churches with the assent of 2/3 of the Primates:

 

“…with the assent of two-thirds of the Primates of the Anglican Communion (which shall be deemed to have been received if not withheld in writing within four months of the date of notification) the Standing Committee may alter or add to the Schedule.”[4] (emphasis added).

 

This language leads to two observations.  The initiative of the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion is permissive only.  It is not required beforehand for the formation of a new province.  Secondly, the ultimate authority in any case rests in the assent of two-thirds of the Primates of the Anglican Communion. In other words, the ultimate authority for forming a new province/Member-Church of the Anglican Communion rests with the Primates, and not with the ACC or its Standing Committee.

 

  1. Resolution 12 of ACC-10 does not give jurisdiction to the ACC to create or withhold recognition of a new Church within the Anglican Communion

 

The Secretary General is in error when he claims that a new Province must apply to the ACC, much less “the Instruments,” before it can become a province.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  There are no official regulations guiding the formation of a province—merely suggestions. In 1996 ACC legal advisor (now Canon) John Rees said the ACC-10 guidelines were not intended to be a legal requirement but rather a flexible aid in provincial formation.  The Anglican Communion News Service echoed Rees’ statement when it reported that the ACC-10 guidelines would “ensure new Provinces the opportunity to benefit from the advice of the ACC and the experience of other Provinces” but were not necessary steps for creating new provinces.[5]

 

In fact, ACC-10 Resolution 12 restated the advisory role of the ACC in making recommendations (rather than directives) on the formation of new provinces in the following language:

 

“Resolved that this Council (1) affirms its commitment to assisting in the creation of new Provinces(2) urges those involved in promoting the creation of new Provinces to consult the council through its Secretary General… (3) affirms the guidelines set out in previous Council resolutions, and (4) adopts the additional guidelines as set out in the appended schedule.”[6](emphasis added)

 

The language of the additional guidelines appended in ACC-10 Resolution 12 is not mandatory but rather permissive, as demonstrated in the following language: “…(2) The proposal for a new provincemight (and ideally would normally)  be accompanied by an invitation to the ACC for a visit by the Secretary General… to discuss the application [of these guidelines] to the specific situation in the local area…”; (4) “…The ACC can provide significant assistance in advising both on the content of constitutions… and on the arrangements that may need to be made for that stage of the discussion…”  and (5) “the Secretary General [of the ACC] may, in consultation with the Standing Committee as appropriate, appoint a committee, or call upon individual consultants, to make observations on its behalf for further consideration by the promoters and their advisors.[7] (emphasis added)

 

Finally, ACC-10 reaffirmed the authority of the Primates to recognize Provinces when, in Resolutions 1 and 2 welcoming Mexico and SE Asia as new Provinces, it began both resolutions with this declaration: “Resolved that the Primates having assented, this ACC-10 meeting in Panama welcomes…”

 

  1. The Primates have unconditional authority by 2/3 assenting to recommend a Church be added by the ACC to the Schedule of Churches in the Anglican Communion.

 

The Guidelines set out in previous ACC Resolutions, affirmed by ACC-10 Resolution 12, include the following:

 

  • in 1993, at a joint meeting of the Primates of the Anglican Communion and the Anglican Consultative Council, Resolution 47 regarding the new Provinces of Burundi, Rwanda and Zaire “requests the Primates to add them to the list of Member Churches in the Anglican Communion,” and
  • Resolution 48 regarding the new Province of Korea “requests the Primates to add it to the list of member Churches of the Anglican Communion following its inauguration.”

 

In both Resolutions, the Council explicitly recognizes the Primates as having the authority to determine the membership of the Anglican Communion—and this is the very fundamental guideline affirmed in ACC-10 Resolution 12.  Moreover, this is also the same express condition precedent to the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion adding a Church to the Schedule of Member-Churches under Article 7.2 of the ACC Constitution.

 

Conclusion

 

The Secretary General’s declaration that Anglican Church in North America is not a Church in the Anglican Communion is at best premature.  At worst, it is misleading and characteristic of the increasing overreaching of the ACC in its jurisdiction.  The Anglican Church in North America is already in a 10-year process of recognition by the Primates, who have the jurisdiction to extend such recognition.  The ACC may offer advice if requested.  They have not been requested by the Primates recognizing The Anglican Church in North America to do so.  The Secretary General should work with the Primates rather than seeking to usurp their authority.

 

 

The Rev. Canon Phil Ashey is President & CEO of the American Anglican Council. 

 

 

 

[1]The Constitution of the Anglican Consultative Council, as incorporated under the UK Charities Act 2006 (Companies House UK: Company No. 7311767, 12 July 2010), < http://www.anglicancommunion.org/media/39479/the-constitution-of-the-anglican-consultative-council.pdf >  Accessed 19 Sep 2017

[2] Ibid., at 4.

[3] Ibid., at 7.

[4] Ibid.

[5] CEN, December 11, 2008, “Canterbury won’t block or bless new province,” < https://geoconger.wordpress.com/?s=John+Rees&searchbutton=go%21 > Accessed 17 September 2017

[6] ACC-10 (1996: Panama City), Resolution 12, “Creation of new Provinces,” < http://www.anglicancommunion.org/structures/instruments-of-communion/acc/acc-10/resolutions.aspx#s12 > Accessed 19 September 2017.

[7] Ibid.

Author:

Jules Gomes

Two men go to the temple to pray, one the Archbishop of Canterbury and the other a Trump-voting American fundamentalist. Archbishop Justin, standing before ITV’s Robert Peston, prays: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, Tories, pro-lifers, patriots, climate change deniers, wealth creators, welfare state haters, women’s ordination objectors, Islamophobes, homophobes, transphobes, Jacob Rees-Mogg or even like this fundamentalist Christian Trump-voter. I support Fair Trade and food banks. I challenge Wonga and high street banks.I pray for the UN climate summit in Paris. I issue press releases on child refugees and terrorist attacks. I denounce Brexiteers and praise Remainers.’

The Trump-voter, standing far off, will not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beats his breast, saying: ‘I am a garbage collector from America’s Rust Belt struggling to raise a family. I voted for Trump. God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’

Jesus’s much-loved parable of the Pharisee and the Publican is a classic text on the dynamics of virtue signalling. The Pharisee, like the Archbishop, is seeking moral approbation. On ITV, Welby said he ‘really genuinely’ does not comprehend why fundamentalist churchgoers voted for Trump. There are a number of features to this liturgy of sanctimonious virtue signalling.

First, it is public, performed in the Temple or on TV. Second, it is effortless. It involves no risk. Third, it is elitist. The Pharisee is not like the Publican. The Archbishop is not like the American. Fourth, it is exclusive. The Pharisee and the Archbishop exclude sinful publicans, Republicans, and creepy fundamentalists crawling out of Clinton’s ‘basket of deplorables.’ Fifth, it is self-centred. The camera must focus on I, me and myself – a trait Martin Luther termed homo incurvatus in se: man curved in on himself.

James Bartholomew, author of The Welfare of Nations, coined the term ‘virtue signalling’ in 2015. ‘One of the crucial aspects of virtue signalling is that it does not require actually doing anything virtuous,’ he notes. ‘It takes no effort or sacrifice at all.’ While researching his previous book, The Welfare State We’re In, Bartholomew realised that the Victorians and Edwardians gave more to charity than today’s citizens. Even the working classes gave around 10 per cent of their income, compared with less than 1 per cent for today’s overall population. Today, people think they are virtuous because they vote Labour and express hatred of Right-wingers. ‘That is not virtue.’ writes Bartholomew. ‘That is lazy, self-righteous and silly.’

John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, proved Bartholomew’s point last week, when he returned to the safe spaces of the BBC studios to be interviewed by Andrew Marr, and donned his dog collar after the fall of Robert Mugabe. Sentamu cut up his collar on the Andrew Marr Show in 2007 in protest against Mugabe.

Sentamu did not visit Zimbabwe and demonstrate outside Mugabe’s palace. He would have been thrown into prison. That would have been a virtuous act of protest requiring real courage. Your publicity stunt really had Mugabe quaking in his boots, did it not, Archbishop? You could have made a Mugabe voodoo doll and stuck pins into it! Sentamu’s act was a feel-good virtue-signalling feat. He felt good and enjoyed the publicity. Andrew Marr felt good because the BBC had done its bit to virtue signal its opposition to Mugabe. We all felt good because we had vicariously demonstrated our hatred for Mugabe.

Jesus warns against virtue signalling when he asks his disciples to ‘beware of practising your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them’. He ridicules religious leaders who make ‘their phylacteries broad and their fringes long’ (and slice their dog collars in television studios).

Social psychologists Justin Tosi and Brandon Warmke prefer to categorise such behaviour as ‘moral grandstanding’ – public moral discourse aiming to convince others that you are ‘morally respectable’. Others must judge you as ‘worthy of respect or admiration’ because of ‘some particular moral quality – for example, an impressive commitment to justice, a highly tuned moral sensibility, or unparalleled powers of empathy. To grandstand is to turn one’s contribution to public discourse into a vanity project,’ they argue. Sentamu’s vanity project lasted ten years and was made visible by the empty space around his neck.

There are life and death issues in the North of England over which Sentamu presides. Clergy survivors of sexual abuse have been pleading with him for justice. Fr Matthew Ineson, one of the victims, tweeted this a couple of days ago: ‘Today is the 98th day since risk assessment request on Bishops Sentamu, Croft, Snow & Burrows (for failure to act on disclosures of child abuse & leave a priest child sex abuser 5 years to potentially abuse again) sent to @JustinWelby STILL no reply. Why? Child abuse unimportant?’ Teenage white underclass girls in northern towns have been raped by mostly Pakistani Muslim men on an industrial scale. The C of E is haemorrhaging members over the failure of its hierarchy to uphold orthodox teaching in the face of a militant sexually permissive zeitgeist.

Welby or Sentamu haven’t let out the tiniest squeak of protest or opposition.

Ironically, the rise of virtue signalling parallels a growing interest in Aristotelian virtue ethics. Philosophers such as Alasdair MacIntyre in his book After Virtue and Bishop N T Wright in his book Virtue Reborn have both stressed the importance of virtue as building character.

But virtue signalling is the opposite of virtue. Real virtue is done without drawing attention, is in harmony with reason and natural law, and is directed toward helping others or toward God. Virtue signalling turns virtue ethics on its head because it must be readily visible, it is silly and unreasonable and it does not help anybody, says Kevin Clark.

The most devastating consequence of virtue signalling is that it becomes a substitute for character building and replaces Aristotle’s four principal virtues of courage, justice, prudence and temperance with publicity stunts, sound bites, Facebook ‘likes’ and Twitter shares.

Oh, by the way, Paul Bayes, Bishop of Liverpool, took a virtue-signalling HIV testlast week. ‘It’s just a pinprick. A simple, pain-free test. And the staff I dealt with were lovely, putting me completely at ease,’ Bayes said. Poor Jesus, I thought! He had to endure a crown of thorns on his head, nails through his hands, and a spear thrust into his side.

First printed in The Conservative Woman

Australia, Oh Australia!

yes austalia

By Rollin Grams November 15, 2017

In one of C. S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia, ‘The Silver Chair,’ the emerald witch of the underworld advocates an anti-natural lie.  She claims that there is no real world above the ‘Underland’ that she has created. She throws a magical potent onto the fire that causes the children who had tumbled into her realm to come under her spell. She launches into ‘shared dialogue’ with them to convince them of their erroneous belief in a real world above ground. No doubt, because she was managing to break down their resistance to her ‘revisionist teaching’, she would have considered this ‘good conversation’.  (The awkward phrases in quotes are typical in the Church of England for the liberal agenda to persuade the Church to abandon its historic faith for Western culture’s anti-natural thinking about sex and marriage.)

The children’s companion, Puddleglum, is a voice of reason in the story and is less susceptible to false arguments than the children.  He stomps bare-footed onto the magical fire to put it out. The children emerge from the witch’s spell and come to their senses. Smarting from his burns, Puddleglum says to the witch, ‘Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one.’  He and the children then get on with their mission.

As expected, yesterday’s referendum in Australia led to an affirmation of same-sex ‘marriage’.  This step on the road to an ultimate denial of biological, binary genders is becoming definitive for Western nations.  The illogic of the view follows that of the emerald witch.  That some 61% of the voters fell for this lie for around 3% of the population who identify as homosexual is an indication that the culture is failing in many more ways than just this issue.  It has lost the basis from which to present moral arguments of any sort because it has rejected God’s created world.  Like Eve and Adam, it has bitten into the fruit that will allow them to determine good and bad for themselves, to play God.

The saddest part of the story, however, is that the mainline churches have, by and large, failed Australia’s children.  They have ceased to speak rational sense and, instead, fallen under the magical spell of this ‘Underworld’ that denies created realities.  True, the Sydney Diocese of the Anglican Church remains faithful to God’s revealed truths in creation and Scripture.  However, in Australia’s version of the story, Puddleglum falls under the spell of the anti-naturalism of culture, which also aborts its children by the millions under the imaginary notion that the vulnerable are less than human.

The only question that remains is, ‘How long will it take for this culture to decide that realists are dangerous, unfit to parent, unworthy to teach children, a troubling presence in the workplace, and need to be removed?’  Anti-naturalism will prove to be the totalitarianism of the 21st century.

THE COMPROMISING CHURCH (Part 4)

Sola Gratia

By Roger Salter
Special to VIRTUEONLINE
www.virtueonline.org
It could be said that we live in the age of “cheap grace”. But in fact that is too high a compliment to pay to the prevailing attitude of our time (“attitude” is a substitute for the noun “theology”, for that noble science, in any Biblical sense, scarcely exists anymore in all the breadth of that amorphous religious entity known as “Anglicanism”). Grace hardly matters as a concept or a divine influence when sin, its consciousness and sense of conviction, is annihilated by the universal assumption of Universalism – the notion that divine acceptance embraces all without condition or exception. “Anything goes” is the the watchword of our benighted Communion.

A Reformation can only occur against the backdrop of accountability to God and the offenses committed against Him. A Reformation such as Martin Luther’s was fueled by the environment of Roman Catholicism with its residual elements of Christian tradition. In our era what is necessitated is a revolutionary reversal of practically all that constitutes human self-understanding and perception of reality. Our race is about as far gone from God as is possible prior to the event of the denouement of history. At the end of the 20th century Evangelical notables such as Martyn Lloyd Jones and Alec Motyer were remarking that societal decadence was almost at an absolute nadir. Decades later our culture and mainline churches have descended to even greater depths of moral turpitude and departure from true Christian faith. Only an acute awareness of sin can arouse consciences to cry for divine mercy.

Our plight is beyond the wit or action of man to resolve, and only divine power and wisdom can extract us from the morass of grave wickedness in which our generation now lies. No situation is beyond the redemptive power of God but it is subject to the determination of his sovereign will and his inviolable prerogative to exercise compassion or wrath: “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever” (Genesis 6:3). Mercy is never an entitlement. It issues from a free decision. “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy” (Romans 9:15). If salvation is in any way to be in prospect for sinners it must spring from divine initiative, not simply as a proposition, but at the very inception of its performance. God must begin, carry out, and complete the mission of human rescue. The first move is strictly monergistic, then follows assent, and then continuing compliance with the will of God. Grace is decisive at every point of the process of redemption. The sinner is first embraced by the Lord’s unmotivated grip. He then closes with God under the influence of the divine call and love. He is enabled to continue in attachment to God by the unbreakable bond of divine reliability in sustaining permanent divine commitment toward a specially chosen and unstable companion – namely the elect individual. Salvation is all of grace operative through different modes – election, enticement (effectual call), and everlasting care.

The believer’s thorough reflection on Scripture and experience brings him or her to the Pauline conclusion”: “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to become conformed to the image of his Son, so that he would be the firstborn among many brethren; and those whom he predestined, he also called; and those whom he called, he also justified; and those whom he justified, he also glorified.”

There is no break or failure in the sequence of saving events. The order of salvation is preserved intact. Christ the Son is chosen as Redeemer and the Lord looks favorably upon a vast and gathered cluster of lost individuals whom he will personally associate forever as “brethren” with his Servant, and their Saviour, in the assignment of recovery from sin and restoration to his intimacy. Those sovereignly considered and named ones (their undeserving identity fully known and foreknown), are predestined to mercy and the gift of eternal and holy life. Salvation is in and through Christ – not because recipients somehow, in time, enter into connection with Christ by some human means, but because Father, Son, and Holy Spirit nominate them to inclusion within the People of God and collaborate in bringing them “home”.

The elect ones are attracted to Christ. They are accepted through him. And so perfect is their protection and preservation through this life of weakness and temptation that their attainment of Christ’s glorious presence in heaven is absolutely guaranteed. Predestination is important because it upholds the effectualness, completeness, and ultimate success of Christ’s saving venture. It renders to him due glory for the fulfillment of his purpose. Nothing human can cause him to fail. It is unthinkable to diminish or mar the perfection of his saving work.

All facets of the divine purpose are beautifully and pastorally spelt out in the seventeenth Article of our Reformed Confession.

Article 17. Of Predestination and Election.

Predestination to Life is the everlasting purpose of God, whereby (before the foundations of the world were laid) he hath constantly decreed by his counsel secret to us, to deliver from from curse and damnation those whom he hath chosen in Christ out of mankind, and to bring them by Christ to everlasting salvation, as vessels made to honour. Wherefore, they which be endued with so excellent a benefit of God be called according to God’s purpose by his Spirit working in due season: they through Grace obey the calling: they be justified freely: they be made sons of God by adoption: they be made like the image of his only begotten Son Jesus Christ: they walk religiously in good works, and at length, by God’s mercy, they attain to everlasting felicity.

Intellectual and moral integrity require that the Article be read and interpreted in the historical and grammatical sense apparent in the known views of the Reformers themselves. Their doctrine is not malleable to the influence of private opinion or subject to the imposition of subsequent attempts at revisionism. Cranmer, whose theology “was structured by predestination” (Diamaid MacCulloch), built that same structure into Anglicanism as the principal author of our Confession of Faith. Every phrase of the Article can be seen to match the language employed by Jean Calvin at various points throughout his writings, which is not to allege that the French Reformer was directly copied by Cranmer. The views of the two men coincided because they had Sacred Scripture as their common source.

Fore-ordination to salvation is the evident meaning of the opening statement of the article i.e “everlasting purpose”, “constantly decreed”, “those whom he hath chosen in Christ”. The decree brings men to Christ, that is to knowledge of and faith in Christ. They are not selected on the basis of faith already existent in Christ but they are marked out for the gift of faith which shall be exercised toward Christ. “In Christ” signifies the consideration of the elect as being under Christ, whom the Father has elected as head of all redeemed ones. Augustinian predestinationism is absolutely asserted in the vocabulary before us. It is people who are chosen out of a wretched state that are selected by the Lord and not those who somehow find themselves in a favorable state through their effort or inclination. Grace is distinguishing: “And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed” (Acts 13:48).

The word “decree” is deemed by many to have a hard edge to it. Decretal theology, it is claimed, is often presented in a harsh tone as if divine decisions were purely mental conceptions disconnected from living, feeling, souls. Such is not the case. Election emerges from warm affection – “electing love”. Condemnation is in consideration of unforsaken evil which is rightly hated by a holy God. Those “passed by” dare to be living souls harboring hatred for God and determined to continue in defiance of their Maker and Governor. God possesses the prerogative to show mercy or administer judgment. Salvation is entirely free. Punishment is entirely deserved. “It is of grace that any are saved; and in the distribution of that grace he does what he will with his own – a right which most are ready enough to claim in their own concerns, though they are so unwilling to allow it to the Lord of all” (John Newton).

God is at liberty to issue his just decrees, publish his determinations, express his commands, and declare his demands. They are all righteous and wise, and where they are prescriptive they are supremely beneficial. Where his ways are beyond human understanding we yield to Nebuchadnezzars’s discovery: “But he does according to his will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth: and no one can ward off his hand or say to him, What have you done? We can only accede to Paul’s advice to be humble, “Who are you, O man, who answers back to God” (Romans 9:20). God does not require our permission and he is entitled to our acquiescence. The sovereignty of God warrants glad submissiveness in man.

[It may be possible and useful to comment briefly at this point on the matter of supra vs infralapsarianism, as to whether any sovereign differentiation between persons is to be considered prior to or following the fall of man. Our minds ought to be reverently reserved on this speculative matter which has no material affect on the ministry of the gospel (although supra may have a tendency to blunt Christian compassion). Supra is not necessarily more logical (see Warfield, The Plan of Salvation), although that is its claim, and in preaching to lost sinners, ministers are virtually infra in their approach. It is often concluded by even scholarly biographers of John Donne that his protest against the supra position was proof that he denied the doctrine of eternal election, but there is too much evidence to the contrary. Donne was as Augustinian as the Puritans. It was in matters of worship and church polity that he differed. “God did not elect me as a helper, not create me, not redeem me, not convert me, by way of helping me; for he alone did all, and he had no use at all of me. God infuses his first grace, the first way, merely as a Giver, entirely, all himself; but his subsequent graces, as a helper; therefore, we call them Auxiliant graces.” Yet in spite of his caution as to speculation regarding the decrees, Donne the infralapasarian who could openly refer to the Book of Life as the register of the elect, could also express his belief in “the first judgment, before all times” (Reformed Anglicans ought to recognize what allies they have in Messrs Donne, Hooker, and Beveridge).

As the godly consideration of Predestination and our Election in Christ, is full of sweet, pleasant, and unspeakable comfort to godly persons, and such as feel in themselves the working of the Spirit of Christ, mortifying the works of the flesh, and their earthly members, and drawing up their mind to high and heavenly things, as well because it doth greatly establish and confirm their faith of eternal Salvation to be enjoyed through Christ, as because it doth fervently kindle their love towards God:

In this portion of the Anglican treatment of predestination resides the refutation of any notion that the doctrine of election is cold, unfeeling, and remote from sensitivity, human or divine. Election arouses warm and vital human emotion, appreciation of God’s mercy, and the revelation and felt experience of divine love in the personal choice and cherishing of believers through Christ.

Only a godly consideration of predestination is the right approach to this biblical doctrine. Grammar is one matter, but tone is essential, and only the regenerate are receptive of this tone that speaks to the heart of a rebel redeemed. “Why was I made to hear his voice, and enter while there’s room; When thousands make a wretched choice, and rather starve than come. ‘Twas the same love that spread the feast, that sweetly forced me in; Else I had still refused to taste, and perish in my sin.” “Sweet, pleasant, and unspeakable comfort” is derived from reflection on predestination. Its effect is deeply affective and emphasized by the influence and evidence of the Spirit’s presence and activity in the soul and life of the child of God. Most convincing in an astonishing way is as to how a mind once absorbed in vanity, futility, and illusory self-esteem and vacuous aspiration and desire can be so remarkably engaged in “high and heavenly things”. This development is contrary to fallen nature when the mind is enabled to soar to “heavenly places in Christ” in foretaste of celestial glory and ecstasy (Ephesians 2:6). When holiness is even faintly preferred to the desires and deeds of the flesh mercy is near and within (those who desire God have him).

So, for curious and carnal persons, lacking the Spirit of Christ, to have continually before their eyes the sentence of God’s Predestination, is a most dangerous downfall, whereby the Devil doth thrust them either into desperation, or into wretchedness of most unclean living, no less perilous than desperation. Furthermore, we must receive God’s promises in such wise, as they be generally set forth to us in holy Scripture: and, in our doings, that Will of God is to be followed, which we have expressly declared unto us in the Word of God.

The nature of the concluding pastoral precautions is firm proof of the Augustinian cast of the Article. Such warnings would be unnecessary if election were grounded in prescience or foreseen/actual faith (being potentially or already found in Christ, as it were). In fact, any other explanation, modification, version of election completely nullifies the need for recognition of the fact and its efficacy. It means nothing at all in terms of the blessings attributed to it by the Word of God. It would simply indicate mere divine acknowledgement of a human decision too frail to be fully relied upon – something amounting to auto-soterism.

To continually weigh the matter of predestination speculatively, without a godly and humble frame of mind and all the resources and perspectives of true faith in Christ, is to plunge oneself into the abyss of despair or to embark upon a course of recklessness in life. There is no light available to an attitude of dark brooding or introspective speculation concerning the nature of divine decision concerning one’s own destiny. The truth and invitation of the gospel must be our guide. These press the promises to our mind and persuade us to trust them and rest in them with a confidence that outstrips curiosity. The inducements of the gospel are offered to all and where they are sincerely embraced so they impart an infallible comfort and good hope as the continuing calling upon Christ and the cultivation of companionship with him grow through the means of grace. The reliability and faithfulness of God are proven to us as the path of obedience is carefully trod. We become accustomed to walking in the light of the Word by the grace of the Spirit. All are invited to look to the Christ of the cross and depend upon the blood of atonement. Whosoever will may come. There is no contrary prohibition revealed personally by God to any person. Election is recognized in the face of Christ that smiles welcomingly upon all comers.

Witnesses

It is not because we did believe, but so that we might believe, that he chose us. . . Man is not converted because he wills to be, but he wills to be because he is ordained to election.— Aurelius Augustine

For the term predestination does not express some compulsory necessity of the human will, but it foretells the eternal disposition, merciful and just, of a future divine operation. God . . . does not bring to perfection or deed anyone whom he has prepared beforehand in his eternal and unchangeable will. — Fulgentius of Ruspe

Nobody has been so insane as to say that merit is the cause of divine predestination as regards the act of the predestinator. . . . Thus it is impossible that the whole of the effect of predestination in general should have any cause as coming from us; because whatsoever is in man disposing him toward salvation, is all included under the effect of of predestination; even the preparation for grace — Thomas Aquinas

In the schools of the philosophers I rarely heard a word concerning grace, . . . but I continually heard that we are the masters of our own free actions. . . but afterward. . . I came to see that the grace of God far preceded all good works both in time and in nature – by grace I mean the will of God. — Thomas Bradwardine, (1200 – 1349, Archbishop of Canterbury for six months until taken by fatal illness).

The Lord Jesus knows his own. He knows them and he has chosen them from the beginning. . . how can they perish whom the Son prayed might not perish, and those whose life the Father gave up his son to death?

The Lord knows who are his. . . but he judges no others worthy of a share in so great a mystery, except those he has foreknown and foreordained as his own. For those whom he foreordained, them he also called. The merciful goodness of the Lord endures from everlasting upon them that fear him. From everlasting, because of predestination, to everlasting, because of glorification. The one process is without beginning, the other knows no ending. Indeed, those whom he predestines from everlasting, he glorifies to everlasting, with an interval, at least, in the case of adults, of calling and justification between. — Bernard of Clairvaux

All that have been, or shall be saved, have been chosen before all worlds. . . whosoever holdeth free-will, denieth wholly the predestination of God. — John Wycliffe

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28) This passage is the foundation on which rests everything that apostle says to the end of the chapter . . . He takes up here the doctrine of predestination or election. This doctrine is not so incomprehensible as many think, but is rather full of sweet comfort for the elect and all who have the Holy Spirit. . . But it is most bitter and hard for the wisdom of the flesh. . . . If there would not be this divine purpose, but our salvation would rest upon our will or work, it would be based upon chance. . . . But when the apostle says, ‘Who is he that condemneth’ ‘Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? (8:33, 34, 35), he shows that the elect are not saved by chance, but by God’s purpose and will. Indeed for this reason, God allows the elect to encounter so many evil things as are here named, namely, to point out that they are saved not by their merit, but by his election, his unchangeable and firm purpose.”
— Martin Luther

It is election which saves. . . . He who is covered by the shield of faith knows that he is elected of God by the very basis and firmness of his faith inGod . . . for those who have believed have been elected. Election, therefore, precedes faith. — Huldreich Zwingli

The kingdom of our Servitor, Jesus Christ, is an administration and procuring of the eternal salvation of the elect of God by which he . . . gathers his elect to himself. — Martin Bucer, mentor to Jean Calvin

God from eternity, predestined, or elected, freely and from his own free grace, with no respect of men’s character, the saints he would save in Christ according to that saying of the apostle: ‘God chose us in Christ himself before the foundation of the world,’ not without a medium, though not on account of any merit of ours. In Christ, and on account of Christ, God elected us, so that they that are engrafted in Christ by faith are the elect.
— Heinrich Bullinger, The Second Helvetic Confession (1564)

God chooseth us first and loveth us first, and openeth our eyes to see his exceeding abundant love to us in Christ; and then love we again, and accept his will above all things, and serve him in that office whereunto he has chosen us. — William Tyndale

As to the [eternal] election, I see there have been many who judged that this question should not even be raised. . . it is a wonder that they should think that the doctrine of predestination would subvert the good effect of preaching, especially since Paul, teacher of the Gentiles and preacher to the whole world, inculcates this doctrine in his letters, often clearly and explicitly, for instance in his letters to the Romans, the Ephesians, and Timothy. . . We cannot acknowledge the gifts of God unless we understand from what fountain they spring, and that fountain is the free purpose and mercy of God given to those whom he has elected before the foundation of the world. Those who do not see this do not see the goodness of God towards them. By this doctrine men may be brought to glory not in themselves but in the Lord. They cannot do this who ascribe to their own free will even the tiniest bit of why they are chosen by God. for they have in themselves the basis of their boasting. — Peter Martyr Vermigli (mentor to Jewel)

God hath chosen you from the beginning. His election is sure forever. The Lord knoweth who are his. You shall not be deceived with the power and subtlety of anti-christ, you shall not fall from grace, you shall not perish. This is the comfort which abideth with the faithful when they behold the fall of the wicked. . . Although all the world should be drowned with the waves of ungodliness, yet will I hold by the boat of his mercy, which shall utterly preserve me. If all the world be set on fire with the flame of wickedness, yet will I creep into the bosom of the protection of my Lord; so shall no flame hurt me. He hath loved me, he hath chosen me, he will keep me. John Jewel. (mentor to Hooker)

1. That God has predestined certain men, not all men.
2. that the cause moving him thereunto was not the foresight of any virtue in us at all.
3. That to him the number of the elect is definitely known.
4. That it cannot be but their sins must condemn them to whom the purpose of his saving mercy doth not extend.
5. That to God’s foreknown elect, the final continuance of grace is given.
6. That inward grace whereby to be saved is deservedly not given to all men.
7. That no man comes to Christ whom by the inward grace of his Spirit draws not.
8. And that it is not in every, no not in any man’s own mere ability, freedom and power to be saved, no man’s salvation being possible without grace. — Richard Hooker

Oh the excellency of the doctrine of election, and of the saints final perseverance, to those who are sealed by the Spirit of promise! I am persuaded, till a man comes to believe and feel these important truths, he cannot come out of himself; but when convinced of these, and assured of the application of them to his own heart, he then walks by faith indeed, not in himself, but in the Son of God, who died and gave himself for him . . . This is my comfort, the doctrines I have taught are the doctrines of Scripture, the doctrines of our own and of other reformed churches. — George Whitefield

i doubt not but you are often affected with a sense of distinguishing mercy. But though we know we are debtors, great debtors to the grace of God, which alone has made us to differ, we know it but imperfectly at present. — John Newton

“But some truths ought to be kept back from the people,” you will say, “lest they should make ill use thereof.” That is Popish doctrine. It was upon that very theory that the priests kept back the Bible from the people. They did not give it to them lest they should misuse it. Besides all this, remember that men do read the Scriptures and think about these doctrines and often make mistakes about them. Who then, will set them right if we who preach the Word hold our tongues about the matter? C. H. Spurgeon

Conclusion

A brief survey of the doctrine of predestination reveals that the election of grace is legitimate Catholic doctrine. The recognition of divine predestination is at the very core of the Protestant heritage. It remains for Bishop John Charles Ryle to address professing Anglicans on the matter of the Reformational sola gratia:

Some tell us that at any rate Election is not the doctrine of the Church of England. It may do very well for dissenters and Presbyterians, but not for churchmen. ‘It is a pure piece of Calvinism,’ they say, – an extravagant notion which came from Geneva, and deserves no credit among those who love the Prayer Book.” Such people would do well to look at the end of their Prayer Books, and to read the Thirty-Nine Articles. Let them turn to the 17th Article, and mark the following words (see above).

I commend this article to the special attention of all English churchmen. It is one of the sheet-anchors of sound doctrine in the present day. It never can be reconciled with baptismal regeneration! A wiser statement of the true doctrine of personal Election was never penned by the hand of uninspired man. It is thoroughly well-balanced and judiciously proportioned. In the face of such an Article it is simply ridiculous to say that the Church of England does not hold the doctrine of this paper (see Old Paths, The Banner of Truth Trust).

Two vital points should now be apparent:

It should be abundantly clear that the excellent Jean Calvin was not the inventor of the doctrine of predestination. Its author is the sweet Spirit of God who spread this truth throughout Holy Scripture and illuminated the minds of eminent saints to discern and declare the fact of electing love.

Though the doctrine of God’s everlasting love in predestination is neglected by the Anglican Communion, and the effective authority of our Articles – never formally refuted, nor officially annulled (for fear of controversy and its complications) greatly diminished – it must be seen in our time that the Reformation heritage conserved in our 16th century Confession of Faith is the only instrument, humanly speaking, and faithfully enjoined upon our clergy, is the only guarantee of our ever being a sound gospel believing, gospel preaching body within the universal Church of God. It is a matter of conscience for all ordained men to reconcile themselves to the teaching of the Articles for the sake of Confessional integrity.

The Rev. Roger Salter is an ordained Church of England minister where he had parishes in the dioceses of Bristol and Portsmouth before coming to Birmingham, Alabama to serve as Rector of St. Matthew’s Anglican Church

THE COMPROMISING CHURCH (Part 3)

(Rudiments of the English Reformation)

By Roger Salter
Special to VIRTUEONLINE
www.virtueonline.org

In comparison with the Reformation as it developed in various Continental centers the Reformation in England was by no means second rate. It was a revival in true religion derived from Sacred Scripture as its source and Augustinianism as the best available commentary from human faith and piety. If the Reformers themselves, in the tone of their language, happened to be less dynamic and explicit than the Protestant giants of Europe it was not due to any lack of personal conviction, passion, or precision in theology but an overwhelmingly strong and conscious desire to be pastoral in the 16th century melting pot of diverse spirituality in the national populace. The times were tender, troubled, and dangerous. Motivational integrity was important, and to be recognized and trusted on the English scene. The national leadership was to be seen as a body of Biblically formed bishops and not mere brawlers in overheated and exaggerated controversy. It is to some extent a matter of English temperament coming into play.

Cranmer was everything a Reformer should be for his type of people – a guide well informed, reliant upon God, patient in the search for certainty, cautious in assertion until any matter could be propounded with edifying confidence. He was not rash, but responsible in a situation where human rage could quickly be ignited. His theology was strong but his spirit was meek and he wished for piety to keep pace with doctrinal perception. Every step should be measured. It is known that had he not been martyred he would have steered the Church in England to more radical change (canon law, church polity) as was seen to be necessary. Nonetheless, his heritage is invaluable and he was in harmony with Calvin, Bucer, and Martyr in matters of sin and grace – a Scriptural understanding of human salvation. “His theology was structured by predestination” (Diarmaid MacCulloch, All Things Made New, Oxford, 2016, page 276). England was most fortunate in the divine gift of the humble scholarly, prayerful man who became its first Protestant Archbishop of Canterbury.

It is Cranmer’s meekness, carefulness, and generosity of spirit that firm up confidence in his doctrinal convictions, and they were solidly Augustinian and Calvinistic in the realm of soteriology. A right perception of his liturgy and contribution to our Confessional Articles is an unsurpassable nurturing in sound Christian thought, reflection, and spiritual maturity. Other hands assisted his in the formation of the foundation of what is now Reformed Anglicanism, but it is his godly mentality and mood that broods over and permeates authentic Anglican identity and practice. It is not simply partisan, but explanatory, to declare oneself Cranmerian, for such should Anglicanism, at base, happen to be.

Anglicanism is in continuity with the Augustinian tradition, that stream of doctrine and devotion that has been the “gospel glory” of the Church’s mission from its inception in the apostolic age. Hints of sovereign grace are detectable to varying degrees in the belief and teaching of the earliest fathers but it was the sage of Hippo who brought electing love to the height of prominence that it deserves in our understanding of God’s ways and our happiness in Him. A mighty fortress is our God, from foreordination to fulfillment of our pilgrimage. “I think few doctrines more vital than that of the perseverance of the saints, for if ever one child of God did perish, or if I knew it were possible that one could, I should conclude at once that I must, and I suppose each of you would do the same. And then where is the joy and happiness of the gospel? . . . If any body could possibly convince me that final perseverance is not a truth of the Bible I should never preach again, for I feel I should have nothing worth preaching.” In these words of C.H. Spurgeon is exhibited the pastoral intent and consolation of that so-called ‘harsh system’ of Calvinism”. We are tenacious in our Augustinianism for the comfort of all of us weaklings who turn trustingly to Christ – and all are bidden to do so. Whosoever will – but all, by nature won’t. Thank God for effectual calling.

Spurgeon echoes the conviction and concern of our Reformers. The stubborn reliance of human nature on self, and accompanying refusal of God, has to be demolished by the hammer blows of God’s Word, so recalcitrant are our hearts and wills before Him (“Is not my word like a “fire?” says the Lord, “And a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?” Jeremiah 23:29). It is imperative that we should know our plight in the volitional helplessness and incapacity that pertains to us as sinners if we are to have some, even meager, measure of the great and liberal grace of God that redeems us.

Article 10: Of Free-Will. The condition of Man after the fall of Adam is such, that he cannot turn and prepare himself, by his own natural strength and good works to faith, and calling upon God : Wherefore we have no power to good works pleasant and acceptable to God, without the grace of God by Christ preventing us, that we may have a good will, and working with us, we have that good will.

The article is considering the impotence of the fallen will in the spiritual realm and with reference to divine commands and invitations that God addresses to his human creatures. It has no bearing on speculative philosophy concerning free agency or determinism. Things above, says Luther, not things below. The Scriptures indubitably affirm our bondage to evil, Satan, and the sinful self and the cumulative proof is overwhelming, e.g. :

“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirt, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” [Fleshly factors: mind-set, spiritual death, enmity toward God, rebelliousness, inability, attraction of divine displeasure]. Romans 8:5-8. “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing” [Fleshly factors: Flesh devoid of spiritual life, flesh utterly impotent, nil value before God]. John 6:63. “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.” [Factors: Enslavement, captivity, bondage, unfreedom, the dominion of sin and the devil. “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do.” John 6:44.

The human will in all things – spiritual (above) and natural (below) – is not an independent faculty in a state of equipoise, sovereignly capable of effecting choices without the pressures of myriad influences brought to bear upon it. Reason, reliable or flawed, and disposition, virtuous or vile, play an important role in every human determination, hasty or considered. Desire, affection, emotion are decisive in formulating our preferences. The natural man, depraved in soul, and defective in every faculty the soul possesses, cannot will that which is contrary to his fallen nature. He is averse to God at the core of his being. He is dead in sin needing deliverance from his essential self. He needs interior resurrection and transformation toward which he is utterly unable to render any contribution. His raging hostility to God, largely restrained by common grace, must be tamed and taken away in the merciful, undefeatable power of God. The Lord as our Maker skillfully adjusts the tendencies of the interior man and woos us by his love and beauty. The heart is “romanced” by the Lover of our souls, and divine love changes affection, attitude and outlook (regeneration).

WITNESSES

“There is always within us a free will, but it is not always good. For it is either free from the control of righteousness when it serves sin – and then it is an evil will; or else it is free from the control of sin when it serves righteousness – and then it is a good will. But the grace of God is always good; and it is by grace that a human being comes to have a good will, though previously he had an evil one.” Aurelius Augustine (354-430)

“The beginning of salvation is conferred by God’s mercy alone. With that mercy the human will then becomes the cooperatrix. In this way the mercy of God comes before and directs the course of the human will; and the human will, being obedient, follows after that same mercy.” Fulgentius of Ruspe (468-533)

“I beg of Thee to force their wills, and dispose them to wish for that for which they do not wish; and this I ask Thee through Thy infinite mercy. Thou hast created us from nothing, now, therefore, that we are in existence, do mercy to us, and remake the vessels which Thou hast created to Thy image and likeness. Re-create them to Grace in Thy mercy and the Blood of Thy Son sweet Christ Jesus.” Catherine of Siena (1347- 1380)

“For what else does what we are saying amount to but: ‘So it depends not upon man’s will or exertion, but God’s mercy?’ He (Paul) does not say this as if it were possible for a person to will or to run in vain; what he means is that the man who wills and runs would glory not in himself, but in him from whom he received in the first place the power both to will and to run. In a word: ‘What have you that you did not receive?'” (1 Cor 4:7).

“Without grace man’s heart is incapable of thinking good thoughts, that its capacity to do so come from God.” Bernard of Clairvaux (1090- 1153)

“We do not have a right faith, however, if we do not faithfully understand, above all, whose gift it is. Faith is an element of free will, but of a will freed by grace. The will of a man held captive under sin can never be free unless he is freed by him of whom it is said; ‘If the Son shall free you, then you will be truly free.’ By himself, man is free only to sin. By this liberty all men sin; everyone sins for the delight and love for sinning.”

“If you do not choose to believe, you do not believe. Yet you believe if you choose to; but you do not choose to unless you are first helped by grace. For no one comes to the Son unless the Father draws him. How? By creating in him and inspiring in him a free will whereby he may freely choose that which he chooses; this is so that what he chooses rightly may be of his own will. By God’s inspiration we make a voluntary assent of the mind to those things which concern Him, and what we believe in our heart leads to righteousness, but what we confess by our mouths leads to salvation. And that is faith. Consequently, it has been said: If you choose, you believe; but you do not choose to [believe] unless you are drawn by the Father; and if you choose to, you choose because you are drawn by the Father.” William of St. Thierry (1085-1148)

“In a word, if we be under the god of this world, without the operation and Spirit of God, we are led captive by him at his will, as Paul saith. (2 Tim 2:26.) So that, we cannot will anything but that which he wills. For he is that ‘strong man armed,’ who so keepeth his
palace, that those whom he holds captive are kept in peace, that they may not cause any motion of feeling against him; otherwise, the kingdom of Satan, being divided against itself could not stand; whereas Christ affirms it does stand. And all this we do willingly and desiringly, according to the nature of the will: for if it were forced it would be no longer will. For compulsion is (so to speak) unwillingness. But if the ‘stronger than he’ come and overcome him, and take us as his spoils, then, through the Spirit, we are His servants and captives (which is the royal liberty) that we may desire and do, willingly, what He wills.

Thus the human will is, as it were, a beast between the two. If God sit thereon, it wills and goes where God will: as the Psalm saith, ‘I am become as it were a beast before thee, and I am continually with thee.’ (Psalm 73. 22-23.) If Satan sit thereon, it wills and goes as Satan will. Nor is it in the power of its own will to choose, to which rider it will run, nor which it will seek; but the riders themselves contend, which shall have and hold it.” Martin Luther (1483-1546)

“When the martyr John Bradford (1510-1555) was in prison early in Mary’s reign he felt moved to write to Cranmer, Ridley, and Latimer, in prison at Oxford, about the new Pelagians or free-willers: ‘The effects of salvation they so mingle and confound with the cause that if it be not seen to, more hurt will come by them than ever came by the papists – in so much that their life commendeth them to the world more than the papists . . . They utterly contemne all learning'”. The Reformation in England, Sir Maurice Powicke, Oxford paperbacks, London, 1961, page 68.

Article 11. Of the Justification of Man. We are accounted righteous before God, only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ by Faith, and not for our own works or deservings: wherefore, we are Justified by faith only is a most wholesome Doctrine, and very full of comfort, as more largely is expressed in the Homily of Justification.

The relief and joy of the gospel impacts the heart of the penitent sinner with a powerful immediacy. A glorious exchange is announced. Jesus takes our sin away and confers his righteousness upon us. This is the liberating message of the Reformation. This is our benefit derived from Luther’s struggle and Luther’s discovery of a gracious God, long sought. The message of the Spirit through Scripture is objective and clear – carved as it were in the wood of the cross and engraved on the stone that sealed the tomb. Death was rolled away with the stone. In the blood-shedding and death of Christ we are acquitted and guilt expunged. By imputation and reputation the believer is as righteous as the Lord Jesus, for we are accepted and cherished in the Beloved. Our justification is fully achieved in Christ forever without variation in our status and condition before the Almighty.

Because only Christ alone can justify us faith alone receives his virtue and vindication. The whole tenor of the gospel revealed in God’s word justifies the term “alone”. Just as the unbiblical word “Trinity” is the only way to describe and honor the nature of God, so Luther’s inspired conclusion that “faith alone” saves is grammatically and soteriologically necessary.

But it was not Luther alone who upheld the motto “faith alone”. In this choice of phraseology he was no inventor and the fuss over his verbal usage in commending the grace of God is entirely unnecessary. Hans Kung observes:

“The controversy began when in 1521 Luther translated Romans 3:28 as, “That a man be justified . . . by faith alone.” This has earned him much abuse from the Catholic side, even the reproach of falsifying Scripture.” [Professor David Starkey take note! Academics are not as infallible as they sometimes like to think, especially when they misguide the minds of millions through the media and promote unwarranted prejudice imperiling salvation – RJS]. “The formula sola fide can be taken for orthodoxy since the “alone” may be understood as a plausible way of making clear the statement in Romans 3:28. This much is certain – the “alone” in the translation is not Luther’s invention. Even before the Reformation there were already such translations. . . Nor did the Council of Trent intend to say anything against the formula in itself. . . Even more significant than the translations is the fact that the formula definitely belongs to Catholic tradition. Bellarmine (De iustificatione II, 25) realized this and cited the following for the Reformation formula: Origin, Hillary, Basil, Chrysostom, Augustine, Cyril of Alexandria, and especially Ambrosiaster and Bernard . . . ‘Sola fide’ makes good sense when it is used to express what was stressed in the foregoing chapters – that is, the total incapacity of man for any kind of self-justification. In justification the sinner can give nothing which he does not receive by God’s grace. He stands there with his hands entirely empty” (Justification, Burns and Oates, London, 1981).

Luther defends his translation: “In Romans 3, I know right well that the word solum was not in the Greek or Latin text . . . It is a fact that these four letters s-o-l-a are not there. . . At the same time . . . the sense of them is there and . . . the word belongs there if the translation is to be clear and strong. I wanted to speak German, not Latin or Greek, since I had undertaken to speak German in the translation. But it is the nature of our German language that in speaking of two things, one of which is admitted and the other denied, we use the word ‘only’ along with the word ‘not’ or ‘no’. So we say, ‘The farmer brings only grain and no money’; ‘No I have no money now, but only grain’; ‘I have only eaten and not drunk’; ‘Did you only write it, and not read it over?’ There are innumerable cases of this in daily use. . . when works are so completely cut away, the meaning of it must be that faith alone justifies, and one who would speak plainly and clearly about this cutting away of all works, must say, ‘Faith alone justifies us and not works.’ The matter itself, and not the nature of the language only, compels this translation . . . ”

WITNESSES

David means that those who are blessed are those whom God has willed to justify in his sight by faith alone; ‘Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputes not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile’ (Psalm 32 1-2). Ambrose of Milan (c339 – 397)

But a man who knows that he is justified by faith through the merits and righteousness of Christ works solely for the love of God and Christ his Son. He does not do so for any love of self-justification. The result is that the true Christian (that is, one who sees himself justified by the righteousness of Christ) does not ask himself whether good works are demanded or not. Instead he is compelled and impelled by the power of divine love. He offers himself willingly to do all the good works that are holy and Christ-like. He will never cease to do well. Don Benedetto (16th century)

“It is a faithful word and worthy of all acceptance, since, ‘When we were still sinners we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son’ (Romans 5 : 8-10). Where there is reconciliation, there is also forgiveness of sins. For if, as Scripture states (Isa 59:2), our sins separate us from God, there is no reconciliation where sin remains. Now in what is the forgiveness of sins? ‘This cup,’ he says, ‘is the new covenant in my blood, which will be poured out for you for the forgiveness of sins’ (Luke 22:20; Matt 26:28). So where there is reconciliation, there is forgiveness of sins, and what is that if not justification? So whether we talk of reconciliation, forgiveness of sins, or justification – or redemption or liberation from the chains of the devil (by whom we were kept captive at his will) – it is by the intervention of the death of the Only-Begotten that we come to be justified freely by the blood of him ‘in whom’, as he says again, ‘we have redemption through his blood and the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” (Eph 1:7). Bernard of Clairvaux

“I am not the only one or the first to say that faith alone justifies. Ambrose said it before me, and Augustine, and many others; and if a man is going to read St. Paul and understand him, he will have to say the same thing and can say nothing else. Paul’s words are too strong; they endure no works, none at all; and if it is not a work, it must be faith alone. How could such a fine, improving, inoffensive doctrine, if people were taught that they might become righteous by works, beside faith? That would be as much as to say that it was not Christ death alone that takes away our sins, but that our works , too, did something toward it; and it would be a fine honoring of Christ’s death to say that our works helped it and could do that which He does, and that we were good and strong like Him. This is of the devil, who cannot leave the blood of Christ without abuse.”

As long as I recognize that I can in no way be righteous in the sight of God . . . I then begin to ask for righteousness from him. Martin Luther

Now let us see how justification is given, if it is not attributed to works. It is given freely, and depends completely on the grace of God alone. For in no way does it depend on merits. Peter Martyr Vermigli (1491- 1562)

That we say, faith only justifieth, ought to offend no man. For if this be true, that Christ only redeemed us, Christ only bore our sins, made satisfaction for them, and purchased the favour of God; then it must needs be true that the trust only in Christ’s deserving and in the promises of God the Father, made to us for Christ’s sake, doth alone quiet the conscience and certify it that the sins are forgiven. William Tyndale (c1494-1536)

This proposition, that we be justified by faith only, freely, and without works, is spoken for to take away clearly all merit of our works, as being insufficient to deserve our justification at God’s hands, and thereby most plainly to express the weakness of man and the goodness of God, the great infirmity of ourselves and the might and power of God, the imperfectness of our own works and the most abundant grace of our Saviour Christ; and thereby wholly to ascribe the merit and deserving of our justification unto Christ only and His most precious blood-shedding . . . So that our faith in Christ (as it were) saith unto us thus: It is not I that take away your sins, but it is Christ only; and to Him only I send you for that purpose, renouncing therein all your good virtues, words, thoughts, and works, and only putting your trust in Christ. Thomas Cranmer(1489-1556)

To be continued…