One more run-of-the-mill denominational train wreck...
(Tim) Our readers regularly send us links to more documentation of the train wreck within the Anglican denomination today. As David pointed out in an earlier post, Martyn Lloyd-Jones accurately warned of this decades ago, but the evangelicals he directed his warning towards wouldn't listen. The controversy is thoroughly recorded in the history of these exchanges written by Iain Murray in his superb, Evangelicalism Divided: A Record of Crucial Change in the Years 1950 to 2000--particularly the chapter titled, "How the Evangelical Dyke Was Broken in England."
These things are instructive for us today, not because David or I are particularly concerned about the Anglican branch of Protestantism, but because every denomination has evangelicals arguing these same questions Lloyd-Jones argued with Jim Packer and John Stott. It would be a shame to have evangelicals make the same mistakes, over and over again, endlessly repeating history because we won't learn from it.
Here are some quotes from the conflict:
Alister McGrath: "I have no intention of claiming that evangelicalism is the only authentic form of Anglicanism. My concern is simply to insist that evangelicalism is . . . a legitimate and respectable option" (as quoted in Murray, p. 118).
Speaking of the 1988 book John Stott co-authored with liberal churchman, David Edwards, titled Essentials: A Liberal-Evangelical Dialogue, Murray sums up Stott's newly compromised views...
"(I)n this dialog (Essentials) Dr Stott held to the new inclusiveness. Those who deny the virgin birth and the bodily resurrection of Christ, he affirmed, do not 'forfeit the right to be called Christians'" (Murray, p. 119, Essentials, p. 228).
Gerald Bray: "What Dr. Lloyd-Jones saw clearly--more clearly, one feels, than either Dr Packer or John Stott did--was that Anglican Evangelicals were in danger of losing their cutting edge if they got too involved in the structures of the Church of England. This was a time when a younger generation of Anglican Evangelicals was beginning to feel that such involvement was both right and necessary, and in this they were supported by Packer and Stott. Trying to decide who was right in this debate is not easy, because so much depends on one's point of view. The Packer-Stott line would have had a good deal to commend it had Anglican Evangelicalism been united around a coherent Reformed theology, but it was not. Those who wanted to 'go into' the Church of England, as they put it, were often quite happy to ditch whatever theology they possessed, especially if they could get a bishopric. Whether Dr. Lloyd-Jones realized this or not, subsequent events have shown that his was a prophetic voice. At the Evangelical Anglican Leaders' Conference in January 1995, for example, all the main speakers were bishops, but not one of them could be clearly identified with the evangelical wing of the church. A purple shirt was obviously more important to them than a committed soul, which is exactly what the Doctor (Lloyd-Jones) could see coming twenty-five years before . . ." (Murray, p. 134).