Evangelical Options and Delusions

Jun 24, 2017 by

By Melvin Tinker, Anglican Mainstream.

[Editor’s note: This is a response to a piece by David Baker in Evangelicals Now, in which he sets out the case for staying firmly in the Church of England, but is strongly critical of Jesmond’s recent initiative, and sees the Gafcon movement erroneously as a ‘refugee’ option with anglo-catholic tendencies, rather than majority global Anglican orthodoxy.] 

David Baker’s piece entitled ‘Evangelical options’ reminds me of the conjurer’s trick of ‘pick a card any card’ in stacking them in such a way that there will only be one card you can choose.

To say his presentation of the options for Anglican evangelicals is less than even handed would be a major understatement. Clearly ‘option 1’, the now discredited ‘Keele’ option of ‘in it to win it’ is presented over and against the other two options ‘Gafcon’ and ‘Radical’ as the only game in town. This is done by overlooking the dreadful reality of the rot in the Church of England which makes this option almost risible and by placing the other options in such a negative light in comparison.

With regards to option 1, David tells us that the Bishop of Southwell, Paul Williams, (someone whom we are informed has spoken at Proc Trust conference, so he must be all right!), assures us that the awaited document on marriage and sexuality will be ‘deeply rooted in and faithful to scripture’. This is the same Bishop who said that he is happy to be considered evangelical at some times and Catholic at others and going on to claim, ‘I am equally at home with all (italics mine) aspects of the church and recognise that we all share the same ministry.’ (Nottingham Post February 11th 2015). Presumably this includes the radical liberals and the promoters of LGBQI and whatever else is to be added to the sexual alphabet soup of the day? And we are expected to believe him?

In option 1 we are to ‘play the long game’ and leave only when’ thrown out’. The fact is, the liberals (and that includes liberal ‘ evangelicals’) occupy the main places of power and are increasingly institutionalising error and immorality such that mere numbers are not that relevant. Furthermore, evangelicals will never be thrown out as in 1662, because they are being ‘squeezed out’. It is becoming more difficult for evangelicals to obtain pastorates and fewer with a good conscience would consider entering the denomination anyhow; how can they if they have to swear an oath of allegiance either to a liberal or female bishop? I have been bemused at the way evangelicals who in principle object to women bishops are performing all sorts of casuistical gymnastics to justify allowing the female bishops some participation in their congregations.

David casts Gafcon in a bad light by drawing our attention to its associations with Anglo-Catholicism. Whilst this concerns me, why is not the same objection raised against those of the ‘in it to win it’ group who presumably are happy to have fellowship not only with Anglo-Catholics but out-and-out liberals at the clergy chapter meetings and Diocesan synods?

Even dear old Jesmond parish church is in for a dig with the innuendo that since they have been secretive in the consecration of Jonathan Pryke, their integrity is impugned (not considering there may have been good reasons why secrecy was necessary). My reading of Scripture and history suggests that it is the radical option which is the main one which can be followed with evangelical integrity.

David quotes Ryle showing how evangelicals can easily be seduced in the context of Anglo-Catholicism; well, here is a timely warning from a current international Anglican Evangelical leader, ‘Theological liberalism has been the death of Christianity wherever it has gone. It seduces Evangelicals by its gentle accommodating message, promising, encouraging, and enabling us to be part of society; to have a voice in the public square but in reality it destroys evangelicals by compromising the gospel into oblivion.’ This same leader says that faithful Anglicans should have been consecrating alternative bishops and ordaining alternative clergy decades ago. And he is right. Evangelicals, even the good ones, have become adept at accommodating in order to be accommodated and it signals a slow death.

The rot in the C of E is extensive and intensive and while Anglican evangelicals (with some notable exceptions) are great at talking up a game, they are not always good at playing one because the price that might have to be paid is considered too high. But surely no price is too high when what is at stake is God’s glory and people’s salvation.


Melvin Tinker is vicar of St. John’s, Newland.

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