Steve Breedlove’s Latest Letter

An outline of  PEAR USA’s theology is coming into focus. The Rev. Steve Breedlove’s letter of March 30th offers some more reflections on what, if anything, is distinctive about the new Missionary District. What is encouraging about this letter is that it very clearly stands on the shoulders of the Jerusalem Declaration – something that has featured in all the PEAR communications. Why does this matter? Well, the Jerusalem Declaration says:

3. We uphold the four Ecumenical Councils and the three historic Creeds as expressing the rule of faith of the one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
4. We uphold the Thirty-nine Articles as containing the true doctrine of the Church agreeing with God’s Word and as authoritative for Anglicans today.

The essentially Reformed nature of the Anglican Church is thus maintained via the Jerusalem Declaration. Breedlove goes on to say:

We bring a distinct, complementary reformational Anglican theology.

  • Rooted in the robust work of the English Reformers, we stand firmly on the great Reformation doctrines of sola gratia, sola fides and sola scriptura.
  • We acknowledge the unique breadth of theological understanding within biblical, faithful Anglicans, and we are committed to honor and serve joyfully alongside those with whom we honestly differ. In that collegial context we bring a united voice for historic reformational Anglican theology.
  • We also hold firmly to the 1662 Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England as the standard for both faith and worship, believing that it rightly clarifies aspects of doctrine and worship and unites them in the liturgical practices of the Church.
  • We also hold to the conviction that mission requires unshakable convictions concerning doctrine but flexibility and freedom in liturgical practices. We are heirs of worship that has been culturally adapted while remaining fully orthodox, and we believe that is missionally essential.

I regard this as a home run for Classical Anglicans who want to move forward via the past. It does not tie us to sociological models of the past, but it firmly grounds us in the theology of the Reformers (and St. Augustine). The one open issue that I have not seen addressed to date is women’s ordination. If it is properly dealt with, then we could have the possibility of a Missionary District that is committed to being Anglican, has moved on from ordination errors, and is a safe harbor tied to ACNA for those of a like mind. Maybe I am being overly optimistic, but I hope so!

Update: Father Shane Copeland writes:  Steve addressed the WO issue in his reflection on Anglican1000.

To be more specific, we are committed to the 1662 Prayer Book as the standard of both doctrine and worship. At the same time, our charter will establish the liturgical flexibility that seeks to make word and worship accessible to people. We also affirm an ecclesiology reflective of the historic understanding of the church concerning women’s ordination to the priesthood.

Todd Hunter at the ACNA Assembly

Bishop Todd Hunter of the AMiA is a featured speaker at ACNA’s Assembly 2012. Why? Although canonically resident in Rwanda, he left PEAR along with Chuck Murphy. Archbishop Duncan said of these folks, “They are now former Anglicans, that’s what they have to grapple with.” [1]

So why would Archbishop Duncan turn around and invite Todd Hunter to teach at the high point of ACNA’s life together? Possibly, it signals that AMiA is on the way to being folded into ACNA. Or, perhaps it means that Todd is a candidate for the Vicar (Provincial Director) for Anglican 1000? Either way, it sends a confusing message when paired with what Archbishop Duncan has previously said.


Not Reading Bills

Discussing the New Deal, C. Gregg Singer writes of the Congress:

It is also true that in 1933 many members of Congress, by their own later confessions, voted for bills which they had not read and of which they had but a faint apprehension.

The dysfunction of our system is not new.

The Cult of Personality Leadership Model is Broken

By now, you would think that Christians would start to wake up to the fact that the cult of personality model of Church is broken. Mega church, micro denomination, best-selling books, people emulating your hairstyle and inflections, everything being about how gifted the visionary leader is – this is a recipe for disaster. Don’t believe it? See:

1. Mark Driscoll and Acts 29.

2. C.J. Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Ministries.

3. Chuck Smith and Calvary Chapel.

4. Chuck Murphy and the AMiA.

If there is a common denominator with these leaders and their problems, it is a lack of accountability. God help anyone who is in their shoes, powerful, charismatic and not beholden to anyone but themselves. It is a recipe for disaster. The Church must wake up and reject this model of the great leader.

From Nairobi to Johannesburg

The new communique from GAFCON on reconciliation between AMiA and PEAR is probably the end of the road for this chapter of the saga. This latest communique does not seem to agree with many points from the earlier Nairobi communique, for instance:

  • AMiA agreed that they remain canonically under the Church of Rwanda and accept the doctrine of forgiveness.
  • AMiA agreed to continue to work with the Church of Rwanda and that other plans for restructuring will be put on hold for six [6] months to allow time for healing and for other fruitful discussions.

The latest communique says instead that “we have done the best within our human efforts to fulfill the recommendations of the Nairobi Meeting”. I haven’t seen AMiA putting their plans on hold for six months, so I interpret this to mean that Rwanda is graciously allowing them to go their way.

This again points to a problem for Anglicanism that is at least as old as Bishop Pike and his heresy trial, if not much older, and that is that there is a real failure of church discipline. Renegades can get away with pretty much whatever they want, and that is not in accord with what we see in the Scriptures. Although GAFCON is a new development, it is in for a lot of trouble if it maintains the laissez-faire approach to church discipline that it inherited from Canterbury.

It remains to be seen where theAM ends up, and I’m sure that will take more time to sort itself out.


Sodom and Gomorrah

Philo says that the smoke of Sodom and Gomorrah was still rising in the first century:

And a most evident proof of this is to be found in what is seen to this day: for the smoke which is still emitted, and the sulphur which men dig up there, are a proof of the calamity which befell that country; while a most conspicuous proof of the ancient fertility of the land is left in one city, and in the land around it.

[On Abraham 141.]

Therefore on this occasion, as the holy scriptures tell us, thunderbolts fell from heaven, and burnt up those wicked men and their cities; and even to this day there are seen in Syria monuments of the unprecedented destruction that fell upon them, in the ruins, and ashes, and sulphur, and smoke, and dusky flame which still is sent up from the ground as of a fire smouldering beneath;

[Life of Moses 2.56]

Wisdom of Solomon 10.7 says the same thing:

Evidence of their wickedness still remains:
a continually smoking waste-land,
plants bearing fruit that does not ripen,
and a pillar of salt standing as a monument to an unbelieving soul.

A Woman Clothed with the Sun

In reading up on Isaac and Ishmael, I came across this from James Jordan:

The allegory is related to Revelation 12:14-17. The Woman who gave birth to the Son is taken into the wilderness to be protected from the Dragon. The Dragon pours out the defiling water of false (Judaizing) doctrine to try and corrupt her, but God protects her as the Apostles fight the Judaizers with the true cleansing water of truth. Then the Dragon moves out and attacks the other part of the Woman’s Seed, the Gentile part of the Church, by raising up the Roman Beast. Thus, the Woman in the wilderness and the children with her are the Jewish believers, driven out in Acts 8 after Satan began putting them to death in Acts 7.

The Woman in Revelation 12 is the entire First Creation church, from Eve to Mary, including Hagar. It is Hagar’s experience that is alluded to in 12:14-16. Paul has said that the Jews are Hagar and Ishmael. They are the original household of Abraham, after which came Sarah and Isaac. The converted Jews, like Hagar and Ishmael, flee into the wilderness. The original Hagar found that the “old water” of Abraham ran out, and could not find any new water until God provided it. This is an allegory of the gospel: The water of the Old Creation kingdom is running out, and people must seek the new water of the New Creation. In a similar way, the Hagar-Woman of Revelation 12 has left the old water. Satan offers counterfeit new water, flowing from his Wormwood occupation of Herod’s Temple (Revelation 8:10-11). The false unconverted Jews drink up this evil water, and by implication, God provides new water, from the New Jerusalem, for the Hagar-Woman and her Ishmael-child in the wilderness.

Julie Ingersoll: Wrong on Cameron

In her latest argument free column, Julie Ingersoll tells us that Kirk Cameron is “…increasingly connected to Christian Reconstruction and dominion theology.” She says this due to guilt by association and Cameron’s apparent embrace of postmillenialism. If she is going to assert that postmillenialism equals Reconstruction, then the list of Reconstructionists would grow large and stretch back through time. But she doesn’t tell us how he two positions, one which is eschatological, the other which is largely legal, are one in the same. She just connects some dots, asserts some things and assumes that it is all bad and scary. Par for the course.

Reconstructionism as a movement is largely dead, having passed from the scene with the death of Bahnsen and Rushdoony. Ideas connected to Reconstruction are still alive here and there, and are largely related to Christendom and an embrace of the entire Bible. But you would think that it is 1992 if you read Ingersoll. And even then, the percentage of Christians who embraced it (sadly) was never more than a few thousand.

Ingersoll never explains why her worldview is correct, she simply assumes that we agree with her. She is preaching to the choir, not engaging in argument.

70 A.D. Again

Doug Wilson points out something that should be glaringly obvious, but which I have overlooked:

Virtually all the books of the New Testament have an expectant air about them. They are all waiting for something drastic that will happen soon, and not one of them even mentions the most cataclyismic event in Jewish history — the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 — as being past. That event was the destruction of the old Judaic order and its replacement by the Christian church, the new Israel (Heaven Misplaced, p. 111).

Indeed. How could the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. go completely unmentioned in the NT unless it hadn’t happened yet? All the books would therefore predate it.