This will not be any news to those who know me from the past, but for those new here I am, for my sins, a part of the Church known more widely as the Anglican Communion. Much like in other parts of the Church in the West, it continues to undergo a form of convulsion, warring internally.
In 2003, God directed us to leave our homeland and emigrate to Canada. We lived there 12 years, before being brought back home. Part of the reason for us being there was to live through and to chronicle the choice of the North American Anglican church, in particular the Anglican Church in Canada. In doing so, we got a close up view of the forces that were battling over the soul of the Church.
At the beginning of our sojourn there, I received a vision – Ichabod – that helped me to understand what was going on, and to direct our steps in the subsequent years. You may consider the vision provocative, but it was borne out, and continues to be so. Anglicans are typically very invested in structures, and so what was happening then and is happening now, was very difficult to navigate. To understand that we were beyond saving things ‘as they were’ and there was something new being born that would take all our effort and focus was very important to establish.
So much is made of the value of unity, Bible verses such as Ephesians 4:1-3 often being brought forward. And indeed, unity is as it should be, and divisions are a sign that all is far from well. However, we are also warned in 2 Corinthians 6:14 not to be yoked together unequally. And what is more unequal that when one wishes to serve the spirit of the age, and the other the Spirit of God? In such a situation, division is as inevitable as it is necessary.
And interestingly, this particular division was not so much a separation, but a rejoining. By that time, the the Anglican Churches in the Global South had largely broken communion with the Anglican Church of Canada. The realignment in Canada made possible a reestablishing of communion with the majority of faithful Anglicans.
Why the history lesson? Because the same forces and the same pressures are coming to a head in the nexus, the Church of England. This month, the Church in Wales bowed the knee to the spirit of the age, riven by the same apostasy. Perhaps worse, in that no faithful Bishops could be found in that church. Make no mistake, at some level they knew what they were doing, seeking to defend themselves from accusations that they did “sell-out to the secular spirit of the age”.
To be clear, this is not about same sex blessing, or same sex marriage. Those are merely the tip of the iceberg. It would be that, or it would be something else. Rather it is a matter simply of apostasy, of a turning away and following whatever the spirit of the age dictates. To bow the knee keeps you safe in the world as it turns to a darker course, and allows you to comfortably slide into irrelevancy. No persecution here thank you, rather the establishment of virtue signaling to take the place of genuine virtue. For these leaders, they would most likely prefer to skirt around John 15:18-25 and imagine themselves prophetic and courageous.
I am making no judgment here about individuals within the church, my judgment is about where the institution sits with principalities and powers. Such an institution, Ichabod, a branch cut off from the vine, becomes a rotting corpse rather than the body of Christ – and is no fit place for a Christian to be.
There is one more thing to say here, based on my experience in Canada. There are typically two responses from those who are the orthodox minority in such churches – the ‘inside’ and the ‘outside’ strategy. To advocate for change from within, or to make a decision to separate. I have met many from both camps. This is what the experience of time has shown me. Those advocating for an inside strategy are often kind, thoughtful, persuasive … and ultimately wrong.
And this wrongness isn’t a small matter. For those advocating such a decision have often left congregations in the rotting corpse that they should have left for their own spiritual survival. There is always a time of decision – a Kairos moment – and once it is past very few will change the course they have set. There are so many ‘Federation’ churches in Canada, have they flourished in an organisation that bends the knee to and serves Baal? Internal resistance soon becomes internal acquiescence, orthodox priests move on, replaced with slightly less orthodox folk…and so it goes. These things matter – they are spiritual life and death!
So back to the Church of England. For those who say the same thing will not come to a head here, I respectfully disagree. It is as inevitable and necessary here as it was elsewhere. To quote Yeats:
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold
Despite the very best efforts of those who wish to hold the institution together, the centre cannot hold when there are two gods being served. The division must happen, it is an inevitability, and it is a mercy.
When it will happen, I cannot tell you. What precisely it will look like, I cannot tell you either. And who will get the keys for the buildings and the nameplates is completely irrelevant. Though I wouldn’t be surprised that, as in Canada, a church of the world will get the worldly things to worship. All I can tell you is it will happen, and most likely soon.
Ichabod is still the cry, and for us to focus on the things being born, not what will decay and founder. There are much bigger things going on, of which Anglican matters are a very small part. God is raising a Church that will be ready for the times to come. This Church will not look like or operate in the same way. It will not have worldly prestige or power, and will be despised and hated – full of the marginalised and rejected. This Church will be ready for the two sides of the same coin – Persecution and Revival. This Church will be ready to walk the Golgotha Road. What is happening now is Gods mercy – so concentrate not on the birth pains, but in what is being born!
In the darkness, the Light still shines. And all the brighter by the contrast.