The Duty of Congregants

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The Article

On Feb. 13, the members of St. John’s Shaughnessy Church in Vancouver set a good example for all faithful Anglicans, by resolving to leave the Anglican Church of Canada rather than remain under the authority of a heretical bishop.

The vote was not even close. By the overwhelming margin of 475 to 11 (with 9 abstentions), the congregation formally renounced the authority of Michael Ingham, the Anglican Bishop of New Westminster. In his stead, they placed themselves under the oversight of Bishop Don Harvey, the theologically orthodox, former Anglican Bishop of Newfoundland who currently serves within the Province of the Southern Cone which includes the Anglican Churches in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay and Peru.

The theological differences between Harvey and Ingham are profound. While Harvey upholds the truth of Christ, Ingham subscribes to pluralism. In Ingham’s words, pluralism “does not deny God’s self-revelation in Christ, nor in the Koran, nor in the Torah, nor in other sacred symbols. It asks us to hold them together, despite their obvious discrepancies, in the greater mystery of faith.”

Really? This doctrine can make no sense except, perhaps, to a theological practitioner of Orwellian double-think who is adept at simultaneously holding contradictory ideas in the mind and believing all to be true.

David Short, the rector of St. John’s Shaughnessy, is a theologically orthodox Anglican priest. Like Harvey, he upholds Sacred Scripture as the ultimate authority on all questions of faith and morality. Under Short’s inspiring ministry, St. John’s Shaughnessy is the largest and most flourishing Anglican congregation in all of Canada.

In sorry contrast, the Anglican Church of Canada and the diocese of New Westminster, in particular, are dying. Thanks to the uninspiring leadership of liberals like Ingham, this once thriving denomination has declined over the past 40 years by more than 50 per cent.

The United Church of Canada, the Presbyterian Church in Canada and other liberal denominations are in a similar or worse state of decline. More and more members are leaving these churches, while their leaders ever more conform their minds to the current pattern of the world rather than uphold that good and acceptable and perfect word of God.

Regardless, church growth is not of primary concern to Short. “Even if preaching the Gospel meant we shrank,” he insists, “we would still have to be faithful.”

In 2002, Ingham broke faith with the Anglican church, by sanctioning the blessing of same sex unions within the diocese of New Westminster. In doing so, he also violated the plain teaching of Sacred Scripture and his solemn oath as a bishop to “banish and drive away all erroneous and strange doctrine contrary to God’s Word.”

As a result, Short, Packer and their ministerial colleagues at St. John’s Shaughnessy could no longer acknowledge the authority of Ingham as their bishop. And now, with the overwhelming support of their congregants, they have reluctantly quit the Anglican Church of Canada.

Meanwhile, the majority of bishops in the Anglican Church of Canada have sided with Ingham. For the past six years, they have failed to discipline him as repeatedly requested by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Moreover, while publicly professing to welcome a diversity of viewpoints within the church, some duplicitous bishops have been acting covertly to prevent Anglican parishes from recruiting and maintaining faithful priests who uphold the traditional doctrines and teachings of the Anglican church.

Under these circumstances, the duty of Anglican priests is clear: If their bishop formally repudiates the doctrines and teaching of the Anglican church on marriage or any other basic issue, they must follow the courageous example set by Short and other inspired Anglican priests who, at considerable risk to their financial security, have led their loyal congregants out of the Anglican Church of Canada and into communion with a church that is resolved to remain faithful to Christ and his commandments.

Correspondingly, the duty of Anglican congregants is also clear: They must do whatever they can to support a faithful Anglican priest; even, if need be, at the cost of giving up their comfortable pew and moving to another parish that is blessed with a prelate who can be counted upon to encourage the faithful in their devotion to Christ.

Rory Leishman
Latest posts by Rory Leishman (see all)

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