Friday, December 14, 2012

The Church of England, and the rest of us

Paul Levy “shows some love for Anglicans” by providing a brief review of Persistently Preaching Christ, a work discussing the ministry of St Andrew’s the Great Church [STAG] in Cambridge.

I do want to commend the book because it's haunted me since I read it. The story of the last 50 years in the life of the church is recounted. Interspersed with this are testimonies of people who have passed through STAG and been profoundly influenced by it. I found myself thanking God for this church in Cambridge that I've never set foot in. There are enormous amounts of practical wisdom in it and STAG, with many of the people it's produced, could so very easily be proud and full of itself and yet the book is laced through with an humility which is inspiring.

The Word has been preached and been applied to the congregation and it has done a remarkable work. I would want to commend this book to every minister. There will be points you will be frustrated and disagree with it and yet you will finish the book I hope with profound thankfulness for what God can do in a local congregation through the power of his Word.

In part, the Church of England, the Anglican church, believes itself not to be a part of the Reformation, but a continuing portion of the ancient church. They threw off the papacy but not much else. They retained an “episcopacy”, not entirely based on Scriptural principles, and they were rivals of the Puritans and the Scottish Presbyterians. It’s all another messy – but enlightening – portion of Reformation history, and it’s all a part of our heritage as Reformation Christians.

Nevertheless, their 39 Articles are thoroughly Reformed in their doctrine. And the conservative Anglicans among them struggle mightily to retain this identity.

We who are outside of the CofE need to be very careful in our criticisms. In the last 40 years we have seen strong Bible teaching, Reformed Anglican Churches thriving in many places. On the non conformist side of the bench it's probably not seen as much growth. We need to be humble enough to see that and recognise God has and is doing great things in many of our Anglican churches. My conscience couldn't allow me to be in the CofE. Part of me can't understand they're in it, but they are. I would love them all to come out and be Presbyterian but in all likelihood if they did we'd all split within 5 years over minutiae. What the future holds for them I have no idea and they are going to have to fight and contend for the truth, that is the imperative of the gospel. It could well be that they are turfed out before too long. So my new policy to my conservative evangelical brothers is, if they're fighting I must be praying and be grateful for them.


  1. I cannot express how grateful I am to God for St Andrew the Great for the ministry that I have enjoyed there, both in sermons, group Bible studies and one-to-ones. No church on this earth is perfect, but StAG's leadership is always determined to do everything it can to sit under the authority of the Bible and preach the Word and apply it to our lives. Students and residents of Cambridge, and people around the world, have had their lives changed through the work God is doing through that church.

    Praise Him for it! And long may it continue. Long may Christ's rule be proclaimed in Cambridge!

  2. Thomas, thank you for your affirmation here. It is amazing to hear that God is continuing to do His work in one of the most influential (academic) places in the world.