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Anglican ‘Stockpiling Whitewash’

The Rev. Dr. Peter Sanlon, an Anglican priest, is in sauve qui peut mode about the future of his Church. [1] He begins his piece by quoting this passage from Ezekiel 13 [2]:

“‘Because they lead my people astray, saying, “Peace,” when there is no peace, and because, when a flimsy wall is built, they cover it with whitewash, therefore tell those who cover it with whitewash that it is going to fall. Rain will come in torrents, and I will send hailstones hurtling down, and violent winds will burst forth. When the wall collapses, will people not ask you, “Where is the whitewash you covered it with?”

“‘Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: In my wrath I will unleash a violent wind, and in my anger hailstones and torrents of rain will fall with destructive fury.  I will tear down the wall you have covered with whitewash and will level it to the ground so that its foundation will be laid bare. When it falls, you will be destroyed in it; and you will know that I am the Lord.  So I will pour out my wrath against the wall and against those who covered it with whitewash. I will say to you, “The wall is gone and so are those who whitewashed it, those prophets of Israel who prophesied to Jerusalem and saw visions of peace for her when there was no peace, declares the Sovereign Lord.”’

As an Anglican priest of Evangelical, orthodox conviction, Dr. Sanlon worries that he might be guilty of covering the Anglican Church with whitewash, and not warning his flock that the thing is structurally unsound, and in risk of collapse. He writes against false optimism:

One of the reasons we accept a faulty analysis of our situation is that we focus overly on the present situation.  Clergy like me are especially prone to this. We think all is well because we are free to preach as we see fit, and have a  building to work from and a vicarage to live in. We have these things now and so all is well. But faithful analysis  requires that we evaluate the future. Building a sound house is a task aimed at securing a secure home fit for future  generations. Look ahead ten years, twenty, thirty years. What will the House of Bishops look like? Who will be  willing to come to Church of England churches? What do church laws actually say about succession of clergy  appointments? A vicar may ignore their diocesan structures – but how will you get men ordained if your DDO is in  a lesbian relationship (as in Southwark Diocese)? How will your church flourish if it has to tacitly support by its  silence the LGBTI Eucharists in cathedrals such as Rochester?

Dr. Sanlon lists a number of signs of downward trajectory within the Church of England, and concludes that faithful Evangelical Anglicans have no choice but to  “work very hard and very fast to plant churches outside the Church of England.” He means churches that use the Anglican liturgy, but that aren’t in communion with Canterbury. He writes:

In the American Episcopal Church evangelicals were saying right up the very end that the problems could still be  solved by strategies that for decades had not delivered. I have shared some facts and analysis with you tonight. In the  end the analysis must be a spiritual one. We need God to open our eyes to the future, to reality, to our place in it.  And so I am not telling anybody to leave the Church of England, nor am I denying the value of the many good  things our constituency is doing and has done. But I am begging you to start praying that God would enable each  one of us to know what we should do. I am begging you to pray that if there is catastrophic spiritual ruin ahead of  us, that God would open our eyes to it before it is too late. If you have not been praying with heartfelt sincerity and  desperate dependence on God – start tonight.

Read the whole thing. [1]

So goes the Benedict Option with these orthodox Anglicans.

Let me put the questions to all you small-o orthodox Christians in all different churches:

  1. To what extent are your church or denomination’s leaders “stockpiling whitewash”? What forms does it take?
  2. If you were in Peter Sanlon’s position, speaking to pastors and lay leaders in your own church or denomination, what would you advise?


38 Comments (Open | Close)

38 Comments To "Anglican ‘Stockpiling Whitewash’"

#1 Comment By Nate On February 26, 2018 @ 7:32 pm

Here is the solution to his problem:


#2 Comment By Maire On February 26, 2018 @ 8:41 pm

If you’re orthodox Anglican I think your best bet is to be received into the Catholic Church. A number of orthodox Anglican parishes have done this while still retaining a lot of the Anglican style in worship, not to mention you can be a married priest as well.

You will find some of this same left wing rot in many Catholic congregations, but the illness is not nearly as advanced and there are stronger antibodies in the form of a much larger orthodox contingency, both in the US and in the non-Western world at large. It’s the difference between the four stages of cancer, and with the Anglican communion, I think it’s clear that you’re looking at stage 3 or 4 as opposed to stage 1 or 2, which is where I would put the Catholic Church. If you’re orthodox Anglican, your expectations are turning on a miracle at this point. How many people survive stage 4 cancer? Less than 5%. Whereas, upwards of 90% of people with stage 1 cancer survive. That’s depressing but I think it’s the reality you have in front of you. You have a much better chance of beating this thing if you join forces with something stronger. I have no illusions of how difficult that will be if you have lived your whole life as an Anglican, but if you believe it’s time for desperate measures, there it is.

#3 Comment By mike On February 26, 2018 @ 8:54 pm

Of course, nowadays the label “Anglican” or “Catholic” on the outside of a church gives very little information about what is actually going on inside of that Church.
In the modern age, it is necessary to make certain inquiries in order to find out whether an individual church is Christian or not.

#4 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On February 26, 2018 @ 9:33 pm

My church leaders are doing nothing of the sort. They are acting consistently with over 200 years of tradition, not counting roots in the Great Awakening.

#5 Comment By LesB On February 27, 2018 @ 12:21 am

Dr. Sanlon says the only solution is for the faithful “work very hard and very fast to plant churches outside the Church of England.”

That reminds me of something I have been wondering about. In the modern era, what has been the Eastern Orthodox position on missionary work? The Catholics and Protestants have been busy all over the world, but my impression has been the Orthodox have been largely absent in most areas. And my understanding is that this is because Orthodox churches are much more closely associated with particular national and ethnic cultures and governments.

But I haven’t studied this question,so I might be wrong. Maybe someone who is better informed could tell me what has been going on

[NFR: I’m honestly not certain. I know that there are Orthodox missionaries — I’m friends with a missionary priest in the Philippines — but I really don’t know the extent to which Orthodoxy has been missional. The largest Orthodox Church in the world by far is the Russian Orthodox Church, but it, along with the other Eastern European Orthodox churches, was crushed for 75 years by the Soviets. You can imagine that there was no mission work going on in those days. I can’t speak for the Greeks, but for the Arabic Orthodox churches, they have doing their very best just to keep themselves going under the Muslim yoke. My point is that there are non-ethnic reasons why missionary activity has been low for the Orthodox in our time. — RD]

#6 Comment By K. W. Jeter On February 27, 2018 @ 1:16 am

Per Maire:

If you’re orthodox Anglican I think your best bet is to be received into the Catholic Church.

Actually, a better option is to look into the so-called Traditionalist Anglican churches in the US and elsewhere, such as those belonging to the Anglican Province of Christ the King:

The Anglican Province of Christ the King is a body of Anglican churches which was formed in 1977 to ensure the continuation of historic Anglican Christianity in America. The need for the new Province arose because of changes in the fundamental faith and practices of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America (ECUSA). This radical restructuring of the Episcopal Church was completed at the 1976 Episcopal Convention in Minneapolis, Minnesota. At this meeting sweeping changes were adopted that forced an ever-increasing secularization of the church.

More at [4]

The APCK doesn’t hold with female ordination, for example, or just about any other “innovation” that has come to pass in the Episcopal Church. The APCK and other traditionalist Anglican churches are just about as close as you can get to standard Catholic doctrine, except for the matters of celibate, unmarried priests and the primacy of the Bishop of Rome. Those are sticking points for myself and others, which prevent us from entering into the Catholic church, thus our preference for the traditionalist Anglicans.

And if nothing else, you have to give the traditionalist Anglicans points for prescience, having been able to see what the 1976 changes to the ECUSA would lead to.

#7 Comment By Protestant Rambler On February 27, 2018 @ 1:34 am

Concerning the first: I don’t know that I’ve seen a lot of whitewash lately; rather, there’s a lot of folks calling rotting walls good. Celebrate the rot, don’t whitewash it at all/doesn’t need it, if you will. I know there are churches that are pretending everything is fine, but I don’t have great examples, since I don’t frequent those churches much.

As to the second: Prayer. Prayer is powerful, and we need to be doing a lot more of it as a church, both individually and communally. I’d start with that.

#8 Comment By Fran Macadam On February 27, 2018 @ 2:31 am

What would I advise? Prepare to lose everything – reputation, livlihood, pension. That is why some older folks I know in church hierarchies they have lost a voice in are keeping a low profile. To take a stand means penury for these elders. The opposition does not practice Christian charity as found in I Corinthians 13.

#9 Comment By Fran Macadam On February 27, 2018 @ 2:39 am

Roman Catholicism is hardly a good fit for the faithful Evangelical protestants described. And I think folks can do better than advice to join a declining rival faith group that “only” suffers a Stage One or Two metastasis of unbelief and heresy.

If the Benedict Option panacea is conversion to Roman Catholicism or Russian Orthodoxy, it’s no option at all foe Evangelicals.

#10 Comment By Bill Murphy On February 27, 2018 @ 4:19 am


This is, at root, a repeat of your article on Cardinal Cupich’s recent speech at Cambridge – you correctly said that Cupich was describing a new religion in place of Catholicism. Plainly any pretence of “historic” Christianity has been abandoned in sections of what remains of the Church of England. What replaces it might be multiple new religions, except that they are hardly identifiable as “religions”.
For decades the satirical magazine “Private Eye” has had endless fun at the expense of the Anglican communion. The completely vapid Reverend J C Flannel, with his countless vacuous sermons on general goodwill and The Rocky Horror Service Book have been regular visitors. The Rocky Horror Service Book contains such essential liturgies as the Divorce Service, where the unhappy couple dissolve their vows in front of a supportive congregation.
But not even our most brilliant comedians could have imagined services such as a lesbian bishop having a blessing service in the cathedral followed by dinner and dancing in the nave. If any of our more savage bad taste comedians in 2000 had suggested draping a LGBTI flag over an altar, he would probably been rebuked for excessive vulgarity.
Plainly there is no future for a traditional Church of England in England, which raises countless practical and constitutional problems – e.g. the status of Bishops in the House of Lords and the position of the monarch as Head of the church. If only Henry 8th could see what he started.

#11 Comment By RealAlan On February 27, 2018 @ 5:15 am

He means churches that use the Anglican liturgy, but that aren’t in communion with Canterbury.

They are, however, if in communion with GAFCON, in communion with a substantial majority of the Anglicans in the whole world. The number 70% is thrown around a lot, although I suspect that may be a little on the high side.

#12 Comment By Seven sleepers On February 27, 2018 @ 6:42 am

Meanwhile, the “Monsignor” has delivered the homilies the last two weeks. Starting Lent he talked about the power of touch, and praised those who are on the front lines of welcoming immigrants. This past Sunday, he praised the children who had the courage to stare down “a National Organization” (wink, wink) and demand something be done about violence. As he went on like this for quite a while, random people stood up and left. When he mercifully concluded, awkwardly returning to the um Gospel, so ending his “THIS is the world we should be saving” speech, an old lady in front of me began clapping. Alone. Then she boldly shouted in a muffled way, “C’mon people….oh C’mon people!”. This theatrical moment earned about 13 clappers out of about 300 people. The Monsignor, ever gracious, motioned that he did not deserve the praise.

Well, anyway, it is very clear that 98% of Priests are like social workers, at this point. The Eucharist is a type of collective high-five, a participation trophy. The whole thing is so exceptionally weak its unbelievable. 20 years left at most. And even those people hanging on do so out of culture and for no other reason.

#13 Comment By Rhys Laverty On February 27, 2018 @ 6:47 am

The efforts of orthodox Evangelical Anglicans to survive outside the structures of the C of E have been underway for some time.

AMiE (Anglican Mission in England – [5]) is a growing group, planting Anglican churches outside the bounds of the C of E. It’s essentially made up of Anglicans frustrated by the doctrinal compromise of the church and its restrictions on church planting. Its chairman is Andy Lines, who was also appointed a GAFCON missionary bishop in 2017 to the Anglican Church in North America, the evangelical breakaway from the US Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church in Canada. GAFCON (the Global Anglican Future Conference – [6]) was started in 2008 by orthodox evangelical Anglicans who want to restore the Anglican communion, but increasingly find themselves pushed to operate outside it within the UK. A large number of its members are conservatives from Africa. Nothing rubs Anglican liberals up the wrong way like a mention of GAFCON! Andy Lines has got in lots of trouble for his “irregular” ordination, having been openly criticised by Justin Welby ( [7])

Of note also is Co-Mission, a huge interdenominational church planting initiative in London, which has also seen lots of evangelical Anglican churches pour their resources into planting outside the bounds of the C of E ( [8]). This is led by Richard Coekin, himself no stranger to controversy, having been involved in two disputes over “irregular” ordinations in 2006 ( [9]) and 2011. The former led to Coekin’s licence being briefly revoked, before being reinstated by Rowan Williams ( [10]), who then criticised Coekin for the latter offence ( [11]).

Co-Mission has its roots in Coekin’s church, Dundonald, in south London, itself a plant of another church, Emmanuel Wimbledon. The latter uses the loophole of being a proprietary chapel ( [12]) to operate with greater freedom with the C of E. Over the past 15 years or so, this has become a model for Anglican churches functioning outside of the C of E. Here is a criticism of Coekin’s ordination shenanigans from a fellow evangelical in 2005 outlines how these churches and their subsequent plants manage to function as officially Anglican, yet in practice become a federation of independent churches: [13]

Recently, St Helen’s Bishopsgate (probably the most influential conservative evangelical Anglican church in the country, situated in the heart of the City of London) has rejected “partnership in the gospel” with its deanery synod, whilst making it clear it still has no plans to leave the C of E ( [14]). St Helen’s itself is closely tied with GAFCON and Co-Mission, as well as Reform, the evangelical group within the C of E. As things go in the British conservative evangelical Anglican world, this was a pretty big deal if you’re paying attention.

I’m a British conservative evangelical in the free church, so in one sense I don’t have a dog in this fight, but conservative evangelicals are all pretty close together over here, especially as we’re driven further into the trenches. I’ve worked, and currently worship in, an Anglican church.

I’ve commented on here before about the British evangelical church. Most in my circles haven’t (and sadly won’t) read The Benedict Option. But the British “translation” of it seems to be a huge revival and emphasis of church planting (I guess partly because we are now a much less evangelised nation than the US).

Evangelical Anglicans are diverting resources, attention, and increasingly people, away from the C of E into non-parochial local church plants and into groups such as AMiE, GAFCON, Co-Mission, and Reform – even those who still feel the C of E itself is the best boat to fish from.

#14 Comment By Alexander Craighead On February 27, 2018 @ 7:44 am

God is preserving a remnant in England-Envangelical Presbyterian Church in England & Wales. See. [15]

#15 Comment By Hera Am I On February 27, 2018 @ 8:12 am

After leaving The Episcopal Church, we visited the Anglican (ACNA) parish here on Baton Rouge. We expected a traditional, orthodox service, but it was anything but. Very charasmatic, (lots of praise music, projection screen bigger than the cross, etc.) and people put their hands all over you when you receive Communion. Very disconcerting.

If I knew of a RC Anglican Ordinate parish here, I’d go.

[NFR: Please consider visiting St. Matthew’s, our Orthodox parish. [16]— RD]

#16 Comment By Ryan W On February 27, 2018 @ 9:04 am

“That reminds me of something I have been wondering about. In the modern era, what has been the Eastern Orthodox position on missionary work? The Catholics and Protestants have been busy all over the world, but my impression has been the Orthodox have been largely absent in most areas. And my understanding is that this is because Orthodox churches are much more closely associated with particular national and ethnic cultures and governments.”

In addition to the points that Rod made, I think it’s important to look at the role of changing historical circumstances. The Russian church in Imperial Russia was pretty active in missionary work, but because Imperial Russia had expanded so much and so quickly, they didn’t have any energy or resources to missionize much in foreign territories. It was a huge task to carry out missionary activities in Siberia, the Russian Far East and Alaska, a task which the church attacked with a large amount of energy and a fair degree of success. However, in the modern world, that model of missionaries following the flag (which is similar to the model of most Catholic missions as well) doesn’t really apply anymore. I think it’s fair to say that the Orthodox Churches were a bit slow to adapt to the new circumstances. However, this is changing now. I think a big role in this has been played by formerly Protestant converts, especially in America. For example, the “Orthodox Christian Mission Centre” is an American organization, which is now very active in a number of countries, including Guatemala, Mongolia, Kenya and Uganda. The Russian church is carrying out some lower-key activities of its own as well in East and Southeast Asia. But still, I think it’s fair to say that the Orthodox churches definitely have some more room to improve in this area.

#17 Comment By O.L. Johnson On February 27, 2018 @ 9:45 am

“Here is the solution to his problem: [3]

But for how long?

#18 Comment By Rob G On February 27, 2018 @ 11:00 am

“I think it’s fair to say that the Orthodox churches definitely have some more room to improve in this area.”

It should also be noted that unlike Protestants the Orthodox Churches do not do “evangelism” aimed at members of other Christian bodies. We tend to limit our evangelistic activities to attempts to witness to the unchurched.

#19 Comment By David C On February 27, 2018 @ 11:37 am

“Let me put the questions to all you small-o orthodox Christians in all different churches:
To what extent are your church or denomination’s leaders “stockpiling whitewash”? What forms does it take?”

There is a division of labor. The denomination’s leaders tell parish pastors to blissfully apply whitewash while the leaders swing the sledge hammer.

The question Sanlon asks is one I wrestle with every day.

#20 Comment By Maine Catholic On February 27, 2018 @ 11:52 am

The Catholic Church under the direction of the current bunch at the Vatican seems to be trying to head down the same path as the C of E which would lead to the same predictable results. Except that we have Jesus’ guarantee that the “gates of Hell will never prevail” against the Church that he founded. That is the only comfort I can cling to in the current situation.

I agree with those that suggest the Ordinariate for former Anglicans/Episcopalians. They seem to be much more orthodox and reverent in their worship than most mainstream Catholic parishes. Unfortunately they are not always easy to find. Another possibility is the FSSP parishes which offer the traditional Latin Mass.

#21 Comment By Major Wootton On February 27, 2018 @ 11:53 am

It’s really past time for some Christians to examine that understanding of apostolic succession that keeps people in churches because they feel they can get valid sacraments only there, even if their clergy are blatant apostates.

How firm really is this idea that one’s pastor must have been ordained by a bishop in the “succession” from the apostles?

Is this really the understanding that has been held always, everywhere, by the orthodox, catholic Church?

A few alleged proof-texts (e.g. St. Ignatius’s “do nothing without the bishop”) are not as conclusive as they are sometimes held to be, when one gets into the meaning, at the time, of certain Greek words, etc. (I won’t attempt to summarize it all.)

Does Our Lord really intend that, when you have to choose between “apostolic succession” in the episcopal sense — which, you may find, is more a 19th-century view than a perennial one — and succession in the doctrine of the apostles, you ought to choose the former rather than the latter?

Listen to Our Lord speaking of false teachers: “They are blind guides. Leave them” (St. Matthew 15:14). That is a commandment.

Are you not -sinning- if you remain in a parish where the priest teaches false doctrine even after having been advised? (Don’t think this means that the bishop only must do such advising. The bishop himself may be an adherent of false doctrine, like the Anglican Bishop of Liverpool.)

Just consider reading the Lutheran author Hermann Sasse’s paper on “Apostolic Succession” in We Confess the Church. See his sifting of the historical evidence. See also the discussions in Lutherans and Catholics in Dialogue 4: Eucharist and Ministry, specifically the contributions by Arthur Carl Piepkorn.

#22 Comment By Will Harrington On February 27, 2018 @ 12:22 pm

Les B

The Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria appears to be doing excellent work in Africa. There are also ongoing mission efforts throughout Asia and even Oceania. There is even an Orthodox presence in places like Guatemala. I think, as the Russian Church puts itself back together, missions throughout the world will increase. One of the problems in the past has been support. The only wealthy Eastern Orthodox in the late twentieth century were Greek Americans.

#23 Comment By Will Harrington On February 27, 2018 @ 12:31 pm


Be fair. Some Evangelicals (such as I was once,) have seen the Ancient Churches as the only option. I became Orthodox. Blanket statements simply will not serve. If the Church in question is Evangelical, then the least it can do is plant roots firmly in early evangelicalism such as the Wesleys taught. They too will need to find strong cultural traditions and live by them. Contemporary Christian culture will not provide that. It is a pale reflection of what sells in the mainstream anti-culture.

#24 Comment By Will Harrington On February 27, 2018 @ 12:41 pm

RE, the Anglican Church. I wonder what would have happened if the house of Windsor hadn’t chosen to neglect their duties in favor of the safety of simply being symbols? What if Elizabeth had chosen to take the title of defender of the Faith and Head of the Church of England seriously? I don’t know enough about her to guess, but I know that she has pretty immense power IF she would choose to wield it. This could be a fun counterfactual.

#25 Comment By Corey F. On February 27, 2018 @ 2:05 pm

As for the wholly-expected Ordinariate-peddling in these comments, I can only say: if you think that most evangelical Anglicans are going to embrace the deeply Anglo-Catholic worship of the Ordinariate as well as the ecclesiological claims of the RCC, you clearly don’t know many evangelical Anglicans. I am a continuing Anglican in a traditionalist and very Anglo-Catholic jurisdiction, and even I have rejected the Ordinariate option (living as I do in a city with such a parish). I wouldn’t hold my breath on the evangelicals coming through the door—most of them are likelier to become EO if anything else.

Rather than jumping ship to become an RC with Anglican trappings, those who are actually Anglican and accept the historical claims of the Anglican Church (i.e., that it is, in fact, a church—not merely an “ecclesial community”—with valid orders and sacraments) would do much better to find a parish in an orthodox continuing jurisdiction. For one thing, one will have an easier time locating one of these than an Ordinariate parish. For another, some of these parishes are vibrant examples of getting it right—for example, my old parish of All Saints in Charlottesville, VA, which is brimming with young families, serious devotion, and intellectual energy.

Just this weekend I drove back to be present for the ordination of a friend to the priesthood (he was one of five young men from this single, modestly-sized parish who have put themselves forward for Holy Orders). The ordination mass was standing room only. The following day, I witnessed a middle-aged gentleman be baptized, confirmed, and communed for the first time. It was an occasion of unspeakable joy and beauty (helped along by a choir singing Tallis and Palestrina). Such places exist, and one needn’t leave Anglicanism to find them.

One might also point to such work being done in one of our dioceses out west. They’re working on developing what they term “mission communities,” which resemble very much a serious effort to create an Anglican BenOp: [17]

So, yes, all hope in Anglicanism is not lost if one is willing to look beyond TEC and the CofE. For those who believe in the Benedictine virtue of stability, there is a way to remain an orthodox Anglican without leaving for another communion.

#26 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On February 27, 2018 @ 2:51 pm

What if Elizabeth had chosen to take the title of defender of the Faith and Head of the Church of England seriously? I don’t know enough about her to guess, but I know that she has pretty immense power IF she would choose to wield it.

Does she? How do you know that? Elizabeth gives an annual speech regurgitating whatever the prime minister du jour has written for her, whether Torie, Labor or Liberal, and if UKIP won an election, she’d recite what UKIP told her to say. If she went to Nottingham and “raised her standard” she would be laughed at. She might be able to talk at cross purposes with the government or the nominally subordinate church hierarchy… but she can’t make anyone follow her orders.

#27 Comment By Stephen Walton On February 27, 2018 @ 3:12 pm

I am a Church of England presbyter, a conservative Evangelical, in the diocese of Europe. I know Pete Sanlon, the author of the article. I am a member of two of the organisations he mentions, Reform and Church Society, and used to be on the council of the latter. Lee Gatiss, the director of Church Society, who is mentioned in the article, is one of my closest friends. So I speak from that sort of experience.

People need to understand that “conservatives” in the Church of England are broadly divided between evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics, each with various sub-tribes. The two groups have formed an alliance in recent years over issues such as the consecration of women as bishops, but it has always been a rather uneasy one, (think of the Federation-Klingon alliance… ), because of deep differences of theology and culture between the two groups. It is unlikely that one institutional solution will be found for all. People like me will never become Roman Catholics, or Eastern Orthodox, or join the Traditionalist Anglican Churches like the APCK, because of theological conviction. We are convinced Reformed Protestants- we believe that the Church of England is in its confessional statement (the Thirty Nine Articles), and liturgy (the 1662 Book of Common Prayer) a Reformed Church. Having said that, I’ve found The Benedict Option very helpful in thinking about our current situation.

After the Keele Congress in 1967, for a generation Anglican Evangelicals, lead by John Stott, committed themselves to working within the Church of England- “in it to win it” was the phrase often heard. But we always faced a dilemma: within an episcopal church, the only way to achieve significant, lasting change is to get good men as bishops. But to become a bishop, someone had to make such big compromises on matters of principle, that there was no point, and few men of integrity would do it.

It is now clear that the Keele agenda has failed. Over the last two years, Anglican Evangelicals have crystallized into two groups. One is committed to staying in the Church of England, and working for change within; Church Society tends to be identified with this line. It used to be seen as an old-fashioned and moribund organization. Lee Gatiss’ leadership has completely transformed it, and it has become a rallying point especially for younger ordained men. The other group sees the Church of England as having gone beyond the point of no return, and thinks that it is inevitable that we will have to leave it. For these there seem to be two options: the Free Church of England, lead by Bishop John Fenwick (Pete Sanlon works closely with the FCE), and the Anglican Mission in England (AMiE), lead by Bishop Andy Lines. Both provide a way of being “Anglican” and Evangelical, but outside the structures of the Church of England.

2020 will be significant year. Three things happen then: the Lambeth Conference of Bishops, elections for general synod, and the House of Bishops will produce its teaching document on same-sex relationships (sub-title “how to draw a square circle”). After that, we will probably see some evangelical churches leaving the denomination.

My own opinion is that we need a sort of internal Benedict Option. Instead of wasting time and energy fighting battles at a national level, or trying to take over the diocesan and national structures, we should concentrate on building strong local churches and institutions. That will, as Pete says, mean planting outside the denomination. For churches that stay in, we have to find ways to build a firewall between them and the denomination, to protect them from the liberal takeover. Which is now almost complete in the Church of England.

#28 Comment By Pete Sanlon On February 27, 2018 @ 4:11 pm

Thanks for covering this Rod. I have read your book The Benedict Option, and think that it’s lessons will become painfully necessary in England as the culture becomes even more hostile. Many of the little church plants people here are putting their hope in will be crushed under changes to the laws for rental of buildings, and many of the larger churches will compromise with the mainline denominations apostasy. Small groups of leaders who are willing to help eachother prepare for the future are starting to meet and to pray together – we shall see what God does. It’s not over till Christ returns, and then it just begins.

#29 Comment By David Palmer On February 27, 2018 @ 4:24 pm

I think Peter Scanlon is waiting until such time that his Free Church of England congregation has built up to the point that he can resign as Vicar of his C of E congregation to devote himself to the Free church with an expectation some, maybe many of the C of E people will follow him across.

Just how deceitful is “good disagreement” when it is used as a cover to advance heterodoxy?

The problem with the orthodox in the C of E, and in the main they are evangelicals, is that they lack leadership and they lack what we Australians call gumption. At any time in the last 10-15 years there should have been a mass exodus. There is precedence for this kind of action. In 1662 with the accession of Charles II to the English throne, some 2,000 Puritan clergy, which included 1,000 Rectors of Parishes like that of Peter Scanlon were forced out to endure poverty and exile because they would not sign a piece of paper to say that they would adhere without deviation to the Book of Common Prayer with its semi reformed liturgy and ceremonies. Now Scanlon and his colleagues are not quite faced with this situation, but that is only because they keep their heads down and accept propositions like “disagreeing well”. If, for the sake of love of Christ and fidelity to His Word, they began disagreeing loudly and persistently, they will incur wrath and coercive measures which will necessitate withdrawal. Faithful Anglicans have done so in America, why can’t they in England?

The point about those evicted Puritan ministers was that their people loved them, and despite fear of the authorities would meet with their evicted ministers in clandestine circumstances for worship and mutual encouragement. On the day of the national church going census almost 200 years later in 1851 it was found that the numbers worshipping in non-conformist Chapels fell just short by a small margin those worshipping in C of E churches. God has said He will honour those who honour Him.

I could go on and talk about the movement of the Methodists out of the C of E in the late 18th century, and the 1843 disruption in the Church of Scotland when approximately 450 evangelical ministers walked out with their elders and congregations, leaving all property behind to form the Free Church of Scotland over the issue of the right of congregations to call their own ministers rather than having them imposed upon them. If that was the issue then, how much greater the justification today for the orthodox to depart such a tawdry affair that the Church of England has become today!

(I understand the point that good people will always remain within corrupt bodies, and that the good people leaving are not as good as we, and they, might hope to be)

Regarding Rod’s first question I belong to a church (Presbyterian) that by the 1960s was as liberal as any but in the providence of God at the time of Church Union with Methodists and Congregationalists in the 1970s, a minority of Presbyterians stayed out and chose to return to their confessional heritage. It is such a blessing to be a member in such a denomination where our ministers love their people and feed them with the pure milk of the Word in the context of worshipping communities.

#30 Comment By LesB On February 27, 2018 @ 4:31 pm

Thank you Rod, Ryan W, Rob G and Will Harrington for the very informative answers to my question.

One reason I am asking is the Orthodox Church in Russia seems to be so closely associated with the highly nationalist and ethnicist Putin regime. That would seem to run counter to the universalism of Christianity and missionary work, and so I would expect little missionary work by them, but maybe I am wrong.

#31 Comment By Rombald On February 27, 2018 @ 7:17 pm

Les8: “my impression has been the Orthodox have been largely absent in most areas.”

Russian Orthodox missionaries arrived in Japan in the 19th century, and the Japanese Orthodox Church is autocephalous, but is still quite small, even in comparison with the tiny minority of Japanese who are Christian.

The Coptic Church (not in communion with “Orthodox” in Rod’s sense) has made a lot of converts in Africa. I think it appeals to Africans who want a Christianity that is not tied up with European colonialism. There is also a Coptic church in Japan, and it is very energetic, baptising Japanese people. Some Japanese seem to be particularly impressed by martyrdom, and some converted because of the news of the Coptic martyrs in Libya.

Personally, having recently returned to Christianity (in some ways, I returned in spirit years ago, but have been fighting it off), I am currently trying to decide whether to join the Roman Catholic, Japanese Orthodox, or Coptic Church, or perhaps to stop trying to find the “one true” church, and return to Anglicanism, which is not as objectionable in Japan as in the UK, not being tied to the state, or having gone down the liberal drain. I have difficulties with all four alternatives, and am dithering, attending three of those sporadically (not the Japanese Orthodox, as the nearest church is a long way away).

#32 Comment By dominic1955 On February 27, 2018 @ 7:24 pm

One problem is that there isn’t many answers you could give to the question, “What isn’t Anglicanism?” that would be wrong.

It started out as Catholicism without the Pope, then it became radically Reformed then it mellowed, then back to Catholicism for a little respite then back to Reformed then the Puritans hijacked things, then back to mellow Reformed, then it declines to being more a civic organization, the Methodist try to reform that while still saying their Anglicans and then the Oxford Movement comes and starts swinging most of it towards Catholicism again. Theological liberalism comes in and sets back Evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics alike and it’s just a mess.

Seems to me the Anglo-Papalists had it right-history impels Union with Rome.

#33 Comment By TR On February 27, 2018 @ 8:44 pm

Will Harrington: The English Monarch does not even have to be an Anglican–He or she simply cannot be Catholic. And the current Queen’s family cannot ever given good example. Prince Charles’s second marriage took place in Scotland in a Presbyterian Church. The Presbyterian Church is the national Church of Scotland, but Elizabeth is not its head.

In fact, she is nominal head just because Parliament never has gotten around to disestablishing it–as it did in the 19th century to the (Anglican) Church of Ireland. Any move on her part to mess with things would immediately motivate Parliament to correct that oversight.

#34 Comment By SeanD On February 28, 2018 @ 12:01 am

I echo Maine Catholic’s comment, speaking as a Roman Catholic about my own Church. In strictly human terms, however, it’s a waiting game to see how much longer an octogenarian with one lung can lead the Church, how many cardinals and bishops he gets to appoint, and how many of them wish to continue the same path when he’s gone. Most frequently, orthodox Catholics are hunkering down in our parishes, emphasizing Scripture and Tradition while making favorable reference to Pope Francis when we can, while directing criticism of errors he apparently supports toward subordinates who – in any case – more clearly and directly advocate them. One can make a fair argument that this best comports with not only prudence but justice and charity, however in practice, it can easily slouch into “stockpiling whitewash.”

The manipulative Modernists and slithering sycophants who currently surround Francis have noticed this, and already count it as insubordination, but that is nothing compared to what will likely happen if Francis is followed by – let’s say – Pope John XXIV (Pietro Parolin). It’s impossible to deny that the current path is the one taken for a half-century or more by the too-aptly-named Mainline Churches…given what Our Lord warned about broad road: [18]

#35 Comment By Here Am I On February 28, 2018 @ 12:46 am


Thanks for the invite to St. Matthew’s. Know the location.

Will talk to my wife. You may see us Sunday.

[NFR: I hope so! Don’t worry, you won’t face any pressure to convert. We’ll just be happy to see you. You might want to come tonight (Wednesday) to the 6pm liturgy. We have them every Wednesday during Lent. — RD]

#36 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On February 28, 2018 @ 5:12 pm

Seems to me the Anglo-Papalists had it right-history impels Union with Rome.

Well dominic, you would, wouldn’t you?

Just how deceitful is “good disagreement” when it is used as a cover to advance heterodoxy?

I adore heterodoxy. A good disagreement is a philosophical reflection of the human condition.

#37 Comment By Here Am I On February 28, 2018 @ 9:24 pm


I saw the Lenten Service on the website, but I was already scheduled to cook at CHS (my son is an alum). I actually stopped by the church this afternoon when I went to get my inspection sticker.

I think we’ll see you Sunday.


#38 Comment By Jeremy On December 18, 2018 @ 7:08 pm

As a Catholic, I can say that our leaders have wielded the “obedience” club like an abusive husband. As a member of the Ordinariate I am happy to be in a canonical stronghold. There are many different movements within the Catholic Church still worth supporting.

Attending and supporting a regular, milquetoast, parish is to be an enabler. (If you find a strong, Orthodox and courageous priest who doesn’t compromise then I’m not talking about you) You are an enabler of heresy, you are an enabler of child abuse, you are an enabler of immorality.

If you have no choice but to attend a regular parish, you do have the choice of where your money goes.