When the Anglican priest John Wesley was drawing huge crowds with his preaching and becoming a real pain in the Church of England’s posterior, the hierarchy called a meeting to discuss how to silence him. The envious clergy floated a number of proposals but realised that none would work against a man of iron convictions. Finally, a hesitant hand went up. ‘Why don’t we make him a bishop? That will silence him,’ suggested an archdeacon. There was stunned silence followed by thunderous applause. The archdeacon was right.
They must have lamented the fact they did not. His departure gave birth to Methodism.
Today Justin Welby and his cronies must be banging their heads wondering why they did not make Gavin Ashenden, the former Queen’s Chaplain, a bishop. That would have paralysed his spinal cord, lobotomised his high-speed brain and silenced his impressive pen. If Luther had the printing press Ashenden has YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and his website.
His latest blog, The Anglican Christian Resistance and the Resignation of Lorna Ashworth, brilliantly analyses - and highlights - the reasons behind the latest big-time resignation in the C of E. Lorna Ashworth, the prominent conservative evangelical, has publicly resigned from General Synod and the Archbishops’ Council leaving behind her a stinging rebuke to the hierarchy who are infecting the C of E with the most pernicious forms of the feminist and gay agenda under the Welbyism of ‘good disagreement'.
‘She is a clever, transparently good woman, powerful in her integrity and clarity of purpose,’ writes Ashenden. ‘She is just the kind of person feminists hate. She is a rebuke to the whole thrust of feminist propaganda. Here is someone who has no problems with masculinity, no fear or jealousy of it, no bitterness or anxiety, no need to engage in the secular neurosis of power-play, but is dignified, potent and to the feminist project, dangerous.
‘She came to the conclusion that the Church of England has passed the point of no return, and is no longer worth spending time in or over, at the level of General Synod.’
Ashenden has been there as a loyal soldier of the C of E. He’s been a member of General Synod. He’s seen the light on the road to Damascus and has headed for the Internet highways and byways with his message of a church of the resistance.
He quotes from Lorna Ashworth’s last speech to the General Synod of July 2017. ‘As a corporate body we have become unable to articulate the saving message of Jesus Christ which fully encompasses the reality of sin, repentance and forgiveness – without this message we do not teach a true gospel and people do not get saved.’
I am so grateful for his analysis. He says: ‘Within the culture and context of General Synod, the language of Christianity has been changed. Words no longer mean what they did, and where they do, they are no longer used.
‘Although the process of decay began with the ordination of women to the priesthood (a move that Lorna along with the many other orthodox women on Synod have long been opposed to), the implications of ignoring the Biblical teaching on gender remained hidden to most Anglicans.
‘Feminism rather than the New Testament has formed the mind-set of most. But with gay marriage the implications of the challenge posed by secular values to the New Testament are much harder to hide.’
He goes on to identify the ringleaders of the feminist rot. ‘For many of us, watching the conflict with care, last July’s Synod was a turning point. The über-feminist, media-savvy, misandrist Jayne Ozanne led an attempt to test the theological clarity of Synod and its commitment to either the New Testament or the spirit of the age, which she represents and endorses.’
The problem is that ‘feminism doesn’t like the Bible,’ he observes. ‘The Bishop of Gloucester, Rachel Treweek, finds the fatherhood of God so offensive and personally difficult that she urges the Church to drop calling our Father “father” and call Him “it” instead.’
Lorna has done what is meet and right. ‘In light of this revisionist agenda and the heretical teaching that comes with it, I am no longer willing to sit around the table, pretending that we, as a governing body of the Church of England, are having legitimate conversations about mission. I refuse to be mistaken as one participating in the fanciful notion of “good disagreement”,’ she has announced.
Ashenden himself issues a clarion call to faithful Christians to ‘leave the dead to bury the dead’ and withdraw ‘allegiance from heretical bishops, time and energy from the committees that serve it, and your money from being used to promote the sub-Christian heresy of syncretism.’
Ashenden’s Morning Prayer relayed live on Facebook from his two very special chapels in Normandy or Shropshire have around 400 people watching them (and no doubt participating in prayer). How many C of E cathedrals get more than a dozen people each morning joining in for Morning Prayer (including members of Chapter)? He also does a weekly interview on Anglican Unscripted that is hungrily watched by more than 1,500 regular viewers where, with grace, he takes apart the heresies and the lunacies of the current regime in the C of E.
Justin Welby really must be regretting not making Gavin a bishop.