Your Grace,

It would be quite understandable for you to be less than enthusiastic about receiving a missive from a ‘conservative evangelical’ in the light of the recent consecration of the episcopally licensed Curate of Jesmond Parish Church as a missionary bishop by the Reformed Evangelical Anglican Church of South Africa. But I am writing if I may to set forth the case for a second conservative evangelical bishop, in addition to the southern-based Bishop of Maidstone to serve as senior pastor to churches and ministers in the north of England who desire his episcopal care.


A word first if I may about the term ‘conservative evangelical’: I prefer to call myself a ‘classic evangelical’ because for the vast majority of the public who are not familiar with Anglican parlance conservative evangelical could easily be construed as denoting an evangelical who supports the Conservative Party. Whilst ‘classic evangelical’ may conjure up images of 1950s-style Morgans or Morris Minors, I hope you do not mind if I use the term in the course of this argument.

‘Reformed Anglican’ will also appear in this letter to you as an equivalent term for classic evangelical, connoting as it does in the Church of England context a theological stance on the complementarity of the sexes and male servant leadership in the family and the church.

Articles this week by the President of the Church Society, Dr Lee Gatiss, who advocates classic evangelicals staying in the Church of England, and by former Queen’s Chaplain, Dr Gavin Ashenden, who is planning to resign his ministerial orders in the Church of England, encapsulate the intense debate within our constituency about our ecclesiastical future.

Dr Gatiss wrote:

‘Yes, a very small number (of classic evangelicals) are in AMiE (the Anglican Mission in England)…and one perplexingly idiosyncratic church (Jesmond Parish Church) has gone a bit rogue by making its curate into a bishop. They get all the headlines, while the Church Society approach continues to be the main game, supported by the Bishop of Maidstone, Rod Thomas…and by many others in churches up and down the country who are thinking every week not about the latest political game or ecclesiastical Twitterstorm, but about using the still vast opportunities given to us within the Church of England for reaching out, building up, and sending people into the harvest field.’

Dr Gatiss then went on to quote the 19th Century Bishop of Liverpool JC Ryle’s exhortation to his fellow evangelicals in the Church of England: “We have no cause for discouragement, despondency, or despair… Then let us stand firm and fight on.”

Dr Ashenden has answered Lee Gatiss as follows:

‘When Dr Gatiss offers us advice from J.C Ryle, “Then let us stand firm and fight on”, he may recollect that although Ryle’s personal ministry was and remains an inspiration, his strategy for influencing the Church of England ended in sorry misjudged failure. He watched his own son sell out to establishment liberalism. We owe our spiritual children better judgement and better prospects than Ryle was able to provide. His advice was no more helpful then than it is today. More radical measures are called for.’

Whilst Dr Ashenden’s personal ministerial situation does not of itself validate or invalidate his case, it is surely significant that he is not currently a frontline parochial incumbent. Indeed, he is in the unusual position – for an English clergyman at any rate – of being able to broadcast regularly on Anglican Unscripted from a café in Normandy.

Whilst it is true that Dr Gatiss is also not a parochial incumbent, as one myself serving three villages in the north of England I would like to ask what would have happened in the 20th and 21st Centuries if classic evangelicals/Reformed Anglicans had defied JC Ryle’s call and had left the Church of England.

In the parish I am privileged to serve, by God’s grace individuals who are now active Christians have come to faith in our Lord Jesus Christ though the Christianity Explored course devised by the Revd Rico Tice. Mr Tice is himself a licensed Church of England minister in London and his DVD presentations based on Mark’s Gospel are now widely used in Church of England parishes.

As a result of my being appointed in 2000 as a Reformed Anglican to an incumbency in a Church of England parish, I have been able to show Mr Tice’s course in people’s homes and some people have been wonderfully converted – in one lovely case specifically by the session on salvation by God’s unmerited grace in Christ, as opposed to the human tendency to try to earn God’s favour through the performance of good works.

Surely conversions like these would not have happened if historically evangelicals had chosen to forsake the Church of England?

Sir, in order to shore up what might be called the positive ‘Gatiss’ stance, may I respectfully ask you to consult with your colleague the Archbishop of Canterbury about consecrating an additional classic evangelical/Reformed Anglican bishop to serve the north of England?

Please be reassured that I am not pitching for the role since I do not have the necessary gifts for episcopal responsibility. I would be on the Morris Minor end of the ministerial spectrum. But may I suggest that the consecration of the right man would be good for the morale of classic evangelicals enthusiastically serving our Lord in diverse communities across our Church of England?

With all Christian good wishes,
Julian Mann
The Parish Church of the Ascension
Oughtibridge

(Image: Andy)

18 COMMENTS

  1. Mr Mann’s argument is astonishingly naive. So is God not sovereign? Is Mann limiting God’s work to Rico Tice’s Christianity Explored and his own little ministry in the C of E? How does Mann explain God’s amazing work through John Wesley who worked outside the established church and brought so many to Christ? How does Mann explain the work of Free Churches that are part of the FIEC? You are a good man and a sincere Christian, Mr Mann. Please don’t become one of the frogs in the Anglican kettle slowly being boiled to death.

  2. Why is a faithful shepherd like Julian Mann appealing to the wolf–John Sentamu? Sentamu has abandoned biblical orthodoxy. With Welby he has called for a ‘radical new inclusion.’ He turns a blind eye to the blessing of gay pride rallies from the steps of his own cathedral in York. Instead of asking for another conservative bishop, can Julian ask for the errant priests and bishops to be disciplined? If he gets that, he has made the case for staying in what is effectively a heretical church, at least in its hierarchy. How many bishops are there…80 to a 100…and ONLY ONE conservative evangelical? That too, without a diocese? By grovelling before Sentamu, Julian is making his case for precisely the reverse of what he is arguing…he is making a very good case why conservative evangelicals should join forces with their brothers and sisters in Jesmond and leave the Titanic while the lifeboats are still around.

  3. Here is an easy narrative: the ‘good guys’ – the Clint Eastwoods – are those who ride out of town after a show down with the bishop and set up up new church outside the Church of England, perhaps with some kind of connection to the Anglican Mission in England or even the Federation of Independent Evangelical Churches, The compromisers or the ‘frogs slowly getting boiled in the pot’ are those who advocate evangelicals staying in the Church of England.

    But the real story is not as simple as a Clint Eastwood spaghetti western. The Clint Eastwoods tend to have inherited considerable resources from long-standing evangelical Anglican churches in affluent locations. Most faithful classic evangelical ministers in the CofE are not thus privileged. So if they leave wholesale, wonderful Christian work in communities all over the country will be stifled and opportunities for the gospel lost.

    Can anyone cite an issue involving a central biblical doctrine on which the likes of Rod Thomas or Lee Gatiss or Jonathan Fletcher, who advocate classic evangelicals contending for the gospel within the CofE, have compromised in teaching or in practice? You won’t be able to because by God’s grace they haven’t.

    So it may not be glamorous, it may not solicit cheers from the gallery, but classic evangelicals/Reformed Anglicans can in good conscience take the opportunities that there are in the Church of England to serve local churches and communities by proclaiming the true biblical Lord Jesus Christ and upholding the whole counsel of God as revealed in the Bible,

    Furthermore, in relation to the request for a second Reformed Anglican bishop, why is courtesy automatically to be confused with grovelling compromise?

    • Actually the narrative is not all that complicated. The problem is that conservative evangelicals have been getting away with keeping their heads down and preaching the gospel because many of them have middle class churches in the South of England in leafy suburbs with wealthy parishioners. Jonathan Fletcher is a good example of that. In fact, Emmanuel Church, is technically a proprietary chapel. I don’t know if Lee Gatiss is a parish priest in a church. What do you do if you are a conservative evangelical parish priest or vicar and most of your PCC, your Deanery, and your Diocesan and Suffragan Bishops do not share your orthodoxy, but in fact are actively seeking to snuff you out because you are a conservative evangelical and you have a woman bishop? What happened to John Wesley and Daniel Rowlands and so many of their ilk? If your PCC does not agree and sing from the same theological hymn sheet, you do not even have to luxury of applying to Rod Thomas or the second bishop you are proposing. I am sorry, Julian, you are a very good and godly man. But sadly you and Lee Gatiss and the others are really clutching at straws. By the way, a number of vicars who have gone independent have made HUGE sacrifices–many I know personally DO NOT have the luxury of wealthy congregations. They have given up 4-5 bedroom vicarages, a nice pension, a fancy church building and job security because their conscience would not allow them to continue in the CofE. The Clint Eastwoods have taken huge risks for the Lord!

      • Thank you Ma’am for your kind personal remarks. Is it not the case that the Anglican evangelical mission agency Crosslinks is taking responsibility for the pensions of some individuals who have left the Church of England to form new congregations?

        • Emphatically, NO. I know of a number of CofE vicars who have left and planted churches but have received NO support WHATSOEVER from Crosslinks. In fact some of them who have planted new churches receive no pension contribution at all since the new plants cannot afford to fund them.

          • There is no suggestion here that Crosslinks is doing this in every case but are they not doing this in some cases?

          • There is trust that used to do this for a few Anglican priests who became Roman Catholics. But then, again, if an Anglican priests joins the Orthodox Church he does not have support. This is not, however, the main issue here. It is far easier for a CofE priest to stay behind in a ‘safe’ place and enjoy a 4-5 bedroom vicarage, a nice pension, a secure job, etc. Perhaps that is why many haven’t left. I do know many who left over the ordination of women and went to Rome and Antioch. They made huge sacrifices and were almost entirely unsupported. But we must really focus on the major issues of doctrine and discipline.

          • Doctrine and discipline, indeed!

            In the USA, many priests and bishops left property, pensions, and prestigious positions behind when they left the heretical Episcopal Church. But God took care of them. Many of them are now safely aboard the Anglican Church in North America and all is restored that they lost (except perhaps for fancy buildings), and now they also have the constant fellowship with and support from other orthodox believers.

            Luke 5 records that the Apostles “gave up everything and followed Jesus:” And in Luke 14’s parable, Jesus makes it very clear that “In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my
            disciple” (Luke 14:33).

    • “So if they leave wholesale, wonderful Christian work in communities all over the country will be stifled and opportunities for the gospel lost.” I did not realise God was so heavily dependent on the CofE to do His work in England. When we preach the gospel are we called to trust in the power and lure of the Establishment or in Christ and in the power of the gospel and the power of the Holy Spirit? Did the apostles and the Early Church have support from the Establishment? Do missionaries to Asia and Africa have support from the Establishment? Do Methodist, Baptist, Catholic, Orthodox and Pentecostal churches have support from the Establishment? Why are Pentecostal (and other non-conformist, non-CofE) churches growing? You’ll have to come up with better arguments to defend an increasingly desperate position. Sentamu can cut up his dog collar as a stunt on TV to protest against Andrew Marr, he can’t take a stand against the heterodoxy in his own cathedral!

  4. Julian Mann,
    In agreement with Charitas Lydia, I must regard you as naïve. This schism is not going to be repaired in-house any more than the Roman Catholic Church would change to suit the Reformers or that the Reformers would go back and kowtow to the Pope. Like that major church division, this is not a minor conservative versus liberal disagreement where the opponents can agree to disagree. It is about heresy, it is about apostasy. It is about unbelief that can send one to hell. It is about the authority of Scripture versus secular values. No half measures will do.

    Sometimes schism is absolutely required. Remember that Jesus Himself was quite divisive. He said He came to bring a sword to split even families apart … people would be all for Him or all against Him. Read Matthew 10 (vs. 34-36) where Jesus quotes the prophecy in Micah 7:6 about His messianic role:. “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law— a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’”

    The Apostle Paul commanded schism in such situations: “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what
    fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: ‘I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people’. THEREFORE COME OUT FROM AMONG THEM AND BE SEPARATE, says the LORD.”
    (2 Corinthians 6:14-17, my emphasis; see also Rev 18:9)

    Julian Mann, you would do well to meditate on this proverb: “Like a muddied spring or a polluted fountain is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked.” (Proverbs 25:26, ESV).

    • Sir, would that Proverb not apply to me if I left the Church of England and thus behaved like one ‘who gives way before the wicked’?

      • In my less than infallible opinion, at this point given what is happening in the CofE, staying would be supporting heresies. Unless you protest BIGTIME and are willing to be persecuted by the powers that be…

        Are you that orthodox and that courageous for the Word of God to so protest and bear the consequences? So far, that has not been the evidence of your stand. You have sounded like an equivocator, much like Welby.

        • This is precisely my point, Bruce. If Julian and Lee Gatiss and the rest of them want to stay and reform the CofE, why don’t they start by bringing disciplinary proceedings against bishops and priests who are preaching heresy or living in sin? There are clear biblical grounds for excommunication and discipline.

          I am also confused why Julian is so desperate to have an additional conservative bishop. He comes from a Reformed Evangelical tradition and should know that in the New Testament ‘presbyteros’ (elder) and ‘episcopos’ (bishop) are used interchangeably. One comes from a Hebrew background and the other from a Greek setting. So why is he relying on ‘tradition’ rather than ‘scripture’ and calling for the pattern of a ‘monarchical’ episcopate? He is both ‘elder’ and ‘overseer’ of his congregation!

          And, by the way, the ‘good guys’ like Mann, who want to stay and reform the system could start being Clint Eastwoods by cleaning up their town and taking discipline seriously rather than let the CofE continue to degenerate into the Wild West it has become or like Israel in the days of the Judges where every man did what was right in his own eyes.

  5. Whether, publicly acknowledged or not, commonly though tacitly, nodded to.

    The Occident, is under attack and what many term as ‘the West’ is being effaced, cleansed, washed out, however you care to phrase it. Some would say, deliberately done.

    What gave the people certainty and was foundational to our society, the conviction of westerners, it’s vanished so completely, men and women are in a spin, what were seen as common values have been so thoroughly trashed, that people laugh in your face, more likely jibe behind your back if you merely profess personal integrity.

    And the structure that we all thought ‘had our backs’ has also gone walkabout, fallen into line with what could only be described as ‘modern liberal dogmas’ if you can stand the oxymoron. What was in one week is now out of the window the following Sunday, but that’s politics I guess.

    When the Church got so full of itself that it trespassed into matters secular – it lost it’s focus and the laity lost their faith in the Church. Moral relativism and always “it’s no ones fault” holds sway even in the Church is, personal responsibility thrown under the liberal bus.

    Presently as, the existential crisis coalesces and the threat is made flesh the clerics argue the toss and mete their liberalness liberally, feasting on arcane theologizing – metaphysics and soft mores, as the west founders and comes apart. Aye, Christianity will revive, to see men and women flocking back through the doors of the Kirk/Church but by then it will be far too late. Faithless, fervour quenched, certainty disappeared, the damage already done was, final.

  6. Julian, in an interview with Anglican Unscripted (May 22, 2017) posted on the anglican.ink website, Dr Lee Gatiss acknowledge Bishop Rod Thomas was the ‘token’ conservative evangelical bishop. Are you asking for more tokenism?

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