With scandals over Zen Buddhist meditations promoted by promoted by the Canon Chancellor of York Minster, the Church of Nigeria severing links with Liverpool Diocese over the appointment of an uber-liberal American bishop , and an Oxford cleric appearing to bless the same-sex ‘marriage’ of Desmond Tutu’s daughter in South Africa this has been a lousy summer so far for the Church of England.
But dare one respectfully suggest that Bishops disturbed by these developments should not despair? They are not powerless in the face of such gross spiritual disorder.
Certainly, the Clergy Discipline Measure (CDM) is difficult to deploy against errant clerics on doctrinal issues. The CDM’s main focus tends to be on ‘conduct unbecoming’. However, Bishops can stand up for the Lord Jesus by arguing against doctrinal violations and they have the historic biblical teachings of the Church of England as their armoury.
In fact, Bishops should speak out because the Book of Common Prayer’s Ordinal – the historic Reformed Anglican liturgy for the consecration of Bishops – says they should. The Archbishop asks the Bishop elect: ‘Be you ready, with all faithful diligence, to banish and drive away all erroneous and strange doctrine contrary to God’s Word; and both privately and openly to call upon and encourage others to the same.’
The Bishop replies: ‘I am ready, the Lord being my helper.’
The Lord in his goodness has already provided plenty of spiritual help. A Bishop who wants to speak out against Zen Buddhist meditations sponsored by Anglican clergy has the Church of England’s 39 Articles of Religion on his side. The religious presuppositions underlying non-Christian spirituality run clearly contrary to Article 18 – Of obtaining eternal Salvation only by the Name of Christ. This Article of Anglican faith states clearly the teaching of Holy Scripture that man-made religion cannot deliver salvation.
When it comes to speaking out against clergy blessing same-sex unions, orthodox Bishops have Canon B30 on their side – Of Holy Matrimony. This rule clearly states our Lord’s biblical teaching that one man-one woman, faithful marriage for life is the God-given context for the ‘hallowing and right direction of the natural instincts and affections’.
So, our Bishops have plenty of spiritual weaponry in the armoury. The question is, are they minded to use it?