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A superb post appeared back in February 2010.  I became aware of it only because the blogger happened to arrive on my blog by chance.  Serendipity is a wonderful thing, especially when it occurs half a world away.

Pastor Ying, of an evangelical Chinese church in Australia, echoes my sentiment on an earlier post, ‘The dangers of dramatic conversion stories‘.  In a comment about the Anglican Communion, I said:

Re Anglicanism, it was a mistake for our clergy to assign the 39 Articles to the ‘historical’ dustbin along with (in many cases) the 1662 BCP. I would like to hear my vicar say, ‘Today, I will begin preaching on the importance of the Articles of Religion, taking each one individually for the next 39 Sundays.’ It won’t happen, but I can hope.

And in his post, Pastor Ying (who, at one point, wished to become an Anglican but opted instead for conservative Evangelicalism) says unequivocally (emphases mine):

Just recently I was talking to an Anglican minister friend of mine. He was telling me how he was going to take his church through the 40 Days of Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren of Saddleback Orange County USA. In response I suggested that he should take his church through the 39 Articles (ie the 39 Articles of faith of the Anglican Church). Besides the fact that it’s shorter (only 39 days compared to 40), he is an Anglican and it’s good for the church to know what they believe and why. Having said this I asked him if his church members knew the “39 Articles” to which he said no! I was somewhat shocked to say the least …

This is not helped when most of our members including its leadership are ignorant of the church’s AoF and its implications for church matters. If the members and many of its key leaders are like this is it any wonder that many churches are going off the rails. This is not to deny the importance of  preaching. However the responsibility to guard the gospel and to shape the church is not helped if the rest of the church is ignorant.

Here is a scary test. This coming Sunday, quietly and gently ask the members of your church if they have ever read the AoF of their church. I’m guessing that most of us would be quite horrified to discover just how little our members know what the church believes and why.

Well, sadly, most Anglican priests have consigned our cherished 39 Articles of Religion to the dustbin, whilst others would like to remake them either into a postmodern set of beliefs or into a more Calvinist code.  And this is what happens once we no longer adhere to a set of confessions of the faith. 

Thank you, Pastor Ying, for your insight and eloquent post.  Would that more Anglican priests took notice — including the evangelicals amongst us. 

To my fellow Anglicans, if the choice were between the carefully written 39 Articles or the erroneous Rick Warren, which would you choose?  (Am I ready for the answer to this one?  I’m not quite sure.)

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