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Maybe it’s because I live in the UK, but the Convergence Movement is new to me.  I now realise that several Anglican / Episcopal blogs have featured posts on the subject, but it’s just not possible to keep up with all of them.

What follows are notes on the Convergence Movement, particularly in connection with the Anglican Church.  What piqued my interest was a link to my blog from Conventional Anglican.  Naturally, the title of the blog got my attention, so I clicked.  There I found a lot of links about … Arminianism.  (Didn’t I say in a comment a short while back that a number of Anglicans are Arminians?) It turns out the author is a Regular Baptist (i.e. non-confessional, unlike a Particular Baptist who is a Calvinist).  Whilst he is studying at university, however, he attends a local Anglican church.  For me, it was the title of the blog — especially the word ‘conventional’ —  coupled with the Arminianism that led me in search of what his tag line says, ‘A Convergent-Episcopal, Historically Arminian Perspective’.

Have Convergent Episcopalians discarded the 39 Articles, specifically, Article X (Justification by Faith)?  Even when I became an Episcopalian 25 years ago, I was already told they were historical documents: ‘Don’t bother reading them’. (I did, anyway.) And now where are we?  This is the problem when the 39 Articles are not preached from the pulpit or supplement Scripture in Anglican churches.

Anyway, this isn’t to pick on our Baptist-Anglican blogger, by any means.  He doesn’t need anyone’s permission to believe what he likes.  My point is that the 39 Articles are not Arminian. They preceded Arminius. More importantly, they do not support or teach free will — Arminianism. Now, for those who say they ‘evolved’, then, perhaps a Methodist or Wesleyan church suits their needs better.

So, for those who are as much in the dark as I am, here are some notes about the Convergent Movement and Anglicanism.

What is it?

The Convergence Movement is a hybrid of Evangelicalism and Anglicanism.  From Wikipedia:

The Convergence Movement refers to a move among evangelical and charismatic churches in the United States to blend charismatic worship with liturgies from the Book of Common Prayer and other liturgical sources. The Movement was inspired by the spiritual pilgrimages of modern Evangelical writers like Thomas Howard, Robert E. Webber, Peter E. Gillquist and the ancient Christian writers and their communities. These men, along with theologians, scripture scholars, and pastors in a number of traditions, were calling Christians back to their roots in the primitive church …

Robert Webber’s 1985 book Evangelicals on the Canterbury Trail: Why Evangelicals are Attracted to the Liturgical Church documents the stories of six evangelical Christians who, for various reasons, had converted to the Episcopal Church. Publication of this book stirred up a great deal of interest in the evangelical press, generating numerous reviews in Christianity Today and other widely read evangelical publications …

In 1984 Charisma magazine, one of the most influential magazines of the charismatic movement, published an article by Dr. Richard Lovelace entitled “The Three Streams, One River?” (Sept. 1984). Lovelace approvingly noted the trend of Catholics, evangelicals, and charismatics/Pentecostals moving closer together.

What possible connections might there be with evangelical social movements?

An article on the New Evangelicalism at the American Presbyterian Church site — ‘Intellectuals’ — links the dots:

– Dr Richard Lovelace was a professor at Gordon-Conwell Seminary.

– He served on the board of Evangelicals for Social Action (ESA).

– The ESA is ‘one of new evangelicalism’s left-wing social activist organizations’.

– The ESA developed from the 1972 Chicago Declaration, which Jim Wallis — of the Sojourners (then a seminarian) — helped spearhead by staging a public demonstration in favour of an Evangelical forum on social concerns.

– Noted Evangelical Tony Campolo has also served on the board of the ESA.  A Christianity Today article from 20 years ago stated:

In his appeal to the secular mind, Tony frequently downplays orthodox heroes like Luther, Calvin, and Wesley and draws his insights selectively from Karl Marx, Paul Tillich, Martin Buber and Teilhard de Chardin. Often he finds that the secular world view has embedded within it ‘more faith than I find in most churchmen.’

What about the Charismatic Episcopal Church?

This is a group of churches independent from The Episcopal Church, although it has been influenced by it.  ‘Episcopal’ in the Charismatic Episcopal Church sense refers to a structure which is based on bishops, not the denomination.  From Wikipedia:

The Charismatic Episcopal Church, more officially known as the International Communion of the Charismatic Episcopal Church (ICCEC), is an international Christian denomination established as an autocephalous communion in 1992. The ICCEC states that it is not a splinter group of any other denomination or communion, but is a convergence of the sacramental, evangelical, and charismatic traditions that it perceives in the church from the apostolic era until present times …

The word episcopal is used to describe its hierarchy of bishops (see table). Many churches in the ICCEC, however, claim an Anglican identity and many use the American Book of Common Prayer (1979). A new sacramentary, now in broad trial use, contains modified Roman, Anglican, and Eastern rites. The ICCEC’s founding congregations were independent churches with roots in the Charismatic, Pentecostal, Wesleyan and Third Wave Evangelical movements.

Is the Charismatic Episcopal Church part of a broader Pentecostal association?

Yes, it is a member of The Pneuma Foundation of Pentecostal/Charismatic Denominations and Fellowships.

The (Convergent) Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches and SOMA Canada (Anglican/Episcopal) are also members of the Foundation.

To whom might the Convergent Movement appeal?

Those who lean towards Arminianism and believe in the Social Gospel.  This will be more of a search for the missional in a postmodern world with a charismatic flavour for the supernatural.

The Desert Pastora Methodist elder — lists the Be-Attitudes of the Convergent Movement, which include:

1/ Be exposed to traditions of worship other than your own.
2/ Be open to the active presence of the supernatural.
3/ Be focused upon the celebration of an event …
9/Be insistent to use the arts as a vehicle for worship.
10/Be aware that space communicates.
11/Be inclusive of many musical styles.
12/Be aware of the power of drama.
13/Be free enough to use the body in worship …
16/Be attentive to the symbolism of baptism.
17/Be hungry to recover the presence and power of Christ through the symbols of bread and wine at the table …
20/ Be sensitive to the way in which authentic worship relates to all areas of the church’s ministry.

Does the New Testament oblige us to follow the Social Gospel?

The ‘Intellectuals’ article on the American Presbyterian Church site says no, stating (emphasis mine):

When Paul counseled with James, Cephas and John at Jerusalem, they added one word to him: “Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do.” We read in Acts 11 that Paul acted as a courier from the Church at Antioch to take a charity offering to the brethren in Judea. Later he brought a similar offering to the saints at Jerusalem from the churches of the west. That is the kind of thing Scripture teaches that we ought to do. Our faith is to make us succorers of the poor (especially among the brethren) but not sponsors of the economic rights of the poor.

Should Anglicans embrace the Convergent Movement?

No.  Robin Jordan of Anglicans Ablaze cautions us about the Convergent Movement (emphases mine):

The Convergentist movement is an offshoot of twentieth century Neo-Pentecostalism. In some ways it resembles the nineteenth century Irvingite movement that blended a fascination with the charisma, or manifestations, of the Holy Spirit with a penchant for ritualism. Both movements looked to ancient times for precedent for their practices. The Protestant Reformation does not play a large part in its thinking.

Emphasizing piety and practice and not pressing doctrine is not the answer. It is also a misunderstanding of the function of liturgy in Anglicanism, which to evangelize and edify as well as to glorify God.

As for the charismata, any openness to the Holy Spirit and His gifts must also be balanced by acceptance of the Bible as the unchanging Word of God. Classical Anglicanism rejects the claim of “Romanism” that Church tradition is inspired by the Holy Spirit and Scripture must be interpreted by Church tradition; it also rejects the claim of the 16th century Anabaptists that personal revelations from the Holy Spirit supercede Scripture. This is the position the Church of England took in the 16th century and David Watson and others took in the logos-rhema controversy of the 20th century. The Scriptures are the test by which Church tradition and personal revelation must be tried. Most charismatics that I know would agree with this position. Where they run into problems is how they interpret Scripture.

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