A queer thing happened to the Church of England. In the 500th year of the Reformation it crossed the thin red line from apostolic to apostate. Future seminary students will be grateful for this mnemonic device when mugging up important dates for a Church History exam.
Easy peasy! How can one forget? In 1517, the Reformers decided to yank a recalcitrant Church of Rome back to the Bible. In 2017, the Reformers booed the Bible and booted it out of the Church of England.
The flashpoint for the Reformation of 1517 was indulgences. The flashpoint for the Reformation of 2017 was indulgences. Yes. One more mnemonic device to help students remember how Humpty Dumpty had a big, great fall, sung to Cole Porter's Anything Goes. Only this time ‘indulgence’ meant indulging yourself.
The charge of heresy is serious when levelled against church leaders. In May, Bishop Martin Morrison of the Anglican Church in South Africa accused ‘the establishment of the Church of England’ of being ‘at the very least heretical.’ ‘They are wolves, they are false teachers, they are hired hands,’ he stated, adding that ‘the Archbishops of York and Canterbury can no longer be trusted.’
They are wolves, they are false teachers, they are hired hands.
The charge of apostasy is deadly when levelled against an entire denomination. Hence, it must be clearly defined, as it is not part of the ‘newspeak’ of today’s trendy Christian leaders. The Greek word comes from two roots: apo is “against” and stasis is “standing.” In classical Greek apostasis is used for a departure, defection or revolt. In secular writings from New Testament times, apostasis is used to speak of political factions that rebel against the state. The early church used the term apostasy to name and shame those who had abandoned Christianity for another religion.
The Greek word occurs five times in the Bible. ‘If we have transgressed before the Lord by apostasy, let him not deliver us this day,’ declare the tribes of Reuben, Gad and Manasseh after erecting an altar of witness (Josh 22:22). English versions translate ‘apostasy’ as ‘rebellion’ in this verse. The Chronicler speaks of ‘the vessels that king Ahaz polluted in his reign, in his apostasy’ (2 Chr 29:19). English versions translate ‘apostasy’ here as infidelity, faithless or unfaithfulness.
Jeremiah uses ‘apostasy’ as a parallelism to ‘evil.’ ‘Your apostasy will chastise you, and your evil will reprove you’ (Jer 2:19). The ESV and NAS versions preserve the word ‘apostasy’ while the KJV and NIV translate it as ‘backslidings.’ In the book of Acts, Paul is accused of apostasy for teaching ‘the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses’ (Acts 21:21). Paul writes to the Thessalonians, ‘Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction’ (2 Thes 2:3). The ESV renders it as ‘rebellion’ and the KJV translates it as a ‘falling away.’
Much before July’s fatal General Synod, former Queen’s Chaplain Gavin Ashenden showed how the CofE’s rejection of the Fatherhood of God as revealed by Jesus constituted a new Arianism. ‘Its Jesus is less than the only begotten Son of God; he is a “creature with insights,”’ he wrote. Arianism is heresy but not apostasy. The CofE was sailing in the direction of cults like the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Two resolutions passed by General Synod of July 2017 moved the Church of England into apostasis, in the sense of “standing outside” or even “standing against” the ‘faith that was once for all delivered to the saints’ (Jude 1:3). Both resolutions constitute a departure and defection from the faith and a revolt and rebellion against God. Even worse, General Synod has abandoned Christianity for another religion.
Synod embraced Gnosticism by claiming an inner Gnostic light on human sexuality
By passing Jayne Ozanne’s resolution to ban Conversion Therapy, the CofE made a radical departure from the fundamental doctrines of free will, conversion and transformation replacing it with a theology of biological and psychological determinism. The tectonic plates of theology shifted once and for all from the freedom offered by the gospel to the fatalism of the ancient Hindu sect of the Ajivikas (lifeless beings) who believed in karma, fatalism and extreme passivity.
According to the Ajivikas, human effort at transformation was a waste of time and energy, since human fate was already determined. The best way to enjoy it was to flow with it. Later Buddhist and Jain records criticise the sect as naked ascetics, who are unclean, have corrupt morals and possess a secular motive for their religious life. They also rail against their fatalistic creed. The CofE has apostatised into a form of the Ajivika Hindu religion.
In its second resolution approving liturgies for transgender people, Synod spat in the face of Article 20 of the 39 Articles of Religion—The CofE’s founding charter—which categorically states that ‘the Church hath power to decree Rites or Ceremonies, and authority in Controversies of Faith: And yet it is not lawful for the Church to ordain any thing that is contrary to God’s Word written, neither may it so expound one place of Scripture, that it be repugnant to another.’
Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi, Lex Vivendi. As we worship, so we believe, so we live. Synod’s resolution affirming transgenderism, baptizes the CofE into the religion of Gnosticism. In Genesis, God creates the world of matter and creates humans as man and woman. In John, the Word becomes flesh. Matter matters. Gnosticism denigrates matter and privileges thoughts and feelings over matter. It does not matter if in my flesh, I am a man with a penis and testes. If in my thoughts and feelings, I am a woman, my subjective feelings matter more than objective facts. Matter does not matter.
Synod embraced Gnosticism by claiming an inner Gnostic light regarding human sexuality and gender that had thus far been allegedly hidden from Moses, Jesus, Paul, and the Eastern and Western Church for over 2,000 years.
‘In the space of four days, the General Synod of the Church of England has, in effect, rejected the doctrines of creation, the fall, the incarnation, and our need for conversion and sanctification,’ is how Susie Leafe, Director of Reform, and a conservative member of Synod summed up the apostasis.
Even worse, in the space of four days, the Church of England abandoned Christianity and mutated from the church of Jesus Christ into a pagan religion that fused together Ajivika Hinduism and ancient Gnosticism.
(Originally published in Anglican Ink as Anything Goes in Today's Church of England)