Anglicans and Ecumenism
Question: How should Anglican Christians like me respond to the Vatican's plan to lure us to Rome?
Answer: The Vatican has opened an express way to Anglicans, unhappy about your churchís policy on woman bishops and gay clergy, to convert to the Roman Catholic Church. Many Anglicans were stunned, others were angered by the Popeís move.
You shouldnít be. All the ecumenical talk is but a faÁade for the Vaticanís ultimate aim, namely, to lure Christians in other denominations to Rome. It couldnít be otherwise. The Roman magisterium has never negated the claim that the Roman Catholic Church is the one and only true church of Jesus Christ. The Catholic magisterium is simply being consistent with its fundamental beliefs.
What should Anglicans do?
Over the years I have observed the sad decline in the Anglican and Episcopalian churches. The Anglican church has fallen away from its historic stand on the sufficiency and authority of Scripture. The Thirty Nine Articles state:
The God-inspired Scriptures are able to make us wise unto salvation by faith in Christ Jesus. Ask yourself whether the Anglican church has largely ignored the teaching of the Bible on moral issues. The ordination of woman and the acceptance of homosexual bishops are but symptomatic of the substitution of the Word of God for the humanistic opinions of our godless culture.
However you will not be helped by joining the Roman Catholic Church. Rome officially rejects 'Sola Scriptura' - not only by the addition of an undefined body of 'Holy Tradition', but by sitting in absolute authority over all people as the only authentic interpreter of the Word of God. In effect, by joining the Catholic Church you will be bound to submit your mind and will to the teaching of the Vatican.
In particular, consider the doctrine of justification, for this article is the heart of the gospel message. Historically, the Anglican Church taught that:
This is the great gospel truth cherished by Anglicans and all Protestants. We are accounted righteous ONLY for the merit of our Lord Jesus, and not on account of any good works of ours. Moreover we are justified through faith ALONE, and not through some other mediator, be it the Catholic priest, the intercession of Mary, rituals or the fire of Purgatory.
Yet Rome categorically denies this blessed gospel truth. In the Roman Church you will be told to work and do religious deeds to merit grace and to merit eternal life; you will be required to do penance to make satisfaction for you sin.
As for me, and I hope you too, dear brethren in the Church of England, we stand by faith alone on Christ alone for justification. He is our merit, our righteousness and our satisfaction for sin. We are justified by Godís grace alone and not on account of our deeds. Having renounced all confidence in ourselves, acknowledging our guilt and demerit, we wholly lean on the Lord Jesus by faith. He has never lost one of his sheep!
As for church membership, make sure that your local church is "a congregation of faithful men, in which the pure Word of God is preached, and the Sacraments be duly ministered according to Christ's ordinance". If your local Anglican church fits this description, remain therein, while praying fervently and working earnestly for its reformation. If not, seek and join a local congregation of believers that uphold the teaching of the Bible on justification and the other precious doctrines of the Gospel.
I have been praying for the Anglican church these past days, may God raise people like Thomas Cranmer and J.C. Ryle to reform the Anglican Church. May the remnant of Godís people in the Anglican community be preserved and vindicated by their Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
© Dr Joseph Mizzi