What does the resignation of Lorna Ashworth mean for the CoE?

 

What does the resignation of Lorna Ashworth mean for the CoE?

Author: 

Gavin Ashenden

When Lorna Ashworth resigned her place in General Synod and the Archbishops’ Council, she did more than just leave. She issued a challenge to other orthodox Christians in the Church of England. It is a painful and pointed challenge, so perhaps it’s no surprise that it has been the first instinct of many to misread what she did and lament her going, while ignoring the challenge.

They are saddened by what she did, but are still keeping their eyes and ears closed as to what it meant.

Part of the power that lies in her resignation and the depth of the challenge it poses, is the regard in which Lorna is held.

She is a clever, transparently good woman, powerful in her integrity and clarity of purpose. She is just the kind of person feminists hate. She is a rebuke to the whole thrust of feminist propaganda. Here is someone who has no problems with masculinity, no fear or jealousy of it, no bitterness or anxiety, no need to engage in the secular neurosis of power-play, but is dignified, potent and to the feminist project, dangerous.

I hope she will forgive me for being personal for a moment, but she combines being tough with being properly vulnerable; a vulnerability we all share as part of the human condition.

But let me go back to the tough. When she has been talking in Synod or arguing in committee she has never been afraid of people or ideas. The reason for my being personal for a moment, is that this capacity for toughness and powerful straight- talking demonstrates that in deciding to leave General Synod and the central power structures of the C of E,  she has not given way to fear, anxiety or doubt. She took a carefully weighted decision, thought through with her customary clarity, tested over time, and prayed through and over with those closest to her.

She came to the conclusion that the Church of England has passed the point of no return, and is no longer worth spending time in or over, at the level of General Synod.

Here is her rationale:

“In my last speech given at the General Synod in York, July 2017, I expressed this frustration by saying that,

‘as a corporate body we have become unable to articulate the saving message of Jesus Christ which fully encompasses the reality of sin, repentance and forgiveness – without this message we do not teach a true gospel and people do not get saved.’

Take a moment to try to understand what lies behind these words, because they are monumentally important.

Within the culture and context of General Synod, the language of Christianity has been changed. Words no longer mean what they did, and where they do, they are no longer used.

Although the process of decay began with the ordination of women to the priesthood (a move that Lorna along with the many other orthodox women on Synod have long been opposed to), the implications of ignoring the Biblical teaching on gender remained hidden to most Anglicans.

Feminism rather than the New Testament has formed the mind-set of most. But with gay marriage the implications of the challenge posed by secular values to the New Testament are much harder to hide.

Freud was for once entirely right when he categorised the sexual urge and our sexual identity, as one of the most powerful elements in our experience as human beings. Something as powerful as sex is either going to have to be overcome, conquered and tamed (see C.S. Lewis in his vignette on sexual desire in ‘The Great Divorce’) or else it will conquer us.

In General Synod, and throughout much of the Church of England, sex has won. For many of us, watching the conflict with care, last July’s Synod was a turning point. The uber-feminist, media-savvy, misandrist Jayne Ozanne, led an attempt to test the theological clarity of Synod and its commitment to either the New Testament or the spirit of the age, which she represents and endorses.

It came as a shock as to how many people in Synod rolled over and swallowed the progressive motions and agenda whole. It was a clear litmus test of how far things has decayed and fallen, and how quickly they were going to fall further.

At the heart of the issue is whether heterosexual marriage is God’s normative creative purpose for men and women, and whether sexual intimacy belongs inside marriage, and where it takes place outside it, needs to be repented of.

The very odd thing is that until only a few years ago, all Christians everywhere agreed on this without any significant dissension. And for the very good reason that it’s what the Bible unambiguously and equivocally teaches.

But feminism doesn’t like the Bible. The Bishop of Gloucester, Rachel Treweek finds the fatherhood of God so offensive and personally difficult that she urges the Church to drop calling our Father ‘father’ and call Him ‘it’ instead. (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/church-of-england-says-people-should-stop-referring-to-god-as-a-he-a6708401.html)

She and so many of the new women clergy are changing the liturgy of the Church to made it more accommodating to feminism. Needless to say, they don’t much like many of the central passages in the Bible.

Once you have allowed the principle of feminists to overrule Scripture with their own political, cultural and spiritual preferences, you have of course, a different religion.

Not for nothing did C.S. Lewis warn in his paper ‘Priestesses in the Church’

Suppose the reformer stops saying that a good woman may be like God and begins saying that God is like a good woman. Suppose he says that we might just as well pray to “Our Mother which art in Heaven” as to “Our Father.” Suppose he suggests that the Incarnation might just as well have taken a female as a male form, and the Second Person of the Trinity be as well called the Daughter as the Son…Now it is surely the case that if all these supposals were ever carried into effect we should be embarked on a different religion.

 Goddesses have, of course, been worshipped; many religions have their priestesses. But they are religions quite different in character from Christianity…Christians think that God Himself has taught us how to speak of Him. To say that it does not matter is to say either that all the masculine imagery is not inspired, is merely human in origin, or else that, though inspired, it is quite arbitrary and unessential…We know from our poetical experience that image and apprehension cleave closer together than common sense is here prepared to admit; that a child who has been taught to pray to a Mother in Heaven would have a religious life different from that of a Christian child.”

A Christianity that feels free to overrule Scripture is no longer Christianity. It’s hard to know what to call it. Some have suggested using the label MTD, ‘Moralistic Therapeutic Deism’. But whatever you label the Anglicanism that is now the Church of England, it is no longer orthodox Christianity.

And that is Lorna Ashworth’s lament, and one that I, and an increasing number of other Christians, share.

The heart of the issue which she has expressed so clearly in her resignation letter, is that one of the first principles of Christianity is that we are saved by the sacrifice of Jesus which brings us forgiveness of our sins, if we are willing to repent.

So what happens if you change the meaning of some of these words?

What if you decide to redefine what the Bible teaches is offensive to God and called sin, as ‘not sin’?

What happens if you claim that the Church mediates the forgiveness of Christ, but you tell people that they don’t have to repent?

If sin is not sin, and there is no repentance, what Christianity is left?

Which is why Lorna Ashworth wrote;

‘as a corporate body we have become unable to articulate the saving message of Jesus Christ which fully encompasses the reality of sin, repentance and forgiveness – without this message we do not teach a true gospel and people do not get saved.’

What has replaced sin, repentance and forgiveness? This new thing called ‘good disagreement.’ The prophets know nothing about this; Jesus teaches nothing about this; St Paul knows nothing about this. In fact, a Church that sets ‘good disagreement’ at its heart requires no sacrifice, no repentance, and provides no forgiveness and no transformation.

Its provenance is probably Carl Gustav Jung who developed a psychology of spirituality parasitic on Christianity, which has it its heart the reconciliation of opposites.

Jung had two sets of concepts that he believed ought to be dealt with in this way – gender and evil. The genders are reconciled in some kind of androgynous synthesis, and good and evil befriend each other in some form of mutually convenient accommodation. Jung was not the first. William Blake took the same approach which he wrote about in his ‘Marriage of Heaven and Hell.’ It was exactly that deadly heresy that C.S. Lewis identified and wrote against in his book ‘The Great Divorce’ (relating to heaven and hell, not marriage.)

But this syncretism is an ancient heresy; and if Jung and Blake were not the first, Justin Welby, their disciple, will not be the last.

The difficulty for so many of us has been to see the appointment of Archbishop Welby who came using the language of evangelical Christianity but imposing the syncretistic values of Blake and Jung.

Under his influence, the Church of England has appointed homosexual bishops, lesbian bishops, along with a range gay cathedral Deans, all cohabiting with their partners, hiding behind a fiction of asexuality.

Why is it a fiction? Because the intention is to create a ‘radical inclusion’ which is a euphemism for sanctioning sin without any call to repentance. Step by step the Church of England approaches this goal.

Lorna Ashworth has taken the temperature of Synod, felt the pulse of the Church of England, and observed that as a Christian body, both are close to death. So she has withdrawn her time, energy and contribution from its heart.  This corpse cannot be revivified; not because God cannot raise corpses, but when the corpse is a Church, penitence is a precondition.

Lorna concluded;

“In light of this revisionist agenda and the heretical teaching that comes with it, I am no longer willing to sit around the table, pretending that we, as a governing body of the Church of England, are having legitimate conversations about mission.  I refuse to be mistaken as one participating in the fanciful notion of ‘good disagreement.”

‘Fanciful notion’ was a generous kindness of her. She might have said ‘grievous heresy’. Either way, the idea and the practice will kill the Church.

Seeing that the corpse is dying, cannot be resuscitated, she has walked away from General Synod and the ‘committees of compromise’ and ‘Synod of Syncretism.’

She has not told us where her future commitment as a lay Christian lies, but I suspect that like me, she is committed to being Anglican.

A number of mutual friends have taken to social media to say how much they lament her leaving and how much there still was to fight for in the Church of England.

They are mistaken.

With sin redefined and repentance off limits, there is no point in investing time and energy that is given to us to serve the Kingdom. You cannot serve God and Mammon, and the Church of England has become a kind of religious mammon. It is under judgement.

The question that should preoccupy orthodox Anglicans is not ‘how much they are lamenting Lorna Ashworth’s resignation’, but

‘when they too will stop their efforts to force-feeding a religious organism on life support over which God has written DNR.’

There is a renewed orthodox Anglicanism being re-constituted in these islands, rooted in the parishes of the Church of England but looking beyond it for oversight and governance.

Not everyone will need to leave the Church of England to participate, but you will find yourselves withdrawing allegiance from heretical bishops, time and energy from the committees that serve it, and your money from being used to promote the sub-Christian heresy of syncretism.

Turn your lament into rejoicing, leave the dead to bury the dead, associate with the Anglican Christian Resistance and make your prayers, efforts and vision count.

 

POSTSCRIPT:

I get some very interesting spiritual material sent to me sometimes. And this was sent to me today offering to corroborate my piece and judgement. Let each of us ask the Holy Spirit for discernment.

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SEP     19

Simon Braker ~ Vision Regarding the Church of England

Simon Braker, School of the Spirit, Leicester. 19 Sep 17

This is not a word I give lightly; we need to pray!!

At Capstone Church last night the Lord took me into a vision.

I saw in front of me a beautiful old English oak tree; its trunk was wide and its roots spread all over the nations.

As I looked, I could see the branches of one side of this tree reached up to the sky.

But on the other side, I saw a large old branch; it was old and thick but I could see it was bending towards the ground. Then I saw that many brambles were reaching up from the ground and pulling it down. This continued for some time until I heard an almighty crack!

I then looked and saw this beautiful old oak had been split in half; the old branch was now fully on the ground and, quickly, bramble grew round the branch. As this happened the branch grew black and died, yet because of all the bramble it looked like it had many leaves. But it was not the tree branch that lived, it was the brambles and thorns that did.

As a looked, I saw the other half of this old tree struggled to live for a short time, but then out of the break, new fresh branches began to grow, with fresh new leaves.

I asked the Lord the meaning of the vision. He said:

“The tree you see is the Church of England. It has spread and flourished across the earth and many of its branches reach up to me.

The old branch you saw is a branch that has become more and more entangled with this world and its fallen and perverted ways; in its desire to reach out and be understood, it has become compromised and entangled and pulled down. This will continue until there is a fracture; at this point a whole section of the church will fully fall away into the world. On the surface it will appear to be alive, but its life will be death.

What’s left will be shaken and for a short time it will struggle to live, but then out of the break new life shall come forth.”

Simon Braker is the founder of School of the Prophetic, Leicester. Simon operates in the office of a Prophet and has been actively involved in equipping and raising up prophetic ministers both in the UK and overseas for over 20 years.

Simon is part of the senior leadership of Holy Trinity Church, Leicester.

http://www.schoolofthespirit.uk/

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