Anglicans at LifeWay?
First of all, it is strange to see an Episcopalian buying books at LifeWay -- especially Beth Moore's books. When she told me what church she was with, I immediately asked her about the recent conference held at the church which featured Alistair Begg. He is a Baptist pastor in Cleveland, OH who is known for his expository preaching and vigorous defence of Evangelical theology. It suprised me that they welcomed him to the church in the first place, so I was glad to finally get some answers about their intent. What she shared with me over the next 20 minutes was gold, pure gold.
She told me about how the laypeople of the Episcopal church as a rule are much more conservative and orthodox in their theology than are the clergy and that the battle that has been ensuing over the last three stemming from the installation of a practicing homosexual bishop is taking place not only within the dioceses, but within the individual churches as well. She also informed me that those involved in the separatist movement tend to be the only ones growing and having any influence in their communities. She pointed out that the largest Episcopal church in the nation, located in Plano, TX is led by an Evangelical pastor. Her pastor is an Evangelical as well, who has actually being mentored by Dr. Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary here in Louisville.
As we ended our conversation she pointed out to me the great heritage of Anglicans -- men like J.I. Packer and C.S. Lewis who represent a past that is marked by orthodox theology and Evangelical engagement. I thought about our conversation for hours and couldn't wait to tell a couple of my co-workers about it. It is a great encouragement to see men and women standing for truth in a denomination trying so hard to run from it. At one point she likened the struggle the Episcopal church is having now with the conservative resurgence which took place before her eyes here in Louisville at Southern Seminary. As I thought about that I felt a certain amount of camaraderie with my Anglican brothers and I couldn't help but think that this was what Jesus had in mind when He prayed that His people would be one. We might not agree about everything, but at least we can appreciate one another's struggle to uphold Biblical truth, which is the only way we can be united -- in truth.
I hope that we as Evangelicals can continue to draw close to one another so that we might truly fulfill Christ's prayer for unity. In a religious world that calls us to false unity by throwing out our Biblical convictions, it is wonderful to be able to see how truth can really bring us together from different traditions. I pray that in the future days we will all see more of this fellowship and be able to praise God for it.
Until Christ is formed in all of us,