Lee on the Lectionary: Sixth Sunday of Easter (Year C)
Posted by Lee Gatiss, 22 May 2019
In our readings this week we see the power of God’s word to bring new life even in the midst of hopeless situations.
The readings for the 6th Sunday of Easter (Year C) are Ezekiel 37:1-14, Acts 16:9-15, and John 5:1-9.
Fight Valiantly! Contending for the Faith in the Bible and in the Church of England
Posted by Ros Clarke, 21 May 2019
The latest Church Society publication is an exposition of the biblical teaching on contending for the faith, together with numerous stories of contending in the contemporary Church of England, and Bible study resources.
As the new Church Society slogan declares, “We are a fellowship contending to reform and renew the Church of England in biblical faith.” Contending for the faith is at the heart of Church Society’s work, but in fact it is a task given to every Christian. We pray for those who are baptised to “Fight valiantly as a disciple of Christ against sin, the world and the devil, and remain faithful to Christ to the end of your life.” Jude writes to “those who have been called, who are loved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ”, urging them to “contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people” (Jude 2,3).
Contending is not something we can leave to other people. In this book, Lee Gatiss examines the Bible’s teaching to see what it means to contend for the faith, when we must do it, how we go about it, what our manner should be, and what the goal of contending must be. In addition, he then considers how this teaching should be applied in the contemporary context of the Church of England. A third section of the book includes stories of contending from a wide variety of people, lay and ordained, in different contexts and facing different kinds of opposition. Finally there is a series of eight interactive Bible studies which could be used by individuals or in small groups, to help us understand and apply this teaching in specific situations.
Fight Valiantly! can be purchased here and there are discounted rates for orders of five or more copies.
Church Society Podcast: Bishop Jewel Society
Posted by Ros Clarke, 20 May 2019
In this episode of the podcast, Ros visits the Bishop Jewel Society in Oxford, talks to Vaughan Roberts, hears from a couple of current students, and tells us all why lay people are so important in the Church of England.
Find out more about Bishop Jewel’s Apology here.
How to listen to the Church Society podcast:
1. Listen to the episodes as they are posted here on the website.
2. Listen to all the episodes and all other Church Society audio resources via Soundcloud.
3. Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes.
4. Subscribe to the podcast on an Android device (phone or tablet). You will need to install a podcast app and then subscribe via our RSS feed here.
New Regional Directors Announced
Posted by Lee Gatiss, 20 May 2019
We are delighted to announce the appointment of two part-time Regional Directors.
With the merger of Church Society, Reform, and the Fellowship of Word and Spirit, we have been looking to expand our staff team, to enable us to do more work in specific areas such as strengthening local and national networks, giving greater support to those in small, rural and evangelistically challenging parishes, and engaging more in the politics of the Church of England.
We are delighted to announce that two new Regional Directors are joining us. Revd Mark Wallace is vicar of the Colchester Town Centre parish in Essex, and Revd George Crowder is vicar of St John’s Church, Over. Both Mark and George will continue in their parish ministry, while taking on part-time responsibilities for Church Society. They each bring considerable relevant experience to Church Society and we are looking forward to seeing how their work will enable Church Society to be more effective in our goal of contending to reform and renew the Church of England in biblical faith.
Reversing the Reformation?
Posted by Adam Young, 17 May 2019
Adam Young looks at some recent events in the Church of England which seem to ignore the biblical, and Reformed Protestant, basis of the Church of England.
A number of events have happened in the past few weeks which make one wonder what on earth has happened to this nation’s “Protestant Reformed Religion established by Law.” This phrase is, of course, is taken from the Coronation Oath, and is meant to describe the Church of England.
More often than ever it seems important to remember what is actually established by law and what is commonly found to be contrary to it. Canon A5 tells us that:
“The doctrine of the Church of England is grounded in the Holy Scriptures, and in such teachings of the ancient Fathers and Councils of the Church as are agreeable to the said Scriptures. In particular such doctrine is to be found in the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, The Book of Common Prayer, and the Ordinal.” — Canon A5
In other words, the doctrine of the Church of England is that of the Bible and those who agree with it. When asked “what do those people who agree with the Bible look like?” — the Church of England replies, “they look like those who uphold the 39 Articles of Religion, the 1662 BCP, and the Ordinal.”
There are no prayers to Mary, or asking for Mary’s prayers, in the BCP. There is no veneration or adoration of statues or images in the BCP. Indeed there are no images or statues at all, nor are there pilgrimages, or a sacramental confession.
Quite the contrary in fact.
“The Romish Doctrine concerning Purgatory, Pardons, worshipping and adoration as well of Images as of Reliques, and also Invocation of Saints, is a fond thing vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture; but rather repugnant to the word of God.” — Article 22 of The 39 Articles
This Article condemns all worshipping and adoration (the Latin version uses the word veneration) of images, be they two dimensional icons or three dimensional statues.
Further teaching on images in relation to the church is found in what Article 35 calls the “godly a wholesome doctrine necessary for these times” of the Homilies. In the three part Homily on Idolatry, most likely written by Bishop Jewel, there is outlined how the use of images in worship is:
1. forbidden by God in the Old Testament and the New Testament, with there being no biblical distinction between religious images and idols or different kinds of worship and veneration (latria and dulia);
2. was absent and opposed in the early church;
3. that men like the apostles and creatures such as angels baulked when people tried to adore them;
4. historically always leads to idolatry.
Let the Vain World
Posted by Lee Gatiss, 15 May 2019
In this modified extract from 'The Forgotten Cross', Lee Gatiss introduces one of Augustus Toplady's great hymns, which we often sing at Church Society events, 'Let the Vain World'.
Do you remember the story of Hansel and Gretel? Two young children are taken out into the forest one day and then abandoned by their father, who can’t afford to look after them anymore. (Perhaps it was during the credit crunch?) But they discover that this is going to happen just before they leave home, so they pick up lots of white pebbles. And as their father leads them into the darkest parts of the forest they drop the pebbles every so often, to mark their way back home.
Well, I’ve missed out the wicked stepmother, the botched attempt to use breadcrumbs instead of pebbles, and the evil witch with the gingerbread house, but we can save that for another time. We may feel sometimes like Hansel and Gretel. We may feel we have been abandoned by our Father, forgotten. Left alone to face a merciless and dangerous and unjust world, to fend for ourselves, to suffer, and to die.
But our Father in heaven is not like the father in Hansel and Gretel. For some reason we do find ourselves, for a little while, suffering and straining—far away from home, as aliens and strangers in a world which doesn’t have our best interests at heart.
We may never understand his reasons for bringing us to this place. But before he brought us here, the Father sent his Son out first, to suffer and to die in this vale of tears.
Lee on the Lectionary: Fifth Sunday of Easter (Year C)
Posted by Lee Gatiss, 15 May 2019
The theme of our readings this week is that in his love, God has provided a way for us to be saved, so that we may glorify him and love others above ourselves.
The readings for the 5th Sunday of Easter (Year C) are Genesis 22:1-18, John 13:31-35, and Acts 11:1-18.
Church Society Podcast: Confronting Christianity
Posted by Ros Clarke, 13 May 2019
This week in the podcast, Ros talks to Rebecca McLaughlin about the hard questions confronting our faith and how we can be better equipped to answer them.
Lee on the Lectionary: Fourth Sunday of Easter (Year C)
Posted by Lee Gatiss, 8 May 2019
Our readings this week expound the work of Christ our shepherd who will keep his chosen people safe to the end.
The readings for the 4th Sunday of Easter (Year C) are Acts 9:36-43, John 10:22-30, and Revelation 7:9-17.
Church Society Podcast: Global Anglicanism and Going to the Holy Land
Posted by Ros Clarke, 6 May 2019
Ros Clarke talks to Peter Walker, director of the Theological Resource Network of EFAC.
EFAC Global website. The original launch of EFAC, with its doctrinal basis, was first announced in Churchman here, and Church Society is glad to maintain links with the re-launched EFAC now.
Tours to the Holy Land