Posted by: stpowen | July 9, 2012

Response to ‘They have Forgotten…..’ by R. E. Palgrave

Response to ‘They have Forgotten….’ by R. E. Palgrave

Romans 14:4.  ‘Who are you to judge another’s  servant.  To his own Master he stands or falls.  Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.’

For a more recent post, go to https://marprelate.wordpress.com/2012/12/31/ruth-palgrave-blq-and-west-seminary/

Many evangelical churches will recently have received an unsolicited copy of a booklet entitled ‘They have Forgotten…,’ written by a lady called R.E. (Ruth) Palgrave and published by Unity in Truth Literature.  No website for this group is given, but its members have clearly invested a sizeable amount of money in the booklet since as well as giving away several hundred copies, advertizements have been placed for it in Evangelical Times and Evangelicals Now with a cover price of only £1.

The booklet describes itself as, ‘An urgent plea for evangelicals to recognize the danger of the Ecumenical Movement and remember the stand that the British Evangelical Council and Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones took against it.’   It is a well-written and persuasive piece of writing, and the original Martin Marprelate, who wrote against the Bishops of the Church of England would doubtless have supported it.  Indeed, I find myself in substantial agreement with much of what I find in the booklet.  As a member of a church that finds itself standing almost alone in a sea of ecumenism and where the Christians Together movement seems to have swallowed every morsel of inter-church cooperation in my town and regurgitated it with all doctrine and Gospel content removed, I certainly recognize the danger of the Ecumenical Movement.

The key issue, and the point at which I differ from Miss Palgrave is whether our separation from error is to be one-stage or two-stage.   In other words, are we to separate only from those churches which have abandoned Biblical doctrine and the Gospel, or are we to separate also from those which, though orthodox themselves, associate in any way with liberal and apostate churches?    

Miss Palgrave is clearly a big fan of the late Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones.  The booklet’s argument is basically three-fold:-

1.  That Lloyd-Jones stood firmly against ecumenism and strongly advocated separation from false teaching and apostasy.  He also called upon evangelicals in the mixed denominations to come out of them.

2. That the British Evangelical Council of which Lloyd-Jones became a great supporter also advocated Biblical separation and restricted its membership to those who kept clear of the ecumenical movement.

3. That Affinity which became the successor to the B.E.C. in 2004 no longer upholds Biblical separation and is therefore no longer worthy of the support of evangelicals.

That Dr. Lloyd-Jones was opposed to ecumenism is quite undeniable.  My own church was started in 1966, around the time of Lloyd-Jones’ calls to evangelicals to leave denominations and start independent churches.  Although there is no mention of it in the founding documents, it is more than likely that its founders were moved by his exhortations.  However, right from its inception, the church was a member of the F.I.E.C. which practices only one-stage separation.  Westminster Chapel, of which Ll-J was minister at the time, also joined F.I.E.C. when it left the liberal Congregational Union.  There is no record that either Ll-J or the founders of my church were unhappy at the F.I.E.C.’s stance on ecumenism.  Indeed, Lloyd-Jones battled quite hard to persuade the membership of Westminster Chapel that the church should join (1)

Miss Palgrave quotes extensively from Lloyd-Jones’ writings to show that he opposed what she describes as the ‘New Evangelical philosophy of always being positive’ and never criticizing error.  However, Ll-J was more balanced than she allows.  Earlier in his ministry, he rebuked the famous Canadian preacher T.T. Shields to his face for his negativity and constant criticisms of other ministers.  His biographer, Iain Murray wrote;  ‘Rather than helping young Christians by the strength of his polemics against liberal Protestants and Roman Catholics, Lloyd-Jones believed that Shields was losing the opportunity to influence those whose first need was to be given positive teaching’ (2).  The answer of course is that balance is always needed.  When building up the walls of Jerusalem, Nehemiah’s workers carried both a sword and a trowel .  So metaphorically should we;  the one to defend God’s people against the enemy, the other to build them up spiritually.

Although Miss Palgrave quotes extensively from Lloyd-Jones’ exhortations to evangelicals to leave the mixed denominations, she has a harder time showing that Lloyd-Jones ever practised two-stage separation himself.  For many years he worked closely with evangelical Anglican J. I. Packer, and it was only in 1970, when Packer co-authored a book, Growing into Union, which clearly espoused non-evangelical viewpoints that Lloyd-Jones severed the relationship.  I fully agree that evangelicals who are in liberal or mixed denominations are compromising themselves and should leave.  I have encouraged several to do so.  But ultimately this is something that the individual has to decide in his own heart before God.  Many faithful Anglican ministers sincerely believe that they can do more good staying where they are than leaving, and history tends to support them. 

In the 19th Century, a number of Anglicans left their churches and founded the Free Church of England.  That denomination, never large, has shrunk over the years and has now split into two bodies (3), both having only a tenuous existence.  More recently, some other Anglicans departed from the C of E and started the Church of England (continuing).  Without doubt, these are faithful men who have given up much to follow their convictions, but the denomination remains tiny and it could certainly be argued that they would have more influence and more opportunities to reach the lost by remaining in the national Church.

As a convinced Independent, I would urge evangelicals in mixed denominations to become independent churches.  Over the years there has been a trickle of Baptist Union and Methodist churches doing just this, and joining the FIEC.  But these churches often owned their own premises- Anglican churches do not.  An Anglican Vicar considering separation has to contemplate either leaving his flock and becoming minister of an existing free church, or trying to find a meeting place at a school or elsewhere.  It has to be said that churches taking a stand against homosexuality are likely to find State-owned venues increasingly closed to them if the proposed change to the marriage laws comes about.  Of course, if it does, then it is probable that sooner or later Anglican churches will be required to celebrate homosexual ‘weddings.’  In that case evangelical Anglicans will have to leave their churches as Lot left Sodom, and take refuge where they can.  In the past few weeks, news has broken that a Church of Scotland congregation, St. Georges Tron, is departing from its denomination.  It is uncertain whether it will be able to stay in the church building.  If it is not, I wonder how many of the congregation will decide, like Lot’s sons-in-law, to remain where they are.   I know several Anglican ministers who are looking forward with deep concern to the choices they will have to make in the near future, and how many of their flocks they can carry with them.  They have my sympathy.  They need support and encouragement from their Free Church brethren at this stage, not condemnation.

Miss Palgrave gives a quote from Lloyd-Jones, given to the Westminster Fellowship in 1963 (4):  ‘When do you decide that a church is apostate?  Is it when the majority, and the controlling powers in particular, are teaching error?  Is it when they no longer exercise any discipline and are not even concerned about discipline and the reformation of the church?…..I would suggest that the above is the very minimum, that when the main teaching, and the power in the church has passed into the hands of those who teach error, who deny the truth, the essential truths, such a church is apostate, whatever it is, whatever it has been in the past, and whatever its own professed standards are.’

I can agree with this statement, so long as by ‘church’ one does not mean ‘denomination.’  As a convinced Independent, I am not interested in what this or that bishop or presbytery may affirm or deny.  If an individual church, in its beliefs, its practice, its leadership, is orthodox, then I regard it as a sister church to my own, and its members, unless and until I learn otherwise, as my brothers and sisters in Christ.   

The British Evangelical Council was a sort of umbrellaorganization for bodies such as the F.I.E.C., Free Church of Scotland and Evangelical Movement of Wales,  which could not support the more open and liberal stance of the Evangelical Alliance.  The B.E.C. never had any sort of control over these bodies; its main occupation seems to have been the organization of conferences.  Dr. Lloyd-Jones used it during the 1960s as a platform for some of his finest addresses against the Ecumenical Movement.  Miss Palgrave quotes from several of these.  However, with the passing of Lloyd-Jones, the B.E.C. became increasingly somnolent, and by the time I became involved with an FIEC church, ten or twelve years ago, it had become an irrelevance, most of the membership being quite unaware of its existence.

As Miss Palgrave points out (5), the B.E.C. did accept an Anglican church into membership in 1987.  At the time, the B.E.C. stated, ‘They [the church leaders] have made it clear that they are not willing to remain indefinitely in a church that tolerates heresy.  We would be unable to receive a church which sees the only saving Gospel merely as one of several equally valid options in the body where they are content to remain at all costs.’  Again, there seems to be confusion between ‘church’ and ‘denomination.’  However, I can say without any doubt that the evangelical Anglicans whom I know most certainly do not regard the Gospel merely as one of several equally valid options.  As a matter of fact, the church that was admitted in the B.E.C. did not leave the Church of England for another seven years.

The belief of Lloyd-Jones and the B.E.C. during the 1960s was that the denominations would be swallowed up by the World Council of Churches which would itself be dominated by the Church of Rome.  Although this was a reasonable concern to have back then, the years that have followed have proved it to be unjustified.  The W.C.C. is pretty much a dead letter these days and the Anglican Church’s obsession with women priests and bishops have made union with Rome most unlikely.   I might add that denominational loyalty is much less strong than it used to be.  The attitude of evangelical Anglicans has certainly changed since the Keele Conference of 1967, and I think therefore that we should not take denominational affiliation as a conscious alliance with doctrinal error – I would say it is for many no more than an accident of history.

Affinity was an attempt to breathe new life into the B.E.C.  I think it unlikely that the latter body would be in existence today as originally constituted.  Certainly many in the F.I.E.C., its largest constituent member, had come to regard it by 2004 as an irrelevance and a waste of money.  Whether Affinity has achieved all that was hoped for it is debateable.  To my mind it is still something of a fringe organization, but it is most unfair of Miss Palgrave to suggest (6) that Affinity does not have a clear Statement of Faith and a position on separation.  One may wish they were firmer or more detailed, but it is simply untrue to claim that they do not exist.  The Statement of Faith may be found here: http://www.affinity.org.uk/doctrinal-belief/doctrinal-belief and here are two statements on ecumenism taken from the website, http://www.affinity.org.uk/introducing-affinity/introducing-affinity-1

  • The biblical Gospel defines the boundaries of true Christian fellowship. Affinity churches, with real sadness, cannot enter into Gospel partnership with churches which deny the fundamental Bible doctrines set out in the Affinity doctrinal basis.
  • When necessary we are ready to oppose those who deny biblical truth and who preach a different gospel. In such situations it is our solemn duty and privilege to “contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.”

The one area where Affinity has become relevant to churches like mine is in the Gospel Partnerships, specifically the Peninsular Gospel Partnership which covers Devon and Cornwall.  Whilst I wish it was more active than it is, the meetings that have been organized have been excellent.   The most recent meeting was addressed by Philip Jensen, Dean of Sydney, Australia and was truly inspirational.  It will have been helpful both to Anglicans and Free Church men in a part of the world where evangelical conferences and good teaching are hard to come by.  Liberals and Anglo-Catholics were not invited, and even had they been, they would have found it utterly unsuitable for their tastes.

In the city of Exeter, near where I live, I know of only four churches where I am certain that the Gospel is faithfully preached at all times (7).  The two largest and most effective of these are an Anglican and a Baptist Union church.  I cannot treat these people as my enemies or as heretics.  For, ‘Who are you to judge another’s servant.  To his own Master he stands or falls.  Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand’ (Rom 14:4).  To be sure I will (and do) tell them that they should withdraw from their denominations, but nonetheless so long as they preach the Gospel faithfully they are my brothers and sisters in Christ.

Finally, if we come to the texts quoted by Miss Palgrave, evangelicals who are in denominations would say that they are obeying them.  For example, 2 Cor 6:14. ‘Be not unequally yoked with unbelievers, for what fellowship has righteousness with unrighteousness?…..’  The two churches instanced above say that their churches are separate, inasmuch as only orthodox preachers are allowed in the pulpit, and the undesirable elements in the denomination are kept at arm’s length.   Also, does the text say that we are not only to separate from unbelievers but also from true believers who we think are associating with unbelievers?   I don’t believe that it does.   I wish these people would come out from their denominations, but for my part, I cannot separate from those I believe are truly God’s people (Mark 9:38-41).

There is much more that could be said.  Should churches separate over such issues as baptism, church governance, the administration of the Lord’s Supper?  All these are serious issues which affect one’s view of the nature of the Church.  Dr. Lloyd-Jones believed in the continuance of the ‘sign gifts.’  To many of us, this was a major flaw in his ministry which has had baneful results, continuing after his death.  Are we to burn his books?  Surely not!  ‘Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!  It is like the precious oil upon the head, running down on the beard, the beard of Aaron, running down on the edge of his garments.  It is like the dew of Hermon, descending upon the mountains of Zion; for there the LORD commanded the blessing- Life forevermore’ (Psalm 133).

Notes

(1) Iain H. Murray, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, the Fight of Faith (1982, Banner of Truth) pp. 542-544.

(2)  Iain H. Murray, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, the first Forty Years (1982, Banner of Truth) pp. 271-273.

(3) Free Church of England and Free Church of England (continuing).

(4) ‘They have Forgotten….’  Page 17.

(5) Ibid. Page 23.

(6) Ibid.  Pages 23-24.

(7) I do not pretend to know every church in Exeter.  There may well be more than four faithful churches, but  I only know of four.

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Responses

  1. Have you never read Romans 15:7? “Welcome one another, therefore, as they accept your statement of faith.” Oh, hang on, it doesn’t say that, does it. If Christ has welcomed someone who am I to turn them away, unless heretical or immoral.

  2. The booklet does not say that Affinity does not have a statement of faith or position on separation. Rather the booklet merely says that the BEC official statement regarding ecumenism (1968) is not published on the Affinity website. The Affinity Mission Statement and the information entitled “Why does Affinity Exist” on their website does not mention a stand against the ecumenical movement. Nowadays it seems that you can belong to both Affinity and the Evangelical Alliance so one wonders why the two don’t merge. Answers on a postcard.

  3. I don’t see that Affinity is in any way obliged to publish statements from the B.E.C. Also the booklet does state that Affinity does not have a position on separation. I quote from Page 22:-

    ‘Furthermore, the Affinity ‘Mission Statement’ and the information entitled, ‘Why does Affinity exist?’ have no mention of any stand whatsoever against the Ecumenical Movement; they simply focus on ‘the unity of Christ’s Church”

    As I pointed out above, this is simply not the case. The Mission Statement says:-

    ‘The biblical Gospel defines the boundaries of true Christian fellowship. Affinity churches, with real sadness, cannot enter into Gospel partnership with churches which deny the fundamental Bible doctrines set out in the Affinity doctrinal basis.
    When necessary we are ready to oppose those who deny biblical truth and who preach a different gospel. In such situations it is our solemn duty and privilege to “contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.”’

    These statements clearly lay out Affinity’s position as non-ecumenical. Member churches that are actively involved with the ‘Churches Together’ movement would clearly be in breach of them.

    Finally, Affinity and the Evangelical Alliance are to my mind as different as the proverbial chalk and cheese. The E.A. Statement of Faith is much less full than that of Affinity, and E.A. is full of churches who might politely be described as ‘Broad Evangelical.’ I left E.A. some years ago when it failed to come to a clear position on the eternal punishment of the wicked. Since then it has also prevaricated on Substitutionary Atonement. If Affinity were to go the same way, I would be the first one to leave, but I see no likelihood of it. However, if a church that is otherwise sound decides it wants to be in E.A., that is its decision and I would not separate over it.

  4. Dear Stephen,

    I hope I have not written the following too hastily but time is not on my side. Please take it as being kind even if I have rushed on a little.

    I am not meaning to sow discord but I did read the booklet very carefully before it was published. It certainly had more than a ring of truth and I found much that was in accord with my experience as a minister in a denomination that has relatively recently been formed by separation from the Church of England and all its double-speak. I am in the Church of England (Continuing) which was formed in 1994 as we will not be in a church that has women ministers and especially as this is due to its abandonment of Scripture as its basis of faith.

    I do appreciate that we do not all have the same light on every issue and patience is required. That is why the BEC members tried to make bridges for the Anglicans and others to leave their denominations. The view today among many in Affinity is to form “Gospel partnerships” with Anglicans.

    We can choose our words ever so carefully but it seems as plain as day that the BEC and Affinity are very different. Why else was a name change necessary? They are nearly as different as Lloyd Jones and JI Packer we might say. O but Packer and Stott preached the “biblical Gospel” although they accepted non-evangelicals as being Christians. The BEC excluded those who are involved in the Ecumenical Movement but the other does not exclede them so long as they preach a “biblical Gospel”. Now it is fine to be in the Church of England with its women ministers and homosexuality not even considered a sin and Rome not considered an enemy! Yes all work together is the new tone. The BEC put things in plain speech and that is why Roland Lamb was so concerned in his dying days for Miss Palgrave to produce this work.

    At least if we use the phrase “Ecumenical Movement” there is no ambiguity. If we name names there is no ambiguity. If we just say, that we accept all who preach “the biblical Gospel” we can easily be seen as including those who are involved in the ecumenical movement. O we know in our own hearts that there can be great preaching yet so much hypocrisy. It is a slippery slope and it looks like Miss Palgrave has done us a service in compiling quotations from godly men who have seen all this happening. It has been the same in the C of E where the traditional “hard line” anti ecumenists have been pushed out by smooth talkers.

    The charge of the booklet as I understand it in plain words is that things have shifted so much so that while the BEC existed almost entirely out of a need to oppose the ecumenical movement now such issues are played down to the extent that Affinity tolerates churches that are involved in unbiblical ecumenism. Is that not true?

    I personally read the booklet before it was published and was not ashamed to put my name to it and commend it as did other men such as Rev Maurice Roberts, Rev Paul Bassett, Pastor Alec Taylor, Rev John Thackway, Rev Neil Pfeiffer and Rev Harry Waite. If we have all been deceived then I pray that we may come to the truth and to repentance. If we have not been deceived then I pray, as I do, that men would return to the old paths.

    I am sure if others read the booklet they will see that Dr Lloyd Jones, it is not the sort of thing that many today want to hear, but it is true and it is proposing that we do things right. Isn’t that what we need when we pray for revival. We say, Lord, start with me.

  5. Hello Mr Ratcliff,
    Thank you for your comments. I appreciate the time taken in making them. I have listened with much benefit to some on the men who have endorsed Miss Palgrave’s book (especially Maurice Roberts and John Thackway). I also respect the stand taken by the Church of England (continuing) of which you are a distinguished member. However, I am still not able to agree entirely with your position.

    May I start by noting an inconsistency in your position? The C of E (continuing) website has a link to the ‘Church Society’ which is a Church of England body. If you are consistent in your separation from the Anglican Church, you should not be promoting an Anglican body, however orthodox they may be in other ways.

    The question of whether or not to separate is a vexed one. We are approaching the 350th anniversary of the ‘Great Ejection’ when 2,000 ministers left the National Church rather than submit to the Act of Uniformity. However, William Gurnall, author of ‘The Christian in Complete Armour’ and one of the leading Puritans, decided to conform and to remain in the C of E. I don’t know his reasons, but I assume he beieved that he could do more good to his flock inside the official Church than outside. His decision to conform has not stopped ‘Banner of Truth’ from publishing his books.

    I have looked through the ‘Affinity’ website, and I am unable to find any Anglican churches that are members. Nor is the Church Society or ‘Reform’ in membership. The ‘Peninsular Gospel Partnership,’ whose meetings I attend, is not in membership. The one Baptist Union church and one United Reformed church that have benn allowed to join have severed their connections with ‘Churches Together’ and have come under considerable pressure from their respective bodies. Why don’t they come out? I don’t know, but I do believe they are more worthy of our support than our censure.

    The old B.E.C. which you mention several times was moribund some time before it actually died. The FIEC had (if I remember correctly) taken a decision to withdraw from it. I really don’t believe it would be in existence today if it had not changed into ‘Affinity.’ You are looking back to a time that has passed and will not come
    again. It is worth mentioning that the fear which Lloyd-Jones had of union between the Anglicans and the Church of Rome is far less likely today than it was 40 years ago. The C of E is now far too liberal for the Papists!! Rome is pursuing other means to win over Britain and there is no point in fighting yesterday’s battles.

    Fianally, may I refer you to Page 184 of Volume 2 of Murray’s biography of Ll-J? At a meeting in 1947, he said that:

    Those who are contemplating withdrawal or secession should ask themselves continually:
    1. Am I absolutely certain that Christ’s honour is really involved, or that my basic Christian liberties are threatened?
    2. Am I going out because it is easier, and I am following the line of least resistance?
    3. Am I going out because I am impatient?
    4. Am I going out because I am an egotist and cannot endure being a ‘brother of the common lot’ with its disadvantages as well as its spiritual advantages?

    Those who are staying in their denomination should ask themselves:
    1. Am I staying in and not joining others who may be fighting the Lord’s battle because I am a coward?
    2. Am I staying in because I am trying to persuade myself that I am a man of peace and because peace seems to be worth any price?
    3. Am I staying in because I am just a vacillator or at a very low spiritual ebb?
    4. Am I swayed by some self-interest or any monetary consideration?

    I believe that these considerations can only be answered by the individuals involved. They need our prayers. I am informed that if female bishops are imposed upon the evangelical Anglican churches without adequate alternative oversight, many ministers will seek episcopal oversight from overseas which will effectively be to leave the Church of England.

  6. Thank you for drawing attention to this booklet, which I was unaware of. I have found it quite difficult to track down a copy – most of the online sources show status ‘out of stock’ – but I do now have one and would like to add my comments, albeit belatedly.

    One of the endorsers believes the booklet “ought to be in the hands of every church member”, another that “Every Christian should take heed and act appropriately”, so it appears that as an ordinary lay Christian I am supposed to respond somehow. I am to recognise the dangers of the Ecumenical Movement, remember the BEC’s principles, that much is clear, and also to uphold those principles. It is at this last point that I am not sure what practical action, if any, is intended. Is there to be a campaign to return Affinity to the original principles of the BEC? Is there to be an alternative organisation to Affinity that will hold to the original principles of the BEC? Or is this no more than a call to separate from Affinity? If it is the last then that to me would be an unsatisfactory conclusion because the BEC, especially after Dr Lloyd Jones joined forces with it, was about more than taking a stand against the Ecumenical Movement, it was also about affirming visible evangelical church unity. I don’t see how separating from Affinity would bear public testimony _for_ true Biblical unity as well as _against_ the Ecumenical Movement.

    Whilst the booklet is accurate in all the history that it does document, I think it only tells half a story. The position taken by the BEC and Dr Lloyd Jones is rightly acclaimed, but where is the historical analysis of why its vision very largely perished with Dr Lloyd Jones? Why was that position not sustained with anything like the same enthusiasm in the years that followed his death? Where were the “urgent pleas” to evangelicals to support the BEC in the 1980s and 1990s, or to educate a newer generation in its principles? A faithful few sought to maintain the vision, but I don’t recall any of them getting the endorsements that this booklet has attracted.

    To answer my own questions, I think the decline in enthusiasm for the BEC occurred because for some evangelicals it was too narrow for their liking (the constituency that eventually relaunched the BEC as Affinity), for some evangelicals it wasn’t narrow enough for their liking (eg Sword and Trowel, Bible League Quarterly) and for relatively few evangelicals it was about right.

    “You are looking back to a time that has passed and will not come again. … there is no point in fighting yesterday’s battles.” The arguments which you are putting from one side of the fence are, remarkably, the same arguments that are put from the other side of the fence (the Sword and Trowel likened the old BEC position to the Maginot Line, and the Bible League Quarterly wrote that “the battle lines are differently drawn”). It is undeniable that Dr Lloyd Jones saw his times as a providential opportunity for an evangelical reformation of the church, and possible that he was mistaken in his reading of providence. Nevertheless to classify his position as one perhaps suitable for his own times, but not necessarily for ours, underestimates how thoroughly biblical both he and Rev Poole Connor were in their analysis. They sought to ground everything upon scriptural principles, and to the extent that they succeeded their principles are of abiding importance, in all generations.

    They demonstrated that the mixed denominations did not conform to the scriptural conception of churches, and strove to establish a clear public testimony to what a truly biblical church is. I think they did succeed, and that admitting churches in mixed denominations into formal public fellowship blurs that distinct witness, a witness I consider vital from my experience of being brought up in a mixed denomination where I did not hear the gospel.

    You mention “condemnation”, “censure”, and treating people as “enemies” or “heretics”. I think the booklet provides ample evidence that this was _not_ how the adherents of the old BEC position treated evangelicals in mixed denominations (page 28, footnotes 119 to 127). The old BEC position was publicly to exhort such brethren to leave their denominations and privately to have fellowship with them (whereas the new Affinity position is publicly to have fellowship and privately to exhort). The old BEC position does not necessitate an unsympathetic attitude; indeed you acknowledge that the booklet records how patiently the old BEC dealt with the Anglican church in Newcastle that joined it.

    I don’t see the relevance of the Great Ejection. Despite the ejection, the remaining Church of England was hardly a mixed denomination. Even 26 years later 7 bishops and 96 out of 100 London clergymen defied the king’s ecumenical initiatives!

  7. Further to my questions about what happened to the BEC after the death of Dr Lloyd Jones, I have finally obtained a copy of “CH Spurgeon and the Modern Church” by Robert Sheehan (1985 – out of print).

    Dr Lloyd Jones died in the spring of 1981, and in the summer of that very year a conference was called which deliberately brought together independent evangelicals with those from mixed denominations (the conference subsequently evolved into the Proclamation Trust).

    Some, including Robert Sheehan himself, countered this with a re-statement of separatist principles (sent out to 600 ministers) and arranged a follow up meeting. However it became clear at the meeting that some wanted no separation from evangelicals in mixed denominations, and others did not want even private fellowship with evangelicals in mixed denominations. As a result the advocates of public separation and private fellowship felt constrained to maintain their position only on an informal basis.

    The book concludes: “Whether the visible unity of uncompromised evangelicals will take steps forward in these coming days is difficult to tell in mid-1984. Unless evangelicals are willing to stand firm for the gospel against its counterfeits and to stand together to this end, the days ahead look bleak indeed. In such times (as always) confidence in God is more powerful than trust in the very best plans of men.”

  8. It is actually very easy to point out where churches go wrong doctrinally.

    What is more difficult but actually probably more important is to show an Evangelical church that crosses all the “T”s and dots all the “I”s in its doctrial confession but which might actually be well off beam.

    Take for example the Church at Laodicea in Revelation. Had there been no admonishment from the Lord himself I think they would have gone along quite merrily thinking they were doing just fine.

    But what a shock they must have had to get this message

    And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;

    15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.

    16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

    17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:

    18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.

    19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.

    20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

    21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.

    Sadly I suspect this may well be the case for many an Evangelical church whose Pastors/Ministers/Elders/Leaders would all undoubtedly give loud and hearty amens to the doctrinal dangers associated with Ecumenism but who might actually be the very cause of the lack of progress to blessing.

  9. Which is the Baptist Union church to which you’re referring in Exeter – not South Street I hope – where my great grandfather lost most of his family to liberal shipwreck?
    If so, you’re running near the rocks yourself, Stephen.

  10. God forbid, Mr Soper! You would be right to chastise me if I had any dealings with South St. Baptist Church.
    I was thinking of St. Thomas Baptist Church http://www.stbc.org.uk and its minister, Stephen Cousley, who is a very fine preacher. You can hear his sermons on the website. Pastor Cousley does not come from the Baptist Union, but from the Faith Mission.

  11. Affinity have published a response by Stephen Clark, which I think will be of interest to your readers:

    http://www.affinity.org.uk/downloads/They%20have%20forgotten/Serving-God-in-his-church-in-our-generation.pdf

  12. Thank you, Mr. Main.
    That is extremely helpful. I recommend anyone interested in this issue to read Stephen Clark’s article.


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