By Hilary White
VANCOUVER, April 30, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The Anglican Church of Canada has lost another prominent member due to its “poisonous liberalism” which holds homosexuality in high esteem but increasingly marginalizes Christian morality and scriptural tradition.
James Innell Packer, a British-born Canadian theologian in the Calvinistic or Evangelical Anglican tradition, has announced that he will be aligning himself with the groups of Anglicans who have left the jurisdiction of the ultra-liberal Anglican Church of Canada and are seeking episcopal oversight from more traditional wings of the Anglican Church.
On April 23, Dr. Packer handed in his clergy licence to Canadian Bishop Michael Ingham, the bishop of New Westminster, who had already declared him and ten other clergy to be guilty of “abandoning” their ministry. Dr. Packer told a meeting of the Anglican Network this week that he could no longer serve in ministry under Bishop Ingham.
He told a conference of 400 orthodox Anglicans this week, “It seems to me that in a situation where arguably, elected bishops become heretical, what is the divine answer to that, there must be possibility for realignment for the faithful where heresy, doctrinal and moral is approved.”
The 81 year-old Dr. Packer was educated in Protestant theology at Oxford University – where he met and was strongly influenced by C. S. Lewis – and was ordained to the Anglican ministry in 1953. In 2005 he was named by Time magazine one of the twenty most influential evangelical theologians of the 20th century. Dr. Packer serves at the parish of St. John’s Shaughnessy in Vancouver, which in February 2008 voted en mass to leave the Anglican Church of Canada when Bishop Ingham imposed “same-sex blessings” on the local church.
The parish, together with several others around the country, joined the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone in South America through the auspices of the Anglican Network in Canada, an alternate “ecclesial structure” set up to help traditionally Christian Anglicans remain in communion with the larger Anglican Church around the world.
Ingham has been among the forefront in the leadership of the Anglican Church of Canada pushing the church to abandon traditional Christian doctrine on sexual morality and biblical authority. In February, Ingham issued a “Notice of Presumption of Abandonment of the Exercise of the Ministry” to nine Anglican ministers and two deacons who had sought alternate oversight with Southern Cone.
These eleven clergy responded to Ingham in a letter saying that they have determined that “in order to uphold our ordination vows,” they must relinquish their licences from the diocese of New Westminster. They will receive licences to continue their present ministries from Bishop Donald Harvey under the jurisdiction of the Primate of the Southern Cone, Archbishop Gregory Venables.
The letter concluded, “In this way, we will be able to continue our Anglican ministry within the Anglican Church, under the jurisdiction of and in communion with those who remain faithful to historic, orthodox Anglicanism and as part of the Anglican Communion worldwide.”
Dr. Packer told the audience at the Anglican Network meeting that despite the current troubles, “I have a joyful heart. One cannot be seeking to live under the leading and power of the Holy Spirit without joy in one’s heart.”
Dr. Packer said that scripture stories “prompt us to ask what God was doing.”
“I ask the same question: what is God doing not to the Anglican Church of Canada but the disorder that only seems to grow in the old west?” meaning the US, Canada, the UK and Australia.
“We pray for an end to it but we do not see an end to it. I continue to pray that out of all this God is going to purge the old west of its poisonous liberalism which is weakening and shrinking the churches.” He said it is “God’s way of purging” to allow problems to “grow to its full stature so that its real nature can be seen so that finally it is squeezed out.”
Dr. Packer exhorted those present to prepare for greater troubles to come, echoing warnings of persecution that are increasingly being heard from Christians all over the post-Christian secularist West: “God is preparing and toughening us for specially demanding conflict. In our call to mission, I suspect that over the next generations it is going to be exceedingly tough as we face secularism and ethnic religions surge which do not tolerate Christianity. The pressure is on and increasing. God is toughening us for mission.”
At the same meeting, the Archbishop of Southern Cone, Gregory Venables, told attendees that the Anglican Communion is “in the first stages of divorce”.
“With reference to the two positions in Anglicanism at present we are incompatible doctrinally and ethically and quite different in our presuppositions. Once we recognize that maybe we can have an amicable divide. This is separation from an apostate situation. Perhaps we can have an Anglican federation but even that seems unlikely at present,” said the archbishop.
Read related LifeSiteNews.com coverage:
The Split Widens: Leader of Traditional Anglicans to Speak in Vancouver Friday
Largest Anglican Parish in Canada Secedes over Same-Sex Blessings