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Martyred for the Gospel

Martyred for the Gospel
The burning of Tharchbishop of Cant. D. Tho. Cranmer in the town dich at Oxford, with his hand first thrust into the fyre, wherwith he subscribed before. [Click on the picture to see Cranmer's last words.]

Collect of the Day

The Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany.
The Collect.

O LORD, we bessech thee to keep thy Church and household continually in thy true religion; that they who do lean only upon the hope of thy heavenly grace may evermore be defended by thy mighty power; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Daily Bible Verse

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Departure of the Reformed Episcopal Church from Evangelical and Protestant Reformed Theology

Front row: Jim Reber, Charlie Ray, Willie Hill, Canon Mocke.  Back row:  ? Kevin Burke, Bishop James West

The photo is from my ordination as a deacon by Bishop James West, of the Reformed Episcopal Church around 2002. On the left is Jim Reber, presbyter. I am standing to right of Jim Reber.  Holding the shepherd's staff is Kevin Burke, deacon. Center, James West, bishop of the Southeast Diocese of the REC. On the right, Willie Hill, presbyter and pastor of New Israel REC in Charleston, SC. Photo was taken at the historic chapel of Good Shepherd TEC in Maitland, Florida, where Trinity REC was meeting at the time. I am kneeling in the middle.





















At the risk of repeating myself, I want to re-emphasize the situation with the Reformed Episcopal Church, which is essentially committing apostasy by merging with an Anglo-Catholic and Romish continuing Anglican denomination called the Anglican Province of America, the presiding bishop of which is Walter Grundorf. I have recently been in contact by e-mail with the presiding bishop of the Anglican Orthodox Church, the Most Reverend Jerry L. Ogles. The Anglican Orthodox Church is very Evangelical and low church, according to Bishop Ogles and furthermore, the AOC separated from the Episcopal Church USA in 1963 over doctrinal issues and moral issues that have only gotten worse. To my surprise, Bishop Ogles informed me that "Wally" Grundorf was once ordained as a deacon with the Anglican Orthodox Church but was defrocked by Bishop James Parker Dees when it became obvious that Deacon Grundorf was intending to take one of the AOC parishes into Romish doctrines. (Grundorf is now the presiding bishop over the Anglican Province of America).

These developments between the Reformed Episcopal Church and the Anglican Province of America are alarming to me and I feel that I was terribly misled by the Rev. James Reber of the REC, who was at that time the pastor of a missionary parish of the REC in Maitland, Florida. Reverend Reber presented himself to me as a "Reformed" person, i.e. a Calvinist. I was later to learn that such was far from the truth. Rev. Reber told me up front that he was a "theonomist," which I totally disagree with. I let him know in no uncertain terms that I didn't agree with that schismatic Reformed teaching but I could tolerate it provided his views were not extremist. We agreed to disagree and Rev. Reber helped me to obtain orders as a deacon with the Reformed Episcopal Church so that I could serve with him and Kevin Burke, the other deacon at Trinity Reformed Episcopal Church, which had an active membership of maybe 15 or 20 people.

Initially, Rev. Reber had told me that the REC was thoroughly Reformed and that he himself had been ordained with the Orthodox Presbyterian Church prior to returning to the REC, after having earned his master of divinity through the Reformed Episcopal Seminary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I read the Reformed Episcopal Church's Declaration of Principles statement, which is supposed to be unchangeable according to their original canons in the formation of the denomination in 1873 under Bishop David Cummins and I read For the Union of Evangelical Christendom: The Irony of the Reformed Episcopalians, by Allen C. Guelzo, (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1994), 391 pp. I was convinced from the historical background information that the Reformed Episcopal Church was essentially Protestant, Reformed (i.e. moderately Calvinistic), and Evangelical. However, as time went on, my alarm bells kept going off, especially after attending the Southeast Diocese synod around 2003 where I learned that Bishop Royal Grote was hosting a representative of the Anglican Province of America who would speak briefly from the platform in one of the evening prayer services.

To my chagrin I was to discover that the REC and the APA were in process of a merger, which Reverend Reber downplayed to me as much as possible in the beginning, knowing that I was an avowed Calvinist and thoroughly Protestant. I think Rev. Reber mistakenly thought he could persuade me to accept the merger and maybe even persuade me in the Anglo-Catholic direction. It was only after I was ordained that I became aware of this mass apostasy on the part of the Reformed Episcopal Church, which was in direct opposition to their reason of being in the first place. According to all accounts, the Reformed Episcopal Church was formed after Evangelicals in the Protestant Episcopal Church were openly persecuted and forced out by Anglo-Catholic bishops in the PEC in the late 19th century. One need only read the Declaration of Principles of the REC to become aware of this.

I should have paid more attention to Allen C. Guelzo's comments in For the Union of Evangelical Christendom:

  • What is interesting in this regard is to note how some Reformed Episcopalians, without any apparent prompting, have undergone some of the same changes, and followed virtually the same arc of reconciliation with their Anglican identity, as their Evangelical counterparts in the Church of England and the Episcopal Church. For just as the 1970s saw the pendulum of enthusiasm swing in Evangelical favor in England and the Episcopal Church, so in the 1980s something of the same resurgence of Anglican interest and life occurred in the Reformed Episcopal Church. Reformed Episcopalians began showing up at meetings of Anglican traditionalists in Fairfield, Connecticut, in 1985 and 1986; in 1988, the General Convention of the Episcopal Church sanctioned the opening of discussions; and in 1989, the Episcopal Synod of America (a joint venture of Episcopalian Evangelicals and traditionalist Anglo-Catholics) welcomed a Reformed Episcopalian onto their platform. Even the rochet and chimere for Reformed Episcopal bishops, and the surplice and scarf for the other clergy, have surfaced within the New York and Philadelphia Synod. (Page 334).
And on the previous page, Guelzo points out that despite the Reformed Episcopal denials of apostolic succession, for all practical purposes the REC bishops have continued to follow the ordinal of 1662 for consecrating bishops and have kept thorough records to make sure that succession lines could be traced (page 333). Guelzo is almost prophetic when he makes the statement that the Reformed Episcopalians return to Anglicanism might be too late since they might have nothing to return home to:

  • The Reformed Episcopalians may well have come back to Anglicanism only to discover that no one is quite sure what Anglicanism is. That could possibly mean that there is no longer any viable reason for Episcopalians to see the Reformed Episcopalians as being outside of official Anglicanism, but it could just as well mean that the Reformed Episcopalians have lost so much of their original raison d'etre that they no longer see any reason to remain outside official Anglicanism, or it could mean that there really is no Anglicanism left to come back to. (Page 335).
The Reformed Episcopal Church had been slowly losing membership since the 1930s and by some estimates had less than 6,000 total communicant members in the mid 1990s. According to Guelzo, the REC had flirted with fundamentalism and its inherent anti-intellectualism, dispensationalism, Calvinism, theonomy and reconstructionism (page 336). But the most recent "-ism," says Guelzo, is "Anglicanism." I think what he really means is Anglo-Catholicism since this is the direction that the REC is headed with the coming merger with the Anglican Province of America. Already the REC and APA have a concordat with full communion between its ministers whereby any REC or APA minister can pastor a parish within the other's denomination. In fact, after I was forced to leave the ministry at Trinity Reformed Episcopal Church the parish collapsed and Reber was forced to leave because virtually all of the members of Trinity Reformed Episcopal Church had left, apparently because they too were uncomfortable with the Anglo-Catholic leanings of the REC. To confirm my suspicions, I later learned that Rev. Reber was appointed as rector at an Anglican Province of America parish in Kissimmee, Florida.


Moreover, the straw that broke the camel's back between Rev. Reber and me was the issue of apostolic succession and my vows to "obey" my bishop. I told "Jim" my views on apostolic succession were those of the Evangelical, low church side of things whereby apostolic succession is only valid as apostolic doctrine as recorded in Holy Scripture is upheld and taught by the bishops who are consecrated. The Reformed and Protestant doctrine is that where the Gospel is rightly preached and the sacraments are rightly administered, there you will find the true local church. This is even mentioned in the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion:

XIX. Of the Church. 

THE visible Church of Christ is a congregation of faithful men, in the which the pure Word of God is preached, and the Sacraments be duly ministered according to Christ's ordinance in all those things that of necessity are requisite to the same.

As the Church of Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Antioch, have erred: so also the Church of Rome hath erred, not only in their living and manner of Ceremonies, but also in matters of Faith. 

Rev. Reber and I had strongly disagreed several times over the issue of theonomy, as it seemed to me that he was trying force me into accepting his views since he several times characterized those who disagreed with him as "antinomians." Thus, to him my views represented a challenge to his new found conversion to Anglo-Catholic views and to his theonomy. I was surprised therefore when he approached me and told me that I needed to contact Bishop James West immediately to "explain" myself because in his view I had broken my vows given at ordination to "obey the priests and the bishops appointed over me." I quickly pointed out to him that I had done nothing wrong since I had clearly promised to obey the Gospel and those over me so long as they too were in obedience to the one Gospel of Jesus Christ. I made it clear that he was more than welcome to bring formal charges of heresy against me if he thought I was doctrinally wrong on any point. He refused to do so and said that if I didn't contact the bishop he would take action. At that point I saw that he was determined that I should either agree with his views on theonomy, reconstruction and Anglo-Catholicism or I should voluntarily leave or be forced to leave based on his false charges. It was then that I realized I would never fit with the Reformed Episcopal Church and offered my resignation.


I for one will never compromise the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the same Gospel for which our English Reformers were burned at the stake, including Cranmer, Ridley, Latimer and a host of others. I gladly bear the reproach of apostates and heretics who have forsaken the gospel for the sake of man's traditions and man's approval. It has become increasingly obvious that the Reformed Episcopal Church is in agreement with the Anglo-Catholic denial of justification by faith alone as it is laid out so clearly in Article XI. Of the Justification of Man.


While I greatly appreciate the 1662 Book of Common Prayer and the sacraments of the Anglican Reformed faith, I am not opposed to Protestant churches which adhere strictly to their traditional roots and their confession of faith while preaching the true Gospel of Jesus Christ and administering the sacraments in a proper manner. My true leanings are Calvinistic and I do believe in the complete sovereignty of God who has a purpose for everything that happens to us in this life. Therefore, I have a general commitment to most of the Reformed Confessions of Faith with The Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion being the primary and foremost of them. I greatly admire the Westminster Standards and the Heidelberg Catechism.


Where God will take me from this point I do not know. But the one thing I do know is that God cannot fail to keep His visible church intact until the return of Christ. The gates of hell shall not prevail against His church, no matter how many former believers depart the faith for something less than apostolic doctrine as it is recorded once for all in Holy Scripture.

May the peace of God be with you all,

Charlie

(P.S. Sadly, Bishop James West has since passed away. I truly hope that his heart was right with God. I believe it was since he told me himself that he was not comfortable with the Anglo-Catholic side of things. However, I could be wrong since it seems the denomination is determined to part from the Gospel and join with Romish Anglo-Catholics who deny all 5 of the solas of the English and Continental Reformation).

Addendum:  The Reformed Episcopal Church no longer adheres to the plain teaching of the Declaration of Principles but has given them an Anglo-Catholic  revisionist spin.



17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Charlie,

Joe Busfield of the Free Chruch of England (formerly, and still in some sense an RE).

Interesting comments. See:
www.redemptiontrec.org
www.trecus.net
www.fce-ec.org.uk

Please send an contact email to
JTBusfield@fce-ec.org.uk

In Him,

Joe

Anonymous said...

Been in the REC for more than 10 years now. It's been a case of "throw the frogs in the pot and slowly turn up the heat". If they make the transition to Rome slow enough, no one will notice. I'm done with that.

Charlie said...

I sincerely appreciate the comments of both my brothers here. I hope and pray that others in agreement with the Gospel of Jesus Christ will rise up and challenge the Reformed Episcopal Bishops on this issue. Consider especially the late Bishop J. C. Ryle's position on Anglo-Catholicism and you will see that this is no small matter of contention.

Sincerely in Christ,

Charlie

Anonymous said...

How I hope that the Lord raises up a strong, faithful Episcopalian denomination, faithful to the principles of the Reformation and to the Lord, full of men who declare Christ crucified, buried, and risen for our forgivneess. God bless you.

Charlie said...

Amen, brother. Sadly, there is no solidly Reformed Episcopal parish or denomination in my area. However, there is an Amyraldian pastor near me who is Australian and from the Sydney Diocese there. God bless.

Charlie said...

I now have serious reservations about whether or not Bishop West was a true disciple of Christ since I have since learned that he signed the "True Unity of the Cross" document posted on the REC website. It is truly sad that so many are departing from the Gospel, the one universal and "catholic" faith. That Gospel is the Gospel which is by faith alone, through Christ alone, on the authority of Scripture alone and gives all the Glory to God alone.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you my friend are somewhat upset by the fact that the Reformed Episcopal Church did not accept your views, which has caused you to stray away from the reformed doctrine. you may think you are doing right by using this site as a sort of bash session to those who you feel have betrayed you. And if I were you, I would, for the sake of maintaining my standing with God, be more careful about what I say, and who i accuse, or who i let accuse people of not be a "true disciple of Chirst." God Bless, and may you one day see you imperfections. Blessings and Cursings canno't come from the same mouth.

Charlie J. Ray said...

You would be wrong. I am as committed to Reformed/Calvinist theology as I have ever been. Rather it is the "Reformed Episcopal Church" which has left both Reformed and Protestant/Evangelical theology and headed back in the direction of Rome.

As the 39 Articles of Religion puts it, Rome is a church that is in serious error. The final litmus test of any true Christian church is the doctrine of justification by faith alone. Any religion which teaches justification by works or justification by faith plus works is of necessity a heretical church and deserving of anathema and shunning.

Charlie J. Ray said...

It is indeed telling that my critics choose to post anonymously:)

Charlie J. Ray said...

I might also mention that apostolic succession is denied in Article 25 which says that holy orders are NOT a sacrament and that there are only 2 sacraments of baptism and communion.

Anonymous said...

Charlie Ray,

Please send me an e-mail, I would like to speak with you privately.

Blr_grdn@yahoo.com

Jerry Ogles, PB, AOC said...

Charlie:

I could not agree more with your comments and your position.
The REC has sold out - lock, stock, and barrell - to Romish and vulgar fellowship. May the Father of Lights open their eyes in due season.

Charlie J. Ray said...

It seems to me that the Anglican Mission in America is also on the same path as the Reformed Episcopal Church since they too are in common cause relationships with Anglo-Catholics.

Thanks for your comments, Bishop Ogles.....

Far Talk said...

The APA can no longer vote in the Common Cause Partnership (CCP).
The CCP has adopted the 39 Articles.

Charlie J. Ray said...

I don't know where you're getting your information but it is blatantly incorrect. The REC and the APA have a concordat and have been exchanging ministers openly since 1998. Also, the APA and the REC have a document both churches signed called, "True Unity by the Cross." In that document the APA claims to adhere to the 39 Articles of Religion. However, the APA is reading the 39 Articles from the Tractarian perspective where the articles are "re-interpreted" in light of Carolingian and Anglo-Catholic tradition.

I might also point out that the majority of the common cause partners are Anglo-Catholic. The bishop of Pittsburgh, Robert Duncan, is very high church. Those bishops who are truly reformed do not dress as Anglo-Catholics. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer, wore only the black stole and a black hat. He did not wear the chimere, the bishop's mitre, or anything else remotely Roman Catholic.

The problem as I see it is that your pastor and the bishops of the REC have already compromised with papists and Anglo-Catholics. So now they are ought to deceive the laity. It is like putting the frog in the kettle and slowly turning up the heat. Next thing you know the water is boiling and it's too late.

The American Anglican Council and the Anglican Communion Network are run by Anglo-Catholics. Noticeably there is not one mention of justification by faith alone in ANY of the documents of the common cause partnerships. AND simply because they require adherence to the 39 Articles is NO guarantee of actual belief in the 39 Articles as a Protestant document. What Anglo-Catholics always do is to twist the document to fit their Roman Catholic presuppositions. They pretend the English Reformation never happened or they revise history to make it "seem" that the English Reformers were sympathetic to Anglo-Catholic views. They were not. In fact, Thomas Cranmer espoused a Protestant view of the sacraments very close to that of John Calvin and Martin Bucer. AND Cranmer called his view of the Lord's Supper the truly CATHOLIC one. In other words, he said the Roman Catholics, and by implication, the Anglo-Catholic view of today, is NOT the true catholic or universal doctrine. The "catholic" faith is in fact the PROTESTANT faith. I.E. Calvinism, Lutheranism, etc. It is NOT and never will be "Reformed Catholic" as Anglo-Catholics have re-interpreted that term. It's a word game. Anglicanism is NOT a middle way between Protestantism and Roman Catholicism. It IS PROTESTANT, REEFORMED, AND CALVINISTIC!! Anyone who says otherwise is just plain out and out dissimulating.

Peace,

Charlie

Reformation said...

The REC is gone. Compromised. For former, disaffected REC-ers, we have established a discussion group at FreeREC-RECStudentsAlumChurchmen@yahoogroups.com. Charlie's situation suffers from an enormous lack of institutional integrity.

Charlie J. Ray said...

The Reformed Episcopal Church no longer exists. It has since morphed into the Anglican Church in North America. The ACNA is just as apostate as The Episcopal Church minus the gay/lesbian/transgender issues. It won't be long before it goes full circle again and the ACNA and GAFCON will be ordaining the GLT ministers. Why? Because their commitment is not to the Gospel but to tolerance and doctrinal minimalism.

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