Faith in a Time of Crisis
Faith in a Time of Crisis
by Vaughan Roberts with Peter Jensen, edited by Geoff Robson (Matthias Media)
Why invest time in reading a book about controversies and divisions within the Anglican denomination?
With this question, the editor of Faith in a Time of Crisis opens a book that is timely, essential reading. The answer to this question is, of course, that in the controversies and divisions the gospel is at stake. It is no longer reasonable to assume that the bloodlines of British politeness that run through Anglicanism will hold the Communion together.
The fractures caused by the actions of some Anglican leaders over the past two decades have exposed the reality that at least two different gospels are being preached and believed in the Anglican Church across the world. With this in mind, Roberts and Jensen write to encourage, urge and compel us to “contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).
In typical Roberts style, the book is surprisingly short, easy to read and filled with engaging illustrations and sharp pastoral challenge. Several questions were added to my “discuss with staff” list as I read the five chapters that unpack the True Gospel, True Sex, True Love, True Unity and True Faith – the last written by Peter Jensen.
Drawing on solid exegesis, the Anglican formularies, the example of some of the heroes of the faith, scientific research and personal example, the book winsomely draws us back to listen to our gracious God who loves us. We know he loves us because he has spoken to us in his authoritative word of the gracious sending of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. We know he loves us because he has called us to repent and believe the gospel and then to live out that gospel in all of life. We know the church is off track because much of this is denied and distorted.
The sharp edge of the evidence of this distortion is the acceptance of homosexuality within the Anglican Church. Throughout the book, Roberts comes back to this reality repeatedly but is at pains to say that the real issue is about how we view, interpret and apply the Bible and the shape the gospel takes as we do so.
In Chapter 1 he helpfully exposes the way Enlightenment thinking has led to the disintegration of the “true truth” of Christianity and the adoption of a gospel that sounds “comfortable, safe and middle class”. In Chapter 2, the fruit of individualism is shown to be insecurity and isolation while the fruit of the gospel is seen in the freedom and fulfilment of sex and marriage as God designed.
In Chapter 3 love is rescued from being an empty, insipid feeling and instead is filled with principled grace and loving, practical care. In Chapter 4, Christian unity is explained as an unavoidable spiritual fact, not a virtue to be pursued at gospel cost.
Finally, in Chapter 5, Peter Jensen forthrightly urges us to see that in these days of indifference and opposition, those who live by faith may need to make di cult and costly decisions if we are to remain as bright lights shining in the darkness. He calls for true faith that breeds true courage.
This is a book written by people of gospel conviction who are calling all those with gospel conviction to stand for that gospel. And it is not just for Anglicans. In a recent Twitter exchange on these issues, an Independent Baptist friend said that the destruction of the gospel was happening in his circles as well.
Don’t just read this book and lament. Read it and prayerfully allow it to help you work out how you will contribute to the need to contend for the gospel today.
The Rev Nigel Fortescue is the senior minister of Campbelltown Anglican Church. This review was originally published in Southern Cross magazine.