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Packer Says, “The Dike Gave Way.”

Category Articles
Date November 3, 2005

NEW YORK – “I greet you with a heavy heart,” declared the Rev. Dr. J. I. Packer to an international gathering at the Metropolitan Club in New York City. “Like many of you, I am an Anglican, and I am caught up in the agony of world Anglicanism.”

Packer, a world renowned evangelical theologian and principal of Regent College in Vancouver, had come to New York on Sept. 8 to honor archbishops from the four corners of the world who have dared to challenge the decadence of the Episcopal Church (USA).

The award ceremony was sponsored by Kairos Journal, an online resource with subscribers in more than 80 countries that seeks to equip and support pastors and church leaders as they strive to transform the moral conscience of the culture and restore the prophetic voice of the church.

“I am struck by the fact that the Anglican story of the last ten to fifteen years is all too similar to what has happened recently to New Orleans,” said Packer. “At one time the church had a system of dikes, and they were all anchored in the Word of God. We had a prayer book that confessed the gospel, but that dike gave way.” Packer’s words resonated with Presbyterians in the room, for the Presbyterian Church (USA) is also anchored in constitutional documents, The Book of Confessions and the Book of Order, that were adopted by its founders to safeguard Biblical faith and practice.

“From outside the dike, there came those who called for another way of doing what they called ‘theology’,” continued Packer. “All of this was an attempt to verbalize their ‘religious experience,’ not the revealed truth of God. Religious feelings replaced Jesus Christ, making him to be someone who is not what the Scriptures say he is. When the liberals – I use the word many of them claim for themselves – reduced Christianity to a religion of the self, the dike gave way, the prayer book was set aside, the floods came, and the Anglican Church of Britain, Canada and the United States has been inundated.”

When Packer refers to the World Anglican Communion, he speaks of some 77 million Anglicans – the Episcopal Church (USA) claims barely 2.3 million of them – who represent vastly diverse cultures and languages, but whose unity is grounded in Scripture and the historic Christian faith. “I never would have dreamed that I would find myself in a body that is estranged from the World Anglican Communion,” said Packer, whose own diocese of New Westminster supported the consecration of Bishop Eugene Robinson, a man who left his wife for his homosexual lover.

“If a same-sex relationship makes you feel good, happy, satisfied, fulfilled, then we say, ‘that’s all right. We have talked it over with Jesus, and it’s all right.’ It takes my breath away to hear people talking like that, but that is what has happened to us.”

Referring to Jesus Christ’s high priestly prayer in John 17, Packer said, “The Anglican Communion is an expression of the unity of the church of our Lord Jesus Christ … I was present when we checked ourselves out of communion with the historic, world church … So what will we say about this? We have to say that this is an abandonment of Scripture and a denial of the gospel.”

Parker T. Williamson
The Presbyterian Layman

[With permission from The Layman, October 2005, a publication of the Presbyterian Lay Committee.]

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