Saturday, December 01, 2007

schism or realignment? prophecy, Packer and patience

Last week was a significant one in the ongoing division that has been growing in the Anglican Church of Canada over some Bishops’ move to a ‘liberal understanding’ of some bible teachings, and in particular the blessing of gay unions, and consequently the ordination of homosexuals into the church.

The way forward for churches like St John’s Shaughnessy (that we attend), is to leave the oversight of the Anglican Church of Canada and come under the leadership of the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone of America (based in Argentina), and directly under the leadership of a retired Bishop of the Anglican Church of Canada, who will leave the church and take up duties serving defecting Canadian churches for the Southern Cone. For St John’s church plant, St John’s Richmond, the decision has been made. But for St John’s Shaughnessy, who risks loosing it’s property that is owned by the Anglican church of Canada, the decision will be discussed and decided at their annual vestry meeting in February.

A key player in this way forward has been Regent College’ Dr. J.I. Packer, who delivered a speech last week to delegates of a meeting representing the frustrated churches. Dr. Packer, who was described as “a doctrinal Solomon” in regards to wisdom, spoke of the move as “not schism but realignment.” Packer’s speech includes his description of, or vision for, the Anglican communion – high ideals which have lead him to remain an Anglican and be a shepherd to Canadian Anglican’s in this time of crisis.

In 1984, Jim Packer wrote in Keep In Step With The Spirit of how to respond to a personal prophecy that a ‘prophet’ articulates for your life, Packer suggests the only response should be an openness of mind to the prophecy being fulfilled, and also to the prophecy not taking place at all, that is, no action on behalf of the receiver of the prophecy. Packer reflects on a prophecy given to him about why God may have brought him to Regent College:

“we are not to be led by the possibly deluded predictions of self-styled prophets. (I think in this connection of the certainly sincere charismatic prophet who told me in 1979 that God had not brought me to Vancouver to write books, as I supposed, but to lead Christian people through a time of great internal division in the city churches. Well, the churches seem much as they were in 1979, and here I sit writing this book.)” pg. 216

As it turns out, The Lord plans some things in advance (28 years in Packer' case), and through his Spirit gives his ‘prophets’ the message early. It looks like this prophecy was fulfilled, and God indeed brought his servant J.I. Packer to Vancouver, at least in part, to “lead Christian people through a time of great internal division.”

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