The Beginning of the End of the Reformation?

Father Eric Bergman, a former Anglican who converted to Rome, who shepherds a congregation of Anglicans who’ve been received into the Roman communion, predicts that the influx of Anglicans into Rome will end the Reformation. You may remember that back in October the HB reported on a decision by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (the artist formerly known as the Inquisition) to provide a way for Anglicans to enter the Roman communion and retain Anglican-like worship. The WSJ has a report about a congregation in DC of Anglicans taking advantage of the new way to swim the Tiber.  According to the report, one of the worshipers was moved by hearing a familiar Anglican song. The words, however, “had been carefully vetted in Rome for theological points….” In the confession of sin the phrase, ” and there is no health in us” was Removed by the Romanist censors. The WSJ says,

But Father Bergman not only predicts a mass movement toward Rome. He believes Anglican Use may mark the beginning of the end of the Reformation. There will be “a flourishing of this throughout the world,” he says. “Wherever there are Anglicans, there will be people who want to enter Holy Mother Church.” As he told a rapt audience at St. Mary’s, “If we look at histories, heresies run themselves out after about 500 years. I believe we are seeing the last gasp of the Reformation in the mainline Protestant groups.”

Bergman is willing to use the words of Cranmer, whom he calls a “despicable fellow,” if it facilitates the conversion of Anglicans.

Ryan Glomsrud, the Executive Editor of Modern Reformation, notes that this is really just another chapter in the culture and worship wars. It is, as Ryan says, “one more sad testimony that Gospel-doctrine is far from many Christians’ minds and that the direction- and pace-setting agenda of modern Christianity (even of the Roman Catholic stripe) continues to be morality and worship-style.”

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  1. One could see this as a positive. Won’t it weed out, so to speak, those congregations that don’t preach the Gospel anyway?

    And heresies typically run out after 500 years? I’m curious to the statistics on that one.

  2. That war re: Anglo-Catholics was lost late in the 19th and early 20th century in British and American Anglicanism. Forward in Faith Anglicans in Britain imbibed some theological liberalism as well and are the likely candidates to swim the turgid, brown, and gently flowing Tiber. The new gaggle of Manglicans in the new North American Anglican province, headed by Bob Duncan in Pittsburg, still harbours these anti-Reformation men, e.g. Bishop Iker, Ackerman and Schofield. At their inaugural ceremony, what I dub an “hugfest,” they hosted Rick Warren and Metropolitan Jonah of the Orthodox Church of America. Of the former, we heard nothing of substance. Of the latter, we heard that the “Reformation” and “Calvinism” was heretical. Of course, not a peep from leaders or media.

    As one who watches these matters regularly, I trust not one senior leader–let me be clear–not one senior leader among them concering the Reformation or Reformation Anglicanism, including the Rev. Dr. James Innes Packer.

    Contrary to the Utopianism of Bergman in the post, the Nigerians roundly rebuffed the proposal on the grounds of the English Reformation. The Nigerians have 18 million Anglican adherents, about 18 times the size of these forlorn and apostate U.S. Anglicans.

    The mess goes beyond words.

    Reformed theology is optional among some in the new gaggle of Manglicans and they are not Confessional. They have no discipline on these things.

    I’ve said my piece on this matter. “Recovery the Reformed Confessions.” Actively memorizing them, confessing and professing our faith to individuals, families, within churches, and, where possibly, more widely.

    Semper Fi, an unknown phrase amongst the Manglicans.

  3. Let’s face it America is no longer the center of Christianity. Over 60% of believers live outside of America. So to contextualize Anglicanism or Christianity to America is absolutely wrong. The English Reformation is still continuing strong in Africa, Asia and Australia despite the North American Anglicans who don’t care for the Thirty Nine Articles.

    • It’s somewhat unfortunate that one might be forced to move to another continent to find an old service using the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, such as Nigeria where it remains in use throughout the nation. Or, perhaps a move to Australia where something of the old ways remain—and yet there are questions there as well. Or, in Nigeria, where they still retain a love for the English Reformation and the XXXIX Articles taught to them by evangelical Anglicans 3-4 generations ago.

      But, alas, such an intercontinental move may be warranted.

      Bob Duncan of Pittsburg, head of the new gaggle, ACNA, constantly speaks of the “transformative love of Christ,” such that any Romanist could warmly embrace. It gets not much deeper with him. I don’t think there’s a Reformational bone in the fellow. He’s a graduate of General Seminary, NYC. Should we expect more?

      He hugs Rick Warren’s hearty minimalisms and, in an about face, turns around for an hearty embrace of the Orthodox Bishop thundering and declaiming that Calvinism is an “heresy” (not privately, but in their public hugfest of 23 Jun 09).

      No principled Confessional, Protestant and Reformed Anglican, if principled, consistent, and virile, can abide it.

      An intercontinental move, personally, is in fact under review four years out for this scribe.

      With the chaos, I am sympathetic to the “monastic impulse.” There was a staunch Presbyterian, Rev. Davies I believe, who said, “I retire to my library to relieve myself of the dreariness of earthly mortals.”

      Psalm 46 brings ballast to the situation. As do some brethren, the books, the family, and a tenuous Anglican mission–with charismania-lite in the early service. What can one do?

      Yielding on the great Confessions and that old book (minus some needed revisions) is not an option.

      Semper Fi.

      • With Jim Packer a few months back at an Anglican Conference in Orlando, FL. A personal friend, a Reformed Anglican, stood up during the Q & A and asked how Dr. Packer could reconcile himself with Anglo-Catholicism. Jim gave a 3-4 sentence answer, ended it, and said, “Next question.” Dr. Turnbull, Principal of Wycliffe Hall, Oxford University, recognizing the tension in the answer and the curt response to my friend, approached my friend following the seminar. Assuringly, he told my friend that, indeed, the English Reformation was the stuff of the old Articles and Prayer Book and not of Anglo-Catholicism.

        What can one do with that kind of leadership? Especially from one who knows the issues.

        Sydney, Australia? Lagos, Nigeria? A move to find common Confessional Churchmanship and fellowship? Sad to have to move across the ocean for fellowship.

        • And for this scribe, it’s not about culture or worship wars. It’s a biblical, law-strong, Gospel-driven, governed, informed and sensible service with copious Biblical readings. “Shine Jesus Shine,” drum kits and crooners is out of the question…not even a question. Sorry for the mulitple posts, but it is a profound ache and loss to be orphaned and even marginalized by indifference, incompetence, and a latitudinarianism due to lack of discernment.

      • Dear D. Phillip Veitch,

        First – that is a very nice blogsite you have put together – thank you.

        I am sorry and sympathetic to the pain & sorrow you must feel as you watch your denomination fade into destitution. The same has happened in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and it began, really, with the rising tide of Latitudinarianism – against which G. “Valiant for Truth” Machen fought. As they say over here in New Mexico, brother, Vaya con Dios.

        Also, you were correct in citing President Davies, but if I may, here is what he said: “The venerable dead are waiting in my library to entertain me and relieve me from the nonsense of surviving mortals.” Same thing really but I thought you might enjoy having that quip – perhaps as a balm for your weary soul as you retire to your own library…

        And finally, Semper Fi

        • Dear Dwistanti1:

          Yes, that’s the quote I weakly recalled and a testimony to my leaky memory. A good quote.

          And, rather than relaxing on the old Confessions as might be inferred by one reviewer, the time has come to “pro-actively” confess our faith.



  4. (Jest) I am devastated that Charlie thinks me not to be worthy of trust… Ah – of course, I’m not senior because:
    1. I’m a continuing Anglican and we don’t count in the world’s eyes:
    2. I preach the Doctrines of Grace substantially as they are set forth in the 39 Articles of Religion:
    3. I am rather young to be counted senior yet – though probably older than Paul when he died!

    More seriously – anyone who thinks the Reformation is over is simply bonkers. This world has still many thousands of faithful Christians who follow the Scripture as it is plainly written.
    Anyone who leaves Anglicanism for Rome was never really Anglican in the first place.
    And lastly, in my little rant,
    the specific offer made by the Pope of Rome was made in particular to members of the Church of England. And I can inform Rev Mr Eric Bergman that there has been no flow to Rome at all from the CofE yet – to the great surprise and shock of Rome, I have no doubt.

    • Domnic:

      1. I didn’t see Charlie’s post to that end. If in reference to my remarks about not trusting Anglican leaders, I refer to the ACNA gaggle of minimalists. I also continue to say that about the ACNA leaders, However, you get a pass. You’re not in that group.

      2. For the unfamilar, Domnic is a Senior Presbyter (Bp) of the Free Church of England-Evangelical Connexion, a continuuing Anglican body. Dominic, two offices for this scribe, not three. We need to go back to the old Celtic model where Presbyters dispatch one of themselves to “go do admin business.” Call him a bishop and let him report to the College of Presbyters as his senior. Like a clerk of presbytery. And “with term limits.” FCE-EC is the English counterpart to the old Reformed Episcopal Church. FCE-EC has not bought into the REC capitulations.

      3. Bergman is utopian and hyper-myopic re: the end of the Reformation. Agreed, many will not yield. Still will like an update on Peter of Nigeria (Akinola), their retired senior bishop. They rebuffed the Roman overture quickly and flatly, affirming sola scriptura and the English Reformation. Again, little play by the “Voice of Orthodox Anglicanism,”

      4. I suspect the attraction to Popedom will come from C o E Anglo-Romanists and some in Australia, e.g. TAC, or Tradition Anglicans—long-standing Anglo-Papists. I think the TAC-ers have been accepted by the Bavarian German Shepherd, Joe Ratzinger? Not sure, but they are close.

      5. Also, of note, an interview with Dr. Gerald Bray with Issues, Etc. on the “Crisis in Anglicanism.” I just received it, although it has a few days on it, datewise.

      6. Dominick, highly regard your work in England. Also, the same for Senior Presbyter (Bp.) Ed Malcolm of the Church of England (cont’). Also, Dr. Schucksworth, FCE-EC, of Plymouth, UK, a former Royal Marine and Navy Chaplain.

      7. Dominic, Sharon and I may make an intercontinental move in 4-5 years. Get the kids through college and pay off the house. Living in a military town, it will rent all day long. Maybe UK. If so, perhaps can render assistance. Also, with the Protestant Truth Society. Rev. Dick Knodel, OPC, is working with them. A rock-solid Churchman. One rule if we came. No honorariums, stipends, nothing. We’d support ourselves fully. Certainly, if so, would love to do dinner, my dime, or my British pound, as it were. I’ll never have my income tied to anyone again.

      8. Also, a good note tonight from a current professor at Reformed Episcopal Seminary, decisively a Calvinistic man of the old school, who continues to teach in that direction. However, the directi0n of the REC is what “it is.” Compromise. Chalk that up to non-senior Presbyters (so-called Bishops) Leo Riches and Ray Sutton, the latter loving a good photo op anywhere in lace and in arms with anything non-Reformed. Reformed theology, perhaps, if convenient. We have word that he’s reported to have said, “Those were issues of the 16th century and they are not our issues today.” Orthodox theology, if necessary. But, “Anglican,” a must-have we’re told by the chameleon, the Rt. Rev. Ray Sutton. They just made the FV-man, the ex-theonomist, Ray Sutton the “ecumenical officer” for Bob in Pittsburg (Duncan). A photo of Ray, Bob and a few of the ACNC Anglo-Romanists at Nashotah House, that “hothouse” Anglo-Romanist seminary. There’s the old Kentucky Baptist boy, Ray Sutton, right alongside Metropolitan Jonah, the thundering Bishop of the OCA, who publicly pummelled Calvinism. Sutton is an opportunist. Also, the RES Professor does not like or accept the direction of the REC compromisers. Who can abide this?

      9. Thanks for input on the “non-exodus” of these Anglo-Papist Church of England clerics to date to that hell-hole, the Vatican.

  5. Mr. Clark,

    Please note that the phrase “and there is no health in us” was taken out of the prayer by the Episcopal Church first in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer. The Book of Divine Worship simply took over the form of the prayers straight from the 79 prayer book with some very minor changes, such as changing ‘you’ to ‘us’ and taking as a Eucharistic prayer the Coverdale translation of the old Roman Canon with the modern form for the words of institution with its proclamation of the mystery of faith. The revisions of Cranmer’s prayers were made long before they were presented for Rome’s approval.

    Cranmer’s prayer book was largely the translation from the Latin to English of traditional liturgical prayers of the ancient church from which were omitted the parts incompatible with the new Protestant dogmas. The Anglo-Catholic attitude has been that those omissions were often improper and without truly Biblical warrant. It is an interesting study to see how the various Prayer Books of the national churches have modified Cranmer’s prayers over the years. The Anglican Use Prayer Book simply adopted texts that were in use in Anglican Churches before applicationwas made to be received into the Roman Church.

    Fr. Bergman’s comments on the end of the Reformation should be taken in the context of the continued shrinking of mainline Protestant Churches. The confessional Protestant Churches are also small denominations with very little influence, if any, on the surrounding culture. Unless there is some sort of revival Protestantism seems to be in a terminal decline. Thus Fr.Bergman’s expectation of the near end of the Reformation is a reasonable induction from the present situation.

    Bill Zuck

    • Bill

      Fair enough but he wasn’t only predicting the end of the mainline as such. He equated all Protestantism with heresy and said that it would last 500 yrs like other heresies.

      • Mr. Clark,

        Of course Fr. Bergman considers Protestantism to be heresy. That is why he and his parish became Anglican Use Roman Catholics instead of some other sort of Protestant. He and they are no different from the other converts that I have known who came to the conclusion that the Roman Church was the true church and Protestantism an unbiblical heresy. Both sides here consider the other to be an unbiblical heresy. I have friends, whether converts to Eastern Orthodoxy or to Roman Catholicism, who consider James 2:21-24 to be a slam dunk against sola fide. After all its speaks of justification by the synergism of faith, and Paul tells us that what avails before God is the faith wrought by love.

        Protestants of course interpret thes texts differently. Each side considers its doctrine to be the true Biblical doctrine and the others’ to be contrary to scripture.

        About one in six of every human being alive today is a member of the Catholic Church. The Protestant Churches both mainline and confessional do not have a comparable impact on our world. As I said above it is only with some kind of a revival that Protestantism can recover from its present decline.

        We know that Christ promised to be with His Church every day as it carried out its commission to teach and baptize all nations until the end of the world. He is now seated at the Father’s right hand waiting until all enemies are placed under His Feet. The operative question then is: which form of Christianity is that which is the Church that Jesus is working with to complete His work? Obviously, Fr. Bergman believes that the Catholic Church is that Church. You do not. However, as things appear now the Catholic Church is spreading across the world in a manner that Protestantism is not. Thisis why Fr. Bergman feels his prophecy is justified and why he found it necessary to leave Protestantism and continue to exercise his priesthood in the Catholic Church. You have your work
        cut out for you if you want to prove him wrong.

        Bill Zuck

        • Bill,

          Historically and biblically Christians have not determined the truth by counting noses. Were that the way of truth then we should say that Athanasius was wrong, but we don’t do we? Why not? Because Athanasius was right! We could say the same about our Lord. At one point he was abandoned by all, even the disciples.

          This is why the Protestants have, in their best moments, embraced a theologia crucis over against the Romish theologia gloriae. God’s Truth is in Christ and in his Word and that word is constitutive of the church. Rome, of course, reverses that order and has the church forming the Word. What a grand mistake that is! As if in the beginning was the church. No, in the beginning was the Word. So, the church has often been hidden and inglorious. It was for this lack of a glorious triumph that caused the Jews to crucify our Lord; because he didn’t bring the right sort of kingdom. Hence a theologia crucis not a theologia gloriae.


        • Bill,

          I’d like to know how you substantiate your rather bold claims. You claim that the Catholic church has a much greater “impact” on our world. What does that mean? How do you measure impact? Given that the British Empire followed by America the superpower were both primarily Protestant empires/nations, it seem unlikely that the Catholic church had a greater global impact than did British and American Protestantism (and then of course there’s Korea, which is majority Presbyterian).

          You also claim that Catholicism is growing (I assume in numbers) and that it is “spreading across the world in a manner that Protestantism is not.” Upon what do you base this claim? All of the recent statistics I’ve read about have indicated that Catholicism is actually LOSING members to Protestantism faster than it is gaining converts. And last time I checked, it was various forms of Protestantism that were growing rapidly in Africa and China, not Catholicism.

          But as doctor Clark said, this issue is not solved by a majority vote. If so, you and I need to convert to Islam pronto!

  6. It’s so kind of the spirit of antichrist to give credit for all his work to the real Church and visa versa.

    • Mark,

      Please look at IJohn 4:3:
      “and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.”

      It is very difficult to label a Church that confesses that the Word became flesh and communhicates his grace by sacraments, sacramentals, icons, relics and other objects and persons as being an operation manifesting that spirit of antichrist which denies that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh. It would be easier to make that charge stick against a Church that condemns their use.

      Bill Zuck

      • Bill:

        It’s not hard–at all–to call Rome antichristian for those who have studied Tridentine doctrines. We Catholics, we Catholic Christians of the Reformation Churches and Confessions have long studied these matters.

        Papist soteriology alone vitiates Papist Christology, Theology Proper, and Harmartiology, for starters…and confessing the Nicene Creed in Papist congregations is a study in conflict.

        With the English Reformers, unitedly, I call Romanist confessors “Baalamites.”

        As Calvin said, “If we could but settle for a half-Christ, we might sue for peace.” Given the obstinacy, recalcitrance, and unteachability of that man of Rome, no peace.

  7. Bill:

    And you won’t find sympathy in historic and confessional Calvinistic Anglicanism either. Not until the Tractarians.

    Read all 54 volumes of the Parker Society series as a good warm-up. They’re available on Regrettably, I bought half of them, hard copy, at high prices only to discuss the internet resources.

    It is unquestionable and indubitable that Monsieur Jean Calvin influenced the English Reformation, notwithstanding revisionists today.

    Rome was and is an abomination when you did deeper. Even recently, we’ve heard of poor Joe Ratzinger and his self-flagellation.

    A good article here on Calvin and the English Reformation. Calvin, that grand ornament of the Reformation.

  8. Bill:

    And, with Rev. Augustus Toplady, a Confessional Anglican, we affirm that Arminianism is blasphemy and false witnessing about the character of God…often without knowing it. Laud, many of his Caroline followers, and Wesley should have been defrocked.

    Truly, Western Anglicans don’t know what or who they are or where they came from.

    Like Papists using the Nicene Creed, but gutting it by Tridentine errors.

    For Toplady, see:

  9. Thanks for posting this news, Scott. I linked back on my blog and posted one of your comments that I found helpful. You continue to stir fire in me for the importance of lifting up the doctrines of Christ’s word, in confession and practice, as the means of His Spirit for restoring His church.

  10. The idea of God'[s grace being communicated via “sacramentals: Rosary or relics or icons is nothing less than idolatry, since we see the physical Jesus no more, since he is at the Right Hand of the Father as “our sole Mediator and Advocate” BCP. Reformed Christians accept the historic Creeds and are neither Euthychian nor Nestorian. Admittedly, some may be, but the Roman Church isn’t free from error. Especially since Trent damns to hell those who in penitence trust Christ’s Redemptive work alone outside themselves for justification. The Reformation continues as proper and historic Biblical faith, liturgy, Creedalism, and Sacramentalism are defended and advocated. All this in the confessi0nal Context of the Three Forms of Unity.

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