As evidence of the escalating crisis in the global Anglican Communion, today one of the of the world’s most esteemed Christian theologians, Dr. J.I. Packer, received a letter threatening suspension from ministry by the controversial Bishop of New Westminster, Michael Ingham. Bishop Ingham accused Dr. Packer, hailed by Time Magazine as the “doctrinal Solomon” of Christian thinkers, “to have abandoned the exercise of ministry” after the church where he is a member voted to separate from the diocese and join the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone under the oversight of Anglican Archbishop Gregory Venables. Dr. Packer, who was ordained in the Church of England, is the author of the Christian classic, “Knowing God,” and joined Billy Graham and Richard John Neuhaus as one of Time Magazine’s 25 most influential evangelicals in 2005.
Read the whole story here.
A follow-up story gives the following information:
Dr. Packer together with the other clergy at St. John’s have been served with a Notice of Presumption of Abandonment of the Exercise of the Ministry under Canon XIX. According to Bishop Michael Ingham of the Diocese of New Westminster, the notice is based on the following “facts”:
1. that he has publicly renounced the doctrine and discipline of the Anglican Church of Canada; and
2. that you have sought or intend to seek admission into another religious body outside the Anglican Church of Canada.
The notice also states that if Dr. Packer does not take advantage of provisions under the Canons to dispute the facts stated above, Dr. Packer’s spiritual authority as a minister of Word and Sacraments conferred in ordination will be revoked on April 21, 2008.
I hope the English bishops and other Evangelicals who are urging all the Global South bishops to come to the Lambeth conference and have tea (and Holy Communion!) with the likes of Michael Ingham are taking notice of what he has done to one of their own.
On a personal note: I must add that I would not be an Anglican today, much less the Dean and President of an Anglican/Episcopal seminary, if it were not for the influence J. I. Packer had on me when I was a Baptist seminarian thirty years ago. If Packer had not written anything beyond his preface to a modern edition of John Owen's, "The Death of Death in the Death of Christ" he would still rank as a great theologian. But he has written a great deal more than that; and, in his long ministry, he has inspired several generations of Christians, clergy, and scholars.
Packer's great devotion to the theology and spirituality of John Owen is seen in this tribute to Owen, written by the well known pastor and author, John Piper.
This quotation from Owen seems particularly appropriate to the situation that Dr. Packer and many of us now find ourselves.
When the heart is cast indeed into the mould of the doctrine that the mind embraceth,—when the evidence and necessity of the truth abides in us,—when not the sense of the words only is in our heads, but the sense of the thing abides in our hearts—when we have communion with God in the doctrine we contend for—then shall we be garrisoned by the grace of God against all the assaults of men. (John Owen, Works, I, p. lxiii-lxiv.)