Monday, March 26, 2007

Foreword by Dr J.I. Packer

Foreword by the Rev. Dr. J.I. Packer

What my friend Ed Hird has written in the pages that follow is a forthright tract for the times. Ed is a bible-believer, a converted Christian, an Anglican clergyman, a charismatic, a sufferer, a soldier of Christ, a man of God, a shepherd of souls and a nurturer of vocations, a visionary, a pioneer, a Canadian patriot, a journalist and lively author.

These notes on leadership, as Paul’s letter to Timothy profile it, come hot out of his heart. He sees the hope of God’s church in Canada as rooted in the finding and forming of Timothys who, like their namesake, will become leaders under the authority of Jesus Christ and the apostolic Scriptures for the gathering, guiding and guarding of the faithful. He appears as just such a Timothy himself, as his battling for the gospel in a ruinously off-course segment of the Anglican Church of Canada has fully shown. His book is a real page-turner, hard to put down once you have gotten into it.

To be sure, it will not please everybody. Over and above the revisionists who maraud in the ACC like the great white shark in Jaws, there are still many who have no sense that the church is currently at risk from the deadening effect of the liberalism that for two generations has been the Canadian Anglican stock-in-trade, and who cannot see that the pan-Anglican furore that has sprung up from a dire policy decision in the New Westminster diocese has anything to do with them.

For such people, Anglicanism means being nice to everybody during the week, being regular at church on Sunday, backing the rector and the bishop in whatever they favour and direct, and nothing more. Questions of doctrine, true or false, and of biblical faithfulness, maintained or abandoned, they see as none of their business, and so they leave them to the professionals. Anglicans were like that in the England of my youth, and seem largely so still in the Canada of which I am now part. Not all who adhere to the Anglican church system, therefore, can be expected to warm to Ed Hird’s passionate pleas.

As an evangelical clergyman in the Church of England, I and many like me were constantly told by our Free Church opposite numbers that our church was too dead and corrupt for honest ministers to be part of. Our regular reply was that we valued our heritage (the 39 Articles, the Book of Common Prayer, and the track record of pastoral idealism and recurring revivals); we were working for reform and renewal of life at every level, raising our voices to challenge and counter doctrinal drift, and to evangelize and nurture the needy; and so we would continue till the institution either denied the gospel, legislating in a way that undercut and destroyed our credibility, or threw us out. When I became a Canadian, I no more expected either outcome in the ACC than I had done in the C of E.

However, it happened. The same diocese in which Ed and I served, New Westminster, resolved to class same-sex unions with holy matrimony and bless them accordingly. As 1 Corinthians 6 makes clear, that means negating one main strand of the apostolic doctrine of sin and the gospel requirement of repentance and the sanctifying ministry of the Holy Spirit, and so pulling the rug from under true pastoral care of the homosexually inclined. Ed and I were among hundreds that walked out of synod, declaring ourselves out of communion with it and the bishop by reason of this decision. And since then, Ed and his congregation have been forced out of their premises, so that now they meet in a school. Readers need to remember that this is the life-situation –the sitz im leben, as scholars would call it – out of which this book has come.

When Beethoven, after several years of compositional struggle, finally produced his Mass in D (Missa Sollenis), he had printed at the head of the score “From the heart it comes. To the heart may it go.” That is my wish, and indeed my prayer, for Ed’s spiritual wake-up-call which it is my pleasure now to commend to the alert Canadian Christian public.

Dr. J.I. Packer, Board of Governors’ Professor of Theology at Regent College; prolific author, including Knowing God: recently named by TIME magazine as among the 25 most influential evangelicals in America.

-To purchase a copy of 'Battle for the Soul of Canada' for yourself or others, just send a cheque for $15 (plus $3.50 Shipping and Handling (Canadian S&H*) to the Rev. Ed Hird, #1008-555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC V7N 2J7

* By surface to the USA, the total cost for the book plus S&H would be $20.00 USD. Checks can only be accepted from USA, England and Canada. All others need to send bank drafts.

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