Response to this Site and e-mail correspondence

May 2, 1998

Regular readers will be aware of Rev Don Anderson’s appeal to the Judicial Committee Executive, charging that the National Executive improperly liberalized UC doctrines when it supported Bill Phipps’ right to say he did not believe Jesus was God. Don has now written to the Observer and to Fellowship magazine, and has given me permission to e-publish his letter below. - Tony Copple

From: Don Anderson[] Sent: May 5, 1998 7:07 PM
To: Copple, Tony
Subject: Appeal

The Judicial Committee Executive has refused to hear my December '97 appeal, arguing that it did not meet the necessary grounds and therefore is rejected.

I had challenged the Executive of General Council response to the issues raised by the interview of the United Church moderator with the Ottawa Citizen which both affirmed the United Church faith statements and supported the moderator's right to express his personal faith views publicly.

My appeal made the following challenges: the Executive failed to recognize the requirements of Order of Ministry as distinct from those of members of congregations, when they stated "... we do not believe that faithfulness consists in assenting to particular statements. Rarely, if ever, do we use doctrinal standards to exclude anyone from the circle of belonging"... and with respect to the polity of The Manual in which the Order of Ministry are required to be in "essential agreement" with particular statements and doctrinal standards; the Executive wrongly included as statements of doctrine official statements and other "doctrinal standards" which The Manual does not reference as Doctrine in applying the provisions of The Manual, and in doing so has distorted both the doctrine and the decision making process of the United Church; the Executive did not use the procedures which involve all parties set forth in The Manual for conflict resolution, but rather created an administrative process which did not involve all parties and which does not exist in The Manual.

The General Council has full power to legislate on matters respecting doctrine, worship, membership and government provided that before any legislation can be treated as a permanent law it must receive the approval of a majority of the presbyteries and if advisable pastoral charges also. The theological understandings and official statements used in the Executive's response had not received this approval but were included with permanent law in deciding critical questions within the church.

The appeal was not presented to attack the moderator, but because the Executive had ignored the legal requirements of The Manual.

The United Church of Canada appears to be making decisions by increment. By making decisions along the way we confuse the decision making process, the process being prejudiced because in the minds of many people the decision has already been made and acted upon.

I am disappointed by the decision to reject the appeal, as the decision making process of our church is at question. The church is making change without the process set out in the Basis of Union sections of The Manual that requires approval of a majority of the presbyteries and if advisable pastoral charges also. The legal precedents of the United Church of Canada are spelled out by the United Church of Canada Act in the doctrine and polity of the Basis of Union, and include a process to change the doctrine or polity which is open and honest; to do it otherwise is to pervert justice within our church.

The appeal documentation and replies from the Executive and Judicial Committee are available unedited in wordperfect 6.0a format by e-mail if requested.

Rev. Don Anderson
White Lake, Ontario


From: Copple, Tony
Subject: Deity

A vigorous debate on the motion "The Deity of Jesus Christ" has been in play on the Internet Newsgroup soc.religion.christian. If you check it out you'll come across this posting that I added April 29,98. The moderator of the newsgroup already added a postscript adding to the denominations currently examining the issue.

Article 110522 of soc.religion.christian:
From: aj624@FreeNet.Carleton.CA (Tony Copple)
Newsgroups: soc.religion.christian
Subject: Re: The Deity of Jesus Christ
Date: 29 Apr 1998 21:26:32 -0400

Those following this debate may be interested to know (if you don't already) that the issue of "Is Jesus God" sparked a huge confab in the United Church of Canada in October 1997 when the moderator of the UCC stated in an Ottawa newspaper interview that he did not believe Jesus is God.

For 15 years a schism has been growing in the UCC, with the official line of successive Moderators and the General Council moving away from beliefs in the full deity of Jesus, and a number of "Renewal" groups attracting growing minority support for a more orthodox view supporting Jesus' full divinity and acceptance of the miracles, virgin birth and the resurrection as physical events, and Jesus as The (only) Way to eternal life.

Much of the UCC debate may be examined on the moderator website: which I maintain to provide a historical record and a forum for both camps in this crucial issue. A recent addition to this site by Laurie-Ann Zachar is her thesis on the detailed history of the renewal groups, which is very illuminating for all those seeking to see where we came from and where we

The previous discussion in this Newsgroup is very relevant to our UCC situation. A similar debate is in motion in the Anglican church.

-Tony Copple, Kanata, Canada Tel 613-591-3903, Fax 613-591-1509

[And in the Presbyterian Church (USA), although it looks to me like the UC has gone further down the path away from orthodoxy. --clh]


From: ("Richard J. Fairchild")
To: ("United List")
Subject: New Edition
Date: Wed, 6 May 1998 23:45:32 -0700

Dear Friends of United Online,

A new issue of United Online has gone up. Nothing earth shaking, but we hope it is interesting none-the-less.

Shalom, Richard

Sermons & Sermon Lectionary Resources

United Online: A Grassroots Network For Canada's United and Uniting Church

Kir-Shalom: Your gateway to our Web-Ministry

Funding for this internet ministry comes from those users of United Online and Kir-Shalom that decide this ministry is worthy of support. Cheques should be made payable to "Richard or Charlene Fairchild"
See our sponsors page at:

Rev. Richard J. Fairchild
Box 1702
Golden, BC V0A 1H0


From: Rev Ed Hird[]
Sent: May 1, 1998 12:38 AM
Subject: A Key Pre-Lambeth Book: 'Grace & Truth in The Secular Age

A New Book: Grace and Truth in the Secular Age, edited by the Reverend Dr. Timothy Bradshaw, Foreword by the Most Reverend and Rt. Honourable George L. Carey, Archbishop of Canterbury

A new book has come out which will be of interest to many. It is a collection of essays written by well-known evangelical theologians and scholars from around the Anglican Communion, and it addresses some of the issues which will come up at the Lambeth Conference. It is published be Eerdmans and is entitled:


It contains a foreword by the Most Reverend and Rt. Honourable George L. Carey, Archbishop of Canterbury and was edited by the the Reverend Dr. Timothy Bradshaw, Dean, Regent's Park College, Oxford. It is published by Eerdmans.

Here is full description:


STYLE: Middle weight, for a church readership, but of interest to academic theologians, and ecumenically relevant, especially of interest to Anglicans.

Summaries of the argument at the start of each chapter with interactive questions and suggestions for prayer at the end of each chapter.


The values and ideas of secular western culture are continually being impressed upon society and upon Christians, in all contexts of life. There is no escape from the media which promotes such values in various forms usually uncritically, as does much educational and social theory. There is a real need for the Christians to be helped to identify this powerful conditioning process and to engage with questions arising from this cultural struggle intelligently.

This book is a collection of essays, of 4000 words each, seeking to address the issues of being Christian in the modern era, of affirming the grace of Christ and the truth of Christ amidst the voices and strong claims which seem to make this affirmation increasingly difficult. The authors are evangelical theologians and church people with a wide variety of experience, pastoral, academic and missiological. Significantly it has been possible to recruit able authors from every continent; a worldwide perspective is vital for the process of analysis and engagement with western cultural trends to be at its most convincing.

The collection of 19 essays by evangelical Anglicans intends to set forth the Christian view of humanity in contrast to the secularising ideology being implemented in society and often in the church. It provides a statement of the Christian interpretation of the human condition and the Christian mode of life in today's often baffling and complex world. It therefore discusses the critical issues of our time for the church, in a way which is forthright and definite, while eirenic and positive in tone, avoiding polemical stridency.

One major Christian forum where these issues are on the agenda for discussion is the 1998 Lambeth Conference, already subject to controversy and dubbed a 'watershed' for the Anglican Communion. The agenda is to consider the topics:

  • Called to full humanity
  • Called to live and proclaim the Good News
  • Called to be faithful in a plural world
  • Called to be one

    This agenda has been adopted as providing a four-fold focus for the concerns under consideration. The book addresses the issues by taking advantage of the Lambeth agenda and using it as a broad framework. It also thereby participates in the wider discussions to be held in 1998, which will gain high profile throughout the world wide Anglican Communion.

    Given the format of having summaries and interactive questions at the start and finish of chapters respectively, the book should be valuable to Church people in dioceses exploring these questions.

    Scripture and tradition is emphasised in the writing of the essays as foundational for analysis and engagement, along with high quality consideration of the contemporary horizons and experiences of life.

    The contents of the book, published by Eerdmansin April, 1998, is as follows:

  • FOREWORD by The Most Rev'd George Carey, Archbishop of Canterbury
  • EDITORIAL INTRODUCTION by the Reverend Dr. Timothy Bradshaw, Dean, Regent's Park College, Oxford
    Peter Brierley

    God and Our Image, Gerald Bray

    Trinity and Human Community, Peter Adam

    The Humanity of Fallenness, Michael Lloyd

    Identity in Christ and Sexuality , Stanton Jones


    What is the Gospel? John Webster

    Evangelism: The Transformation of Trivialization, Fitzsimmons Allison

    Christian community and the Gospel, Paul Barnett

    Lifestyle as Proclamation, Ben Kwashi


    Confessing Christ in a Pluralist Culture, Chris Sinkinson

    Islam and Christ, Vivienne Stacey

    Unity and Diversity in the Virginia Report, Timothy Bradshaw

    Reverencing the Truth, Christopher Hancock


    Holding Together - Worshipping the Triune God, Edith Humphrey

    Unity and Truth, James Packer

    Refusing division, John Fenwick

    Universal Christ, Vinoth Ramachandra


    Memory and the Millennium David Lyon


    Canon Michael Green NT scholar and missioner; former principal of St. John's College Nottingham, now Archbishop's advisor on evangelism.

    Dr Peter Brierley Founder of Christian Research Organization, formerly Marc Europe, editor of the UK Christian Handbook and other Handbooks, leading statistics expert on Christianity.

    Rev Professor Gerald Bray Currently Professor of Anglican Theology at Samford University.

    Rev Dr Peter Adam Australian minister and scholar, writes on spirituality and the Trinity, seeking to show the practical relevance of the Trinity to Christian discipleship.

    Rev Dr Michael Lloyd minister and writer in London, whose Oxford doctoral thesis was on the doctrine of the fall

    Professor Stanton Jones Provost of Wheaton College, formerly a psychiatrist.

    Professor John Webster Recently appointed Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity, University of Oxford, recently published a book on Barth's ethics.

    Rt Rev Fitzsimmons Allison A leading conservative Episcopalian bishop in the USA and author.

    Rt Rev Dr Paul Barnett Australian Bishop, and distinguished New Testament Scholar and writer at both academic and popular levels.

    Rt Rev Ben Kwashi Bishop of Jos, Nigeria

    Chris Sinkinson Recently completed his doctorate on Hick's religious pluralism at Bristol, serving on UCCF staff

    Vivienne Stacey Missionary and writer on Islam, most book Submitting to God Hodder

    Rev Dr Chris Hancock Formerly professor at Virginian Seminary, now Vicar of Holy Trinity, Cambridge

    Dr Edith Humphrey Distinguished theological teacher and writer from the University of Toronto, member of the Anglican Primates' Theological Commission.

    Professor J I Packer, One of the world's best known evangelical authors

    Rev Dr John Fenwick Formerly Assistant Ecumenical Officer to the Archbishop of Canterbury, author on liturgy and patristic theology, now Vicar of Chorley, Lancashire.

    Dr Vinoth Ramachandra Sri Lankan author of two recent books on mission, formerly nuclear scientist.

    Dr David Lyon Sociologist and Christian commentator, Queens University, Canada.

    Rev Dr Tim Bradshaw Dean of Regent's Park College, Oxford; author of The Olive Branch on the evangelical doctrine of the church, chairman of the St Andrew's Day Statement on homosexuality and the church.



    Timothy Bradshaw, Editor

    Grand Rapids, Eerdmans 1998, 320 pages, $28.00

    Confidence in the gospel, its continuity down the ages and its remaining relevance in the modern world, is the theme which connects these nineteen diverse essays by Anglican evangelical scholars from five continents.

    Statistics from Peter Brierley show that Anglicans are strongest in Africa, Oceania and the UK. On most issues it is the 'most average' church in the world. The 1998 Lambeth Conference is approaching and sections of its agenda have provided the structure for the book, with four essays on each of the following: full humanity, evangelism, pluralism and church unity.

    There is a progression from theology towards application in the book as a whole and most of the essays. The writers reject the idea that experience should be the starting point. Michael Green begins with a ringing reminder of the evangelist's task to proclaim the Cosmic Christ and call people to bow to him as Lord. Others bring the reader up to date with the current wave of theological thinking about the Trinity. Peter Adam sees a rich emphasison the Trinity as essential for our worship and holiness but he is not happy with the widespread attempt to model human social ethics on the inner life of communion of the Persons of the Trinity. He argues we should admit the vast gap in our understanding of God and pay more attention to the direct ethical demands in Scripture. On the other hand, Edith Humphreys, examining John 13-17 and some Pauline passages, thinks we are invited to think about the mystery of the relation of the Father and the Son. In the humility and submission of Christ, she sees order and even some hierarchy, expressed in grandeur and tenderness, co-existing with freedom and equality. The Father is neither male nor oppressive. God acts in ways which partly correspond to but also overturn our fond ideas of what order means. Humphry has no quarrel with using a range of names for God, but she argues against replacing the names of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in baptism and other key points in the liturgy.

    Issues of sexuality are referred to in passing by many of the contributors who see recent developments as matters for warning, not causes for celebration. The argument that what occurs in nature is "how God made them," is cleared away in a chapter on the Fall, before Stanton Jones gives a measured defence against accepting homosexual practice. He warns against participating in sexuality dialogues, seeing them as involving intolerable pressure to accept the label homophobia for the traditional view.

    This dilemma between drawing distinctive boundary lines or reaching out towards closer relations, occurs frequently in the last two sections where it proves hard to keep the themes of unity and pluralism distinct. Chris Sinkinson gives a clear account of the pluralism of John Hick and concludes that if all accounts of God are true, none are real. Pluralism collapses into secularism. Bradshaw gives the most specific look at Anglican documents in his analysis of the Virginia Report, arguing against its suggestion of a more centralised Anglican bureaucracy. True Anglican identity is more like the Orthodox, united by the apostolic tradition and worship, but with a greater degree of evangelism.

    For the pragmatic, not many concrete suggestions emerge. The challenges are clear but feelings oscillate. Is this a time of decisive crisis for Anglicanism? Packer hopes not, but is fearful. John Webster wants us to lay down anxious defensiveness. The triumph of the Gospel is God's affair and God will reign.

    Vera Sinton is Director of Pastoral Studies at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford.