The Bishop or the King (In Review)

Derek Ouellette —  February 19, 2011

The Bishop or the King: How the Anglican Church of Canada has failed to defend its King
By Ron Corcoran
4.5 Stars (out of 5)

Many people are unaware of the turmoil the Anglican Church within Canada has been swallowed up in over the past few decades. During my pastoral visitations I have come to know a certain pastor of an Anglican Church who has – with the overwhelming majority of his congregation – separated from the Anglican Church of Canada (ACoC) and joined the relatively new Anglican Network in Canada (ANiC).

During our discussion I said, “wouldn’t it be nice if someone wrote a book explaining the history and central issues revolve around the Anglican divide in Canada?” The pastor reached for his shelf and put a book in my hands: “It’s already been done.”

I read it and purchased my own copy shortly thereafter, and would encourage you to do the same (here). It’s called The Bishop or the King by Ron Corcoran, It is one part biography, one part history, one part doctrine and one part apologetic.

While many people may not be aware of the extent of the divide of the Anglican Church within Canada, what is usually highlighted when the discussion does comes up is the issue of blessing of same-sex union. But Corcoran would remind us that the real issue is a degradation of Scriptural authority, a lack of strong godly leadership and the unrelenting onslaught of liberalism within Canada. The issue of blessing of same-sex union is only the presenting issue. You might say it is the cherry on the cake.

In The Bishop or the King the veil of a holy facade is pulled back and outsiders are given a rare look into the politics of the Anglican Church of Canada. What we see is not a pretty picture. Conservative Evangelical Christian who stand in line with the Anglican Communion worldwide have been caught up in the battle of their lives here in Canada as they wrestle with the schismatic Anglican Church of Canada (ACoC).

You’ll notice the bias in that statement. From the perspective of ACoC, it is those who left to join the newly formed Anglican Network in Canada who are the schismatics. But when the ACoC ignored the memorandum given by the Anglican Communion worldwide on the blessing of same-sex union and as a result they made strides towards alienating themselves from the worldwide Anglican Communion. So it is the Anglican Church of Canada which have become schismatic, and those within ACoC who are fighting to be faithful to the faith once delivered to all the saints have united with the Anglican Communion worldwide by parting with the ACoC and joining the ANiC.

In The Bishop or the King Ron Corcoran asks some very challenging questions including these two:

  • Is Homosexual Activity A Salvation Issue?
  • Is Endorsement of Homosexual Activity A Communion-Breaking Issue?

Corcoran seeks to show that the answer to both of those questions is a resounding “yes“.

Corcoran’s final chapter, Fallout, describes the events which culminated in his own departure from the Anglican Church of Canada in 2009. In naming names and publishing full correspondence letters between himself and his bishops, Ron goes about first to set the record straight – feeling that his voice was silenced during the debacle – and concludes with one final letter to the bishop who shrewdly removed him from his office (this bishop sent three men to ensure Ron would be removed from the premises that very day. One look at this unimposing man would reveal how absurd and reactionary the bishop was being! HERE. Corcoran is the little one!).

The letter concludes:

Bishop James, I have shared with you on many occasions that I hoped and prayed that I would never have to choose between loyalty to my bishop or loyalty to my King. That day has come. I have chosen the King! I could do no other. [p.240]

Who should read The Bishop or the King? Those involved in the Anglican Communion worldwide need to read this book. Those in the Anglican Network in Canada should read and widely disperse this book not just among the clergy, but also among the laity. And those in the Anglican Church of Canada must read this book if for no other reason, to at least understand the perspective of those who have left their communion table.

It’s not a bad idea for the rest of us to read this book as well.

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Derek Ouellette

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a husband, new dad, speaker, writer, christian. see my profile here.
  • Derek

    After publishing this post another friend of mine handed me a book titled Suicide: The Decline and Fall of the Anglican Church of Canada?

    This book was published in 1999, over a decade before the book I reviewed above was published (2010). Is it prophetic? You decide. The author, Dr. Marney Patterson, wrote a note on the inside cover which reads:

    “The question mark at the end of the book title has been placed there at the suggestion of Bishop John Sperry, the writer of the Preface. He made this suggestion feeling as he does that the demise of our church may not be inevitable. I do not agree.”