Mark Burkill’s 'Donatism and Discipline Today' reflects on the misconception that conservatives are erring into Donatism (Article 26 of 39). Conservatives, seeking to uphold Biblical doctrine, break ties with Area and Diocesans Bishops (and fellow Clergy); who have moved from being servants of the truth in scripture and do not challenge behaviours that dishonour Christ. Demonstrating a broken fellowship is an important principle of Biblical conscience, though a hard one to navigate in ministry.
However, Burkill argues that in the Church of England today, we as a denomination fail to take discipline seriously. We fail to tackle behaviour not worthy of Christ and do not uphold Article 26. As a result, those who faithfully uphold scripture and tackle errancy in behaviour are liable to be the ones who are persecuted from within. This is all too true for those in ministry (ordained and lay) who challenge ungodly behaviour or express the truth of scripture to our Bishops.
Burkill argues that such liberalism within the Church reflects Donatism itself, rather than conservative’s challenge of sinful behaviour and errancy in teaching. The real issue today is whether the Church of England will live under the authority of God’s word or not. Whether you are facing this or not within your dioceses I want to encourage you to pick up a copy of this book and think more about how we challenge others for God’s glory.