Commentary by Robin G. Jordan
I cannot see from their communiqué what the primates are hoping to accomplish. The revisionist bishops of the Episcopal Church have shown no willingness to adopt a scheme of adequate alternative episcopal oversight that would be acceptable to orthodox clergy and congregations in the Episcopal Church. All the panel of reference that the primates have asked the Archbishop of Canterbury to appoint will be able to do is make recommendations that the revisionist bishops are likely to ignore. If the Anglican Consultative Council is going to hold a hearing into why the Episcopal Church (USA) and the Anglican Church of Canada did what they did then it makes sense for the primates to ask the two churches to voluntarily withdraw their representatives from the council. But we should not infer from this request that it is some form of disciplinary action. Giving the two churches until the 2008 Lambeth Conference to study the Windsor Report and its recommendations, to adopt moratoriums on the authorization of public rites for the blessing of same sex unions and the consecration of bishops involved in sexual outside of marriage, and to reflect upon whether they want to remain members of the Anglican Communion is much too long a period of time. We have seen what has happened since the Primates’ Meeting of October 2003. The Presiding Bishop and the revisionists not only consecrated Gene Robinson but also they have been actively seeking to consolidate their hold on the Episcopal Church. They have shown no inclination to retreat from what they have been doing. Committing themselves to no boundary-crossing during this three year period to my mind is foolhardy on the part of the global South primates and leaves groups in serious theological dispute with their diocesan bishop very much at the mercy of the diocesan bishop. It is certainly not going to encourage the revisionist bishops to stop cracking down on these groups. They will go on threatening orthodox congregations and inhibiting and deposing orthodox clergy. To my mind the strategies outlined in the communiqué are thoroughly unsatisfactory.
What are orthodox clergy and congregations in the Episcopal Church to do in the interim? They certainly need to fight proposals to change the disciplinary canons of the Episcopal Church to make it easier for the revisionists to rid themselves of troublesome clergy and put pressure upon congregations in their jurisdiction. Networking with other orthodox clergy and congregations must be made a priority. They also need to continue to withhold financial support in protest of the actions of the 2003 General Convention and the consecration of Gene Robinson. This is likely to become more difficult in the near future. In addition, they need to plan for the contingency that they may at some point in the not too distant future find it necessary to succeed from the Episcopal Church. This is likely to involve leaving behind the buildings, furnishings, hymnals, prayer books, organs, vestments, and other movable property to which the diocese and the Episcopal Church claim the right of ownership. Orthodox congregations may wish to become less building-centered in their ministries. They may want to postpone building repairs and improvements that are elective. They might want to establish home groups and become more accustomed to worshipping in less formal settings. Instead of purchasing new items for the church, they may want to lease them. One option is to establish a local mission fund administered by trustees from the congregation but independent of the parish or church and redirect giving to this fund. The trustees might purchase equipment and then lease the equipment to the parish or church. In the event the congregation succeeded from the Episcopal Church, moneys from this fund could be used to pay the rent for temporary facilities and the like. Orthodox clergy may want to do more teaching on the church as a people – as the body of Christ. Occasional worship services held in the parish hall without the usual fixtures would help the congregation to see themselves and not the building as the church.
While orthodox congregations may not like to contemplate succession from the Episcopal Church, the eventuality of having to take that step is very strong. First, the Episcopal Church may decide on its own to withdraw from the Anglican Communion and walk separately from the Anglican family of churches. The congregation will be faced with the choice of maintaining its ties to the Anglican Communion with which it shares a common faith or throwing in its lot with the revisionists and abandoning that faith. The Episcopal Church may be asked to withdraw from the Communion. Recognition of the Episcopal Church as a constituent member of the Communion may be withdrawn. Conditions in the Episcopal Church may become so intolerable that the congregation has no other choice. Planning for this contingency therefore is imperative.
While it would be wonderful if the Episcopal Church was swept by a revival, turned from its present course and returned to a historic, orthodox understanding of biblical Christianity, we must face the possibility that is not in God’s plans for the Episcopal Church. The author of the Letter to the Hebrews warns us what is the fate of the apostate.
For it is impossible to restore again to repentance those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they then fall away, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt. For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receive a blessing from God. But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned. [Hebrews 6:4-8, ESV]
The Episcopal Church no longer produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it was cultivated. The Episcopal Church as a denomination no longer has a heart for the lost nor responds to God’s call to work in the harvest. Rather it bears thorns and thistles – those that spread the dangerous heresy of inclusivism which “presumes many outside of explicit faith in Christ will be saved “and “allows the church to feel comfortable with other religions while millions die and go to hell.” 
The window of opportunity to make a contingency plan and to put the various elements of the plan in place is rapidly closing. The revisionist bishops of the Episcopal Church and their corporatist allies can be expected to lash out at orthodox clergy and congregations in the next few months. Having brought this trouble upon the church and faced with a possible backlash, they can be expected to look for a scapegoat. They will seek to redirect anger that should be directed at them to the American Anglican Council and the Anglican Communion Network. With the global South primates pledging themselves to non-intervention, they are likely to grow even bolder in their efforts to clamp down upon those whom they perceive as trouble makers in their dioceses and to hound them out of the church. Those who affirm the exclusive claims of Jesus Christ and uphold the teaching of the apostles can expect more intense persecution in the days ahead.
1. Thom S. Rainer, The Bridger Generation, (Nashville, Tenn.: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1997) 157-158