Thursday, December 31, 2009

Athblian shona duit! Happy New Year to you!

Athbhliain faoi mhaise dhuit! A prosperous new year to you!

Due to circumstances beyond my control I will not be posting any articles during the first eight days of the New Year.

Let me take this opportunity to wish you, "Sláinte agus saol chugat! Health and long life to you!" "Go dte tu an cead! May you live to be a hundred!"

"Siochan liat. Peace be with you."

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

It is time to take that first step…

By Robin G. Jordan

Less than 48 hours from now we will be celebrating the passage of 2009 and the arrival of 2010. Among the events of 2009 that have captured public attention within the North American Anglican community are the formation of the Anglican Church in North America in response to the GAFCON Primates’ call for a new Anglican province in North America to uphold orthodox doctrine and practice. The ACNA, if one listens to its propaganda, offers a “safe harbor” for Anglicans “traditionalists” who cannot for reasons of conscience remain in the Anglican Church of Canada or The Episcopal Church.

Even before the ACNA was formed in late June of 2009, it became quite clear from the provisional constitution and canons of the ACNA and then the proposed constitution and canons of that ecclesial body that only Anglican “traditionalists” of a certain type would be able to anchor in the safety of that harbor. Despite the claims that the ACNA is a church that is “truly Catholic, truly evangelical, and truly Pentecostal,” ACNA “comprehensiveness” does not extend to conservative evangelicals who embrace the Protestant and Reformed beliefs and principles that have historically distinguished classical evangelical Anglicanism and are articulated in the following statement:

“1. We accept the doctrine of the Church of England as set forth in the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion understood in their plain, natural and intended sense.

2. More particularly
(i) We worship the one God as He has revealed Himself to us in Jesus Christ and in the Holy Scriptures In his divine nature, he is omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, infinite, immortal and immutable. He is wholly good, trustworthy and holy in all his ways. He has revealed himself to be a Trinity of three co-equal and co-eternal persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, subsisting in an eternal relationship of mutual love. Each person manifests the fullness of the Godhead, and yet is distinguished from the others by incommunicable attributes which are revealed in their particular work. To the Father belongs; the plan of salvation, which he entrusted to the Son to fulfil. To the Son belongs his incarnation as the man Jesus Christ, and the saving work which he accomplished in his human nature. To the Holy Spirit belongs the task of creating and preserving the church as Christ's bride and body.

(ii) We receive the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments in their intended literal sense as the inspired and unerring Word of God the sole sufficient and perspicuous rule of Christian faith and practice and the final court of appeal in all controversies relating thereto and we admit post-apostolic traditions only so far as they are compatible with the teaching of the New Testament. The Old Testament is to be interpreted in the light of the New, and all parts of the New Testament are of equal and apostolic authority No part of Scripture is to be interpreted in a way which contradicts or excludes any other part.

(iii) We acknowledge the Lord Jesus Christ as our only Priest and Mediator who took our place on the cross and by his sacrificial death paid the price for our sins, thereby satisfying the demands of the Father's justice and reconciling us to God. Through his death alone, without further priestly intervention or offering of sacrifice on our behalf we gain full access to God and acceptance with Him by faith. We believe that Christ's atoning sacrifice of Himself offered and accepted once-for-all is a finished work which can under no circumstances be repeated, prolonged, supplemented or re-represented and we repudiate all views of the Ministry and the Lord's Supper which imply the contrary.

(iv) We affirm that according to the New Testament the Christian Ministry is not a sacerdotal ministry but was instituted for the purpose of preaching, teaching and pastoral oversight. We reject all practices (such as the Eastward Position and the use of eucharistic vestments at the Lord's Supper) which imply a sacerdotal character of the Ministry. We reject also all theories of the sacraments which imply that the ministerial action invariably conveys grace.

(v) We affirm that a due exercise of Christian discipline is a mark of the faithful Church and that the government of the Christian community properly belongs under God to the Church as a whole, both clergy and laity together, and not exclusively to bishops or to any other particular order.

(vi) We affirm that the true unity of Christ's Church is a unity in faith, doctrine, and love and not of ministerial orders or external uniformity. We hold that the Lord's people should openly express this unity in particular at the Lord's Table as well as in other ways of witness and worship. Moreover while approving the threefold ministry of the Church of England we deny that non-episcopal orders are necessarily defective and constitute a barrier to reunion.

(vii) We affirm that men and women are equal as human beings created in the image and likeness of God and redeemed by the blood of Christ We also affirm that God created male and female differently, in order for them to be complementary to each other. This complementarity is specially to be seen in the marriage relationship and in the roles given to men and women in the family of the church. Thus matrimony is the lifelong union between one man and one woman, and sexual relations outside that context are sinful in God's eyes. Furthermore, within the church there is a divinely appointed order in which headship roles are given to the male, not for the purpose of domination over the female, but in order to protect and nourish the entire body of Christ The ministry of men and women is equally valid in God's eyes, but the Church must take care to study and to obey Scripture with regard to preserving the complementarity of roles.”
[Doctrinal Basis of the Charity, Memorandum of Association of the Latimer Trust, on the Internet at:, accessed on December 30, 2009 at 10:15 AM]

The waters of the ACNA “safe harbor” are not friendly to conservative evangelicals who seek to uphold and preserve such beliefs and principles. Their “religion” is regarded as “too narrow,” that is to say, it does not accede to the doctrines and practices of Anglo-Catholic traditionalists or to the broad views of a number of ACNA clergy and members who define themselves as “evangelicals.”

This second group sits very loosely to the beliefs and principles that have historically set classical evangelical Anglicanism apart from other schools of thought claiming to be Anglican. Indeed they tend to view such beliefs and principles as being a relic of the past and therefore not relevant to today’s church. While conservative evangelicals are unequivocal in seeing Anglicanism, the Thirty-Nine Articles, and themselves as Protestant, this particular group of self-identified “evangelicals” is apt to subscribe to a view of the Anglican tradition that Edward Bouverie Pusey, a leader of the Oxford movement, first put forward in the nineteenth century. In this view Anglicanism is a via media, or middle road, between Catholicism and Protestantism.

This view gained considerable popularity in The Episcopal Church in the twentieth century. The convergence movement was particularly drawn to it, as was the Ancient-Future movement. It continues to greatly influence thinking in the ACNA.

In their efforts to form a synthesis of contradictory and conflicting Catholic and Protestant beliefs and principles, the adherents of this view are neither faithful to the Catholic tradition nor the Protestant tradition, much less to the Bible. One result is that there is a lack of congruency between the message of the sermon and the message of the liturgy on Sunday mornings.

Conservative evangelicals who drop anchor in the ACNA “safe harbor” do so at their own peril. They will not be able to hold onto their beliefs and principles if they wish to shelter there but will be required to accept without reservation the Common Cause Theological Statement. This statement gives only token authority to the historic formularies of the Church of England. It countenances John Henry Newman’s fanciful ahistorical reinterpretation of the Thirty-Nine Articles in a Rome-ward direction and mandates a view of bishops that initially came to the fore in the Church of the England and the then Protestant Episcopal Church with Newman’s first Tracts for the Times. This view asserts that the historic episcopate is absolutely essential to the church.

They will also be expected to conform to the teachings of the canons of the ACNA that are implicitly if not explicitly Anglo-Catholic in their doctrine in a number of places where in a genuinely comprehensive church the wording would not be aligned with the doctrinal position of any particular school of thought but would be unambiguously neutral.

A small number of Continuing Anglican Churches make the claim that they are a “safe harbor” for conservative evangelicals, asserting that they are maintaining the Protestant, Reformed and evangelical character of the Anglican Church. Yet these ecclesial bodies use the 1928 Book of Common Prayer that was compiled when Anglo-Catholicism and Broad Church liberalism were at the height of their influence in the Protestant Episcopal Church. Their clergy wear stoles and eucharistic vestments for the Lord’s Supper, and adopt the Eastward Position for the Prayer of Consecration. They fail to see the contradiction between the claim that they make, the Prayer Book that they use, and the practices that they follow.

These churches suffer from other problems beside a lack of congruity between doctrine and practice. One of them has a dismal record of retaining its clergy and may no longer have any congregations. None of these churches offer a real “safe harbor” for conservative evangelicals. Rather they themselves give the appearance of being greatly in need of safer anchorage.

In the New Year conservative evangelicals need to make up their minds about what they are going to do to rectify this state of affairs and do it. Waiting to see what others do is not a formula for bringing about change. It is time to take matters into their own hands.

Conservative evangelicals who are in the ACNA need to organize to defend and advance the Protestant and Reformed beliefs and principles of the Anglican Church in that church body. Those who are outside the ACNA need to form a viable alternative jurisdiction to the ACNA, in which the Protestant, Reformed, and evangelical character of the Anglican Church is maintained. The two groups need to network with each other to encourage, help, and support each other and to further their common goals.

As the Chinese proverb tell us, a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. It is time to take that first step. The door is open and the path lies ahead. Let us not linger inside the doorway but step resolutely through it, and begin the journey. As Paul wrote Timothy, “…God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind…” (2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV). Let step forward boldly into the bright sunshine of a new day.

Bible Reading Plans for the New Year

[The Gospel Coalition] 30 Dec 2009--Crossway makes available about 10 Bible reading plans. That link allows you to access them in a number of ways.

Here’s an overview of a few plans (some from Crossway, some from elsewhere).

Prayer Book Society angry as religious names dropped from Letts diaries

[Times Online] 30 Dec 2009--Traditionalists are up in arms after a diary manufacturer dropped a series of historic names for the Sundays before Lent.

The Prayer Book Society, whose patron is the Prince of Wales, has called for a boycott of Letts’ diaries, which have replaced Septuagesima, Sexagesima, Quinquagesima and Quadragesima with the appropriate number of “Sundays before Lent”.

Like Ash Wednesday, these are moveable feasts in the Anglican year. The Roman Catholic Church eliminated the terms in the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s.

The society has accused Letts of throwing out centuries of tradition by dropping the names. Its members are also alarmed that the number of Sundays “after Easter” has been replaced with “of Easter”.

The Continuum and Its Problems

[The Christian Challenge] 30 Dec 2009--Editor's Note: To read this article, scroll down to the center of the page.


There were three major traditionalist/conservative reactions to the 1976 General Convention of The Episcopal Church (TEC)* in Minneapolis, or, more specifically, to its approval of women priests and bishops and of the first reading of a new Prayer Book (a more radical break with its predecessors than in past such cases). The first was to go to Rome, the second was to stay within TEC and fight these new innovations from there, and the third was to leave and form a new and more orthodox “continuing” body. These three approaches are still being used and thus are relevant today.

Those of the Roman orientation had produced a Pro-Diocese of St. Augustine of Canterbury by 1978, which was a non-starter. But they found some welcome via the Roman Church’s 1980 Pastoral Provision, under which they founded six “Anglican Use” Roman Catholic parishes by 1983; there are nine now.

The “stay within” crowd was found in the Evangelical Catholic Mission (ECM), which then became the Episcopal Synod of America (ESA), and then the (present-day) Forward in Faith, North America (FIF-NA). They continue to work within TEC but now more and more in the new Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), formed in 2008-09 in opposition to the homosexual agenda but still tolerating women priests (but not bishops) and the 1979 Prayer Book.

Most of those leaving as a body following the ‘76 convention did so after a September 1977 Congress in St. Louis had given them a theological document, The Affirmation of St. Louis, which declared the existence of a new body – interestingly also called the Anglican Church in North America! - and after that body proceeded to organize new dioceses whose bishops-elect were consecrated in Denver in January 1978. A constitution and canons also were developed at the Dallas 1978 First Synod of what was the Anglican Church in North America going into the meeting and the Anglican Catholic Church (ACC) coming out of it. The problems of this body and those related to it, which have split and re-split and ingested new elements since 1978 and which we shall call “the Continuum,” will be the focus of this paper.

One of these (widely-defined) Continuum elements, the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) – an international fellowship that includes among its 15 provinces the Anglican Church in America (ACA) and the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada (ACCC) - should be noted here for following all three courses of action at the same time. Stemming from the original ACC in part, the TAC follows the separate organization approach. But in 2002 it also entered into communion with the “stay within” FIF-NA (which did, however, ratify The Affirmation of St. Louis the same year) and - without rescinding this agreement - petitioned Rome for some sort of mutual recognition in 2007. (It still has received no definitive reply.)

Another manifestation provides continuity and a sort of baseline for the post-1976 Continuum against which the rest might be related. It consists, first of all, of the late James O. Mote, the first bishop elected by the Continuum, and his parish, St. Mary’s, Denver, the first congregation to leave TEC after the ‘76 General Convention; it is still the cathedral of the Diocese of the Holy Trinity, a founding part of what became the Anglican Catholic Church. When I visited this parish in the 1960s, incidentally, I found it the most spiritually active that I had ever witnessed; and the ACC’s Trinitarian notes that it still has three Masses daily!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Theologian J.I. Packer reflects on sharing his faith

[The Washington Post] 26 Dec 2009--It's been a good year for the Rev. J.I. Packer, one of the world's best-known theologians. In March, the Anglican priest and Regent College professor won Bible of the Year and Book of the Year honors for editing the English Standard Version Study Bible. He also released two of his own books -- "Praying: Finding Our Way Through Duty to Delight" and a year-long devotional using his seminal work, "Knowing God."

Packer, listed as one of Time magazine's "25 Most Influential Evangelicals in America" in 2005, sat down with the Bee of Modesto, Calif., at the Christian Book Expo in Dallas this year to talk on a wide range of subjects, from growing up in England to C.S. Lewis's impact on his life to becoming embroiled in the Anglican/Episcopal dispute. Here's what he had to say....

Why I am a Calvinist (and you should be too)

[sydneyanglicans] 26 Dec 2009--In love He predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will, to the praise of His glorious grace… (Ephesians 1:4-6)

Like all the most fervent Calvinists, I began my spiritual life with a profound hatred for the doctrines linked to his name. But the Spirit, inexorably it seems, subdued my will to the plain teaching of Scripture - that God is sovereign over this world, and that He chooses those whom He will save, according to His own good pleasure and grace.

As a young Christian I was captivated by the message of the cross, and many other doctrines of Christianity too. But predestination seemed a hateful thing to me, an ugly blot on an otherwise beautiful landscape. I believed in free will - more, I believed in the absolute sovereignty of the human will. Though a Christian, a part of me still wanted to be “captain of my fate” and “master of my soul”.

Actually, I was not comfortable with God’s sovereignty over anything at all. The idea that God was the author of history was alien to me. I was content with Him sticking His fingers into the mix every now and again, but I rejected the idea that He ran the whole show.

How blind I was! I knew full well at the time that I was struggling to put to death numerous sins of the flesh. But it never occurred to me that my mind, also, was inclined to rebel against the will of God, and that it too might have patterns and habits that would painfully clash with the sanctifying work of the Spirit.

My resistance to the idea of predestination was just such a clash. My rebellion against “Calvinism” (as these doctrines of grace are commonly called) was really a rebellion against God; it was a desire to “hold out” on Him, and reserve one final piece of myself for myself. Looking back, I’m struck by how immature my thinking was - I was like a child, stubbornly insisting on my own way.

There's something about Mary?

[] 26 Dec 2009--The world held its breath for Pope Benedict XVI to declare Mary MacKillop to be in line for sainthood over last weekend. The technical term in the Roman Catholic Church is canonisation, the culmination of a three-step process. The first step is to determine whether the person’s life possesses “heroic virtue”. Once so determined, the title Venerable is applied (as is now the case for the late Pope John Paul II). In Mary MacKillop’s case she became Venerable in 1992. Then follows the search for attestation of a miracle. Once confirmed the subject is beatified and the Venerable becomes Blessed. Again this happened for Mary MacKillop in 1995. The final step to sainthood is the attestation of a second miracle. This was the Pope’s recent announcement, which enables Mary MacKillop to be canonised and receive the title of Saint.

Now no one wishes to belittle Mary MacKillop’s achievement in Australia—the founding of a religious order and her work among the poor with the establishment of an orphanage, a women’s refuge and a home for older women. Those achievements can be celebrated at home and abroad and no-one should complain. It is not the woman but the theology behind this move with which Anglicans would disagree. Firstly, to award such a person with sainthood for these achievements and two alleged miracles is to misunderstand what the Bible describes as the qualifications of a saint.

Put simply, anyone whose sins have been forgiven by God, through faith in Jesus Christ, is a saint. Through God’s Holy Spirit, faith in Jesus makes us whole, indeed “holy”. It is not the achievements of a person’s life, but rather the gift of God through Christ, that makes us saints. Anyone looking at the letters of the Saint Paul can see how he writes to ordinary Christians as “saints”. It is not some rarefied title, but the humbling appellation that reminds us we belong to God and in his sight we are “holy”.

The Church Society's Response to "Being Faithful"

"Being Faithful" is a commentary on the Jerusalem Declaration issued by the GAFCON Theological Resource Group.

The following letter was sent by Church Society Council to all the members of the Theological Resource Group in late November 2009.

"Being Faithful: The shape of Historic Anglicanism Today"

We are grateful to you for your work, as part of the GAFCON Theological Resource Group on “Being Faithful”, the Commentary on the Jerusalem Declaration. We note that it is commended to the wider church for further discernment. The Council of Church Society has therefore considered and discussed the report and wishes to draw a number of matters to your attention.

The Society was founded in 1835 to uphold the doctrines of the Church of England and to maintain that church as a Protestant, Reformed and national church. We are therefore wholeheartedly in agreement with your emphasis upon the need to uphold Biblical teaching and resist those theological innovations which threaten the integrity and fidelity of the Anglican Communion today.

We have a variety of specific points to make on the Jerusalem Declaration and its commentary, and these are as follows:

1. We believe it is important to affirm unequivocally that Anglicanism is Protestant, and that the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, which constitute our distinctive confession, are also firmly Protestant.

2. It is also important in making reference to the Thirty-nine Articles to state that what is required is assent to them in their plain sense. Much mischief has been caused by attempts to distort the meaning of the Articles so that they bear meanings they were never intended to have. This came to full fruition with people assenting to Creeds or Articles without actually believing in them at all.


3.1 The Council is concerned that the Jerusalem Declaration, in referring to the gospel of justification by grace, through faith, does not affirm that we are justified by grace alone, through faith alone. We believe Martin Luther was correct to state that justification is the "article of the standing and falling of the church."

3.2 We had been hopeful that this omission would be rectified by the Commentary, and our concern therefore increased when we read what is stated on page 28 about Clause 1. Article XI is rightly alluded to but the Commentary omits the crucial word “only” (which is, of course, present in Article XI). As you know, the Article states that "we are justified by Faith only" and that this “is a most wholesome Doctrine, and very full of comfort”. This is a fundamental and distinguishing doctrine of authentic Anglicanism and it is noteworthy that the Article refers to the lengthy explanation of the doctrine in the Homily on Justification (more often called The Homily on the Salvation of Mankind).

3.3 We think that it is essential that the Theological Resource Group affirm the historic Anglican teaching on justification by grace alone, through faith alone and assert that it stands firmly by the doctrine of the Thirty-nine Articles on this crucial point. The present omissions from the Jerusalem Declaration and Commentary are serious and in need of urgent rectification.

3.4 In addition, Clause 1 does not address the important distinction between conferred righteousness and imputed righteousness. The former (an erroneous Roman Catholic doctrine) should be rejected and the latter should be upheld alongside justification by faith alone as the true, Biblical doctrine of historic, orthodox Anglicanism. Related to this, we note that while neither Clause 1, nor the commentary on it, affirm imputed righteousness, the phraseology actually adopted in both places is ambiguous and blurs the critical distinction between justification and sanctification. In particular, the "fruits of love" and "ongoing repentance" referred to in Clause 1 are not clearly identified as the products alone of new, regenerate life in Christ. As presently drafted, Clause 1 could be assented to by those who wrongly see sanctification as a process evidencing the believer's ongoing justification before God and who therefore deny the Biblical doctrine of justification which refers exclusively to God's objective, forensic judgment concerning a sinner's standing before Him.

The Book of Common Prayer

4. In addition, the Jerusalem Declaration and the Commentary need to give greater weight to the doctrinal purpose of the Book of Common Prayer ("BCP"). The Declaration describes it as “a true and authoritative standard for worship and prayer”, and this point is likewise made in the Commentary. However, in the Church of England, the BCP is more than this; it is part of the formularies and thus, by law, part of our doctrinal standard. This point is made on page 35 of the Commentary where it states of the Articles “They have long been recognised as the doctrinal standard of Anglicanism, alongside the Book of Common Prayer and the Ordinal”. This is good, but we think it ought to be clearer elsewhere and we regret that the Declaration was not more explicit on this point.

The Atonement

5.1 Clause 5 of the Jerusalem Declaration makes reference to the ‘atoning death’ of Christ. Commenting on this, (on page 44) it is stated that:

In his body Jesus bore our sins, his atoning death on the cross won for us our salvation by restoring our fellowship with God.

While this is correct, we believe that it is important to be clearer about the nature of the atonement.

5.2 First, given the present confusion in the church, it is important to affirm that Christ’s death was substitutionary. He died in our place and the punishment for our sins was laid on Him. This is articulated in the formularies in the BCP service for the administration of the Lord’s Supper. For example the BCP describes Christ’s sacrifice as a “propitiation for our sins” (quoting 1 John 2.1), while in the communion prayer it is asserted to be a sacrifice, oblation and satisfaction. Thus the objective nature of the atonement is clearly affirmed: Christ is our substitute, taking on himself the punishment for our sin. Through the cross the justice of God is satisfied and the wrath of God, which is the right and just response to sin, is turned from us and falls instead on Christ.

5.3 We also believe the reference to the restoration of fellowship with God (on page 44) requires amplification. Restoration of fellowship is a consequence of the atonement, but not its primary effect. The Fall was first and foremost a breach of divine command (Adam and Eve disobeyed God) from which flowed the severing of fellowship with God, leading to the expulsion from Eden. In undoing the curse, Christ was first and foremost obedient to the Father, sin was atoned for by Christ, and consequently fellowship with God was restored in Christ.

5.4 While recognising the constraints of time we nevertheless suggest that the Theological Resource Group should seek to produce a separate paper which articulates the Anglican teaching on salvation.

Working with others

6. In our own work over many years we have drawn a useful distinction between fellowship and co-belligerence. The latter means working with others on issues of common concern both within the life of the Church and in the wider community. Fellowship springs from a shared faith in Christ and necessarily entails agreement on some of the fundamental truths revealed by God. In the western church, faced as we are with radical theological liberalism within the church and by rampant secularism in the world around, we are in danger of claiming fellowship with people who do not agree on the fundamentals of faith, simply in order to feel stronger and appear more numerous. We believe it is far better to admit graciously and candidly where such fundamental differences exist, endeavour to work together wherever necessary, but not to claim fellowship where true fellowship cannot exist.

Anglican Orthodoxy

7.1 The Commentary on the Jerusalem Declaration (and accompanying papers) contains much material on "Anglican identity"; "orthodox faith and practice”, "tradition and churchmanship", "legitimate diversity", "authentic Anglicanism", “Anglican orthodoxy" and "the Anglican via media". However, we remain unclear as what is, in the final analysis, considered to be the necessary core of Anglican belief.

7.2 The GAFCON Statement implies that the Church of England’s Canon A5 forms a minimum doctrinal standard of authentic Anglicanism. The Jerusalem Declaration is presented within the Statement as the basis for fellowship built on this doctrinal standard (Being Faithful pp. 22 and 23). However, the Introduction to the Statement says, apparently with reference to public confession of the Apostolic faith:

“It is not a test of orthodoxy for all Anglicans. We are most emphatically not suggesting that those who do not subscribe to the same confession are thereby any less faithful Anglicans.”

If this is a reference to the “public confession of the Apostolic faith” then it is unacceptable. We could not count someone as a faithful Christian, let alone a faithful Anglican, if they did not adhere to the Apostolic faith. If there is a core to what it means to be a faithful Anglican then we contradict ourselves if we say that we count as faithful Anglicans those who do not accept that core. We are concerned therefore that this section in the Introduction leaves the door open to doctrinal errors that have undermined orthodox, biblical Anglicanism.

Roman Catholicism

8.1 Section 1.2.2 of the appended report, “The Way, Truth and Life”, produced in preparation for the GAFCON, makes reference to relations with other churches (page 101 of Being Faithful). Reference is rightly made to the fact that the Articles of Religion should be normative, but later in the same section it is said that "Anglican Orthodoxy":

“ is eager to participate in ecumenical dialogue and partnerships, with Roman Catholics… and the Orthodox”

While we have no objection to certain forms of dialogue with Roman Catholics and the Orthodox, it is impossible to think that orthodox, biblically faithful Anglicans can enter into ecumenical dialogue or partnerships with Roman Catholics or the Orthodox Churches. For example, historic Anglicanism and Roman Catholicism have fundamentally conflicting doctrinal positions on essential matters to do with the nature of authority and the very heart of the gospel. The Roman Catholic Church has anathematised some of the truths which we affirm to be essential. There is nothing to be gained by using ambiguous language to conceal this as an earlier generation of liberal ecumenists did (quite apart from the fact that to do so is wrong in principle).

On behalf of the Council of Church Society.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Nollaig Shona Duit, Happy Christmas to You

Nollaig faoi shean is faoi mhaise duit, a prosperous and enjoyable Christmas.

May God fill your hearts and homes with joy and peace this Christmastide, and may blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit be upon you and your loved ones, and remain with you always. Amen.

The New Season: The Emerging Shape of Anglican Mission

[The Anglican Communion Institute] 23 Dec 2009--Advent now shifts into the manifestation of God’s good will in the Nativity feast. So too the church takes its self-scrutiny and penitence, and turns in hope to the gift of God’s own and new life among us.

The final text of the Anglican Covenant has now been sent out for adoption by the churches of the Communion. The slow process by which this text and its official dissemination for action has occurred has frustrated some, yet its persistent progress forward to this point at last puts the lie to the naysayers and early eulogists of the Covenant’s purpose. Joined to the restarting of the Anglican-Roman Catholic international dialogue, to be focused on substantive matters of ecclesiology and moral decision-making, what seemed merely slow now appears to be the visible sign of a tectonic shift in global Anglicanism and Christianity itself. It is one in which the Episcopal Church in the United States has placed itself on the far side of a widening channel separating the ballast of Christian witness, Catholic and Pentecostal, from marginal spin-offs of liberal Protestantism in decline.

And so some stock-taking is in order. I would like to speak as honestly as I can about the Episcopal Church, of which I am and remain a member, as we enter this new decade. The purpose of doing so is not to provoke response or to encourage reactive apathy. Honesty is necessary, simply and straightforwardly, for anyone who seeks God’s will, and surely that is all of us, and especially those of us who are Anglicans in America and in the Episcopal Church.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Anglicanism - A Protestant and Reformed Confession

[Irish Church Missions] 14 Dec 2009--In his book, Richard Hooker and the Authority of Scripture, Tradition and Reason (Paternoster, 1997), Nigel Atkinson demonstrates that Richard Hooker (1554-1600), regarded by Anglicans as one of its foremost theologians, was not someone who believed that the doctrine and teaching of the Church of England was a via media between the teachings of Roman Catholicism and the Reformed teachings of Geneva. Indeed, Atkinson demonstrates that Hooker was as convinced of the Reformed doctrines of the Reformation as his Puritan opponents. This is important in that many today, following in the footsteps of John Henry Newman and John Keble, who represented the High Church Oxford Movement in the 19th century, still mistakenly believe that Anglican doctrine is a half-way house between Rome and Geneva. Though the views espoused by the Oxford Movement and kept alive in the High Church tradition are regarded by many as normative Anglicanism, the historical truth is that these views are alien intruders into the classical Anglicanism that arose in the sixteenth century. If we want to discover the definitive characteristic of Anglicanism in terms of its doctrine and teaching, then we must go back beyond the Oxford movement of the nineteenth century to the title deeds of Anglicanism that were written by the Reformers in the sixteenth century.

Commenting on this foundational period within Anglicanism, Canadian Anglican, Dyson Hague, in his book Through the Prayer Book (London, 1932) writes:

‘England’s church arose at the Reformation from the deadly sleep of mediaevalism with two books – the Bible and the Prayer Book…The Church of England was not born at the Reformation…but it was born again….It was the old church with new life. It stood then and it has stood ever since with two books: one, the secret of its transformation, the Bible; the other, the expression and exponent of its re-formation, the Prayer Book.’

The Protestantism of the Prayer Book

"The title of this work explains its object. It is to demonstrate the essential Protestantism of the Book of Common Prayer, and to give to loyal Churchmen a
series of reasons for their honest attachment to the Church of England. The word Protestant is a term of which no Churchman should be ashamed ; and he who sneers at her Protestantism, may well he suspected of disloyalty to the Church. No one can read the history of the Reformation without recognizing the fact that the Church of England is nothing if not Protestant. Not only her Articles, but all the services of the Prayer Book were drawn up by Protestants in the true sense, and intended for the establishment of Protestantism. While we rejoice in the catholicity of the Church of England, and recognize with gladness the fact that she is a true branch of the one holy catholic Church, which she herself has defined to be the blessed company of all faithful people, we also know that her very being is essentially and continuously a living protest against the falsities of Rome, and not only that, but against all
forms of error, practical and doctrinal, Unitarian, Socinian, Pelagian, Arian.

The Church is Protestant, not merely in that she presents a powerful disclaimer both in her Articles and liturgy against the perversions of Popery, but Protestant equally in her standing protest against other forms of error which, by negation or subtraction, have perverted the truth. It is, however, in the sense of protest against Romanism, or Popery, Roman corruptions in doctrine, and Romish trivialties in ritual, that that word Protestant is mainly employed in this work."

With these words Dyson Hague begins the Introduction to his classic work on the Book of Common Prayer, The Protestantism of the Prayer Book, first published in 1890. The Protestantism of the Prayer Book is available on the Internet in PDF format at .

The Protestant Face of Anglicanism

[The Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society] 14 Dec 2009--The author of this book is the dean of the Cathedral Church of the Advent (Episcopal) in Birmingham, Alabama. He argues convincingly that Anglicanism rests historically within the Protestant and Reformed tradition of Christianity, admitting that it has often appeared more Apostolic and Catholic. This two-sided face of the church stems from the period of Queen Elizabeth I and remains still today. The main issue the author wishes to resolve is whether Anglicanism presents an antithesis between these two views or a synthesis, a via media or "third way." He believes the third way approach sells short the Anglican church, despite the fact that it is the prevailing view of many defining it today.

The English Reformation (like the European) was a change in religious conviction based on the affirmation that justification is by grace through faith. Like Luther, the early English reformers held that the believer was able to love God freely because one was declared righteous and forgiven by God's decree. The English Reformation was more than a change of form from papal to monarchical; it was one also of substance, lasting one hundred seventy years (1520-1690). It resulted in a Protestant Reformed church and nation.

Why then is Anglicanism today not squarely identified with Protestantism but instead as a church of the via media? The author provides six reasons: (1) the difficulty of distinguishing Puritan dissent from Protestant Anglican self understanding; (2) the fear of being labeled a Calvinist despite the Calvinistic tone of many of the Thirty-nine Articles; (3) the charge that Protestantism is inflexible, intolerable, too systematic, self-righteous, and moralizing; (4) a popular belief that Anglicanism should be accommodating, unwilling to confront contradiction, and always seeking a "golden mean"; (5) a Catholicizing preference that emphasizes the incarnation over the atonement; and (6) the charge that Protestantism secularizes while Catholicism provides "real" religion. All of these objections leave the Anglican church more with praxis than principle. In addition, the Prayer Book has undergone so many revisions that one cannot turn to it today to settle the issues.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

When “Gracious Restraint” Fails — The Real Anglican Tragedy

8 Dec 2009--The election of a second openly-homosexual bishop in the Episcopal Church hardly came as a surprise. Given the actions of the church in its General Convention this past summer, the question was clearly not if there would be more openly-gay bishops, but when. The Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles answered that question on Saturday, electing the Reverend Mary D. Glasspool of Baltimore as an assistant bishop. She is expected to be consecrated as bishop on May 15 in Los Angeles.

Ms. Glasspool was elected on the seventh ballot, winning 153 clergy votes and 203 lay votes. Her election followed the election of another woman as a fellow assistant bishop for the diocese. More significantly, her election followed the seismic events of 2003, when the Reverend V. Gene Robinson was elected bishop of New Hampshire -- the first openly-homosexual bishop in the entire Anglican world.

Bishop Robinson's election set off a cataclysm in the Anglican Communion. That worldwide body of Anglicans appealed to its American church, the Episcopal Church, to respect the concerns of other churches and to establish a moratorium on the election of openly homosexual persons as bishops and the blessing of same-sex unions.

Anglican churches in the so-called "Global South" responded to the election of Bishop Robinson with outrage and conservatives in the Episcopal Church withdrew, forming the new Anglican Church in North America [ACNA]. Over the past two years, a significant number of churches and dioceses have withdrawn from the Episcopal Church to join the new ACNA or another conservative Anglican body.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Two Archiepiscopal Statements on the Election of Mary Glasspool as Suffragan Bishop of Los Angelos

Archbishop of Syndey

"The election (yet to be confirmed) of a partnered lesbian as Bishop in the Episcopal Church (TEC) is sad but not surprising.

Confirmation of this election will make clear beyond any doubt whatsoever that the TEC leadership has chosen to walk in a way which is contrary to scripture and will continue to do so.

This settled path that the TEC chooses is contrary to the expressed will of the majority of the Anglican Communion.

Further, it confirms the rightness of GAFCON in producing the Jerusalem Declaration and establishing the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FCA).

The aim of the FCA is to recognise and give fellowship to those who wish to remain faithful to God’s revealed word and also to defend and promote biblical teaching throughout the Communion.

It is all the more urgent that those who share the aims of the FCA should associate themselves with the movement and express their disapproval of actions which are contrary to scripture and contrary to historic Anglicanism.

Further, this gives the Archbishop of Canterbury every reason to act decisively and dissociate from the Episcopal Church and to recognise the Anglican Church of North America."

Archbishop of Canterbury

"The election of Mary Glasspool by the Diocese of Los Angeles as suffragan bishop elect raises very serious questions not just for the Episcopal Church and its place in the Anglican Communion, but for the Communion as a whole.

The process of selection however is only part complete. The election has to be confirmed, or could be rejected, by diocesan bishops and diocesan standing committees. That decision will have very important implications.

The bishops of the Communion have collectively acknowledged that a period of gracious restraint in respect of actions which are contrary to the mind of the Communion is necessary if our bonds of mutual affection are to hold."

US Diocese elects openly immoral Bishop

[EV News] 7 Dec 2009--Yesterday the Diocese of Los Angeles voted to elect Mary Glasspool as its next Bishop. Glasspool teaches the acceptability of homosexual practice, asserts to be a homosexual and lives with here female 'partner'. The election has to be ratified by the wider episcopal Church but in July the previous moratorium on such people being elected was lifted so ratification looks likely.

This is another clear symptom of a deeper problem, that the majority of episcopalians in the US have abandoned apostolic Christianity. Their new religion puts their own ideas of morality and equality above the Christian belief in faithfulness to the revealed will of God.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Blessing in the name of God

[] 5 Dec 2009--One of the most significant activities of ministers of the gospel is their opportunity to bless people in the name of Christ. Of course the act of blessing is not restricted to ministers, in that every Christian should bless others. They should bless (rather than curse) even their enemies (Luke 6:28) and they should bless God (James 3:9).

The concept of blessing in the mouth of a minister carries with it special weight. In the Old Testament the priests of Aaron’s line had a special blessing for the people (Numbers 6:24-26). Their blessing placed God’s name upon the Israelites and conveyed God’s blessing to them (Numbers 6:27). Thus in our liturgies the blessing of the minister holds a significant place in the life of the people of God. The presbyter is charged at his ordination with the words: “whose sins you forgive they are forgiven; whose sins you retain they are retained.” Of course the minister has no inherent power to forgive sins, any more than he has an inherent power to bless. Rather it is in the office of elder in the church of Christ, a minister of God’s word and sacraments, that authorises him to bless in the name of the triune God. The blessing is no trite mantra, nor a merely human device. It is nothing less than the blessing of God almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Baptise those Babies!

[] 4 Dec 2009--Sometimes I feel like more of an Anglican than the men in white robes (Anglican presbyters I mean, not the KKK). On more than one occasion I’ve heard ordained Anglicans murmer that believers baptism is more biblical than infant baptism, and I’ve even seen some Anglican churches “dedicating” rather than baptising infants.

The baptism debate - troubled waters within Christianity. Plenty of ink has already been spilled over the exegetical arguments, so I don’t plan to revisit those. Instead, I want to draw your attention to a couple of the theological implications of infant baptism, implications which are very practical.

Students Feel Closer to God After High School, Research Shows

[The Christian Post] 4 Dec 2009--Post-high school years have often been cited as a season when most students struggle in their Christian faith and leave the church. But recent research shows that that might not be the case.Fuller Youth Institute released findings on Tuesday showing that two to three years after finishing high school, students said they were feeling "closer to God."

Over 400 students were asked the open-ended question "Since leaving high school, what’s changed about the way you view God?" Among the 14 different responses given, the top three categories of change were all positive changes.

Feeling closer to God, believing that God is bigger than they once thought, and having a greater understanding that God is with them and for them were the largest categories of responses.

Traditional carols are 'nonsense', says bishop

[Telegraph] 4 Dec 2009--Away in a Manger cannot be sung “without embarrassment”, Once in Roy al David’s City is “Victorian behaviour control”; and O Come, All Ye Faithful is misleading, said the Bishop of Croydon, the Rt Rev Nick Baines.

He blamed the much-loved carols for adding to confusion over the season’s real meaning and turning Jesus into a figure as fictitious as Father Christmas.

While others defended the traditional songs as “joyful” and “triumphant”, the bishop complained that the carols have contributed to the story of Christ’s birth being seen “as just one more story alongside the panto and fairy stories”.

In a new book published by the Church of England, Why Wish You a Merry Christmas, the bishop argues that carols encourage images of Christmas that have more to do with Victorian sentiment than the Biblical account of Christ’s birth.

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Jerusalem Declaration, the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, and the Anglican Church in North America

By Robin G. Jordan

I combed through Being Faithful: The Shape of Historic Anglicanism Today, the GAFCON Theological Group’s exposition of the Jerusalem Declaration, and I found no mention of “apostolic succession” in the Catholic sense of the transmission of the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit (including the power to transform bread and wine into Christ’s body and blood, to give the water in the font the power to regenerate, to absolve sins, and to confirm and ordain) through the laying-on-of the hands of a bishop in a personal line of succession that can be traced back to the apostles.

I did come across the following passages that appear to preclude this particular doctrine. The first is taken from the GAFCON Theological Group’s exposition of Clause 3: The rule of faith:

“The Church is apostolic because it rests on the foundation of the apostolic witness to Christ. The teaching of the apostles of Christ is the treasure of the Church which shapes its life and witness.” [p. 34]

The second is taken from their exposition of Clause 4: The doctrine of the Church:

“The Holy Spirit empowers the church to serve its Lord, Jesus Christ, and equip it to participate in Christ’s own mission. The Holy Spirit convicts people of sin, empowers them for service, comforts them and reveals God’s truth to them. The particular work of the Holy Spirit can be seen gloriously in the history of revivals, charismatic renewal and mission in many parts of the world. The work of the Holy Spirit in the church does not imply that he is subject to the institution of the church, nor that he is a possession of a particular part of the church (my emphasis). The Holy Spirit is greater than the church, and is at work in the world, directing people to Jesus (John 16:13-15). On more than one occasion the New Testament speaks of the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Jesus (Acts 16:7; Romans 8:9).” [p. 37]

The third is also taken from the GAFCON Theological Group’s exposition of Clause 4:

“We are apostolic because our life together is founded on the faith of the apostles, and we are called, like them, to go into the world with the good news of Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:18-20).” [p. 39]

The following is the GAFCON Theological Group’s exposition of Clause 7: Clerical orders.

1. What do we mean by ‘ministry’ in the church?

“We affirm that Christ himself is the chief minister and source of all ministry within the Church. He is the Shepherd and Overseer of our souls (I Peter 2:25). He called a people to himself, instituted the sacraments and gave the Church authority and mission, orientation and goal. He exemplified and defined ministry as service in his teaching (Mark 10:45) and by taking a towel to wash the feet of his disciples (John 13:4-5). Christian ministry is not the sole possession, nor the sole responsibility of those who have been ordained. Ordained ministry is set in the context of the ministry of all believers.

“We affirm lay ministry, not only in a clearly ecclesiastical context, such as the ministry of Readers, teachers, and evangelists, but also the ministry which takes place in the workplace and the local community. In fact ministry is the service of God that is undertaken every hour of every day. There is a priesthood of all believers inasmuch as we all have direct access to God through Jesus Christ, and we are all called to witness, to evangelise, and to serve him in all our activities.

“It is the task of ordained ministers ‘to prepare God’s people for the works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up’ (Ephesians 4:12). The gifts distributed by the Holy Spirit to each member of the body are to be used ‘for the common good’ (I Corinthians 12:7). It is by working together, proclaiming Christ and living as his faithful and loving disciples, that the various orders of ministry function properly.

2. What do we understand about the ordained ministry?

“Before and after his resurrection, Jesus Christ provided for the care and nourishment of his Church by giving his word to his apostles (Matthew 28:18-20; John 17:20) and then, on the day of Pentecost, by pouring out his Spirit (John 14:15-17; Acts 2:32-33). From the earliest days of the Christian Church, it has been a vital concern to recognise those whom God has called and gifted to serve and lead his people (Acts 6:1-7; 13:1-3).

“The historic threefold order of bishop, priest (or presbyter) and deacon is a particular expression of these New Testament concerns. This order became widespread in the early years of the Christian Church and was retained at the time of the English Reformation; it is still the pattern to which Anglicans are committed, in obedience to Scripture and out of respect for history.

“The Anglican Ordinal (which has been bound within the Book of Common Prayer since 1552) sets out the qualities and responsibilities of each of these orders of ministry, and provides a form of recognition that those so ordained are called and gifted by God. It reminds all bishops, priests and deacons that those they serve are the precious body of Christ, and they are responsible to him for the faithful discharge of their ministry.

“Bishops are called to be the chief pastor in their diocese, to teach the Christian faith, to banish error, to live a godly life and be gentle with the flock, properly to administer the sacraments, and to lead in mission. Bishops uniquely are to ordain and send out others in ordained ministry.

“Priests are called to be ‘messengers, watchmen, and stewards of the Lord: to teach and to premonish, to feed and provide for the Lord’s family; to seek for Christ’s sheep that are dispersed abroad, and for his children who are in the midst of this naughty world, that they may be saved through Christ for ever.’

“Deacons are called to serve and assist the Church’s ministry.

“Each minister is to provide an example of Christian living to other people. And, since ministry is a precious gift, each minister is accountable for it. There is a rightful dignity to the ordained ministry, but this is never merely a human pride. It is the dignity of the cross-bearing servant, faithfully following the master.

Ordained ministers are always and only ministers of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ (my emphasis). This gospel is entrusted to them (I Timothy 1:12-14), and they are accountable to the Lord for their faithfulness to it. We acknowledge, as a part of our Anglican heritage, that no ordained minister is beyond accountability within the body of the church. In extreme cases, where, for example, there are clear breaches of the requirements of the Ordinal, the person concerned, though ordained or consecrated, forfeits the rights and dignity of the office which has been entrusted to that person. Nevertheless, it must be stressed that such a verdict may not be reached quickly, lightly or without considerable prayerful thought and widespread consultation.” [pp. 48-50]

I do not see in this commentary any suggestions of a Catholic view of apostolic succession, ordination, and the sacraments. On the other hand, it is consistent with how evangelicals in the Anglican Church have historically viewed ordained ministry.

The UK Anglo-Catholics for the most part did not attend GAFCON. The US Anglo-Catholics who did attend the conference returned home, complaining that the Jerusalem Declaration was too evangelical in its theological content. They had sought to make the declaration more Catholic in its doctrine and had been thwarted in their efforts. The dissatisfaction of US Anglo-Catholics with the Jerusalem Declaration, as I have stated elsewhere, prompted the former Episcopal, now Anglican Bishop of Fort Worth Jack Iker to reassure those in the ACNA that the Common Cause Theological Statement, not the Jerusalem Declaration, would determine the direction of the ACNA. The Common Cause Theological Statement accommodates Anglo-Catholics on a number of key issues—Holy Scripture, the ecumenical Councils, bishops, the Book of Common Prayer, and the Thirty-Nine Articles. At the ACNA Provincial Council meeting that preceded the inaugural ACNA Provincial Assembly that ratified the proposed ACNA constitution and canons including a modified version of the Common Cause Theological Statement, the Anglo-Catholic members of the ACNA Provincial Council opposed any changes in the language of that modified version of the Common Cause Theological Statement that would have made it more acceptable to evangelicals. They claimed such alterations would lead to the unraveling of the fragile détente between Anglo-Catholics and evangelicals in the ACNA. It was on Bishop Iker’s motion that the ACNA Provincial Assembly voted to accept the modified version of the Common Cause Theological Statement with only one slight change. It altered the numbering of the clauses in the theological statement to reflect the removal of the affirmation of the Jerusalem Declaration from Article I of the ACNA constitution and its placement in the Preface to that constitution.

In the Jerusalem Declaration the signatories of that declaration emphatically announce that its fourteen clauses are the tenets, or doctrines, underpinning Anglican identity. In its constitution, however, the ACNA relegates its affirmation of the Jerusalem Declaration to the to the introductory remarks prefixed to that document, giving it only a token place in the ACNA. It identifies as “characteristic of the Anglican Way and essential for membership” in the ACNA the “seven elements” in the modified version of the Common Cause Theological Statement incorporated into its constitution. As Bishop Iker observed in the same interview in which he reassured Anglo-Catholics in the ACNA that the Common Cause Theological Statement would be determining the direction of the ACNA, the Common Cause Theological Statement differs in wording and emphasis from the Jerusalem Declaration. Bishop Iker dismissed these differences as “slight” but a comparison of the two documents shows that he in so characterizing the differences is indulging in understatement and minimizing the substantial differences between the documents.

More recently, Philip Ashey, the chief executive officer of the American Anglican Council, announced that the AAC is forming a North American chapter of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans and this chapter would be a “ministry partner” of the ACNA. Under the provisions of the ACNA canons to be a ministry partner of the ACNA, an organization must subscribe without reservation to the “seven elements” of the modified version of the Common Cause Theological Statement incorporated in the ACNA constitution. The Rev. Ashey also presented a vision of the North American FCA chapter that is quite different from the vision of the Global Anglican Future Statement for that organization. Instead of functioning as an independent “renewal movement” in the Anglican ecclesial bodies in North America, in the ACNA and the Continuing Anglican Churches, as well as the Anglican Church of Canada and The Episcopal Church, in the vision that the Rev. Ashey articulated, the FCA in North America would be ancillary to the ACNA and would carry out its objectives.

While the ACNA may have been formed in response to the GAFCON call for a new province in North America to uphold orthodox faith and practice, there appears to be a real disconnect between the ACNA and GAFCON, in terms of doctrine and vision of the role of the FCA. The GAFCON Primates have recognized the ACNA as “genuinely Anglican” and a number of Anglican ecclesiastic organizations involved in GAFCON and the FCA have followed suit. But what is troublesome to people like myself is how they can extend such recognition to the ACNA when it is evident that a substantial part of the ACNA does not accept the Jerusalem Declaration’s view of what underpins Anglican identity and rejects the Global Anglican Future Statement’s vision of the FCA.

One possible explanation is that they are choosing to give the ACNA the benefit of the doubt and to apply the principle of charitable assumption in hopes that such generosity will encourage the ACNA to move closer to the positions articulated in the Jerusalem Declaration and the Global Anglican Future Statement. But this is like rewarding a child for only partially completing a task when the goal for the child to complete the task. Having been rewarded for doing the task in part, the child will have no incentive to finish it.

Another explanation that is in circulation is that the GAFCON Primates and those involved in GAFCON and the FCA have no other choice but to extend their recognition to the ACNA since denying that recognition would play into the hands of the liberals in the Anglican Church of Canada, The Episcopal Church and other provinces and dioceses of the Anglican Communion. While there may be some truth to this view, unqualified recognition of the ACNA takes away any incentive on the part of the ACNA to change the doctrinal positions adopted in its constitution and canons. It conveys the message to those within the ACNA that these positions are acceptable. Should the Church of England’s House of Bishops and subsequently its General Synod recognize the ACNA and call for its admission as the thirty-ninth province of the Anglican Communion, as GAFCON and FCA supporters are urging, the C of E Bishops and General Synod will eliminate any motivation on the part of the ACNA to move closer to the Jerusalem Declaration and the Global Anglican Future Statement’s vision for the FCA.

There are also those within the ACNA, as well as outside that ecclesial body, who are prepared to spin such unqualified recognition as unqualified acceptance of the ACNA doctrinal positions. This may not accurately represent the position of those extending recognition to the ACNA but it is open to that interpretation. A number of Anglican leaders associated with GAFCON and the FCA have privately expressed reservations about the ACNA but have not gone on record, in part out of desire to maintain a united front against the liberal element in the Anglican Communion and in part out of fear that their public statements might be used to harm the movement to establish a new province in North America to uphold orthodox faith and practice. Their reticence, however, also creates the false impression that they accept the present direction of the ACNA.

A third explanation is that the supporters of GAFCON and the FCA outside of North America who have extended recognition to the ACNA naively believe that the ACNA actually accepts the tenets set forth in the Jerusalem Declaration and the vision of the FCA articulated in the Global Anglican Future Statement. They are not sufficiently informed about the real situation in the ACNA or dismiss any information that does not support how they wish to perceive the ACNA. This explanation is certainly applicable to a large segment of the ACNA.

In all likelihood all three explanation apply. In any event unqualified recognition of the ACNA is contributing to the persistence of an undesirable situation in the ACNA.

To rectify this situation, the following plan of action commends itself.

First, GAFCON and FCA supporters outside of North America need to thoroughly investigate conditions within the ACNA and to qualify their recognition of the ACNA, affirming the ACNA where it does adhere to the tenets of the Jerusalem Declaration and the Global Anglican Future Statement’s vision for the FCA and calling for change where it does not. They also need to issue periodic reports on the progress of the ACNA toward greater adherence to the Jerusalem Declaration and the Global Anglican Future Statement’s vision for the FCA.

Second, Anglicans and Episcopalians in Canada and the United States joining the FCA need to establish a FCA chapter in North America that is independent of the AAC and the ACNA and any other Anglican ecclesiastical organization or ecclesial body in their part of the North American continent. The FCA in North America will not fulfill the vision of the FCA as a renewal movement articulated in the Global Anglican Future Statement if it is tied to any existing organization or body and subordinated to its purposes.

Third, a credible alternative to the ACNA needs to be launched in North America in response to the GAFCON call for the formation of a new province to uphold orthodox faith and practice. As the only horse in the race the ACNA can amble along as it pleases. A second horse in the running, which more closely adheres to the tenets of the Jerusalem Declaration and more fully embraces the Global Anglican Future Statement’s vision of the FCA, would draw attention to the ACNA’s failings in these two areas as well as its other shortcomings. It would raise doubts as to whether the ACNA is truly representative of all North American Anglicans who uphold orthodox faith and practice. It would provide some motivation for the ACNA to move closer to the Jerusalem Declaration and the Global Anglican Future Statement’s vision for the FCA or drop out of the race.

Fourth, within the ACNA itself a movement is needed to bring the ACNA into greater conformity with the Jerusalem Declaration and the Global Anglican Future Statement’s vision of the FCA at all levels. Congregations and dioceses or other groupings need not only to incorporate the Jerusalem Declaration into their doctrinal statements along with the Thirty-Nine Articles but also in practice to conform to their teaching. They need to adopt the 1662 Book of Common Prayer and liturgical services in contemporary English based upon the 1662 Prayer Book and discontinue their use of the 1928 Prayer Book, the 1962 Canadian Prayer Book, any contemporary English liturgical services based upon these two service books, the 1979 Prayer Book, and the 1985 Canadian Book of Alternative Services. They need to join with Anglicans and Episcopalians outside the ACNA in establishing an independent FCA.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Articles once more

[Theological Theology] 23 Nov 2009--The Thirty-nine Articles provide the only secure anchor for an authentic Anglican identity. This is after all the foundational doctrinal statement of the reformed church of England, drafted by the reforming bishops, endorsed by the lay members of the church in parliament, and situated as the touchstone of Anglican theology and practice ever since. Whatever other categories, principles or documents may be presented as integral to the heart of Anglicanism, the simple fact is that the Articles tell Anglicans who they are.

The Articles were never intended to be exhaustive. They are not a comprehensive systematic theology, an Anglican answer to Calvin's Institutes or Melanchthon's Loci Communes. Nevertheless, they do provide the contours of Anglican polity, Anglican practice, and the Anglican commitment to biblical doctrine. They do not claim to be the final authority — that final authority was and is Scripture itself, the word of God written (Article 20) — but they do have a subsidiary authority. Insofar as they are in fact a faithful expression of biblical truth, they rightfully test all contemporary claims to the Anglican inheritance.

One of the freshest and most exciting developments in recent Anglican theology is a return to a serious and respectful study of the Articles. A number of studies have been published in the past few years and are about to be published over the next year or so, all of which seek to expound the doctrine of the Articles as a powerful force in the renewal of Anglican identity worldwide. The Articles do not present us with a moribund theology, one bound irretrievably to discredited epistemological and ontological commitments. Here is a lively confession of trust in Christ which still has the capacity to challenge us to greater fidelity to God's self-revelation in Christ and through the inspired Scriptures. Here is an antidote to fearful, sloppy thinking. The failure of courage that has characterised so much Anglican theology in the last two centuries — as one conviction after another has been surrendered in the doomed attempt to win favour with the world around us — need not determine the future. The 39 Articles are once again the cutting edge!

However, not all references to the 39 Articles today take them seriously on their own terms. Current attempts to revive Newman's interpretation of the Articles lack integrity today just as they did in Newman's time (even he could not sustain it in the long run). Attempts to read an Arminian theology into them, when plainly this is at best anachronistic and at worst a reading of them that is determinedly 'against the grain', must also fail. The suggestion that they are an historical document locked into the debates and concerns of the sixteenth century but without any real relevance to the twenty-first, fails to account for (1) the express intent of the authors; (2) the reaffirmation of the Articles in 1662, one hundred and ten years after they were drafted, when very different circumstances prevailed. The current Archbishop of Canterbury, who at one time assented to the Articles at his own ordination, has recently stated that the differences between Rome and the Anglican Communion — even the controversial ones such women's ordination and the acceptance of homosexuality — are merely secondary matters that ought not delay continued ecumenical advance, simply reaffirms his highly intelligent muddle-headedness.

Are the Articles open to revision? In principle the answer must be 'yes', since they claim to be completely dependent for their authority on the teaching of Scripture. If it can be shown that at one point or other they contradict the teaching of Scripture, then the Articles must give way to Scripture. But the Articles must not be bent to any contemporary ecclesiastical, political or social agenda. They stand over against contemporary theologizing as a check on our hubris and idiosyncracies and as a challenge to our own blind spots. It would need an extraordinary consensus, and a clear demonstration that the changes were drawing us closer to the teaching of Scripture and not further from it, if there was any any substantial revision today.

What is more, as legal argument in the nineteenth century established beyond doubt, the Articles interpret the Book of Common Prayer and not the other way around. Liturgical practice must flow out of theological conviction, not vice versa. Some of the official pronouncements from such bodies as the highly politicised Anglican Communion Office continue to peddle the argument that our theology is derived from the Book of Common Prayer or from the Ordinal. Of course these too are our foundational documents, alongside the 39 Articles. But each of these has a particular function, and the doctrinal standard is the 39 Articles. A failure to recognise this has brought in its wake a host of problems.

The need of the moment is for the obfuscation of the establishment to be replaced by the clarity, boldness and rich edification of Anglicanism's foundational doctrinal statement. This can only result in the future health of this ailing denomination, as Christ crucified, risen and regnant takes his proper place amongst us, which will always be demonstrated by a thoroughgoing submission to the word by which he rules.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Anglicans, Anglican'ts and Anglicuckoos

[The Ugley Vicar] 20 Nov 2009--There is a moment in the otherwise-dire Once Upon a Time in Mexico, where Johnny Depp’s character asks a henchman, “Are you a Mexican, or a Mexican’t?”

I want to steal that idea to say how tired I am of the Anglican’t. You know the kind — the member of the Church of England (often one of the clergy) who hasn’t got a good word to say about it. Bishops are useless, Archdeacons execrable, the parish system an obstacle to gospel ministry, the parish quota an imposition, the priesthood unspeakable, the sacraments unnecessary, the Prayer Book a relic and modern liturgy a waste of space.

Now of course, there are many things wrong with some, if not all, of the above. But oddly enough, when you go to other parts of the Anglican Communion than our own, they have the same structures yet they are growing healthy churches in expanding dioceses.

I said to someone just the other day, it is rather like comparing armies. They all have footsoldiers and generals. They all have a bit of gold braid and a bit of ‘square bashing’ — but they vary hugely in their effectiveness and performance. The key is not having generals or getting rid of lance-corporals. It is in what you do with these things.

In the same way, such problems as the Church of England has are not because of bishops, parish boundaries, or any of the other things per se about which Anglican’ts complain.

So enough with the constant whingeing. If you think its that bad, why not go somewhere else? There are other boats, and there are plenty of fish out there to catch. And hey, it might actually be more fun.

But then we come to the Anglicuckoos.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Archbishop of Canterbury claims differences between Anglicans and Roman Catholics are not that great

[Telegraph] 19Nov 2009--Dr Rowan Williams challenged Catholic doctrine by claiming that even the dispute over whether women can be priests should not be a serious dividing issue between the two major Christian denominations.

He held up the Anglican Communion, which has been driven to the brink of collapse over homosexuality in recent years, as an example of how a family of churches can remain connected despite the differences between them.

The archbishop made his provocative comments at the Gregorian University in Rome, at a meeting to celebrate the centenary of Cardinal Willebrands, a former president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

It is Dr Williams’s first trip to Rome since the Vatican’s surprise announcement of a new way for groups of Anglicans disaffected by the liberal direction of the church to convert to Catholicism.

He will meet Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday to discuss the implications of the creation of Personal Ordinariates, which could see hundreds of thousands worldwide enter into full communion with Rome while retaining parts of their former Anglican heritage.

Dr Williams, who had no part in the development in the scheme and was only given two weeks’ notice of its announcement, described it as “the elephant in the room” during his address on Thursday afternoon.

He admitted it represented an “imaginative pastoral response to the needs of some” but insisted it did not “break any fresh ecclesiological ground”.

Can the Church Beat Starbucks?

[Christian Post] 19 Nov 2009--It used to be an easy decision. You go to church on Sunday mornings and save the coffee shop for Tuesday night small group. But things are not so clear anymore. Indeed, over the last several years the church and Starbucks have increasingly moved into each other’s territory. And this leads to the question: will the church go the way of the UK’s Coffee Republic and other bankrupted chains, or will it win out against the titan from Seattle?

Starbucks’ move into the church’s territory began in the mid-nineties when the decision was made to market Starbucks as the so-called “third place” between home and work: the place to be yourself and reassert your identity in community. Unfortunately this brought it into inevitable conflict with the church which had long been vying for the coveted status of third place.

As Starbucks moved into direct competition with the church, it intentionally began to market its products as part of a total experience which could imbue meaning and purpose into the dismal lives of the weary suburbanite. This is how Howard Schultz (Starbucks CEO) put it: “In the ethical vacuum of this era, people long to be inspired. […] When five million people a week seek out a Starbucks store and wait in line for an espresso drink, when customers return several times each week, they’re not just coming for the coffee. They’re coming for the feeling they get when they’re there.”

Coffee as a way to fill an “ethical vacuum”? Clearly this spelt danger for the church which was also in the business of filling ethical vacuums, but had nothing more interesting than tepid coffee and bland pasta dinners (the latter only on the condition that you agree to watch an Alpha course video).

Boys Wearing Skirts to School? What's Going On?

[The Christian Post] 19 Nov 2009--"Clothes are never a frivolity -- they always mean something." Thus spoke James Laver, a famous costume designer and interpreter of fashion. He is right, of course. Clothes always mean something, which is why The New York Times gave major attention to an issue facing many schools: "Can a Boy Wear a Skirt to School?"

The article, right on the front of the "Sunday Styles" section of the paper, announced, "When gender bends the dress code, high schools struggle to respond." The story reveals a confusion over gender that goes far beyond the dress code.

As Jan Hoffman reports, high schools generally have very specific rules about clothing these days. Boys are forbidden to wear muscle shirts and saggy pants, and girls cannot wear midriff-exposing tops or skirts that are too short. But what happens when a boy wants to wear a skirt?

"In recent years, a growing number of teenagers have been dressing to articulate - or confound - gender identity and sexual orientation," Hoffman reports. "Certainly they have been confounding school officials, whose responses have ranged from indifference to applause to bans."

This is no longer an issue limited to isolated examples. Districts across the country have reported teens who have attempted to cross the gender line in dress. Many of these cases have captured media attention, with highly publicized controversies. In other cases, the challenges have been more quiet.

The cases are, to say the least, both interesting and troubling. Boys are making news for wearing skinny jeans, makeup, wigs, and skirts. Girls are bending gender in their own way by, for example, wearing a tuxedo for the school picture or to a school event.

Three Questions with Gerald Bray: On Three Questions to Ask of Biblical Texts

[Between Two Worlds] 19 Nov 2009--Gerald Bray is Research Professor at Beeson Divinity School at Samford University, and director of research for the Latimer Trust. This fall he is Scholar in Residence at Union University. He has taught theology for 30 years, is the author of numerous books, and is the editor of IVP’s Contours of Christian Theology series, penning its inaugural volume on The Doctrine of God. He is also the other of a large volume introducing the history of Biblical Interpretation. (Just to give you a sense of his learning and global interests, he is fluent in French, German, Dutch, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Greek and Russian.)

He’s graciously answered a few questions for us on the basic questions to ask when interpreting Scripture.

New Lutheran body to form after gay pastor vote

[The Associated Press] 19 Nov 2009--The split over gay clergy within the country's largest Lutheran denomination has prompted a conservative faction to begin forming a new Lutheran church body separate from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Leaders of Lutheran CORE said Wednesday that a working group would immediately begin drafting a constitution and taking other steps to form the denomination, with hopes to have it off the ground by next August.

"There are many people within the ELCA who are very unhappy with what has happened," said the Rev. Paull Spring, chairman of Lutheran CORE and a retired ELCA bishop from State College, Pa.

At its annual convention in Minneapolis in August, ELCA delegates voted to lift a ban that had prohibited sexually active gay and lesbian pastors from serving as clergy. The new policy, expected to take effect in April, will allow such individuals to lead ELCA churches as long as they can show that they are in committed, lifelong relationships.

Opponents, led by Lutheran CORE, said that decision is in direct contradiction to Scripture.

At a September convention, Lutheran CORE members voted to spend a year considering whether to form a new Lutheran denomination. However, its leaders said Wednesday that a heavy volume of requests for an alternative from disenfranchised congregations and churchgoers prompted them to hasten the process.

Scripture Alone: what it is and what it ain’t

[] 19 Nov 2009--One of the greatest and most enduring slogans of the Reformation is sola scriptura (‘scripture alone’). The slogan brilliantly encapsulates the Protestant insistence that the church and its traditions are to be subject to Scripture, and not the other way around.

The Reformers insisted that human traditions, even under the Holy Spirit’s guidance (as far as that could be discerned), did not have authority to supplement, augment or overturn Scripture. To establish saving truth, what was needed was a return to the authoritative sources – to the Scriptures themselves.

And this was not something over which Church authorities had a monopoly. The Bible was addressed to every Christian. Every Christian possessed the Holy Spirit, and may read the Scriptures and come to faith in Christ.

But let’s be careful here. I often hear even experienced and well-trained Christians confuse sola scriptura with solo or nuda scriptura. That is: ‘scripture alone’ is confused with ‘scripture only’ or ‘scripture undressed’....