Saturday, June 06, 2009

The marks of a true church are seen in ACNA - Bishop John Ellison

[Anglican Mainstream] 6 Jun 2009--As I have been thinking about the first Provincial Assembly of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) I have wondered how leaders, especially those bishops in the Church of England who have been invited, will in fact respond. Will we as a church make sure we are represented? My firm conviction is that the ACNA shows the marks of the true church as affirmed by the Nicene and the Niceno Constantinoplan Creeds, that it to say apostolicity, catholicity, holiness and unity.

1. The mark of apostolicity. Then as now apostolicity links the contemporary church with the Apostles of the New Testament and ensures that the church is both earthed historically as well as establishing the vital link of continuity. To speak of apostolicity is to affirm that there is a clearly definable content to the Bible which is not ours to tamper with. The ACNA in its commitment to Scripture and apostolic teaching is clearly worthy of our encouragement and support.

2. The mark of catholicity. Catholicity speaks to us of the church worldwide across national and international boundaries, as well as temporally across the centuries. “Where Jesus Christ is, there is the catholic church”, famously wrote Ignatius of Antioch in 110AD. Here is the vital safeguard against parochialism, being concerned only with the local and negligent of the wider church catholic. “Those to whom God is Father, the church may also be Mother”, wrote John Calvin (Institutes 4.1.1) He added “One may not put asunder what God has joined together”. As English Christians we should rejoice in the coming together of so many different expressions of North American Anglicanism embracing the vision of both Ignatius and John Calvin. At a time when TEC is sadly but relentlessly turning its back on the wider Anglican Communion, we should be glad to know of the continuing witness to the church both catholic and reformed that is represented within the ACNA and give it our support.

Bishop John Ellison is the former Bishop of the Iglesia Anglicana Paraguaya, a diocese of the Iglesia Anglicana del Cono Sur de America.

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