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’....

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

GAFCON Primates statement on Vatican offer

[GAFCON] 10 Nov 2009--We have received the Archbishop of Canterbury’s letter informing us of the Pope’s offer of an ‘Apostolic Constitution’ for those Anglicans who wish to be received into the Roman Catholic Church. We believe that this offer is a gracious one and reflects the same commitment to the historic apostolic faith, moral teaching and global mission that we proclaimed in the Jerusalem Declaration on the Global Anglican Future and for this we are profoundly grateful.

We are, however, grieved that the current crisis within our beloved Anglican Communion has made necessary such an unprecedented offer. It represents a grave indictment of the Instruments of Communion whose very purpose is to strengthen and protect our unity in obedience to our Lord’s clear command. Their failure to fully address the abandonment of biblical faith and practice by The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada has now brought shame to the name of Christ and seriously impedes the cause of the Gospel.

The Primates Council of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (GAFCON/FCA) is convinced, however, that Anglicanism has a bright future as long as we remain grounded in the Holy Scriptures and obedient to our Lord Jesus Christ’s call to reach the lost and make disciples of all nations teaching them to observe the whole Gospel. We also believe that there is room within our Anglican family for all those who hold true to the ‘faith once delivered to the saints’. We would like to encourage those Anglicans who are considering this invitation from the Roman Catholic Church to recognize that Anglican churches are growing throughout the world in strength and offering a vibrant testimony to the transforming work of Christ.

We are convinced that this is not the time to abandon the Anglican Communion. Our Anglican identity of reformed catholicity, that gives supreme authority to the Holy Scriptures and acknowledgement that our sole representative and advocate before God is the Lord Jesus Christ, stands as a beacon of hope for millions of people. We remain proud inheritors of the Anglican Reformation. This is a time for all Christians to persevere confident of our Lord’s promise that nothing, not even the gates of hell, will prevail against His Church.

+Peter Abuja,
GAFCON/FCA Primates Council

November 10, 2009

Monday, November 09, 2009

Response to proposals from Rome: Response from the Council of Church Society to the plans by the Church of Rome to receive disaffected Anglicans

[Church Societ] 9 Nov 2009--According to its own doctrinal standards and history, the Church of England's true nature is that of a Protestant, Reformed, Evangelical and catholic (in other words, universal) church. Orthodox Anglicanism is therefore defined by reference to these characteristics only, which are set out in the Thirty-nine Articles and the Church of England's submission to the over-arching authority of Scripture alone. Church Society seeks to defend and promote these defining characteristics, especially the Gospel of salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone which is at the heart of the message and mission of the Church of England.

While acknowledging the correct stand taken by Anglo-Catholics against theological liberalism (the features of which do not represent true, Biblical Anglicanism), it should also be noted that the true doctrine of the Church of England does not embrace any of the teachings or practices which characterise the Church of Rome. For instance, the Church of Rome is fundamentally flawed in its claims about its own nature and authority and in its teaching about the means of salvation.

A proper rejection of theological liberalism should therefore not be accompanied by a turning to the Church of Rome and its unbiblical teachings and practices. Rather, both theological liberalism and the unscriptural teachings and practices of the Church of Rome are contrary to the Bible and to the historic doctrines of the Church of England as a Protestant, Reformed, Evangelical and catholic church.

The longing of Church Society is that all Anglicans, whether in England or elsewhere, would see and understand both the destructive nature of theological liberalism and the false nature, teachings and practices of the Church of Rome.

We grieve that the Church of England, along with our nation, has fallen so low in its spiritual and moral condition. We pray that God would pour out His Spirit on both church and nation.

We rejoice that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone and we pray that the Church of England will return to full adherence to its doctrinal standards, acknowledging the supreme authority of the Bible as God's Word and seeking to shape its teaching and practices by what He has revealed.

The statement was agreed by the Council at its meeting on 4 November 2009.

Church Society exists to uphold biblical teaching and to promote and defend the character of the Church of England as a reformed and national Church. For further information visit

Further information relevant to this statement can be found here.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Putting the Growth of the ACNA in Perspective

By Robin G. Jordan

In one vision of the Anglican Church in North America the ACNA is primarily seen as a rescue operation. The ACNA offers an alternative ecclesiastical structure to which disaffected Episcopalians can flee from an increasingly liberal and heretical Episcopal Church and where they can find a safe refuge from the encroachment of modernism, postmodernism, and pluralism. This particular vision of the ACNA places little or no emphasis upon real evangelism and church planting. Its main concern is Episcopalians who are no longer well disposed to The Episcopal Church. Its principal focus is persuading such Episcopalians to leave The Episcopal Church and joined the ACNA. Its notions of starting a new church are limited to reconstituting a former Episcopal congregation or a large segment of one into a new ACNA church and to gathering smaller groups of former Episcopalians and enfolding them into an ACNA church.

In this vision church growth is seen in terms of numerical growth from former Episcopal congregations and former Episcopalians joining the ACNA. Those who embrace this vision like to point out that the ACNA is growing through the addition of new congregations while The Episcopal Church is declining. They generally downplay the fact that the new congregations are largely made up of the recently unchurched—former Episcopalians. The growth of the ACNA is principally due to the migration of churchgoers from one denomination to another, what is known as “transfer growth.”

This kind of growth cannot be compared to the kind of growth that the global South Anglican provinces have been experiencing. In these provinces the main concern is the segment of the general population that is not Christian and have never been churched. (This is an increasingly growing segment of the general population in Canada and the United States along with the formerly churched—those who were at one time churchgoers but now no longer regularly attend a church.) Their focus is upon reaching and evangelizing this population segment, discipling new believers, helping them to become mature Christians, equipping and releasing them for the work of gospel ministry, and enfolding them into new churches with the same focus—fulfilling the Great Commission. These provinces are not just throwing out a lifeline to Episcopalians drowning in one small backwater; they are braving the open seas to save all whom they can reach with the life preserver of the gospel, often at great danger to themselves.

While rescuing Episcopalians may be one of the ACNA’s subsidiary purposes, it is not its chief purpose. This purpose is articulated in its constitution, in Sections 1 and 2 of Article III.

1. The mission of the Province is to extend the Kingdom of God by so presenting Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit that people everywhere will come to put their trust in God through Him, know Him as Savior and serve Him as Lord in the fellowship of the Church. The chief agents of this mission to extend the Kingdom of God are the people of God.

2. The work of the Province is to equip each member of the Province so that they may reconcile the world to Christ, plant new congregations, and make disciples of all nations; baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything commanded by Jesus Christ.

The danger in seeing the ACNA as primarily a rescue operation to Episcopalians is that those who adopt this view of the ACNA are at high risk of loosing sight of the central task of the Church—the fulfillment of the Great Commission. Rather than measuring the growth of the ACNA in terms of how many new congregations the ACNA can form from disaffected Episcopalians who have left The Episcopal Church or who can be persuaded to do so, leaders and members of the ACNA need to measure it in terms of gospel growth. They need to keep a close eye on “conversion growth.” This is growth arising from non-Christians becoming believers, accepting Christ as their Saviour and Lord and beginning a personal relationship with him. Conversion growth, however, is only one facet of gospel growth. They also need to keep track of how many converts are moving along the path from new believer to mature follower of Jesus Christ, how many have been equipped and released for gospel ministry work, and how many are engaging in that work, and how many people in each of these categories are being enfolded in new Great Commission churches. The data collected in relation to these critical indicators will give a much better picture of the ACNA’s growth and vitality than the number of former Episcopal congregations reconstituted as ACNA churches or the number of ACNA churches formed from groups of disaffected Episcopalians.

Relying upon The Episcopal Church as a source of new members for the ACNA has its drawbacks. Episcopalians are likely to bring a lot of unwanted baggage with them into the ACNA—attitudes, expectations and ways of thinking that may actually hamper or hinder the ACNA congregations in their efforts to spread the gospel and make disciples of unchurched people groups in Canada and the United States. This includes preconceived notions of how church is done. They have been immersed in an ecclesiastical culture that emphasizes the power of the sacraments over the need for personal conversion and faith, denigrates the authority of the Bible and the Anglican formularies, and fosters an anti-gospel and anti-evangelistic identity. Even conservative or orthodox Episcopalians have not escaped its influence.

Reaching and evangelizing the unchurched with little or no church background or previous churchgoing experience may be more challenging than gathering Episcopalians looking for a new church home and enfolding them into a new church. For the diocese it involves reorienting and reorganizing to serve the local congregation. For the local congregation it entails placing making disciples of Christ first and foremost above everything else, mobilizing all its resources to accomplish this one end, and paring away all groups, organizations, and programs that do not contribute to its accomplishment. For individual Christians means moving out of one’s comfort zone and mingling with non-Christians, becoming friends with them, and committing oneself to an ongoing relationship with them even if that relationship does not bear fruit in the form of a profession of faith in Jesus Christ and a commitment to follow him as his disciple.

The kind of growth that comes with faithfulness to the Great Commission is God-given growth. It is the kind of growth that endures for all eternity. It adds more living stones to the edifice that God himself is building—to that temple in which his Spirit dwells. It is this kind of growth for which we as Christians should always strive, going about the business of sharing the good news of Jesus Christ and making disciples as our Lord has commanded us to do and leaving the rest in God's hands.

Help and encouragement in sharing the gospel

[Anglican Church League] 7 Nov 2009--“Paul E. Little’s book How to Give Away Your Faith was first published in 1966, a few years before the popular evangelist was killed in a tragic car accident. Since his untimely death, his wife Marie has overseen two revisions of Little’s book (1988, 2008). It is sometimes described as ‘the classic guide to evangelism,’ perhaps because of the way in which the book addresses practical issues surrounding personal evangelism.”

– Trevin Wax offers some good reasons to dust off your old copy – or perhaps to get a revised edition. At The Discerning Reader.

Of course, Chappo’s Know and Tell the Gospel, written for Australian conditions, is essential reading!

A Religion of Peace, and a Gospel of Inclusion

[Anglican Curmudgeon] 7 Nov 2009--We are living in strange times. Black is said to be white, and white is proclaimed black, and the objective reality is lost in the scramble by each to charge the other with falsehood or bias.

The "religion of peace" makes more headlines these days than even the Catholic Church:

Al Qaeda publishes a circular on its favored Websites which urges Muslim jihadists everywhere to attack "simple targets", including "crusaders" (i.e., Westerners, whose countries are attempting the re-occupation of Muslim lands), with readily available weapons and explosives: get the Stratfor article (fascinating, but published only for subscribers) by email, free, from this link.

Not one week after Al Qaeda's urging jihadists everwhere to take up arms to maintain the purity of Islam, we get this: Fort Hood Muslim psychiatrist (see also this report) who admires suicide bombers guns down 12, and wounds 31. (One of the critically wounded has since died, so the tally is now 13 dead and 30 wounded.)

Earlier, a namesake of the Fort Hood terrorist murdered (fragged) two fellow officers.

Earlier still, an Islamic terrorist gunned down three people at the El-Al counter at the Los Angeles International Airport.

And just after that attack, a man calling himself John Allen Muhammad and his sidekick, Lee Malvo, terrorized the Washington D.C. area with sniper attacks that killed ten people and critically wounded another three. Their arrest prevented their plan to recruit more jihadists and train them in Canada for a mass attack they believed would bring down the Great Satan -- America. (Muhammad's execution is scheduled for next Tuesday, according to the link just given.)

And the attacks by Muslims against Christians are increasing to a level not seen before in modern times.

Meanwhile, the people who demand that they be included are all for exclusion....

Former TEC Dioceses Welcome Congregations

[The Living Church] 7 Nov 2009--As two former Episcopal dioceses hold conventions this weekend, they are beginning to incorporate congregations from across the nation.

The Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh will vote on welcoming Harvest Anglican Church, Homer City, Pa.; Church of the Transfiguration, Cleveland, Ohio; HolyTrinityChurch, Raleigh, N.C.; and St. James Church, San Jose, Calif.

The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth (Southern Cone) plans to receive St. Gabriel’s Anglican Church, Springdale, Ark., as a new mission station. It also will welcome two existing parishes: St. Matthias’ Anglican Church, Dallas; and Church of the Holy Spirit, Tulsa, Okla.

On Oct. 30, the Episcopal Diocese of Tennessee went to court against St. Andrew’s Church, Nashville, which left the Episcopal Church in 2006 and has since announced its affiliation with the Diocese of Quincy (Ill.).

The Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin (Southern Cone) has welcomed three neighboring California parishes — St. Andrew’s in the Desert, Lancaster; St. David’s, San Rafael; and Santa Maria de Juquila, Seaside — and Jesus the Good Shepherd, Henderson, Nevada.

In the context of the Anglican Church in North America’s constitution [PDF], such an elastic definition of diocesan borders is a feature and not a bug.

“Congregations and clergy are related together in a diocese, cluster, or network (whether regional or affinity-based), united by a bishop,” the ACNA’s constitution says. “Dioceses, clusters or networks (whether regional or affinity-based) may band together for common mission, or as distinct jurisdictions at the sub-Provincial level.”

The Church of Uganda and the “Anti-Homosexuality Bill”

[Global South Anglican] 7 Nov 2009--The Church of Uganda is studying the proposed “Anti-homosexuality bill” and, therefore, does not yet have an official position on the bill. In the meantime, we can restate our position on a number of related issues.

1. Our deepest conviction as the Church of Uganda is that, in Christ, people and their sexual desires are redeemed, and restored to God’s original intent. Repentance and obedience to Scripture are the gateway to the redemption of marriage and family and the transformation of society. (Position Paper on Scripture, Authority, and Human Sexuality, May 2005)

1.The House of Bishops resolved in August 2008 that “The Church of Uganda is committed at all levels to offer counseling, healing and prayer for people with homosexual disorientation, especially in our schools and other institutions of learning. The Church is a safe place for individuals, who are confused about their sexuality or struggling with sexual brokenness, to seek help and healing.”

2.The Church of Uganda upholds the sanctity of life and cannot support the death penalty.

3.In April 2009, Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi said, “I am appalled to learn that the rumours we have heard for a long time about homosexual recruiting in our schools and amongst our youth are true. I am even more concerned that the practice is more widespread than we originally thought. It is the duty of the church and the government to be watchmen on the wall and to warn and protect our people from harmful and deceitful agendas.”

4.“Homosexual practice is incompatible with Scripture.” (Resolution of the 1998 Lambeth Conference of Bishops.) Homosexual behaviour is immoral and should not be promoted, supported, or condoned in any way as an “alternative lifestyle.” This position has been repeatedly reaffirmed by the House of Bishops and the Provincial Assembly of the Church of Uganda.

5.We cannot support the blessing of same-sex unions or the ordination of homosexuals (Resolution of the 1998 Lambeth Conference of Bishops), and we will oppose efforts to import such practices into Uganda. Again, this position has been repeatedly reaffirmed by the House of Bishops and the Provincial Assembly of the Church of Uganda.

Rev. Canon Aaron Mwesigye

Provincial Secretary

Church of Uganda

P.O. Box 14123


+256 772 455 129

Friday, November 06, 2009

The Influence of Liberalism upon Evangelicalsm - 'the Curate's Egg'

[Churchman] 6 Nov 2009--Introduction
Here is a modern day parable with apologies to Lewis Carroll.
As Alice was walking down the road, she saw, sitting high up on a fence, a strange looking creature rather like an egg.
‘How curious you look,’ she called up to the man. ‘What kind of person are you?’
‘My name,’ said the egg, ‘is Humpty Dumpty. And what, pray, is yours?’
‘Alice,’ said Alice. ‘And why do you sit so high up on that fence?’
‘My task is the protection of the truth of evangelicalism through the preservation of fellowship and peace between the people who live on either side of this fence.’
‘That is very interesting,’ said Alice. ‘Tell me, what exactly do you mean by evangelicalism?’
‘I mean all those from whatever country who agree on the basics of
Christianity, that God is sovereign, humanity fell in Adam, justification is
by grace through faith via the imputation of Christ’s righteousness. Stuff
like that.’ Humpty sniffed and looked up to the sky. ‘Such childish questioning!’ he muttered to himself.
‘Curiouser and curiouser,’ said Alice. ‘I have never heard of these things. Perhaps you would like to explain them to me.’

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Remembering B. B. Warfield

[The Gospel Coalition] 5 Nov 2009--158 years ago today Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield was born near Lexington, KY. He would go on to become the lion of Princeton—perhaps the greatest American theologian since Jonathan Edwards

Next year, September 2010, Crossway will publish the first “systematic theology” of Warfield, written by Fred Zaspel. The title will be The Theology of B. B. Warfield: A Systematic Summary. Though Warfield himself never wrote a systematics, Zaspel’s work will be the next best thing.

I asked Zaspel if he would mind doing a guest post to remind us of Warfield’s significance. Enjoy.

Being A Faithful Servant

[Ligonier Ministries] 5 Nov 2009--What does take to be a faithful servant? Archbishop Henry Orombi challenges us to remain faithful servants no matter the cost.[audio]

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

The ACNA and Church Property

By Robin G. Jordan

It is frequently claimed that the ACNA Constitution and Canons prohibit the ACNA or the diocese or grouping to which a local congregation belongs, from seizing the church property of that congregation through litigation. If a local congregation does not like the direction in which the ACNA or the diocese is moving, it can leave the ACNA or the diocese, taking its church property with it. Congregations choosing to leave the ACNA will not face the kind of property litigation that congregations leaving TEC have faced. It is also argued that the threat of congregations leaving keeps the ACNA and its dioceses from moving in a too radical direction and obviates the need for any particular safeguards.

The ACNA Constitution and Canons, however, contain two loopholes that do permit a diocese or grouping to take a local congregation to court over ownership of church property and to prevent it from taking that property with it if it leaves the diocese. The first loophole is found in Article XII of the ACNA Constitution. Article XII states:

“All church property, both real and personal, owned by each member congregation now and in the future is and shall be solely and exclusively owned by each member congregation and shall not be subject to any trust interest in favor of the Province or any other claim of ownership arising out of the canon law of this Province. Where property is held in a different manner by any diocese or grouping, such ownership shall be preserved.

Note carefully what the last clause states. “Where property is held in a different manner by any diocese or grouping, such ownership shall be preserved.” This clause does not prevent a diocese from holding or taking church property into trust. Indeed it guarantees dioceses that have joined and may join the ACNA the right to continue to hold property in trust that they already hold in trust.

The second loophole is found in Canon I.6.6. The wording of this provision is identical to that of Article XII except for the addition of a new clause. What the clause does is amend the Constitution and its inclusion in the Canons is highly questionable. It is one of a number of examples where the Governance Task Force amended the Constitution by Canon although the Constitution makes no provision for its amendment in this manner. In its haste to ratify the Constitution and Canons the inaugural Provincial Assembly overlooked these violations of the Constitution. Canon I.6.6 states:

“All congregational property, real and personal, owned by a member congregation is and shall be solely and exclusively owned by the congregation and shall not be subject to any trust in favor of the Province or other claim of ownership arising out of the canon law of the Church; neither may any Diocese assert any such claim over the property of any of its congregations without the express written consent of the congregation. Where property is held in a different manner by any Diocese or grouping, such ownership shall be preserved.”

Under the provisions of the added clause a diocese or grouping to which a local congregation belongs is not actually prohibited from making a claim of ownership over church property of a local congregation. However, it must prove that the local congregation has at some point recognized that it has an interest in the property. For example, if the diocese loaned a local congregation the money to construct a new building, then it could require the local congregation to consent to its claim of part or full ownership of the property as condition of the loan. Litigation may be necessary to establish that the congregation is not encumbered by such a claim and has free title to the property.

The security that Article XII and Canon I.6.6 offer a local congregation in regards to the ownership of church property is a false one. Their provisions need amending or replacing. I wonder how many of the folks that rushed through the ratification of the Constitution and Canons would have done the same thing if they were buying a new house or a new car. I suspect that they would have wanted to examine the fine print in the contract and made sure that any needed changes were incorporated into the contract before they signed it.

The ACNA Constitution and Canons needed more work at the time they were ratified. There was talk of fixing them after their ratification So far it appears to have been just that—talk. Archbishop Bob Duncan’s comments about Article XII shortly before its ratification prompted laughter from the floor of the inaugural Provincial Assembly. The congregations in the ACNA did not realize it but the joke was on them.

A New Anglicanism

[] 3 Nov 2009--Just this past term I have had the great pleasure of co-teaching – with Professor Ashley Null, the renowned Cranmer scholar - a MA unit offered here at Moore College entitled ‘Anglican Identity’. In it we made careful study of the development of the English reformation and the works of leading figures like Fisher, Cranmer and Hooker.

A highlight was reading the moving testimony of Catherine Parr, last wife of Henry VIII, to her conversion to the gospel of justification by faith.

I was curious, however, as to why so few Sydney clergy thought this was a subject that might interest them, or that the study of the founding documents of our denomination might be well worth their while.

This was confirmed by casual conversations with Moore students. I asked them ‘how do you understand your identity as an Anglican?’ – and was met with baffled looks and shrugs. The denomination is a ‘good boat to fish from’, mostly, but there is (it seems to me) no great passion for Anglicanism itself and no great commitment to study its formularies and its history.

Perhaps it is because the international controversies have become wearisome and even a source of embarrassment. Perhaps it is because the denomination changes at glacial speed – and we in our time are addicted to change, even for its own sake. Perhaps we are also in the grip of the ‘lone ranger’ vision of the brave church planter, unencumbered by denominational vagaries. Perhaps the baby-boomer generation have so scrubbed away any outward signs of Anglican distinctiveness that it is hard to see what it is anymore.

But I was surprised that even the GAFCON movement, with its bold and remarkable vision for an global Anglican movement, has not caught the local imagination. It has been perceived as a political rather than a spiritual movement.

More than ever, we need to renew our vision of what it means to be an evangelical Anglican. My conviction is that not only is being evangelical the most authentic way of being Anglican – we’ve been saying that for years - but also that being Anglican is a great way of being evangelical.

How come?

The Work of the Anglican Church League: The Past 100 Years

[Anglican Church League] 3 Nov 2009--I’ve been asked this evening to offer some account of the work of the ACL over the last 100 years. So I humbly put on my amateur historian hat – and amateur should be read in capital letters in light of present company – and I offer these reflections…

It has often been claimed that Sydney Diocese, with its pervasive and dominant conservative evangelicalism, is unique within the Anglican Communion – particularly within western Anglicanism. One of the chief questions that this situation raises is ‘how did this come to be?’

Well many dominant factors could be offered in response to this question. The evangelicalism of the early chaplains, the episcopates of Bishop Barker and Archbishop Mowll, Moore College… Now, these are all good answers but I’m going to argue tonight that any account of why this diocese is the way it is that does not give a significant place to the labour and influence of the ACL is a deficient account! In other words, one of the reasons the Sydney diocese is like it is today is because of the century long existence of this League.

My starting point in making this argument is the place of the diocese before the formation of the ACL. Synodical governance had been established more than half a century earlier than 1909 and since then a number of groups had formed around common causes to exercise influence in the decision making of the diocese. But from the 1880s onwards a series of events took place that caused alarm to many evangelicals in the diocese. A tractarian, Thomas Hill, was appointed principal of Moore College. The chasuble was introduced at Christ Church St Laurence and St James King Street. There was the cathedral reredos saga, as well as more churches introducing robed choirs, brass crosses and other ritualistic elements. These events indicated to the evangelicals a trend within the diocese towards ritualism. So when Archbishop Saumarez Smith died in 1909, an opportunity arose to consolidate the evangelical character of the diocese.

At this time, F. B. Boyce, the rector at Redfern, rallied hard to gain support for J. C. Wright. Wright was an evangelical who was at the forefront of a new movement in England, called the group brotherhood. This group set about rethinking the way evangelicals engaged in society. (The other likely candidate for archbishop was W.H. Griffith-Thomas but his popularity dived after a photograph circulated of him wearing a tie rather than a clerical collar – shocking attire for an archbishop I’m sure we all agree!!!)

Anyway, at about this same time, Boyce was the driving force behind the formation of a group to provide a unified evangelical voice within the diocese. This group was the Anglican Church League

What is full Communion?

[] 3 Nov 2009--The Synod of the Diocese of Sydney passed the following motion in October 2009:

Synod –
(1) welcomes the creation of the Province of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) under the leadership of Archbishop Bob Duncan and notes the GAFCON Primates Council’s recognition of the ACNA as genuinely Anglican and its recommendation that Anglican Provinces affirm full communion with the ACNA and –
(a) therefore expresses its desire to be in full communion with the ACNA, and
(b) furthermore, requests that Standing Committee seek to have a motion brought to the General Synod affirming that the Anglican Church of Australia be in full communion with the ACNA,
(2) welcomes Archbishop Duncan’s assessment that the recent Vatican offer of a Personal Ordinariate ‘will not be utilised by the great majority of the Anglican Church in North America’s bishops, priests, dioceses and congregations’ and urges all Anglicans to reject the Vatican’s proposal, and
(3) asks the General Synod Standing Committee to –
(a) bring the Anglican Covenant to the September 2010 General Synod in such a manner as to enable each diocesan synod to consider the document, and
(b) bring a motion to the General Synod noting the publication of the Jerusalem Declaration and to encourage its study as a means to Anglican identity and cohesion.

Bishop Duncan of the ACNA subsequently announced on 30 October:
The Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) welcomes the affirmation from the Anglican Diocese of Sydney (Australia) that it is in full communion with the ACNA.
Of course the resolution of synod does not expressly state that the Diocese of Sydney is in full communion, but merely “expresses its desire to be in full communion.”

Why the fudge? Well the Diocese of Sydney is part of the Anglican Church of Australia, whose Constitution defines those with whom we are in communion.
This Church will remain and be in communion with the Church of England in England and with churches in communion therewith so long as communion is consistent with the Fundamental Declarations contained in this Constitution.

However, at a practical level, what does full communion mean? It generally means that an ordained person can move from one church to another, without being re-ordained. By way of contrast, an Anglican minster would need to be re-ordained if he were to become a Roman Catholic priest, since the two churches are not in full communion.

Note: In order to hold a license in a diocese of the ACNA, the canons of the ACNA, however, require an Anglican minister from outside of the ACNA to subscribe without reservation to the Common Cause Theological Statement embedded in Article I of the ACNA constitution and accept its Anglo-Catholic position on episcopacy, its dilution of the authority of the historic Anglican formularies, and its establishment of John Henry Newman's ahistorical, fanciful approach to the Thirty-nine Articles as its norm for interpretation of this formulary.

Reformation Yes, Rome No!

[Anglican Mainstream] 3 Nov 2009--The calendar of the Brazilian Book of Common Prayer (LOCb) of the Diocese of Recife – and of the majority of evangelical churches in our country – registers today as the day in which we commemorate the Reformation. This year we celebrate 500 years of the birth of John Calvin, and we’re reminded of the fact that the Protestant Reformation of the 16th. Century was one of the most important chapters in the History of the Church, and that october 31st. 1517 was one of the most significant days since Pentecost. The protestant community, ever growing in Latin America owes its existence to the sacrificial work of missionaries in the 19th, and 20th, centuries, who were motivated by the conviction and message of the Reformers. The denunciation of and break with the “errors and superstitions” within Christendom, the affirmation of the supremacy of Holy Scripture – which all should have the freedom to read – the recovery of the apostolic message of salvation exclusively by Grace received through faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and the universal priesthood of all believers, comprise a genuine treasure, valuable and non-negotiable.

Latin America, home on the one hand to traditional, nominal and syncretistic Christianity, is, on the other hand, a creedal continent. Its protestant component is almost entirely orthodox, and continues to believe that the errors and doctrinal distortions of non-reformed branches of the Church in the East and West remain unacceptable. We appreciate the spiritual suffering of Christians that live in the developed West, marked as it is by the destructive influence – both spiritual and moral – of revisionist Liberalism, and we affirm our solidarity with those Christians. In our continent, Liberalism was brought to us, principally from the Roman Church, via Liberation Theology. Of the six hundred thousand people who leave the Roman Catholic Church in Brazil each year, the vast majority do not become secular or join non-Christian religions, but, by the liberating experience of new birth, convert to Christ in reformed churches, in both traditional and Pentecostal contexts.

As Brazilian Anglicans, we look to the memory of the blood of the martyrs, to Cranmer, Latimer and Ridley, and also to the example of those passionate pioneers, reformed missionaries in our country like our first bishop Lucien Lee Kinsolving. The crisis which Anglicanism currently faces will not be solved by returning to the other side of the river Tiber, but by crossing the bridge of the river Cam(bridge), to get back to the impassioned debates of the White Horse Tavern. We must become more, not less protestant. Reformation, yes: Rome, no! “Almighty Fortress is our God!”.

The Thirty-Nine Articles and the Church

[The Ugley Vicar] 3 Nov 2009--Introduction

That the Thirty-nine Articles were designed to benefit both the church and the state by settling religious disputes is evident from the Royal Declaration of 1562:

Being by God’s Ordinance, according to Our just Title, Defender of the Faith, and Supreme Governour of the Church, within these Our Dominions, We hold it most agreeable to this Our Kingly Office, and our own religious Zeal, to conserve and maintain the church committed to Our Charge, in Unity of true Religion, and in the Bond of Peace; and not to suffer unnecessary Disputations, Altercations, or Questions to be raised, which may nourish Faction both in the Church and Commonwealth.

That is the Anglican ideal, based on the model of church and state conceived at the English Reformation. There are to be no disputations, altercations and questions. Instead there is to be unity and the bond of peace, in state and in church.

The nature of the Church

But what is the Church? Article XIX tells us:

THE visible Church of Christ is a congregation of faithful men, in the which the pure Word of God is preached, and the Sacraments be duly ministered according to Christ’s ordinance in all those things that of necessity are requisite to the same.

Notice first, the reference to the visible Church, as distinct from the invisible Church. The invisible Church is the company of faithful believers known only to Christ. And indeed the Westminster Confession of 1647 began its definition of the Church there:

The catholic or universal Church, which is invisible, consists of the whole number of the elect ... [emphasis added]

But of course the membership of the invisible Church is known only to God, and the Articles leave that aside, concentrating only on the visible. And what is visible is the preaching of the Word of God and the ministering of the Sacraments according to Christ’s commands. Where you have those, you have the Church.

The Vatican thirst for power divides Christianity and damages Catholicism

[VirtueOnline[ 3 Nov 2009--After Pope Benedict XVI's offences against the Jews and the Muslims, Protestants and reform-oriented Catholics, it is now the turn of the Anglican communion, which encompasses some 77 million members and is the third largest Christian confession after the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox churches. Having brought back the extreme anti-reformist faction of the Pius X fraternity into the fold, Pope Benedict now hopes to fill up the dwindling ranks of the Catholic church with Anglicans sympathetic to Rome.

Their conversion to the Catholic church is supposed to be made easier: Anglican priests and bishops shall be allowed to retain their standing, even when married. Traditionalists of the churches, unite. Under the cupola of St Peter's.

The Fisher of Men is angling in waters of the extreme religious right.

This Roman action is a dramatic change of course: steering away from the well-proven ecumenical strategy of eye-level dialogue and honest understanding; steering towards an un-ecumenical luring away of Anglican priests, even dispensing with medieval celibacy law to enable them to come back to Rome under the lordship of the pope. Clearly, the well-meaning Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, was no match for cunning Vatican diplomacy. In his cosying up with the Vatican, he evidently did not recognise the consequences. Otherwise he would not have put his signature to the downplaying communique of the Catholic Archbishop of Westminster. Can it be that those caught in the Roman dragnet do not see that they will never be more than second-class priests in the Roman church, that other Catholics are not meant to take part in their liturgical celebrations?

Ironically, this communique impudently invokes the truly ecumenical documents of the Anglican–Roman Catholic International Commission, which were worked out in laborious negotiations between the Roman Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Anglican Lambeth conference: documents on the Eucharist (1971), on church office and ordination (1973), and on authority in the church (1976/81). People in the know, however, recognise that these three documents, subscribed to by both sides at that time, aimed not at recruitment, but rather at reconciliation. These documents of honest reconciliation provide the basis for a recognition of Anglican orders, which Pope Leo XIII, back in 1896, with anything but convincing arguments, had declared invalid. But from the validity of Anglican orders follows the validity of Anglican celebrations of the Eucharist. And so mutual Eucharistic hospitality would be possible; in fact, intercommunion. A slow process of growing together of Catholics and Anglicans would have been the consequence.

However, the Vatican Congregation on the Doctrine of the Faith quickly made sure that these documents of reconciliation disappeared in the dungeons of the Vatican. That's called "shelving". At the time, a confidential press release out of the Vatican cited "too much Küng theology" in them - in other words, a theological basis for a rapprochement between the churches of Rome and Canterbury.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Survey Analysis Finds Converts More Religiously Active than Non-Converts

[The Christian Post] 2 Nov 2009--Religious converts are more active in keeping basic commitments of their new faith than non-converts, according to a new analysis by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life.

The analysis, released Thursday, found that those who switched faiths or joined a faith after being raised unaffiliated with a religion are more likely to say religion is very important to them; say that they are absolutely certain of their belief in God; attend religious services weekly; pray daily; share their faith and views on God weekly; and say there is one true faith.

More specifically, sixty-nine percent of converts say religion is very important to them, compared to 62 percent of non-converts. And 82 percent of converts say they are absolutely certain of their belief in God, compared to the 77 percent of non-converts.

When looking at specific activities, the Pew analysis found more significant gaps between converts and non-converts. Seventy percent of converts, for example, say they pray daily, compared to the 62 percent of non-converts, and 29 percent say they share their faith on God weekly while 20 percent of non-converts say the same. As for religious service attendance, 51 percent of those who switched faiths say they attend such services weekly while 44 percent report the same.

The new analysis is based on the findings of the U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, conducted by the Pew Forum in 2007. The survey found that roughly half of all Americans had left the faith they were raised with for another faith or no faith at all, or have adopted a faith if they were not raised in one.

Bishop is ordained before hundreds

[Daily Pilot] 2 Nov 2009--Anglican clergymen from as far away as Uganda and Newfoundland visited Newport Beach on Saturday to ordain a new bishop in the fledgling Anglican Church of North America.

Formed in 2008, the church is made up of congregations in the United States and Canada that have broken away from the Episcopal Church over differing views on homosexuality and the Scriptures.

The movement includes Newport’s St. James Church on Via Lido.

“This is an important, historical day for the whole church,” said Archbishop Robert Duncan of the Anglican Church of North America, who presided over the incense-drenched ceremony at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church on Saturday. “You can see the excitement in the people today.”

William Thompson was ordained as the first bishop of the of the Diocese of Western Anglicans of the Anglican Church in North America during a three-hour ceremony filled with pageantry and song.

John Stott on Anglican Evangelical Identity

[Theological Theology] 2 Nov 2009--This quote from John Stott in the 1980s continues the theme of Anglican Identity discussed in earlier postings. It reveals yet again why John Stott has remained for so many of us the real voice of Anglican evangelicalism throughout the second half of the twentieth century and into the twenty-first. There were points at which I found myself, reluctantly, in disagreement with this great leader, but on this matter I am in the most profound agreement.

First and foremost, by God's sheer mercy, I am a Christian seeking to follow Jesus Christ. Next, I am an evangelical Christian because of my conviction that evangelical principles (especially sola scriptura [Scripture alone] and sola gratia [by grace alone]) are integral to authentic Christianity, and that to be an evangelical Christian is to be a New Testament Christian, and vice versa. Thirdly, I am an Anglican evangelical Christian, since the Church of England is the particular historical tradition or denomination to which I belong. But I am not an Anglican first, since denominationalism is hard to defend. It seems to me correct to call oneself an Anglican evangelical (in which evangelical is the noun and Anglican the descriptive adjective) rather than an evangelical Anglican (in which Anglican is the noun and evangelical the adjective). (Quoted in R. Steers, The Inside Story, p. 191)

Vatican issues 'clarification' of Anglican plan

[The Telegraph] 2 Nov 2009--The Vatican today issued a statement about its plans to create a personal Ordinariate for ex-Anglicans which discusses the possibility of ordaining married laymen on a case-by-case basis.

Cardinal William Levada, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, was seeking to quash speculation that the publication of the Apostolic Constitution had been held up by squabbles over the ordination of married men. Not true, he insists.

His statement makes clear that celibacy will be the norm for priests in the Ordinariate – but does not rule out the possibility of married seminarians becoming priests, so long as the local Ordinary, the bishops’ conference and the Holy See agree that an exception should be made. My reading of this document is that it does not completely close the door on the possibility of future married seminarians being ordained.

Here’s the press release containing the Cardinal’s statement in full. These things are difficult to interpret, so I’d be interested to hear what you make of it: