By Robin G. JordanRighteous are you, O LORD, when I complain to you; yet I would plead my case before you. Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all who are treacherous thrive? You plant them, and they take root; they grow and produce fruit; you are near in their mouth and far from their heart. (Jeremiah 12:1-2 ESV)
What lies behind the recent development in the Anglican Mission, which have come into the open since Anglican TV’s Anglicans Unscripted Episode 16, are serious betrayals of trust and major violations of ethical standards. It reflects poorly not only upon the Anglican Mission and Rwanda bishops but also on the entire North American and global conservative Anglican community, that no one in a position of leadership is willing to criticize Bishop Murphy and Canon Donlon for what they have done and to call them to account. If Murphy and Donlon succeed in their designs, God will not be served.
The conduct of Bishop Murphy and Canon Donlon does not befit “a man of the cloth.” As Article XXVI reminds us, it belongs to the discipline of the Church that evil ministers should be investigated and that they should be accused by those who have knowledge of their offences, and further, that, on being found guilty, they should by just judgment be deposed. The Anglican Mission and Rwandan bishops seemed more concerned with sparing themselves embarrassment than seeing justice done. God will eventually demand an accounting from Murphy and Donlon. He will also demand an accounting from those who failed to do anything when God’s Word required them to act.
Some readers may think that I am going too far in calling for the disciplining of Murphy and Donlon. But consider the facts. Their duplicity led to Rwandan Provincial Synod’s adoption of the 2007 canons and the Rwandan House of Bishops’ endorsement and promulgation of the canons. With the 2007 canons Donlon introduced not only Roman Catholic structures into the Province of Rwanda but also Roman Catholic doctrine, norms, and principles. He also subverted the doctrine of the Anglican Mission as articulated in its Solemn Declaration of Principles of 1999.
In An Assessment of the Code of Canon Law of the Anglican Church of Rwanda (Part 1), I examine the provisions of Canon 6 – Of Missionary Districts, identify the specific Roman Catholic canons upon which its provisions are based, and discuss the implications of its provisions. As to the doctrine of the Anglican Mission two subsections of Canon 6 are applicable—6.2(c) and 6.6(b). At first glance subsection 6.2(c) seems innocent enough.Canon 6.2(c)
Such a Missionary Jurisdiction or Society may be established under the sole auspices of this Province or it may be undertaken jointly with another Province on such terms as shall not compromise the doctrines of the Christian faith as this Church has received the Anglican Tradition.
But this is not really the case as I note in my discussion of the subsection.Canon 6.2(c)
The clause “…on such terms as shall not compromise the doctrines of the Christian faith as this Church has received the Anglican Tradition” is so vaguely worded that whatever doctrines stated, implied, or otherwise expressed in the canons of the Anglican Church of Rwanda may be construed to be “the doctrines of the Christian faith” as the Anglican Church of Rwanda has received “the Anglican Tradition.” These doctrines, as shall be seen, are Roman Catholic, and are at variance with the long-recognized doctrinal standard of Anglicanism—the Thirty-Nine Articles (interpreted in its plain and intended sense), the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, and the 1661 Ordinal. See Being Faithful: The Shape of Historic Anglicanism Today, p. 35. The adoption of a set of canons containing such doctrines has itself compromised the doctrines of the Christian faith as the Anglican Church of Rwanda received them if the Anglican Church of Rwanda had in actuality received the doctrines of the Christian faith as they have been received by the reformed Church of England and set forth in the Thirty-Nine Articles, the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, and the 1661 Ordinal. The Anglican identity of the Anglican Church of Rwanda has also been compromised. Acceptance of the authority of the Thirty-Nine Articles is constitutive of Anglican identity. See Being Faithful: The Shape of Historic Anglicanism Today, p. 35.
Subsection 6.6(b) requires all missionary bishops to subscribe to the doctrine, tradition, and canons of the Province of Rwanda. This subsection also appears to fairly innocent.Canon 6.6(b)
Prior to episcopal ordination the candidate is to make a profession of faith and a promise of obedience to abide by the Holy Scriptures and the Doctrine, Tradition and Canons of this Province and also promise of obedience to the Primate in those matters in which he is subject to according to the norms of law.
But again this is not really the case as I note in my discussion of the subsection. The specific Roman Catholic canons upon which the provisions of this subsection are based are printed in italics.Canon 6.6(b)
Can. 833 The following are personally bound to make a profession of faith, according to the formula approved by the Apostolic See:
3° in the presence of a delegate of the Apostolic See: all who are promoted to the episcopate, and all those who are equivalent to a diocesan Bishop…(Code of Canon Law, 1983)
This subsection, as well as being modeled upon similar provisions in the Code of Canon Law (1983) requires the missionary bishop-elect to promise to adhere to Roman Catholic doctrine and practice, as a number of Roman Catholic doctrines (e.g. transubstantiation) are contained in the canons of the Anglican Church of Rwanda and a number of Roman Catholic practices (e.g. eucharistic adoration) are sanctioned by their provisions.
Two subsections of Canon 28 – Declarations, Covenants, Subscriptions, and Licenses for Lay and Ordained Ministers are also applicable to the doctrine of the Anglican Mission. The declaration in subsection 28.1.4 binds whoever signs it to adhere to the Roman Catholic doctrines, norms and principles contained in the canons. With the signing of the covenant in subsection 28.2.1 bishops commit themselves “to be faithful” to the Roman Catholic doctrines, norms and principles contained in the canons. Wherever in the other covenants in this section the minister signing them agrees to conform to the canons, he is also agreeing to adhere to the Roman Catholic doctrines, norms and principles contained in the canons.
Canons 6 and 28 are not the only canons that affect the doctrine of the Anglican Mission. They do, however, give the reader an idea of how the doctrinal norms and formularies of the Solemn Declaration were compromised by the 2007 Rwandan canons.
Under the provisions of Canon 30 – Of Offenses against Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, subsection 30.1(d), Anglican Mission clergy may be presented and tried for heresy or false doctrine if they do not hold to the Roman Catholic doctrines, norms, and principles contained in the Rwandan canons as may Rwandan clergy. The provisions of Canon 30 could be used to purge the Anglican Mission and the Anglican Church of Rwanda of clergy who hold to the teaching of Scripture and the Anglican formularies.
Bishop Murphy is complicit in that he approved the draft canons and submitted them to Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini. He told Kolini that the Anglican Mission needed the provisions in the draft canons to establish its own structure. He pushed for their adoption. In the process he appears to have paltered with the truth, telling one thing the Anglican Mission bishops and another to Kolini.
One wonders how Murphy having approved a set of canons that is clearly Roman Catholic in its doctrine could then attend the 2008 Global Anglican Future Conference and sign the GAFCON Statement and The Jerusalem Statement with its commitment to Scripture and the classic formularies. One also wonders how the other Rwandan bishops could do the same. Murphy and his fellow Rwandan bishops clearly failed in their duty “to banish and drive away all erroneous and strange doctrines contrary to God’s Word.” According to the classic formularies, the homilies, and the benchmark Anglican divines the Roman Catholic doctrine contained in the 2007 Rwandan canons falls into that category. One is faced with the unpleasant fact that Murphy and his fellow Rwandan bishops either did not examine the canons before they approved them or they did examine the canons and approved them despite their departure from Anglican teaching. This prompts the question why did they approve a document without examining it. It also prompts the question if they examined the canons, why did they approve a document that clearly departed from Anglican teaching. In any event their leadership of their respective ecclesial bodies was compromised. Their signing of the GAFCON Statement and The Jerusalem Declaration in the latter case appears Machivellian: they were seen doing the right thing.
With the 2007 canons Donlon also laid the groundwork for his latest proposal. He created a structure that could be easily disconnected from the Anglican Church of Rwanda.
One question related to Canon Donlon’s proposal for restructuring of the Anglican Mission that has not been addressed is what canons will be binding upon the Anglican Mission. Canons are statements of doctrine as well as ecclesiastical laws governing a church. They also establish the norms and principles by which a church operates. This is an important question that cannot be ignored. As Joel Martin has pointed out on his blog, Donlon is a champion of the Anglican Church’s adoption of the canons of the Eastern Catholic Church, which is a branch of the Roman Catholic Church. Due to Donlon’s strong ultra-Catholic ideological leanings it can be anticipated that he will promote an ultra-Catholic set of canons to go along with his proposed new ultra-Catholic structure for the Anglican Mission.
When one looks at Donlon’s activities since he left the Episcopal Church and joined the Anglican Mission, one sees an individual who has repeatedly sought to put himself in a position to influence not only the future of the Anglican Mission and the Anglican Church of Rwanda but the Anglican Church in North America and the global Anglican Church. He has fairly consistently sought to move the doctrine and structures of these bodies in an ultra-Catholic direction.
To a conservative evangelical like myself Donlon’s promotion of ultra-Catholic doctrine, order and practice is troubling enough but the methods that he has employed is even more disturbing. It calls for a reappraisal of cooperation between those who subscribe to the reformed catholicism of historic Anglicanism and those who do not feel historic Anglicanism is Catholic enough. If the aim of the latter is to undermine the Anglican Church’s commitment to Scripture and the classic formularies and ultimately overthrow the teaching of historic Anglicanism, such cooperation needs to be rethought.
God, it must also be stressed, is not present in deceit. Where deceitfulness is practiced, another spirit is at work. Jesus himself described the devil as “the Father of lies.” The exploitation of men’s ambitions and weaknesses—their desire for power and prestige—is not the work of the Holy Spirit. Nor is the concealment of the truth.
What has been brought to light are some very real problems in Anglican Mission—problems in a number of critical areas. While some Anglican Mission clergy, congregations, and mission partners may prefer to deny the existence of these problems, they not only do exist but also they are very serious. Closing one’s eyes to the problems is not a healthy response to them. They need to be addressed, not by Bishop Murphy and Canon Donlon, but by the primary stakeholders of the Anglican Mission themselves—the Anglican Mission clergy, congregations, and mission partners. God is behind the bringing of these problems out into the open. God is calling the Anglican Mission stakeholders to address them.
Saturday, November 12, 2011
Why Do the Wicked Prosper?
Posted by Robin G. Jordan at 4:41 PM