Friday, January 06, 2012

Anglican Evangelicals Need Their Own North American Convocation of Churches


No future for Anglican evangelicalism in the Anglican Church in North America.

By Robin G. Jordan

In September 2010 I posted two articles identifying the obstacles, doctrinal and non-doctrinal, at that time to the participation of Anglican evangelicals in the Anglican Church in North America. Since I wrote those articles, I have identified a number of additional barriers to Anglican evangelical participation in the ACNA.

Among these obstacles is the practice of the ACNA Governance Taskforce of discouraging dioceses from incorporating provisions in their governing documents that are not prohibited by the ACNA constitution and canons such as mandatory retirement ages and other forms of term limits for bishops. The same taskforce is also championing a model diocesan constitution and model diocesan canons that gives a very limited role in the governance of the diocese to the diocesan synod and relinquishes powers to the province that dioceses are not required to yield under the ACNA governing documents. They also permit the Archbishop of the province to meddle in parochial matters. The ACNA College of Bishops has approved a “theological lens” to guide the ACNA Prayerbook and Common Liturgy Taskforce in its creation of a Prayer Book for use in the ACNA favoring an Anglo-Catholic interpretation of Anglican Church history, the character of Anglicanism, and the development of the Book of Common Prayer and Anglican worship. The College of Bishops has also authorized an Ordinal for use in the ACNA, which sanctions beliefs and practices rejected by the English Reformers and historic Anglicanism.



The Anglican Church in North America is emerging as an ecclesial body that is far from supportive of the beliefs and practices of historic Anglicanism, much less those of traditional Anglican evangelicalism. Indeed parts of the ACNA may be described as openly hostile to both historic Anglicanism and traditional Anglican evangelicalism.

Two groups need to pay closer attention to the emerging face of the Anglican Church in North America. The first group consists of congregations, clergy, and individuals who are weighing the option of affiliation with the ACNA. For members of this first group, if they are genuine Anglican evangelicals, committed to the authority of the Scriptures and the Anglican formularies, affiliation with the ACNA is not a good choice. They will not be able to retain their Anglican evangelical identity. To a number of them the ACNA may appear to be the only game in town. However, it is not a game in which they will be winners. The deck is stacked against them.



This first group also includes congregations, clergy, and individuals who are already affiliated with the Anglican Church in North America.

The second group consists of Anglican leaders outside of North America who may be encouraging members of the first group to affiliate with the Anglican Church in North America. If they are genuine Anglican evangelicals, they need to think twice about urging members of the first group to join the ACNA or to remain in that ecclesial body. The ACNA is not GAFCON in North America by any stretch of the imagination. Anglican evangelicals face a very bleak future in the ACNA. Anglo-Catholics in positions of power are entrenching their views and are marginalizing those who do not agree.



The GAFCON Theological Group in The Way, the Truth, and the Life identifies two challenges to the authority of the Scriptures and the Anglican formularies that arose in the nineteenth century. The first challenge came from Tractarianism; the second challenge came from modernism. While modernism may be a strong influence in the Anglican Church of Canada and the Episcopal Church, Anglo-Catholicism, the successor to nineteenth century Tractarianism, is a strong influence in the ACNA. None of these ecclesial bodies is ruled by the Scriptures and the Anglican formularies.

Members of the second group, if they truly have the best interest of members of the first group at heart, need to assist them to erect a new church home—a North American convocation of Anglican evangelical churches that is unwavering in its commitment to the authority of the Scriptures and the Anglican formularies. It will also need to be equally as committed to the fulfillment of the Great Commission and the maintenance of responsible, synodical church government. Only in a church built on this foundation can orthodox Anglicanism as defined in The Way, the Truth, and the Life hope to flourish in North America.


16 comments:

RMBruton said...

Truly legendary in its own mind.

Charles Morley said...

A hearty "Amen" to this proposal but several questions arise:
Who are the evangelicals and where might they be found? By what standards might they find common identity? Are charismatic believers to be considered evangelicals? By what means or instrument might they be brought together?

Quosque?

Raymond Kasch said...

There are no specifics here. Just vague generalities and accusations that lack charity

Father Brown said...

That is a very good question: "who are the "true, pure, holy, sacred, perfect evangelical Anglicans" that cannot sully their cloths with the dregs of "Anglo-Catholics"? My hunch based off of conversations I have seen among so called "true Anglicans" is that the church would be a convocation of "one." So pure that not even Jesus would be allowed in, lest his one piece robe which was gambled over looked too much like an Alb and his sandals reminded the "Pure Anglicans" of benedictine monks.

So the evangelical Anglicans will turn out to be one Anglican who cannot agree with anyone on anything at all...fulfilling the prophetic mission of Protestantism to endlessly divide the church into smaller and smaller sects until we are left with individual bitter baptized believers. Sounds like a great vision, can't wait to see how it turns out ... as if the other 49,997 denominations are not a sign enough of the utter failure of attempts to find the "true" believer among endless protests.

Joshua said...

A hearty amen to Fr. Dale. True anglicanism starts in the few years after Christ when St. Aristobulus landed on the shores of Britain or when St. Alban became the protomartyr of GB, not with the schism of the 1500s. These modern day Cromwellians seem like they would be more comfortable in a Presbyterian or Methodist church rather than one that considers itself part of the One Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

Joe Mahler said...

Robin,

A register of evangelical Anglican need to be made up. The criteria for making such a list should be simple. For example: Sign assent to the 39 Articles of Religion, Use of the 1662 BCP or another BCP that conforms to the 1662 BCP. Acceptance of the ornaments and vestments of the Church of England as set forth in the reign of Elizabeth I.

Joe Mahler said...

Mr. Brown,

Why are you not a Roman Catholic rather than being needlessly separated from that religious institution?

Joe Mahler said...

Joshua,

You state, "True anglicanism starts in the few years after Christ when St. Aristobulus landed on the shores of Britain or when St. Alban became the protomartyr of GB," Now sir, Anglican refers to a people called the Angles who were invaders of Great Britain which were inhabited by a Celtic people of which the Cornish and the Welsh are descendants. In fact the Britain Church which is established on the Island was dealt a great setback by the barbaric Angles, Saxons, Jutes. We usually think of the Ango-Saxons was the people who eventually become the English and thus Anglicans (from Latin). These Tutonic or Germanic peoples were pagans and expelled the British Christians who were not subject to Rome. The Roman Church established itself under Augustine of Canterbury giving no respect to the Christian Bretons who were already there in the western regions of the Islands. The Roman system eventually smothered the British Church. The Roman Church in England did not think of itself as a separate body from the Roman Pontiff. This does not come about until Henry VIII separated the Church in England from Rome. But the distinctives of Anglicanism were set in place until his son Edward became king and later under his daughter Elizabeth, in the 1500's.

Robin G. Jordan said...

Raymond,

If you read my previous articles, including the two articles linked to this article, you will find substantial evidence supporting my contentions. There are no "vague generalities and accusations" as you would like other readers to believe. The ACNA Fundamental Declarations are weak in their affirmation of the Anglican formularies and take an Anglo-Catholic position on the historic episcopate. The ACNA canons take Anglo-Catholic positions on apostolic succession, ordination, and the sacraments. The ACNA “theological lens,” approved by its College of Bishops, to guide the ACNA Prayerbook and Common Liturgy Taskforce in its creation of a Prayerbook for use in the ACNA, favors an Anglo-Catholic interpretation of Anglican Church history, the character of Anglicanism, and the development of the Book of Common Prayer and Anglican worship, and takes Anglo-Catholic positions on revelation and salvation. The ACNA Ordinal, authorized by the College of Bishops, does not require blanket belief in the Scriptures and sanctions medieval Catholic beliefs and practices that the Anglican Reformers rejected at the time of the Reformation. There is more than enough evidence substantiating the entrenchment of Anglo-Catholic views in the ACNA and the lack of any real comprehensiveness.

Robin G. Jordan said...

Mr. Brown,

The argument that you are making tired and wornout from overuse.

Robin G. Jordan said...

Joshua,

Do not Anglo-Catholics like yourself grow tired of telling Anglicans who are faithful to the Scriptures, the English Reformation, and historic Anglicanism that they belong in another church. Anglo-Catholics have been doing that since the nineteenth century when the Tractarian Movement embarked on its self-appointed task of changing the identity of the Church of England.

Joshua said...

But Robin, aren't you, and most extreme Anglo-Reformed that I meet, telling me the same thing. That since I embrace the catholicity of our faith, that I should just be Roman or Orthodox, and not Anglican.

Robin G. Jordan said...

Joshua,

First, I am not "extreme Anglo-Reformed." I personally have a number of problems with the appelative, "Anglo-Reformed." I do not use it.

Portraying someone who has moderate Reformed views consistent with the Scriptures, the Anglican formularies, and classic Anglicanism as as a "hyper-Calvinist," "Puritanical," "ultra-Protestant," etc. is also a tactic that Anglo-Catholics have employed since the nineteenth century. They seek to portray themselves as the moderates--a practice the liberals learned from them--and their opponents as extremists of the worst kind. Their intent is to influence other people's perceptions of their opponents and to poison their minds against them. As every politician knows, fling enough mud and some is bound to stick.

Second, I said nothing about you joining the Roman Catholic Church or the Eastern Orthodoxy. I drew to your attention that Anglo-Catholics like yourself have been telling Anglicans who are faithful to the Scriptures, the English Reformation, and historic Anglicanism that they belong in another church. I further stated that Anglo-Catholics have been doing that since the nineteenth century when the Tractarian Movement embarked on its self-appointed task of changing the identity of the Church of England.

This is well documented in articles published, lectures given, sermons preached, and papers read in what would become Anglo-Catholic circles since the publication of the first "Tracts for the Times" in 1833. First the Tractarians and then the Ritualists and the Anglo-Catholics would maintain that the Evangelicals and other churchmen who did not share their views were not true Churchmen. They did not belong in the Church of England but should join the ranks of the Non-Conformists.

Whatever the English Church may have been during the pre-Reformation medieval period, at the time of the Reformation it became a reformed church that was Reformed in doctrine and to a large extent Reformed in practice. At the time of the Glorious Revolution the Coronation Oath Act of 1688 settled any doubts as the character of the Church of England. "The true gospel" and "the Protestant Reformed religion" were declared to be the established religion of the United Kingdom and the Church of England.

In the nineteenth century the Romeward Movement sought to undo the English Reformation and to Romanize the Church of England. It hoped that the Pope would accept the English Church back into the Roman fold if it moved the English Church closer to Rome in doctrine and practice. It did not matter to the Romeward Movement's adherents that a substantial part of the English Church did not want to be a part of the Church of Rome.

The Romeward Movement would "break down the hedge" that seperated the Church of England and the Church of Rome, reviving not only pre-Reformation medieval Catholic doctrines and practices rejected by the English Reformers but also introduced post-Tridentian Roman innovations in doctrine and worship. In doing so, it repeatedly flouted the canons of the Church and the laws of the land. It engaged in relentless propaganda campaign, which included attacking Protestant High Churchmen as well as Evangelicals.

The Romeward Movement would make substantially gains in the then Protestant Episcopal Church in the nineteenth century as there were no legal barriers to its doctrines and practices. It would eventually succeed in driving the more evangelical of the Evangelicals out of the Episcopal Church.

The Romeward Movement, however, was dealt a blow when the Pope declared Anglican orders null and void. Yet this setback did not keep it from pursuing its self-appointed task of changing Anglican identity.

Joe Mahler said...

Robin,

If Anglican evangelicals were to form their own convocation, which I firmly and enthusiastically support, anglo-catholics would find their way into it. They would push to change it into an anglo-catholic church. I have seen in the past where there were anglo-catholic churches in the vicinity but a few would find their way to an evangelical church and gripe and complain that it should change to fit their concepts. I know of no way to keep them out. As history has clearly shown us, anglo-catholics would affirm the 39 Articles but not actually believe them and would teach another doctrine. It is the only reason that there are any anglo-catholics now. Their forefathers in the faith were liars. And John Henry Newman , chief among them, is a "saint" in the Roman religious organization.

Joe Mahler said...

Though I find an Anglican evangelical witness important and that once formed it should be guarded to keep the faith, I do not, however, believe that a requirement extending further than the 39 Articles and the 1662 BCP should be necessary. The two are sufficient to establish Anglicanism to the exclusion of both anglo-catholics and Arminians.

Ibrahim Idi said...

This is nonsense! The last thing we need is a continuous proliferation of provinces . Very soon Anglican Pentecostals will arise . Anyone who has a primary knowledge of the anglican history knows that it's a communion because of her diverse streams of traditions which are faithful to the essentials of scripture.