Friday, July 24, 2015

The Evidence Is In!


By Robin G. Jordan

I believe that I have shown over the past five odd years sufficient evidence in support of the need for the formation of an enclave in the Anglican Church in North America for orthodox Anglicans who hold to the teaching of the Bible and the doctrinal and worship principles of the Anglican formularies and are committed to the preservation of the protestant, reformed, and evangelical character of the Anglican Church: This evidence includes:
  • The constitution of the Anglican Church in North America in particular the provisions of its fundamental declarations related to bishops and the Anglican formularies;
  • The canons of the Anglican Church in North America particularly the form of governance that they flesh out and the method for the selection of bishops that they commend to the founding entities and impose upon new judicatories;
  • Its ordinal with its modification of the Preface to the Anglican Ordinal and its incorporation of unreformed Catholic teaching and practices;
  • Its forms for the service of Holy Communion with their incorporation of unreformed Catholic teaching and practices;
  • Its catechism with its unreformed Catholic doctrinal views;
  • Its rites of Baptism and Confirmation with their incorporation of unreformed Catholic teaching and practices;
  • And most recently its doctrinal statement on blessed oils and their use.
Among the notable characteristics of these documents is that while some documents show a degree of hesitancy in their articulation of unreformed Catholic teaching and their countenance of unreformed Catholic practices , others show no such reluctance. When all the documents are considered together, the reticence shown in some documents is overshadowed by the bluntness and lack of restraint evident in others. One is left with the impression that with each successive document those occupying the place of power in the Anglican Church in North America have grown bolder in their bid to Catholicize the official doctrine and practices of the Anglican Church in North America—to entrench their own views in the jurisdiction and to exclude those who do not agree with them.

Nowhere in these documents is found any recognition of their divergence from longstanding positions of authentic historical Anglicanism or of the existence in the Anglican Church of legitimate alternative views to those expressed in the documents. Rather they give the strong impression of having been designed to indoctrinate the members of the Anglican Church in North America in a particular ideology—an ideology which is arguably the very antithesis of authentic historic Anglicanism.

Those who argue that the Anglican Church in North America offers plenty of room for orthodox Anglicans of all stripes are not playing close attention to what is going on. Or they do not want to face up to what is happening and what it means for orthodox Anglicans who hold to the teaching of the Bible and the doctrinal and worship principles of the Anglican formularies and are committed to the preservation of the protestant, reformed, and evangelical character of the Anglican Church. A denomination that is committed to comprehending all the conservative schools of thought represented in the denomination does not produce doctrinal statements that reflect only the views of one such school of thought nor do its leaders endorse such doctrinal statements.

One of my readers may have put his finger upon what is the vision of the Anglican Church in North America of those who occupy the place of power in that denomination. What they are seeking to create is an unreformed Catholic Church, which is not unlike the Roman Catholic Church, but in which a council of bishops presides over the Church, not a Pope. This is not Anglicanism by any stretch of the imagination—independent Catholicism yes but Anglicanism no.

As readers of Anglicans Ablaze are aware, I have been encouraging the formation in the Anglican Church in North America of a second province with its own doctrinal foundation, rites, catechism, bishops, and synodical government, one that is more closely aligned with Biblical Christianity and historic Anglicanism than the current province. On the other hand I must admit that the time may come when orthodox Anglicans who hold to the teaching of the Bible and the doctrinal and worship principles of the Anglican formularies and are committed to the preservation of the protestant, reformed, and evangelical character of the Anglican Church will have no choice but severe their connection with that domination for the sake of the gospel and their own doctrinal integrity.

Creating a second province in the Anglican Church in North America and establishing a separate alternative province to the Anglican Church in North America involve the same steps:
  • Orthodox Anglicans congregations and clergy who hold to the teaching of the Bible and the doctrinal and worship principles of the Anglican formularies and are committed to the preservation of the protestant, reformed, and evangelical character of the Anglican Church network with each other formally and informally.
  • They form a confederation of churches for the purpose of mission and such other purposes as they consider appropriate, draft and adopt and constitution and set of bylaws, and appoint or elect the organs of this new ecclesial organization.
  • They compile for use in member churches rites and services based on the teaching of the Holy Scriptures and consistent with the doctrinal and worship principles laid down in the Anglican formularies.
  • They, likewise, compile for use in member churches a summary of the principles of the Christian religion in question-and-answer format based on the teaching of the Holy Scriptures and consistent with the principles of doctrine set out in the Anglican formularies.
  • They cultivate relationships with like-minded Anglicans outside of the United States and Canada and form mission partnerships with these Anglicans.
  • They recruit and develop new leaders.
  • They reach and engage unchurched population groups in the United States and Canada and enfold them into new churches. They work to expand the population base of the confederated churches and to plant new churches in small towns and rural areas as well as urban and suburban areas.
Over time the congregations and clergy forming this confederation of churches may come to the conclusion that separation from the Anglican Church in North America is in the best interest of the two bodies, leaving each body to pursue its own distinctive vision of the Church. I would hope such a parting of the way would be an amicable one and the two bodies would cooperate on ventures of common interest. The various provinces of the Anglican Communion would decide for themselves with which body they have theological affinity and which body they recognize as Anglican. I suspect that Anglican provinces that are Anglo-Catholic in their leanings would recognize the Anglican Church in North America while those that are more evangelical would recognize the confederation of churches whatever it elected to call itself.

While I do not rule out the possibility of a change of heart in those occupying the place of power in the Anglican Church in North America—nothing is impossible for God, I am convinced that such possibility is highly unlikely. They are ideologues with an ideological agenda. Comprehension that gives official standing to the beliefs and convictions of orthodox Anglicans who hold to the teaching of the Bible and the doctrinal and worship principles of the Anglican formularies and are committed to the preservation of the protestant, reformed, and evangelical character of the Anglican Church does not figure in their vision of the Church.

Among the proverbial sayings that maternal grandparents and my mother were fond of quoting was the old adage, “You can lead a horse to water but you cannot make it drink.” I spent a good part of my early years living in a rural area in England and then in the United States. I witnessed for myself the truth of this adage. You can lead a horse to the watering trough. But unless the horse is thirsty, the horse is not going to drink.

I have provided what I believe is clear and conclusive evidence of the need for a second orthodox Anglican province in the Anglican Church in North America or outside the ACNA, a province that is closely aligned with the teaching of the Holy Scriptures and the doctrinal and worship principles of the Anglican formularies and which maintains the protestant, reformed, and evangelical character of the Anglican Church, a province not only with its own doctrinal foundation but also rites and services, catechism, bishops, and synodical government. But I cannot force orthodox Anglicans in the Anglican Church in North America whose beliefs and convictions are being denied official status in that denomination to act upon this evidence. They must decide that for themselves. If they chose not to act, then they must be prepared to suffer the consequences of their inaction. They cannot blame anyone but themselves for what happens to them.

7 comments:

Austin Olive said...

I'm in.

Robin G. Jordan said...

The big question is “Are the folks in the Anglican Church in North most affected by the developments that I have been drawing to their attention going to take appropriate steps to secure a future for Biblical Christianity, authentic historic Anglicanism, and themselves in the North American Anglican Church?” Are they going to wait until matters worsen to the point where they must either abandon their beliefs and convictions or leave the denomination, when it is too late to create an enclave for themselves in the denomination? What I am proposing is that they re-engineer a part of the ship so if they must “abandon ship,” they do not have to leave in overcrowded lifeboats or jump into the sea without a life preserver. They can simply cast loose from the good ship ACNA and sail away. They have time to do that now. They are not going to have time six months to a year from now.

Austin Olive said...

I wonder perhaps it must start at a grassroots level, maybe even among those who been rejected by the Anglo-Catholics... Something started by those who have nothing to lose.

Robin G. Jordan said...

I have in the past advocated something along those lines—a grass roots organization to bring together orthodox Anglicans faithful to the Bible and loyal to the Anglican formularies. I even launched a website with the hopes of attracting a group of like-minded Anglicans and forming them into a viable network. I lacked the technological know-how to create the right kind of website and health issues kept me from devoting my full effort to the project. Consequently the project did not get off to a good start and did not amount to anything. I did not take down the website. The URL is http://theheritageanglicannetwork.blogspot.com/.

Among the things that I learned from this experience is that North American Anglicans of this particular stripe are not a very cohesive group in and outside the Anglican Church in North America and developing a vision that would unite them was challenging.

From a church planting standpoint exclusion from another church is not the best reason for starting a new church and I would hazard that the same thing applies to starting a new network of churches. Negative feelings toward another church or denomination are not the best motivation for engaging and reaching the unchurched.

I have run into folks in the ACNA who are still nursing resentment toward the Episcopal Church for things that happened in the denomination more than 10 years ago. Their feelings toward the Episcopal Church have not helped them to grow the church that they started or to expand its population base.

If one is going to start a new church or new church network, it must have a positive focus. It also needs a vision that is infectious and captures the imagination.

Austin Olive said...

I agree. And I'll go check out the site.

My thoughts about people who have been rejected is not to find a pack of resentful folk, but rather people who don't have anything to lose by striking out in a new direction.

Another group of potential interested parties might be people with a Presbyterian and Reformed background. I'm a graduate of Reformed Theological Seminary, and a former member of one of the conservative Presbyterian denominations. Over the years I've come across a number of Presbyterians who are or have seemed Canterbury bound.

I wouldn't know how to find a core group of folk. But it seems to me that such folk would be a natural constituency.

Just kind of thinking out loud, as it were...

Robin G. Jordan said...

Do you have much free time? You might want to check out the Anglican Connection. It is having its annual conference at the Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Alabama in September. I will post details over the next few days. John Mason is its provisional chairman. He is a commissary of the Archbishop of Sydney and a canon of St. Andrew's Cathedral. I have not been able to ascertain the extent of his authority as the Archbishop of Sydney's commissary. A commissary is a bishop's official representative and his authority varies with his commission from the appointing bishop.

The Anglican Connection consists of a mixture of Reformed evangelicals, Anglican and non-Anglican. At one point it had some kind of connection with CANA. I don't know whether that is still the case. Ill-health kept me from attending its initial formational meeting and local responsibilities have prevented me from attending its annual conferences.

Austin Olive said...

I wish I could go. Unfortunately Ii have to work all the time and have no money. But keep me in the loop, please.