By Robin G. Jordan
I do not see how Archbishop of Uganda Stanley Ntagali can maintain that the Anglican Church in North America is an authentic expression of Anglicanism in the face of the incontrovertible evidence that the denomination is unreformed Catholic in its doctrine and practices. This evidence is found in abundance in its Fundamental Declarations, its Canons, its Catechism, and its proposed Prayer Book. The ACNA espouses unreformed Catholic doctrine and practices that in the view of the English Reformers and historic Anglicanism are unbiblical.
Being authentically Anglican involves full acceptance of the authority of the Bible and the historic Anglican formularies in matters of faith and practice. There are a number of denominations that adhere to the teaching of the creeds, possess a liturgy, and have bishops. These characteristics, however, do not make them Anglican. The Eastern Orthodox and the Oriental and Roman Catholic Churches share these characteristics but they are not Anglican.
In its Fundamental Declarations the Anglican Church in North America equivocates in its acceptance of the authority of the Thirty-Nine Articles and dilutes the authority of the 1662 Prayer Book and Ordinal to the point that it is negligible. It adopts the position of the Roman Catholic Church on the essential nature of the episcopate to the very existence of the Christian Church. In its Canons the ACNA adopts the Roman Catholic Church’s position on the episcopate and apostolic succession and defines marriage as a sacrament as does the Roman Catholic Church. Its form of governance for the denomination bears a strong resemblance to that of a sub-division of the Roman Catholic Church. In its Catechism the ACNA teaches the Roman Catholic position on the order of salvation and, like the Roman Catholic Church, defines confirmation, absolution, ordination, matrimony, and unction as sacraments of the Church. In its proposed Prayer Book its eucharistic rites embody the Roman Catholic Church’s doctrines of eucharistic presence and eucharistic sacrifice. Its ordination rites incorporate Roman Catholic ordination practices as well as embody the Roman Catholic Church’s doctrine of apostolic succession and ordination.
While I applaud Archbishop Ntagali’s call for the restoration of a godly order in the Anglican Communion, I am greatly disappointed in his failure and the failure of other GAFCON leaders to recognize and acknowledge the true nature of the Anglican Church in North America and the plight of North American Anglicans who are faithful to the Bible and the historic Anglican formularies and stand in the Reformation heritage of the Anglican Church. These Anglicans have no standing in the Anglican Church in North America. Their beliefs and principles, while biblically orthodox and fully Anglican, are given no place in its formularies.
There is a marked discrepancy between the statements of GAFCON leaders at Jerusalem and Nairobi and their actions to date. It undermines their credibility as champions of Anglican orthodoxy.
I see no indication that in the ongoing struggle over human sexuality the plight of North American Anglicans faithful to the Bible and the historic Anglican formularies and standing in the Anglican Church’s Reformation heritage will receive the attention that it merits. That struggle the forces of Catholic Revivalism in the Anglican Church in North America are exploiting as a smoke screen behind which they have seized ground in the ACNA. The GAFCON leaders see only the billowing clouds of smoke. They do not see the advancing troop behind the smoke. The troops pressing forward embrace an ideology which the GAFCON leaders themselves have identified as a major challenge to the authority of the Bible and the historic Anglican formularies in this century. Only when the smoke is dispelled—something that I have little confidence will happen at the upcoming Primates meeting—will they realize how much ground these forces have taken. By then it may be too late to help North American Anglicans who are Biblically orthodox and loyal to the Protestant Reformed faith and doctrine of the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion and the Book of Common Prayer and the Ordinal of 1662.