By Robin G. Jordan
If one carefully examines the Anglican Church in North America’s own formularies, one soon discovers that the ACNA does full accept the authority of the Bible, that it takes a selective approach to the historic Anglican formularies, and that it adopts positions on key issues, which conflict with the biblical and Reformation principles of historic Anglicanism. The character of the ACNA is far more unreformed Catholic than it is Anglican. What it has in common with historic Anglicanism is its acceptance of the authority of the catholic creeds but departs from historic Anglicanism from that point. Since a number of denominations accept their authority, this acceptance is not sufficient basis for any claim that the ACNA is Anglican. Consequently the Anglican Church in North America’s representation of itself as Anglican is highly problematic as is the GAFCON Primates’ premature endorsement of the denomination as an authentic expression of Anglicanism.
The present situation in North America is that the United States and Canada do not have a genuine Anglican Church. Between them the two countries have a number of jurisdictions that claim to be Anglican. These jurisdictions, like the Anglican Church in North America, are not ruled by the Bible and the historic Anglican formularies. The Anglican Church of Canada and the Episcopal Church in the USA have fallen prey to modernism and secular and theological liberalism. The remaining jurisdictions, while they style themselves as “Anglican,” are unreformed Catholic in their teaching and practices. This includes the ACNA.
To be genuinely Anglican, a jurisdiction must fully accept the authority of the Bible. It must also fully accept the authority of the Anglican formularies. The historic Anglican formularies are based on the Holy Scriptures. Where they are in agreement with the teaching of the Bible, they speak with the authority of the Bible. One of the main functions of the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion is to safeguard the truth of the gospel as revealed in the Holy Scriptures and as it historically has been understood by Anglicans. The Book of Common Prayer of 1662 in its Communion Office gives liturgical expression to the crucial biblical and Reformation doctrine of justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. This doctrine Anglicans historically have understood to form an integral part of the gospel.
An Anglicanism in which the Bible and the historic Anglican formularies do not have a central place in the faith and life of the Church is not genuine Anglicanism. Neither is an Anglicanism that approaches the Bible and the historic Anglican formularies selectively and then distorts and misinterprets their meaning. This describes the existing jurisdictions in North America, which identify themselves as “Anglican.”
A genuine Anglican jurisdiction in North America would be in full agreement with the Chapter I, Section 3 of the Canons of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion):
The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) hereinafter called “The Church of Nigeria” or “This Church” shall be in full communion with all Anglican Churches Dioceses and Provinces that hold and maintain the Historic Faith, Doctrine, Sacrament and Discipline of the one Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church as the Lord has commanded in His holy word and as the same are received as taught in the Book of Common Prayer and the ordinal of 1662 and in the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion.
While such a jurisdiction might maintain cordial relations with other jurisdictions that are nominally Anglican and subscribe to the catholic creeds and a biblical view of marriage and human sexuality and cooperate with them on matters of common interest, as it would other denominations meeting these criteria, it would not be in full communion with them. It would not recognize them as being of the same faith and doctrine as itself and therefore genuinely Anglican.
The components for such a jurisdiction exist in North America—orthodox Anglicans who recognize the confessional nature of historic Anglicanism and fully accept the authority of the Bible and the historic Anglican formularies. They have yet to be gathered together into one jurisdiction. There is ample time over the next four years to form in North America an orthodox Anglican jurisdiction that is faithful to the Bible and the Anglican formularies and stands fully in the biblical and Reformation heritage of the Anglican Church. There is also ample time for GAFCON and the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans to re-evaluate and rethink its support of the unreformed Catholic Anglican Church in North America and throw its support behind a genuine Anglican jurisdiction in North America.
By North America I am referring to Mexico and Puerto Rico as well as Canada and the United States and their territories.