By Robin G. Jordan
I am looking forward to the February 2016 release of the third Eucharistic Prayer for the Anglican Church in North America’s proposed 2019 Book of Common Prayer, which, like the Second Eucharistic Prayer of the Roman Rite will be based upon the purported third-century anaphora of Hippolytus. According to Bishop Duncan’s report to the January 2016 meeting of the ACNA College of Bishops, ACNA clergy and laity through the College of Bishops have requested a Eucharistic Prayer based upon this anaphora.
Duncan does not identify which clergy and laity, how large a group they comprise, and what theological stream they represent in the Anglican Church in North America. Nor does he name the bishops through whom they requested the prayer. As far as we know, members of the College of Bishops could have come up with the idea themselves and only claimed that they were speaking on the behalf of clergy and laity in the denomination.
A comparison of the ACNA third Eucharistic Prayer and the Roman Catholic Church’s second Eucharistic Prayer may prove revealing, particularly if the text is rearranged to match the ordering of the traditional Roman Canon as was done with the Roman Catholic Church’s second Eucharistic Prayer and phrases are added from the Roman Canon in order to complete the liturgy as also was done with the Roman Catholic Church’s second Eucharistic Prayer. It will be further proof of the unreformed Catholic leanings of the Liturgy and Common Worship Task Force and the College of Bishops.
While this anaphora attributed to Hippolytus may hold a certain appeal due its purported antiquity and its adaptation for use in the eucharistic rites in a number of denominations in the last few years, recent scholarship has raised questions about the age and authorship of the Apostolic Constitutions in which the anaphora is found.
The task force and the College of Bishops’ Review Committee has yet to produce a Eucharistic Prayer that would be acceptable to Anglicans who are faithful to the Bible and the historic Anglican formularies and stand in the Reformation heritage of the Anglican Church—a prayer that is modeled upon the reformed Prayer of Consecration of the 1552 Prayer Book and reflects the Protestant and Reformed principles of authentic historic Anglicanism. The Anglican Church in North America has produced nothing like the Prayer of Consecration in the First Order for the Lord’s Supper in An Australian Prayer Book (1978), the Prayer of Consecration in the Holy Communion, First Order, of A Prayer Book for Australia (1995), the Prayer of Consecration in Holy Communion, Order Two in Contemporary Language in the Church of England’s Common Worship (2000), or the Prayer of Consecration in the Lord’s Supper, Form 1 in the Diocese of Sydney’s Common Prayer: Resources for Gospel-Shaped Gatherings (2012). Indeed the Anglican Church in North America shows no respect for the historic Anglican formularies and the Anglican Church’s Reformation heritage and ultimately for the Bible and the gospel.
By now it should be quite evident to the leaders of the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans that the Anglican Church in North America is far from an authentic expression of historic Anglicanism. Its leaders are making no discernible effort to comprehend the doctrinal beliefs and worship practices of Anglicans faithful to the Bible and the historic Anglican formularies and standing in the Anglican Church’s Reformation heritage. They have adopted what may be described as a de facto policy of exclusion when it comes to this particular group of Anglicans and their school of Anglican thought. Their presence for the time being is tolerated. However, their beliefs and practices do not enjoy official standing in the denomination and have no place in its formularies.
If any excluded group merits the intervention of the GAFCON Primates on its behalf, it is this group. But the leaders of GAFCON prefer to ignore its plight and to pander to the unreformed Catholic leaders of the Anglican Church in North America, a group of leaders whose ideology GAFCON’s own Theological Resource Group has identified as a major challenge to the authority of the Bible and the historic Anglican formularies in the Anglican Communion along with liberalism.
Those who presently occupy the center of influence in the Anglican Church in North America seek not only to promote unreformed Catholic teaching and practices in that ecclesial body but also in the larger Anglican Communion. When he was Archbishop, Duncan promoted the use of the ACNA Catechism in the member provinces of the Anglican Communion. The ACNA Catechism teaches the Roman Catholic order of salvation and its sacramental system. The ACNA Catechism affirms the Eastern Orthodox position on the filoque in the Nicene Creed and its view of sanctification.
Before the 2008 Lambeth Conference Duncan toured British churches, promoting the replacement of the Protestant Elizabethan Settlement with a new settlement, arguing that the Elizabethan Settlement was no longer relevant for today. It is the Elizabethan Settlement that shaped historic Anglicanism. Duncan now chairs the Liturgy and Common Worship Task Force.
Serving as a special consultant to the task force is Bishop Keith Ackerman, former President of Forward in Faith North America, an organization dedicated to “the promotion of Catholic doctrine, order, and practice.” Bishop Ackerman has called for a “new Oxford Movement.” He was a major organizer of the International Catholic Congress of Anglicans convened this past July in Fort Worth, Texas. With this gathering its organizers sought to revive the influential Anglo-Catholic Congress movement.
Both Duncan and Ackerman share a common vision of the Anglican Church—an Anglican Church reconstructed along the lines of the supposedly undivided Church of the early High Middle Ages before the East-West Schism in the eleventh century. Their vision of the Anglican Church is an Anglican Church in which the historic Anglican formularies and the Anglican Church’s Reformation heritage play no part.
Confessing Anglicans in the Anglican Church in North America, those who are faithful to the Bible and the historic Anglican formularies and stand in the Anglican Church’s Reformation heritage, need to be weighing their options. In the long-term they have no future in that denomination. With unreformed Catholic catechism and service book and a College of Bishops dominated by Anglo-Catholic and philo-orthodox bishops, the Anglican Church in North America will not provide an environment conducive to the maintenance of their theological identity, much less to the spread of their doctrinal beliefs and worship practices.
By now the precariousness of their position should be clear to them. The deck is stacked against them. The prospect of maintaining a faithful witness in the Anglican Church in North America is nil. They have only to look at what happened to the “Anglican Loyalists” in the Continuing Anglican Movement to see their future in that denomination. The “Anglican Loyalists” increasingly lost ground to the “Catholic Revivalists” and eventually ceased to exist as a wing of that movement.