By Robin G. Jordan
In the conclusion to a critique of the catechism and confirmation service in An Anglican Prayer Book (2008) I wrote eight years ago, I made the following observation:
We cannot hope for a renewal of biblical Anglicanism in North America, using a Prayer Book that in a number of significant ways is not really Scriptural and gives more weight to "the traditions of men" than to the Word of God. Such a Prayer Book does not restore the Bible to its rightful place in the Christian life. Rather it perpetuates the very conditions that have undermined the authority of Scripture in The Episcopal Church and other Anglican provinces. The presence of unscriptural doctrinal content also greatly weakens the effectiveness of the Prayer Book through the power of God’s word to transform lives. It keeps alive unscriptural teaching in the Church.
This observation is even more applicable to the proposed Prayer Book of the Anglican Church in North America presently in preparation.
The Global Anglican Future movement at its heart is a movement for the renewal of biblical Anglicanism. In the Anglican Church in North America is discernible an entirely different movement. It is a movement for the revival of unreformed Catholicism. The theology of this movement is embodied in the jurisdiction’s Catechism and the rites and services of its proposed Prayer Book. The two movements have conflicting objectives.
While North America has a chapter of the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, which was organized by the American Anglican Council in 2009, the North American chapter of the GFCA is a ministry partner of the Anglican Church in North America and subscribes to its Fundamental Declarations—a prerequisite for its recognition as an ACNA ministry partner. The ACNA Fundamental Declarations accommodate Catholic Revivalism on a number of key issues—Holy Scripture, the ecumenical Councils, bishops, the Book of Common Prayer, and the Thirty-Nine Articles. The role of the North American chapter of the GFCA differs from that envisioned for GFCA in the Global Anglican Future Statement. Instead of functioning as an independent renewal movement in the Anglican ecclesial bodies in North America, in the ACNA and the Continuing Anglican Churches, as well as the Anglican Church of Canada and The Episcopal Church, the North American chapter of the GFCA is ancillary to the ACNA and carries out its objectives.
While the Anglican Church in North America may have been formed in response to the Jerusalem Global Anglican Future Conference’s call for a new province in North America to uphold orthodox faith and practice, its commitment to the Jerusalem Declaration is purely rhetorical. As Bishop of Fort Worth Jack Iker assured Anglo-Catholics upon returning from that conference, the Jerusalem Declaration has not determined the direction of the ACNA.
It must also be pointed out that the call for a new orthodox North American province was prompted by lobbying from the Common Cause Partnership, which formed the Anglican Church in North America. There were substantial differences between the Common Cause Theological Statement and the Jerusalem Declaration. It would be key points of the Common Cause Theological Statement that would be incorporated into the ACNA’s Fundamental Declarations, not those of the Jerusalem Declaration.
It must be further pointed out that the US delegation to the Jerusalem Global Anglican Future Conference was the only delegation that took issue with the confessional nature of historic Anglicanism. It also sought to make the Jerusalem Declaration more unreformed Catholic in doctrine and was thwarted in its efforts.
Except on the issue of marriage and human sexuality the Global Anglican Future movement and the Anglican Church in North America have been on different pages from the very beginning. The GAFCON Primates and the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans have been slow to publicly recognize the discontinuity between the ACNA and the Global Anglican Future movement. Privately a number of evangelical leaders in Australia, Ireland, South Africa, and the United Kingdom, however, have acknowledged this discontinuity. The group that shows the greatest reluctance to acknowledge it is the African Primates. One can only speculate on the reasons for their reluctance. Their failure to acknowledge the discontinuity between the ACNA and the Global Anglican Future movement may contribute to the undoing of that movement.