By Robin G. Jordan
Archbishop Wabukala and the GAFCON Primates give the distinct impression that they do not appreciate the seriousness of the present state of affairs in the Anglican Church in North America and its implications for the renewal of biblical Anglicanism in North America. They appear so obsessed with the Episcopal Church to the point that they are not paying attention to developments in the ACNA. Or they are choosing to ignore these developments.
Either way their failure to address these developments negates any statement that they make about the need to support and recognize Anglicans who have been excluded from their provinces or dioceses, and the duty to reject the authority of churches and leaders who hold and teach erroneous doctrine. It raises serious questions about the depth of their commitment to the renewal of biblical Anglicanism.
Part of the problem may be that the GAFCON Primates depend upon unreliable sources for information about the ACNA. Part of the problem may be that they do not know how they should respond to what little they do know. Part of the problem may be that they have too much happening at home to give their full attention to what is going on in the ACNA.
The GAFCON Primates could correct this impression if they publicly extended their recognition and support not to the ACNA but to convictional Anglicans in North America, both in and outside the ACNA. This includes encouraging and supporting the formation of a second alternative Anglican province in North America, one that fully accepts the authority of the Bible and the Anglican Formularies, genuinely affirms the Jerusalem Declaration, and squarely stands in the heritage of the English Reformation and the Protestant Elizabethan Settlement. It would do a great deal to restore their credibility as champions of biblical Anglicanism.
While the Anglican Church in North America is nominally Anglican, the ACNA is far from Anglican in conviction, based on its formularies. The formation of a second alternative Anglican province that is both Anglican in name and in conviction would help to highlight this fact. Its establishment might also prompt the present ACNA leadership to rethink their current policy toward convictional Anglicans and to take steps to make the jurisdiction more comprehensive.
The formation of such a province would provide North American Anglicans with a much needed second option. It would add to the number of ecclesial organizations in North America with a serious commitment to spreading the gospel, evangelizing the lost, and planting new churches.
The need for a second option will become more urgent with the finalization of the proposed ACNA Prayer Book particularly for convictional Anglicans. The Anglican Church of Canada and TEC have succumbed to liberalism and modernism. The larger part of the Continuing Anglican jurisdictions in North America are dominated by an extreme form of Catholic Revivalist ideology. The handful of Continuing Anglican jurisdictions, which claim to subscribe to the doctrinal and worship principles of the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion, mandate the use of the retrograde 1928 Prayer Book, thereby belying that claim. All of the Continuing Anglican jurisdictions, like the Anglican Church of Canada and TEC, are in a state of decline. They are shrinking as their population base shrinks.
The GAFCON Primates as the recent Primates Gathering has shown can do little about TEC. At the gathering TEC showed itself to be unwilling to accept any of the “consequences” that the gathered Primates sought to impose upon it. The Primates who voted in support of the imposition of these “consequences” have no mechanism by which they can enforce them. All their respective provinces can do is to declare the existence of a state of impaired communion with TEC and severe their ties with that province. The result is an Anglican Communion in which some provinces maintain a relationship with the American Episcopal Church and others do not.