By Robin G.Jordan
It should be quite obvious by now from the character of the rites in the proposed ACNA Prayer Book that the Prayer Book and Common Liturgy Task Force and the College of Bishops have as their agenda the promotion of unreformed Catholic teaching and practices in the Anglican Church in North America. It should also be as equally obvious that an alternative service book is needed for the use of ACNA congregations and clergy that are faithful to the Bible and the Anglican Formularies and stand in the heritage of the English Reformation and the Protestant Elizabethan Settlement. No congregation or member of the clergy in the ACNA should be required to use a Prayer Book that does not meet the doctrinal and worship standards of the Bible and the Anglican Formularies and conflicts with the Protestant and Reformed heritage of historic Anglicanism.
If Catholic Revivalist congregations and clergy wish to voluntarily use such a book, it is one thing. To expect clergy and congregations to whom the unreformed Catholic teaching and practices mandated or sanctioned in the proposed ACNA Prayer Book are objectionable on solid biblical grounds to use the same book is an entirely different matter. It shows not just a lack of sensitivity to the beliefs of such clergy and congregations but a complete disregard of their views.
It is disingenuous to talk about church unity when those who are always trumpeting church unity are making no effort to comprehend in the ACNA’s formularies the views of other schools of thought represented in the province. Imposing the views of one school of thought upon the Anglican Church in North America is not the way to unify the province—especially when its views are at odds with the teaching of the Bible, the doctrinal and worship principles of the Anglican Formularies, and the tenets of orthodoxy identified in the Jerusalem Declaration as underpinning Anglican identity.
The ACNA leaders who are pushing this agenda need to back off and make room for the views of the other schools of thought represented in the Anglican Church of North America or face the consequences. They are undermining the trust that members of the ACNA place in their leadership and causing members of the ACNA to question their decisions and their commitment to the best interests of all members of the ACNA .They are coming to resemble more and more the leaders of the Episcopal Church and the Continuing Anglican Churches in their promotion of an ideological agenda.
While some members of the ACNA are reluctant to embrace the idea of a second alternative province, such a province may be the only viable option while this group of leaders occupy the place of power in the Anglican Church in North America. Although a number of these leaders may profess support for a diversity of views in the ACNA, their actions are clearly not congruent with their words. They appear set on pushing the envelope to see how far they can go. As long as they do not experience any serious pushback, they can be expected to continue in their present direction.
A few individual voices are not going to dissuade these leaders from seeking to impose their ideology upon the whole denomination. It will take those who are unhappy with the direction in which they are taking the ACNA joining forces and fully expressing their dissatisfaction with that direction. Even then this group of leaders can be expected to continue to promote their agenda at every opportunity despite growing opposition. This is what has happened in other jurisdictions in the past. These leaders are ideologues who are convinced in their own minds that they are taking the ACNA in the right direction. They are not open to other points of view.