By Robin G. Jordan
With the consecration of Canon Andy Lines as ACNA Bishop in Europe, the Anglican Church in North America’s objective appears to be to launch a branch of the ACNA in Europe rather than consecrate a bishop for an independent network of Biblically faithful, authentically Anglican churches in the United Kingdom. It gives every appearance of taking advantage of the split between conservative and liberal Anglicans in the Church of England and the Scottish Episcopal Church to expand to the British Isles.
The United Kingdom, however, does not need a clone of the ACNA on English and Scottish soil. It does not need the ACNA equivalent of the Episcopal Church’s Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe and the Church of England’s Diocese in Europe.
What the United Kingdom does need is a self-governing indigenous ecclesiastical organization which, unlike the ACNA, is genuinely committed to upholding the teachings of the Bible and the doctrinal and worship principles of the historic Anglican formularies. Conservative Anglicans in the British Isles need to draw up their own constitution and canons and not to repeat the mistakes of the ACNA. They also need to elect their own general synod and their own bench of bishops. The leadership of GAFCON can support them by recognizing the network of churches that they form and by consecrating the bishops that they choose. They can welcome the bishops and other representatives of this organization into the councils of GAFCON and give them a voice and a vote in these councils.
Turning over the organization of a new orthodox Anglican province in the British Isles to the Anglican Church in North America is like turning over a flock of chickens to a family of foxes. The foxes will devour the chickens. It is their nature. Any branch of the ACNA formed in the United Kingdom is going to pursue the ACNA’s agenda, not GAFCON’s. It is going to serve the interests of the ACNA leadership, a leadership that has a Catholic Revivalist vision of the Anglican Church. It is not going to serve the interests of Biblical Christianity and authentic historic Anglicanism in the British Isles.
Affiliating with the Anglican Church in North America is like downloading what is promoted as marvelous new operating system from the Internet only to discover that it is infected by a highly destructive virus. While the ACNA may be free from the more extreme forms of liberalism, it is not free from the more extreme forms of Catholic Revivalism which the GAFCON Theological Resource Group has identified as a major contributor to the erosion of the authority of the Bible and historic Anglican formularies in the Anglican Church along with liberalism. Indeed the wing of the ACNA that dominates the province’s College of Bishops and Provincial Council even though it may not be the largest wing of the province or representative of the province as a whole, has called for a new Oxford Movement and is aggressively promoting not only the Catholicization of the ACNA but also other Anglican provinces.
Trading one set of unbiblical beliefs and practices for another is not going to help conservative Anglicans in England and Scotland to spread the gospel in the British Isles, to reach and to engage the lost, and to enfold them into new churches. To date the conservative Anglicans who have been most successful in these three areas are those who are faithful to teachings of the Bible and to the doctrinal and worship principles of the historic Anglican formularies.