Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The Anglican Church in North America - A Botched Omelet?

The Australian Church Record has, in its June 2017 issue, published a report on the Anglican Connection Conference, held on June 13-15, 2017 in Dallas, Texas. The report was written by Stephen Tong who attended the conference and was one of its key note speakers. What immediately caught my attention was this statement which appears in the very first paragraph of the report.
“‘A dog’s breakfast’. During a recent conversation in the UK, a casual observer used that phrase to describe to me the Anglican Church in the United States of America. The fracture in the global Anglican Communion is most acute in the States, where the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA) has been set up as a parallel Anglican province, bringing together the various Anglican groups that have been forming over the last twenty years or so – such as the Nigerian based, Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA). However, the gospel clarity of the 16th century English Reformers – expressed in the Thirty-Nine Articles and the 1552 Prayer Book – is not yet found in North American Anglican structures. This is why the formation of the Anglican Connection is important.”
For readers who are unfamiliar with the expression ,“a dog’s breakfast,” it is chiefly a British expression and refers to a “confused mess or mixture.” Here is what urbandictionary.com has to say about this expression. 
"dog's breakfast," which has been British slang for "a complete mess" since at least the 1930s. While no one took the time to write down the exact origin of the phrase, the allusion involved seems to be to a failed culinary effort, perhaps a burned or botched omelet, fit only for consumption by the mouth of last resort, Fido. As a vivid figure of speech meaning something so fouled up as to be utterly useless, "dog's breakfast" can cover anything from a play plagued by collapsing scenery to a space mission ruined by a mathematical error. "Dog's dinner," which seems to have appeared around the same time, means exactly the same sort of disaster, but has the advantage of being attractively alliterative. Both phrases are heard occasionally in the U.S., but are more common in the U.K. and Commonwealth countries.
Synonyms include “mess, disaster, catastrophe, failure, dump."

While I believe that "a dog's breakfast" may be an apt description of the Anglican Church in North America, what is far more important is the acknowledgment in the same statement that “the gospel clarity of the 16th century English Reformers – expressed in the Thirty-Nine Articles and the 1552 Prayer Book – is not yet found in North American Anglican structures.” This acknowledgment may be described as something of an understatement. In its fundamental declarations the Anglican Church in North America equivocates in its affirmation of the doctrinal and worship principles laid out in the historic Anglican formularies—the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion and the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. In its Catechism and its proposed Prayer Book and Ordinal, it clearly departs from these principles.

The full report may be read here. Audio recordings of the various addresses may be found here. I definitely recommend that readers take time to read the report and to listen to the addresses.


The Rev Canon David Wilson said...

Rather interesting that the event organizer John Mason, a priest from the Diocese of Sydney, planted an ACNA Church in NYC -- Emmanual Church and two of the major presenters Dr Felix Orji and John Yates II are both active leaders in the ACNA. Orji is a member of the ACNA College of Bishops!

Hugh McCann said...

Got it! Proverbs 26:11 "As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly."

Robin G. Jordan said...

I also believe that a number of ACNA clergy may have been in attendance. Check out the "What We Affirm" page on the Anglican Connection website - http://anglicanconnection.com/reformation-anglicanism/.

It gives as the purpose of the Anglican Connection "to provide a network of ministers and churches that is framed by the foundational documents of classic Anglicanism. In particular it provides an opportunity to re-establish a robust, vital, Bible-based, gospel-centered Anglicanism in North America, based on a doctrinal foundation and a ministry framework that is grounded in the doctrine of the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion and the theological and liturgical principles of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer and its Ordinal."

It lists these declarations:

"The Anglican Connection, being a network of churches grounded in classic Anglicanism, believes and confesses Jesus Christ as Lord. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life: no one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6).

The Anglican Connection affirms the Jerusalem Declaration of the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON), June 2008 and in particular:

1. confesses and upholds the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be God’s Word written, containing all that is necessary for salvation;

2. confesses and upholds the orthodox Christian creeds, namely the Apostles Creed, the Nicene Creed and the Athanasian Creed together with the Chalcedonian Definition;

3. assents to the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, as containing the true doctrine of the Church agreeing with God’s Word and as authoritative for Anglicans today;

4. upholds The Book of Common Prayer as set forth by the Church of England in 1662, together with the Ordinal attached to the same, as setting out the true and authoritative standard for doctrine and worship; and

5. recognizes three orders of ministry – bishops, presbyters (priests) and deacons."

It also lists the Rt. Rev. Steve Wood, bishop of the Diocese of the Carolinas and rector of St. Andrew's Church, Mt. Pleasant, S.C., as a ministry partner.

While I did not play any role in the organization of the Anglican Connection, I have long advocated the establishment of a network of groups and individuals - in and outside of the ACNA - who share a strong commitment to the gospel and the faith articulated in the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion and 1662 Book of Common Prayer and to their spread as a part of a three-pronged approach to the ACNA's drift away from authentic historic Anglicanism as evidenced in its fundamental declarations, its catechism, its proposed Prayer Book and Ordinal, and its form of governance.

The Rev Canon Dr David Wilson said...

Greetings Robin

I can can easily and vigorously endorse each and every one of the five declarations in their entirety and in their plain and literal sense.

I also don't, in one whit, think the ACNA is a dog's breakfast or a botched omelet and if you ask Steve Wood I would be certain he doesn't think so either.

Robin G. Jordan said...


Someone with whom Steve Tong spoke did, however, choose to use that phrase to describe the ACNA. However, as I pointed out in my article, what is far more important is the observation and acknowledgement that “the gospel clarity of the 16th century English Reformers – expressed in the Thirty-Nine Articles and the 1552 Prayer Book – is not yet found in North American Anglican structures.” It is not there.

The Rev Canon Dr David Wilson said...

Robin you and I, as far as I can see, align theologically and liturgically and quite comfortable as Protestant Anglicans. Where we differ is the degree of comprehensiveness within Anglicanism we are willing to accommodate. Anglicanism in my view has always embraced some degree of comprehensiveness even the Diocese of Sydney has to do so to exist within the Anglican Church of Australia. Yes the ACNA has embraced some Anglo-Catholic theology in its governance-- but we do have Anglo-Catholics among our leadership. I can handle that. These men however are believers and we can serve our Lord side by side even if we don't always agree.

Robin G. Jordan said...

The ACNA in its canons and constitution, its catechism, and its proposed Prayer Book and Ordinal is not a comprehensive church. It goes much further than “embrace some Anglo-Catholic theology.” Where you and I differ is not in the degree of comprehensiveness that we are willing to accommodate but in our willingness to acknowledge the full extent of the highly partisan character of the ACNA’s official formularies. Their highly partisan character is not the mark of a comprehensive church. I suspect that you yourself know that but are loathe to admit it.

Look at the ACNA's catechism and what it says about the ordo salutis and sacraments. This is not historic Anglicanism. Look at the eucharistic prayer in the “long” form of the Holy Communion. While it lacks the more explicit sacrificial language of the Roman Canon, it embodies its theology. Look at ceremonial of the ordination rites – the prostration of the candidate before the altar, the giving of a chalice to the new priest, the anointing of the new priest’s hands and the new bishop’s forehead with blessed oil. These practices come from the Rituale Romanum, the Roman Pontifical. While they are optional, the exception being the giving of the chalice to the new priest, they must be considered in any objective assessment of the theology of the ACNA’s ordination rites. These are just a few examples of the highly partisan character of the ACNA’s official formularies.

I have no problem with sharing a church with Anglo-Catholics - I have been doing it for years - but I do have a problem with a church that in its official formularies favors one theological school of thought over other legitimate theological schools of thought, particularly those which are far more faithful in their adherence to historic Anglicanism’s longstanding standard of faith and practice—the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion and the 1662 Book of Common Prayer and its Ordinal. Where the ACNA’s official formularies do not affirm the position of the Catholic Revivalist wing of the church on key issues, they make provisions to accommodate its views. They do not extend this courtesy to Anglicans loyal to Biblical Christianity and historic Anglicanism. This points to one unavoidable conclusion. While you and I might be willing to share the ACNA with Catholic Anglicans, the authors of these documents were not willing to share the province with Protestant Anglicans. If that is not the case, then these documents need to be amended, revised, and even rewritten to reflect it.

Daniel J. Sparks said...

Yes, several ACNA clergymen were there, including myself. This was a great gospel-centered conference, much needed among the blob of fruit gelatin known as Anglicanism in North America.

Richard G. McKenzie said...

Of course, he wouldn't.