By Robin G. Jordan
I find very little difference between the views of Anglicanism and the Anglican Church, which hold sway in the Anglican Church in North America today, and those that were prevalent in the Episcopal Church in the 1980s and 1990s. The biggest difference is that the “three streams-one river” view of the Anglican Church was in an early stage in the late 1990s. It did not begin to grip imaginations until the beginning of the new millennium. It, however, has not quite displaced the myth of Anglicanism as a via media between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism, which is still perpetuated in the Anglican Studies Programs of a number of seminaries to which the ACNA sends its candidates for ordination for training even though it has been repeatedly debunked since the nineteenth century. The influence of the nineteenth century Anglo-Catholic movement looms fairly large in the ACNA as it did (and still does) in the Episcopal Church.
If any form of Protestantism is influencing thinking in the Anglican Church in North America, it is Arminianism and to a lesser extent Lutheranism, chiefly in the areas of “the sacrament of the Altar” and “Holy Absolution.” The Arminian influence can be traced to a number of sources—clergy who came from evangelical, non-denominational, or charismatic/Pentecostal churches, which are Arminian in their theological outlook; seminaries like Ashbury Theological Seminary, which the ACNA uses to train candidates for ordained ministry and which are also Arminian in their theological outlook; and the writings of the Caroline High Churchmen and the sermons of John Wesley. What is in short supply is the Reformed Protestantism of the historic Anglican formularies and the central Anglican theological tradition.
Theologically the Anglican Church in North America may be described as a hodge-podge—a confused mixture of doctrinal views that share one thing in common: They all diverge to varying degrees from historical Anglicanism. Within such confusion any hope of a renewal of historic Anglicanism in North America is extremely slim. It is not an environment that is particularly favorable to the growth and development of confessional Anglicanism.
For this reason I believe that an Anglican entity that is fully committed to Biblical Christianity and historic Anglicanism is needed in North America. Pastors who are faithful to the teaching of the Holy Scriptures and to the principles of the historic Anglican formularies and the central Anglican theological tradition should not have to work in an ecclesiastical environment in which other pastors are working at cross-purposes to them. They face enough obstacles in their ministry. Without such an entity there is very little likelihood of a renewal of historic Anglicanism occurring in North America.
CANA Missionary Bishop Felix Orji’s new diocese initiative aims to create such an entity, an ecclesiastical environment in which confessional Anglicans and confessional Anglicanism will be able to flourish and which will build up and strengthen the confessional Anglican presence and witness in North America. It will meet a longstanding need. I therefore urge Anglicans Ablaze readers to support this initiative with their prayers, their generous donations, and in other ways. For more information about the initiative and how they can support it, readers can contact the Rev. Richard LePage at pastor@ReformationAnglicanChurch.org or (207) 894-0177 or the Rev Jonathan Smith at email@example.com or (321) 356-9472.