Sunday, June 29, 2008

A via media schism

As only the Anglican Church could, it is a schism which is not quite a schism, consistent with its founding principles, consonant with its entire history.

GAFCON (has anyone told them that 'unium' is not a Latin word?) has formalised the conservative wing of the Anglican Communion and issued the Jerusalem Declaration which effectively creates a church within a church, or, for Cranmer's Roman Catholic communicants, yet another 'ecclesial community' in an already deficient ecclesial community. It has severed its links with the liberal wing in the US and Canada, and intends to 'combat modern trends' in the Church, like the ordination of homosexuals, and will also counter the 'false gospel'. Contending against the shifting sand of postmodern relativism, they seek a return to biblical orthodoxy.

Good luck to them.

Significantly, the group rejects the ecclesial authority of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and will express its own statement of theology and form its own council of archbishops. It will operate independently whilst remaining within the Anglican Communion.

When will they learn that one cannot pour new wine into old wineskins?

Cranmer reproduces the declaration below, but it is important to note that none of this is new. Longstanding divisions precipitated the formation of the 'Church of England Continuing' about 20 years ago, and this group is led by its own bishop - the Rev Dr David Samuel. And the group 'Reform' has also expressed this agenda since its foundation.

STATEMENT ON THE GLOBAL ANGLICAN FUTURE

Praise the LORD!
It is good to sing praises to our God; for he is gracious, and a song of praise is fitting. The LORD builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the outcasts of Israel. (Psalm 147:1-2)

Brothers and Sisters in Christ: We, the participants in the Global Anglican Future Conference, send you greetings from Jerusalem!

Introduction
The Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON), which was held in Jerusalem from 22-29 June 2008, is a spiritual movement to preserve and promote the truth and power of the gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ as we Anglicans have received it. The movement is global: it has mobilised Anglicans from around the world. We are Anglican: 1148 lay and clergy participants, including 291 bishops representing millions of faithful Anglican Christians. We cherish our Anglican heritage and the Anglican Communion and have no intention of departing from it. And we believe that, in God’s providence, Anglicanism has a bright future in obedience to our Lord’s Great Commission to make disciples of all nations and to build up the church on the foundation of biblical truth (Matthew 28:18-20; Ephesians 2:20).

GAFCON is not just a moment in time, but a movement in the Spirit, and we hereby:
• launch the GAFCON movement as a fellowship of confessing Anglicans
• publish the Jerusalem Declaration as the basis of the fellowship
• Recognise GAFCON Primates’ Council.

The Global Anglican Context
The future of the Anglican Communion is but a piece of the wider scenario of opportunities and challenges for the gospel in 21st century global culture. We rejoice in the way God has opened doors for gospel mission among many peoples, but we grieve for the spiritual decline in the most economically developed nations, where the forces of militant secularism and pluralism are eating away the fabric of society and churches are compromised and enfeebled in their witness. The vacuum left by them is readily filled by other faiths and deceptive cults. To meet these challenges will require Christians to work together to understand and oppose these forces and to liberate those under their sway. It will entail the planting of new churches among unreached peoples and also committed action to restore authentic Christianity to compromised churches.

The Anglican Communion, present in six continents, is well positioned to address this challenge, but currently it is divided and distracted. The Global Anglican Future Conference emerged in response to a crisis within the Anglican Communion, a crisis involving three undeniable facts concerning world Anglicanism.

The first fact is the acceptance and promotion within the provinces of the Anglican Communion of a different ‘gospel’ (cf. Galatians 1:6-8) which is contrary to the apostolic gospel. This false gospel undermines the authority of God’s Word written and the uniqueness of Jesus Christ as the author of salvation from sin, death and judgement. Many of its proponents claim that all religions offer equal access to God and that Jesus is only a way, not the way, the truth and the life. It promotes a variety of sexual preferences and immoral behaviour as a universal human right. It claims God’s blessing for same-sex unions over against the biblical teaching on holy matrimony. In 2003 this false gospel led to the consecration of a bishop living in a homosexual relationship.

The second fact is the declaration by provincial bodies in the Global South that they are out of communion with bishops and churches that promote this false gospel. These declarations have resulted in a realignment whereby faithful Anglican Christians have left existing territorial parishes, dioceses and provinces in certain Western churches and become members of other dioceses and provinces, all within the Anglican Communion. These actions have also led to the appointment of new Anglican bishops set over geographic areas already occupied by other Anglican bishops. A major realignment has occurred and will continue to unfold.

The third fact is the manifest failure of the Communion Instruments to exercise discipline in the face of overt heterodoxy. The Episcopal Church USA and the Anglican Church of Canada, in proclaiming this false gospel, have consistently defied the 1998 Lambeth statement of biblical moral principle (Resolution 1.10).

Despite numerous meetings and reports to and from the ‘Instruments of Unity,’ no effective action has been taken, and the bishops of these unrepentant churches are welcomed to Lambeth 2008. To make matters worse, there has been a failure to honour promises of discipline, the authority of the Primates’ Meeting has been undermined and the Lambeth Conference has been structured so as to avoid any hard decisions. We can only come to the devastating conclusion that ‘we are a global Communion with a colonial structure’.

Sadly, this crisis has torn the fabric of the Communion in such a way that it cannot simply be patched back together. At the same time, it has brought together many Anglicans across the globe into personal and pastoral relationships in a fellowship which is faithful to biblical teaching, more representative of the demographic distribution of global Anglicanism today and stronger as an instrument of effective mission, ministry and social involvement.

A Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans
We, the participants in the Global Anglican Future Conference, are a fellowship of confessing Anglicans for the benefit of the Church and the furtherance of its mission. We are a fellowship of people united in the communion (koinonia) of the one Spirit and committed to work and pray together in the common mission of Christ. It is a confessing fellowship in that its members confess the faith of Christ crucified, stand firm for the gospel in the global and Anglican context, and affirm a contemporary rule, the Jerusalem Declaration, to guide the movement for the future. We are a fellowship of Anglicans, including provinces, dioceses, churches, missionary jurisdictions, para-church organisations and individual Anglican Christians whose goal is to reform, heal and revitalise the Anglican Communion and expand its mission to the world.

Our fellowship is not breaking away from the Anglican Communion. We, together with many other faithful Anglicans throughout the world, believe the doctrinal foundation of Anglicanism, which defines our core identity as Anglicans, is expressed in these words: The doctrine of the Church is grounded in the Holy Scriptures and in such teachings of the ancient Fathers and Councils of the Church as are agreeable to the said Scriptures. In particular, such doctrine is to be found in the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, the Book of Common Prayer and the Ordinal. We intend to remain faithful to this standard, and we call on others in the Communion to reaffirm and return to it. While acknowledging the nature of Canterbury as an historic see, we do not accept that Anglican identity is determined necessarily through recognition by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Building on the above doctrinal foundation of Anglican identity, we hereby publish the Jerusalem Declaration as the basis of our fellowship.

The Jerusalem Declaration

In the name of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit:
We, the participants in the Global Anglican Future Conference, have met in the land of Jesus’ birth. We express our loyalty as disciples to the King of kings, the Lord Jesus. We joyfully embrace his command to proclaim the reality of his kingdom which he first announced in this land. The gospel of the kingdom is the good news of salvation, liberation and transformation for all. In light of the above, we agree to chart a way forward together that promotes and protects the biblical gospel and mission to the world, solemnly declaring the following tenets of orthodoxy which underpin our Anglican identity.

1. We rejoice in the gospel of God through which we have been saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. Because God first loved us, we love him and as believers bring forth fruits of love, ongoing repentance, lively hope and thanksgiving to God in all things.

2. We believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God written and to contain all things necessary for salvation. The Bible is to be translated, read, preached, taught and obeyed in its plain and canonical sense, respectful of the church’s historic and consensual reading.

3. We uphold the four Ecumenical Councils and the three historic Creeds as expressing the rule of faith of the one holy catholic and apostolic Church.

4. We uphold the Thirty-nine Articles as containing the true doctrine of the Church agreeing with God’s Word and as authoritative for Anglicans today.

5. We gladly proclaim and submit to the unique and universal Lordship of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, humanity’s only Saviour from sin, judgement and hell, who lived the life we could not live and died the death that we deserve. By his atoning death and glorious resurrection, he secured the redemption of all who come to him in repentance and faith.

6. We rejoice in our Anglican sacramental and liturgical heritage as an expression of the gospel, and we uphold the 1662 Book of Common Prayer as a true and authoritative standard of worship and prayer, to be translated and locally adapted for each culture.

7. We recognise that God has called and gifted bishops, priests and deacons in historic succession to equip all the people of God for their ministry in the world. We uphold the classic Anglican Ordinal as an authoritative standard of clerical orders.

8. We acknowledge God’s creation of humankind as male and female and the unchangeable standard of Christian marriage between one man and one woman as the proper place for sexual intimacy and the basis of the family. We repent of our failures to maintain this standard and call for a renewed commitment to lifelong fidelity in marriage and abstinence for those who are not married.

9. We gladly accept the Great Commission of the risen Lord to make disciples of all nations, to seek those who do not know Christ and to baptise, teach and bring new believers to maturity.

10. We are mindful of our responsibility to be good stewards of God’s creation, to uphold and advocate justice in society, and to seek relief and empowerment of the poor and needy.

11. We are committed to the unity of all those who know and love Christ and to building authentic ecumenical relationships. We recognise the orders and jurisdiction of those Anglicans who uphold orthodox faith and practice, and we encourage them to join us in this declaration.

12. We celebrate the God-given diversity among us which enriches our global fellowship, and we acknowledge freedom in secondary matters. We pledge to work together to seek the mind of Christ on issues that divide us.

13. We reject the authority of those churches and leaders who have denied the orthodox faith in word or deed. We pray for them and call on them to repent and return to the Lord.

14. We rejoice at the prospect of Jesus’ coming again in glory, and while we await this final event of history, we praise him for the way he builds up his church through his Spirit by miraculously changing lives.

***

The 'Primates’ Council' is a significant structural development, and although it has yet to define its working relationship with other Primates' gatherings, it is unlikely that non-believers will look upon representatives of either and wonder at how they love one another. To refer so blatantly to 'churces under false leadership' is refeshing, and it will be interesting to see if the Archbishop of Canterbury makes any (comprehensible) response to this at Lambeth.

10 Comments:

Anonymous RW said...

No mention of Christ's teaching on divorce and re-marriage , because they can't agree as to what his words mean.

The thirty nine articles upheld , but Bishops like Iker and Schofield ( and most of the Common cause)contradict them by reserving the Holy Communion elements and worshipping them as God. They also invoke the Saints and practice the annointing of the sick described in the artivcles as corrupt.


Indeed many of the Common Cause do not accept as orthodox female ordination, which is upheld by others. The issue of womens ordination and headship is ignored.

The 1662 Prayer book does not have prayers for the dead, places the Gloria after the reception of Holy Communion, excludes the benedictus, agnus Dei.

This is the oxford movement in reverse...which wanted to get back to 1549.

" we recognise the orders and jurisdiction those Anglicans who uphold orthodox Faith abnd practice.........so Bishop Schofield et al will recognise as Orthodox faith and practice Churches which uphold womens ordination , and have a woman presiding at the Eucharist and heading a congregation!

Gafcon "orthodoxy" is a therefore a broad wide and subjective definition.

They recognuse the first four ecumenical Councils , which recognised the primacy and authority of Rome.

Chalcedon :"Peter has spoken through Leo."

However they do not recognise Church Councils that actually gave us the Canon of Scripture!

If the Bible is to be respected , why are some of the Orthodox allowing women to be ordained and have authority in the Church!

There are so many holes in this document, and so much self deception..it is hard to believe that this forms a credible basis for unity and orthodoxy. It avoids key areas...and is a mockery of the 39 articles, when it includes bishops who openly repudiate the injunctions in the articles.

Contrast Gafcon with the Council of jerusalem recorded in the Acts of the Apostles..." Peter spoke and all held silence."

29 June 2008 at 10:53  
Anonymous mckenzie said...

I liked the sound of this until I read RW's comment.
But I still think this is a move in the right direction. I live in hope. Time will tell.

29 June 2008 at 12:09  
Blogger Scott said...

The conservatives do not need to breakaway. They need to march through it, as the liberals have, and retake the Church for Christ. There is no way I am surrendering the Anglican church to radicals, homosexuals, rebellious women or heretics.

Sorry to put it so bluntly but that's what we're up against. I must stand with my ancestors, and with yours, and all the cloud of Anglican witnesses about us. This church is not for the taking. The damage will be undone. The gospel will go forth once more. We shall have victory, for it is the Lord that fights for us.

29 June 2008 at 12:49  
Anonymous najistani said...

“The problems of homosexuality and women bishops which face the Church of England are minor compared with the threat to the church and the nation from Islam”

http://www.jihadwatch.org/dhimmiwatch/archives/021563.php

29 June 2008 at 12:51  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some of us in Rochester Diocese will be simply asking - " What does this mean for us?"

Are we not likely to be conscripted into the front line?

Remember us in your prayers

29 June 2008 at 13:07  
Anonymous Michael Canaris said...

--While acknowledging the nature of Canterbury as an historic see, we do not accept that Anglican identity is determined necessarily through recognition by the Archbishop of Canterbury.--

The key word there is necessarily. Should (God forbid!) Canterbury be destroyed in a nuclear explosion, for instance, I don't see why York or some other city mightn't by due process assume some of the functions which Canterbury now enjoys.

29 June 2008 at 13:32  
Anonymous fr william said...

Re. "unium" - yes, rather late in the day someone did point out that there was no such word (at least in Latin - I believe that in chemistry it's the systematic name for hydrogen, though I somehow doubt that was what they had in mind.) If you go to gafcon.org, you'll see it now says "uniti", which is at least a word, even if "veritas uniti" or "uniti veritas" is still meaningless. "Uniti in veritate", perhaps, or "Veritas et unitas"? How about "Veritas uniet" (The truth shall unite)? If they want a motto which actually means something, they'll need the services of a proper latinist. I imagine there are rather more of them on the Catholic than the Evangelical wing of the church.

29 June 2008 at 15:25  
Anonymous hear o israel said...

i like what i see your grace

i think the problems lay not so much as in our traditions , but in how the new is being interpreted .

we have on the one hand a bible that contains wonderful illuminating insights , into what the true relationship to god is like. yet we live in world where tent and sail makers are a near disappered art , and we worry about the price of oil for our cars , when in biblical times it was used to fuel small lamps and probebly olive or animal rendered oil at that.

when i look at the recent conservative assessment of broken britain , it is hard to relate the two eras , we are technologically rich, but it seems we are also poor.

the ordination of a gay bishop may have been some as progress , indeed the problem of women priests is testing scripturally . we are told to modernise on the grounds that we need to catch up.

there are worries that if we dont modernise we will lose a generation , but equally what is the point of building somthing that isnt as the bible guides us to do.

the church has been seduced , and its mission curtailed , with what is see as quite disatrous consequences .

who shall we blame ??, well it takes and minds and mouths to speak lies and ears and minds to belive them. there is a hidden probelem here of promise and certantity , the modernisers say they hold promise , the traditionalists certainity.

whilst the debate goes on , our historic ship may well drift , but soon there will be the right determination of where we should ge going , god may with hold answers during mistakes , but he never lets us abandon the truth completely.

i look forward to a time when the church will once more ordain the ordinary person and teach them gods wisdom of life , to help them grow and be good citizens , perhaps then gene robinson (and quite a few others) may repent on making in his own works on equal with the masters works.

i too pray for my own folly in these matters for i too have not been so certain in the past on where this would lead , but now i see it.

29 June 2008 at 17:21  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isn't unus one of those nine Latin adjectives that have their genitive singular in -ius?

30 June 2008 at 18:45  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

lol @ marxist anglicanism

1 July 2008 at 23:55  

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