|Volume 6, No. 4, 2 April 2012|
"The safest road to Hell is the gradual one; the gentle slope, soft under foot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts." C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters
"You cannot have a proud and chivalrous spirit if your conduct is mean and paltry; for whatever a man's actions are, such be his spirit." Demosthenes, the Third Olynthiac
"Be a person who worships God and lives in a holy relationship with Him. Get involved in the real work of praying to God on behalf of another, remembering that it truly is work; work that demands all your energy, but work which has no hidden pitfalls. Preaching the gospel has its share of pitfalls, but intercessory prayer has none whatsoever." Oswald Chambers
"The lasting characteristic of a spiritual man is the ability to understand correctly the meaning of the Lord Jesus Christ in his life, and the ability to explain the purposes of God to others. The overruling passion of his life is Jesus Christ. Whenever you see this quality in a person, you get the feeling that he is truly a man after God's own heart." Oswald Chambers
"I am disappointed that the Anglican Communion Covenant, even in its watered down version, has failed to gain the support of the Church of England. This now means that the Jerusalem Statement (2008) is now 'The only game in town.'" Bishop Michael Nazir Ali in Anglican Mainstream dated March 24, 2012
Editorial note: Perhaps it is time for a restatement of the intent of this occasional newsletter. It tries to avoid reporting on the tragicomedy playing out in TEC. Only when TEC actions impinge on our Anglican world will we comment on its activities. Our focus is on the many challenges of bringing traditional, orthodox Christianity to prominence within the ACNA and the wider Anglican world.
Archbishop' Resignation and the future of the Anglican Communion
With the announcement that Dr. Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury (ABC), will step down from his position as the leader of the Church of England (CoE) and the titular head* of the Anglican Communion (AC), many diverse comments have been published. Below are some excerpts from representative examples:
From a report Peter C. Moore, D.D., former Dean/President Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, Pennsylvania, in VirtueOnLine:
"The ABC throws in the sponge. Is it time for someone who is not English to assume the role?
When an archbishop retires at the usual age of 70, no one bats an eyelash. But when he resigns in good health nearly a decade before normal retirement age, people sit up and take notice. ...His liberal Anglo-Catholicism seemed archaic and out of touch to the growing multitudes of evangelically-minded Anglicans especially in the Two-Thirds World.
...Like you, I dislike "I told you so" people. But the Communion has virtually broken up under his watch - at least in all but name. At the Lambeth Conference (2008) dozens of bishops and archbishops who should have been there politely declined to be present and held their own international gathering in Jerusalem in June 2008**. The result of Lambeth was a lot of schmoozing and friendly discussion. The result of the alternate gathering was a solid, clear, orthodox affirmation called The Jerusalem Declaration. (See it at www.fca.net/resources/the_jerusalem_declaration.)
...It will take more than a Traditionalist to bring the Communion back together. It will take someone with enormous diplomatic skills; a firm resolve to make the Gospel of Jesus Christ the central touchstone of his archiepiscopacy, a great sensitivity towards those who don't understand "episcospeak" or "academieze", and a heart for mission as the central challenge of the age. Plus it will take someone with a very tough skin.
One can only speculate on who that person might be. Is it time for someone who is not English to assume the role?
Perhaps someone from the Two Thirds World? Perhaps someone who isn't white-skinned and steeped in the arcane language of Oxbridge? Perhaps someone who understands what it means to suffer for the Gospel? Perhaps someone who will forego the dollars that 815 Second Avenue and Trinity Church, Wall Street will continue to throw at him for silence in the face of their errors? Perhaps someone who isn't a "hairy Leftie" and won't take a knee-jerk reaction to the challenges faced by governments awash in entitlements and confronted with resurgent militant Islam?
The one thing that the Crown Nominations Committee, the PM and the Queen can count on from around the world is the fervent prayers of the millions who love the Anglican way of being Christian and yet who cherish even more dearly the "faith once for all delivered to the saints." Our deep desire is for someone to lead this part of Christ's body in such a way that all Christians, of whatever stripe, will praise God for his leadership and give thanks for the wisdom, strength and love he demonstrates to the world." ▪ ▪ ▪
From The Rev. Canon Phil Ashey, Chief Operating and Development Officer, American Anglican Council (AAC):
"...During his tenure as symbolic leader* of the Anglican Communion, the American Anglican Council has differed sharply on matters of the direction of the Communion and his handling of the crisis between those who believe in biblical standards for human sexuality, the sanctity of marriage and for holiness of life in holy orders and those principally in The Episcopal Church and in the Anglican Church of Canada who do not share these beliefs. The settled teaching of the Anglican Communion on these topics (memorialized in Lambeth resolution 1.10 from the 1998 Lambeth Conference) is that we need to follow the Bible on what it says about these things...
So where do we go from here? I know that many are wondering, "Who's going to be the next Archbishop of Canterbury and will there be any difference?" I suggest that it doesn't really matter who the next Archbishop of Canterbury is.
In 2008, more than 1,000 orthodox, Bible-believing, evangelistic Anglicans decided at the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON)** in Jerusalem that Anglicanism has little to do with the Archbishop of Canterbury. We will always be grateful for the fact that the Archbishops of Canterbury sent out English missionaries to evangelize the rest of the world. However, as they said at the GAFCON conference in their final statement: 'While acknowledging the nature of Canterbury in its historic role, we do not accept that Anglican identity is determined necessarily through recognition by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Building on the ...doctrinal foundation of Anglican identity, we hereby publish the Jerusalem Declaration (see above) as the basis of our fellowship...'
Anglican reformers such as Cranmer, Latimer and Ridley literally died at the stake. They believed in Jesus' authority and the authority of scripture in the life of the believer and in the life of the church. They memorialized these beliefs with the 39 Articles, with their meeting together as bishops in council, and with the creeds that we have.
Anglican beliefs and practices are based on the supremacy of Christ in the life of the believer and in the life of the Church as He revealed in scripture. It is Christ that holds us together and Christ that always will. No other man or office can take His place." ▪ ▪ ▪
Statement by Archbishop Paul Kwong, Primate of Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui:
"(We) express our gratefulness to Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams for serving the Lord in the past 10 years through his love and dedication to the Anglican Communion... While he is known to many as a gifted spiritual thinker with immense intellectual capacity, he impresses me most for his humility and compassion, the two fundamental attributes as God's servant. Despite the challenges facing the Anglican Communion, Archbishop Rowan had the ironclad faith to preserve our unity while working relentlessly to develop our ministry throughout the world. I specially want to thank him for his continuous support of our ministry in Hong Kong and his efforts to cement the relationship with the Christian church in China and his love and heart for Chinese people. Archbishop Rowan's articulation of the Anglican way in a theological context will continue to inspire us for years to come..." ▪ ▪ ▪
From Dr. Thabo Makgoba, Archbishop of Cape Town, So. Africa:
"...We in the Anglican Communion, and indeed the wider world, have been inordinately privileged to have such an able theologian and deeply spiritual thinker, as Archbishop of Canterbury over the last decade. He has exercised remarkable gospel-shaped leadership during tumultuous times for our Communion, in which his commitment to consensus seeking, rooted in his refusal to take quick and easy solutions that fail to address the more fundamental issues, has shown great courage and deeply profound rootedness in the faith to which we are called. Again and again he has returned us to the central questions of whose we are, and for whom we are to be - in loving, faithful, obedient, service of God, of God's church, and of God's world... ▪ ▪ ▪
From the London Daily Telegraph, an article by the Rev. Dr. Peter Mullen, a well-known U.K. writer, in support of preserving traditional forms of Anglican worship:
"The Church is torn between new mods and old rockers. Rowan Williams's successor will have little hope of resolving a bitter stand-off. Does the Church have a future?
Rowan Williams ...has done his best on his bed of nails these past 10 years to hold this great institution together. Surely it is an impossible task.
Riven asunder by so many controversies, how can the Church survive? There is the issue of women bishops. Add to it the controversy about gay priests and bishops. And yet, I suggest, even these churning controversies are not the most dangerous threats to the Church's future.
We have to decide whether we are finally going to modernize and accept the whole secular agenda of "diversity", "non-discrimination" and all the new value words of the progressive dispensation, or whether we retain a commitment to traditional doctrines and a hearkening to ancestral voices.
I am afraid that we are at one of those crisis moments in our history. The next leader of the Church of England must declare whether the institution is to be ruled according to the diversified mods or the old and traditionalist rockers.
Of course, as ever, the issue will be dodged and we shall stumble on. But really it is the essence of a surly and increasingly bitter stand-off. And that's only in England. Don't get me started about the worldwide Anglican Communion." ▪ ▪ ▪
By Robert Lundy, excerpted from the American Anglican Organization's Encompass, the latest in the AMiA and Rwanda struggle:
"The abrupt breakup of the Anglican Mission in the Americas (AMiA) has left many clergy and their parishes looking for a new ecclesial home. Recognized as a vibrant Anglican expression of evangelism and church planting, the AMiA seemed to fall apart as its leaders' long-held relationship with the Province de L'Eglise Anglicane au Rwanda (Anglican Church of Rwanda, PEAR) disintegrated. The Bishop and Chairman of AMiA, the Rt. Rev. Chuck Murphy, along with all but two of his fellow bishops, resigned from PEAR last December in order to form a "Mission Society" that was, among other things, free from the oversight of the church of Rwanda. As of yet, it remains to be seen how many of the AMiA's 150+ churches will follow Murphy and leave their ecclesiastical relationship with the Church of Rwanda to establish a new mission society.
For those churches who want to remain officially connected with PEAR, a new option has emerged. The Province de L'Eglise Anglicane au Rwanda en USA (PEARUSA) will serve those clergy and parishes who want to stay connected to Rwanda as well as those wanting to reconnect with the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA).
Bishop Thad Barnum is one of two AMiA bishops who did not resign but chose to remain canonically resident under the Church of Rwanda. He, along with Bishop Terrell Glenn, is also on the steering team for PEARUSA and is picking up the pieces from the AMiA's breakup. In ministering to clergy and parishes wondering where they should look for oversight, Bishop Barnum is taking his cue from the Archbishop of Rwanda who has said, 'just tell us where you're going and how we can help.' It is this generous approach to helping Christians navigate a complex alphabet soup of organizational acronyms that Barnum hopes will keep a spirit of Christian unity among the members of PEARUSA and ACNA. "I would love to see this not be divisive. I would like to see a dynamic serving in ACNA and Rwanda and a dynamic unity."
At a February 2012 meeting, the PEARUSA steering team set forth two ecclesiastical possibilities for its members. One was for a new North American Missionary District to be formed that would allow parishes dual citizenship in ACNA and Rwanda. The second option was for parishes to directly affiliate with ACNA and be fully under its oversight. Before PEARUSA parishes decide which option they want, the House of Bishops of the Church of Rwanda must discuss and approve the two options. The Rwandan bishops will meet on March 29 to address the options presented by the PEARUSA steering team. ▪ ▪ ▪
From the Church of England Newspaper comes this article written by Canon Michael Green, one of England's leading Anglican evangelists. Canon Green advocates immediate recognition of ACNA by the CoE:
"Having just returned from leading a Diocesan Clergy Conference for the Anglican Church in North America, I offer my impressions, since we in UK are not always well informed about our orthodox brethren in America.
We need to be aware that the assault by lawyers of the Episcopal Church on their orthodox churches and their remaining two or three orthodox dioceses continues. These lawsuits are almost always successful and so increasingly the best and most biblical clergy and congregations are being evicted from their church buildings. The Episcopal Church can hardly ever fill them with 'shadow congregations' so they are empty and are being sold off as Muslim mosques and for other purposes, but never to ACNA.
I was struck by the fact that the Anglican Church in North America, now numbering well over 100,000, are no longer looking back over their shoulder to the loss of their buildings, but are vigorous and forward-looking. Some 200 new congregations have been formed in the past two-and-a-half years, while the aging membership of the Episcopal Church continues to shrink and some 72 per cent of their churches are in financial trouble. By contrast 400 church leaders from ACNA met a couple of weeks ago to plan for the founding of 1,000 new Anglican churches across North America in the next five years.
That fact is that the ACNA is on the move. Many of its congregations are small, meeting in gymnasia, large homes, or borrowed buildings from other churches. Their attitude is positive, their aim is outreach, and their sacrifices are impressive. No wonder 75 per cent of the Anglican Communion recognize them (while half the Provinces of the Communion are in broken or impaired communion with the Episcopal Church).
Surely it is high time for the Church of England to give them the recognition they merit."
Editorial note: Not a word was said about how to deal with the existing relationship betwixt TEC and the Church of England. ▪ ▪ ▪
Church of the Holy Communion
* The Archbishop of Canterbury is a "first among equals" and holds no authority over any of the other 37 Archbishops, Primates and Presiding Bishops of the Anglican Communion. It is not all similar to the position of the Pope in the Roman Catholic Church.
**CHC was represented at this GAFCON conference in 2008 by Bishop Sutton and the writer. CHC, the REC and the ACNA are founding members of GAFCON and subscribe fully to the Jerusalem Declaration.