Category : – Anglican: Analysis

(CA) Stephen Noll–“Living in Love and Faith”: Tree or Billboard?

A colleague sent me a link to the “Living in Love and Faith” report to the General Synod of the Church of England, which is meeting later this month. For the uninitiated, the “Living in Love and Faith” (LLF) project is a massive exercise by the Church of England to tackle the thorny issue of human sexuality. The general supposition is that the LLF results will be forwarded to the Lambeth Conference in 2020, to be discussed in table groups (indaba), which in turn will conclude that Anglicans have a mixed bag of views on sex and marriage and that they have agreed to disagree. Such a result will in effect nullify the clear teaching of Lambeth 1998, which has been a touchstone for the Global South churches….

Despite its likening a book to a tree trunk, the entire report manages to avoid quoting the Book, the Bible, anywhere. Instead we get vague allusions to “creativity” and “hermeneutical understandings” and “situatedness of the gospel” and “ecclesiology in the context of difference.” The report makes no reference to Lambeth Resolution I.10 on Human Sexuality and suggests that it will produce a deeper understanding of the interplay of “inherited teaching” on marriage and singleness with “emergent views.” (The word “deep” seems a favorite of the authors, reminding me of this ditty from Gilbert & Sullivan’s Patience: “If this young man expresses himself in terms too deep for me, Why, what a very singularly deep young man this deep young man must be!”)….

It seems that the current controversy in the Anglican Communion and Lambeth 2020 comes down to branding rights. On the one hand, I would commend the 1998 Lambeth Resolution on Human Sexuality (300 words), the 2008 Jerusalem Statement and Declaration (2400 words) and the 2018 Gafcon “Letter to the Churches” (2500 words) as clear and concise statements of biblical teaching in the Anglican tradition. On the other hand, we have the ponderous Windsor Report (93 pages), the 2008 Lambeth Indaba (44 pages) and we are looking oh-so-so forward to the weighty multi-layered Oxbridge-endorsed LLF Project. Which of these “brands” will be fruitful for the future of the Gospel and mission of Christ to the nations?

The LLF likens its work to a tree. Well, it is a good metaphor. God’s Wisdom is “a tree of life to those who lay hold of her” (Proverbs 3:18), and as noted in Joyce Kilmer’s verse: “I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree.”

But somehow, given this present update, I doubt the final Living in Love and Faith Report will be lively, lovely, or faithful. I suspect it may function more like the billboard in Ogden Nash’s “Song of the Road”:

I think that I shall never see a billboard lovely as a tree.
Perhaps, unless the billboards fall, I’ll never see a tree at all.

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Analysis, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Language, Marriage & Family, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology

(1st Things) A look Back to 2014–Ephraim Radner–Anglicanism on Its Knees

The Anglican Communion has nearly eighty-five million members spread around the globe. Until the mid-twentieth century, these were concentrated among the Anglo-American immigrant churches associated with the British Empire. But by the 1960s, this concentration began a dramatic shift towards Africa and, more recently, Southeast Asia. Derived from the steady and sacrificial work of missionaries in the century before, and then the even more remarkable work of indigenous evangelization and church-building, Anglican membership exploded in places like Nigeria, East Africa, and Singapore (which is a leader in missionary work in Asia today). Such demographic change brings with it inevitable cultural confrontations within the Communion.

But theological differences are even more decisive. Of the four Christian commitments that David Bebbington famously identified with Evangelicalism—biblicism, crucicentrism, conversionism, and activism—all but the last seem to have disappeared from Western Anglicanism. But the first three are the heartbeat of the rest of the Communion.

Recent struggles over sexuality are but expressions of this deeper theological imbalance, where Scripture, divine sacrifice, and transformed discipleship are at stake. The moral significance of all this, however, is just coming into view, as the Anglican Communion has almost reached its existential crossroads. After thirteen years of turmoil, I’d give it another two for the verdict. One set of opposing choices member churches have before them—same-sex marriage or support for the punitive imprisonment of gays—demonstrates how the extremes have now brazenly unveiled themselves. The coming year will lay the groundwork for how these choices are made. Given the extreme directions in which things have moved, some Anglicans like me are uncertain what future for faithful witness remains. It is there, I am sure, but what will it be? Perhaps other ­Christians can help us here; certainly they can provide warnings.

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Analysis

(Crust Old Dean) Tom Ferguson’s take on the recently Concluded United Methodist Special Conference

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Analysis, Methodist, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

Stephen Noll on the Partial Lambeth Conference of 2020 and the Controversy about Same-Sex Spouses–“Pay Ateention To Power”: Anglican Hypocrisy, Part Two

Does this verbal feinting threaten the future of Lambeth 2020? Of course not. The Episcopal Church does not mean to boycott the Lambeth Conference any more than Justin Welby means to enforce Lambeth Resolution I.10. The belly button doesn’t move.

Here is my prediction. Canterbury will not revoke the ban on the same-sex spouses, even while expressing deep sympathy for their plight. The bishops of the Episcopal Church and their celebrity Presiding Bishop will all show up in force. The disaffected spouses will come to Canterbury and will become the focus of much media buzz. And here I’m not sure – but I do not see how anyone can prevent the spouses from occupying the dormitories at the University of Kent, which is a weird labyrinth of rooms to begin with, like something out of The Name of the Rose.

“Pay attention to power,” they say. “Follow the belly button,” my coach said. What this has to do with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I don’t know. Well actually, I do. Jesus said:

“You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:42-45)

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Analysis, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

(CEN) Andrew Carey–A diminished Lambeth Conference

It is absolutely no surprise that the Anglican provinces of Nigeria and Uganda [and Rwanda] have already stated that they do not intend to go to the Lambeth Conference in 2020.

This is entirely consistent with the view of many global south Anglican leaders that the fabric of communion has already been broken by the actions of North American Anglicans – initially by consecrating Gene Robinson as a practising homosexual bishop in 2003. The process of discipline that was begun through the Primates’ Meeting and the Windsor Report was rapidly abandoned and the can was kicked down the road. But it was plain to anyone that communion between Anglicans was so badly damaged that never again could Anglicans pretend to have an interchangeable ministry and common worship.

For 10 years after the consecration of Gene Robinson there were various attempts to put the show back on the road but even Rowan Williams’ valiant attempt to create an Anglican Covenant, which might help to set some limits to the diversity of Anglicanism, was rejected by the General Synod of the Church of England. I still cannot quite believe that Synod members humiliated their Archbishop in such a brutal way.

When Justin Welby picked up the pieces, he travelled tirelessly around the world meeting with Anglican leaders. It is clear he picked up the message that the Communion was ‘broken’ in a very fundamental way. But he concluded that, because Anglican leaders were willing to meet with him, they might be willing to start meeting together once again. It was a risk worth taking but it hasn’t paid off. The boycott by…[three] of the biggest Anglican provinces will stand. Like the 2008 Conference in which almost a third of bishops refused to participate, the 2020 conference will be a diminished gathering.

 

Can the Anglican Communion be saved?

 

In a fascinating essay the evangelical theologian Andrew Goddard agrees that the signs are not good for the Lambeth 2020.

The great risk facing Justin Welby, he argues, is that a failure to gather all the bishops of the Anglican Communion will mark the end of the Lambeth Conference as an ‘effective Instrument of Communion’. He cites four factors, which could equally be applied to the other instruments of communion – the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates’ Meeting – which are:

  1. The failure to discipline
  2. The Archbishop’s changed approach on invitations to the Lambeth Conference
  3. An unwillingness to explore the logic of impaired communion
  4. And the conscientious objection of a large number of bishops.

I admire Goddard’s optimistic outlook that the Anglican Communion can still be saved. He sees the Communion as breaking down, whereas my slightly more brutal approach is to say the faultlines are too great and can never be bridged. The damage limitation exercise that Archbishops must engage in is to keep all the parties talking but it is long past time to abandon the so-called instruments of unity/communion and the pretence that Anglicans are in the same ‘Church’ in any meaningful sense.

But where I mostly disagree with him is on the obscure but important point that Justin Welby is wrongly acting out of step with his predecessor by issuing invitations to the Lambeth Conference on a different basis. Readers will remember that Rowan Williams refused to invite Gene Robinson to the Lambeth Conference in 2008, but even this little gesture backfired because those who refused to attend weren’t opposed in any petty sense to one single bishop, but to a heterodox theology that led to his consecration.

But Rowan Williams was wrong to think that he had the power of invitation to individual bishops. In fact his invitations should have been directed to all bishops in good standing with their own provinces. It is an over-mighty Archbishop who thinks he can personally decide for himself who he is in communion with, and therefore who is in the Anglican Communion. Archbishops of Canterbury have never been this powerful.

One of the problems that resulted from the Gene Robinson crisis in 2003 was that Anglicans pretended they had powers that they didn’t. The Archbishop of Canterbury’s clear choice in 2008 was not the petty power to single out one particular bishop but the greater and properly exercised power not to invite the Episcopal Church of the USA because through its actions it had torn the fabric of communion.

That was the only way to save the Anglican Communion. Of course, he didn’t and the rest is history.

–This appeared in the Church of England Newspaper, 15 February 2019 edition, on page 11; subscriptions to CEN are encouraged

Posted in - Anglican: Analysis, --Justin Welby, --Rowan Williams, Anglican Church of Canada, Archbishop of Canterbury, Episcopal Church (TEC), Global South Churches & Primates

Stephen Noll–Lambeth Hypocrisy: Disinviting the Spouses

I was present at Lambeth 1998 and have explained it on more than one occasion. The Resolution is a clear statement of Christian moral doctrine. In brief it states:

  1. that God has ordained and blesses sexual relations in two and only two forms: heterosexual, monogamous, and lifelong marriage and abstinent singleness;
  2. that many people experience same-sex attraction and the church is called to listen to them, counsel them, and welcome them into its fellowship so that they may by God’s grace live transformed lives, either by remaining abstinent or finding fulfillment in traditional marriage;
  3. that homosexual practice is incompatible with Scripture, and therefore the church cannot legitimize the ordination of practicing homosexuals or the blessing of same-sex unions.

What is fatally absent in Bishop Fearon’s recital of the Lambeth Resolution is #3. God not only ordains and blesses what is good, He declares what is sinful, which He calls immorality (porneia). Homosexual practice is by its very character sinful, as is heterosexual promiscuity and cohabitation.

So the problem is not just the scandal of the non-episcopal spouses but of the episcopal spouses themselves. Indeed, as bishops their sin is the greater (1 Timothy 3:1-2). The accountability goes even deeper. These bishops were nominated by canon, elected by their synods, and consecrated by their fellow bishops. Since judgment begins with the household of God (1 Peter 4:17), it is those churches and bishops who should be disinvited.

The shamelessness of invoking Lambeth I.10 is that they do not really believe it. They have already abandoned the prohibition on ordaining openly homosexual priests and bishops. They claim they are upholding the prohibition on same-sex marriage but only half-heartedly and until Lambeth 2020 is past. How likely is it that Justin Welby phoned the couples involved and explained: “I’m sorry, but you are in violation of Scripture and Resolution I.10, which as you know speaks of marriage as only between a man and a woman, and it will cause a scandal if you appear in Canterbury together”? And if he did say that privately, why will he not say it publicly?

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Analysis

Stephen Noll–“6 Resolutions for Lambeth”: A Quick Response to Ephraim Radner

Can any good come out of this creative proposal? Frankly, it feels like a “lifeboats on the Titanic” idea, and I simply cannot imagine it will go anywhere with the Lambeth Establishment. It might, however, force the Establishment to show its hand (as if it hasn’t already). Since Dr. Radner is a close colleague of Bishop George Sumner of Dallas, who is a member of the Lambeth Design Team, I would urge George Sumner to bring these Resolutions to Archbishop Welby immediately and ask for a clear public response. If it is true that the Archbishop of Canterbury has a unique “inviting authority,” he alone can give legs to these resolutions. But they must be set in place prior to the Conference, or they will lack any shred of credibility.

When he was enthroned in 2013, Justin Welby preached on St. Peter stepping out of the boat at Jesus’ command, and he spoke of his vision for the Communion thus: “We are called to step out of the comfort of our own traditions and places, and go into the waves, reaching for the hand of Christ.” There is little reason to think Archbishop Welby had or has the same vision as Dr. Radner, but who knows, perhaps like his great predecessor Thomas Cranmer he might step up to the fire and say:

This shall be my first exhortation: That you set not overmuch by this false glosing world, but upon God and the world to come. And learn to know what this lesson meaneth, which St John teacheth that the love of this world is hatred against God.

As for North America, is it significant that this proposal is coming from one of the leading spokesmen of the “Communion Partners”? For more than a decade there has been a rift between the so-called “Communion Conservatives,” who stayed in TEC and ACoC, and the “Federal Conservatives,” who left or were expelled (for the terminology, see here). If there is any good to come out of this proposal, perhaps it may be to open the door to more honest discussion among those who hold to the faith once for all committed to the saints. For them indeed, “there is a Holy Spirit,” and we would invoke his guidance as we move forward.

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Analysis

(TLC Covenant) Ephraim Radner–Cleaning Up The Playing Field: Six Resolutions For Lambeth

1. This Conference reaffirms the 1998 Resolution I.10.

There is no need at this conference to revisit the rationales and counter-arguments about this resolution. It has been reaffirmed several times in other Communion contexts, and in the past 20 years there have been no significant new pieces of information — scriptural, dogmatic, sociological, or medical — that have altered the shape of the theological and pastoral realities surrounding this debate. And the debate has raged unabated, so that it requires no renewed engagement. Let the conference decide.

2. Those bishops and churches who contradict or contravene this affirmation (I.10), or who punish others on the basis of this affirmation, stand outside the boundaries of Anglican teaching and witness as this Conference understands it.

This resolution is aimed solely at definition, for the sake of Anglicans and for the sake of others — Christians and non-Christians — who seek clarity about what the conference means with regard to its identity by making its affirmation regarding I.10. No penalties are proposed; no systems of adjudication are offered.

3. We request that other Communion Instruments of Unity pursue their work on the basis of this teaching and witness.

This resolution marks a simple request for Communion coherence on the matters taken up in I.10. The conference cannot impose its corporate views on other functioning councils or leaders of the Communion (though many will have participated in the conference). But by making it clear that the “understanding of this conference” is one ordered to the unity of Anglican teaching and witness, it lays out some of the parameters according to which any future rethinking of the Communion’s deliberative structures can be measured.

4. We recognize the missionary and pastoral integrity of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) and its related member churches; and we urge serious deliberation, locally and at the international level, over how these churches can be integrated fully into the life of the Communion.

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Analysis, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church History, Ecclesiology, GAFCON, Instruments of Unity, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

(CA) Stephen Noll–When Is “good Disagreement” Not Good? When It Contradicts God’s Word

Finally, the Rev. Dr. Brett Cane, a Canadian Anglican serving in Egypt, has written an article on “Biblical Perspectives on Staying in Fellowship.” Having noted Paul’s exhortation to seek the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace and Jesus’ parable of the wheat and tares and His prayer for unity (Ephesians 4:1-4; Matthew 13:24-30,36-43; John 17:20-23), Dr. Cane concludes:

It is often uncomfortable to be in fellowship with those with whom we disagree… From my perspective, liberals are good at asking questions – conservatives are not. In that sense, Jesus was a true liberal in relationship to the religious establishment of his time. However, Jesus was deeply rooted in the Scriptures and was able to give answers. In my opinion, that is why the liberal needs the conservative – to give answers from a Biblical perspective. We need one another; we need to stay in fellowship.

Is it really true that conservatives are not liberal? In the pre-Gafcon book The Way, the Truth and the Life, we wrote:

Besides its emphasis on the Gospel, Evangelical Anglicanism has another side: a spirit of liberality… Liberality of spirit characterizes the Anglican via media approach to doctrinal, liturgical and pastoral matters, which seeks to be firm in matters of salvation and modest with regard to secondary or ‘indifferent’ matters (adiaphora). Going back to John Jewell and Richard Hooker, this “sweet reasonableness” (Titus 3:2) has been a hallmark of Anglican writers, with George Herbert, C.S. Lewis, and John Stott being prime examples. (page 36)

By contrast, my experience of contemporary liberals is that they are supremely illiberal. Take the example of the Episcopal Church USA and Anglican Church of Canada. Having been warned by the Lambeth Conference in 1998 not to proceed with homosexual ordinations and same-sex unions, they bulldozed their way ahead, reducing the Communion to rubble. And now various other “liberal” churches are following suit, with the Church of England not far behind. Does anyone really imagine that as a result of weeks-long indaba at Lambeth 2020, the “liberals” will listen to the conservative answers from Scripture? Is there any way “liberals” will come to one mind with Richard Hooker when he says: “what Scripture doth plainly deliver, to that the first place both of credit [faith] and obedience is due”? The Bishop of Bangor is a case in point.

In a recent collection of essays titled Good Disagreement: Grace and Truth in a Divided Church, two Anglican New Testament scholars examine the way in which Jesus and the apostolic church dealt with controversy and division. Dr. Michael Thompson explains that Jesus’ own teaching and ministry caused a “tear” in the garment of Judaism and a “sword” splitting families apart: “there is no indication that Jesus sought deliberately to divide his hearers; it was the inevitable result of a message which some joyfully accepted but others rejected or simply did not understand” (page 44). One might say that “grace” and “truth” are not really opposites: the Good News of God’s grace and truth in Jesus causes some to turn to the light and others to hold fast to the darkness (John 3:17-21).

Dr. Thompson points to texts in which Jesus warns against judging one another (Matthew 7:1) and others where He insists on church discipline (Matthew 18:15-18). He goes on to consider texts in which, on the one hand, the apostles warn against factions in the church (e.g., 1 Corinthians 1-3), while on the other hand they condemn false teachers (2 Peter 2).

Thompson notes in conclusion that the apostles excluded individuals and not entire congregations. I do not think this is quite right. The early church was not an institution in the modern sense but a fellowship recognized by the apostles and their successors. Hence St. John can declare concerning a heretical faction: “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us” (1 John 2:19).

The Gafcon and Global South movements have warned repeatedly concerning a false Gospel in the Episcopal Church and others. Unfortunately, since the formal “Instruments of Communion” have failed to deal with this “leaven of the Pharisees,” it has infected the entire communion. Hence Gafcon has stated: “We are not leaving the Anglican Communion; we are the majority of the Anglican Communion seeking to remain faithful to our Anglican heritage.”

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Analysis, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(JE) Anglican Theologian warns that Churches in the west are embracing a pagan anthropology

Deploying the phrase “the pew never rises higher than the pulpit,” Harmon noted that a good sermon is organized, biblical, and applies the bible to daily life. In contrast, he lamented the state of American preaching ministry as “woefully inadequate.”

“It has to have its primary content from the Bible, it has to be clearly structured so that as a listener you can follow it,” Harmon quoted Simeon as saying. “You take them to the average American pulpit and the guy gets up there and he’s mumbling this strange amorphous set of pithy sayings and interesting jokes as if it’s some kind of entertainment seminar. The person’s already hit the off button.”

“I concede that [the state of the American church] is depressing, but it’s only depressing if you don’t believe it’s the truth. If it is the truth, for our God every obstacle is always an opportunity.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * By Kendall, - Anglican: Analysis, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Concerns about the planned partial Lambeth Conference in 2020 (II): Stephen Noll

While I am sympathetic with Dr. Goddard’s concern, I think he misses the point. The “prolonged failure” is in fact a system failure, and God has gone ahead in reforming His church through the Gafcon and Global South movements, which have picked up the historic mantle which the Lambeth establishment laid down after 1998.

A Challenge to Orthodox Anglican Bishops

My brothers, are you planning to attend the Lambeth Conference next year? If so, what kind of council do you perceive it to be? If the Conference is claiming to be an “Instrument of the Anglican Communion,” what do you understand the word “communion” to mean? Do you agree with its claim that the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Communion Office have the exclusive “branding rights” to declare who is Anglican and who is not, as was announced by the Primates in October 2017? Do you agree that Bishop Gene Robinson and Bishop Kevin Robertson and those who facilitated them are authentic Anglicans, whereas Archbishop Foley Beach and Archbishop Miguel Uchoa are heading up some other Christian denomination?

Let me ask you a personal question – because true fellowship is personal and a church council, while it has a formal role, is a body of brothers (and sisters) united in “making the good confession” of our Lord Jesus Christ. For those of you who are members of the Gafcon and Global South movements, how can you sit in council in Jerusalem or Cairo and enjoy sweet fellowship with brothers who have been expelled from their churches, sued out of their properties, defrocked from their ministries, and then turn around and sit at table in Canterbury with bishops of the Episcopal Church, Anglican Church of Canada, and others who have disowned these brothers?

St. John sums up the Gospel fellowship in this way:

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship (koinonia) with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.” (1 John 1:5-6).

My brothers, will you walk together in the light of God with your fellow believers and take sweet counsel in the Spirit of Truth? Or will you let them down and say one thing and do another, “double-minded men, unstable in all your ways” (James 1:8)? The future of the Anglican tradition and mission hangs in the balance.

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Analysis, --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Instruments of Unity, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

Concerns about the planned partial Lambeth Conference in 2020 (I): Andrew Goddard

At the moment in relation to Lambeth 2020 we have important preparatory work being done but we also appear to have the reversal of previous policy, the rejection of previous theological rationales in relation to invitations, no justification of these changes, and no public response to the requests from GAFCON or engagement with their theological rationale.

These are all worrying signs that preparations for the Conference are refusing to consider any creative proposals for its restructuring in response to the realities of impaired communion, even though the consequences of these realities have already been recognised by the Instruments. It is as if, in planning the Conference, we are in denial of the truth articulated by Rowan Williams back in 2006: “There is no way in which the Anglican Communion can remain unchanged by what is happening at the moment”.

It seems as if there is a determination simply to call the bluff of those who have warned they may not attend and even to aggravate them further by altering the invitation policy from 2008. Why not rather engage them in dialogue and offer them grounds on which they may conclude it is right and profitable to attend, despite their current concerns? The other side of this stance is an apparent willingness to accept that many bishops (particularly from provinces marked by significant Anglican growth) will indeed stay away but to say that this doesn’t really matter and is a price worth paying in order to uphold the current but novel and unexplained invitation policy. It is almost as if, rather than address these issues, the view is that the Conference will happen as currently planned however many cannot in conscience attend it. Even if, as I’ve heard it put, the Conference ends up being small enough to meet in a telephone box.

There is of course no chance the Conference will be that small because whatever happens there will undoubtedly be a significant turnout on current plans. It would, however, be a serious error to (a) ignore the significant shift in the nature of the Conference which has been created by the moving of the goalposts embodied in the current invitation policy or (b) minimise how widespread and deep the concerns (and possible absences) are likely to be with that new policy. These concerns are not limited to the more hard-line GAFCON provinces or even just to GAFCON as a whole. The 6thGlobal South Conference in October 2016 was clear about the Communion’s problems in its communiqué:

  1. The prolonged failure to resolve disputes over faith and order in our Communion exposes the Communion’s ecclesial deficit, which was highlighted in the Windsor Continuation Group Report (2008).
  2. This deficit is evident in the inability of existing Communion instruments to discern truth and error and take binding ecclesiastical action. The instruments have been found wanting in their ability to discipline those leaders who have abandoned the biblical and historic faith. To make matters worse, the instruments have failed to check the marginalisation of Anglicans in heterodox Provinces who are faithful, and in some cases have even sanctioned or deposed them. The instruments have also sent conflicting signals on issues of discipline which confuse the whole Body and weaken our confidence in them.

“… for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.” (Jeremiah 2:13)

  1. The instruments are therefore unable to sustain the common life and unity of the Anglican Churches worldwide, especially in an increasingly connected and globalising world, where different ideas and lifestyles are quickly disseminated through social media. This undermines the mission of the Church in today’s world.

[….]

  1. The present and potentially escalating crisis poses challenges to the Global South in the shepherding of her people. We recognise the need for our enhanced ecclesial responsibility. We need to strengthen our doctrinal teaching, our ecclesiastical ordering of our collective life as a global fellowship and the flourishing of our gifts in the one another-ness of our mission.
  2. The Global South Primates will therefore form a task force to recommend how these needs can be effectively addressed.

If the challenges identified in this article are ignored and if no attempt is made to find a consensus among the Communion’s bishops about the nature of the Conference and the status of participants, the real danger is that these Global South conclusions will simply be applied to Lambeth 2020, perhaps at their next Global South Conference later this year. It may even be that some bishops in the Global North draw the same conclusions and seriously consider the implications of this for their attendance.

If this happens, it will represent a tragic failure of leadership as the Conference will demonstrate how far apart from each other we are now walking.

Read it all. (For the key news about Kevin Robertson see there [posted after the annual Christmas break from Anglican news]).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Analysis, --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Global South Churches & Primates, Instruments of Unity, Pastoral Theology, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Windsor Report / Process

Kendall Harmon’s Sunday Sermon–Back to Basics at the Synagogue at Nazareth (Luke 4:14-21)

You can listen directly there and download the mp3 there.

Posted in * By Kendall, * South Carolina, - Anglican: Analysis, Christology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Sermons & Teachings, Theology: Scripture

Stephen Noll replies to Fulcrum’s response to Gafcon 2018

  1. Why discourage Bishops from attending the Lambeth Conference 2020, and others from meetings of the Instruments of Communion?….

Reply: Oh, please. Gene Robinson was not invited in 2008 only because he was a public relations disaster waiting to happen. Will Justin Welby invite all the practicing homosexual bishops in TEC, Canada, and elsewhere to Lambeth 2020? Will he invite all those who have laid hands on said bishops to consecrate them? As to the slaps on the wrist of TEC and SEC, how can “consequences” for violating the Word of God expire, conveniently in 2020?

We in Gafcon have our own proverb based on twenty years of experience: “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.”

The “discouragement” of Gafcon bishops is principled and relational. I have put it this way, based on Psalm 55:12-14:

how can you sit in council in Jerusalem and enjoy sweet fellowship with brothers who have been expelled from their churches, sued out of their properties, defrocked from their ministries, and denied even the name of “Anglican” (as was stated in the latest Lambeth Primates’ Communiqué) and then turn around and sit at table in Canterbury with bishops of the Episcopal Church (and others) who have expelled these brothers?

Yes, some of the bishops at Gafcon will go to Lambeth, even though the “Letter to the Churches” urges them not to. And many more will not attend as in 2008. Is the Archbishop concerned about this division? Then let him deal seriously with the questions of biblical truth posed to him in the Letter. Perhaps he can surprise everyone by not ignoring these matters as he and his predecessors have done for twenty years. But I am not holding my breath on this one.

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Analysis, GAFCON

Martyn Davie–Gafcon, The Archbishop And Lambeth 2020

The first point to note is that the Archbishop is not being asked to do the impossible. Ever since Archbishop Charles Longley invited Anglican bishops to the first Lambeth Conference in 1867 it has been accepted that it is for the Archbishop of Canterbury to decide which bishops should be invited. He can invite who he likes and not invite who he likes and he is not obliged to have the agreement of any other person or body about the matter. The buck stops with the Archbishop.

This means that Archbishop Welby can fulfil the requests made in both the bullet points in the GAFCON letter. However, this still leaves the question of whether he should do so. To answer this question it is necessary to recall what has taken place in the Anglican Communion in the twenty years since the Lambeth Conference of 1998.

Two key things have happened.

First, in spite of being repeatedly urged not to do so, a number of provinces of the Anglican Communion (The Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church in Canada, the Episcopal Church in Brazil, the Scottish Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church in Aorateara, New Zealand and Polynesia) have acted in ways that go against Scripture and Resolution 1.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference by accepting, in terms of both doctrine and practice, the blessing of same-sex sexual relationships, same-sex marriages and the ordination of those in same-sex sexual relationships.

Secondly, in response to these developments, Anglicans in the United States, Canada and Brazil who have remained loyal to Scripture and Lambeth 1.10 have established the two alternative orthodox provinces mentioned in the first bullet point– the Anglican Church in North America and the Anglican Church in Brazil.

By acting in the way that they have, those Anglican provinces which have accepted same-sex sexual relationships have rejected the obligations that go with being a member of the Anglican Communion.

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Analysis, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, GAFCON, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

(CA) Stephen Noll–Bullying the Primates Across the Rubicon

In his report on the Africa meeting, Bishop Fearon notes the elephant in the Anglican living room, Lambeth Resolution I.10:

The Primates were honest and open and committed to holding on to Resolution I.10 (from Lambeth 1998) – but were willing to listen to other members of the Communion who find that Resolution restrictive. So there was a sense of brotherhood and belonging.

One can see here Lambeth teeing up the goal of the 2020 Lambeth Conference: to defang Lambeth I.10. If I may paraphrase:

Come to Lambeth. We shall not try to overturn your primitive attachment to the former Lambeth teaching on marriage. But you will meet some brilliant scholars and bishops who find that teaching “restrictive,” and you will hear touching stories of loving homosexual partnerships that have been blessed by the church. We can all go home then with a sense of brotherhood and belonging.

It seems that his appeal to choose Lambeth over Gafcon fell flat (one registered African Primate, to my knowledge, chose not to attend). So in what can only be seen as a desperation move (what we American footballers call a “Hail Mary pass”), the Secretary General sent out a confidential letter to the Primates four days before Gafcon began.

This letter perfectly represents what I have been calling the “Lambeth Establishment.” Bishop Fearon, a well-chosen mandarin of this Establishment, begins by flattering the Primates as “one of the four instruments that make up the smooth running of our Communion of churches.”

It is hard, frankly, to read this description of the “smooth running” bureaucracy with a straight face. It reminds me in an ironic sense of Ezekiel’s vision of the Divine Chariot, perfectly engineered with wheels within wheels and directed by the divine Spirit (Ezekiel chapter 1). Nothing could be further from the reality of current Instruments, in which the Canterbury and the Anglican Communion Office have neutered the Primates’ Meeting, manipulated the Anglican Consultative Council, and turned the Lambeth Conference into an indabafest (see Essays 4 and 8 of my book for detail).

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Analysis, --Justin Welby, Anglican Primates, Archbishop of Canterbury, GAFCON

(David Ould) Which is the Real Josiah Fearon?

But Archbishop Fearon wasn’t always so positive about attendance at Lambeth. In 2006 davidould.net interviewed Archbishop Fearon during a visit to Sydney. The full transcript of that interview is still available on this website. Of particular interest are the following exchanges (DO = David Ould, BJ = (then) Bishop Josiah):

BJ When Christian leaders say something like, “Resurrection Jesus, he didnt rise, its an idea”, Muslims find that very difficult and we say “there is no Resurrection, there is no Christianity”. Muslims now say, “hey! Where did you get your Christianity from? Look at those who actually brought the faith to you!” So when Christian leaders begin to deny the essentials of the Faith, they say, “Jesus wasnt really God or He didnt die on the Cross” these are the kind of things that we find in the Quran! So Christian leaders make statements to affirm what is in the Quran, they make evangelism very difficult for us. Number two: you see in the area of morality. This is where I am a little bit uncomfortable with the West (we have problems in Africa we will talk about this eventually), something like same-sex; the Quran condemns it. There are about 14 passages in the Quran that talk about homosexuality or lesbianism; simply, God does not like it. It comes under what they call haran: something God hates and the punishment is with God the Quran doesn’t tell us what the punishment is. Anything under haran a Muslim is expected not to do it. Now you have Christians who say “I am homosexual and I want to live this way and I want to promote it” – this is where we have problems.

MC For example, Gene Robinson.

BJ Yes. You see that for us is a big, big problem. Why is it a problem? The Bible, the way that we understand it, is very clear: adultery, fornication, lying they are all together termed as sinful. Now when you begin to flag something the Bible says is sinful it works against it. So now we have no gospel! What do you want to preach?!

DO If things stay as they are and Lambeth 98 comes along and lets say Robinson and Jefferts-Schori are invited do you feel able to take seats at that conference?

BJ No. No we dont. We’ve made our position very clear.

DO So what will happen?

BJ We don’t know, but as far as the Anglican Church in Nigeria is concerned the decision is that we are not going. It’s just not right! Unless there is an agreement… Windsor is the bottom line but these guys are not accepting Windsor so we feel there is nothing to discuss, there is nothing to discuss.

Fearon’s position (read it all in context) was quite clear. Those rejecting the Biblical traditional position on human sexuality have no gospel and nothing left to preach and therefore attendance at Lambeth for those upholding Biblical truth is just not right and there is nothing to discuss.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Analysis, GAFCON

(AM) Andrew Symes–Church of England: A House Divided

Are there limits to the diversity found in the Church of England? A look at recent communications from two leaders shows the seemingly unbridgeable gulf in how different groups understand the essence of the Christian faith and the mission of the church.

Model 1: God converts a conservative church by speaking through his activity in the world.

Firstly Martyn Percy, Dean of Christ Church Oxford, in an essay for Modern Church outlines familiar criticisms of the ‘evangelical’ leadership of the C of E, and proposes a very different model for the Church’s engagement with the world. He begins by reflecting on two best-selling publications.  The first of these books, Faith in the City (1985), focuses on the world, and how the Kingdom of God can be found and nurtured there, in helping the poor and challenging injustice, not on building up the church. This, in Percy’s view, reflects better the priorities of Jesus.

The second book, Mission-Shaped Church (2004), reveals the increasing influence of evangelicals; the focus is on developing homogenous groups of believers rather than socio-political involvement in the world. Percy sees this as a ‘shift to the right’, with its roots in the 1990’s Decade of Evangelism, which was “not successful”, claims the Dean. church attendance numbers have continued to decline, and while evangelicals have become more prominent in the C of E’s leadership, the British public have been alienated by a ministry that just “shouts louder” and yet is not heard. What is needed, according to Percy, is an “authentic and humble” Church, which listens to and observes what God is doing in the world, and joins in, rather than evangelistic initiatives which “achieve very little”….

Model 2: God speaks through the bible to individuals, church and world

When this recent articulation of a revisionist approach is set alongside an orthodox one, it can be seen more clearly why the theological crisis and confusion in the Western church is not just about sexuality.

Rod Thomas, Bishop of Maidstone, recently gave a talk to Church Society entitled “Flourishing in the Church of England today”. Thomas begins by saying he will partly answer the question of whether conservative evangelicals such as himself can continue to occupy a space and grow and develop within the C of E. But then he questions whether to accept simply being part of a minority protected group within a theologically plural and heterodox church is a valid goal, and insists on a ministry of ‘contending for the faith’, to fight from within the C of E for its continued identity as an apostolically faithful church.

Unlike Martyn Percy, who makes no effort to engage with Scripture in his 4000 word essay, Thomas takes his listeners straight to Psalm 1 and Ephesians 4. The compilers of the Psalter, he notes, don’t choose a hymn of praise to God as an introduction to the collection, but start with human beings and the choice facing each individual, to follow the world, or God’s law. The consequences of this choice are stark: “flourishing”, pictured as a fruitful tree, or dryness, lifelessness and dispersal. A New Testament image of flourishing is the healthy body, which Paul in Ephesians 4:11-16 uses as a metaphor for God’s people, built up by God’s word as brought to them by gifted servants, and active in good works. In both cases, there are warnings about hindrances to flourishing in obedience to God’s word – those not following God’s way, and those bringing in the confusion of false teaching. This is why the task of the church must be both to teach the truth and refute error….

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Analysis, Church of England (CoE), Theology

Martin Davie from 2016–‘The Communion cannot decide to agree to disagree about sexuality and focus on discipleship instead’

From here:

One final point to note in relation to Intentional Discipleship and Disciple Making is that a concern for a fresh emphasis on Christian discipleship cannot be separated from the current debate within the Anglican Communion about human sexuality. The Communion cannot decide to agree to disagree about sexuality and focus on discipleship instead. This is because in the Bible, and in the orthodox Christian tradition building on the Bible, right sexual practice, consisting of sexual abstinence outside heterosexual marriage and sexual faithfulness within it, has always been seen as an integral part of what it means to be a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ. This being the case the acceptance and advocacy of alternative patterns of sexual conduct in parts of the Anglican Communion has to be seen as inimical to Christian discipleship and rejected as such. To be serious about discipleship means being serious about sexual holiness and rejecting all forms of behaviour incompatible with it.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Analysis, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology: Scripture

Stephen Noll–The Episcopal Church And Trial [use] Marriage

In the ponderous Blue Book of materials for the Episcopal General Convention in July, the Task Force on the Study of Marriage proposes a Resolution (A085) to revise, for trial use of course, the Prayer Book itself by:

  • defining marriage as a “covenant between a man and a woman two people’
  • amending the Proper Prefaces on Marriage to read: “Because in the love of wife and husband two people in faithful love…
  • amending the Catechism to say: “Holy Matrimony is Christian marriage, in which two people the woman and man enter into a life-long union” and adding an additional section defining the procreative purpose in terms of “the gift and heritage of children…”

They make clear, in addition, that passing these “trial use” changes may count as a “first reading” for a permanent revision of the Prayer Book by 2021.

Not content with rewriting the marriage rite, the Task Force proposes a Resolution (Ao86) to authorize a rite of “Blessing of a Lifelong Relationship,” warning gravely that these rites “shall not be used for mere convenience.” So now a couple can forgo marriage altogether and be blessed. Presumably this new service is catering for the ever-popular cohabiting community.

So under the rubric of “trial use” the Episcopal Church is proposing a wholesale redefinition of Christian marriage.

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Analysis, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Theology

Stephen Noll–Who Moved? Gafcon and Prophetic Traditionalism

In a sense, the first half of the Jerusalem Declaration looks backward to the ancient paths, while the second half addresses issues of the present and future. However, even here the Declaration is drawing from tradition.

Clause 8 refers back to the 1920 Lambeth Resolutions 66-67 defining 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,” which itself is derived from the teaching of Jesus (Matthew 19:1-6) and the Creation account in Genesis 1-2.

Clause 9 takes us to the Great Commission of the Risen Lord to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20), which is itself rooted in God’s call to Israel to be a “light to the nations” (Isaiah 42:6). It is this missionary call which led Anglicans sacrificially to bring the Gospel to the far reaches of the British Empire.

Clauses 11-13 seek to express the delicate balance of ecumenical hope, legitimate variation on non-essential matters, and the need to reject false teaching. Some on the theological Left – these are the folk who defrocked and sued confessing Anglicans in North America – claim that Anglicanism has always been infinitely flexible in tolerating “diversity.” Not if we go back to the founders, who said this: whosoever shall be sent to teach the people, shall not only in their preaching, but also by subscription confirm the authority, and truth of those articles.He that doth otherwise, or troubleth the people with contrary doctrine, shall be excommunicated.”

The final clause of the Jerusalem Declaration sets the entire Statement in the perspective of the Second Coming of Christ. In the prophetic vision of John the Divine (the Book of Revelation), Jesus Christ, the Lamb that was slain, is revealed as the Alpha and Omega who unites the past, present, and future of the creation and history, and who will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead.

What then should we do? The Prophets of the Old and New Testaments are unanimous in replying: Repent! To the Anglican Church in particular, the Spirit says: Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent”(Revelation 2:5).

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Analysis, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, GAFCON

Stephen Noll-what does Archbishop Welby Mean Exactly by Calling Gafcon a Ginger Group?

Now for the not-so-subtle nuance. The Archbishop was not intending to flatter the upcoming Conference but to belittle it. How do I know that? Because his characterization of Gafcon as a “ginger group” cannot be further from the actual character of the movement, and he knows that.

Gafcon is not a global “friendly society,” nor is it seeking to pressure Canterbury, because Canterbury has made clear over twenty years that it pays us no regard. This was apparent ten years ago when Archbishop Rowan Williams bypassed the Global South Primates and invited to the Lambeth Conference the bishops of the Episcopal Church who had consecrated Gene Robinson. (Rest assured: they will be invited back in 2020.) As a result, the Global Anglican Future Conference was convened in Jerusalem in 2008.

Gafcon was not called as “ginger group” but as a reordering of the Anglican Communion. In its Jerusalem Statement, the Conference claimed:

  • that it was founding something enduring, “not just a moment in time, but a movement in the Spirit”;
  • that three facts justified this reordering: (a) the acceptance and promotion of a false gospel (heresy) in churches of the Communion; (b) the resulting breach of communion among Anglican churches; and (c) the manifest failure of the official “Instruments” to discipline the heretics;
  • that the Gafcon movement is not leaving the Anglican Communion but reforming it on the basis of its classic faith and articles, amplified in a new “Jerusalem Declaration”; and
  • that it was establishing a Primates’ Council that would, when necessary, authenticate new faithful Anglican jurisdictions.

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Analysis, --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, GAFCON, Pastoral Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Stephen Noll–“Taking Sweet Counsel Together” and the Anglican Communion

I addressed the question of church discipline in my seminar at Gafcon 2008, titled “Communing in Christ” (Chapter 3 in my book), and in particular I referenced “Communion discipline” (pages 121-123). I defended the charge that Gafcon was schismatic in these terms:

We are here this week because, after ten years of patient but futile calls for repentance from the Episcopal Church on the part of the majority of the world’s Anglicans, the Communion, under the direction of the Archbishop of Canterbury, has flinched. Hence while it may seem that we are the ones who have excluded ourselves, the truth is, as Richard Hooker put it, that this is our reasonable service to God.

Twenty years have now passed and the situation in North America has become more extreme. For anyone who doubts the current doctrine and discipline of the Episcopal Church USA, please read carefully its CANON III.1: Of the Ministry of All Baptized Persons”:

Sec. 2. No person shall be denied access to the discernment process for any ministry, lay or ordained, in this Church because of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, sex, marital statussexual orientationgender identity and expression*, disabilities or age, except as otherwise provided by these Canons.

*Please note: “sexual orientation and gender identity” (SOGI) is a specific legal category that will be used to undermine the religious rights of Christians.

Can anyone deny my exegesis of this passage?

In this canon, “marital status” means that divorced persons have an absolute right to ordination; further, “sexual orientation” clearly includes homosexual practice; and “gender identity and expression” explicitly includes transgendered persons. Acceptance of these practices is not only permitted, but it is required. Any priest or bishop who denies one of these individuals access to ordination on one of these grounds, may be brought up for trial and deposed. (Global Anglican Communion, pages 257-258)

It is clear, as was the case ten years ago, that the Archbishop of Canterbury is determined to maintain koinonia with those who teach that these practices are good and godly. He asks, Pilate-like, “What is truth?” These false teachers will be welcomed fully to the Lambeth Conference in 2020, whose theme is “Walking, Listening and Witnessing Together.”

What does the Scripture say about having fellowship with false teachers? The answer seems clear: have nothing to do with them.

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Analysis, Anthropology, Ecclesiology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

An Anglican Theological resource: Why the Battle? Different God and Gospel?

In March 2018, the Rev. Dr. Kendall Harmon, Canon Theologian for the Diocese, and the Rev. Al Zadig, Jr., Rector of St. Michael’s, Charleston, teamed up for six teachings exploring the theological divide that exists between the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of North America. The course showed why the problem many mainline churches have today stems from a failure of discipleship. The course is not about politics and sexuality; it is about core beliefs, theology, and discipleship.

The sessions included: Over-Under; Christology; Sin and Salvation; Anthropology; Marriage; The Church.

The online resources include: a video and transcript of each presentation, an outline, and a transcript of the Q&A sessions. There is also a closing video and transcription of the sermon given by The Rev. Dr. Peter Moore, Director of the Anglican Leadership Institute on Sunday, March 18, 2018, entitled “Jesus and His Opponents: Are We at Liberty to Change Jesus?”

Check it all out there.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Analysis, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Anthropology, Christology, Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Theology, Theology: Salvation (Soteriology), Theology: Scripture

A S Haley unpacks the recent Second District Court of Appeals in Fort Worth Episcopal Church Decision

After reviewing the history of church property cases in the United States Supreme Court, and fleshing out what that Court meant by the term “neutral principles”, the Texas Court of Appeals then focused on its own Supreme Court’s recent decision in Masterson v. Diocese of Northwest Texas (Tex. 2013) 422 S.W.3d 594 as instructing how neutral principles of law are used to resolve church property disputes in Texas. It set out the following concise summary of Masterson’s holdings (pp. 78-79):

    • Absent specific, lawful provisions in a corporation’s articles of incorporation or bylaws otherwise, whether and how a corporation’s directors or those entitled to control its affairs can change its articles of incorporation and bylaws are secular, not ecclesiastical matters, and an external entity—under the former or current statutory scheme—is not empowered to amend them absent specific, lawful provision in the corporate documents. Id. at 609–10 (citing Tex. Bus. Orgs. Code § 3.009; Tex. Rev. Civ. Stat. Ann. art. 1396–2.09).
    • The TEC-affiliated bishop could, as an ecclesiastical matter, determine which faction of believers was recognized by and was the “true” church loyal to the Diocese and TEC, and courts must defer to such ecclesiastical decisions, but his decision identifying the loyal faction as the continuing parish does not necessarily determine the property ownership issue, and his decisions on secular legal questions such as the validity of the parish members’ vote to amend the bylaws and articles of incorporation are not entitled to deference. Id. at 610.
  • If the title to the real property is in the corporation’s name and the language of the deeds does not provide for an express trust in favor of TEC or the Diocese, then the corporation owns the property. Id.

These propositions are all correct statements of Texas law as expounded in Masterson. Followed correctly, they should have led to a correct decision in the Fort Worth case. Instead, look where the Salazar court ended up…

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Analysis, Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth

Stephen Noll–What is the Global Anglican Communion?

The term “Global Anglican Communion” is aspirational. It is a vision of things to come; it looks to a future entity that fulfils God’s providential guidance for worldwide Anglicanism. It is not of course the New Jerusalem but a communion that takes shape imperfectly under the mercy of God, affected by the contingencies of history and the flawed character of even well-intentioned men and women.

At the same time, the Global Anglican Communion is already here. At the first GAFCON in Jerusalem, we asked arriving participants this question: “Are you leaving the Anglican Communion?” The answer came back strong and clear: “No, we are not leaving the Anglican Communion; we are the Anglican Communion.” This may seem to some a semantic sleight of hand, but in my view it represents a new consciousness and confidence arising in the Global South.

As for the so-called “Instruments of Unity” – the Archbishop of Canterbury, Primates’ Meeting, Anglican Consulative Council, and Lambeth Conference – the sad “fact” stated in the Jerusalem Statement is that they have signally failed to unify. Indeed, they have promoted disunity by colluding to give a pass to clear violation of Holy Scripture. Therefore let me put the state of affairs boldly: Lambeth 1998 was the last true conference of Anglican bishops, and the Primates’ Meeting in Dar es Salaam in 2007 was the last true meeting of Anglican Primates to gather under the aegis of the Archbishop of Canterbury. The true heirs of these “Instruments” were the subsequent Global Anglican Future Conferences in Jerusalem and Nairobi and Global South “Trumpet” meetings in Singapore and Cairo.

It will come as no surprise when I say that the powers that be in Canterbury do not see the future this way. Lambeth Palace and the Anglican Communion Office (and its financial backers in New York) are working diligently to create division in the Global South, to discredit the coming Conference in Jerusalem, and to promote Lambeth 2020 as the true heir. If they succeed – and they might – they will not in fact restore a true Anglican communion of churches but rather construct a Potemkin village of serfs under one colonial baron. To catch this vision of the future, look at the charade called a Primates’ Meeting in October 2017, where the Primates were paraded around Canterbury Cathedral and treated to days of meaningless indaba followed up with a harsh unsigned Communiqué condemning Gafcon for “border-crossing” and disowning the Anglican Church in North America as an Anglican body.

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Analysis, Ecclesiology, Globalization, Theology

Richard Peers–A Better Story: thinking about the Church of England Evangelical Council’s “Gospel, Church and Marriage – Preserving Apostolic Faith and Life”

The first thing to note about the document is that is is graciously written and utterly immersed in Scripture. The vocabulary is profoundly Christian. I think that there is a lesson to be learned by those seeking a more inclusive approach. It would be hard to imagine language such as ‘submission’ and placing ourselves under the ‘rule of Christ’ among those seeking to be more inclusive. Yet there is no reason that it shouldn’t. Radical inclusion will only be truly Christian if it is so because it is the will of God, if it is what Jesus calls us to.

The statement recognises that we are fallen and in need of salvation. “The Gospel shines into the darkness of our fallen hearts and cultures, and gives us the transforming knowledge of God’s mercy and grace in the face of Jesus Christ.” It recognises that we are called “away from idolatry, injustice and immorality”. I think this is so important. One of the things that has shocked me in recent months is descriptions I have read of Love Island. A programme that not only encourages casual sex but publicises it. We all know that pornography is too easily accessible and read horror stories of the number of young people watching it. In one school I worked in a colleague had to try and identify the six Year 10 boys filmed while a female pupil performed oral sex on them in turn. The world so desperately needs “the life-changing goodness of [Christ’s] ‘amazing grace’”.

There is a strong and deeply biblical section on grace, and a wonderful sentence reminding us that “In establishing Christian communities the apostles … did not teach doctrine without discipleship, faith without formation, or grace without godliness.” We talk a lot of discipleship. With my educational preference for teaching that is knowledge based, rather than simply experiential, I value this call to link discipleship with doctrine, formation and godliness. We don’t talk nearly enough about how our lifestyles should be different because we are Christians.

The next section highlights the special gifts of marriage and singleness. The marriage section is strong, as we might expect, but could have been more. Working with young people I have always struggled to know how to promote marriage as a vocation. So many young people have no direct experience of lifelong marriage in any members of their family or friends. It is hard to praise marriage without sounding critical of their own families.

It is the section on singleness that I think is stronger, Again, this is desperately needed in a culture which imagines that to be a single is a failure.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Analysis, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Salvation (Soteriology), Theology: Scripture

A S Haley: Historic Episcopal Church of South Carolina Asks US Supreme Court for Review

Bishop Mark Lawrence and his Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, along with a number of member parishes, having lost a confusing, non-definitive and divided decision in that State’s Supreme Court, have filed a petition for writ of certiorari (review) in the United States Supreme Court. The petition (fifty pages, downloadable from this link) asks the Court to bring harmony to the multiple lower court decisions that diverge over the meaning of “neutral principles of law” as used by the Court in its seminal case of Jones v. Wolf, 445 U.S. 595 (1979).

As the petition lays out with masterful clarity, both state and federal courts apply differing standards of “neutral principles” in approaching the resolution of disputes over the ownership of church property:

Nearly 40 years after this Court last addressed the neutral-principles approach in Jones, the courts are deeply divided about what “neutral” means. For many courts, “neutral” means just that—“neutral”: the high courts of seven States, plus the Eighth Circuit and three intermediate state courts, follow Jones’ clear guidance and resolve property disputes between religious organizations by applying well-established state trust and property law. These jurisdictions hold that a disassociating local church’s property is held in trust for the national church only if the alleged trust satisfies ordinary state law requirements for the creation of trusts. Courts and commentators call this the “strict approach” to Jones, because it blinds judges to the religious nature of the parties to the dispute, requiring them to apply the same ordinary state law that would apply to property disputes between any other parties….

The petition then addresses the Court directly, and explains why it should grant review:

Petitioners are here for one simple reason: they are churches. If this dispute arose between two secular organizations, or between a religious and a secular organization, the party standing in Petitioners’ shoes would have prevailed. Thus, far from yielding to the First Amendment, the decision below actually violates it. The Religion Clauses command a “principle of neutrality” whereby “the government may not favor one religion over another, or religion over irreligion, religious choice being the prerogative of individuals under the Free Exercise Clause.” McCreary Cty. v. American Civil Liberties Union of Ky., 545 U.S. 844, 875-76 (2005). The hybrid approach disregards this vital bulwark, favoring one religious organization over another by allowing a national church to disregard the requirements of state trust law at the expense of a disassociated congregation’s claim to property. As two leading commentators recently emphasized, the strict approach to Jones is “the only approach consistent with the free exercise and nonentanglement principles of the Religion Clauses.” Michael W. McConnell & Luke W. Goodrich, On Resolving Church Property Disputes, 58 ARIZ. L. REV. 307, 311 (2016).

The persistent confusion over the meaning of Jones and the neutral-principles approach has resulted in polar-opposite outcomes in materially indistinguishable cases, creating enormous — and enormously expensive — uncertainty for this country’s religious institutions. Case outcomes turn on courts’ differing interpretations of Jones and the First Amendment, not on how the parties have arranged their affairs under state law. This case could have been easily resolved under ordinary state trust and property law. Instead, the parties and the property have been mired in litigation since 2013. Several years and millions of dollars later, Petitioners seek this Court’s review.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, - Anglican: Analysis, Church History, History, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Supreme Court

Stephen Noll–Fisking Bishop Fearon: The Lambeth Establishment Takes on the Global South

Bishop Fearon continues: The See of Canterbury is one of the unique features which binds us together. At the Primates’ Meeting in October it was clear just how much Canterbury meant to those who came. For Anglicans, communion with the See of Canterbury – and with its Archbishop – is the visible expression of our communion with one another.

A deep respect for the Church of England and the Archbishop of Canterbury has existed among global Anglicans, who have been grateful for rather than resentful of the colonial heritage. This deference is in no small part because they received the gospel of salvation thereby; but in recent decades, this deference has been wearing thin. Fearon’s roseate picture of the recent Primates’ meeting is delusional, especially considering that three Primates from the largest African Provinces had refused to attend and seven others have now signed the Global South Network letter, which contradicts the (unsigned) Canterbury Primates’ Communiqué.

Bishop Fearon now comes to the point concerning Anglican identity. Contrary to Archbishop Okoh, he asserts: the relationship with the See of Canterbury is essential for Anglicans. You cannot be in the Anglican Communion without it.

This assertion represents an extreme interpretation of “primacy,” edging toward papalism. In fact, it suggests that Canterbury is not just a unique feature of Anglicanism but the unique feature. Note the use here of the word essential. Being in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury is not only required for formal recognition as a Province of the Anglican Communion, but it is required to call oneself an Anglican, a point I shall return to later.

Bishop Fearon supports his claim by reference to the Lambeth Conference: The fundamental character of this relationship was spelled out by the 1930 Lambeth Conference which refers to the Anglican Communion as “a fellowship, within the one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, of those duly constituted dioceses, provinces or regional Churches in communion with the See of Canterbury…

Resolution 49 from the Lambeth Conference in 1930 is indeed an important statement concerning member churches of the Anglican Communion. The Resolution goes on to say of those churches:

  • they uphold and propagate the Catholic and Apostolic faith and order as they are generally set forth in the Book of Common Prayer as authorized in their several Churches;
  • they are particular or national Churches, and, as such, promote within each of their territories a national expression of Christian faith, life and worship; and
  • they are bound together not by a central legislative and executive authority, but by mutual loyalty sustained through the common counsel of the Bishops in conference.

The standard definition of the Anglican Communion certainly calls for respect and received it uniformly until 1998. Following the 1998 Lambeth Conference, however, the adequacy of this arrangement was tested when one member church chose to violate what others consider a breach of “Catholic and Apostolic faith and order” by ordaining a practicing homosexual as bishop.

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Analysis, Anglican Identity, Church History, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Global South Churches & Primates, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

(AAC) Stephen Noll–The Canterbury Bait and Switch

In a follow-up interview, …[Archbp Justin Welby] claimed that his entire ministry is one of reconciliation and then applied that to the divisions within the Anglican Communion over sexuality. “Our challenge” he said, “is to work our way forward, holding on to the truths that are given to us through Jesus and in the Scriptures; and yet never sinking to the level of demonising or hating people because they are homosexual.”

So what precisely are the truths given to us through Jesus and in the Scriptures? At the 1998 Lambeth Conference, 570 bishops stated that “[this Conference] in view of the teaching of Scripture, upholds faithfulness in marriage between a man and a woman in lifelong union, and believes that abstinence is right for those who are not called to marriage” and that “while rejecting homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture, calls on all our people to minister pastorally and sensitively to all irrespective of sexual orientation” (Resolution I.10).

Justin Welby has refused to commend this Resolution and, so I argue, intends to relegate it to the dustbin of history. This Resolution – repeatedly affirmed by Global South churches, including the Anglican Church of Kenya, and repeatedly violated by the Episcopal Church USA and others – notably went missing from the October 2017 Lambeth Primates’ Communiqué.

In his interview, Justin Welby proceeded to laud this Primates’ Meeting as an example of unity in difference, skipping over the fact that three of the major Primates from Africa (Uganda, Rwanda, and Nigeria), representing about 40% of the Anglicans in the world, had refused to attend.

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Posted in - Anglican: Analysis, --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Eschatology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture