The most significant outcome of that first GAFCON meeting was the invitation extended to conservative Anglicans in North America to form an alternative province: the Anglican Church in North America. The rending of the Communion through the disobedience of Communion liberals had occurred, and the final steps envisioned in To Mend the Net–the suspension of communion and the establishment of a new, alternative province–had become a reality.
In retrospect, the tragedy of this history can more clearly be seen: the painful departure of thousands of North American Anglicans from their church homes, countless millions of dollars spent in litigation. All of this might have been avoided if the three Archbishops of Canterbury under whose watches all this has occurred had provided faithful, godly, unequivocal leadership.
But there is an even greater tragedy: “For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle? (1 Corinthians 14:8). Of the three great streams of apostolic Christianity–Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and Anglicanism–two stand unequivocally for historic Christian faith and morals. Only Anglicanism has equivocated at the highest level.
The churches of formerly mainline Protestantism have embraced the zeitgeist. Too many Anglican leaders have chosen the path of mainline Protestantism rather than biblical, apostolic, and catholic faithfulness. And damage has been done to countless souls through the ambiguous or downright immoral witness of these Anglican leaders and church bodies.
Many count it a sign of God’s grace that, in this week’s meeting of the primates in Canterbury, the GAFCON and Global South primates have finally taken an effective stand to restore godly order and discipline to the Anglican Communion. This is a first step–a baby step–that, though it goes in the right direction, does not go nearly far enough. Will this first step ultimately lead to the restoration of the Anglican Communion to historic Christian faith and morals? For that to happen a lot of hearts will have to be changed.