“To banish all strange and erroneous doctrine” is a phrase that comes directly from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer (BCP) and its ordinal service for ordaining deacons and priests and consecrating Bishops. It is part of the charge given one who is consecrated to serve as a bishop in those Churches in the Anglican Communion who subscribe to the 1662 BCP and its ordinal (among other doctrinal statements) as “fundamental declarations.” The Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) also uses this language when it consecrates a Bishop. The weighty phrase reminds us of the universal and ancient responsibility of Bishops to guard the faith, worship, order and discipline of Christ’s Church.
For the last two days I have been in Kenya as part of a teaching team for the third GAFCON Bishops Training Institute. One of the first talks I heard here was a brilliant exposition of Galatians 1:1-9 by the new Bishop of Lango Diocese (Church of Uganda), the Right Rev. Dr. Alfred Olwa. I have known +Alfred as a friend and brother in Christ, a gifted preacher and Biblical theologian—and I was not disappointed by his sermon! In this wonderful passage that many believe Paul penned on his way to the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15, Paul makes an unequivocal defense of the Gospel of salvation by faith in Jesus Christ alone. As +Alfred noted:
- The good news of salvation by faith in Jesus Christ alone needs no addition;
- The good news must NOT be distorted (Gal. 1:7);
- Only this gospel of salvation by faith in Christ alone saves people from eternal separation from God (Hell); and
- Any distortion of this Gospel is, in reality, dangerous, leads people away from God and therefore stands under God’s curse (Gal. 1:9)