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Is the Archbishop of Canterbury losing control of the Anglican Communion?

Is the Archbishop of Canterbury losing control of the Anglican Communion?
Consecration of UK Canon at leading US Evangelical College mocks reconciliation talk
GAFCON leaders steadily distance themselves from Welby; strengthen coalition

COMMENTARY

By David W. Virtue, DD
www.virtueonline.org
June 25, 2017

His face is looking increasingly drawn these days. He snaps at people. (I personally experienced that in Canterbury at a press conference when the Primates met last year). He behaves thuggishly towards anyone who opposes his authority and how he believes the communion should be run. Archbishop Justin Welby's expectation is that everyone should fall in line behind him, especially as he becomes more accepting of homosexuality, a behavior the Church has proscribed for 2,000 years. He cajoles, coerces and demands, and the more he does so, the greater the alienation grows.

The steady drip, drip, drip of news reveals an archbishop increasingly being marginalized, slowly losing touch with his evangelical base, while he continues to cozy up to liberals and revisionists, Muslims and homosexuals.

Consider the following:

* The recent irregular episcopal consecration of a senior minister at Jesmond Parish Church represents a new threat to the Anglican Communion by conservative Christians. Welby was powerless to stop it. The evangelical leaders assailed Welby, calling him a 'heretic' and a 'wolf in sheep's clothing'.

* The Anglican Mission in England (AMIE) came into being as a result of GAFCON 1 when it became necessary for Anglicans faithful to the historic formularies to take a united stand against the moral compromise, doctrinal error and the collapse of biblical witness that were becoming prevalent in parts of the Anglican Communion. It is increasingly seen that the C of E is now part of the "moral compromise".

* A GAFCON primate, ACNA Archbishop, Foley Beach, announced on Scottish soil that his GAFCON partners would anoint CofE Canon, Andy Lines, as a Missionary Bishop for Europe next week in Wheaton, Illinois, at ACNA's Assembly. It will be a defining moment the implications of which will not go unnoticed by Welby and echo around the Anglican Communion. In truth, this is sticking it to Welby in several ways. It is being done on American soil and not in Africa, Asia, Latin America or Europe. It is being performed by the archenemy of The Episcopal Church and its Presiding Bishop, Michael Curry, who is a close personal friend of Welby. Beach is recognized by the vast majority of Anglicans, even if he is not by Welby himself.

* Welby railed that the upcoming consecration of Canon Lines was unnecessary, and berated the Primates for "cross-border intervention," arguing that it was not a Church of England appointment and therefore carried no weight in the Church of England. Perhaps not, but it clearly undermines Welby's authority and that is a kick in the backside.

* REFORM, a movement of evangelicals led by Bishop Rod Thomas, came out with a statement that Thomas would never accept invitations to Christian meetings where there were SEC bishops following changes in their canons to accommodate gay marriage. In a written statement, Thomas said the decision by the SEC denied God's Word, broke communion with the majority of Anglicans worldwide and said the SEC had walked away from our communion. "I pray that this declining church will understand that their position is not blessed by God, will repent of their action and turn back to Him." Welby had no comeback.

* The British public, it seems, has little respect for the Church of England. Only nine percent of the people has "a great deal" of trust in the institution (about the same percentage of trust the American public has for Washington politicians). Nearly three in ten, 28 per cent, say they have "not much" trust in the Church, while 30 per cent say they have "very little". This hardly makes Welby much of a believable figure with the British public and his evangelical constituency is dwindling by the day in the CofE.

* By far and away the most devastating critique of Welby and the direction he is leading the Anglican Communion comes from GAFCON chairman and Nigerian primate, Nicholas Okoh, who has repeatedly come out saying that the actions of liberal provinces on homosexuality and gay marriage, violates both Scripture and history; is intolerable and unacceptable to the vast majority of global Anglicans and he and GAFCON will not hesitate to act accordingly.

He blasted the recent attempt to redefine marriage, saying it was not a secondary issue about which we can agree to disagree and continue to walk together. "It means that Jesus was mistaken when he taught that marriage was between a man and a woman and that sex outside of such a marriage is a sin. It is a radical rejection of the authority of Scripture. The Church claims that it can consecrate behavior that God's Word clearly teaches to be sinful. According to the Bible, this behavior, without repentance, separates those who practice it from his kingdom."

He further ripped the ecclesiology of Welby over crossing boundary, saying that Athanasius consecrated orthodox bishops in dioceses led by Arians because he knew that the apostolic faith itself was at stake. "This was the principle guiding the interventions which led to the formation of the Anglican Church in North America in 2009 and it was affirmed by over three hundred bishops in assembly at GAFCON 2013 in Nairobi. It was therefore very appropriate that on the same day that the Scottish Episcopal Church formally turned aside from the historic Christian faith, GAFCON announced that Canon Andy Lines, already an internationally recognized missionary statesman, will be consecrated later this month as a GAFCON missionary bishop for Europe."

Archbishop Okoh went on to say that he and GAFCON stood for the marginalized and the action was taken because requests for help from Scottish orthodox leaders to the Archbishop of Canterbury were turned down. Indeed, the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church told his General Synod last year that the Archbishop of Canterbury had assured him that he would welcome the Scottish Church to the 2020 Lambeth Conference even if it chose to change its marriage canon to include same sex unions.

We now know fully where Welby stands and it is not on the side of truth revealed in Scripture, but on the side of culture. He is no better that Rowan Williams, his predecessor, or even Gene Robinson and his supporter, Frank Griswold.

If it is open season for the Scottish Episcopal Church to marry anyone who comes knocking on their door, one can hardly blame GAFCON offering a life boat for "missionary bishops" to any who want them.

GAFCON stands ready to recognize (meaning ordain) and support orthodox Anglicans in Scotland and elsewhere in Europe, as Welby and his liberal bishops continue to drift away from apostolic faith and order.

Next Friday, in Wheaton, Illinois, some 1,400 mostly evangelical Anglicans, including 625 clergy, 50 of whom are bishops, (one will be a Latvian Lutheran Archbishop there as an ecumenical guest) will lay hands on Canon Lines and announce to the whole Anglican world that a new bishop is born, one that is faithful to Scripture, tradition, reason and history, and there's not a thing Welby can do about it except rail against it, hoping it won't amount to anything.

But the noose is now being drawn more tightly around Welby's ecclesiastical neck. Few Brits could care a less what he thinks and says (98% never darken the door of a parish) as he plays nice with Muslims and homosexuals and continues to alienate the orthodox wing of his Church. And, just as surely as TEC continues to wither, the ACNA continues to grow with a message of the transforming love of Jesus Christ. Welby and the Church of England will continue to decline into irrelevance as a new evangelical Anglican faith is born on English soil.

A new day for European Anglicanism will begin this week and its momentum will not be stopped. As Nicholas Okoh put it so fittingly, "So let us be strong. Let us stand with the marginalized and work tirelessly for the continuing reformation of our beloved Communion."

END

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