jQuery Slider

You are here

Anglican Communion is now Two Communions

Anglican Communion is now Two Communions

COMMENTARY

By David W. Virtue, DD
www.virtueonline.org
December 25, 2018

It's unofficial of course, and only a few dare whisper it in the corridors of Lambeth Palace or the Anglican Communion office, but the truth is, the Communion is so badly broken that only a miracle now can ever reconcile what has now become unofficially two bodies of Anglicans.

Archbishop Justin Welby can hotly dispute this all he wants, and he can fake talk about GAFCON being a "ginger group", preach inclusion, reconciliation and diversity, but the truth is the mostly orthodox Global South is evangelical in faith and morals and they are not going to cave into Welby, U.S. Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, Canadian primate Fred Hiltz or any other western pansexual progressive liberal leader who, they believe, holds "another gospel" -- (Gal. 1:8.) That day is over.

With all the talk of radical inclusion in the Church of England by two Archbishops, it seems increasingly clear that the only people not being included are orthodox Anglicans, particularly evangelicals, says the Rev. Melvin Tinker, author and rector who was recently banned from preaching at Derby Cathedral at a Carol service organized by the local university Christian Union over the three issues of money, power and sex. (Money, which the cathedral is running out of; sex, over playing a porno movie and power, by a liberal establishment that hates evangelicals).

Welby can weep, wail and gnash his teeth and rage at the Nigerians and Primate Nicholas Okoh and privately indicate his distaste for South American Archbishop Gregory Venables, but the fact remains, the only primates who stand with him are from failing provinces like The Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church of Canada, the Anglican Church in Wales, the Scottish Episcopal Church, most of the Anglican Church of Australia, the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, and a single African province -- the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, which was bought and paid for by The Episcopal Church decades ago. In short, Welby owns about 10 million active Anglicans out of 55 million -- the vast majority -- over 80% belong to GAFCON.

Welby does not have most of Africa, South East Asia, or South America, all of whom hold the largest number of Anglicans.

Archbishop Welby says the Lambeth Conference "will be a time of addressing hurts and concerns; of deepening existing relationships and building new ones; of grappling with issues that face the Church and the world. We will listen to each other; we will seek God's wisdom to find ways to walk together; we will build each other up as leaders."

But will they discuss the elephant in the room, namely Lambeth Resolution 1:10 on the limits of human sexuality? Not likely. Better to focus on climate change, poverty and persecution around the world and avoid a salvation issue like homosexuality with eternal destinies at stake.

Welby can blow off GAFCON, but the truth is, he no longer owns the Communion, the GAFCON leaders in the Global South have the greatest sway and hold most of the Anglican cards, Welby does not.

Some 2,000 orthodox Anglicans (including 316 bishops, 669 clergy and 965 laity) meeting under the banner of GAFCON made that point when they met in Jerusalem because errors had arisen in the church which were so profound that they undermined the very foundation of the Christian message.

Welby can only have winced reading these words. It was a gobsmack moment.

Welby will summon the Communions bishops in 2020 and some 800 bishops will show up. But they will be from liberal and progressive provinces that are, in fact, dying. A press release from Lambeth Palace did aver to the differences, as differences within the family. . . They are about how we live as a holy people; how we live in a way that shows we are God's people.

"We do have very important differences, but we must show that we respect each other as sisters and brothers in Christ, and that we learn to disagree in a way that demonstrates that we love and value each other. . ."

But those "differences" revolve around salvation issues which, oddly enough, have nothing to do with poverty (our Lord had "nowhere to lay his head") - Mt. 8:19-20, which meant He and His disciples were functionally homeless.

If the "differences" could be patched over with "love", GAFCON would not need to exist. It does so precisely because this is not a friendly inhouse disagreement between the brothers, but a war over "sound doctrine" (Titus 2:1). It is over the very definition, understanding and meaning of the gospel.

The Episcopal Church, The Anglican Church of Canada, The Anglican Churches in Wales and Scotland are top heavy with bishops, but their Average Sunday Attendances are falling through the Narthex floorboards. The Episcopal Church can barely muster 570,000 ASA, The ACoC has about 300,000 (though the last census was several years ago), Wales and Scotland are miniscule in size; in short, there are dioceses in the Anglican province of Nigeria bigger than the combined western provinces.

The Rev. Charles Raven, a GAFCON leader, recently wrote that if GAFCON remains faithful, it will eventually just be the Anglican Communion. "In fact, we should look for the day when the name 'GAFCON' becomes effectively synonymous with the Communion and therefore unnecessary!"

However, the powers that be seem determined that the Communion should embrace the optional orthodoxy of 'good disagreement', he says. But that never worked in The Episcopal Church when words like "generous orthodoxy" became the mantra of Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold. Orthodox Episcopalians were finally run out of the Church and thus the Anglican Church in North America was borne.

The truth is that the Anglican 'Communion' hasn't shared communion in decades, liberal provinces such as The Episcopal Church and Anglican Church of Canada blatantly ignored the calls for biblical faithfulness and restraint from the 1998 Lambeth Conference and successive Primates' Meetings and engaged in a scorched-earth strategy of litigation against traditionalists.

Orthodox Anglican provinces from around the world responded by calling for repentance and recognizing that fellowship and communion was not possible until this call to repentance was heeded. When the Lambeth Conference meets in 2020, many bishops, including those of the largest Anglican provinces, will again be absent and it will mark 17 years since Anglicans last shared communion.

As Ravens noted, that despite their supposed expertise in 'reconciliation', Dr Idowu-Fearon and Archbishop Welby have only exacerbated these problems, allowing provinces such as TEC, Canada, Scotland, Brazil and others to run like bulls through a china shop; breaking fragile, ancient, valuable vessels of Communion with impunity.

"Dr. Idowu-Fearon's office, in particular has been dependent upon the revisionist activists who fund their programs and often staff their initiatives. Revisionists don't just work to re-write history, they also falsify the present in order to try to shape the future. Turning up in Chile and attempting to pass off a beautiful crystal cruet as a symbol of the Anglican Communion when the whole world can see the shards of glass scattered across the global floor, isn't remotely credible, but it is the sort of fiction some are dedicated to promoting. It would have been more honest to have handed Chile a box of broken glass and super glue, and humbly asked for their help putting it back together."

For Canterbury, appearances are everything, even if that means encouraging faithful provinces to get comfortable with offering false teachers the right hand of fellowship and being a 'good province', smile for the group photo, pretend that all is well and come to the communion table. That such things condone the violation of apostolic boundaries is glossed over by 'good disagreement'.

"We are in a Kairos moment in the Anglican Communion: Will the Communion be faithful to God's vision for his church, or will it succumb to the aggressive secularism of Western culture and the secularization of its Anglican provinces?" writes Canon Phil Ashey CEO of the American Anglican Council.

Ashey described it as a "Gospel deficit" and said the crisis was one of false teaching in the Anglican Communion--principally in the increasingly secularized countries and cultures of North America and Europe.

Archbishop Welby simply refuses to believe this. He has sided with the progressive West even though he occasionally flaunts his evangelical credentials and HTB origins. Orthodox Anglicans no longer believe it and will no longer give him a pass, nor have fellowship with him, that day has long gone. He has chosen Presiding Bishop Michael Curry over the evangelical Archbishop Foley Beach and that says it all.

GAFCON has been called by God, and has the gifts to overcome the "Gospel deficit" by continuing to proclaim Christ faithfully to the nations. Global South Anglicans faithful to Scripture and apostolic tradition have the calling and the gifts to establish fully conciliar and synodal structures that will say "NO" to false teaching, guarding the faith and order of the Church for the sake of Gospel mission, writes Ashey.

Lambeth 2020 will be a mockery of reconciliation talk, with more bishops from large provinces absent and excluded than included. Lambeth bishops from progressive provinces will talk a lot but produce nothing that they can take home with them that is God-honoring. That is a tragedy for this life and will stand scrutiny at the Last Judgment.

END

Subscribe
Get a bi-weekly summary of Anglican news from around the world.
comments powered by Disqus
Prayer Book Alliance
Trinity School for Ministry

Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee

Drink Coffee

Do Good

Sustainable Ministry

Coffee, Community, Social Justice

DrinkCoffeeDoGood.com

Go To Top