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by David G. Duggan ©
Special to Virtueonline
May 4, 2023

The Britain-based Anglican Communion has pushed back on the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) and the Kigali Commitment for violating the "Instruments of Communion" which have united the far-flung churches that recognize the genius, heritage, and theology of the 16th century English Reformation. Laden with Scriptural references, the Kigali Commitment sets forth GAFCON's reasons for disavowing the leadership of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Rt. Rev. Justin Welby.

That push-back has come from certain canonical circles within Britain. These "experts" claim that by disavowing Welby, GAFCON has become "schismatic," and therefore not worthy of the term "Anglican." Lest these retrograde forces seize the debate, I intend to set forth, not only how Welby has failed in his mission to preserve the faith once received by the saints, but how the other so-called "Instruments" have not stood firm in the faith against the sins of the world.

In addition to the historic see of the Archbishop of Canterbury, those "Instruments" are the "Anglican Consultative Council," the decennial (or so) Lambeth Conferences, and the "Primates' Meeting." None of these "Instruments" has stopped the slide of Welby's communion into irrelevance and eventual oblivion.

Historically "first among equals," the Archbishop of Canterbury has had the title of Primate of All England. But he is not the Primate of Scotland or Wales; his realm in matters spiritual stops at Hadrian's Wall and the Dee River. His authority north of the Humber River is subject to the Archbishop of York. Churches in former colonies of the British Empire established their own bishoprics shortly after they were settled by colonists or in the case of the United States, won their independence. These churches looked to Canterbury as a holy and moderating influence on the power of the state over matters spiritual. But he had no metropolitan authority over these churches. And as any man borne of woman, he is prone to sin, error and death.

Welby's error is in making accommodation to those who would traduce 2000 years of Christian teaching regarding marriage. His sin is one of pride, believing that his authority supersedes that of Scripture. And at his death he will answer for these transgressions, just as every Christian will answer for his. May God have mercy on his soul.

The Anglican Consultative Council is a Johnny-come-lately "Instrument "concocted in 1968 to address the fact that there were more practicing Anglicans in Nigeria than there were in the British Isles; it is a purely advisory body that reports on developments and urges "collaboration" among the many provinces. Together with its three-tiered voting structure which gives provinces such as the Anglican Church of Canada (359,000 members) equal voice and vote as the 11-million-member Church of Uganda, the ACC is an anachronism wrapped in double-speak. It has no legislative authority; it cannot censure wayward members; it doesn't even offer "godly counsel" to members teetering on the edge of heresy. If, as suggested the Kigali Commitment is violative of the ACC, then so be it: the ACC is a paper tiger of gibberish.

The Lambeth Conference arose in the 1860s when the Anglican Church of Canada feared action by England's civil government (Canada was still a "dominion" under the "Crown" then) which affected the church's operation as a member of the Body of Christ. Since then, it has been boycotted by many Anglican bishops (including York in 1867), four primates and more than 200 bishops in 2008, and some 300 bishops in 2022. This most recent conference presented "calls" rather than resolutions which have had the effect of settling via legislative debate the great issues that have arisen over the last 150 years. Lambeth resolutions have addressed the ordination of women, the authority of the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion, and the validity of same-sex unions against the authority of Scripture. That the 15th Lambeth Conference chose to debate "calls" rather than resolutions shows just how piddling this organization has become.

The Primates' Meeting has been an "Instrument" since 1979, when Abp Donald Coggan wanted an opportunity for "leisurely thought, prayer and deep consultation" among his peers (25 in 1979, 39 now). These meetings have been held 'round the girdled earth (Tanzania to Brazil, Cape Town to, surprise, Canterbury) every 3 to 5 years (or so) and have been the "canary in the coal mine" of heretical practice, foreshadowing issues later taken up by the ACC and Lambeth including same-sex marriage (Canterbury 2017, prompted by the US Supreme Court's 2015 Obergefell decision requiring that all 50 states permit them). Whatever "leisurely thought, prayer and deep consultation" to have taken place at these gab-fests have been subsumed in the woke agenda of the LGBT activists who have taken over the "western" provinces of the Anglican Communion.

The Kigali Commitment and the Jerusalem Declaration: the last best hope for the Anglican Communion on this earth.

David Duggan is a retired attorney living in Chicago.

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