Saturday 29 November 2008

Roads to Anglican Independence

On Julian Mann's church (north of Sheffield) website it has these lines:

Why would Luke lie? It was dangerous to be Christian in the middle of the 1st century AD. We know Christians were being fed to the lions. Why would Luke risk his life for a lie?

An Anglican bishop who says the early Church, men like Luke, made it all up isn’t risking anything.

Why bother with the Bible? Because it’s God’s honest truth – it tells us accurately what God said and did and what we should do about it...

A good bit of anti-Anglcian bishop knocking copy there. Meanwhile, I think the technical term in theology for that sort of explanation of the Bible is "drivel".

At Thinking Anglicans Julian Mann recently related the Jerusalem Declaration of GAFCON as a measure of orthodoxy:

Orthodox net-giving churches which subsidise ministry in net-receiving parishes have a moral responsibility to make it clear to diocesan boards of finance that Anglican unity is not institutional but creedal.

It is quite immoral for ministries that are not preaching the Gospel or preaching another gospel to be subsidised on the basis of an appeal to institutional unity, masquerading as support for the Body of Christ. In God’s goodness, the Jerusalem Declaration is a rallying point for confessing Anglicans of whatever churchmanship enabling them to get that message across to diocesan authorities.

This point is slightly modified further along as here:

3). Regarding parish share, the concrete suggestion I made in a later post here on Thinking Anglicans was that orthodox net-giving churches in dioceses should publish a list of net-receiving parishes in which they have confidence.

4). Dr Kings cited Sydney Diocese and the Church of England in South Africa as being the prime movers behind FCA. Whilst I am absolutely with them in supporting the Jerusalem Declaration, I am not a supporter of Sydney's move towards non-presbyteral celebration of the Lord's Supper, on the ground that this undermines the unity of orthodox Anglicans behind Jerusalem.

That institutional unity a rather thin basis of rejection for a group that claims credal confession over institutional unity (by the way, we British spell credal with one 'e'). In other words, he'd accept lay presidency.

We see the strategy being employed here. It's true that this strategy has been around for longer than the Jerusalem Declaration. It was around with the Covenant for the Church of England, the Southwark Ordinations and now it reappears with GAFCON. Each of those has been rejected by the broader Evangelical constituency; however, my point would be that there is a bigger, organising, head of steam behind GAFCON than the other events, and that GAFCON can decide to incorporate those events into itself.

Julian Mann has a GAFCON-like clear sight of the enemy, with visions of going into a liberal parish (by whatever definition) and turning it into an evangelical one:

Usually it is evangelical churches wanting to do this in churches that haven't been previously evangelical. In some cases dioceses are supportive, in other cases not on the ground that the smaller church is being 'taken over' by another theological tradition. Such a negative response by liberal diocesan authorities is surely inexcusable when it's a clear choice between orthodoxy and closure.

Gosh the enemies are everywhere: diocesan authorities to add to bishops. The GAFCON approach has a foot in both camps: inside the Church of England and the Anglican Communion, and outside, and can shift between them. It's clear about enemies, always liberalism and institutional, but liberalism gets broadly defined and, as Religious Trotkyism determines, becomes as broad as those who do not accept the Jerusalem Declaration.

An example of what GAFCON looks like when stepping outside the Church of England and Anglican Communion has been provided by my own adopted parish priest, David Rowett, after a dinner with an affected friend. Emmanuel Church in Nottingham describes itself as Independent Anglican. One wonders in what sense it is Anglican. Like the Jerusalem Declaration it makes use of Canon A5:

We are Anglican because we fully identify with the historic position of the Church of England in terms of its belief. You’ll see this reflected in our Statement of Faith. The Church of England’s doctrine ‘is grounded in the holy Scriptures, and in such teachings of the ancient Fathers and Councils of the Church as are agreeable to the said Scriptures. In particular such doctrine is to be found in the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, the Book of Common Prayer, and the Ordinals’. We stand full-square with that.

At the same time, we are independent of the structures of the Church of England, in terms of things like Bishops and Dioceses...

It is obviously not Anglican, and its description of its services means it has no sense of being Anglican. This is an important point, that many evangelical Anglican churches that cut the rope might rather quickly not look Anglican at all (and some are such rule breakers now regarding their services that they hardly feel Anglican to people visiting). They'll draw people in already evangelical from many (ex) denominational traditions and there will be plenty that is informal and entertainment based. We can excuse Oughtibridge, north of Sheffield, as its services do have an Anglican identity.

There are Anglican continuing Churches, of course, that emphasise the tradition in one way or another. Here are just a few:

Many such are American: where a denominational spirit is more active, and a more sense of do as one wants takes place. Meanwhile, if you want to see some independent extravagence, of a you consecrate me and I'll consecrate you type of carry on, for the umpteenth time, take a look at this. Don't worry, they are not Anglicans. The only sad thing is that it took place at one of the most progressive Unitarian Churches in Britain. Mind, anyone can hire a space and do what they like.


Anonymous said...

“anti-Anglcian bishop” – New denomination?

Why do you Anglicans loathe each other?

Why so snide?

How unedifying.

Pluralist (Adrian Worsfold) said...

The answer may be that it is so broad that it is too broad, and thus disagreement is found from one end to the other. It seems to be translating now into a kind of turf war: there's more live and let live from this end of things, but several strategies that are forming against legitimacy of a broad sweep of positions at this side by a specific section on the other side.

Anonymous said...

“but several strategies that are forming against legitimacy of a broad sweep of positions at this side by a specific section on the other side.”

The “other side” probably thinks the same.

Too late to love one another I suppose?