Let me try to explain some difficulties I am having with the GAFCON statement and the Jerusalem Declaration within it, which in a previous post I suggested would lead to me being 'out'. A correspondent has prompted me to realise that I have not been clear about what I mean when I talk about GAFCON's statement meaning I might be 'out'!
(1) On the question of ‘in’ and ‘out’: below you will find some excerpts from the GAFCON Final Statement, with my own emboldening of type for emphasis.
The statement envisages a fellowship of confessing Anglicans (I would like to be part of that kind of Anglicanism), one which is intended to expand beyond those at the conference (and the people they represented while there), and it appears to be something reasonably formal (talk of structures and the like), and to be governed by a pretty powerful committee (The Primates Council). But it also says that the Jerusalem Declaration is ‘the basis of our fellowship’.
Its at this point that ‘in’ and ‘out’ emerges, because it looks like those who either have objections to the JD, or who would like to sign up to it, but in honesty admit they do not live up to it (e.g. those evangelical colleagues whose worship services are best described as ‘departures’ from the BCP and not ‘adaptations’ of the BCP [personally I am fine with that clause in the JD – I think its what our worship should be like!!]).
"Building on the above doctrinal foundation of Anglican identity, we hereby publish the Jerusalem Declaration as the basis of our fellowship."
"we shall seek to expand participation in this fellowship beyond those who have come to Jerusalem, including cooperation with the Global South and the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa."
"We look forward to the enlargement of the Council and entreat the Primates to organise and expand the fellowship of confessing Anglicans. We urge the Primates’ Council to authenticate and recognise confessing Anglican jurisdictions, clergy and congregations and to encourage all Anglicans to promote the gospel and defend the faith."
"We believe this is a critical moment when the Primates’ Council will need to put in place structures to lead and support the church."
(2) Objections to the JD: I do not see that the JD consists of what we have already signed up to either in a formal sense (our declarations as licensed ministers) or in an evangelical sense (the things evangelical Anglicans believe which may not be explicitly stated in (say) the Three Creeds … though they are likely to be stated in the 39A). The JD includes a number of statements which are not to my knowledge part of our formularies (Anglican Church of Aotearoa New Zealand and Polynesia) or part of generally held Anglican evangelical beliefs. Before I enlarge on these points I would like to be clear about this matter: if the JD were a general declaration for the broad guidance of the Primates Council I would like to think I would not be writing at this point; but as noted above the JD is ‘the basis of our fellowship’ and as stated in the preamble (cited below) it is a ‘solemn’ declaration of ‘tenets of orthodoxy’ which underpin our Anglican identity. That sounds like a document worth nitpicking about so that it becomes a better document!
(From preamble…) "In light of the above, we agree to chart a way forward together that promotes and protects the biblical gospel and mission to the world, solemnly declaring the following tenets of orthodoxy which underpin our Anglican identity. …" COMMENT: some of the tenets just have not been thought through properly to be solemnly declared as tenets of orthodoxy.
3. We uphold the four Ecumenical Councils and the three historic Creeds as expressing the rule of faith of the one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
COMMENT: (personally I am pretty agreeable to this one) I know of no formal Anglican document such as the 39A which endorses the four ecumenical councils in this way. It represents a view espoused by an Anglican divine Lancelot Andrewes and agreed to by a number of people subsequently. But I am not aware of this having universal agreement among evangelicals. It is also problematic inasmuch as one of these councils, Nicaea promulgated a canon concerning one bishop/territory which the GAFCON final statement elsewhere appears to deny.
11. We are committed to the unity of all those who know and love Christ and to building authentic ecumenical relationships. We recognise the orders and jurisdiction of those Anglicans who uphold orthodox faith and practice, and we encourage them to join us in this declaration.
COMMENT: (a) a statement such as this begs a number of questions about ‘authentic’ ecumenical relationships, particularly given the fact that the JD is at the heart of a dispute within the Anglican Communion which is anything but ‘ecumenical’. (b) But the very big question in this statement is what ‘We recognise the orders and jurisdiction of those Anglicans who uphold orthodox faith and practice’ actually means. Does it mean that solid Anglicans with slightly liberal tendencies are going to be unrecognised in respect of their orders and (if bishops) in respect of their jurisdictions? Given that the JD constitutes ‘tenets of orthodoxy’, is the JD going to be the standard of orthodoxy applied when recognising orders? (If so then you might understand +TW’s concerns and my concern about being ‘out’) Does it mean that Anglicans whose orders are at variance with historic Anglicanism (especially in respect of communion with the See of Canterbury) are going to be recognised?
12. We celebrate the God-given diversity among us which enriches our global fellowship, and we acknowledge freedom in secondary matters. We pledge to work together to seek the mind of Christ on issues that divide us.
COMMENT: This is an amazing statement as it looks very much like one that TEC and ACCan could sign up to (and ACANZP!!!). The statement also begs a very big question: what are secondary matters? And another big question: who decides whether there can be secondary matters, and resolves the question when people are divided as to what are secondary matters and what are not? If a Canadian Anglican says that sexuality is a ‘secondary matter’ on what basis would this be disputed? (In general terms, speaking personally, I am agreeable to a distinction between primary and secondary matters; but a lot of work is needed here, and the JD does not offer any guidance through a potential doctrinal minefield).
13. We reject the authority of those churches and leaders who have denied the orthodox faith in word or deed. We pray for them and call on them to repent and return to the Lord.
COMMENT: again, this statement looks agreeable at first sight. Except if the JD is THE standard of orthodoxy, and people such as myself (or +TW) have objection to the JD and could not sign it, then JD adherents, apparently, are free to reject any authority we may have as leaders.
My implicit plea here is not for the JD to be dismissed, denied or ignored, but for it to be improved; or for a lesser status to be given it than the GAFCON statement has given it.