Sunday, July 6, 2008

Why I cannot sign up to the Jerusalem Declaration

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!

Jerusalem Declaration

(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.


Anonymous said...

Peter, some brief comments on your piece.
1. Which tenets of the JD do you disagree with? They all seem very traditional to me, and just what clergy in the past were supposed to affirm at their ordination.
2. The Three Creeds are affirmed in Article VIII. Anglicans have always affirmed the Chalcedonian Definition in practice – they are not Eutycheans or Monophysites. The Athanasian Creed should be read this way (‘[Christ is] One altogether; not by confusion of Substance: but by unity of Person’). The formula you cite does go back to Andrewes, but there is nothing there that wouldn’t have been affirmed by Jewel in his ‘Apology for the Church of England’.
3. Anglicans have never felt themselves bound by the canons of Councils (which are local and temporal discipline matters – otherwise there would be no married clergy today!). OTOH, I’m sure you know that Athanasius consecrated ‘rival’ orthodox bishops for those sees held by Arians in a Kirchenkampf that went on for 60 years to 381 (and thereafter, when the Arian barbarians overran the western Roman empire in the 5th century). Ambrose also battled the Arians in Milan over church property.
4. ‘Secondary matters’ means adiaphora – things like vestments and candles. I have no doubt that elements in ACoC would argue that sexual conduct is a ‘secondary matter’. But there is no need to debate such a subject at length. St Paul has already addressed it in 1 Cor. 5. The real significance of #12 is its allusion to the issues of women’s ordination and divorced clergy.
5. On #13 – people have always voted with their feet and pocketbooks. I suspect the real issue is how much centralized power can be exerted (witness how Tec has driven out so many of the orthodox) and whether churches will ‘govern’ by the free consent of the ‘governed’.

In the end, it comes down to discipline – whether there are publicly agreed standards or whether maverick bishops and congregations will go it alone, creating ‘facts on the ground’ or slipping through gay ordinations without public scrutiny. For example, what do you make of this NZ story from a British tabloid?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Anonymous
It is not the case that the tenets of the JD are all 'very traditional ... and just what clergy in the past were suppose to affirm at their ordination'. Affirming the Four Councils (a different matter to affirming the Three Creeds) is a traditional informal understanding but not a traditional formal understanding, not least in ACANZP where our Three Tikanga arrangements are criticised for breaking the Nicaea Canons.
Nor have clergy ever signed up to the distinction between primary and secondary matters, except in the sense of the 39A which allows that the church may make decisions about ceremonies etc which are not repugnant to Scripture.
To invoke 'women's ordination' or 'remmarriage after divorce' as secondary matters is to make a number of presumptions about the minds of Anglican clergy, some of whom treat these as secondary matters and some of whom do not!

But the core of my argument about not signing the JD is that it is imperfect as a document that is implied by other statements as (a) being a basis for a new and expanding fellowship within the Anglican Communion, and (b) being a basis for distinguishing the orthodox from the non-orthodox.

I actually think the GAFCON statement is confused about orthodoxy since on the one hand it lays down the standard for orthodoxy (the JD) and on the other hand invites the orthodox to sign up to it ... is it implying that the orthodox thereby become non-orthodox if some refuse to sign on the basis that the JD is not worthy of being the standard of Anglican orthodoxy?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Anonymous
Thank you for the Daily Mail link.
WOW - that blows the cobwebs on a story that appeared to be quickly gathering some ...

Anonymous said...

If your reading of Gafcon was correct then those who signed up to the Jerusalem Declaration would have declared themselves out of fellowship with Anglicanism.
Peter Jensen has made it clear that he has NOT declared himself out of fellowsip with the other anglicams in Australia or the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Those bishops who said they would go both to Gafcon and Lambeth are heading to London, still.
The gafcon delegates declared that the basis of their fellowsip IN GAFCON was based on the jerusalem Declaration. They will turn up in churches all over the world still in fellowship with people who can't sign up.
Gafcon declared itself out of fellowship with the LEADERSHIP of certain provinces which have promoted false teaching. But Gafcon included people who remain within at least one of those.
On the other hand you raise a significant point in regard to the structure of your province and the first 4 Councils.
Can I suggest that this becomes an issue for the next meeting of Gafcon, or its continuing structure whatever that is?

Anonymous said...

Peter, I still don't know which of the tenets (affirmations) of the JD you think are wrong.
I didn't say WO or remarriage of divorced clergy are secondary matters - they're not! - I said these were issues the Gafcon primates pledged to work on (as they should).
I don't claim to understand the Three Tikanga idea very well, but it sounds like good ol' Kiwi pragmatism again. Why is it ok for NZ but wasn't ok for the Dutch Reformed Church to have a race based church? & will you have an Asian 'tikanga' now that they're surpassing Maori in numbers? There have been overlapping ethnic and cultural jurisdictions in many places for a long time (notably the Orthodox), but the assumption has always been lockstep unity in faith (and morals).
I don't think the JD is making the grand claims as the arbiter of orthodoxy you assert for it. It doesn't anathematize those who don't sign up, it says: we think this is the way ahead and we invite you to join us. The AC is being reborn, but not in a liberal English mold. No reformation was ever painfree. I think a lot of the JD reflects the work of Prof Stephen Noll of Uganda Christian University, who is as thoughtful a man as you'll find in the Anglican world. Also a good NT scholar (Manchester, FF Bruce)!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Obadiahslope
I think two readings of the GAFCON's Final Statement and the JD are possible. One is yours. If this is a true reading of the FS/JD then much of my concern dissipates. My reading notes words used which imply (in a 'plain' reading!) the development of a fairly formal structure, based on the JD, with great potential for those not agreeing with the JD to be treated as non-orthodox. I accept that Arhcbishop Peter, postGAFCON, has acted and spoken in line with your reading. So all may be well.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Anonymous
Re the JD:
I think (3) lacks finesse (upholding Four Councils begs a lot of questions about upholding all their decisions.
(11)is wrong.
(12)is unclear (esp. about 'secondary matters')
(13)is dangerous because of the way the FS/JD together define 'orthodoxy', and therefore objecionable.

The Anglican Church of Aotearoa New Zealand and Polynesia is a culture based church not a race based church so there is no comparison with the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa in the days of apartheid. There are pakeha and Polynesias involved in Tikanga Maori; Maori and Polynesians involved in Tikanga Pakeha; and Pakeha involved in Tikanga Pasefika (which is a multi-racial. multi-cultural tikanga including Indians, Fijians, Tongan, and Samoans).

You have a sanguine view of the character of the fellowship of confessing Anglicans which I would be pleased to find is true. Your view may be based on the tone and attitude of GAFCON leaders, but it cannot be based on the actual wording of the GAFCON FS and JD, as I highlighted in my post.

Anonymous said...

Peter: you commented on #11, '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?'
I guess it all depends on what you mean by 'slightly liberal'! Is disavowal of the bodily resurrection 'slightly liberal' or majorly so? What about the virgin birth? John Richardson 'The Ugley Vicar' has an interesting post on this.
I think Chalcedon has always been at least implicitly part of Anglican orthodoxy. Would you reject it, and if so, on what grounds? Gerald Bray has written on this.
I understand the tikanga theory, which doesn't really jive with Anglican history (well, not in South Africa!), but I'm not too bothered about that, because theere have always been black or (in UK) black majority churches. They make some sense for the purpose of evangelism (or so McGavran would have said - remember the HUP?) but maybe they don't image heaven (or even Acts 16) too well. The dangers (fro all races) is ethnic sectarianism, whether it's Ratana or Jeremiah Wright.
Maybe my 'sanguine view' comes from having met folk like Chris Sugden and Stephen Noll and learning of the struggles they've faced, while appreciating their character and scholarship. Chris did his doctorate on inculturation in Indonesia, IIRC.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Anonymous

I do not reject Chalcedon, and Anglicans who do (openly and explicitly) usually receive a response of the critical kind.

By 'slightly liberal Anglican' I mean (e.g.) those who believe in the incarnation and the resurrection (etc) but think it ok for homosexuals to be in a committed same sex relationship; or those who believe in the incarnation and in the resurrection but harbour doubts as to whether the bones of Jesus did or did not leave the tomb; or those who believe the creeds but do not place Scripture as a higher authority than reason and tradition.

Your comments re our Three Tikanga are insightful: our motivation is less McGravanish re evangelism and more concerned to strengthen the three parts of our church through allowing homogenous ministry. Your point about heaven is well made: my own view on our Three Tikanga life is that it must be, ultimately, a provisional way of being church with respect to Ephesians and Revelation. But unlike some who would like to see change in the next few years I can live with the current arrangements continuing for another fifty years!

Anonymous said...

Peter, don't know if this comment will get thru as your mind is now on more SuBLime matters (hope your paper goes well), but I didn't refer to the Incarnation but to the virgin birth - a lot of folk will say they accept the Incarnation but reject the VB - notwithstanding the fact that this is strongly affirmed in the Catholic Creeds to which clergy swear their fidelity. Also, as John Richardson notes, a lot of folk will also say they 'believe in the Resurrection' when they mean something like postmortem survival - which is plainly NOT what the doctrine means. Here, at least, I am grateful to Tom Wright for affirming the catholic and biblical faith. I couldn't at all call such a view 'slightly liberal'.
Luke's use of Matthew? Why not? Bauckham's edited work 'The Gospel for all Christians' points the way to literary interdependence in the first generation.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Anonymous
No, I wouldn't think of (e.g.) +TW as 'slightly liberal'.
The paper on Luke went well, as did the whole SBL Conference. A good example of how Chirstians who disagree can agree to meet together to confer (and indeed there were Jews present, possibly some agnostics, and atheists too)!!