Many things get said about Archbishop Peter Jensen, but often they are said without engaging with the theological excellence of this far-sighted leader. Anglican Mainstream has helpfully published the text of his address to the FCA event. It repays careful reading for it is as articulate and educated a statement of the theology of GAFCON as you could find anywhere in that part of the Anglican galaxy.
Here are the opening paragraphs (and a comment by me below it):
"Ominous and foreboding words are being said about the FCA by those who wish it ill – they say it is schismatic, it will divide the church, it is a power play.
These changes are at best misunderstandings or at worst political posturing.
Let me say this as clesrly as possible.
The FCA exists to keep Anglicanism united, to enable those whose spiritual existence as Anglicans is threatened to remain Anglicans with integrity.
It exists to keep orthodox, biblical Anglicanism inside the fold at the highest level possible; to gather up the fragments, to unite them. It exists so that evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics and mere Anglicans can continue to be Anglicans without compromising Biblical truth. The question for you is: will you join us, will you help us keep our Communion one, holy, catholic and apostolic.
Jim Packer is one of the giants of the real world-Anglicanism. Amongst the wise of this world he is disdained, but his praises are sung in all the churches. Astonishingly, in the eyes of his institutional church he is no longer one of us. He has chosen to separate himself from what he has called the sanctification of sin.
Is he still an Anglican?
When we can seriously ask that question, something is deeply wrong. We are at a watershed, at a parting of the ways. Decisions have to be made.
In this country, the Christian foundations have been shaken. In this and the next generation there will be fought what may amount to the last battle for the soul of the nation. It will be an ideological war, a war of ideas. But great issues will hang upon the outcome: the fate of a culture and the eternal fate of souls. Many look to you for guidance and resource and inspiration. Can we do so any longer?
How can we test your resolve to evangelize your people? Unless you develop a deep confidence in the gospel of the saving work of God through Jesus Christ, a willingness to work together for Christ, and a determination to submit to the teaching of scripture, it will not be done. The culture will swallow you alive.
With persuasive power, the culture of the West has adopted and promulgated anti-Christian belief and practice. It confronts every Christian with the choice of submission or harassment. It pretends to be the true heir of the Christian faith, that it now possesses all that was worthwhile of Christianity, and that the entire structure of Christian thought can disappear into the receding past.
It tells you that its tolerance is the choicest part of your love,
that its non-discrimination is the choicest part of your justice,
that its individualism is the choicest part of your freedom
and that its sexual athleticism is the choicest part of your marriage.
Against such a false ideology the ecclesiastical liberal temper fails. It means well, but its genius is toward politics and hence compromise. Its tendency is toward exercising denominational leadership, into synods and boards and councils, indeed into the episcopacy itself. It will come to terms with this world theologically but paradoxically it will insist on the structural unity of the institutional church before gospel – truth. . Its spokesmen will unceasingly lecture the rulers of this world on how to go about their tasks, but they will not do so from within the culture of Christ and the Bible. They will do so from within the ideology of the day so that if you listen to them on the radio you will not be able to tell whether you are hearing a Christian minister or a member of the intellectual elite or the political class. There is much to admire in the liberal temper, but it is assuredly no basis from which to evangelize the nation and build up the churches. For that, you need a deep confidence in the gospel and a determination to follow the teaching of scripture come what may."
As a deconstruction of the folly of church leadership sticking resolutely to a liberal programme, this is brilliant. It also makes a very eirenic overture to the 'open evangelicals' who have been so critical of 'conservative evangelicals' in the C of E. But in respect of my post below, asking the question whether FCA/GAFCON connects well with uncertain, muddling-and-middling Anglicans, I see no great sign here of that connection being made.
Also, see this critique of the hermeneutics of ++Peter's speech at More than a via media