Friday, March 27, 2015

Anglican Future Conference Down Under

460 conferees, including 40 Kiwis are meeting together in Melbourne, Wednesday to Friday this week to hear about and to discuss the future of Anglicanism, with special reference to Anglican churches Down Under.

David Ould posts here. With an interview of keynote speaker Ashley Null here and interview of Archbishop Eliud Wabukala of Kenya here.

Sydney Anglicans posts a report here.

During the conference the Australian branch of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans was launched, at an event generously sponsored by the Anglican Church League.

As an observation from a distance - and I am regretful that I could not be at the conference myself - I am intrigued at the emphasis on the Anglican church being reformed, protestant and evangelical in the ACL report on the launch of the FCA (Australia), Gavin Poole says,

'We promote ministry that is reformed, protestant and evangelical.
By reformed we mean ministry that has its genesis in the sixteenth century reformers who recaptured the Biblical faith that we are saved through faith in Christ alone and that God is sovereign in life and salvation.
By protestant, we protest Biblical aberrations, name and warn against false teaching. Our unity is in the gospel, not structure and institution.
By evangelical, we fully trust in the powerful gospel of Jesus Christ which provides the only solution to human rebellion. The gospel is not just one of many messages but our only one.'

On the one hand, this is a simple truth about Anglicanism: we are not (say) Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox because we took a specific pathway in the 16th century which led us to be a reformed yet episcopal, protestant yet established, and evangelical yet inclusive of other streams church.

On the other hand, I wonder about the emphasis on the genesis of Anglicanism in the genius of the 16th century. Was not the reformation a cry of 'ad fontes'? A determination to re-find the genesis and genius of the church in the first century writings of the apostles as they witnessed to Jesus Christ as Son of God?

I cherish our heritage in the 16th century and there remain theological tendencies and errors which the Reformers help us to combat, but as an evangelical I would love to see the first two emphases above in a new evangelical Anglican movement for the 21st century being:

- evangelism: a Spirit empowered apostolic witness to Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord;
- renewal of the Anglican church: our love for our church as Anglicans fuels our desire to see us being the best church we can be for God, a desire which on occasions will lead to protest but which will also lead to faithful service within our 'structure and institution'.

To be quite blunt: I do not see how Anglicans with an Anglican ecclesiology can divide 'gospel' from 'structure and institution'. If we are not united in gospel, structure and institution, we are not united as Anglicans. Anglicanism is a package deal: gospel proclaimed in the context of 'structure and institution'.


Anonymous said...

Peter-"If we are not united in gospel, structure and institution, we are not united as Anglicans."
Hi Peter
Isn't this exactly what FCA is reacting against? The fact that there are some who have separated 'gospel' from 'structure and institution'.
And are they were seeking to get rid of 'structure and institution'? They might want to reform it.

Zane Elliott said...

Hi Peter,
My feeling inside the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans is that by placing emphasis on the Gospel (as we have recieved it from the Apostles) as the uniting principle is to say our belief trumps our structures. If structure and institution was unimportant the confernce, and the fellowship would both be pointless.

There is however a backlash against what has been termed
'social Anglicanism' and a move for 'confessinal Anglicanism' - the essenece is this - what you believe is the most crucial part of being Anglican, not just whether you are in communion with the See Canterbury.

I think the two 21st century emphases you highlight are actually at the heart of Confessional Anglicanism, but for many of us who are reformed we are told that we're 'not really Anglican' (I've been told this more than once). There is a tremendous pressure in our own Province (and dare I say especially in our own Diocese) to conform to liberal Anglo-Catholic worship. By pointing to the 16th century confessional Anglicans, many who are low Church but certainly not all, demonstrate that we have a valid historical place in the life of Anglicanism.

Currently, I don't believe ACANZP is truly united in Gospel, Institution and Structure, I guess we're not Anglican here any longer.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Zane and Steve
I am commenting on one statement made by a member of the sponsoring team for the FCA launch which is not quite the same as a statement made by the conference (e.g. as a final statement of the conference).

My point is that when we Anglicans talk of unity we are talking of unity in the gospel in a church which has structure and is an institution.

When we start talking about the gospel trumping structure and institution then we are posing a false dichotomy.

My preference would be to talk about working within and for an Anglican church which is (as structure and institution) is united in the gospel.

Yes, we are never perfectly united and sometimes we are quite disunited, but our work for unity in the one Spirit of God continues.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Zane
On the question of being truly or properly Anglican, it is certainly appropriate to remind fellow Anglicans of our reformed and protestant heritage and to remind one another of the low church implications of that heritage.

My criticism of Gavin Poole's statement is that the most proper kind of Anglicanism is to continually ask what Jesus intended the church to be. I happen to think that leads to a church which is 'low' and 'protestant' in style (minimal robes, symbols), 'evangelical' in gospel conviction and motivation to share the gospel, 'biblical' in theology (for Jesus taught from his Bible and his teaching expanded that Bible to the Bible we have today) but also 'catholic' in outlook (asking what enables us to be a global community of Christians in one universal communion).

Simon said...

A group of Anglicans from Wellington Diocese have also just spent a week in Melbourne wrestling with what it means to be truly Anglican in a 'down under' context. They have been at the 'Surrender 2015' conference, and then networking, visiting, worshipping and praying with colleagues in that region. An equally worthwhile exploration about being faithful to Christ, I would think.

Zane Elliott said...

my question for you is what to do when that 'catholic' nature is fractured? What holds us together if we're not allowed to say it is the gospel which unites us primarily?

Do we fall back on our structure and institutions or on our creeds and beliefs?
I don't believe that to be a false dichotomy. Look at West Hamilton. The structure and institution behaved apallingly when no belief in the gospel had changed.

The Anglican Communion's structures are failing, just this week CAPA has rejected TEC and Canada's moves from orthodoxy (take note GS/THW). So where do we go in terms of our Anglican ecclesiology when our structre is dissolved?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Zane
Within ACANZP the key question re unity is whether we are a church united under the authority of General Synod. There was no 'appalling' behaviour by the structure and institution of ACANZP when a colleague and his parish declared in writing that they no long submitted to that authority.

Thus unity in our church is about the gospel informing the structure and institution and the structure and institution giving expression to the gospel.

But (and it is quite an important 'but') we as Anglicans have traditionally lived with a breadth of understanding of the what the 'gospel' is. Our unity has been a unity in which we understand that we may not agree with the person standing next to us at the communion rail but we share communion with them.

If, however, we cannot share communion within a broad understanding of 'gospel' then we do not have unity and the structure and institution of the church is either giving expression to 'another gospel' or our understanding of the gospel has shifted from the church's understanding of the gospel and its breadth. At that point unity breaks down.

I do not think 'The Anglican Communion's structures are failing': the resistance to the Covenant across the Communion shows that the Communion is not interested in a Communion 'structure and institution'. We have moved a long way from the days when we thought one part of the Communion could tell another part what to do with authority.

Zane Elliott said...

Hi Peter, I disagree about your key question facing ACANZP - and perhaps this is where FCA members like myself are going to continue with the disconnect which is obvious in our conversation here - the key question isn't 'whether we are a church united under the authority of General Synod' for a confessing Anglican, the key question is 'whetehr we are a Church united under a General Synod/Te Hinota Whanui which believes the Gospel.' I'd say it isn't. It has allowed clergy to publicly declare Christ was not risen bodily from the dead and made no sanction. It has assented to the ordination of Bishops who do not hold to the Doctrine of this Church, who actively seek to undermine that Doctrine, and it has done nothing.
So, I put to you - the structure and institution, which ought to protect the gospel and declare it has failed.

I recognise that for some, who are being termed 'Social Anglicans' the connectedness through structure and institution will be most important, yet for them I believe they face a future in an Anglicanism which is no longer discernibly Christian, at least not in the way the Apostles saw Christianity.

I'm a Confessing Anglican, and I fear we will at some point part ways - it grieves my heart. I love my Church, but if it loses its saltiness.....

Gospel, structure, institution - if we are not united in all three we are not united as Anglicans.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Zane
Nothing in your most recent comment is new to perceptions of the life of the Anglican church of these islands in (say) the last seventy to eighty years. My question to you, therefore, is about your willingness to continue working for a better church, given that the church into which you were ordained was demonstrably imperfect at the time of your ordination?

(In my lifetime I suggest our most 'liberal' period was the 1970s and 80s and that we are much more conservative now than then, so, actually, I am encouraged by the improvement in our church through these decades).

You make various charges against our church: have any of them been proven through legal process? If not, then we live in a more ambiguous and complex church than you make it out to be. Conversely, our church is taking decisive action on a variety of matters which I cannot grace these pages about for fear of being sued. I would like to assure overseas readers that our church is probably like their church full of wonder, beauty and quagmire.

It is also a church which embraces the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ in its constitution, canon and prayer books. That we do not always uphold what we are meant to is a matter of regret and sorrow; that we might do better is a matter of hope and opportunity that we might speak the truth to each other in love ... from within the same body bound in unity through acknowledgement of the one General Synod.

Father Ron Smith said...

". There is a tremendous pressure in our own Province (and dare I say especially in our own Diocese) to conform to liberal Anglo-Catholic worship." - Zane Elliot -

Don't make me laugh. If only that were the case!

" If we are not united in gospel, structure and institution, we are not united as Anglicans. Anglicanism is a package deal: gospel proclaimed in the context of 'structure and institution'"
- Dr.Peter Carrell -

Quite right, Peter. And this is precisely what is disturbing about the meetings of FOCA and GAFCON. They are all about - distancing themselves from the true mainstream of Anglican life.

To my mind, New Zealanders at this FOCA conference are not interested in remaining with the Anglican fold. They are interested only in the divisive activity of sola scriptura sexism.

It will be interesting to see who, of our diocesan clergy, turns up to show their solidarity with our diocesan Bishop on Maundy Thursday at the Chrism Mass - wherein we celebrate our solidarity in Christ with each other and our Bishop! "A New Commandment I give unto you, that you love one another as I have loved you" - Jesus

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
1. The Chrism eucharists are this coming Tuesday, not Maunday Thursday!
2. It is not a sign of loyalty to the bishop to turn up. There may be other competing obligations In Holy Week. Turning up is an expression of shared collegiality with one another and with the bishop in the gospel whose key events we commemorate and celebrate in this particular week.
3. I am not going to publish the other comment you have submitted. I understand your concerns but they are focused on one individual. It is a better here to voice general concerns about the life of our church.

Father Ron Smith said...

Hello, Peter! I appreciate your concern about my reference to the singularity of one of your correspondents on this thread. However, I am concerned about those anglicans who seem to be keen to distance themselves from the inclusive Gospel initiatives of our Province.

re 'Maundy Tuesday'. Yes, I see that we are, yet again, moving the traditional Chrism Mass in Christchurch from the normal Maundy Thursday to Holy Tuesday. Could that be because of the exigencies of the venue, I wonder? Confusion reigns.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
I am sure busy clergy appreciate the opportunity to congregate for the renewal of their vows on a day other than Maunday Thursday when Easter prep is peaking.

It is after all only a tradition that the service take place on one day rather than another. You of all people commenting here have been keenest on other matters to be free of tradition!

Father Ron Smith said...

Ah! There, you may be wrong Peter. All the essentials of tradition I am for enthusiastically (in the proper meaning of that word). However. Liturgical Ordering is one of my Rules of Life.

Have a lovely Holy Week and Easter!

(This conversation does remind me, rather of a conversation with one of my parishioners in multi-centred Hibiscus Coast Parish. Because of my pratice of providing a Daily Mass at Orewa - the main centre - I had to defer Ashing at St. Stephen's, Whangaparaoa, until the following day. The Anglo-Catholic wife of a former Vicar Fr. John Fisher) asked me: "Are we having Ash Thursday again at St, Stephen's this year , Father".)

I do see your point. However, Maundy Thursday IS the traditional occasion for the Blessing of Holy Oils and the remembrance of the Disciples sharing with Jesus at the Last Supper. Not just an 'occasional' jolly get-together.

Peter Carrell said...

Ah, yes, Ron, 'liturgical ordering' as a 'rule of life'. You must be like me in my commitment to continuing the liturgical ordering of marriage between a man and a woman as it has ever thus been and to view novelties like blessing different forms of relationships between two people with a suspicion driven by 'liturgical ordering' as a 'rule of life' with 'essentials of tradition' at its core!

Joshua Bovis said...

Good morning Peter,

It has been a long time. Here is some information pertaining to FCA Australia...

FCA Australia is part of a worldwide movement of Anglicans promoting reform of the Anglican church by the biblical gospel, and providing fellowship for those committed to it.

Our Aims

To promote a positive and vibrant orthodoxy within our denomination in line with the Jerusalem Declaration and the Fundamental Declarations and Ruling Principles of the Constitution of the Anglican Church of Australia.

We will do this through conferences, discussion papers, seminars, hosting international guests, through our website and social media.

To provide recognition, fellowship and assistance to those who have disaffiliated from their diocese because of the unorthodox actions of others.

We will recognise those who confess the Jerusalem Declaration as authentically Anglican, putting us in fellowship with many Anglicans who are currently out of communion with official “instruments of communion”. We will stand in support of churches and individuals who take a stand against false teaching and error in their diocese.

Peter Carrell said...

Thanks Joshua
I remain unconvinced that the Jersualem Declaration is the finest conservative, reformed statement Anglicans could come up with.

But it is what it is and it will be defining for future Anglicanism.

Father Ron Smith said...

"We will recognise those who confess the Jerusalem Declaration as authentically Anglican, putting us in fellowship with many Anglicans who are currently out of communion with official “instruments of communion”. We will stand in support of churches and individuals who take a stand against false teaching and error in their diocese."

Thank goodness this statement was not from a practising clergy-person in ACANZPP. Such would seem rather precocious from on of our clergy.

Father Ron Smith said...

The only 'Jerusalem Declaration that has any validity for me is that of Jesus, Saviour and Redeemer of all, who said, of those who had put Him to death on the day of His crucifixion: "Father, forgive them, they know not what they do"

I suppose the same could be said of FOCA and GAFCON - in their presumptuous declaration of independance from the rest of us who want to love and serve Jesus, by announcing God's Good News to fellow sinners.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
Let me say a word or two in support of FCA/Jerusalem Declaration!

1. These are mostly Anglicans staying within existing Anglican churches, so no 'declaration of independence.'

2. Is it not reasonable for Anglicans to work for the elimination of error and falsehood in our church? We would be a funny church if we tolerated error and falsehood!

3. Given all the Anglican bishops and theologians over the years who have said some pretty naff things about not believing in the resurrection, even not believing in God, why shouldn't other Anglican bishops (clergy and laity) and theologians say something clear and distinctive about what they believe.

Father Ron Smith said...

"2. Is it not reasonable for Anglicans to work for the elimination of error and falsehood in our church? We would be a funny church if we tolerated error and falsehood!" - Dr. Peter Carrell -

I'm sad, Peter, that you should think FOCA & GAFCON should have some sort of holiness and righteousness that exceeds that of the rest of us in the Anglican Communion.

It might do well for is all to consider Jesus' admonition of someone who once called Him "Good Master". His response should teach us something - about our inability to point the bone at others in this matter of 'righteousness".

Jesus answered: "Who are you calling good? There is One Alone who is good"

Jesus also said: "Judge not, lest you be judged"

Peter Carrell said...

That is not my point, Ron, that GAFCON/FCA have some kind of righteousness and holiness the rest of us have. Nor is it my point that they know the truth and others only falsehood.

My point is that if there is error and falsehood then it is reasonable to work to rid the church of it. There is quite a big 'if' in that sentence because there is quite a lot to debate concerning what is true and what is not (hence my blog, your blog, other blogs).

But your own contribution in comments here is the same as GAFCON/FCA's desire: to speak the truth.

I presume, for instance, that you belong to the Anglican church because you agree with GAFCON/FCA that it is not God's will for the church that there be a supreme pontiff, nor that it is God's will that priests of the church be celibate.

The more pertinent question concerning GAFCON/FCA is whether those identifying with or formally belonging in membership to GAFCON/FCA can live in an Anglican church when we cannot agree on what is true and what is false in respect of certain matters. But that question works both ways: will those who cannot agree with GAFCON/FCA remain in an Anglican church where we cannot agree to disagree?

Jean said...

Hmm well interesting....

I think if it were a matter of being not united by institutiion but the gospel it would not be an Anglican fellowship but an ecumenical one? I am a Christian first who chooses to attend an Angular church (term courtesy of a Catholic friend).

It is I think timely for plumb-line to be set on particular aspects of scripture but most especially that Jesus died for our sins and rose again, and whoever might believe in Him shall not perish but live.

Personally I have encountered false teaching myself, once in a pentecostal environment and once I think it was a Presbyterian church. What I noticed about most situations and what surprised me the most was the collective apathy by the congregation in one and the collective applause of the other. No discussion and no questioning, when disagreement is not directly or indirectly permitted problems arise. So long as the Anglican Church is debating I say this is actually healthy.

It has been my widespread experience within the one church of NZ, in the churches I have attended over the years the majority of the teaching is scriptural and the faith of those who come authentic. So while we must be careful to remain faithful to Christ's teachings, I think it is also necessary to not make the task of correcting false teaching our main focus, or point of unification. Tis a fine line between being motivated to defend the truth of the gospel for Jesus sake as part of our living out the christian life; and being motivated to point out others errors in teaching in order to edify our own position as the only ones who hold to gospel truth.

What are the non-negotiables for being considered Christian or a Christian Church; and what are the varying viewpoints and interpretations on scripture or doctrine/tradition that currently exist which the church can live with so long as the central non-negotiables are held to? And as importantly how does an institution or group of christians determine the distinction?

Personally I was quite shocked when I learnt that one could be a right-wing politician and a christian! Still I could could accept it. If I attended a church where the preacher said Christ didn't rise from the dead, then I would challenge them afterwards and leave.

Blessings Jean

Father Ron Smith said...

"I presume, for instance, that you belong to the Anglican church because you agree with GAFCON/FCA that it is not God's will for the church that there be a supreme pontiff, nor that it is God's will that priests of the church be celibate."
- Dr. Peter Carrell -

I think you are missing the salient point here: that we are not an integral part of the Instituion of the Roman Catholic Church (although we both have our legitimate claim to be related - 'en Christo'. Therefore, we have rather different understandings of what may constitute the esse of certain dogmatic pronouncements.

However, GAFCON and FOCA's insistence on their own doctrinal purity - as being more 'orthodox' than non-G/FOCA doctrine - may be an excuse for their tendency to schism.

MichaelA said...

There is no "tendency to schism" by folk in Gafcon or FCA, nor by other orthodox, Fr Ron. Rather, it is almost always Anglican liberals who tend towards schism.

Father Ron Smith said...

O think, Michael, you may not be aware that schism is the act of rejecting one's parent Church body - which is precisely what GAFCOn has done with regard to its refusal to participate in Eucharistic congress with TEC, an integral province of the Anglican Communion. GAFCON has no accreditation at Lambeth - as far as I am aware.

MichaelA said...

You need to work on your definitions Fr Ron!

Your post assumes that TEC is our "parent Church body". A freudian slip, perhaps?

Now, I have news for you: TEC is not the "parent Church body" of any other entity in the Anglican Communion! You may find that hard to accept, but believe me, its true.

Secondly, if you think that "Gafcon" has "refused to participate in Eucharistic congress with TEC" then you are sadly misinformed! I suggest a quick study of the history of the Anglican Communion over the past 15 years.

Thirdly, the first steps in schism have always been taken by liberals as I recall. John Spong carried out the first border crossing in 1988; TEC disregarded the Lambeth resolution in 1998; TEC has always made it clear it is prepared to go its own way if it doesn't get what it wants etc etc. By contrast, orthodox Anglicans (of which Gafcon is only a small part and has only existed very recently) intend to remain in Anglican provinces and the Communion, and bring them back to true Anglican tolerance and values. Liberals by contrast tend to be schismatic.