Friday, July 4, 2008

What is "orthodoxy" in GAFCON's eyes?

Graham Kings on Fulcrum has posted a BBC interview of +Tom Wright. One of the points +Tom makes is that if leadership in the Communion is going to be validated by the proposed Primates Council on the basis of adherence to the Jerusalem Declaration (published within the GAFCON Final Statement) then he is not going to have a bar of it, and many evangelical English bishops are troubled by this proposal. So am I.

Pertinent statements in the Jerusalem Declaration are:

"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."

"2. We believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God written and to contain all things necessary for salvation. The Bible is to be translated, read, preached, taught and obeyed in its plain and canonical sense, respectful of the church’s historic and consensual reading."

"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."

"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."

The JD thus means that if I or you or +Tom Wright have a different understanding of the interpretation of Scripture than the one given above, which I noted in a previous post does not even mention the crucial word 'interpretation', WE ARE OUT!

The JD also means that if I or you or +Tom Wright think that there is more to orders and jurisdiction than 'upholding orthodoxy' (such as historical continuity with historic Anglicanism and just and true authority related to properly conducted Synods and General Synods), WE ARE OUT.

The JD means that if I or you or +Tom Wright think that X, Y, and Z are 'orthodox' by classical Anglican standards, though they fail the JD, it don't matter: THEY ARE OUT.

I would like to think that the JD is more of a guideline than an immutable standard of orthodoxy!

PS: Blogging holiday this weekend

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Tom's a good company man, friends with Rowan since their Oxford days. Don't underestimate common room loyalties! If Rowan throws in the miter after Lambeth for an academic post across the pond, Tom would be in pole position for Canterbury. Windsor is pretty much his baby, so is Lambeth '08 to a large extent, so he was dismayed to see Gafcon suddenly emerge and threaten to taken 70% of the AC in a different direction. He lambasted Gafcon back in January, so it was no surprise he wasn't invited. Michael Nazir-ali, on the other hand, speaks more openly as a man without ambitions in that direction.
The guys (and gals) at Stand Firm have their finger on the pulse. Lambeth '08 won't turn Tec or ACoC around, any more than Lambeth '98 did. The proposed Covenant won't succeed because it wil be subverted, and already it's been given the bird (in NZ, too). The fundamental problem with Anglicanism - as Edward Norman and a bunch of others have seen - is this: while it pretends to be a Catholic communion, it's really a Protestant church; and Tom's complaint to Gafcon, 'Who's gonna tell ME what to believe?', is symptomatic of that problem. Of course, the historic answer has always been: the Magisterium of the Church settles that. Rome says this is focused in the Petrine office, the Orthodox says it's located in Holy Tradition, shared jointly by the Orthodox Churches.
But Anglicanism isn't an Orthodox communion, otherwise it wouldn't have changed its orders unilaterally. The Archbishop of Canterbury isn't the patriarch of an autocephalous church to which those in the colonies owe obeisance. Owing to its generally conservative liturgical and theological traditions, Anglicanism has maintained substantial unity for a long time (with many splinter groups, mainly very small in numbers), but it was only a matter of time before the fracturing we see in worldwide Presbyterianism and Lutheranism would affect Anglicans as well.
It all comes down to discipline (and the lack thereof), moral and doctrinal. The Catholics and Orthodox understand this point, and will individually or collectively exercise it against errant bishops. Anglicans can't or won't, leaving individuals or groups to act as they can. That's what Gafcon's about. They've looked on the last five years as inaction disguised as process and they've had enough.