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AMIA: Where are we in the Anglican Communion?
VirtueOnline-News ^ | 1/16/2006 | Bishop John H. Rodgers, Jr.

Posted on 01/28/2006 5:40:55 PM PST by sionnsar

Where are we in the Anglican Communion and what should we in the AMIA be doing to help set things in order?

A paper for the 2006 AMIA Winter Conference

By Bp. J.H. Rodgers Jr

What is basic to the Anglican Identity? Where are we in the Anglican Communion? Where should we be going? What might be the calling of the AMIA in giving encouragement in the hoped for movement in the Anglican Communion?

Part 1, what is basic to Anglican Identity?

It seems to me before we can make any thoughtful evaluation as to where the Anglican Communion is or ought to be going, we need to describe the general, historic marks and character of Anglicanism and the Anglican Communion. I will make a stab at some general remarks. (We will indicate how these marks and characteristics have fared of late in part 2.)

A, Essential formal marks of Anglican Identity

First what makes Anglicans to be Anglicans? What are the formal or essential marks of Anglicanism past and present.

I suggest that there are five elements essential to Anglican identity: 1. A Common Faith, 2. A Common Mission, 3. A Common Worship and 4. A Common ordained Ministry. 5. Some form of authorized belonging and recognition.

1. A Common Faith

Anglicans in the past for some 400+ years, have held to a Common Faith found in the Holy Scriptures, the 3 Catholic Creeds, the 1662 Book of Common Prayer and Ordinal and the Thirty Nine Articles of Religion (slightly adapted where political references to British Government required it. see 1928 version in US BCP).

2. A Common Mission

Christ's Great Commission found at the end of the four Gospels and best known in St. Matthew 28:18ff is a primary call upon the Church and hence upon Anglicans. We have not always done it well but until fairly recent times no biblically informed Anglican would have been in doubt as to its being God's call upon us and central to our life. See Article 18) ("of obtaining eternal salvation only by the Name of Christ")

3. A Common Worship

Until the 20th Century the BCP tradition, which received its classic and most widely used form in the 1662 BCP and Ordinal, was the way in which Anglicans worshiped. (USA 1928 was in large measure the same as 1662 with the unfortunate move of the prayer of self offering from after the communication of the faithful to before receiving communion.) It was not until1979 that we in ECUSA departed from the 1662 BCP and Ordinal and produced a book of alternate services which we called the BCP, while banning the use of 1662 or 28).

4. A Common ordained Ministry

While there has not been, since the rise of the Tractarian Movement in the 1830's and perhaps earlier, re: old fashioned "High Churchmen and the Nonjurers") a common theology of Holy Orders in Anglicanism, there has been a common ministry of Bishops, Priest and Deacons in the Historic Episcopate which continued in England at the time of the Reformation which all in the Anglican Communion could acknowledge and treasure as a good and godly form of ordained ministry. (The ministry of the laity has only more recently been given the place it deserves in accord with Scripture.)

5. Some form of authorized belonging and recognition

In the Reformation in England in the 16th Century a complicated interplay between the King and Parliament along with the Convocations of the Bishops and clergy served to recognize the congregations that belonged to the Church of England. The same groups were responsible to form and approve the formularies of the Church and exercise doctrinal and moral discipline in the Church.

As the Anglican Communion began to take form in the 19th Century by including Anglican national Churches beyond the Church of England, slowly Communion level instruments of belonging and unity took shape. The local or national Provinces or Churches retained their local autonomy. Eventually the present four instruments of unity arose in the Communion: 1. the Archbishop of Canterbury as prima inter pares, first among equals, among the Primates and Bishops, 2. the Lambeth Conferences of Bishops, meeting every 10 years, having no direct juridical authority but having strong moral authority concerning their pronouncements, 3. the Anglican Consultative Council, that serves between Lambeth Conferences as a sort of Anglican Communion Secretariat and now 4.the Council of Primates given an enhanced and expanded role at the last Lambeth Conference.

While it would seem that we Anglicans have no Communion-wide, doctrinal magisterium, since the powers of all of the instruments of unity are largely recommendary, there does seem to be a general understanding that no Province or Diocese can be part of the Anglican Communion which is not recognized by the Archbishop of Canterbury and which does not hold the minimalist statement of the Anglican Faith, as set forth in the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral.

B, Some treasured Common Characteristics of Anglicanism:

Along with these 5 essential or formal marks of Anglican identity there are some 5 characteristics of Anglicanism that have been widespread and remain important. These are:

1. A love of both Word and Sacrament.

Word: A, There has been in the past and there is now a rediscovery of the importance of biblical and even expository preaching and teaching in the life of a congregation. B, Scripture provides the warp and woof of the BCP liturgy. C, We read more Scripture than any other communion in our worship D. The Church Year and/lectionary keep us from neglecting hard parts of the Scriptures. E. Small group Bible study has become widely used

Sacraments: A. Corporate baptism after baptismal instruction has tended of late to replace private baptism. B. Frequent celebration of the Lord's Supper. C. Use of the 5 Sacramental acts Confirmation, Ordination, Marriage, Healing, and Burial

2. Tradition is appreciated and honored but not placed beyond reform

Anglicans and Lutherans constitute the conservative Reformation. Tradition is seen as the proven and accumulated wisdom and work of Holy Spirit in the Church. It gives guidance and stability to the life of the congregation. However there are grounds for reforming tradition; these are: 1. when tradition has developed wrongly and is at odds with Scripture and 2, when due to contextual cultural changes the traditional ways of doing things restrict and hinder the effective exercise of the Church's mission.

Part of being traditional is the fact that we are a Liturgical people with a degree of freedom and variety allowed. (Ryle's comment: "If all could pray as some.") Liturgy is inherently traditional.

3. Anglicans tend to be intellectually confident, open to and interested in all truth, in principle. (Not fearful or uneducated or indifferent to careful analysis and comprehensive thought, aware of the call to bring every thought captive to Christ)

Since the one God is both Creator and Redeemer, all truth is God's truth. (See the Prologue to John's Gospel) Redeemed reason and faith are harmonious. (See reason as thought, reason as scholarship, reason as synthesizing world-view in relation to faith and the place of intellectual "metanoia") In Reformed terms this would include the "Cultural Mandate"

4. Healing ministry.

When we are biblical, Anglicans are open to the place of the Spirit and spirit in healing. We do it liturgically, formed the Order of St Luke, the miraculous is not excluded, renewal as fire in the fireplace, (not secessionists, gifts still given and to be used, including the gifts of healing).

5. A global Family

There is something both exciting and comforting to know that the Christian Communion, ("that branch of Christ's Church") to which we belong is ancient, large, and widespread and embraces such a wonderful variety of peoples in it, while being united in the common elements of Anglicanism. (This alas is endangered today)

Part 2, Where are we as the Anglican Communion Today

A. The longer view (in broad strokes):

The seven or so Western Provinces of the Anglican Communion and those Provinces they have strongly influenced have all been greatly affected by the intellectual cultural currents of thought in the West, from the 17-18th Century onwards. (I have in mind, the Church of England, of Scotland, of Canada, of Wales, ECUSA, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. Jerusalem, Brazil, Mexico, and Southern Africa) this gives these Provinces a significantly different theology from the more traditional Anglican Provinces in which the vast majority of Anglicans dwell.

The intellectual currents of the rationalistic Enlightenment of the 17 and 18th Centuries, the Romanticism of the 19th Century and the naturalistic, scientistic secularism of the 20th Century have bitten deep into the thought and life of these Provinces. The result is a moral and theological relativism and a view of God as "loving" defined in psychological terms such as unconditional acceptance. The Wrath of God has disappeared along with moral boundaries and truth is relegated to personal opinion, except in the physical, empirical, practical realm.

Since the Bible is so central to Anglicanism, we can gauge the departure from faithful Anglicanism by noting what has happen to Scripture in the West. Biblical study and the thoughtful examination of all sorts of helpful material concerning Scripture, usually referred to as biblical criticism, was emphasized during the Reformation of the 16th Century as a way of finding revealed truth, in order to adjust and criticize aspects of the Churches tradition and cultural thought. Subsequently in the West biblical criticism often becomes wedded to naturalistic assumptions which thereby reduce the Bible to man's thinking about God rather than God's Word to man. The diversity in Scripture tends to become primary and Scripture loses its unity as well as its normative and canonical status.

The consequences of this demotion of Scripture are great. The Articles of Religion become irrelevant, for they depend on the authority of Scripture. And the Anglican Church is left with the Creeds Liturgy and Bishops on which to hang our hats. Soon the Creeds as well as the liturgy are "sung but not said". That is they are viewed by the clergy and some "informed" laity as a kind of lovely poem of former Faith with abiding aesthetic value. Later the Liturgy is revised to fit the cultural flow and we are left only with Bishops, territorial boundaries and the institutional structures of the dioceses provinces and the Communion as that which binds and unites Anglicans. To cross diocesan boundaries uninvited is a sin, to preach and teach "niceness at all costs", or even revived paganism, or to deny all of the Articles of the Creeds or to call Christ's work of atonement on the Cross "horrible and disgusting" is not. Since there are no doctrinal or moral norms, no theological discipline is or could be exercised. (ala Jack Spong) (ala the Homosexual views and actions of Canada and ECUSA).

This leaves the Westernized Provinces, thus evangelized by the culture, at odds with the rest of the Anglican Communion.

B. The shorter view (From Lambeth 1998 to the Present)

How you might ask, did we move from the great victory of the godly Bishops in Resolution 1:10 at the 1998 Lambeth Conference with it's huge number of votes for and its tiny number of votes against the statement that "Same sex unions are contrary to the Word of God written" to the present state of dividedness in the Anglican Communion?

We ask, "Do the Westernized Provinces not recognize any authority in the resolutions of the Lambeth Conference? The answer is no they do not. There is, at present, no clear magisterium acknowledged by all in the Anglican Communion. The closest thing we have is the Archbishop of Canterbury's right to invite Provinces to the Lambeth Conference. Archbishop Carey articulated this and said it was his call and not the Primates. The Present Archbishop of Canter bury has stated that he would not use this authority to address the crisis in the Communion raised by the issue of the authority of Scripture and the official acceptance of active homosexuality by some in the Communion. This leaves us with a total vacuum in the matter of discipline.

In addition, leaders at the highest levels of the Anglican Communion have actually undercut the strong statement of Resolution 1:10 by temporizing, by permissive language, by stating that in some cases they do not agree with the resolution but will not act against it, by misapplying the Conference's commitment to listen pastorally to the pain of the homosexually oriented and inclined among us, to suggest that we would once again continue the debate on the issue after it was clearly resolved at Lambeth 1998 as contrary to Scripture, and even suggesting that later Lambeth Conferences could reverse matters, and by appointing to top positions of influence people of a revisionist nature. (Such actions not only subvert the resolution but also the authority of Scripture).

In short delay and avoidance have only served to make matters worse. Delay has allowed revisionists to take more radical and probably irreversible actions and to gain a stronger hold in the West, while deepening and setting in concrete the divide between the Westernized Provinces and much of the rest of the Anglican Communion. A lack of clear norms of the Faith affirmed by all, and no real magisterium have inevitably led to a failure to address error, to indecisive, poor leadership, to an exaltation of institutional visible unity over theological truth and to a deep and growing division. We must deal with our condition as soon as possible, with urgency, for delay is the friend of revisionism not of truth.

Part Three, Where we are to head and what we in AMIA are to do to help us get there. (Five suggested Actions) (Opinions of Bp. J H Rodgers)

Since we in AMIA are part of the Anglican Communion through the Province of Rwanda and the sponsorship of the Primates of Rwanda and South East Asia, those of us who are in AMIA have a responsibility and obligation to help the Communion of which we are a part be faithful to the Gospel and genuinely Anglican. Let me suggest five crucial actions that we need to take.

First, Be on Mission

We need above all to be on Mission, seeking the lost, discipling the faithful, planting and growing congregations. As we do that we give evidence that God's blessing is resting on us, that we are about our Father's business, and at the same time we set an example to others, encourage them, and also earn a right to be heard by our fellow Anglicans.

Second, Honor the Common Cause

Let AMIA be exemplary in speaking well of all and cooperating wherever possible with the Common Cause partners. Perhaps some form of lightly structured Federation with all willing, orthodox Anglicans in North America might be entered into in order to facilitate mutual cooperation and effectiveness in mission.

Third, AMIA should study, form, embrace and commend to all Anglicans world-wide an orthodox Communion Covenant. (We dare not let the revisionist write the Covenant)

I would like to propose the following statement of a Covenant as one which could serve that purpose or serve as a suggestive model for others to consider. I believe it contains all of the essentials in a manner that all who treasure Reformed Anglican Catholicism could embrace. It also includes a way of overseeing conformity to it. If not this statement then one like it in content will be needed. I believe we should work hard in our congregations and through our Bishops and Primates to see that some statement like this statement is formed and adopted as soon as possible. At the end of my talk I will hand out the statement to you for your consideration and our discussion.

(A suggested pattern or model of)

The Anglican Communion Covenant

An intra-Anglican Quadrilateral

"And they devoted themselves to the Apostles teaching and fellowship, the breaking of bread and the Prayers." Acts 2:42

We, the Primates [or Bishops] of the _____________ Provinces [or Province] of --_____________________gathered in [international] convocation at [_____________],

declare that we believe the following affirmations to contain the chief elements of Anglican Reformed Catholicism (as found in the historic formularies of the Anglican Communion and in the Windsor Report (2005),) which elements are essential for membership in the Anglican Communion of Churches.

(a) Apostolic Teaching

Anglican doctrine, departing in no essentials from the Faith and Practice of the whole Christian Church, is grounded in the Holy Scriptures which are the Word of God written, and in such teachings of the ancient Fathers and Councils of the Church as are agreeable to the said Scriptures. In particular such doctrine is to be found in the Catholic Creeds, the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion, and the Book of Common Prayer and the Ordinal of 1662. These formularies affirm that the Church is under the sovereign authority of Holy Scripture and state how Anglicans read the Scripture on central matters. Those who teach and preach in the Church are to do so in accordance with the Scripture as interpreted by the formularies listed above.

(b) Apostolic Mission

The Apostolic teaching gives high priority to the Risen Lord's "Great Commission" whereby the entire Church is: 1, sent into the World to preach the Gospel in order to gather Christ's sheep into the fold, 2, to manifest the love of Christ in service to the needy and 3, to reflect the truth of Christ into all the areas of society and culture. No Church that lives unto itself is faithful or apostolic.

(c) Apostolic Fellowship

Anglicans view the local congregations of faithful people, united in Christ by the Word of God and the sacraments rightly administered to be manifestations of the Church of Christ. Anglicans also affirm the association and interdependence of local congregations, united in dioceses and provinces within the Anglican Communion to be a global expression of the Church of Christ.

Christians so united in Christ are commanded by the Lord and empowered by the Holy Spirit to love one another as Christ has loved us. This ministry of the Church and the wider mission of the Church can only be done when all the members of the Body are ministering in love as they are gifted and equipped for service and are taking their place in the governance of the Church. This being the case, the work of the ordained ministry is in no small measure to equip the laity for the work of ministry and mission.

Concerning the ordained ministry of Bishops, Priests and Deacons, Anglicans treasure the ministry of the Historic Episcopate as a gift of God. We see in it an instrument called to serve apostolic truth, Christian unity and the mission of the Church. It is to be locally adapted in its methods of administration to the needs of the Church and the peoples among whom the Church lives and ministers.

Bishops in their local dioceses are to see to the faithful teaching of the saints, to oversee them in their congregations, to guide them in the evangelization of the lost and in the planting of new congregations. Bishops are also to see to the exercise of appropriate ecclesiastical discipline in both moral and doctrinal matters.

Since Anglicans are a world-wide Fellowship, the Primates and Bishops in council, respecting the autonomy of the several provinces, are called to give counsel to the Church applying Christian truth to the pressing concerns and needs of the Church.

(d) Apostolic Worship

Anglicans hold the two sacraments of the Gospel ordained by Christ Himself, Baptism and the Supper of the Lord, to be of central importance. They are to be administered with unfailing use of Christ's words of institution and of the elements ordained by Him.

Anglicans gladly make use of the other historic sacramental acts that relate the Gospel to different aspects of the Christian life and ministry and also of such ancient practices of the Church, such as the liturgical year, as are in agreement with the Scriptures.

Anglicans believe that the Liturgy of the Church shapes the spiritual ethos of the Church. We therefore, hold the historic Prayer Book tradition to be a remarkable gift of God, given through the godly Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer. While some local diversity in matters of worship is allowed, including alternative service books, such diversity should maintain the substance of the Faith entire, and should never supplant the historic Prayer Book tradition (1662) in the worship of the Church.

An appendix on the oversight of the Covenant

Someone must be designated to see that the Common Covenant is faithfully observed. We suggest the following pattern of oversight of its observance. This suggestion follows the tendency to give the Primates an enhanced role in the Communion as was done in the Lambeth Conference of 1998.

Each Primate would be responsible to assure his fellow Primates, at their annual meetings, that the Province of which he is the Primate is living in accord with the Covenant. Should any doubt arise concerning a given Province then the Primates acting in consort, after giving guidance and due warnings, would have the authority to declare a Province to be outside the Anglican Communion. The Primates would also have the authority, after due consideration, to assist in the formation of a new Province to replace the Province that had been declared outside the Communion. It would further be understood that any diocese or congregation of the former Province that wished to remain in the Anglican Communion in agreement with the Covenant would be allowed to do so and to retain their property as well. Clergy wishing to remain in the Anglican Communion would be welcome to do so and their retirement benefits be protected.

Fourth, Begin to face the inevitable and urge the orthodox Primates to take a lead in immediately forming a new Anglican Communion

If it be true that the Primates have no disciplinary authority in the Anglican Communion as the previous Archbishop of Canterbury has declared, and if the Lambeth Conference is only recommendary, and if the Archbishop of Canterbury has declared he will not use whatever authority is vested in him to discipline the Communion regarding the approval of active homosexual behavior, and if the Provinces of the Communion have in numerous places departed (in parts officially, in parts in practice), from the Apostolic Faith as found in the Anglican Formularies, then there is no official instrument whereby the Anglican Communion can be reformed. It will only sink deeper into division and growing compromise with the spirit of the age. This has been lived out in the West; the empirical evidence is plain for all to see.

Lest the health of the orthodox Provinces be lost and they be found in fellowship with, and corrupted by invading apostasy, there is need for the orthodox Provinces led by their Primates to separate themselves ASAP from the Communion as presently constituted and to form a new Anglican Communion with a clear common Covenant that marks out, in a binding fashion faithful Anglican Reformed Catholicism. This Covenant must include a mechanism for its discipline in the Communion. (See the model above)

The orthodox Primates have already taken bold steps after the Cairo Meeting, by electing a Leadership Team, chaired by Archbishop Akinola, and a Primates Advisory Group, by sending forth a public Statement and addressing a strong letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury, with which, unfortunately, Canterbury has said he does not concur. Let them build on this consensus by moving ahead now with the inevitable break for the sake of the unity of the Church in the Apostolic Faith as Anglicans have received it.

Having thus formed a new Anglican Communion bound by a Common Covenant, all congregations and dioceses and Provinces holding to the Anglican Reformed Catholic Faith can be invited to be part of that Communion, New Provinces formed, and we can then undertake together the mission to reach the world with the Gospel of Christ.

Fifth, If the orthodox Primates believe that the Anglican Communion is still reformable and are not willing at present to form a new Anglican Communion then we should urge the Primates to take specific steps for the Anglican Communion to be set in proper order. Here is one approach which depends upon orthodox Primates taking a strong lead:

We note that the Windsor Report, which we do not wish to endorse in its totality, has been adopted by all of the Primates and the Anglican Consultative Council as the way forward. It speaks of a Covenant for the Anglican Communion that would state what is essential for a Church to belong to the Communion. This "required covenant" may provide a way of addressing the divided condition of the Anglican Communion in faithfulness to the Gospel.

Our present state makes it clear that we need the Covenant that the Windsor Report calls for in order to give theological backbone to the Communion. And we orthodox Anglicans need to be certain that it gives to the Communion the clear guide-lines needed to define godly, biblical and faithful Anglicanism in its essentials.

Some might want to use the Lambeth Quadrilateral as the Covenant but that is already in use and has failed. In fact the very call for a Covenant by the Windsor Report makes it clear that the Lambeth Quadrilateral is far too minimalist to express the elements essential to our Anglican identity or even to keep us orthodox. The Quadrilateral is a helpful guide to ecumenical discussion with other Christian bodies. It was formed for that purpose, but it is inadequate to serve as a definition of what it is to be an Anglican and a member Provi nce or Diocese of the Anglican Communion. Therefore, as stated above, a new Covenant needs to be written and adopted.

Given that, here are some steps that the orthodox Primates might take:

Step one. All of the orthodox Primates and their Provinces form and adopt an orthodox Communion Covenant so that they and their Provinces be united therein. (Largely the Global South Primates and Provinces) (See the above Covenant as a suggested pattern or the Province of Nigeria's changed Constitution as the beginning of a covenant) This should be done before the 2006 Primates Meeting. (Such a Primates meeting is not optional and must take place shortly after the General Convention of the Episcopal Church, USA. The orthodox Primates may need to insist upon this for at present one is not scheduled and delay is the tactic of the revisionists.).

Step two. Let the 2006 Primates Meeting (in August or September, after the General Convention of ECUSA) adopt the same orthodox Communion Covenant and send it to all of the Provinces of the Anglican Communion as the designated Communion Covenant of the Anglican Communion.

Step three. Let all the Provinces adopt the same Covenant. This should take place in Provincial special conventions during 2006 and the first several months of 2007. Any Province not adopting the Communion Covenant would place itself outside of the Anglican Communion and a new Province would be instituted in its place.

Step four. Should steps two and/or three prove to be impossible to accomplish (which is highly likely) let the orthodox Primates and Provinces recognize that the Anglican Communion as presently constituted is irreformable and form a new Anglican Communion around the orthodox Communion Covenant. This should be done as soon as possible, certainly during 2007. Unfortunately, in my opinion this forth step seems the inevitable, eventual outcome.


1. Delay is no friend of the Orthodox. Matters have been and are moving down hill as we drag our feet. The story of the Anglican Communion following Lambeth 1998 illustrates this fact. 2. Prayer and fasting is essential. What is needed cannot be accomplished in our strength alone; it must be God's gracious gift. 3. There will be a cost no matter what we do. Let it be the cost of faithful discipleship and not avoidance.

So help us God! Amen!

TOPICS: Mainline Protestant
KEYWORDS: amia; anglican
(Gman, this one's for you!)
1 posted on 01/28/2006 5:40:58 PM PST by sionnsar
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To: ahadams2; AnalogReigns; Uriah_lost; Condor 63; Fractal Trader; Zero Sum; anselmcantuar; Agrarian; ..
Traditional Anglican ping, continued in memory of its founder Arlin Adams.

FReepmail sionnsar if you want on or off this moderately high-volume ping list (typically 3-9 pings/day).
This list is pinged by sionnsar, Huber and newheart.

Resource for Traditional Anglicans:

Humor: The Anglican Blue (by Huber)

Speak the truth in love. Eph 4:15

2 posted on 01/28/2006 5:41:58 PM PST by sionnsar (†† | Libs: Celebrate MY diversity! | Iran Azadi 2006 | Is it February yet?)
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To: sionnsar

The Anglican Communion finally drove me to shul.

3 posted on 01/28/2006 5:54:55 PM PST by onedoug
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To: sionnsar

Hey now!

While others are deciding what committee to form next to look at the "problem"...I believe that the AMIA is putting legs on the Great Commission!

When are the folks in ECUSA going to understand that it is all about Jesus and not about real estate or affections that are stumbling blocks to building the Kingdom?

4 posted on 01/28/2006 8:32:59 PM PST by Gman (AMiA Priest.)
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To: Gman
I believe that the AMIA is putting legs on the Great Commission!

You are correct -- and it's not just AMiA, it's the Africans generally.

5 posted on 01/29/2006 7:59:49 AM PST by sionnsar (†† | Libs: Celebrate MY diversity! | Iran Azadi 2006 | Is it February yet?)
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