Skip to comments.AAC: Equipping the Saints: A Crisis Resource for Anglican Laity [+commentary]
Posted on 04/09/2006 5:23:25 PM PDT by sionnsar
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the four Instruments of Anglican Unity?
The Anglican Communion understands itself to be a family formed by mutual responsibility and interdependence chiefly enabled through four instruments of unity. These instruments are modeled on the early Churchs conciliar structure a model upheld by both Scripture and tradition in which the Church met in councils to consider and resolve theological and doctrinal issues. Today, the four instruments of unity in the Anglican Communion are also responsible for articulating and upholding the mind of the Church on matters of doctrine and theology, and they include the:
Archbishop of Canterbury unique focus for Anglican unity; calls the Lambeth Conference; chairs the Primates meetings; President of the ACC
Lambeth Conference gathering of the bishops of the Communion; meets once every 10 years
Primates archbishops of each province; meet regularly
Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) includes one to three persons from every province; an advisory council which seeks to develop common policies with respect to the world mission of the Church
It is significant to note that all four instruments of unity exhorted ECUSA against the actions taken at General Convention 2003 as well as the subsequent consecration of an active homosexual, and have upheld traditional teaching on Scriptural authority and human sexuality.
What are the Lambeth Commission and the Windsor Report?
The Lambeth Commission was established in October 2003 by the Archbishop of Canterbury to examine the life of the Communion. The Windsor Report 2004 was developed by the Lambeth Commission; the report outlines the state of the Anglican Communion and how to address issues threatening to divide the worldwide Church.
What is the via media concept within Anglicanism?
Traditionally, the term via media has been used to describe the middle way between the Reformed/Protestant expression of faith and Roman Catholicism. With the rise of revisionism, via media has been re-interpreted as the middle of extremes between conservative and liberal theologyit is described as the moderate position, even though its proponents are actually departing from the most basic tenets of historic and Biblical Christianity, thereby rendering it a new tool of revisionism.
What is the Episcopal Church USA (ECUSA)?
The Episcopal Church is the U.S. province of the worldwide Anglican Communion.
What is the nature of the crisis in the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion?
The Episcopal Church faces an extreme crisis of belief centered on the uniqueness of Jesus Christ as Savior and the authority of Scripture.
What is Adequate Episcopal Oversight (AEO)?
In their statement of October 2003, the Anglican Primates expressed particular concern for those who in all conscience feel bound to dissent from the teaching and practice of provinces or dioceses that contravene the teaching of the Communion. As part of this concern, the Primates as a whole called on the provinces concerned to make adequate provision for episcopal oversight of dissenting minorities within their own area of pastoral care in consultation with the Archbishop of Canterbury on behalf of the Primates. Oversight provided solely by, and potentially manipulated by, offending authorities cannot be deemed acceptable. Adequate oversight must be determined by those who are seeking it.
What is Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight (DEPO), and does the AAC support it?
In March 2004, the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church approved a plan for Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight (DEPO) as a means to meet the pastoral needs of dissenting churches not wishing to receive oversight from the bishop of their diocese. DEPO does not adequately address structural relief (alternative jurisdiction) for faithful Episcopalians in hostile dioceses; the plan is viable only where it is unnecessarythat is, in the few dioceses where bishops would grant AEO. DEPO in no way fulfills the call of the Primates for adequate provision for Episcopal oversight.
What is the significance of the February 2005 Primates Communiqué?
Meeting in Northern Ireland in late February 2005, the Primates of the Anglican Communion issued a closing communiqué that upheld the Communions traditional teaching on Scriptural authority and human sexuality; asked the U.S. and Canadian representatives to voluntarily withdraw from the Anglican Consultative Council until Lambeth 2008; called for the appointment of a Panel of Reference (see below); and called the North American churches to set out their thinking behind their actions at the upcoming June 2005 ACC meeting. The Communiqué was a firm move by the worldwide Anglican Communion to reaffirm the apostolic faith and hold accountable those provinces which have abandoned traditional Christian teaching and practice.
What is the Panel of Reference?
Called for by the 2005 Primates Communique, the panel was to be appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury as a matter of urgency to supervise the adequacy of pastoral provisions made for groups in serious theological dispute with their diocesan bishop, or dioceses in dispute with their Provinces. This panel was called for to protect orthodox parishes and dioceses during the current crisis period and to reinforce the Primates October 2003 call for AEO. To date, no cases have been decided by the Panel and the effectiveness it will have has been seriously questioned.
What is meant by crossing boundaries?
Due to the current crisis of the Church and the utter failure of AEO and DEPO, emergency measures are being taken to provide pastoral care and protection for faithful Anglicans and Episcopalians in the United States and worldwide. More and more parishes are disaffiliating from the Episcopal Church USA and seeking oversight from bishops in other provinces. (Such measures have precedent in Church history.) The individuals who are providing these Episcopal functions do so at personal sacrifice and are considered by many to be heroes of our times.
What does it mean to be in Communion with one another? What is meant by broken communion?
Members of the Anglican Communion (38 provinces) are united by a common faith, doctrine, tradition and order. Broken, or impaired, communion indicates that one or more of the constituent members has breached the bonds of communion. Of the 38 provinces in the Anglican Communion, 22 have declared that they are in a state of broken, or impaired, communion with the Episcopal Church USA due to its actions.
What is the difference between the American Anglican Council (AAC) and the Anglican Communion Network (ACN)?
Founded in 1996, the AAC is a membership organization dedicated to serving individuals, congregations and dioceses. With a member base composed of laity, clergy (deacons, priests and bishops), parishes, specialized ministries, dioceses and chapters; the first and foremost goal of the AAC is to fulfill the Great Commission by providing information, resources, and practical ideas for assisting individuals and congregations. The AAC specializes in advocacy work, communications, education, building relationships (affiliates, partnerships with other national and international ministries), diplomacy, relief efforts, and other special projects.
The ACN, whose formal title is the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes, was established in 2004. A Biblically-driven missionary movement, the ACN is dedicated to bringing the true and legitimate expression of Anglicanism to North America and provides a means for U.S. Anglicans to remain connected with the worldwide Anglican Communion. Composed of U.S. dioceses and parishes, the ACN was incorporated under the constitution of the Episcopal Church USA (ECUSA), whereas the AAC works flexibly in the Americas with those still in ECUSA as well as with those who want absolutely no connection with the Episcopal Church. However, both the AAC and ACN work in complementary ways to uphold Biblical orthodoxy in this time of crisis and are both necessary for Anglican realignment in North America.
Is the AAC divisive and schismatic?
While some claim that the AAC has caused schism in the Episcopal Church, in reality, it is the Episcopal Church that has caused divisions, both within itself and in the worldwide Anglican Communion, by ignoring the authority of Scripture and the admonitions of the Primates. In the words of the Anglican Communion Primates, the Episcopal Church tore the fabric of the Communion.
Read it all.
A minority of Episcopalians are truly concerned about the route into apostasy being taken by the General Convention of their Church. Many, but not all, of this minority are represented by the American Anglican Council & the Anglican Communion Network, whose membership claims to be the orthodox opposing the revisionists.
Yet any serious-minded, informed Episcopalian layman, desirous to be orthodox and to worship the Lord our God in the beauty of holiness in the best tradition of the Anglican Way will, I suspect, be VERY disappointed with the recently released second edition of Equipping the Saints: A Crisis Resource for Anglican Laity, first published in 2004 from the American Anglican Council.
Why VERY disappointing? Let me explain.
Not because what it presents is actually wrong. But because it avoids telling the more painful parts of the story and of painting in the dark colors of the picture to the laity. Put another way, it does not attempt to diagnose the serious disease and thus gives the impression that while there is a disease it is not of the very serious even deadly kind. (We may recall that much the same occurred with the introduction of the new prayer book in the 1970s clergy leaders did not tell the whole truth about it and its contents, and eventually up to a million folks left the ECUSA after its introduction.)
In its survey of important and decisive events in the history of ECUSA, the pamphlet fails to note and underline three of the most significant, all of which illustrate the clear determination of the General Convention of this Church to depart from the received Anglican Way, historically known as Reformed Catholicism.
1. Though the claim is made in this document by the American Anglican Council that it is wholly committed to the biblically-based doctrine of marriage, it fails to state that the ECUSA, with its new marriage canon of 1973 and by the preface and content of its new marriage service of 1979, made this doctrine to be, at best, optional. In fact, it opened the door wide to very easy re-marriage of divorcees in church and taught that procreation is merely an option within marriage, and not part of what one-flesh means. This doctrine and discipline operates in AA Council/Network dioceses and parishes and a high percentage of the membership are divorced and remarried. The point being made here is that this real and unsolved problem with heterosexual marriages opens the door for the claims of those who promote same-sex partnerships as a matter of human justice and rights.
2. In the list of important events it is noted that a new prayer book came into use in 1979, and this is presented in such a way to give the impression that this was but a new edition of the one Book of Common Prayer, which had previously gone through gentle revisions (as in 1892 & 1928). In fact, it was not a new edition of an old book, but an entirely new book of varied services and varied doctrine and it replaced the classic book as the new standard of worship and doctrine in the ECUSA. Its adoption meant that the ECUSA had set aside the Religion it received from the Church of England in the seventeenth century and adopted a new religion new prayer book, new ordination services and new catechism (new Formularies/Standards). This was revolutionary but nothing is said about it by the AA Council. This is amazing as also is the fact that many of the congregations associated with the AAC and Network use it, find little or no fault with it, and receive it as their Formulary. (A few only rightly use it as a book of alternative services and retain the classic BCP (1928) as their primary service book and formulary.) In so doing, whatever other statements they may make as in this booklet the majority declare that they have abandoned the historic, classical and biblically-based Reformed Catholic Faith of the Anglican Way in favor of revisionism, howbeit a less developed form than that of those who take the principles of the 1979 prayer book to its logical limits, the prophets of the new episcopalianism and of progressive liberalism.
3. Nothing whatsoever is said about the major innovation introduced into the ECUSA first illegally and then officially in the 1970s of the ordaining of women as deacons, presbyters and bishops. Anyone who studies how this happened cannot but be impressed by the fact that it entered because of powerful feminist pressure to gain equal rights and opportunities for women in the churchs employment opportunities. Of course, attempts were made to justify it from Scripture but this proved difficult, as also it had been when seeking to justify easy remarriage of divorcees in church. But the point is that this innovation most certainly energized the advocates of same-sex blessings and they too pressed the more urgently for their rights (often using powerful emotive testimonies at Gen Conv.).
What these three and other innovations (e.g., same-sex blessings) point to is the abandoning of the received Reformed Catholicism of the Anglican Way, and at a deeper level, the abandoning of Gods order for creation, marriage, and his Church. In that the American Anglican Council does not name these innovations and also encourages the acceptance and use of the 1979 Prayer Book which is the Formulary associated with them, one must truly have the worry that its leadership is not ready to make known to the laity what is the real depth of the problem, what is the extent of the disease, and thus what is the magnitude of the healing required from the God of all grace with whom all things are possible.
Therefore, to get the ECUSAs General Convention of June 2006 to do a U-turn of some kind on same-sex matters will not really be to have addressed the real apostasy of the ECUSA which began most seriously in the 1970s. For the real story is that this is not a battle of orthodox versus revisionist in ECUSA as such; rather it is a call for ALL revisionists, of the intense and of the mild kind, to seek the old paths and walk therein (Jeremiah 6:16).
Here it may be added that the Report prepared by a theological commission for General Convention, One Baptism, One Hope in Gods Call, published on April 7 does actually call for virtually everything that the AAC and the Network has been asking for and it does it from the middle ground of the ECUSA (those who have been surprised and shocked by the universal condemnation of actions of the Gen Con of 2003). This Report may be called mild revisionism and such it appears is what the Anglican Communion is ready to accept as a basis for communion together in Christ. Whether it will get approved by the Gen Con is another matter for the forces of radical progressive religion are already planning its defeat.
But back to where we were. The laity were not told the whole truth in the 1970s about the massive changes in the worship, doctrine and discipline of the ECUSA. Let us not repeat the same mistake in 2006 despite the Report for Convention and the Pamphlet from the AAC. Let us be honest about the full nature of the revisionism in the ECUSA of which the same-sex agenda is merely the latest manifestation.
Do please visit www.anglicansatprayer.org for inspiration to pray for true renewal.
For a description of the major innovations of the ECUSA, read the 64 page booklet, Episcopal Innovations 1960-2004, published by the Prayer Book Society of the USA, and available to purchase at www.anglicanmarketplace.com and for download from www.episcopalian.org/pbs1928
The Revd Dr Peter Toon Lent 2006
Why does everyone in the AAC & the Network persist in giving the laity only half the story? It's because they are NOT, in fact, orthodox & never will be. Most had no quarrel whatsoever with ANY of the revisions in ECUSA - that is, until the homosexuals began to demand that they be accorded an equal measure of deference & accommodation as that meted out to other members with their special agendas. I've said it before, & I'll say it again...all these folks are striving for is a status quo ECUSA without the "homosexual problem." The truly orthodox Anglican has left the ECUSA - never to return. What remains are just varying degrees of revisionists. The folks in the AAC & the Network have fouled their own nest & now operate under the delusion that they can make the stench tolerable simply by not adding anymore guano to the pile!
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