Skip to comments.Theologian Bishops Call Orthodox [Anglicans] To Break Communion
Posted on 09/05/2006 5:47:15 PM PDT by sionnsar
Two theologian bishops, one African the other American, believe that orthodox Episcopalians and Anglicans worldwide must break communion with any church in the Anglican Communion that does not hold to the Anglican faith in an explicit fashion, and that orthodox Anglican churches should be united around the Anglican faith with Nigerian Primate Peter Akinola and the Global South giving the essential leadership.
While not calling openly for schism, Rwandan Bishop John K. Rucyahana and American Bishop John H. Rodgers, Jr., believe that the crisis in the communion is so severe that waiting to act until the 2008 Lambeth Conference or the 2007 Primates' Meeting is "very dangerous" and unacceptable, they write in a petition to the Global South Leadership team.
Citing Akinola's words to the bishops of the Anglican Communion Network they say that time is no longer on their side and this applies not only to the clergy and laity of the communion it applies equally to the Primates who adhere to the Anglican faith. "Time is running out for us and the millions of persons under our care," write the two bishops.
Most importantly, say the bishops, every day that goes by, more souls will be lost. They blasted revisionist and pragmatic leaders for "leading the communion into the wilderness of morally empty theologizing."
Akinola is right when he says the only safe way to "peace and communion" is taking the millions of persons under their care out of harm's way, and for the members of the Anglican group to become completely separated from the revisionist and traditionalist/pragmatist churches and groups, they say.
"We are aware that the burden of preserving the Anglican faith has necessarily fallen upon churches in Africa and Asia. Western churches once carried the faith to Africa and Asia, and now churches in Africa and Asia are needed to carry it back to the Western countries. But time is of the essence. Every day that the Anglican churches in Africa and Asia continue in communion with the anti-Scriptural false teachers, they give them time to spread their disease," they write.
The two bishops argue that continued delay in resolving the issues undermines the teaching in the Global South; that the Provinces of the Global South become increasingly susceptible to being infiltrated, divided, and weakened by false teaching; and more members of their flocks and other persons in the wider Communion will be led astray from the Gospel. Strong action is needed, they say.
"This division has become evident during the current controversy in the Anglican Communion over whether the Church should approve of same gender sexual relations. The controversy puts into question whether the Church is subordinate to the sovereign authority of Scripture because Scripture expressly prohibits Christians from engaging in such conduct."
The bishops maintain that Scripture is primary and authoritative on faith and morals and that the Church and its members are obligated to obey the commandments and follow the teachings of Scripture. "The faith is defined by The Church of England's Articles of Religion and the doctrinal tenets contained in its 1662 Book of Common Prayer and ordinal."
The two bishops believe that the current crisis can be identified by three distinct groups: The "Anglican group," lead by Archbishop Akinola; the "revisionist group," lead by Archbishop Rowan Williams and the "traditionalist/ pragmatist group" lead by George Carey, former Archbishop of Canterbury.
"The Anglican group is directly opposed to the revisionist group on both issues. The traditionalist/pragmatist group has been allied with the Anglican group on the surface issue of whether the Church should approve of same gender sexual relations, but is allied with the revisionist group on the foundational issue of whether the Church is subordinate to the sovereign authority of Scripture," the two bishops argue.
They believe the Anglican group, lead by Peter Akinola, Primate of the 20 million member Church of Nigeria, is also Chairman of the South to South Encounter, consists of churches and bishops which hold that the Church is subordinate to the sovereign authority of Scripture and may not ordain anything contrary to Scripture. They are opposed to the Church's approval of same gender sexual relations. They adhere to the Articles of Religion, the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, and the1662 ordination vow and thereby follow the Anglican faith. Akinola says the Anglican tenet is that the Church and its bishops must look only to Scripture and not to themselves or elsewhere to determine sexuality issues. Scripture is "paramount" and "non-negotiable," he says.
Therefore the ordination of Vicki Gene Robinson to be a bishop and his living in a same-sex relationship is totally unacceptable.
The two bishops believe that the revisionist group supported by Rowan Williams' theology and his Affirming Catholic counterpart Frank T. Griswold have less than a biblical worldview and teach that the Church should approve of same gender sexual relations. They believe the Church is not subordinate to Scripture's sovereign authority with Griswold articulating that "the Word [of God] most active in terms of human experience and what's actually being lived by the men and women in our dioceses and congregations" rather than "in terms of Scripture."
They say Williams teaches that Scripture is not in and of itself the Word of God written but rather poses questions and offers a methodology for answering them by looking to "our experience of Christian humanity and reality and how our thinking fits with it." They believe that the scope of the injurious effect of Williams's rejection of the sovereign authority of Scripture is immense as many in the Anglican Communion look to the Archbishop of Canterbury for guidance.
The third traditionalist/pragmatist group is illustrated by George Carey, an evangelical, who comes in for a strong indictment by the two bishops. They say that this group believes that the Church is not subordinate to the sovereign authority of Scripture and therefore may approve of same gender sexual relations, but believe the Church should not do so at present for traditional or pragmatic reasons. "While their present opposition to the Church's approval of same gender sexual relations is consistent with the Articles of Religion and the 1662 consecration vow, their view that the Church is not subordinate to the sovereign authority of Scripture is inconsistent with both the Articles and the historic ordination vow."
They criticize Carey because in one breath he very helpfully prohibited same gender sexual relations and supported the 1998 Lambeth Conference on Resolution I.10, in another breath, he has made it clear that he holds that the Church, guided by the Holy Spirit, may approve of same gender sexual relations. "The issue is not going to go away. And you can take a number of views on this. One view, and the absolutist view, would be to say homosexuality is so definitely wrong that the church would oppose it in the future as it does now. A more pragmatic approach would) say at the moment it is clear that to ordain practicing (homosexuals) would divide the church greatly so let's wait and see.... In a way, I take the more pragmatic approach on this really. Although it seems to me that the biblical authority is really unequivocal in its opposition..., we simply have to wait and see how the Holy Spirit is going to lead the church in this," said Carey.
The two theologian bishops believe that if Carey had enforced Resolution I.10's prohibition of same gender sexual relations, he could have used the powers of the Archbishop of Canterbury to obtain the repentance or withdraw his recognition of the episcopal ministry of at least 187 bishops, including the Primates of ten provinces -- Australia, Brazil, Canada, Ireland, Melanesia, New Zealand, Scotland, Southern Africa, USA, and Wales. He failed, and in doing so failed the whole communion.
"In order to protect the unity of the Anglican Communion,Carey took the pragmatic approach of supporting the voices of revisionism and used his powers to protect and advance their teachings and thwart the opposition thereto."
They particularly scored Carey for redefining the Lambeth bishops' commitment to listen to gays and lesbians "experience with a view to pastorally counseling persons from continuing to engage in same gender sexual relations, "Carey and Griswold changed it to one of listening with a view of possibly being persuaded that the Church should approve of such conduct, thereby continuing the debate after the bishops at Lambeth 1998 had declared in the Conference that such a position was contrary to Scripture."
By doing so Carey and Griswold accomplished two things. First, they provided a rationale for a dialogue program that would keep open the question of whether the Church should approve of same gender sexual relations and put it into play in every diocese in the Anglican Communion. Second, they implicitly held that the Church may approve of same gender sexual relations, even though such conduct is expressly prohibited by Scripture, if enough bishops are persuaded to do so by listening to the experience of homosexual persons.
"Carey and Griswold thus made both the Church and "experience" superior to Scripture. They not only reversed the purpose of Resolution I.10, but also reversed Resolutions III.5 and III.6, which had placed the Church under the sovereign authority of Scripture."
As a result the revisionist and traditionalist/pragmatist groups can live together in the Anglican Communion because they share the fundamental belief that the Church is not subordinate to the sovereign authority of Scripture, say the bishops.
"I think more fundamentally the question is this: Can we, as a community of faith, live with this difference in perspective and perceive in these differences traces of Christ. And if we can, then we can continue as a community in communion," wrote Carey.
As a result the bishops say that the pragmatic approach and submission of Scripture to experience is "wrong in the essential matters of the Faith."
The bishops say that Scripture gives clear direction on how faithful Anglicans should deal with the revisionist and traditionalist/pragmatist groups, who are essentially false teachers in the Biblical sense. They point to multiple biblical passages that talk about "false teachers" and the need to disassociate from same.
They say that Akinola's warning that the members of the Anglican group "risk the displeasure of God" by continuing to go together with persons who teach that the Church may approve of doctrine contrary to Scripture should not be taken lightly. "Scripture is replete with examples of the displeasure of God suffered by the Israelites for failure to heed the warning and say that more recent examples of what happens when the warning is ignored is the fallen state of almost all of the some thirty-five dioceses in ECUSA that began with the American Anglican Council eleven years ago.
"The AAC was formed after the actions of ECUSA's 1994 General Convention made it apparent that the Convention was totally controlled by the advocates of the Church's approval of same gender sexual relations. Instead of leaving when they had a reasonable chance to do so as intact organizations, the AAC members chose to remain in ECUSA.
"As a consequence of remaining in ECUSA, the more orthodox dioceses have dwindled in number, and most of them have become so impacted by apostasy that they are too weak and internally divided to protect orthodox beliefs within their territories, much less leave ECUSA as intact organizations. Of the twenty bishops at ECUSA's 2000 General Convention who voted against the seven resolutions approving of same gender sexual relations, only thirteen were sitting bishops of USA dioceses. One of the thirteen was AAC member Bishop Ed Salmon (SC), announced he was able to live with the resolutions and could work with them. Another AAC sitting bishop who voted against the resolutions, the Bishop of Dallas James Stanton, saw his suffragan bishop, D. Bruce MacPherson, vote in favor of them."
Akinola and other Primates have openly called upon Williams to repent of his "personal" teaching that the Church should approve of same gender sexual relations, and use his power as the Archbishop of Canterbury to require the others in the Communion who so teach to do the same. Till recently (and one cannot be sure it cannot be nuanced) he has failed to do that.
In calling on Williams to repent of his position the Primates recognized the distinction Williams has made between his "personal" teaching and his "official" position as the Archbishop of Canterbury. He is apparently unwilling to use the powers of his office to "officially" require acceptance or rejection of such approval as a condition for churches and bishops to be members or participate in the affairs of the Communion. As one commentator said,"He is having difficulty raising the red card"
"Given these circumstances, waiting to act until the 2008 Lambeth Conference or the 2007 Primates' Meeting is very dangerous. Akinola's words to the bishops of the Network that they "must realize time is no longer on their side" apply equally to the Primates who adhere to the Anglican faith. Time is running out for us and the millions of persons under our care. It is time to clearly and fully separate from the revisionist and traditionalist/pragmatist churches and groups, and be intentionally and explicitly united in the Anglican faith, they conclude.
NOTE: The Petition was written by the two Bishops and various members of the Society for the Propagation of Reformed Evangelical Doctrine. The society is dedicated to the spread of faithful, Biblical theology, as found in the historic Anglican Formularies and such other information as will support the same, to all people and all churches, particularly to those who are members of the Anglican Communion. SPREAD'S website: http://www.anglicanspread.org/
"Let any Bishop, or Presbyter, or Deacon that merely joins in prayer with heretics be suspended, but if he has permitted them to perform any service as clergymen, let him be deposed." Apostolic Canon 45.
"That one must not join in prayer with heretics or schismatics." Canon 33 of the Council of Laodicea.
"Chrysostomos loudly declares not only heretics, but also those who have communion with them, to be enemies of God." St. Theodore the Studite, Epistle of Abbot Theophilus.
"All the teachers of the Church, and all the Councils, and all the Divine Scriptures advise us to flee from the heterodox and separate from their communion." St. Mark of Ephesus.
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