The Watcher Cat

The Watcher Cat

Friday, July 18, 2008

Attempted Takeover?

From GAFCON's response to the Archbishop of Canterbury's statement concerning its "Jerusalem Statement and Declaration":
On the uniqueness of Christ. We are equally concerned to hear that 'the conviction of the uniqueness of Jesus Christ as Lord and God' is 'not in dispute' in the Anglican Communion. Leading bishops in The Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church of Canada, and even the Church of England have denied the need to evangelise among people of other faiths, promoted and attended syncretistic events and, in some cases, refused to call Jesus Lord and Saviour.

On authority. [I]n the Anglican tradition, authority is not concentrated in a single centre, but rather across a number of persons and bodies. This Council is a first step towards bringing greater order to the Communion, both for the sake of bringing long overdue discipline and as a reforming initiative for our institutions.

In situations of false teaching, moreover, it has sometimes been necessary for other bishops to intervene to uphold apostolic faith and order.
On discipline. Finally, with regard to the Archbishop's concern about people who have been disciplined in one jurisdiction and have been accepted in another, we are clear that any such cases have been investigated thoroughly and openly with the fullest possible transparency. Bishops and parishes have been given oversight only after the overseeing bishops have been fully satisfied of no moral impediments to their action.

We assure the Archbishop of Canterbury of our respect as the occupier of an historic see which has been used by God to the benefit of his church and continue to pray for him to be given wisdom and discernment.
My, my. I note three interesting aspects to this:

1. The statement makes clear--not that anyone thought otherwise--that the purpose of GAFCON is power--power to claim the Anglican brand, reducing Canterbury to "an historic see," and stripping the Archbishop of Canterbury of any particular role, while claiming for itself the right to reshape the Communion, to bring forth Order and Discipline.

2. Note the casual conflation of stark accusations of allegeations of heresy behavior with much more modest substantiation; Akinola et al take exception with the Archbishop's statement that the uniqueness of Christ is not in doubt, but offer a very different specification in response; they claim that conveniently unnamed "leading bishops" have (1) denied the need to evangelize among people of other faiths--a disagreement with GAFCON as to tactics, not theology; (2) promoted and attended syncretistic events--which I doubt the GAFCON-ers mean literally, but rather in its more modern sense of "the mixture of dissimilar or incompatible things or ideas." (Id.), which could be nothing more than a tactic not unlike that of Paul in Acts 17; and finally, alleges that "in some cases" have refused to call Jesus Lord and Savior. As to this last, questions need to be asked: How many "leading bishops" do they refer to, and in what context? Do they really mean refusal, or simply the preference of different appellations they apply to Christ? But frankly, the placement of first two prongs of this purported rebuttal suggest that this last prong is one they themselves find weak.

3. Finally, they claim--consistent with point 1--that their members and they alone can judge the juridicial processes of other provinces--free and equal churches within the Communion--and that they are free to disregard discipline imposed by such other churches at their own discretion, with no comity or deferences to such other churches, as must in fact submit to their discipline.

In short, Anglicanism is to give up the via media in favor of a confessional, conciliar model--one in which a self-selected orthodox have the right to judge the rest of us, deciding who are sheep and who goats. And the Archbishop of Canterbury? He's a quaint relic, to be honored for historical significance and little more.

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