Saturday, June 28, 2008

A First Take on the Jerusalem Declaration

(...including the preliminary material.)

I do mean a first take. I'm cherry picking here, and will doubtless have more to say when I've had a chance to analyze it more closely.

I am distressed to see a continuation of broad-brush binary rhetoric that has characterized many of those behind GAFCON for a long time now.

The first fact is the acceptance and promotion within the provinces of the Anglican Communion of a different ‘gospel’ (cf. Galatians 1:6-8) which is contrary to the apostolic gospel. This false gospel undermines the authority of God’s Word written and the uniqueness of Jesus Christ as the author of salvation from sin, death and judgement. Many of its proponents claim that all religions offer equal access to God and that Jesus is only a way, not the way, the truth and the life. It promotes a variety of sexual preferences and immoral behaviour as a universal human right. It claims God’s blessing for same-sex unions over against the biblical teaching on holy matrimony. In 2003 this false gospel led to the consecration of a bishop living in a homosexual relationship. ... The second fact is the declaration by provincial bodies in the Global South that they are out of communion with bishops and churches that promote this false gospel.

The truth is that the Episcopal Church, as such, is not formally guilty of these accusations. If I believed it were, I would not be in it. It is true that many, or most, of the bishops and top lay and clergy leaders are personally guilty, but the institution is not. I attended an ordination to the priesthood last night, using the official formularies of the Episcopal Church, and the ordinand professed belief in the authority of Scripture in virtually the exact same language as does the Jerusalem Declaration. GAFCON is confusing perception with reality. Is the Episcopal Church sick and in a sorry mess? You bet. Has it formally embraced "another gospel"? Not by any rational account.

Then there's this:
While acknowledging the nature of Canterbury as an historic see, we do not accept that Anglican identity is determined necessarily through recognition by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

I refer back to my previous post and the overbearing Evangelical ecclesiology underlying the work of the Jerusalem pilgrims. To unhook Anglicanism from the historic See of Canterbury makes it just one more Protestant denomination, not a church. In that I have no interest.

Re Holy Scripture:
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.

Not bad. My Catholic heart rejoices in the final clause.

On Councils:
We uphold the four Ecumenical Councils and the three historic Creeds as expressing the rule of faith of the one holy catholic and apostolic Church.

This is perhaps a quibble, but I would have liked to see the first seven cited.

On the 39:
We uphold the Thirty-nine Articles as containing the true doctrine of the Church agreeing with God’s Word and as authoritative for Anglicans today.

This one is trouble. It is certainly trouble with liberals, but they're not really invited to this party anyway. But it's also trouble for Catholics, who have never liked them. I'd like to know if there is a GAFCON equivalent of Newman's Tract 90.

Re the North American "problem":
We are committed to the unity of all those who know and love Christ and to building authentic ecumenical relationships. 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 urge the Primates’ Council to authenticate and recognise confessing Anglican jurisdictions, clergy and congregations and to encourage all Anglicans to promote the gospel and defend the faith. ... we believe the time is now ripe for the formation of a province in North America for the federation currently known as Common Cause Partnership to be recognised by the Primates’ Council.

Though I speak as one who remains in the Episcopal Church, I would be encouraged to learn that all this means that the current alphabet soup of non-Episcopalian Anglicans on this continent is going to organize itself into a sort of shadow province. If nothing else, it appeals to my sense of order. I hope those who do so reconfigure themselves will be of a heart to maintain cordial relations with orthodox Episcopalians. Indeed, at least three Episcopal bishops who have not yet expressed an intention to leave were present at GAFCON.

The entire communique (which have, as of this moment, curiously been removed from the section of cyberspace that "broke the story") merits more careful consideration as time passes.

11 comments:

Ann said...

It is here

Lisa Fox said...

Indeed. As I have read their stories and looked at the photos from Gafcon, I realize these are happy clappy evangelicals. I don't see where conservative Anglo-Catholics fit in.

Like you, I was dismayed by the bedrock reliance on the 39 articles. And the reliance on the pre-Englightenment 1662 prayerbook would trouble me. But what do I know? I'm just a revisionist.

Nancy Bergner said...

Bishop Keith Ackerman and Bishop Jack Iker were both active participants--are they Anglo-Catholic enough to count?

from a pilgrim just returned

Dan Martins said...

To Nancy Bergner,
Yes, Bishops Ackerman and Iker are certainly Anglo-Catholic enough to count. Bishop Schofield is there as well. What I will want to hear from them is what the 39 Articles were coated in to make them palatable for these bishops to swallow.

texanglican said...

On the "coating" of the 39 Articles, I suggest that point 7 of the CCP Theolgical Statement paves the way forward for Anglo-Catholics (well, for this Fort Worth priest, at any rate).

It reads: "We receive the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion of 1562, taken in their literal and grammatical sense, as expressing the Anglican response to certain doctrinal issues controverted at that time, and as expressing the fundamental principles of authentic Anglican belief."

If the articles are taken a "literal and grammatical sense" one can read article XXV ("The Sacraments were not ordained of Christ to be gazed upon, or to be carried about, but that we should duly use them", for example, quite literally and still perform the Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. After all, while Christ does not ORDER us to do it, He certainly didn't forbid us to do it!

If the Jersusalem Statement's reference to the Articles being "authoritative" means essentially the same thing as CCP Theo. Statement point 7's remark that they are a way of "expressing the fundamental principles of authentic Anglican belief" I think Anglo-Catholics can get "on board" with them as the cost of unity. Arguably the more offensive articles (to AC's) don't usually deal with "fundamental principles" of belief.

Fred Schwartz said...

Fr. Dan,

One can be a lot of things but without the ABC one cannot be Anglican. It defies logic. It defies reason -- oops, they reject that!

Fr. Dan, the time is coming when sitting on the fence will only get you splinters.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Dan, we've had this argument before, I know, but we do not agree that TEC is formally orthodox. Her official position has been officially articulated and embraced in 2003 and reaffirmed in 2006. She is now a heretic body. As you say, if we did not believe that, we could not leave.

Matt Kennedy

the snarkster said...

"The truth is that the Episcopal Church, as such, is not formally guilty of these accusations. If I believed it were, I would not be in it. It is true that many, or most, of the bishops and top lay and clergy leaders are personally guilty, but the institution is not."

Father Dan: I don't usually comment over here but this just jumped out at me. That quote just doesn't make any sense at all to me. That is like saying that the Titanic was in no danger because the captain didn't believe in icebergs.

the snarkster

Anonymous said...

"I refer back to my previous post and the overbearing Evangelical ecclesiology underlying the work of the Jerusalem pilgrims. To unhook Anglicanism from the historic See of Canterbury makes it just one more Protestant denomination, not a church. In that I have no interest."

Fr. Dan,
That might be the way Roman Cathlics see the Churvh of England and TEC! Just another protestant denomination! I and many feel that Canterbury has lost any if not all of it's catholic credibility thus is in an apostate position.
ODC

Anonymous said...

This sounds more like it was written in Sydney than Jerusalem.

Randy Muller said...

You wrote "The truth is that the Episcopal Church, as such, is not formally guilty of these accusations. If I believed it were, I would not be in it. It is true that many, or most, of the bishops and top lay and clergy leaders are personally guilty, but the institution is not.":

I don't know how you can say anything about what the institution believes, unless it comes from resolutions and votes from General Convention -- which is clearly not catholic.

In fact, as Matt has pointed out, the actions of General Convention in 2003 and 2006 have been heterodox and following a false gospel.