Saturday, November 21, 2015

Are North America's Confessing Anglicans in a Catch-22 Situation? REVISED

By Robin G. Jordan

If you’re wondering why Catholic Revivalists don’t deny the inclusion of unreformed Catholic teaching and practices in the ACNA formularies or defend their inclusion, the answer is simple. They do not want to draw unwanted attention to these formularies. They do not want to add fuel to the fire and see a developing controversy become full-blown. 

A fully-developed controversy over the formularies' contents might necessitate the revision of the formularies, something that they do not want to see happen. They hope that if they lay low and keep quiet, any controversy over the formularies’ contents will die down. Those bloggers like myself who are drawing attention to their content will find something else to write about.

Most of the criticism of my articles has not come from Catholic Revivalists. It has come from individuals who may be described as Confessing Anglican in their theological outlook. It typically boils down to one thing—an unwillingness to recognize the significance of the denial of official standing to Confessional Anglican beliefs and thinking in the Anglican Church in North America.

Why would they want to downplay the significance of the ACNA’s denial of official standing to their beliefs and thinking? Here again, the answer is simple. They have convinced themselves that in becoming a part of the Anglican Church in North America they are not compromising what they believe. If they acknowledged the significance of that denial, they would be admitting that in actuality they are doing just that—compromising what they believe. They are using their “time, talents, and treasure” to support an ecclesial organization that countenances in its formularies teaching and practices that are openly at variance with the Bible, the Anglican formularies, and the Anglican Church’s Reformation heritage.

The reason they find themselves in this predicament is that North America has no Anglican jurisdiction that can be described as being truly faithful to the Bible and the Anglican formularies and genuinely standing in the Anglican Church’s Reformation heritage, an ecclesial organization that is fully committed to the Great Commission and missions and is aggressively planting new churches throughout North America. North America has the Anglican Church of Canada, the Episcopal Church (USA), the Continuing Anglican Churches, and the Anglican Church in North America. None of these jurisdictions fit this description.

The formation of such an ecclesial organization would require on the part of Confessing Anglicans the admission that the Anglican Church in North America, which they have been supporting, while it may identify itself as Anglican, not only deviates significantly from the Bible, the Anglican formularies, and the Anglican Church's Reformation heritage in the unreformed Catholic teaching and practices mandated or sanctioned in its formularies but also does not comprehend doctrine and principles more in keeping with authentic historic Anglicanism. Confessing Anglicans are indeed faced with a serious dilemma. Do they go on supporting the ACNA, pretending that it is what it is not? Do they recognize that genuine Anglicanism has no future in the ACNA and take whatever steps are needed to secure a future for biblical Anglicanism in North America?

Is it a catch-22 situation?  While it is certainly a very difficult situation, there is a way out of it. The biggest challenge is overcoming the thinking that there is not. Indeed that kind of thinking is what got Confessing Anglicans into the situation in the first place. They let themselves be persuaded that there was no other option than joining or otherwise supporting the ACNA.

If they are faithful to the Bible, the Anglican formularies, and the Anglican Church's Reformation heritage, it should be very clear by now that the ACNA does not represent nor does it affirm what they believe. It should also be clear by now that the way forward is a second province--either a second province within the ACNA or a second province separate from the ACNA. Past experience suggests that the second option would be the one most likely to succeed. 

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