By Robin G. Jordan
What is so difficult about networking and organizing for the purpose of defending and advancing doctrine and principles in which one believes? Across the planet Anglicans who are faithful to the Bible and the Anglican formularies and committed to the spread of the gospel and the fulfillment of the Great Commission are taking this step if they have not already taken it.
Why are North American Anglicans who stand in the Reformation heritage of the Anglican Church so reluctant to do the same thing? Why do they resist the idea of uniting together in defense of their convictions and for the advancement of their beliefs?
Catholic Revivalists have no such qualms. They recognize the value of networking and organization.
To me it does not make sense. If you are really serious about something, you do all that is within your power to further that about which you are serious.
When a fire dies down and you want to make it blaze again, you rake the hot coals together and add new fuel to the fire. You do not rake the coals apart. If you do that, the fire will die altogether. It will go out coal by coal.
Banking a fire so that it is easy to restart in the morning also requires pushing the hot coals and still burning logs as close together as you can.
If you want to keep a particular theological tradition going, you need to network and organize. You also need to recruit new adherents.
The last thing that you do is entrust the survival of that tradition to a group that is opposed to its beliefs. This is common sense. Only a foolish farmer puts a fox in charge of a chicken coop. A wise farmer knows that the fox’s predatory instincts will prompt him to make a meal of all the chickens in the coop.
A group with particular doctrinal leanings does not go to the trouble of ensuring that specific theological and dogmatic positions are included in a denomination’s official doctrine on a whim or for no reason at all. The inclusion of these positions in a denomination’s formularies is not a matter of little consequence. It cannot be dismissed lightly. The Catholic Revivalist wing of the Anglican Church in North America is doing all that it can to make sure that the theological tradition which it represents is the only theological tradition that has a future in that denomination.
Catholic Revivalists occupy the place of power in the denomination. They are determining not only what the denomination’s official doctrine will be, but also what practices will be allowed, how the denomination will be governed, how its top leaders will be chosen, and who they will be.
The formal adoption of the proposed ACNA Prayer Book now in preparation may prove the tipping point for folks in the Anglican Church in North America who stand in the Anglican Church’s Reformation heritage. Under the provisions of the ACNA canons all service books presently in use in the denomination will no longer be authorized. Only the proposed Prayer Book with its unreformed Catholic teaching and practices will be authorized for use in the ACNA. Clergy and congregations that use a different service book or a locally-developed form of service will be violating the ACNA canons.
Clergy and congregations that stand in the Anglican Church’s Reformation heritage will no longer be insulated from developments at the provincial level in the ACNA. They will be faced with the painful reality that Catholic Revivalists have gained the ascendancy in the ACNA as the liberals did in the Episcopal Church (USA). They have allowed themselves to be marginalized.
By banding together clergy and congregations that stand in the Anglican Church’s Reformation heritage can accomplish a range of purposes:
· They can lobby for the reform of the ACNA’s form of governance and its method of selecting bishops and the revision of its catechism and its Prayer Book.
· They can develop and publish alternative liturgies to those of the ACNA Prayer Book—forms of service that are consistent in their teaching and practices with the Bible and the Anglican formularies.
· They can develop and publish a catechism which is also consistent in its doctrine with the Bible and the Anglican formularies.
· They can develop and produce training modules and other educational material for use in local churches to help congregations become better acquainted with the Reformation heritage of the Anglican Church and the Protestant, Reformed, and evangelical character of historic Anglicanism.
· They can establish a defense fund for clergy who face disciplinary action for their refusal on grounds of conscience to use the ACNA Prayer Book or teach the ACNA catechism.
· They can expose discriminatory practices affecting Reformation heritage Anglicans in the Anglican Church in North America and to draw them to the attention of the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans and the larger Anglican community.
· They can keep before the eyes of the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans the fact that conformity to the official doctrine of the ACNA requires significant deviation from the teaching of the Bible and the principles of doctrine and worship laid out in the Anglican formularies.
· They can do this and much, much more.
Isn’t time that Reformation heritage Anglicans in the Anglican Church in North America abandoned their indecision and took the plunge?