There is an extant tradition in English Literature which describes the presence of an alien force within an organisation that – under the guise of being ‘part and parcel’ of the host organisation – is actually found to be working against the best interests of the ethos and membership of the original family. This idea comes from the natural phenomenon of a cuckoo’s potential to occupy the nest of another bird species, in time hoping to overtake the dwelling place, identity, and intrinsic home of the original builder and occupier of the nest.
In terms of the historic Anglican Church (itself acknowledged as having been born out of a dis-satisfaction with the parent body, the then predominently Roman Catholic Church – for reasons that its Founders found sufficiently politically and theologically concommitant with the European movement towards Evangelical Protestantism to have separated out from the parent Body) – there have also been subsequent schismatic breakaway movements from the Anglican Church, involving doctrinal reforms that have been considered – for various reasons – necessary and practicable by the departing bodies.
The latest schismatic movement from within the world-wide Anglican Communion – prompted in the beginning by the American Episcopal Church’s (T.E.C.’s) ordination of a Same-Sex-partnered bishop – happened when a group of conservative Evangelical bishops, mostly in the Global South, aided and abetted by the conservative Evangelical Anglican Diocese of Sydney, Australia, decided to form their very own ecclesial community governed by their own ‘Primates’ Conference’ and a Code of Conduct spelt out in what was called the ‘Jerusalem Statement’. This virtually proclaimed the doctrine of ‘Sola Scriptura’; rather than adherence to the extant tradition in the Anglican Communion (adapted from that of the Church of England) of coherent doctrinal governance according to the 3 tenets of Scripture; Tradition; and Reason – indicating the need for a rationally acceptable understanding of The Bible as God’s Word, needing reasoned interpretation in the context of (1) the time of its first appearance in the writings of the O.T. and the N.T., (2) the Incarnation of Jesus as The Word Incarnate; and (3) as applicable to the current exigencies of life as it is being lived and experienced in the world of today.
What has sometimes been missed by the currently intentional schismatics (GAFCON and its co-related new Churches) is that – at a point in the history of the world – God’s Word (Jesus, The Christ) “became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth” – bringing with him a brand new paradigm of what God required of his human children in the world. Aware of the inbuilt tendency of humanity towards rebellion against the LAW that had been at the heart of the Jewish Dispensation, God ‘sent His Only-Begotten Son into the world, that the world might be redeemed by Him’. Unfortunately, the ‘New Covenant’, that God was in the act of bringing about in Jesus, ‘The Word-Made-Flesh’, was rejected by the religious leaders of His own day, so that God’s providential protection and redemption was, of necessity, extended to ‘ALL’ who would come to believe in Jesus’ as Saviour and Redeemer of the world.
For orthodox (small ‘o’) Christians, The New Covenant (“In my blood”) brought by Jesus would no longer be bound by the Old Covenant of The Law, but would be extended to ALL who accepted the call of Christ to become the adopted sons and daughters of God through their relation to Jesus by Baptism and the Holy Communion – through the grace and power of the Holy Spirit at work in their lives. In this context, The Church, ‘The Body of Christ’, was brought into being – through the Incarnation, Ministry, Sacrificial Death and Resurrection of Christ. The New Dispensation, brought about by the ministry of Jesus, was founded on LOVE not LAW. The world could never be redeemed by our adherence to the Law alone. Instead God provided the remedy for our sins, redeeming us by the death and resurrection of Jesus – the FACT that is at the very heart of the amazing grace of what it means to be a Christian.
An Apologist-Extraordinaire, for (self-proclaimed ‘Orthodox-Anglican’) GAFCON and its dependent Churches, David Virtue, (a N.Z. layman writer, in his paradoxically-named ‘Virtue on Line’ website in the U.S.) offers his own opinion of what he interprets as the downward spiral of the official wordwide Anglican Communion. Here is part of his latest diatribe against the Communion – but with some indications of the weaknesses of the GAFCON regime that he supports in the following extracts:
VOL’s No. 9 story is the GAFCON primates grappling with the consecration of women bishops in Africa. In what might have been an issue to derail GAFCON, eight Primates, met in All Saints Cathedral in Nairobi and declared that, despite a moratorium, a recently consecrated woman bishop in Kenya would not stop the gospel trajectory. “The Jerusalem Declaration affirms that the Bible makes a distinction between salvation issues and other secondary issues.”
The Primates acknowledged that while there is disagreement and ongoing discussion on the issues of the ordination of women as deacons or priests, and the consecration of women as bishops, they were agreed that these are not salvation issues. They are not issues that will disrupt their mission: to proclaim Christ faithfully to the nations. On the same occasion, the archbishops excoriated Welsh bishops for blessing same-sex marriages. Anglican leaders noted the establishment of an extra-provincial diocese in Australia.
VOL’s No. 10 story is the growing schism in the Anglican Communion. Divisions are deepening almost monthly, with increasing fragmentation over homosexual practice. New revelations about the trajectory of the Church of England, the Mother Church, with a ‘Living in Love and Faith’ “reconciliation” report touting full homosexual acceptance, only ratchets up the anger among Global South primates, solidifying their determination never to compromise with Western pan-Anglican pro-homosexual attitudes and behaviors. Is it time for a new Anglican Communion? Divisions within the Anglican Communion will not go away and are, in fact, irreversible. GAFCON pledged in late 2020 to form a new Diocese for Anglicans who will be forced to leave the Anglican Church of Australia.
OTHER STORIES of note include the death of TEC ‘s most notorious heretical bishop John Shelby Spong. His 12 Theses trashed orthodoxy, but the HOB never had the courage to bring him up on charges. South African Bishop Desmond Tutu died leaving a legacy of peace and his non-violent overthrow of apartheid. He did come in for criticism from some Jewish leaders who believed his views on Israel and Jews were antisemitic. Several Episcopal dioceses announced mergers and revelations that they faced unknown futures with the decline in attendance. Those dioceses include the Diocese of Vermont, which faces an uncertain future with all metrics of money and attendance down. Wisconsin’s three dioceses face an uncertain future. The Diocese of Eau Claire is at a crossroads, with all three Wisconsin dioceses eyeing greater collaboration.
2022 will not bring better news for the Episcopal Church having abandoned the gospel in favor of woke causes and a social gospel that saves no one and nothing. TEC’s decline will continue despite talk of “beloved community” by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry. TEC’s millions of dollars will not save it. Will the ACNA grow and flourish next year? Archbishop Foley Beach is doing a masterful job walking around landmines that several dioceses face, while pressing for greater evangelism and discipleship; so, the trajectory is good for church growth. The “fields are white unto harvest” and he and his bishops know that. GAFCON will slowly replace the Lambeth Conference as Western Anglicanism moves steadily towards extinction. The future of Anglicanism is the Global South not the dissolute West.