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AUCKLAND, NZ: Orthodox Anglican Primates call for "one of their own" to lead AC

AUCKLAND, NZ: Orthodox Anglican Primates call for "one of their own" to lead Anglican Communion

By David W. Virtue in Auckland
November 6, 2012

Fed up with what they see as a continual undermining of "the faith once for all delivered to the saints", Anglican leaders from Nigeria and Kenya meeting at the ACC-15 blasted the words and actions of leaders here. They also said it was time for the Primates of the Anglican Communion to elect one of their own who will call their meetings with an enhanced responsibility to guard the Faith and Order of the Anglican Communion.

"We believe this can be done without sacrificing the primacy of honor we bestow upon the historic See of Canterbury, or diminishing the civic and ecclesiastical role Canterbury plays in the life of the Church of England," they avowed.

The Global South is flexing its theological and ecclesiastical muscle believing that the next leader of the Anglican Communion should not be left to English politicians and Anglican leaders with a liberal theological bent. They also believe that Western Anglicanism has drifted away from the faith and that these leaders do not speak for the vast number of Anglicans in the communion who are evangelical in faith and life.

The six leaders from Nigeria and Kenya here in Auckland said that as representatives to the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC-15), they represent some 31 million active and worshipping Anglicans within our Anglican Communion.

In a statement released to VOL they said the meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council avoided the real crisis in the Anglican Communion. "Since Lambeth Conference 1998, the ongoing conflict in our beloved Communion continues to be a crisis of Gospel truth, not only regarding matters of human sexuality but the authority of Holy Scripture as the Word of God written and the unique and universal Lordship of Jesus Christ the Son of God."

They added that in the discussion on the proposed Anglican Covenant, serious issues pertaining to discipline in the Church were avoided. "We were asked to discuss our feelings about the Covenant. Why is it a sign of fear for some and a sign of hope for others? We already have four Instruments of Anglican Communion: the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Primates meetings, the Lambeth Conference of Bishops, and the ACC. If our identity, faith and order as Anglicans cannot be maintained by these Instruments, the Covenant will not solve our problems."

They noted that since the Reformation, our core identity, faith and order as Anglicans lies in a Church whose doctrine, discipline and mission are grounded in the Holy Scriptures and in such teachings of the Ancient Fathers and Councils of the Church that agree with the Scriptures. "We find this core Anglican identity, faith and order in the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion, the Book of Common Prayer and the Ordinal. Many of us have reaffirmed this identity in the 2008 Jerusalem Declaration. The current crisis over Gospel truth and the confusion and conflict in Anglican identity, faith and order is a result of a failure of governance by the Instruments of Communion. This is a failure and, at times, subversion of leadership at the highest levels."

They criticized the report and the resolution on "The Bible in the Life of the Church" project saying they were seriously concerned that the (cultural) context in which people interpret the Bible is considered as important as what the Bible actually says. "We heard Anglicans from the west say that this conclusion requires us to honor any interpretation of the Bible-since every context from which the Scriptures are read is to be honored. We reject this assertion and the claim that there are no justifiable limits in interpreting and applying God's word. The Bible stands over context, not the context over the Bible. God's Word changes us-we do not change God's Word."

The leaders recalled that in April of this year over 200 leaders-Archbishops, bishops, clergy and laity-gathered in London from 30 countries and 25 provinces within the Anglican Communion. They read, studied and proclaimed the Holy Scriptures together, focusing on Paul's Letter to the Colossians. Despite their diversity of contexts, they affirmed in a spirit of unity and joy the Lordship of Jesus Christ, his uniqueness and sufficiency for the salvation of all people.

The leaders cited former Rochester Bishop Dr. Michael Nazir-Ali on the limits of biblical interpretation: "We cannot, because of a process of enculturation, produce forms of the Christian faith that are entirely opaque to Christians elsewhere."

"We are grieved that the Anglican Consultative Council continues to tolerate, and even honor, The Episcopal Church USA, the Anglican Church of Canada and other provinces who continue to produce revisionist forms of the Christian faith that are unrecognizable to the majority of Anglicans worldwide, contrary to a plain reading of God's Word and in violation of Anglican Faith and Order. For this reason, we believe it is time for the Primates themselves to elect one of their own who will call their meetings with an enhanced responsibility to guard the Faith and Order of the Anglican Communion."

Present at this ACC-15 was an avowed lesbian representing The Episcopal Church in the person of delegate Josephine Hicks of North Carolina and The Very Reverend Peter Elliott, Dean and Rector, Christ Church Cathedral in Vancouver, BC, an avowed homosexual. VOL was told that several orthodox representatives here lodged a complaint with ACC Secretary General Kenneth Kearon about their appearance here.

Canon Phil Ashey of the American Anglican Council, an orthodox observer at the ACC-15, commented on the Archbishop of Canterbury's leadership, "I think Rowan Williams' enduring legacy comes from the man himself. Fundamentally, I believe he cannot affirm the divine inspiration of God's Word written or as God's final word on matters of faith and life. I do believe he has more confidence in what he does not know than what he actually knows from the Bible."

That Williams champions the continuing Indaba process is also significant. This process never allows any final conclusion on anything. It is always about process, context and relationships. As Philip Groves of the Listening Process noted, "the next part of Indaba for provinces is the need for wider conversation."

He admitted that words like "conversation" and "listening" (Indaba) are designed with no resolution of issues. "It is always about the journey, walking together, talking and listening." The Africans found this frustrating and expressed themselves angrily saying it never allowed for any conclusive statement on pressing issues of human sexuality.

In his final address on the differences between "corrective authority" and "enabling authority", Rowan Williams failed to mention "the faith once delivered to the saints" and the global persecution and suffering of Christians, especially Anglicans who stand for that faith in countries like Nigeria. He seemed to have missed the fact that the authority Jesus exercised was both corrective and empowering and that the gospels are quite clear that you cannot have empowering authority without corrective authority.

In the end, Ashey noted, Rowan Williams' legacy will be the weakening of the authority of Scripture throughout the Anglican Communion.


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