GC2009: To the Anglican Communion: Pray, Fast and Resist
by Philip Ashey
July 17, 2009
Elijah went before the people and said, 'How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.' I Kings 18:21 NIV
On behalf of orthodox Anglicans in The Episcopal Church (TEC) and in The Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), and in light of the decisions of the 76th General Convention of TEC that have repudiated Lambeth Resolution 1.10's Communion standards on human sexuality and holy orders, repudiated the Communion moratoria on consecration of same sex partnered bishops and same sex blessings, tearing the Covenant process to shreds, and declaring their intention to spread the false gospel underlying these decisions throughout the rest of the Anglican Communion, we appeal to our brothers and sisters throughout the Anglican Communion to resist this false gospel through a time of prayer and fasting for the following:
1. That the Ridley Cambridge Draft of the proposed Anglican Covenant, including section 4 in its entirety, would be released immediately from the Archbishop's working group for consideration and approval by every province in the Anglican Communion, including those bishops and dioceses in North America who wish to affirm their membership in the Anglican Communion unconditionally through signing the proposed Covenant;
2. That the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, request all representatives of TEC to immediately withdraw from participation in any offices within the Anglican Communion, including but not limited to the Joint Standing Committee of the ACC and all inter-Anglican ministry networks for the sake of the faith, order and discipline of the Anglican Communion;
3. That the General Synod of the Church of England, and the Primates and Provinces of the Anglican Communion formally recognize the ACNA as the only Anglican body in North America fully compliant with the three moratoria requested by the Windsor Continuation Group and adopted by ACC-14;
4. That theologians from the Global South, CAPA, GAFCON, FCA, the Covenant Design Group and others from the Confessing Communion meet at their earliest convenience to address TEC's revision of the early church's baptismal theology and ecclesiology, and to restate it accurately and as it has been received by the church for the sake of the faith and order of the Anglican Communion;
5. That the Communion-wide "Indaba listening process," commended by ACC-14, be suspended immediately until some source of funding can be found other than the gift from a TEC clergyperson which is monitored by the American-based Satcher Institute.
A false gospel has overtaken and consumed TEC. We have documented this false gospel, the resulting numerical decline of TEC and the trajectory of continued decline in our report to the Primates of the Anglican Communion. The confident predictions by TEC's leadership that the fleeing orthodox Episcopalians will be replaced by others sympathetic to the new gospel and agenda have been proved utterly false. People and whole congregations are leaving at an accelerating pace. The result is TEC's official denial of decreasing membership and a budget approved by this 76th General Convention that requires massive cuts in programs and the termination of 30% of TEC's headquarters staff.
If not contained, this disease and dysfunction will spread to the rest of the Anglican Communion.
Clarity at General Convention: as clear as the clarity on Mt. Carmel
The declarations of the Presiding Bishop, the passage of Resolutions D025 and C056, and others, provide the same degree of clarity that the people of Israel had when Elijah faced the prophets of Baal on Mt Carmel:
- In her opening address, the Presiding Bishop declared personal and confessional faith in Jesus Christ a heresy, and described Jesus Christ's death on Calvary as merely "a waypoint" to God's "greater dream," and not the endpoint of salvation. (see our report at http://www.americananglican.org/general-convention-day-1-report-from-the-aac/) - The convention discharged (declined to consider) Resolution C069, "Affirming the uniqueness of Christ in a multi-faith society," which would have called the Episcopal House of Bishops Committee on Theology to follow the lead of the of the February 2009 report of the Bishops of the Church of England "offering examples of good practice in sharing the gospel of salvation through Christ alone with people of other faiths and none."; - Resolution D025 was approved by large majorities in both Houses of General Convention, thereby repudiating the Communion moratorium on the consecration of gay and lesbian bishops. D025 declares in pertinent part, 'that God has called and may call such individuals (gay and lesbian persons in committed relationships) to any ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church...'". We have documented the legislative intent of Resolution D025 with verbatim testimony from the House of Bishops - which shows in no uncertain terms that the HOB defied the requests of the Anglican Communion not to repudiate Lambeth 1.10 and the Communion moratorium on gay and lesbian bishops, ignored the last minute plea by the Archbishop of Canterbury, ignored scripture, tradition and reason, insisted on language that would clarify the full inclusion of gays and lesbians to all holy orders, rejected language that would have "fudged" the issue, and deliberately rejected the opportunity to comply with the Communion moratorium and thereby move towards the majority of Anglicans during the current suspension of the Covenant process (see our report at http://www.americananglican.org/episcopal-bishops-repudiate-anglican-communion-moratorium-on-gay-bishops) - The Presiding Bishop admitted in her letter delivered this week to the Archbishop of Canterbury that she views the Communion moratorium on gay and lesbian bishops as merely advisory at best. In defending the passage of D025, she digs a bigger hole for TEC by describing D025 as "more descriptive than prescriptive." She goes on to say that "Some within our Church may understand Resolution D025 to give Standing Committees...and Bishops with jurisdiction more latitude in consenting to episcopal elections. Others, in light of Resolution B033, will not." By her own admission, the Communion moratorium (and Resolution B033) are now null and void for those who recognize D025 as granting authority to elect, consent to, and consecrate gay and lesbian bishops - Resolution C056 was approved by even larger majorities in both Houses of General Convention, which effectively repudiates the second Communion moratorium on the development of rites for the blessing of same-sex unions. C056 calls in pertinent part for the Standing Committee on Liturgy and Music, in consultation with the House of Bishops, "to collect and develop theological and liturgical resources [for the blessing of same gender relationships]." C056 also authorizes bishops to provide "generous pastoral response" immediately to those members of the church seeking such blessings - especially, but not limited to, those states where same gender unions, civil unions or domestic partnerships are legal. While on the one hand C056 honors the theological diversity of those who differ on matters of sexuality, in the very next resolve it enjoins "members of this church", without exception, to participate in the process. It is significant that Resolution C056 was enacted by even larger majorities after negative reaction to Resolution D025 throughout the Anglican Commmunion.
- At a time when General Convention acknowledged declining revenues by slashing program and headquarters staff up to 30%, it increased to over $4 million the amount allocated for litigation against those orthodox churches, dioceses, clergy and lay leaders who have left the church. This General Convention has adamantly refused to disclose the amount it has already spent on litigation, referred a resolution on such disclosure to the Standing Committee on Stewardship and Development for further study and directing them to report back in 2012, and resisted any attempt from the floor for disclosure during deliberations on the budget.
In short, the battle for orthodox Anglican Christianity in TEC has been lost. The battle for Christian orthodoxy in the Anglican Communion has already begun.
A clear and present danger to the Anglican Communion
To borrow a phrase from history, TEC believes that its "Manifest Destiny" is to share its convictions with the rest of the Anglican Communion, and to convert the Anglican Communion to the false gospel which lies behind its repudiation of confessional Christianity, personal salvation through Christ alone, Communion teaching otn human sexuality and holy orders (as stated in Lambeth Resolution 1.10) and the moratoria on gay bishops and same sex blessings. Consider this quote from the Wednesday, July 8, publication of The Consultation - a coalition of 13 diverse "peace and social justice organizations" helping drive the agenda of General Convention:
"The Consultation believes that the most accurate way to summarize the basis for the reform movement taking place in the church, and most specifically in the North American Anglican Churches of Canada and the United States, is to say that the early church's baptismal theology has been rediscovered and is steadily, if all too gradually, being actualized in the life of the church. We believe recovery of the early church's baptismal ecclesiology is God's will for our time and that it is an important part of the special vocation of the Episcopal Church." (note well the last sentence).
Make no mistake: this revised baptismal theology which asserts that all of the baptized are entitled to all of the sacraments all of the time will be spread through the "Indaba listening process," financial aid to other Provinces, seminary exchanges, and inter-Anglican ministry networks. Resolution C056 actually contemplates this with language that might otherwise pass unnoticed:
"Resolved, That the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music, in consultation with the House of Bishops, devise an open process for the conduct of its work inviting participation from provinces...who are engaged in such theological work, and inviting theological reflection from throughout the Anglican Communion..." (emphasis added)
In light of these statements from the leadership of TEC, the intent of both Houses of General Convention in passing Resolutions D025 and C056 by increasing majorities, and the information we have uncovered regarding both the source of funding and those who will monitor the funding of the "Indaba Listening Process," (http://www.americananglican.org/money-sex-indaba-corrupting-the-anglican-communion-listening-process) the false gospel of TEC presents a clear and present danger to the faith and order of the Anglican Communion.
"When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?" Psalm 11:3
On Mt. Carmel, Elijah resisted and overcame the spirit of Jezebel and the false religion of Baal by sacrificial and specific prayer: "O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. Answer me, O LORD, so these people will know that you, O LORD, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again." (I Kings 18:36-37 NIV)
Elijah went on to receive God's direction and to resist and overcome Jezebel by fasting (I Kings 19:8).
The decisions of the 76th General Convention of TEC have brought clarity and crisis (again) to the Anglican Communion. Will the Communion surrender to these moratorium-breaking resolutions and the false gospel that drives them... or will the Anglican Communion renew its commitment to the uniqueness and universality of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord of all, and reaffirm the faith and order of the Communion? The choice is as clear as it was for the people of Israel on Mt Carmel.
We invite you to pray and fast for the Anglican Communion. Please set aside some time to fast for a longer period, and then for a specific period weekly. If your health does not permit you to fast completely from food, then take some time to fast from what is not necessary, and use the time you might otherwise have spent to pray for the five requests above, and any other concerns the Lord lays on your heart for our beloved Communion. Pray for the faithful remnant of orthodox Episcopalians who will be facing difficult times ahead. Pray for those who have been seduced by the false gospel, that their hearts may be turned back to true worship of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior - as the only one who can change us from the inside out and enable us to live holy lives. Pray for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon our leaders - Archbishops, clergy and lay leaders throughout the Anglican Communion - and for the courage and wisdom to do what is necessary to preserve the faith and order of the Anglican Communion.
Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy.
----Philip Ashey, is Chief Operating Officer for the American Anglican Council
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