[COMMENT: AMiA is the Anglican Mission in America, a group of Episcopal breakaway churches which reformed under the jurisdiction of foreign bishops to get out from under the control of the very corrupt Episcopal Church USA (ECUSA). John Rodgers is a good Christian, scholar, and pastor. Worth reading, especially for Anglicans. E. Fox]
Where are we in the Anglican Communion and what should we in the AMIA be
doing to help set things in order?
A paper for the 2006 AMIA Winter Conference
By Bp. J.H. Rodgers Jr
What is basic to the Anglican Identity? Where are we in the Anglican
Communion? Where should we be going? What might be the calling of the AMIA
in giving encouragement in the hoped for movement in the Anglican Communion?
Part 1, what is basic to Anglican Identity?
It seems to me before we can make any thoughtful evaluation as
to where the Anglican Communion is or ought to be going, we need to describe
the general, historic marks and character of Anglicanism and the Anglican
Communion. I will make a stab at some general remarks. (We will indicate how
these marks and characteristics have fared of late in part 2.)
A, Essential formal marks of Anglican Identity
First what makes Anglicans to be Anglicans? What are the formal
or essential marks of Anglicanism past and present.
I suggest that there are five elements essential to Anglican
identity: 1. A Common Faith, 2. A Common Mission, 3. A Common Worship and 4.
A Common ordained Ministry. 5. Some form of authorized belonging and
1. A Common Faith
Anglicans in the past for some 400+ years, have held to a Common
Faith found in the Holy Scriptures, the 3 Catholic Creeds, the 1662 Book of
Common Prayer and Ordinal and the Thirty Nine Articles of Religion (slightly
adapted where political references to British Government required it. see
1928 version in US BCP).
2. A Common Mission
Christ's Great Commission found at the end of the four Gospels
and best known in St. Matthew 28:18ff is a primary call upon the Church and
hence upon Anglicans. We have not always done it well but until fairly
recent times no biblically informed Anglican would have been in doubt as to
its being God's call upon us and central to our life. See Article 18) ("of
obtaining eternal salvation only by the Name of Christ")
3. A Common Worship
Until the 20th Century the BCP tradition, which received its
classic and most widely used form in the 1662 BCP and Ordinal, was the way
in which Anglicans worshiped. (USA 1928 was in large measure the same as
1662 with the unfortunate move of the prayer of self offering from after the
communication of the faithful to before receiving communion.) It was not
until1979 that we in ECUSA departed from the 1662 BCP and Ordinal and
produced a book of alternate services which we called the BCP, while banning
the use of 1662 or 28).
4. A Common ordained Ministry
While there has not been, since the rise of the Tractarian
Movement in the 1830's and perhaps earlier, re: old fashioned "High
Churchmen and the Nonjurers") a common theology of Holy Orders in
Anglicanism, there has been a common ministry of Bishops, Priest and Deacons
in the Historic Episcopate which continued in England at the time of the
Reformation which all in the Anglican Communion could acknowledge and
treasure as a good and godly form of ordained ministry. (The ministry of the
laity has only more recently been given the place it deserves in accord with
5 Some form of authorized belonging and recognition
In the Reformation in England in the 16th Century a complicated
interplay between the King and Parliament along with the Convocations of the
Bishops and clergy served to recognize the congregations that belonged to
the Church of England. The same groups were responsible to form and approve
the formularies of the Church and exercise doctrinal and moral discipline in
As the Anglican Communion began to take form in the 19th Century by
including Anglican national Churches beyond the Church of England, slowly
Communion level instruments of belonging and unity took shape. The local or
national Provinces or Churches retained their local autonomy. Eventually the
present four instruments of unity arose in the Communion: 1. the Archbishop
of Canterbury as prima inter pares, first among equals, among the Primates
and Bishops, 2. the Lambeth Conferences of Bishops, meeting every 10 years,
having no direct juridical authority but having strong moral authority
concerning their pronouncements, 3. the Anglican Consultative Council, that
serves between Lambeth Conferences as a sort of Anglican Communion
Secretariat and now 4.the Council of Primates given an enhanced and expanded
role at the last Lambeth Conference.
While it would seem that we Anglicans have no Communion-wide,
doctrinal magisterium, since the powers of all of the instruments of unity
are largely recommendary, there does seem to be a general understanding that
no Province or Diocese can be part of the Anglican Communion which is not
recognized by the Archbishop of Canterbury and which does not hold the
minimalist statement of the Anglican Faith, as set forth in the
B, Some treasured Common Characteristics of Anglicanism:
Along with these 5 essential or formal marks of Anglican
identity there are some 5 characteristics of Anglicanism that have been
widespread and remain important. These are:
1. A love of both Word and Sacrament.
Word: A, There has been in the past and there is now a
rediscovery of the importance of biblical and even expository preaching and
teaching in the life of a congregation. B, Scripture provides the warp and
woof of the BCP liturgy. C, We read more Scripture than any other communion
in our worship D. The Church Year and/lectionary keep us from neglecting
hard parts of the Scriptures. E. Small group Bible study has become widely
Sacraments: A. Corporate baptism after baptismal instruction has
tended of late to replace private baptism. B. Frequent celebration of the
Lord's Supper. C. Use of the 5 Sacramental acts Confirmation, Ordination,
Marriage, Healing, and Burial
2. Tradition is appreciated and honored but not placed beyond reform
Anglicans and Lutherans constitute the conservative Reformation.
Tradition is seen as the proven and accumulated wisdom and work of Holy
Spirit in the Church. It gives guidance and stability to the life of the
congregation. However there are grounds for reforming tradition; these are:
1. when tradition has developed wrongly and is at odds with Scripture and 2,
when due to contextual cultural changes the traditional ways of doing things
restrict and hinder the effective exercise of the Church's mission.
Part of being traditional is the fact that we are a Liturgical
people with a degree of freedom and variety allowed. (Ryle's comment: "If
all could pray as some.") Liturgy is inherently traditional.
3. Anglicans tend to be intellectually confident, open to and interested in
all truth, in principle. (Not fearful or uneducated or indifferent to
careful analysis and comprehensive thought, aware of the call to bring every
thought captive to Christ)
Since the one God is both Creator and Redeemer, all truth is
God's truth. (See the Prologue to John's Gospel) Redeemed reason and faith
are harmonious. (See reason as thought, reason as scholarship, reason as
synthesizing world-view in relation to faith and the place of intellectual
"metanoia") In Reformed terms this would include the "Cultural Mandate"
4. Healing ministry.
When we are biblical, Anglicans are open to the place of the
Spirit and spirit in healing. We do it liturgically, formed the Order of St
Luke, the miraculous is not excluded, renewal as fire in the fireplace, (not
secessionists, gifts still given and to be used, including the gifts of
5. A global Family
There is something both exciting and comforting to know that the
Christian Communion, ("that branch of Christ's Church") to which we belong
is ancient, large, and widespread and embraces such a wonderful variety of
peoples in it, while being united in the common elements of Anglicanism.
(This alas is endangered today)
Part 2, Where are we as the Anglican Communion Today
A. The longer view (in broad strokes):
The seven or so Western Provinces of the Anglican Communion and
those Provinces they have strongly influenced have all been greatly affected
by the intellectual cultural currents of thought in the West, from the
17-18th Century onwards. (I have in mind, the Church of England, of
Scotland, of Canada, of Wales, ECUSA, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand.
Jerusalem, Brazil, Mexico, and Southern Africa) this gives these Provinces a
significantly different theology from the more traditional Anglican
Provinces in which the vast majority of Anglicans dwell.
The intellectual currents of the rationalistic Enlightenment of
the 17 and 18th Centuries, the Romanticism of the 19th Century and the
naturalistic, scientistic secularism of the 20th Century have bitten deep
into the thought and life of these Provinces. The result is a moral and
theological relativism and a view of God as "loving" defined in
psychological terms such as unconditional acceptance. The Wrath of God has
disappeared along with moral boundaries and truth is relegated to personal
opinion, except in the physical, empirical, practical realm.
Since the Bible is so central to Anglicanism, we can gauge the
departure from faithful Anglicanism by noting what has happen to Scripture
in the West. Biblical study and the thoughtful examination of all sorts of
helpful material concerning Scripture, usually referred to as biblical
criticism, was emphasized during the Reformation of the 16th Century as a
way of finding revealed truth, in order to adjust and criticize aspects of
the Churches tradition and cultural thought. Subsequently in the West
biblical criticism often becomes wedded to naturalistic assumptions which
thereby reduce the Bible to man's thinking about God rather than God's Word
to man. The diversity in Scripture tends to become primary and Scripture
loses its unity as well as its normative and canonical status. The
consequences of this demotion of Scripture are great. The Articles of
Religion become irrelevant, for they depend on the authority of Scripture.
And the Anglican Church is left with the Creeds Liturgy and Bishops on which
to hang our hats. Soon the Creeds as well as the liturgy are "sung but not
said". That is they are viewed by the clergy and some "informed" laity as a
kind of lovely poem of former Faith with abiding aesthetic value. Later the
Liturgy is revised to fit the cultural flow and we are left only with
Bishops, territorial boundaries and the institutional structures of the
dioceses provinces and the Communion as that which binds and unites
Anglicans. To cross diocesan boundaries uninvited is a sin, to preach and
teach "niceness at all costs", or even revived paganism, or to deny all of
the Articles of the Creeds or to call Christ's work of atonement on the
Cross "horrible and disgusting" is not. Since there are no doctrinal or
moral norms, no theological discipline is or could be exercised. (ala Jack
Spong) (ala the Homosexual views and actions of Canada and ECUSA).
This leaves the Westernized Provinces, thus evangelized by the
culture, at odds with the rest of the Anglican Communion.
B. The shorter view (From Lambeth 1998 to the Present)
How you might ask, did we move from the great victory of the
godly Bishops in Resolution 1:10 at the 1998 Lambeth Conference with it's
huge number of votes for and its tiny number of votes against the statement
that "Same sex unions are contrary to the Word of God written" to the
present state of dividedness in the Anglican Communion?
We ask, "Do the Westernized Provinces not recognize any
authority in the resolutions of the Lambeth Conference? The answer is no
they do not. There is, at present, no clear magisterium acknowledged by all
in the Anglican Communion. The closest thing we have is the Archbishop of
Canterbury's right to invite Provinces to the Lambeth Conference. Archbishop
Carey articulated this and said it was his call and not the Primates. The
Present Archbishop of Canter bury has stated that he would not use this
authority to address the crisis in the Communion raised by the issue of the
authority of Scripture and the official acceptance of active homosexuality
by some in the Communion. This leaves us with a total vacuum in the matter
In addition, leaders at the highest levels of the Anglican
Communion have actually undercut the strong statement of Resolution 1:10 by
temporizing, by permissive language, by stating that in some cases they do
not agree with the resolution but will not act against it, by misapplying
the Conference's commitment to listen pastorally to the pain of the
homosexually oriented and inclined among us, to suggest that we would once
again continue the debate on the issue after it was clearly resolved at
Lambeth 1998 as contrary to Scripture, and even suggesting that later
Lambeth Conferences could reverse matters, and by appointing to top
positions of influence people of a revisionist nature. (Such actions not
only subvert the resolution but also the authority of Scripture).
In short delay and avoidance have only served to make matters
worse. Delay has allowed revisionists to take more radical and probably
irreversible actions and to gain a stronger hold in the West, while
deepening and setting in concrete the divide between the Westernized
Provinces and much of the rest of the Anglican Communion. A lack of clear
norms of the Faith affirmed by all, and no real magisterium have inevitably
led to a failure to address error, to indecisive, poor leadership, to an
exaltation of institutional visible unity over theological truth and to a
deep and growing division. We must deal with our condition as soon as
possible, with urgency, for delay is the friend of revisionism not of truth.
Part Three, Where we are to head and what we in AMIA are to do to help us
get there. (Five suggested Actions) (Opinions of Bp. J H Rodgers)
Since we in AMIA are part of the Anglican Communion through the
Province of Rwanda and the sponsorship of the Primates of Rwanda and South
East Asia, those of us who are in AMIA have a responsibility and obligation
to help the Communion of which we are a part be faithful to the Gospel and
genuinely Anglican. Let me suggest five crucial actions that we need to
First, Be on Mission
We need above all to be on Mission, seeking the lost, discipling
the faithful, planting and growing congregations. As we do that we give
evidence that God's blessing is resting on us, that we are about our
Father's business, and at the same time we set an example to others,
encourage them, and also earn a right to be heard by our fellow Anglicans.
Second, Honor the Common Cause
Let AMIA be exemplary in speaking well of all and cooperating
wherever possible with the Common Cause partners. Perhaps some form of
lightly structured Federation with all willing, orthodox Anglicans in North
America might be entered into in order to facilitate mutual cooperation and
effectiveness in mission.
Third, AMIA should study, form, embrace and commend to all
Anglicans world-wide an orthodox Communion Covenant. (We dare not let the
revisionist write the Covenant)
I would like to propose the following statement of a Covenant as one which
could serve that purpose or serve as a suggestive model for others to
consider. I believe it contains all of the essentials in a manner that all
who treasure Reformed Anglican Catholicism could embrace. It also includes a
way of overseeing conformity to it. If not this statement then one like it
in content will be needed. I believe we should work hard in our
congregations and through our Bishops and Primates to see that some
statement like this statement is formed and adopted as soon as possible. At
the end of my talk I will hand out the statement to you for your
consideration and our discussion.
(A suggested pattern or model of)
The Anglican Communion Covenant
An intra-Anglican Quadrilateral
"And they devoted themselves to the Apostles teaching and fellowship, the
breaking of bread and the Prayers." Acts 2:42
We, the Primates [or Bishops] of the _____________ Provinces [or
Province] of --_____________________gathered in [international] convocation
declare that we believe the following affirmations to contain the chief
elements of Anglican Reformed Catholicism (as found in the historic
formularies of the Anglican Communion and in the Windsor Report (2005),)
which elements are essential for membership in the Anglican Communion of
(a) Apostolic Teaching
Anglican doctrine, departing in no essentials from the Faith and
Practice of the whole Christian Church, is grounded in the Holy Scriptures
which are the Word of God written, and in such teachings of the ancient
Fathers and Councils of the Church as are agreeable to the said Scriptures.
In particular such doctrine is to be found in the Catholic Creeds, the
Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion, and the Book of Common Prayer and the
Ordinal of 1662. These formularies affirm that the Church is under the
sovereign authority of Holy Scripture and state how Anglicans read the
Scripture on central matters. Those who teach and preach in the Church are
to do so in accordance with the Scripture as interpreted by the formularies
(b) Apostolic Mission
The Apostolic teaching gives high priority to the Risen Lord's
"Great Commission" whereby the entire Church is: 1, sent into the World to
preach the Gospel in order to gather Christ's sheep into the fold, 2, to
manifest the love of Christ in service to the needy and 3, to reflect the
truth of Christ into all the areas of society and culture. No Church that
lives unto itself is faithful or apostolic.
(c) Apostolic Fellowship
Anglicans view the local congregations of faithful people, united in Christ
by the Word of God and the sacraments rightly administered to be
manifestations of the Church of Christ. Anglicans also affirm the
association and interdependence of local congregations, united in dioceses
and provinces within the Anglican Communion to be a global expression of the
Church of Christ.
Christians so united in Christ are commanded by the Lord and empowered by
the Holy Spirit to love one another as Christ has loved us. This ministry of
the Church and the wider mission of the Church can only be done when all the
members of the Body are ministering in love as they are gifted and equipped
for service and are taking their place in the governance of the Church. This
being the case, the work of the ordained ministry is in no small measure to
equip the laity for the work of ministry and mission.
Concerning the ordained ministry of Bishops, Priests and
Deacons, Anglicans treasure the ministry of the Historic Episcopate as a
gift of God. We see in it an instrument called to serve apostolic truth,
Christian unity and the mission of the Church. It is to be locally adapted
in its methods of administration to the needs of the Church and the peoples
among whom the Church lives and ministers.
Bishops in their local dioceses are to see to the faithful
teaching of the saints, to oversee them in their congregations, to guide
them in the evangelization of the lost and in the planting of new
congregations. Bishops are also to see to the exercise of appropriate
ecclesiastical discipline in both moral and doctrinal matters.
Since Anglicans are a world-wide Fellowship, the Primates and
Bishops in council, respecting the autonomy of the several provinces, are
called to give counsel to the Church applying Christian truth to the
pressing concerns and needs of the Church.
(d) Apostolic Worship
Anglicans hold the two sacraments of the Gospel ordained by
Christ Himself, Baptism and the Supper of the Lord, to be of central
importance. They are to be administered with unfailing use of Christ's words
of institution and of the elements ordained by Him.
Anglicans gladly make use of the other historic sacramental acts
that relate the Gospel to different aspects of the Christian life and
ministry and also of such ancient practices of the Church, such as the
liturgical year, as are in agreement with the Scriptures.
Anglicans believe that the Liturgy of the Church shapes the
spiritual ethos of the Church. We therefore, hold the historic Prayer Book
tradition to be a remarkable gift of God, given through the godly Archbishop
of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer. While some local diversity in matters of
worship is allowed, including alternative service books, such diversity
should maintain the substance of the Faith entire, and should never supplant
the historic Prayer Book tradition (1662) in the worship of the Church.
An appendix on the oversight of the Covenant
Someone must be designated to see that the Common Covenant is
faithfully observed. We suggest the following pattern of oversight of its
observance. This suggestion follows the tendency to give the Primates an
enhanced role in the Communion as was done in the Lambeth Conference of
Each Primate would be responsible to assure his fellow Primates,
at their annual meetings, that the Province of which he is the Primate is
living in accord with the Covenant. Should any doubt arise concerning a
given Province then the Primates acting in consort, after giving guidance
and due warnings, would have the authority to declare a Province to be
outside the Anglican Communion. The Primates would also have the authority,
after due consideration, to assist in the formation of a new Province to
replace the Province that had been declared outside the Communion. It would
further be understood that any diocese or congregation of the former
Province that wished to remain in the Anglican Communion in agreement with
the Covenant would be allowed to do so and to retain their property as well.
Clergy wishing to remain in the Anglican Communion would be welcome to do so
and their retirement benefits be protected.
Fourth, Begin to face the inevitable and urge the orthodox Primates to take
a lead in immediately forming a new Anglican Communion
If it be true that the Primates have no disciplinary authority
in the Anglican Communion as the previous Archbishop of Canterbury has
declared, and if the Lambeth Conference is only recommendary, and if the
Archbishop of Canterbury has declared he will not use whatever authority is
vested in him to discipline the Communion regarding the approval of active
homosexual behavior, and if the Provinces of the Communion have in numerous
places departed (in parts officially, in parts in practice), from the
Apostolic Faith as found in the Anglican Formularies, then there is no
official instrument whereby the Anglican Communion can be reformed. It will
only sink deeper into division and growing compromise with the spirit of the
age. This has been lived out in the West; the empirical evidence is plain
for all to see.
Lest the health of the orthodox Provinces be lost and they be
found in fellowship with, and corrupted by invading apostasy, there is need
for the orthodox Provinces led by their Primates to separate themselves ASAP
from the Communion as presently constituted and to form a new Anglican
Communion with a clear common Covenant that marks out, in a binding fashion
faithful Anglican Reformed Catholicism. This Covenant must include a
mechanism for its discipline in the Communion. (See the model above)
The orthodox Primates have already taken bold steps after the
Cairo Meeting, by electing a Leadership Team, chaired by Archbishop Akinola,
and a Primates Advisory Group, by sending forth a public Statement and
addressing a strong letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury, with which,
unfortunately, Canterbury has said he does not concur. Let them build on
this consensus by moving ahead now with the inevitable break for the sake of
the unity of the Church in the Apostolic Faith as Anglicans have received
Having thus formed a new Anglican Communion bound by a Common
Covenant, all congregations and dioceses and Provinces holding to the
Anglican Reformed Catholic Faith can be invited to be part of that
Communion, New Provinces formed, and we can then undertake together the
mission to reach the world with the Gospel of Christ.
Fifth, If the orthodox Primates believe that the Anglican Communion is
still reformable and are not willing at present to form a new Anglican
Communion then we should urge the Primates to take specific steps for the
Anglican Communion to be set in proper order. Here is one approach which
depends upon orthodox Primates taking a strong lead:
We note that the Windsor Report, which we do not wish to endorse in its
totality, has been adopted by all of the Primates and the Anglican
Consultative Council as the way forward. It speaks of a Covenant for the
Anglican Communion that would state what is essential for a Church to belong
to the Communion. This "required covenant" may provide a way of addressing
the divided condition of the Anglican Communion in faithfulness to the
Our present state makes it clear that we need the Covenant that the Windsor
Report calls for in order to give theological backbone to the Communion. And
we orthodox Anglicans need to be certain that it gives to the Communion the
clear guide-lines needed to define godly, biblical and faithful Anglicanism
in its essentials.
Some might want to use the Lambeth Quadrilateral as the Covenant
but that is already in use and has failed. In fact the very call for a
Covenant by the Windsor Report makes it clear that the Lambeth Quadrilateral
is far too minimalist to express the elements essential to our Anglican
identity or even to keep us orthodox. The Quadrilateral is a helpful guide
to ecumenical discussion with other Christian bodies. It was formed for that
purpose, but it is inadequate to serve as a definition of what it is to be
an Anglican and a member Provi nce or Diocese of the Anglican Communion.
Therefore, as stated above, a new Covenant needs to be written and adopted.
Given that, here are some steps that the orthodox Primates might take:
Step one. All of the orthodox Primates and their Provinces form and adopt
an orthodox Communion Covenant so that they and their Provinces be united
therein. (Largely the Global South Primates and Provinces) (See the above
Covenant as a suggested pattern or the Province of Nigeria's changed
Constitution as the beginning of a covenant) This should be done before the
2006 Primates Meeting. (Such a Primates meeting is not optional and must
take place shortly after the General Convention of the Episcopal Church,
USA. The orthodox Primates may need to insist upon this for at present one
is not scheduled and delay is the tactic of the revisionists.).
Step two. Let the 2006 Primates Meeting (in August or September, after the
General Convention of ECUSA) adopt the same orthodox Communion Covenant and
send it to all of the Provinces of the Anglican Communion as the designated
Communion Covenant of the Anglican Communion.
Step three. Let all the Provinces adopt the same Covenant. This should take
place in Provincial special conventions during 2006 and the first several
months of 2007. Any Province not adopting the Communion Covenant would place
itself outside of the Anglican Communion and a new Province would be
instituted in its place.
Step four. Should steps two and/or three prove to be impossible to
accomplish (which is highly likely) let the orthodox Primates and Provinces
recognize that the Anglican Communion as presently constituted is
irreformable and form a new Anglican Communion around the orthodox Communion
Covenant. This should be done as soon as possible, certainly during 2007.
Unfortunately, in my opinion this forth step seems the inevitable, eventual
1. Delay is no friend of the Orthodox. Matters have been and are
moving down hill as we drag our feet. The story of the Anglican Communion
following Lambeth 1998 illustrates this fact. 2. Prayer and fasting is
essential. What is needed cannot be accomplished in our strength alone; it
must be God's gracious gift. 3. There will be a cost no matter what we do.
Let it be the cost of faithful discipleship and not avoidance.
So help us God! Amen!
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