If we didn’t leave, what did we accomplish at GAFCON?

By Bishop John Rodgers, SPREAD

Introduction

It is important, when considering what was accomplished at GAFCON, to keep in mind its singular focus. That focus was to identify the Anglican grasp of the apostolic faith, to claim that identity for the whole Anglican Communion and to provide a firm oversight and standing from which to confess the apostolic faith as we Anglicans have received it. This singular focus meant that many very important matters were not directly addressed at GAFCON, in the Statement or in the Jerusalem Declaration. This by no means relegates matters such as the status of 5th, 6th and 7th Councils, the ordination of women, the form of the Anglican Communion, abortion, the nature of and conflict with militant Islam, our relation to the persecuted Church etc. to secondary issues. There are serious issues and differences among the fellowship of confessing Anglicans that must and will be faced. It will not be easy, nor will solutions be sudden, nor can we be absolutely certain that some will not, in the end, decide they must walk apart. The difference is that they will be faced in the context of the authority of Holy Scriptures and the apostolic faith as Anglicans have historically received it. The Conference said, echoing Canon A5 of the Church of England: “The doctrine of the Church is grounded in the Holy Scriptures and in such teaching 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 Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion, the Book of Common Prayer and the Ordinal. We intend to remain faithful to this standard and we call on others in the Communion to reaffirm and return to it.”

With that in mind, let me state I believe to be the most important things that we did accomplish:

1.      We are the Communion. “We are not breaking away from the Anglican Communion.”
In essence the fellowship of confessing Anglicans took things in hand and declared that we are the true and faithful Anglicans, upholding the historic Anglican grasp of the apostolic faith, and as such we are the true representatives of the Anglican Communion. Let those who are departing from historic Anglican convictions about the authority and content of the Scriptures come back to what Anglicans have confessed all along. If they are unwilling to do so, it is they, not we, who should leave. I suspect that there are differing expectations among those who have placed themselves under the Jerusalem Declaration as to the future of the structures and membership of the Anglican Communion as it is presently constituted. I myself do not see how we can long abide together structurally, but I could be wrong, my friends do remind me of the parting of the Red Sea and God still does miracles. However, of a faithful confessing Anglican Communion, all at the Conference expressed a confidence in a fruitful and “bright future”.

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