“The central issue was the avoidance of the crisis of gospel truth in the Anglican Communion”

David W. Virtue interviews Canon Phil Ashey, COO of the American Anglican Council. Ashey is trained in theology and law. The AAC arose in answer to the apostasies of The Episcopal Church and has been a safe place for parishes and priests who have fled TEC for safe spiritual climes.

By David W. Virtue
November 5, 2012

VOL: Canon Ashey, as an observer at ACC-15 here in Auckland, what in your mind was the central issue of this event?

ASHEY: The central issue of this event was the avoidance of the crisis of gospel truth that is separating so many in the Anglican Communion today. The schedule, the agenda, the management of discussions and even the reporting back were all designed to focus on feelings and subsidiary issues and never to reach or touch the real problem or the interests of the vast majority of Anglicans within that province.

VOL: Did they come close to fixing the crisis in the Communion here in Auckland?

ASHEY: Not at all.

VOL: Two ACC meetings ago in Nottingham, The Episcopal Church was suspended from attending the ACC meetings because of its actions in ordaining a known homosexual to the episcopacy. Why has that not been honored?

ASHEY: It has not been honored because the principal financial supporters of the ACO, the top ten in fact, are all provinces which agree with the revisionist theology and agenda of The Episcopal Church and Mrs. Jefferts Schori in particular. They share both her convictions and her commitments and so the suspension of TEC at ACC-13 in Nottingham was merely an interval to buy time to help advance that agenda throughout the Anglican Communion.

VOL: Do you think that 80 men and women present here, albeit some of them archbishops, really speak for ALL Anglicans, especially the Global South?

ASHEY: No, I do not. In some cases, the delegates do not represent the theological convictions of the Primate, the HOB and the vast majority of Anglicans within their province. The majority of Anglicans in the Communion today, particularly those in Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda and the Sudan, are not happy that this meeting has been dominated by those from the Americas and Europe. Uganda is not here, but would stand with Nigerian and the others if they were.

VOL: Why do you think they came when several of the Global South Archbishops refused to attend the Primates meeting called by Archbishop Rowan Williams last year in Dublin?

ASHEY: I believe Nigeria, Kenya and Rwanda came because they are very concerned about what ACC may be doing to undermine gospel truth and the faith once delivered, throughout the Anglican Communion. They came to challenge such actions and the domination by false gospels from the Episcopal Church and they were able to do so in those small group gatherings. However I observed as we found in TEC at General Convention that the small groups were designed so that the orthodox were only one voice among many. This has made it very difficult for their opinions to be heard.

VOL: The Archbishop of Canterbury said ACC-14 was a “glorious failure.” This did not seem to be the case here. What happened?

ASHEY: I would disagree. I think this, too, has been a failure but not so glorious. It has been a failure insofar that the Americas and Europe and other provinces have avoided dealing with the crisis in the Anglican Communion. I was present at ACC-14 for Rowan’s presidential address where he concluded the meeting was then a “glorious failure.” I was stunned by his presidential address here last night that he still holds out hope for the Anglican Covenant when all the delegates have reported that the Covenant has nowhere to go and there is no resolution on the Covenant.

VOL: ACC-15 is winding down but still there have been no direct talks about divisive sexuality issues, why do you think that is the case?

ASHEY: Precisely, because in the large group gatherings the questions are framed for report back in such a way that all issues of disagreement about human sexuality are avoided. Most of the resolutions that are being considered also do not address issues of human sexuality.

VOL: While here, PB Jefferts Schori has been very visible with Rowan Williams, first at the opening ceremonies in the arena and then seated next to the Maori King and his wife. Why is she getting so much attention while Global South Primates like Sudan Archbishop Deng Bul are getting very little public exposure?

ASHEY: I think all you have to do is look at the financial statements and see how much TEC is giving to the Anglican Communion Office.

VOL: At the first sign of Hurricane Sandy, why do you think that the Presiding Bishop did not rush back to the US to offer leadership as other leaders did, including the President of the US who put aside his politicking for the job to talk and met with governors to assess the situation?

ASHEY: Others have asked me that question. I cannot speak for her. I note that she finally released a statement today – 4 days later – it seems a bit late, don’t you think?

VOL: This meeting appeared to be very controlled. Why do you think that was the case and why was it so stage managed by Secretary General Kenneth Kearon?

ASHEY: I believe that through the influences of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada that we are seeing the same three stage strategies unfold that we saw in TEC in the last 50 years. Those stages are: desensitization, demonization of all opposing voices, and normalization of what is unbiblical and unholy.

The Bible in the Life of the Church curriculum and its exaltation of context over content weakens the authority of Scripture and makes any interpretation of the Bible as good as any other. The Theological Education in the Anglican Communion report is designed to centralize theological education through a staff member of the Anglican Communion Office. The report further intends to share the BILC resources with all of the Anglican seminaries in the communion. As we know from our own experience in the North American situation, once you take over the seminaries and undermine the authority of God’s word, false gospels are inevitable. We are in the desensitization stage moving towards the demonization stage with normalization already taking place in the Americas and Europe.

VOL: Both the US and Canada had openly gay and lesbian representatives here: Dean Elliot of Vancouver (heir apparent to Bishop Michael Ingham) and Josephine Hicks deputy delegate from (TEC). How prejudicial do you think that is and does it insult the orthodox Global South bishops who believe the fabric of the Communion has been torn over sexuality issues?

ASHEY: It’s important for us to remember that every sinner is loved by God and capable of receiving Jesus Christ’s transforming love and grace. But unrepentant sin by biblical standards is not to be tolerated, or avoided by those in positions of leadership especially within the church. Yes I think their presence grieves orthodox leaders here and elsewhere in the Communion.

VOL: Did Rowan Williams say anything, in your mind, that will leave a lasting impression on the Anglican Communion ere he departs?

ASHEY: 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. For that reason, I believe he trusts in progressive revelation hence he champions the continuing Indaba process. His final address on the differences between “corrective authority” and “enabling authority” was remarkable for its absence of any mention of “the faith once delivered to the saints” and the global persecution and suffering of Christians especially Anglicans who stand for that faith. 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. So Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery an empowering word “neither do I condemn you” and corrective word “go and sin no more.” In the end, Rowan Williams’ legacy will be the weakening of the authority of Scripture throughout the Anglican Communion.

VOL: You and others have accused the Archbishop of Canterbury of being Hegelian in his thought processes…always in search of a syntheses, he seems unable to find, to keep the Communion together. Did he erase that this time around?

ASHEY: No, he simply confirmed it.

VOL: With the advent of FCA/GAFCON, is this a game changer in your mind and does this, in the end, make further ACC gatherings irrelevant?

ASHEY: I do believe, as Bishop Michael Nazi Ali has said so very succinctly, the Jerusalem Declaration is the only game in town. I do believe that the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans is a movement that offers hope to return the Anglican Communion to its reformational and confessional roots.

VOL: Thank you, Canon Ashey.


Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.