By David W. Virtue, DD

The Biblical, apostolic catholic and conciliar values that birthed Anglicanism are given lip service while leaders of the Anglican status quo drift increasingly into heterodoxy and the outright denial of the very essentials of our faith, writes Canon Phil Ashey, president of the American Anglican Council, an organization of theologically conservative North American Anglicans.

“They justify this with technical and legalistic appeals to the fact that the original values have not been formally or officially repealed,” he says.

“No one has abandoned the Creeds or the Thirty-Nine Articles,” they will say. But they are said with fingers crossed, and presented as meaninglessly as the offerings of Israel in Isaiah 1.

(“Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New moons, Sabbaths and convocations–I cannot bear your worthless assemblies…They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands in prayer, I hide my eyes from you; even when you offer many prayers, I am not listening.”) Isaiah 1:13-15

“As I look at the Anglican Communion, and particularly those largely “Global north” and western churches that align with the values of The Episcopal Church (TEC), and increasingly the leadership of the Church of England, I can’t help but face the conviction of Isaiah 1.”

Ashey ripped the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishops of the Church of England and asked what if they are preparing for an “about face” on their teaching of marriage, as some inside leaders of the Church are suggesting. “There seems to be a growing inevitability that the leadership of the Church of England will sooner than later provide liturgical blessings for same-sex partnerships, perhaps even marriages. They may say that they are remaining faithful because they have not officially repealed the Church’s teaching that marriage is a lifetime covenant between one man and one woman. But in blessing same sex unions they will be repudiating the Biblical doctrine of creation, including marriage. (see Gen.2:24; Matt. 19:4-6; Eph. 5:31).”

Ashey said that even among orthodox Anglicans in North America, some Anglican churches are growing in some places, but others are declining.

“I am reminded by our actual numbers that we can fit every ACNA Anglican that worships on Sunday into a college football stadium. We have a long way to grow. What are we doing as Anglican followers of Jesus Christ to help heal the wounds and divisions in our own communities, especially post-election? In an increasingly and aggressively secular culture, is the Church becoming a hostage to yet another secular political-power movement? What are we doing to recapture the values of the Kingdom that are so radically different than the values of our culture– where human dignity and flourishing are rooted in our identity in Christ who restores the image of God in us, rather than the politics of gender and sexual identity? How can gospel values give us a compelling alternative to the ultimately “exhausted” and hollow vision of secularism?

“Within our own Anglican ranks, how can we make sure that we are always refreshing those Biblical, apostolic, catholic and conciliar values that gave birth to the Anglican Church in North America, semper reformanda? How can we be sure that our vision matches our values so that we will not become the hollow and empty leaders that God protests in Isaiah 1?”

Ashey said these will be some of the questions he and others will address next week at a Rector’s Summit for Vision and Planning. “They are also the questions we pose in our AAC “REVIVE!” workshops for clergy and congregational leaders at all levels of the Church. These are the questions worth asking–semper reformanda!


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