Saturday, July 6, 2013

GAFCON II: A Way Forward For Anglicanism

Fr. Dale Matson

“The Archbishop of Canterbury has used his first presidential address to the General Synod to call on the church to recognise that the ‘cultural and political ground’ in Britain is ‘changing’, and to ‘accept that there is a revolution in the area of sexuality, and we have not fully heard it’".,-welby-tells-synod

I wrote in January of 2011. “Will the See of Canterbury remain the focal point of 21st Century Anglicanism”? “It can remain the center of Anglicanism but Canterbury must represent more than the historical roots of Anglicanism viewed through the blurred lens of contemporary culture. It must represent the heart of the faith also. This is what is missing.”

At that time ++Rowan Williams was still the Archbishop of Canterbury and I called for him to step down in hopes that someone who reflected the majority of the mind of the Anglican Communion and the church catholic would lead the World Wide Anglican Communion in the 21st Century. ++Williams did step down (I am sure he made the decision apart from my urging). He was followed by ++Justin Welby and early signs   have proven to be reliable indicators that ++Welby is ++Williams 2.0. and

What ++ Justin Welby has essentially said here is that the church needs to accept what contemporary culture is promoting, repent that she hasn't come on board and prepare herself for even more change “…we have not fully heard it.” Apparently he has not just been “listening”. He perceived “notable hostility” to the churches’ position which he had supported in opposing the Same-sex Marriage Bill. He then went on to discuss “homophobic bullying” which is another issue. Bullying of anyone is morally wrong. Isn't the murder of Christians because they are Christians a serious matter also?

Am I asking for ++Justin Welby to step down? No, because I believe he does represent the progressive mind of the Church of England, TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada.

The Church of England and ++Welby are culture bound. They formerly sent missionaries to the far corners of the earth. Much of the pushback against Canterbury is from lands Canterbury missioned through the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. The prophetic voice for Anglicanism is from the Global South not Canterbury.  It should be Canterbury speaking truth to power not cowering and renting her garments because she is ashamed of her guiding documents and Lord. Does accommodating the cultural change make the church more relevant; more genuine; more truthful; more liked? Does ++Justin Welby actually speak the mind of the WWAC any more than the former ABC ++Rowan Williams? His collaboration, while cloaked is progressivism not true reconciliation or repentance.

The bitter irony is that Canterbury in an attempt to be more relevant and responsive to her immediate culture has made herself less relevant to the Christian church in general and the WWAC in particular. Since when does taking the majority side make the church right or more liked? Does Canterbury even understand that lukewarm Christianity is no match for Islam which will ascend to power by demographics alone? England is in danger of having a new and less tolerant established religion.

The title of my article is “A Way Forward For Anglicanism”. It is different than two years ago. We are further down the road. There is more clarity.  GAFCON II will be meeting in Kenya in October. I am hopeful. The press release states in part, “We continue to face the triple challenge of skeptical secularism, militant religion and compromised Christianity. GAFCON 2013 has been summoned so that GFCA can help both plan for and experience the future of the Communion of which we, with many others, are part.”  It is the “compromised Christianity” that most troubles me.


Father Ron Smith said...

Not too surprising this post - especially as it comes from the view of a disaffected TEC member. His schismatic emphasis is on the hopes of a conservative African collection of churches - the GAFCON - who really believe they represent the original Anglican ethos of Scripture, tradition and reason - without the element of reasonability on issues of gender, sexuality and biblical supremacy.

The new Church organisation that is squaring up to separation from Canterbury may thrive on its own, but it will never represent the eirenic face of true Anglicanism.

Dale Matson said...

Fr. Ron,
Thanks for reading, posting the article on your "Anglo Catholic Liberal" blog and offering feedback."without the element of reasonability on issues of gender, sexuality and biblical supremacy" What is reasonable about the bible no longer being supreme for liberal Anglicans? Actually, I believe the progressive agenda is affect driven and not reasonable. There can be no unity with progressives who offer a different Christology and a contextualized morality. The progressives have not just turned from the Gospel, they have thrown out the Law.

Jeff Marx said...

Fr. Dale
thanks for your insight. I think you have laid out a fair argument. Clearly, in biblical times, there were all manner of "alternative sexual moralities" and nothing today is new. The Biblical stance remains our touch stone. The wider culture is separating from the Christian culture and is increasingly hostile to it. "Liberal Christianity" will not bridge the gap with the secularist.

Fr Dave said...

As a delegate to the upcoming gafcon conference may I point out 2 things to Fr Ron:
a) The Gafcon provinces represent over 85 % of the WWAC and are not restricted to Africa. They are sick and tired of being marginalized by western Anglican provinces who have held on to the levers of power vested in the Instruments of Communion for far too long.
b) The Gafcon provinces recognize the threat of a hegemonic false gospel and the power it has to deconstruct the institutions of family and church and to unravel the very fabric of our communities here in Africa and the rest of the Global South . This false gospel with its Gnostic anthropology reinforced by narcissistic Western individualism is being promoted at every turn by American and Canadian bishops and will continue to corrupt the WWAC unless other primates join the Gafcon and Global South Primates in declaring these bishops propagators of false teaching.

Thank you Fr Dale for your article

Dale Matson said...

Fr. Dave,
Thank you for your comment. I think "Western Individualism" should be considered as a major problem infecting the church. I wrote about this very issue here.