2/01/2008

Noll proposes Global Anglican Church.

Stephen Noll, Vice Chancellor, Uganda Christian University, has produced a think piece for the GAFCON Theological Resource Team. For the reader who does not know what GAFCON stands for, it stands for "Global Anglican Future Conference," an event planned for June this year, a month prior to Lambeth, supposedly meeting in Jerusalem. For a meaty article on GAFCON's doings, see Graham Kings article in Fulcrum.

Noll's article, titled "The Global Anglican Communion and Anglican Orthodoxy," can be read HERE.

GAFCON is a mess, but it an important mess. The meeting is supposedly to be held in Jerusalem, but that seems more and more to be unwise. They didn't think to ask the Bishop in Jerusalem or for the Primate of Jerusalem and the Middle East. More, it now appears that the Bishop of Jerusalem is dealing with such grave internal problems in that diocese that a massive influx of bishops and retainers from around the communion would be disastrous. An important contribution to understanding what is going on in that diocese can be found HERE.

GAFCON is also the place of sharpest signal from the bible-belt of Africa and those, particularly in the US, who support and sometimes guide the swing away from Canterbury and Lambeth to some other center of unity. The energy formerly bubbling in the Global South Anglican group is now being sucked dry by the more pointedly schismatic GAFCON crowd.

Stephen Noll is a primary contributor to GAFCON's Theological group and there is reason to read his article, for it reveals quite a bit about the 'future' being contemplated by the GAFCON leadership.

Here are several items from his article which are of particular interest:

"The need to define or describe Anglican orthodoxy today has an urgency about it, because of the actions of the Episcopal Church (TEC) and other Provinces of the Communion in blessing homosexuality against the clear teaching of Scripture, the historic Church and the Resolution of the Lambeth Conference 1998. Although this issue has dominated discussions, it is clear that it is symptomatic of a larger abandonment of biblical teaching and authority on fundamental matters of the faith. The fact that Bishop John Spong, a man who has denied virtually every article of the Christian faith, continues a bishop in good standing in TEC, while orthodox bishops are threatened with deposition for their witness speaks for itself."


There is the accusation and the reason why there is the need for a redefinition - not of words but of community: the actions of TEC..against the clear teaching of Scripture, the historic Church and the Lambeth Conference...abandonment of biblical teaching and authority... the good standing of Bishop Spong while orthodox bishops are threatened with deposition.

Stephen may be in Uganda, but his face points West.

"... let me suggest for strategic and tactical reasons that a statement of Anglican orthodoxy keep in close touch with the idea of a Covenant. Strategically the idea of a Covenant is a good one. The Quadrilateral itself was a kind of preamble to Anglican orthodoxy for the emerging Communion. Going back even further, one might suggest that the Articles of Religion were part of an Anglican Covenant before there was a Communion, as Thomas Cranmer intended the Articles to form the basis for an ecumenical consensus among the churches of the Reformation.

The idea of an Anglican Covenant is also relevant in the present political context of the Communion. Those attending the Global Anglican Future Conference should maintain ties with those orthodox leaders who are working on the Communion Covenant. It seems unlikely that a final Covenant from Canterbury, filtered now through the Anglican Consultative Council, will be sufficiently crisp to deal with the present crisis. However, the opportunity may arise herafter to negotiate an ecumenical Anglican Covenant that will serve as a means of warding off heresy and will chart the future of orthodox Anglicanism."

Noll signals here his idea that a Covenant, probably not that produced "from Canterbury," will provide a way to "negotiate an ecumenical Anglican Covenant that will serve as a means of warding off heresy and will chart the future of orthodox Anglicanism." He is proposing to GAFCON that the Covenant needs to be drawn in such a way as to exclude members of the current Anglican Communion who are heretical and to include churches "outside" normal Anglican Communion venues.

Just how this exclusion and inclusion will take place begins to be sketched out in Noll's description of a new form for the historic episcopate on an international level. He writes,

"This pattern of episcopal governance can function at the level of worldwide Anglicanism. This will involve reform, though not total rejection, of the current Instruments of Unity, including the following elements:

  • A synod of bishops should meet regularly (decennially) and have authority to address matters of doctrine, discipline and mission.
  • An executive body of Primates should be authorized to carry out the will of the synod in between meetings.
  • A presiding Primate should serve as a focus of unity. Canterbury or another historic see could function as a locus of unity as well. However, such a Primate should be elected by the synod of bishops.
  • A secretariat should assist these Instruments, with accountability to all. The current Anglican Consultative Council and Anglican Communion Office have failed to function in this way.

In one sense, this polity is not far removed from the “Instruments of Unity” that have evolved of late in the historic Anglican Communion. The likeness may be deceptive: a diseased body may look like a healthy body, at least in the earlier stages of the illness. I am saying that the fault is not with the outward form of the Anglican Communion but with the doctrinal deviation from its apostolic and Reformation origins. Orthodoxy by its very nature must identify and renounce heresy and discipline false teachers, as a last resort, expel them. If the Canterbury-based Anglican Communion continues to tolerate heresy in its midst and welcome false teachers to its councils, then the day will come when an orthodox assembly must break communion with Canterbury and set up alternative structures. Since the trend-lines seem to doom the current Communion to endless compromise or worse, the sooner the shadow structures begin take form the better." (bold and highlights mine).

GAFCON is presented with a clear proposal for a worldwide church governed by a council of bishops with an elected head. Noll presents the case for a future Global Anglican Communion that breaks with Canterbury and calls for it sooner rather than later. One supposes he means this June.

He signs off with these words,

"I believe that if the Global South churches and their allies will take bold action at this time, we shall see a new reformation in the Anglican tradition, one which reflects the movement of the Spirit of God in our day....Brothers and sisters, remember Lot’s wife. The present order is passing away. Behold the Global Anglican Communion is coming."

GAFCON, if it take in the spirit of Stephen Noll's charge, is bent on becoming a Global Church complete with an adequately empowered inquisition for ferreting out heresy, ready to lift up Bishop Duncan and smash down Bishop Spong, ready to declare the United States mission territory for this new Church, making covenant with such churches as it chooses and dismiss the idea of an Anglican Communion covenant as it might arise out of the current order.

Another leader of the GAFCON pack is The Rev. Dr. Chris Sugden, who believes what is going on is not schism but revolution. I believe it is neither. While it appears schismatic and sounds revolutionary it is in reality an attempt to set up a new world wide church taking as many of the people, goods and endowments of the existing Anglican Provinces as possible and declaring those areas where Provinces have not joined open territory. And at the last they will attempt to take our good name - the name Anglican.

GAFCON is the first international conference of usurpation.

There is no reason in the world for Anglicans - people in churches part of the Anglican Communion - need to put up with this.




6 comments:

  1. I'm sorry to hear that Stephen Noll is having a crisis. Where I am, we aren't. (We are a diocese that is both welcoming and orthodox. We don't always agree about everything, but we are courteous and caring.)

    Dr. Noll, I hope you get over your crisis soon. Let us know how it goes. Send us a postcard.

    Actually, it might not be such a bad thing if the Super Holy Global Anglican Church were to undertake a massive mission campaign in the United States (and Canada). Though I'm not sure to whom they would appeal. The neofundamentalist-neoevangelical-neoliteralist-neopuritanical folks are already pretty well taken up already. But it might get us off our hands and in response start doing a better job of proclaiming a genuinely evangelical, genuinely catholic gospel of Jesus Christ.

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  2. It might be worthwhile to pop over to vitrueonline to hear a radio interview with David regarding GAFCON. Lots of spin spin spin but interesting to hear what people are feeding him and what he is feeding the public. It'l either get you upset, make you chuckle or make you up-chuck. ...maybe all three.

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  3. The Father-of-Lies is alive and well, and his latest nefarious scheme is GAFCON.

    Merciful Christ Jesus, drive the demon of schism from all your children!

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  4. Mark,

    Your last line said we don't have to put up with GAFCON. What do you suggest?

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  5. Well, at least the gloves are off. Of course, the gaffe is about a new denomination built on what it can steal from existing Anglican (and especially TEC) assets. At least one thief is admitting to the plan.

    It wont work. TEC will win the majority of the court cases, and even abscent a real leader, the fact of establishment will protect the CoE. ACCanada is in good legal shape too.

    What we have at the end of the day is sheep stealing. The problem being that the set of available layity is pretty small. Most of the fundamentalists like their Baptist or Disciples congregations. It makes sense, they do that sort of thing much better.

    The gaffe is the begining of the end for the wrong wing. Now if Dr. Noll's paper makes it clear to a wide audience why a covenant is a particullarly bad idea, maybe we can get on with ministry.

    FWIW
    jimB

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  6. It is important to recall that Stephen Noll co-authored the draft “The Road to Lambeth” Report with Abp. Okoh Bp. Niringiye although he states that when the CAPA Primates received and commended it, they, in effect took over the responsibility for authorship. It is also important to recall that Stephen Noll taught at Trinity PA and served as rector, I believe, of Truro Virginia. As one considers the “authorship” of documents emerging from the Global South, it is important to recall who the “authors” of such documents, e.g. +Akinola’s heart-felt letter to his clergy (severely edited by if not written by +Minns etc.) really are. EPfizH

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