6/18/2008

The Way, The Truth and the Life...GAFCON very stale bread (revised)

The GAFCON (Global Anglican Future Conference) Document, The Way, the Truth and the Life, will be available to attendees at the GAFCON Conference. The text is available at the Episcopal Cafe, HERE. Not much new in it.

Here are the Contents:

Preface........................................................................ 1
A Most Agonizing Journey towards Lambeth 2008 ... 4
1. Scorned opportunities.........................................................7
2. All journeys must end some day ......................................13
Authentic Anglicanism............................................ 17
What is at stake?....................................................... 21
1. The struggle over authority, for the Church and for the
Christian ..................................................................................21
2. The struggle over the interpretation of Scripture.................. 23
3. The struggle over theological pluralism in the Church ......... 24
4. The struggle over the understanding of mission ................... 25
5. The struggle over post-colonial power relationships .............. 27
Four Current Concerns
1. Anglican orthodoxy............................................ 30
1.1. Anglican orthodoxy defined ........................................... 30
1.2. Anglican orthodoxy in a global context today ................. 34
1.3. Anglican orthodox discipline .........................................40
2. The Lordship of Christ, in the Church and in
mission..................................................................... 42
2.1. The Lordship of Christ in the Church............................. 42
2.2. The Lordship of Christ in Mission...................................51
2.3. Epilogue ....................................................................... 57
3. How do we know the truth about God, and his
purposes? ................................................................. 58
3.1. Christ, the authority in the Church................................ 59
3.2. The nature of Scripture, and its use in the Church..........64
4. Engaging with the Anglican liturgical heritage in
shaping the future.................................................... 72
4.1. Introduction to Anglican worship................................... 72
4.2. The challenges of the present ..........................................76
4.3. The future of Anglican worship......................................78
4.4. The unchanging goal of bringing all to Christ ................. 82
Our journey into the future ..................................... 84
Glossary.................................................................... 90



The book is being touted on GAFCON's web pages this way:

"GAFCON book, The Way, The Truth and the Life, will be released on Thursday, 19th June, in Jerusalem. A press conference will be held at the Renaissance Hotel on Thursday, 19th June at 19:00 hours.

The 94-page book is published by Latimer Trust and was prepared by GAFCON Theological Resource Team. It provides the theological and historical foundation for the movement of orthodox Anglicans that is meeting in Jerusalem June 22 – 29. More than 1,000 Anglican leaders from 25 countries, including 280 bishops, are expected to attend the conference.

After outlining the recent history of conflicts within the Anglican Communion, “The Way, the Truth and the Life,” sets out to define authentic Anglicanism, discuss what is at stake in the conflict, and what the future holds for orthodox Anglicans. “Our journey is a witness that the truth of God is accessible. We are convinced that God has made himself known, sufficiently for us to be able to respond to him, and to make truly moral choices between obedience and disobedience.”

The book deals frankly with the crisis facing the Anglican Communion. “We have made enormous efforts since 1997 in seeking to avoid this crisis, but without success. Now we confront a moment of decision. If we fail to act, we risk leading millions of people away from the faith revealed in the Holy Scriptures and also, even more seriously, we face the real possibility of denying our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ,” writes the Most. Rev. Peter Akinola, Archbishop of Abuja, Primate of All Nigeria and chairman of the Global Anglican Future Conference.

“The Way, the Truth and the Life,” which is being released digitally as well as handed out in hardcopy to all GAFCON attendees, reaffirms “our Christian faith as it relates to some prime topics: Anglican identity and orthodoxy, the Lordship of Jesus Christ and its implications for personal morality and missions, and the whole issue of authority, Christ’s authority in the church and the authority of the Bible,” writes the Most. Rev. Nicholas D. Okoh, Archbishop of Bendel, Nigeria, and chairman of the Theological Resource Team."

In case anyone is interested, it is a rehash of previously published materials, most of which are available on the GAFCON pages. It is in no wise new material.

Most interestingly, this press release included, if you didn't catch it, the following quote from the Archbishop of Nigeria:

"Now we confront a moment of decision. If we fail to act, we risk leading millions of people away from the faith revealed in the Holy Scriptures and also, even more seriously, we face the real possibility of denying our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ,” writes the Most. Rev. Peter Akinola, Archbishop of Abuja, Primate of All Nigeria and chairman of the Global Anglican Future Conference."

Any pretense of this being a pilgrimage is gone. The conference is confronting a moment of decision and failing to act involves risking the souls of millions of people and "denying our Saviour."

Good thing the Archbishop is coming to the rescue.

I gather that since the participants in Jordan came over from Tel Aviv, the Archbishop is already in Israel. So his diplomatic passport works well there.


It seems that Israel is less concerned about the presence of Archbishop Akinola and the 1000 folk at the Conference, not a Pilgrimage, than the Bishop of Jerusalem or the Presiding Bishop of Jerusalem and the Middle East. It remains to be seen if GAFCON becomes a source of discord between the Diocese of Jerusalem and the State of Israel. But for sure the leadership of GAFCON has no qualms in simply overriding the concerns of the diocese and province.

This should surprise no one.

The GAFCON leadership seems to get on well with Israel, at least for the moment. Passports approved. Israel, however, is not led by dummies. They may arise tomorrow and feel they have had enough of this crowd.


Meanwhile we can, if we wish, wait for the new book with the great name, one which it does not deserve. Those who wait to be fed by this will munch on very dry bread.

19 comments:

  1. Father Mark, the book is in the wild. You can download a pdf copy from the Lead. It is not very big. A little under 500 KB.

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  2. I too wonder about Israeli feelings about all this taking place on their soil. It seems to me that the last thing they would want is yet another divisively sectarian meeting in their territory, especially one presided over by an archbishop under a cloud of suspicion over complicity with a massacre of Muslims.
    I would imagine that as far as the Israelis are concerned, GAFCON is just another face in the crowd of apocalyptic fundamentalists at war with the modern world. They've seen a lot of that, and have the security forces and mental health facilities* to deal with them.

    *There is a hospital in Jerusalem devoted to the treatment of "Jerusalem Syndrome." Sometimes, the sanctity and associations of the city are so powerful that they drive people mad. There are wards for people who think they are Jesus, Mary, Moses, Muhammad, King David, Caliph Omar, etc.

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  3. "Now we confront a moment of decision. If we fail to act, we risk leading millions of people away from the faith revealed in the Holy Scriptures and also, even more seriously, we face the real possibility of denying our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ,”

    Archbishop Akinola obviously has a very, very high view of his take on matters not already defined in the creeds. To disagree with him on these matters is thus apparently to risk denying Christ. This, too, is no surprise, for his great humility is so very embarrassing to everyone, as he once famously observed.

    christopher+

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  4. You don't suppose they are going to nail a copy of this book to the doors of Canterbury Cathedral, do you?

    christopher+

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  5. No, Christopher+. They aren't going, remember? Well, at least I thought that I had read that somewhere!

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  6. Mark's Friend19/6/08 11:53 AM

    Mark,

    I know you have a good heart, the heart of a poet and one who appreciates eternal truth and love.

    You seem oddly obsessed with the goings-on of GAFCON, and I suspect that deep down you are a little bit jealous. I get the feeling that you yearn for deeper meaning in your ministry.

    With all sincerity, I would highly recommend you go to Africa for a 40 day pilgrimage. Spend ten days each with Archbishop Akinola, Kolini, Orombi,and Nzimbi. I know it would change your life and ministry.

    You would be shocked to see a church on the move - changing people's lives on a scale you would not imagine. You may also be shocked that these Bishops are not at all like the internet strawmen you make them out to be. They are flesh and blood men, filled with emotion, sensitivity, spirit, and holiness. I guarantee it will change your life and ministry to an unimaginable extent.

    I think, Mark that you would thrive in a church that is about personal transformation and obedience to God's word. The Episcopal church revolves around abortion, sex, and lawsuits, and is built on the post-modern souless minds of old white men. It is a dying church: spiritually, financially, and demographically. The Episcopal Church is emptying out in every way. The Anglican Churches in the Global South are young and growing and vibrant: they are about life (not aborting it). You can't fight the future, Mark.

    You are a good man, Mark, you just need to open your heart and explore what's out there with and open mind.

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  7. Mark's friend...

    I am always amazed to have a trip run on me by people who don't know very much about me or my ministry or experience.

    I know Archbishop Kolini and have traveled to Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia. I agree that none of these bishops are "internet strawmen." I know perfectly well they are "flesh and blood men, filled with ..etc.

    The mostly helpful and caring comments of the first few paragraphs is completely undercut by your outrageous comments concerning the Episcopal Church. TEC does not revolve "around abortion, sex, and lawsuits" and the "post modern soulless minds of old wite men," etc.

    You say "you can't fight the future." I am not fighting the future, but rather the efforts of thieves who break in and steal.

    GAFCON can do what it wills, of course, but I am under no illusion that GAFCON is God's will simply because its leaders say so. There are several of us paying attention to GAFCON with some care believing that the players in that effort are about to start a new world wide church claiming that people like me are not Christian.

    Why should I stand back and put up with that?

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  8. Speaking of straw men, Mark's "friend," . . . perhaps you could tell the truth about the Episcopal Church.

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  9. Mark wrote, "There are several of us paying attention to GAFCON with some care believing that the players in that effort are about to start a new world wide church claiming that people like me are not Christian.

    Why should I stand back and put up with that?"

    ...or give in to it, GAFCON, as though it were Gospel truth. This Christian will neither put up with it nor give myself over to it.

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  10. Mark's Friend19/6/08 6:07 PM

    Hi Mark,

    Sorry if I offended you.

    Why are you worried if GAFCON is going to declare people like you not a Christian?

    And we spoke about the future. I told you how you can't fight it, and you said "...the efforts of thieves who break in and steal"

    I know you are a poetic man, Mark, and I admire your work, but who are these thieves and what are they stealing?

    If you know Archbishop Kolini, it would certainly shock me if you described him as a thief stealing something. This is why I mentioned internet strawmen, Mark.

    Christ's church will continue forever. The heart of Christianity, however, has moved to Africa, while it dies in the west. It is really nothing to fear, but change, especially on a global scale, can be scary. I would contend the GAFCON is not anything but the embodiment of a global shift in Christianity. Like I said, Mark, you can't fight the future. Bishop Spong's books are just ink and paper, full of sound and fury signifying nothing (at $19.95 at Amazon). Too much of the Episcopal Church has traded vanity for true wisdom. And we all know fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom. What was once true will always remain true.

    What I get from your comments are 1) you are afraid thieves are stealing something and 2) you fear being declared a non-Christian.

    These are indeed strong fears, and would make anyone nervous. Lord knows if I had those anxieties I would not sleep at night. That is why I encouraged you to spend more time with leaders in Africa. I mean one-on-one, just simply listening and watching. Follow them around as they visit their churches and do their work. Because I think this would seriously ease your fears.

    Maybe you should at least call Archbishop Kolini and express your fears. He is, as I am sure you know, a most gracious man.

    The internet is a great invention, but I think in the rush of instant rhetoric we forget that we are writing about complex people with flesh, blood, and bones.

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  11. Is Gafcon saying people like you are not Christian? If our approach is to examine what the official statements of the group say, I wonder of you can point to such a statement. It depends of course on how wide the "people like me" circle is drawn.
    I am sure that you would not wish me to gain a detailed view of TEC from other than its qualified spokespeople - and so I ask you do the same for Gafcon. There may well be more than enough for you to criticise in its official statements anyway.

    I take your point about opposing those whom you accuse of unjustly taking property - and perhaps people (I am not sure precisely what you meant).
    I would take your point about property - but deciding who owns what is likely to be sorted out by the courts who will rule as they will.
    The longer term issue is people, who choose to leave TEC.
    When the smoke clears there will probably be a Gafcon of some sorts acting as a conservative body in Anglicanism. It will have an North American Branch, which may be outside the formal communion. That branch will probably be quite small.
    In my view TEC should give space for conservatives to stay. The size of the North American Gafcon group is in TEC's hands at least in part.
    Obadiahslope

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  12. GAFCON's pretentions about having cornered the market on Christian orthodoxy are only interesting inasmuch as they relate to discussions within the Anglican Communion. And since their assertions are indeed related to current intra-Anglican discussions, it is important to take note of their accusations against their Anglican brethren and the direction in which they would like to move the Anglican Communion, were it within their power.

    Are they claiming that many Anglicans/Episcopalians are not real Christians? Well, there was this recent statement:

    “We have made enormous efforts since 1997 in seeking to avoid this crisis, but without success. Now we confront a moment of decision. If we fail to act, we risk leading millions of people away from the faith revealed in the Holy Scriptures and also, even more seriously, we face the real possibility of denying our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ,” writes the Most. Rev. Peter Akinola, Archbishop of Abuja, Primate of All Nigeria...

    In effect: If you disagree with me/us (and my/our biblical interpretations/applications), you risk denying Christ. Sounds like an accusation of apostasy to me, albeit an empty one with little meaning.

    christopher+

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  13. Mark, please do not take the bait your "friend" keeps dangling in front of you. I didn't hear anything helpful and caring in those remarks; I thought the comment had a strange and slimy tone. And of course, the comment didn't address your post at all, which was about the GAFCON book. It just trotted out the same old, tired TEC slander. I don't know about you, but I'm too busy with my "dying" church to pay much attention to yet another romantic exaggeration of the wonders of the church in Africa. I've got babies to baptize, sermons to preach, sick folks to visit and a mission trip to lead this week. Wonder what your "friend" is doing?

    Mr.Arabin, soul-less old white person

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  14. mark's friend said:

    "The Episcopal church revolves around abortion, sex, and lawsuits, and is built on the post-modern souless minds of old white men."

    Huh?

    Mark, I think this trip got run on all of us! Wrapping such a bizarre assertion up in would-be Christian charity does not deflect from, say, the ageism and racism that appear to be at its core. "Souless minds of old white men?" If that kind of thinking is the future embodied by GAFCON, then it's just as well not to have been invited.

    And how did the GAFCON crowd miss the fact that they would be sharing the city with the annual Jerusalem Gay Pride event? Honestly, you can't make this stuff up!

    christopher+

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  15. Fr. Mark,

    With respect, if it types like a troll, posts like a troll, and lies like a troll, it is a troll, not a friend.

    FWIW
    jimB

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  16. "...the post-modern souless minds of old white men."

    If I should ever run into +Duncan, +Venables, xSchofield, or +?Minns, my greeting will be,

    "Yo! word up, bro!"

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  17. If we open some windows and let the sun shine if, will this troll-"friend" turn to stone?

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  18. Mark's Friend20/6/08 10:33 AM

    Hello again Mark,

    I apologize for saying "The Episcopal church revolves around abortion, sex, and lawsuits, and is built on the post-modern soulless minds of old white men."

    But I think looking at the reason behind why I wrote something like that is instructive to this whole situation. It is a human tendency that what we most fear in others, we believe is their intention to do.

    In other words, my FEAR regarding TEC is that it is an organization that unabashedly supports abortion, sexual immorality, lawsuits against Christians, and revisionist post-modern theology.

    Because this is my fear, I run with the assumption that those are TEC's intentions, and the organization and people in it form an image in my mind based on MY fear rather than on reality.

    This is one of the major downfalls of internet communication; we see our opponent’s intentions as a reflection of our own fears.

    We see this in Iraq when we hear "We need to fight them there or they will come to America and fight us here." In this case, the fear is that insurgents in Iraq’s REAL intention are to come to America to do their killing, so we believe that is their intention. It is the same phenomenon we see when a little old lady clutches her purse when walking past a young black man. She bases her understanding of the young man's intentions based on her fear, rather than the reality of the young man.

    The problem is, we start dealing with the false image in our mind of those we oppose instead of the real people. In your case, your fears about GAFCON are that 1) they want to steal TEC's property and 2) they want to declare you a non-Christian. Basically, these men are gathering to take your church property and to destroy your career by publicly calling you a phony. All terrifying things, but these intentions would be a surprise to the GAFCON people (in fact they may be acting out of VERY SIMILAR FEARS).

    The other thing we tend to do on the internet is to build our arguments on our own rhetoric rather than going back and checking on reality. Argument one: these people are thieves/scoundrels. Argument two: since these people are thieves/scoundrels, when they are doing x activity they are planning something nefarious. We take our own opinions as truth then we argue from those opinions, rather than checking back on the veracity of our original opinion. If we do this enough, the people we write about become cartoonish ghouls rather than real people. Some of the statements I read about Akinola make him so completely evil that I myself feel like killing him is an acceptable option, until I realize that he actually is a successful minister to millions of people, has a wife and children, has good points and bad points like everyone else. I stop thinking of the ghoulish cartoon of Akinola, and start thinking of the actual known first-hand facts I know about him.

    I do appreciate, Mark, how you mentioned Akinola’s safety while in Israel. For a moment I thought of him as a human being.

    I am not saying one side in the Anglican divide does this more than any other side. It is just a world of harmful rhetoric that has made everything much worse than it needs to be.

    I write this specifically to you, Mark, because I know you are a thoughtful and reflective person, and probably one of the few bloggers out there (I would say Kendall Harmon on the other side) that can change the rhetoric for good rather than evil.

    MF

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  19. While I don't agree with everything that mark's friend said, I do think the public perception of the Episcopal Church is that it is pro-abortion, suing its own and literally the "gay" church.
    That may not be completely true, but when you see the Episcopal banner at NOW rallies supporting abortion and in Gay Pride parades and conducting wedding ceremonies outside the canons, then I think Mark's friend has a valid point.
    Don't want to be the gay, pro-abortion and lawsuit focused church, stop doing those things and show a different face.
    Those of us who have already left, still pray for our friends still in TEC. Some of us are seeking ways to perhaps share mission work and other events, while remaining true to our very different beliefs.
    Until the Episcopal Church rejects the writings and babblings of people like Spong and Righter, the perception, true or not, that you are in a post-Christian discovery will remain.
    As a member of an AMiA church, I am well aware of the efforts and work of our African brothers and sisters and it is impressive, enlightening and uplifting. Like you, I will be glad when this all sorts itself out and both our very different religions can move forward as friends.
    Sometimes all of us can learn a little bit about outselves even from people who maybe go over the top with how they describe us.

    Jim of Lapeer

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OK... Comments, gripes, etc welcomed, but with comment moderation but with some cautions and one rule:
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