The credentials of the AAC seem to be at this point that they are the overlap into The Episcopal Church of a circle of religious folk most of whom are now part of the Anglican Church in North America or of some other jurisdiction in the Anglican Communion, or both. Not all ACC members are part of ANCA, but its leadership is.
As for the good Rev. Dr. Noll, Vice-Chancellor, etc, he is Vice to the Chancellor, The Most Reverend Henry Luke Orombi. (pictured to the left...cool hat, yes?) According to the web pages for UCU, "Uganda Christian University has one Vice Chancellor (President in American speak) and three Deputy Vice Chancellors (DVC)." That makes the Archbishop more or less chairman of the board.
The UCU is explicity Christian and apparently can deny students who are not Christian. "Students are admitted to the University regardless of race, ethnic background, gender, or physical disability." The "Rule of Life" makes it explicit that students "...shall shun all sexual immorality, polygamy, adultery, fornication and homosexual practice."
Noll comes to his academic qualifications to speak on the issue of Communion Governance by way of having been in the past Academic Dean and Professor of Biblical Studies, Trinity School for Ministry. He is a missionary in Uganda with Global Team Missionaries. Fulcrum describes Noll as the "the key GAFCON/FCA theologian." Reading this mess of an essay leads me to believe his talents are highly overrated and his sense of Anglicanism profoundly warped.
Like the Archbishop, he gets to wear funny hats.
This latest offering on Communion Governance is no help at all. It is a retread of his earlier thinking on what would improve the Covenant, what will make for a better Communion and just how strongly he believes The Episcopal Church ought to be barred from Anglican Communion affairs. It is thin gruel spread out over fifty pages of text. Read it if you must, but perhaps it is enough simply pass on by, there being very little new to see or contemplate here. It is a rant.
The rant is this (with the helpful gloss by the Rev. Phil Ashey):
The conclusion of this essay is that the one matter of principle that cannot be abandoned without abandoning our particular catholic and Anglican heritage is the responsibility of the ordained and bishops in council in particular, to rule and adjudicate matters of Communion doctrine and discipline.
If this is true, then the Lambeth Conference and the Primates' Meeting (with the Archbishop of Canterbury presiding as primus inter pares) must be seen as the primary organs to deal with articulation of the faith, as happened at Lambeth 1998, and with breaches of the faith, as has not happened since then.
There must be only one track: those who adopt the Covenant are members of the Communion; those who do not adopt it are not. Bp. Mouneer Anis is right: when a sufficient number of Provinces have adopted the Covenant, the ACC and its Standing Committee should stand down and be constituted solely from Covenant-keeping Provinces. (pp. 48-49)
Where in the world did Noll get this stuff?
Concerning item #1... There are no "matters of Communion doctrine and discipline" to be adjudicated. There ARE matters of doctrine and discipline for every member church and considerable and good argument for saying that there is a body of affirmations, baptismal, creedal, sacramental and canonical that are shared among all churches in the communion. But it is the national or regional church that determines compliance and adjudicates. The history of the Lambeth Conference and the careful wording of the initial call for meetings of the Primates clearly point to these meetings as advisory to and supportive of the ministries of the attending bishops and their churches and not as sources for judgment.
Concerning item #2...The statement, "the Lambeth Conference and the Primates' Meeting (with the Archbishop of Canterbury presiding as primus inter pares) must be seen as the primary organs to deal with articulation of the faith..." is, to put it plainly, garbage suitable to the primary organs responsible for waste disposal. His use of the phrase, "primary organs responsible" is unfortunate at best.
The articulation of the faith is indeed organic but not in the way Noll would have us believe. The faith is articulated primarily in the living of that faith by the people called into the body of Christ. The articulation of the faith by episcopal committee or primatial board is as likely to stupidity as is the workings of a local vestry, but since it is more likely that local vestry has to live on a day to day basis with the faith decisions that are articulated and result in actual practice, I would suggest they carry the greater weight and witness. I say that knowing how awful vestries can be.
The elements of common binding, found in articulated faith, are pretty well listed in the Anglican Covenant, parts 1,2, and 3a. I believe most of us can live within a community called to live into the content of those parts of the Covenant. But articulation of just how that faith is to be presented is everybody's work, not the bishops or primates alone.
Concerning item #3... Well, there is the crux of the issue, yes? The deal is, when a sufficient number of Provinces buy in they will constitute a majority and disband the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion, establish a new central authority of the pure and undefiled. We may suppose the matter of sufficient will be of some interest to the Global South folk gathered in a few weeks. Is it a majority of the Provinces, say 19 or 20? or is it when the claimed membership of those agreeing to the covenant surpasses, say 60% of the total supposed population of the Communion? Either way, the proposal is to cut off those who do not sign on.
Of course the Anglican Covenant itself indicates nothing of this. It states that, "(4.1.6) This Covenant becomes active for a Church when that Church adopts the Covenant through the procedures of its own Constitution and Canons." There is nothing about any sort of majority of present members of the Anglican Communion taking control of the Joint Standing Committee of the Primates and the Anglican Consultative Council, by that or its new name, "The Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion." (which is in the Covenant and not subject to revision as churches enter the covenant.)
I must say, however, that I share some of Dr. Noll's concerns about the invention of new roles for the Standing Committee. It is one of the reasons why we must look with great care at the implications of parts 3b and 4 of the Covenant. What is this thing? An uber-instrument of communion? Careful conversations need to take place, all the more reason to take our time in looking at this Covenant.
But here is the thing:
What Dr. Noll is suggesting is another attempt at a coup, this time not concerning the replacement of The Episcopal Church with the Anglican Church in North America, but about the replacement of The Anglican Communion as a communion of churches with a new improved Worldwide Anglican Church, righteously led by the pure.
Don't take my word for it. Read what Phil Ashey says in summation in his essay:
"Dr. Noll's essay is a breath of fresh air in our deliberations over the Covenant and the future of the Anglican Communion. This essay establishes a robust ecclesiology and model for governance that will sustain the Anglican Communion in the years ahead. We hope and pray that it will inform the prayerful deliberations of the Primates of the Global South as they prepare to discuss the adoption of the Anglican Communion Covenant and the future of Communion governance."
This paper is meant for the Primates of the Global South and outlines a way for them to argue that the only way to save the Anglican Communion is to kill it.
This is a mad and foolish essay. It would be dangerous except for the fact that it points to a world wide church that at least some of us have no intention of joining, a church with the sort of robust ecclesiology meant to replace the service which is perfect freedom with service which is, well, slavishly bound to the judgment of self appointed ecclesial masters.