Michael Poon asks Archbishop Peter Jensen for clarification on several crucial points

Dear Archbishop Peter,

I read with interest your 27 December 2007 Statement on the proposed Global Anglican Future Conference. Thank you for unpacking the background, and for your reassurance to your faithful in Sydney that the Conference “is not designed to take the place of Lambeth”.  I appreciate your conviction in upholding orthodoxy.  I also share you passion in standing together with those Anglicans in North America who are courageously contending for the faith that was once delivered to the saints.  I hope we can work together for the good of the Communion in the time to come, to the glory of God.

Your Statement at the same time leaves me, and perhaps others in the Southern Hemisphere, unclear on several crucial points.  I look to you, as an archbishop charged with huge responsibility under God, for your further clarification, that your actions can lead to the strengthening of the faithful across the worldwide Communion at this time of deep crisis and uncertainty.

1.  What is the particular nature of the crisis before the Communion today?  You mentioned several times in your Statement that the issue is over “biblical standards”, especially “in the biblical view of sexual ethics”.  I wonder if that depiction adequately reflects the crux of the matter.  After all, some other churches and congregations from different traditions have also departed from the “biblical views”.  I wonder if the issue before the Anglican Communion is rather this:  How do we see ourselves keeping the faith and witnessing together as part of the “one, holy, catholic and apostolic church” across the ages and across the oceans?  Perhaps at the heart is an ecclesiological issue.  So the contention has never been simply on biblical view of sex, but on the particular issues of episcopal election of a candidate living in a committed same-sex relationship, and on the rites of blessing for same-sex unions.  The process of discerning the Word and on keeping faith to what is revealed as a community go hand in hand.  I suggest this interpretation may perhaps be fundamental, and determines how we respond and map the way forward.

2.  What are the particular heritage within the Anglican history you wish to retain?  Your Statement recalls us back to the “biblical roots of our faith”.  Perhaps our faithful needs clearer guidance on how Anglicans across the ages have understood the Scripture and defended the faith.  Without this historical understanding, how would Anglicans be able to mark themselves out as an identifiable community?  To put this in another way, would you wish to affirm that the historic formularies are foundational to the Anglican traditions of worship and theology?  I am sure.  Would then subscription to Canon A5 and Canon C15 of the Church of England be the necessary and sufficient condition for biblical orthodoxy?  Or are you suggesting a more rigorous and tighter definition for Biblical faithfulness required for Anglicans?

3.  Related to the above is your silence over the Anglican Covenant, which of course is determinative for the future of the Communion.  Successive Global South communiqués support the Covenant processes.  In fact, Global South Anglicans are instrumental in producing the present draft.  Do you intend to support the Anglican Covenant processes which I trust is a main feature of Lambeth 2008?  What hopes do you have for Lambeth 2008? And how do you see the discussion on the Anglican future in the proposed Conference related to that in Lambeth 2008?

4. The above leads me to ask for clarification on the agenda of the proposed Conference. Your Statement rightly highlights the crisis in the North American churches.  Indeed, the list of Conference organizers are those who urgently need to take common counsel on how “orthodox” Anglicans in North America can work together as one identifiable body.  It requires much patience and humility in working out how Anglican congregations (within CANA, AMIA, ACN etc.) support one another, not to mention how churches under different ecclesiastical authority can work together.  The June Conference rightly should focus on this.

At the same time, can the Conference realistically discuss issues “such as Anglican identity, fellowship, theological education and mission” at a global level?  I am unsure.  First, some may say: “Primates, heal yourselves.  If you cannot sort yourselves out in North America, are you merely spreading your mess and divisions to Anglican churches worldwide?” Second, can we in practice talk about an Anglican future for the global Communion if the Primates of all the Communion are not present?  Or are you thinking of devising strategies for crossing boundaries to the churches worldwide that are deemed not to be orthodox?

5.  I agree with your remark: “We live in a new world”.  This observation calls for radical discipleship.  I wonder if it ever crosses your mind in Nairobi a few weeks ago why there are no theologians from the Global South in your discussions.  At least this is not apparent in the Statement issued by the organizers.  I note of course the presence of eminent colleagues from the UK.  I wonder if you feel any unease whether you may be still putting the new wine in old wineskins.  In how you define the problems in the Communion, I am unclear whether you are not still perpetuating the theological debates that belong to a world long gone.  The issues, as you depicted, are so focused on America.  What contribution do you think the Global South churches can offer, other than the numbers?  What theological contribution do you see Global South churches are making?  Would you ask the Global South to refer in the first instance to their own theologians than to the elites in the North?  Should you not exercise a charitable restraint to create space for the global churches to work out their agenda?  John Stott’s lasting legacy is to bring about the maturing of the churches in the Southern Hemisphere, even if that means the “waning” of the Evangelical Fellowship of the Anglican Communion.  He laboured for the birth of churches, and not merely for the victory of an ecclesiastical party.  This is why he is held in high esteem by all.  The “new” in the Communion is that for the first time we live as a worldwide Communion of autonomous churches, defined by geographical boundaries, and called to work together across the geopolitical and socioeconomic realities.  We are no longer a church defined by party lines.  We seek not the victory of a party.

6. Do you think the “orthodox” Anglicans on their own can carry the Communion forward without the blessing of Canterbury?  I am unsure.  Anglicans – as any other religious bodies – have a social and public identity that is informed by tradition.  Such tradition stabilizes tiny Anglican communities across the globe, and offer them tangible hope in times of deep crisis.  I think here for example of Myanmar and Sri Lanka.  It would be a sad day if Anglican churches across the Communion are presented with the choice: between a particular understanding of biblical faithfulness, and allegiance to Canterbury.  It is easy to be rebels with causes.  It is a different matter, you would agree, to bring about a new world order. 

So we wait patiently and pray for the glorious coming of Christ.

With warm wishes in Christ,

Affectionately yours,

Michael Poon
Priest, Diocese of Singapore

19 Responses. Comments closed for this entry.

  1. Father Ron Smith Says:

    Frankly, Michael, to ask the Archbishop of Sydney to exercise restraint in his promotion of the GAFCO conference agenda, is to believe for instance, that Abp. Jensen would be willing to abandon his plans to allow the exercise of Lay-Presidency at the Eucharist - a matter which he has promoted in the Australian Church, and which is contrary to the Anglican ethos.

    Archbishop Jensen’s loyalty to the world-wide Anglican Communion is not evidenced in his too-obvious striving for the ascendancy of the Evangelical Party in the Church, something which would need to be subordinated to the inclusive nature of the Anglican Churches’ mission if we are ever to find common ground.

  2. Steven Berry Says:

    Dr. Poon,

    You have asked Archbishop Jensen some very important questions. Frankly, questions that need to be asked and answered. Unfortunately, from my perspective, I think you are asking the right questions, but in part, to the wrong person.

    The Archbishop may well be able to answer some of your questions, at least those that relate specifically to areas which fall within his responsibilities as a Provincal Archbishop. On the other hand, questions relating to the direction the Anglican Church as a body should go, those I should think, he would be unable to address. Conciliary reflection would be required to address those questions, for any answer that Archbishop Jensen gave, would be simply his personal opinion. Your questions form the very basis of why the Global Anglican Future Conference needs to take place.


  3. Alice C. Linsley Says:

    All Christians are to defend the historic faith which is the basis of true unity.  Some points of contention are peripheral. Some are not. Lay leadership is not equivalent to consecration of non-celibate homosexual clergy or to same sex blessings in the Church.

    That said, these points of contention are related in that they attempt to undermine the sacerdotal priesthood, verifiably one of the oldest religious institutions known. Undermine the historic understanding of the priesthood as the unique office that brings together blood sacrifice and sacred law and you have undermined understanding of Jesus, our Great High Priest.

  4. Father Ron Smith Says:

    Edited ..  off topic and personal

  5. Gerry O'Brien Says:

    Dr. Poon Said:

    “Do you think the “orthodox” Anglicans on their own can carry the Communion forward without the blessing of Canterbury?  I am unsure.”

    Dr. Poon, I think I would lean towards the “orthodox” Anglicans carrying the Communion forward without the blessing of Canterbury easier than the Liberal Church will with Canterbury’s blessing. 

    Why would I think such a thing?  Well, what the “orthodox” are carrying forward is the Supremacy of Scripture rather than a Scripture that is interpreted whichever way the liberal church decides fits it’s agenda at the time. 

    This in itself has me leaning strongly towards the Orthodox attitude.


  6. Father Ron Smith Says:

    What are your parameters of ‘Orthodox’? Are they the same as those of the GACFON confederates, who have appropriated that unlikely pseudonym?

    If the ‘Sola Scriptura’ School is your idea of orthodox, then you need to re-think your theology!
    There is much more at stake here than ‘words in a Book’. Jesus made a New Covenant, in his Blood, with all who would look to him for salvation - having fulfilled in his own humanity, death and resurrection all the requirements of the Law.

    Therefore, those whose intention is to bring the freedom of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the World - for which Christ died - are surely the Orthodox of the Body of Christ, his Church.

    Jesus himself said: “They will know you’re my disciples by your love” - not by your judgement.

    Jesus said to the Scribes and Pharisees who rejected his liberality “You read the Scriptures, yet you still do not accept me”. True Christian Orthodoxy does not consist solely in following the pre-Christian understanding of Scripture, but “in every word that proceeds from the mouth of God”. Jesus, the Son of God, spoke only words of redemption, and not dissention and hatred.

  7. Steven Berry Says:

    The discussion about GAFCON is interesting to me on several levels.

    Part 1

    Today, it is the “Renovationists” are attempting to make Anglicanism into something that vaguely resembles the Christian faith, while allowing heterodox and sometimes heretical teaching and practice into the Church in the name of progress or “new” spiritual insight.

    When statements like: “If the ‘Sola Scriptura’ School is your idea of orthodox, then you need to re-think your theology!” or “True Christian Orthodoxy does not consist solely in following the pre-Christian understanding of Scripture” are made by those “ministering” within the Anglican communion, things need to be addressed.

    In the past, there were other issues that were debated. So, questioning what Anglicanism believes is nothing new. As a matter of fact, if one takes a brief look into the history of Anglicanism there is much we can learn.


    THE CONFESSIONS OF THE 16TH CENTURY.—The Articles of the Church of England form one of the many declarations on faith and discipline, which were put forward in the 16th century by such religious bodies as had thrown off allegiance to Rome, and disowned at the same time many points of the religious and ecclesiastical system of the Mediaeval Church.  For this action of what is commonly termed Protestantism is, by the nature of the case, simply negative.  It declares what is repudiated, not what is accepted.  It may indicate true Reformation or entire Revolution in things religious.  Hence—at a time when the unsettlement of the whole mediaeval system gave occasion to much wild speculation and practice, and the repudiation of allegiance to Rome forced on men the necessity of discovering other bonds of Christian unity—it became necessary for the various Reformed bodies to declare positively what they held in faith, and what ecclesiastical constitution they recognized.  The result was seen in a series of Confessions, of which the great Augsburg Confession was the chief.

    THE AUGSBURG CONFESSION.—This Confession, published in 1530, afterwards enlarged and amended in 1552, and put forth as the Wurtemburg Confession, has special interest to us, as having considerably affected our own Articles.  It was drawn up chiefly by Melancthon, and approved by Luther for presentation to the Diet, at a time wham there seemed hope of reconciliation between the Roman Catholic and Lutheran bodies in Germany, and when the extravagances of ultra-Protestantism had so alarmed Luther himself, as to suggest great care and moderation in framing authoritative statements of doctrine.  The original Confession contains xxi. Articles of Faith and vii. of Protest against Abuses.  Of the former Articles it may be noted:

    a. that (as is the case of all Lutheran documents) they lay great stress on the reality and efficacy of Sacramental grace, while they insist strongly on the need of spiritual reception; and, in relation to the Holy Communion, declare expressly that the Body and Blood of Christ are really present;

    b. that they define the Church much as in our Articles, assert the authority of the Church to ordain rites and Ceremonies, and claim for it the preaching of the Word, the Power of the Keys, and the Administration of the Sacraments;

    c. that, while they set forth with great fullness and emphasis the doctrine of Justification by Faith, and the absolute need of God’s prevenient grace, they abstain from all declarations on Predestination and Election;

    d. that they maintain that nothing in the Lutheran system is alien from Holy Scripture and the primitive Church.

    The Abuses protested against are mainly the refusal of the Cup to the Laity, Compulsory Celibacy of the Clergy, Monastic Vows, Propitiatory Sacrifice of the Mass, Compulsory Confession, and Papal Supremacy.  It will be seen at a glance that in general the Confession adopted much the same basis which was afterwards taken up in England; and indicated a desire, frustrated by unfortunate circumstances, to take the same line of Reformation, as distinct from Revolution.
    This Confession was one of many.  Not only did every Reformed body put out its own Confession, but even those who retained their obedience to Rome were obliged to define their position, as by the promulgation of the decrees of the Council of Trent, and the acceptance of the Creed of Pope Pius IV.

    THE POSITION OF THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND.—The Church of England perhaps especially felt this necessity.  For at the very moment of the repudiation of the Papal Supremacy, it was expressly declared upon her behalf (in 1533) that there was no intention to decline or vary from the congregation of Christ’s Church in things concerning the very Articles of the Catholic faith, or in any other things declared by Holy Scripture and the Word of God necessary to Salvation.  It was thought necessary that this declaration—so remarkably exemplified subsequently in the whole composition of the Prayer Book, and the adoption, under limits, of the old Ecclesiastical Law—should be expressed formally from time to time in certain Articles of Religion, not designed to be an exhaustive statement of the Christian Faith, but confined mainly to the points of faith and discipline then brought into controversy.  These Articles assert the position thus taken up by the Church of England; and it will be seen that they bear on her relation primarily to the Church of Rome, but secondarily to the movements of the foreign Reformations, and also to the spirit of revolutionary speculation and action, naturally aroused, in England as elsewhere, at a time of great religious change.

    THE TEN ARTICLES.—The first series of such Articles, called the Ten Articles, was put forth in 1536, the year of the final rupture with Rome.  They were prepared by a Committee of Divines, acting under direction of Henry VIII. and his Vicar-General, Thomas Cromwell; and having subsequently passed both Houses of Convocation, were issued as Articles to stablish Christian quietness and unity.  They dealt with the principal Articles of Christian faith; with the Sacraments of Baptism, Penance, and the Altar; with Justification; with the veneration of Images and Saints; with the Rites and Ceremonies of the Church, and with Purgatory.  Their whole character was transitional, as is strikingly seen in their adoption not of Two or of Seven, but of Three Sacraments; and their general tendency was conservative in doctrine, with reform of abuses in practice.  Little influence, if any, of foreign Confessions is to be traced in them.  No general subscription to them was required; but they were signed by Cromwell, by the Archbishops and many of the Bishops, and put forth with all the influence of the Royal authority.

    THE THIRTEEN ARTICLES.—After this ensued a struggle between two parties in the Church—the party of further innovation, headed by Cromwell and Cranmer, and the party, represented by Gardiner, who would have refused further religious change, though still firm for independence of Rome.  The former party was inclined to ally itself with the foreign Reformers of the Lutheran School, who were now, in the face of the Zwinglian and Calvinistic movements, inclining more than ever to conservatism in things religious, and even proposing a federation on the basis of Episcopal Government, in which the Church of England should take the lead.  The result of these negotiations is seen in the Thirteen Articles, drawn up about 1539 in conference between Lutheran and Anglican divines at Lambeth, and contained in a document found among Cranmer’s papers.  These Articles are written in Latin, evidently following the Augsburg Confession, but with characteristic variations; as, for example (a), defining Justification as including renovation of heart, and necessarily carrying with it regeneration of life; (b) strongly asserting the Independence of National Churches, and enforcing the rights of the Civil Authority; and (c) on Penitence, containing a long Dissertation, dwelling on the need and benefit of Confession and Absolution, but with no mention of any Sacrament of Penance.  They dealt with the doctrine of the Holy Trinity and the twofold nature of Christ; with Original Sin and Justification; with the Church; with the use of the Sacraments; with the doctrine of Baptism and the Eucharist, and with Penitence; with the Ministry and Rites of the Church and the Civil Authority; and with the Resurrection and the Last Judgment.  Their tenor is diffuse and explanatory.  For they were evidently designed to be rather the basis of a Concordat with the Lutherans, than a body of Articles to be formally adopted.  In fact, they never had any legal force at all; and their chief interest lies in this, that they were probably the channel through which the Augsburg Confession subsequently affected our English Articles.

    To be continued.


  8. Steven Berry Says:

    Part 2

    THE SIX ARTICLES.—The reaction, which followed in favour of the other party, is marked in the well-known Six Articles of 1539, brought forward in Parliament by the Duke of Norfolk, carried against the stout resistance of Cranmer and his friends, and accepted by the Convocation of Canterbury.  These Articles, to which submission was enforced by the severest penalties, had little to do with definition of abstract doctrine.  The first maintained the doctrine of Transubstantiation with its consequences; the others enforced certain important points of the Mediaeval Church system, viz., Communion in One kind, Vows of Chastity, the use of Private Masses, the Celibacy of the Clergy, and the obligation of Auricular Confession.  The publication of these Articles, in fact, simply indicated the temporary victory of the party of reaction.  It is doubtful how far the cruel penalties provided by Statute against all infringement of them were put in force; but their effect was to stop further progress in doctrinal and ecclesiastical change during the closing years of Henry VIII.

    THE FORTY-TWO ARTICLES.—The accession of Edward VI. introduced a complete reversal of this policy, giving to the reforming party all ascendancy, which they used vigorously and even vehemently.  The publication of the Prayer Book was the first fruits of this ascendancy.  The principles which it embodies are clearly expressed in the original Preface; and, as it had to be accepted and used by all, laity as well as clergy, under the Act of Uniformity, it might have been thought sufficient in itself to define the doctrinal and ecclesiastical position of the Church of England.  But in 1551 it was decided to add to the publication of the Revised Prayer Book, and the proposed reconstitution of the Ecclesiastical Law, the promulgation of a more complete and definite body of Articles.  The result was the Forty-two Articles, agreed upon by Bishops and other learned men in Synod of London, 1552, for avoiding of controversy and establishment of godly concord on certain matters of religion.  From this heading it seems doubtful whether these Articles were submitted to the Convocations properly so-called.  Cranmer had the chief hand in framing them, acting under an Order of the Council in 1551; probably he submitted them to the Bishops and other learned men for consideration and revision; afterwards they passed again through his hands, and were forwarded by him to the Council, with a view to the enforcement of subscription to them upon the clergy by royal authority; finally, they were published by the King’s Majesty’s commandment in May 1553, with the order that all beneficed clergy should sign them on pain of deprivation.  But the death of Edward in July 1553 put a stop to the whole proceeding; and the Articles remained in abeyance through the whole time of the reaction under Queen Mary.
    These Forty-two Articles are, as will be seen hereafter, the basis of our present Articles.  Although the heading shows that they were only intended to deal with certain matters of Religion, in view of the controversies of the time, and although the consideration of their substance confirms this statement, yet they were far the fullest and most precise declaration yet put forth by the Church of England.  They show very clearly the influence (perhaps through the abortive Thirteen Articles) of the Augsburg Confession; but they contain much independent matter, and, even where they follow the Confession, introduce material changes in its substance.  In one point especially they go beyond it.  At the time when they were drawn up the influence of Calvinism was just beginning to be felt in England, although it had as yet no great ascendancy; and it is obvious that this had made it necessary to pronounce upon the questions of Predestination and Election, on which the Calvinistic system turns.  On the whole they clearly defined the position of the Church as Catholic, in respect of the preservation of the doctrine of the Creeds and the main features of Church organization; and at the same time, as what is usually called Protestant, in accepting the Reformation principle of adhesion to Holy Scripture as the basis of faith, asserting freedom and independence against Rome, claiming right to reject doctrinal corruptions and practical abuses contrary to Scripture and primitive Church practice, and dealing in complete independence with the doctrines of Justification and Election, which formed the leading principles of the Lutheran and Calvinistic Reformations.

    THE ELEVEN ARTICLES.—On the accession of Elizabeth, pending the revision of these Articles, a short preliminary series of Eleven Articles was issued in 1559 by Royal and Episcopal authority.  These were of a simple and practical type, accepting Holy Scripture as the basis of faith and the Creeds as its interpretation, asserting the authority of the Church and the Royal Supremacy, maintaining the Prayer Book, rejecting Private Masses, the Veneration of Images and Relics, and restoring the Cup to the Laity.

    THE THIRTY-NINE ARTICLES.—Meanwhile the revision of the Forty-two Articles was carried on, mainly under the direction of Archbishop Parker, who, like the Queen herself, was bent on preserving as far as possible the old basis, as against the more revolutionary ideas of the growing Calvinistic party.  The Confession of Wurtemburg (1552), a revised and enlarged edition of the Confession of Augsburg, was clearly studied by the revisers.  The revised Articles were submitted to Convocation, and passed with alterations reducing them to Thirty-nine in 1563.  It was intended that they should be promulgated only by Royal authority.  But Parliament claimed a right to discuss them, which was ultimately conceded, and finally subscription to them was enforced by Act of Parliament in 1571.  They were put out both in Latin and in English.  It is doubtful whether the Latin or English version is to be considered as original; but it appears that the two are substantially of coordinate authority, and may be used with great advantage to elucidate and interpret each other.
    Of the alterations made in the Forty-two Articles, which are numerous, the chief are the following:—
    (a) Some Articles were added or enlarged, evidently for the sake of completeness.  Thus Art. ii., On the Son of God, was enlarged ; Art. v., On the Holy Ghost, was inserted; in Art. vi. were added a list of Canonical Books, and a definition of the position of the Apocrypha; Art. xii., On Good Works, was inserted.  Arts. xxix. and xxx., on the Holy Communion, were also added.  These alterations all show the desire of a fuller and more definite settlement of doctrine.
    (b) On the other hand, some Articles were omitted, either as now obsolete, or from a desire to refrain from pronouncing authoritative opinion on the subjects dealt with.  Such were the old Article x. on the limits of the action of Grace; the old Article xvi. on Blasphemy against the Holy Ghost; and the last Four Articles (the old xxxix., xl., xli., xlii.) condemning the belief that the Resurrection is past (being only a spiritual Resurrection), and that the souls of the departed die with the body or sleep idly, the fable of Heretics called Millenarii, and the opinion that all men, be they never so ungodly, shall be saved at the last.
    (c) On two points there is some historical doubt.
    In Art. xx. the celebrated clause, The Church hath power to decree rites and ceremonies and authority in controversies of faith, was certainly not in Parker’s original draft, nor was it inserted in Convocation.  In all probability it was inserted by the Council at the instance of the Queen, and afterwards accepted by Convocation and Parliament.
    Art. xxix., on the other hand, which was in the original, was omitted in the Authorized Latin Edition published in 1563 by Royal Command, but restored in 1571.  In this case also probably the change was made at the instance of the Queen; but the change so made was not accepted.
    The Articles thus completed were put forth as agreed upon by the Archbishops and Bishops of both Provinces and the whole Clergy, in the Convocation holden in London in the year 1562, for the avoiding of Diversities of opinion and for the establishing consent touching true Religion.  The title shews the claim for them of a greater comprehensiveness and completeness than was advanced in 1552; but at the same time declares the object to be, as before, the settlement of controversy and union of all on a general basis of agreement.  Subscription to them was required not only from clergy, but from all persons taking degrees at the Universities.  Even in 1688 the Toleration Act required from Dissenting Ministers subscription to all, except xxxiv., xxxv., xxxvi., and parts of xx. and xxvii.  The first of these obligations alone remains at the present moment.



  9. Steven Berry Says:

    Part 3

    THE LAMBETH ARTICLES.—The Articles thus drawn up in 1562 have remained unchanged till the present time.  The history, however, would be incomplete without a brief reference to the attempt to supplement them in 1595 by the addition of the well-known Lambeth Articles.  This attempt marks the temporary dominance of the Calvinistic theology, under the influence of the great Puritan party, in the reign of Elizabeth.  It arose, indeed, out of a Sermon at Cambridge, which was denounced as heretical, because it ventured to question some of the primary points of the Calvinistic system.  There the Articles were drawn up by the theological Professors, and accepted with some modifications by Archbishop Whitgift, and certain other Bishops and Divines with whom he took counsel.  They expressed in the most uncompromising and terrible form the main points of the Calvinistic theology; declaring, for example, that
    (a) God from all eternity has predestinated some to life; some He hath reprobated to death.
    (b) The moving cause of Predestination to life is not prevision of faith, or perseverance, or good works, or of anything which may be in the persons predestinated, but only the will of the good pleasure of God.
    (c) A true justifying faith and the Spirit of God sanctifying is not extinguished, doth not fall away, doth, not vanish, in the elect, either finally or totally.
    (d) Saving grace is not given to all men, by which they may be saved if they will.

    Happily, however, these Articles were strongly reprobated by the Queen and her advisers, and therefore failed to become in any sense authoritative; and a subsequent petition by the Puritan party at the Hampton Court Conference for their adoption was formally refused.  But both the attempt to introduce them and its failure are significant.  The attempt shews a conviction on the part of the Calvinistic party that the distinctive tenets of Calvinism are not embodied in the Articles; and that this conviction is well founded will be seen by contrasting the Lambeth Articles with Arts. xv., xvi., of our Thirty-nine Articles.  The failure shews that, when formally submitted, these tenets were refused deliberately, and that they therefore form no part of the theology of the Church of England.

    As then, as now! GAFCON is just the continuation of the process of re-establishing true Anglican belief and practice.


  10. Father Ron Smith Says:

    [Edited] ..  we who are ordained in The Church of Aotearoa/New Zealand are no longer called upon to subscribe to the ‘Thirty-nine Articles’.

    If this should shock you and your conservative companions, then you need to get up to speed with other Provinces of the world-wide Anglican Communion on present-day praxis - which appears to have left you and your friends behind.

    We are in a new and challenging era of ‘Being Church’ in and to a needy and ever-evolving world - for which Christ died.
    ‘Semper Reformanda!’

    (Comgratulations on your training in archeological exploration!)

  11. Gerry O'Brien Says:

    After reading the previous four posts, especially the last one by Ron Smith, it is so obvious why there is such a split in the worldwide communion. 

    Mr. Smith, I would tend to think that your little corner of the world, TEC, ACC and portions of Europe that have lost touch with the XXXVIII Articles of Religion (and gloat about it),  have lost touch with the reality of the Church of the past and present and of the Faith of our Fathers is in extreme jeopary. 

    While you have a right to your opinions~~as do Rev. Berry and others, it is the arrogant attitude of “My way or the Highway” that the revisionist liberal church is taking that has been and will continue to be so hurtful and harmful to the WWCommunion.

    In Christ,

  12. Rosemary S Behan Says:

    I’m a little puzzled by your latest post Ron.  I suspected that the declaration those about to be ordained must sign, might have changed since my husband signed it so many years ago ..  but it says ..

    “I believe in the faith which is revealed in the Holy Scriptures and set forth in the Catholic Creeds, as this church has received and explained it in its Formularies and its authorised worship.”

    Notice that says I believe.  Later the document says ..

    “I affirm my allegiance to the doctrine to which clause 1 of the Fundamental Provisions and clauses 1 and 2 of Part B bear witness.”

    Are you saying that the Formularies of our faith ..  which you said in your declaration you believe ..  do not include the 39 Articles of Faith?

    Are you also saying that you deny the affirmation you gave?

    As a supplementary question ..  if you feel you ‘do not subscribe’ to the Formularies of our church,  which were passed by Act of Parliament ..  is there anything else you do not subscribe to?

  13. Father Ron Smith` Says:

    I suppose it depends, Rosemary, on when and where your husband was ordained into the Sacred Ministry. Suffice to say that a priest in Aotearoa/New Zealand is no longer requested, specifically, to subscribe to the ‘Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion’ - which was a formulary of the originaL Book of Common Prayer. Look in the Ordinal of the Church of Aotearoa/ New Zealand in our modern Prayer Book.

    One does need to keep up to date on liturgical requirements. The Church is changing, Rosemary, and one needs to keep abreast of what are the requirements of the Mission of the Gospel in today’s world.

  14. Rosemary S Behan Says:

    My husband was ordained right here Ron ..  and your uncharitable comment about ‘keeping up to date’  ..  well the information I posted came TODAY from the Anglican website.  Enough said?

  15. Gerry O'Brien Says:

    Website Administrator:
    I am lodging a complaint against Father Ron Smith, not against comments made to or about myself but against him for what is so charitably called “uncharitable comments” concerning Rosemary Behan’s Comment #12 and Smith’s reply in Comment #13. 
    If Smith is as pointed out by Rosemary in #14, incorrect in his posting, then it should and must be edited. 
    I am requesting that this be investigated by you as the Web Administrator and corrected if needed.
    Thank You,
    In Christ,
    Gerry O’Brien

  16. Editorial Team Says:

    Much as we’d be delighted to help Gerry,  unfortunately we cannot verify the truth of remarks made on this website,  that is the responsibility of the poster.

  17. Steven Berry Says:

    The question of whether GAFCON is really needed is answered by simply reading the various posts here.

    When Bishops and/or Priests within the Anglican Communion can openly, without fear of discipline, make statements such as: “Do I think we should believe in the whole of the Bible? I confess I must say, for myself only, NO!” the Communion is definitely in trouble.

    While I appreciate their candor, if one doesn’t believe in the reliability, veracity, and authority of the Word of God then what true fellowship (κοινωνία) can there be?

    Once you go down the path of denying the integrity of the Scriptures, it is but a small step to accepting a variety of unscriptural practices and teaching.

    That these “Servants of God”, who reject the sufficiency of God’s Word, would also reject the Thirty-nine Articles should come as no surprise. 

    This being the case, it is no wonder that an idea of creating an Anglican Covenant and a New Anglican Catechism scare them to death. 

    I think that it is time for some house cleaning.

    “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God…”  1 Peter 4:17


  18. Father Ron Smith Says:

    Edited ..  personal attack and off topic

  19. Father Ron Smith Says:

    To get back to the substance of this article, which is Dr. Poon’s challenge to the Archbishop of Sydney on his stand for the GAFCON conference:

    The following detail was spotted in the Guardian Newspaper on Thursday, 3 January 2008, written by Andrew Brown, Religious Correspondent for that prestigious English paper:

    “Over the last few years, Dr Rowan Williams has sometimes looked criminally innocent (“The trouble with Rowan is that he’s too damn Christian,”) as one of his colleagues remarked; sometimes merely well-meaning but powerless; very occasionally he has looked as if he is working to an angelically cunning plan. This week has been a good week for the cunning plan interpretation. It is not that he has done anything - but his rigorous policy of inaction and delay has given his opponents an opportunity to fall apart which they have exploited to the full.

    Plans for a gathering of his opponents in Jerusalem, reported yesterday by Riazat Butt, have imploded spectacularly with the announcement by the Bishop of Jerusalem that he does not want them to meet there. This isn’t a trivial matter, because it reveals that Rowan has been right about at least one thing all along: it is not just homosexuality which divides the 50 or 60 million Anglicans around the world. They are also divided about whether women can be priests; some Anglicans doubt whether even men can be priests (the more extreme evangelicals believe in “ministers” or leaders instead); they are divided over whether marriage must be lifelong, and, if so, always to one woman (there are parts of Africa where the church welcomes polygamous converts); and they are also bitterly divided about Islam and Zionism.

    The Anglican church in the Middle East has always been largely Arab, and has sometimes been strongly identified with Palestinian nationalism. The last bishop of Jerusalem, Riah Abu el-Assal, was fervent in his denunciations of the invasions of Lebanon and the siege of the Gaza strip. His successor, Bishop Suheil Darwani, is less completely identified with the Palestinian cause, but well aware that his people are a minority among Arabs, who really must not be identified with America or Zionism.

    But this identity is precisely what some of the influential backers of the anti-gay movement also want. Much of their money comes from rightwing American Christians, for whom the political liberalism of the Episcopal church is at least as offensive as its theological latitude. They believe in something very like a crusade against Islam. So, it would appear, does the leader of the Nigerian church, Dr Peter Akinola, who has emerged as the leader of the global anti-gay movement.

    Akinola has responded to Darwani with a letter that tells him, after several paragraphs of God flannel, to shut up and do what he is told: “Be assured that we considered your important arguments carefully as we met in Nairobi. But we came to the unanimous conclusion that we needed to proceed.”

    So, in view of the above, has Archbishop Ekinola now taken upon himself a vicarious leadership of the whole Anglican Communion? If that is his intention, then I think he will need to take counsel with the Intruments of Unity, whose authority could not thus taken by force.