Splitters United or Patient Pressure? - Dr Graham Kings

Source: Fulcrum
republished, with permission, from The Church of England Newspaper, 24 November 2006

Fulcrum Newsletter, November 2006
by Graham Kings, Vicar of St Mary Islington and theological secretary of Fulcrum

Last week two large, historic evangelical churches in the Washington area began moves to leave The Episcopal Church. They wish to put themselves under the jurisdiction of the Anglican Church of Nigeria (of which the Convocation for Anglicans in North America is part). Although the pressures on evangelicals in the US are great, upsetting the ‘Windsor Process’ by these new ‘trans-communion interventions’ is regrettable at this delicate stage in Anglican reshaping.

Under Archbishop Drexel Gomez, the Communion is developing a Covenant into which provinces can opt. Coupled with the concept of ‘constituent’members of the Anglican Communion (those who adopt the covenant) and ‘associate’ status (for those who do not), as outlined in the Archbishop of Canterbury’s statement in June, this is a positive way forward – indeed realistically, ‘the only game in town’.

Some,  however, may argue that evangelical Anglicans in England need to follow the lead of those parishes in America. They do not. The current crisis in The Episcopal Church is not the same as the context of the Church of England. Evangelical Anglicans here should not be considering secret or panic measures. We are set in a different situation and open conversation and cautious consideration of the issues are what is required, not least among evangelicals.

The consecration of a bishop, like Gene Robinson, who admits to a current sexual relationship outside of marriage, is hardly likely to take place in England.  Vigilance is still needed, but that really is not our scenario. The Crown nominations process is different from Episcopalian elections; General Synod has backed the ‘Windsor Process’ by a huge majority; our two Archbishops would clearly not consecrate such a candidate; and the leading dioceses, by tradition, after Canterbury and York - London, Durham and Winchester - all have bishops who are conservative on sexuality.

What is needed now is not precipitate action, but judicious reflection that leads into considered choice. In other words, response not reaction and urgency not hurry. We should be praying for successors of Richard Hooker who can develop authentic Anglican ecclesiologies for our time, and over a period of time.

In Fulcrum, we aim to renew the evangelical centre. We are, for example, both for women bishops and conservative on issues of sexuality. As our web-site shows,  that has, at times, meant not being afraid to give a theological critique of both the ‘left’ and the ‘right’ and of the tone of discussions. But it also means taking a stance of patient pressure and working constructively to help develop a creative Anglican ecclesiology, which does not reduce ‘Communion’  to ‘federation’. This must be relational in its understanding of communion,  global in its scope, and have biblical holistic mission as its centre and driving energy.

There have recently appeared a number of vital resources for this task. Oliver O’Donovan is currently in the middle of a major series of seven monthly Fulcrum ‘web sermons’ on the crisis in the Anglican Communion. Philip Turner and Ephraim Radner’s recent book, The Fate of Communion, offers a stringent critique of the American church (with lessons we may need to learn in England) but also, in its vision of a conciliar Anglicanism, positive proposals for an alternative to splits and the unilateral creation of new provinces.

The perspective of evangelical Anglicans in the wider Communion is also vital and is increasingly being recognised as of significance. In Singapore, Michael Poon is the most prolific ecclesiologist on the Global South Anglican site. At Limuru, near Nairobi, Kenya, Joseph   Galgalo is on the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Panel of Reference and the Inter-Anglican Theological and Doctrinal Commission (IATDC)  and Esther Mombo is a consultant to Primates’ Meetings and also on the IATDC. All three are southern theologians of note who offer refreshing insights into the creative development of Anglican ecclesiologies which are not fissiparous and are shaped by a holistic view of mission.

In their contributions we see the fruit of John Stott’s vision for mission and for evangelical Anglicans worldwide. Poon (Patristics, Oxford), and Galgalo (Systematic Theology, Cambridge) were both supported for their PhD’s by the Langham Trust, founded and funded by Stott. At the end of a recent interview published in Christianity Today (13 October 2006), Stott concluded with a breathtaking breadth of mission:

My hope is that in the future,  evangelical leaders will ensure that their social agenda includes such vital but controversial topics as halting climate change, eradicating poverty,  abolishing armories of mass destruction, responding adequately to the AIDS pandemic, and asserting the human rights of women and children in all cultures.  I hope our agenda does not remain too narrow.

Those who have ears to hear, in England and the world, let them hear.

Stott has also set the context for our ecclesiology. In an essay published recently in a book edited by Caroline Chartres, Why I am Still an Anglican (London: Continuum, 2006),  he concluded:

So I do believe in the Church of England, in the rightness of belonging to it and of maintaining a faithful evangelical witness within it and to it. For I believe in the power of God’s word and Spirit to reform and renew the Church. I also believe in the patience of God. Max Warren wrote that "the history of the Church is the story of the patience of God". He was right. I do not think we have any liberty to be less patient than God has been.

In responding to these missiological and ecclesiological challenges, there is a clear need for conservative, open and charismatic streams in evangelical Anglicanism (widely seen to be represented by Reform, Fulcrum and New Wine) to interweave and interact with each other, learning from Stott’s generosity and foresight. We also need to renew and make the most of the institutions he established: not only the Langham Trust, but the Evangelical Fellowship of the Anglican Communion, and the Church of England Evangelical Council as a truly representative forum and voice for all evangelical Anglicans within the Church of England.

Canon Dr Graham   Kings is vicar of St Mary Islington and theological secretary of Fulcrum

 

6 Responses. Comments closed for this entry.

  1. Ian Montgomery Says:

    With all respect to Dr. Kings it is hard for anyone in the UK to appreciate how difficult it can be in the USA for faithful evangelical Anglicans in the ECUSA.  We are not just a minority but a beleagured one that is subject to overt persecution in some places.  In this case both congregations underwent a discernment process for 40+ days and believed that there was in fact a protocol in their diocese for negotiated separation.  Such a protocol has been denied now by that diocese.  I suspect - because I have no trust left for our Episciopal leadership - that this recanting of a protocal is part of a clear policy under the new presiding bishop to play hardball with such faithful Anglicans and to punish, threaten and seek to cow any who would oppose for reasions to Christian conscience those who oppose the innovations of ECUSA which have scandalised the majority of the Anglican Communion.

    We in fact most often now have to describe the religion of the leadership of ECUSA as non-Christian or simply not apostolically Christian.  It is -IMHO - another religion that still seeks to mask itself behind a history of being Christian and current sacramental masks that disgiose its true nature.

    The current leadership of ECUSA is simply njot to be trusted.  If you have a faithful bishop - as I do - then we stay to fight.  In other diocese then flight is now the only option.  It is my hope that when there is a Communion wide solution then we can rejoin each other in fact.  We are still joined as sisters and brothers in the Lord regardless of the canons or facts as promulgated by the apostate majority in ECUSA leadership

  2. mccabe Says:

    Brother in Christ, Ian Montgomery,

    Leave the Episcopal Church if it offends you. There is no gun at your head saying ‘stay’ where you are so unhappy. Be Anglican if you wish. The vast majority of us in TEC want to remain Episcopalian and free from external coercion. I have heard the same weary conservative members of the church whine and disrput the church for well over 50 years and am sick to death of them. Leave! Leave now! Leave quickly! 

    I rejoice that the new Presiding Bishop is taking a very tough stand against any member of the Episcopal Church that attempts to divide or disrupt the church no matter what rank or title they hold. It is time that you leave as individuals or are removed from the church by those with legal authority to govern and protect the church and all her assets.

  3. Ian Montgomery Says:

    Dear McCabe,

    Rotten arguments for pastors as we are responsible for the spiritual well being of our flock.  That is that for which I am fighting against a new religion that has taken over ECUSA and so transforming it into some kind of gnostic sect.  The Church is not simply a voluntary society it is the Body of Christ and as such requires those of us who have taken vows to God to work tirelessly for its holiness as the bride of Christ.  That ECUSA has been led astray is the verdict of the majority of the Anglican world and the Global South Primates in particular.

    To put it another way - when you see a child in danger of falling into a fire - then you intervene to prevent such injury.  The souls of the parishioners are at stake.  They are our responsibility and I for one cannot see them put in danger of perdition and not struggle to prevent such.

    You may dismiss such a point of view as unfitting modern ideology.  To this I respond that some modern ideology is both risky and dangerous in its contempt for the spiritual realities that have guided the Church as it has been subject to the revelation of Holy Scripture.  So we are back at two religions in one Church. 

    I have no doubt that eventually I will be ejected by ECUSA.  The new PB shows all the signs of totalitarian rule and ECUSA has become a dangerous and risky place for orthodox, Catholic or evangelical Christians.  Until then I shall fight for the flock under my care as I vowed to God to do the following -  to
    banish and drive away from the Church all erroneous and
    strange doctrines contrary to God’s Word.  I find myself potentially as having to chose between a vow to God and a vow to a bishop.  That is why I thank God for having a godly and orthodox bishop.

    Christian first, then Anglican, then Episcopal.  God bless the Global South Primates for their vigorous leadership in countering the heresies and schizmatic leadership of ECUSA.  They have been very polite hitherto. 

    Remeber Gideon?  The impossible happened because God led him and he was obedient.  It is not over until it is over and this is what Dr. Kings was suggesting.  What the folk at Falls Church and Truro have discerned is that in their diocese it is over.  God bless them.

  4. mccabe Says:

    Brother in Christ, Ian Montomery,

    Your are not responsible for my soul, I am. Your are not responsible for any soul, we are all responsible for ourselves.

    How impertinent of you to see us as children: “when you see a child in danger of falling into a fire - then you intervene to prevent such injury”.

    How presumptive of you to take our salvation on your mortal shoulders when: “The souls of the parishioners are at stake.”

    It is Christ alone that is our salvation. It is Christ alone that leads us by the power of the Holy Spirit. We are all equal members in the Body of Christ.

    You need to remember that you are the simply a servant of the servants of God. You need to remember that you are also a paid professional christian performing duties as an officer in a corporation. If you will not obey the Canon Law of the Episcopal Chruch then resign your paid professional christian office. Follow The Global South and walk with them on your journey in life. You have free will use it to leave with dignity and not as false shepherd.

  5. Ian Montgomery Says:

    McCabe - If you were part of my flock my vows would precicely make me responsible for your soul, especially neither to lead you astray from God’s Word, nor to lead you astray personally.  The 1662/1928 vows lay this upon us.  I regret that you seek to ask me to abandon those vows and I thank God that the Global South Primates and leaders are lending us their support in following those vows. 

    I am a servant of God who serves the people of God.  Not the servant of those people.  I am a fellow servant of God with them.  This is a key difference in our approach to ordination vows.

    The canons of the church are not difficult to be obedient to - it is the apostate and schizmatic leadership who I do not have to obey. 

    The corporation, as you put it, is still officially Anglican and on that point I remain so, while yet the status of ECUSA is in jeopardy.  In the event of a divorce of ECUSA from the AC then I shall no longer trouble ECUSA.  Meanwhile I shall stay and protest, pray and seek the return of ECUSA to full communion with the AC and an end to the heretical innovations of ECUSA that have so scandalised the majority of the AC.

    I am following God and the Anglican Communion, not the Global South.  They are currently our co-pilgrims on the road of Ang;ican orthodoxy and Apostolicity.

  6. mccabe Says:

    Ian Montogomery, Oath Breaker

    Christ Jesus said that his leaders of his congregation would be the servant of the servants of God. That is why he washed their feet on the night he was handed over to suffering and death. But, why listen to Him? The anit-christ is a group of people that mingle with the true children of God until the great harvest. Until the great harvest, we are not always certain who is of Christ and who is not of Christ. As a good modern Calvinist, I can tell you that I have no trouble with denouncing Satan and all his works and seeing Satan at work in the church.

    Here is your justification of your oath breaking in the original version.


    “Genesis 3:13-20 (New International Version)
    New International Version (NIV)

    “13 Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

    14So the LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, “Cursed are you above all the livestock and all the wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life.

    15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”

    16 To the woman he said,“I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”

    17 To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it,’

    “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life.

    18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you,      and you will eat the plants of the field.

    19 By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”