The Global Anglican Communion and the Anglican Orthodoxy - Stephen Noll

The Global Anglican Communion and the Anglican Orthodoxy - Stephen Noll

The GAFCON Theology Resource Team Conference gathered in late January and focused on Authentic Global Anglicanism. Among the papers presented was one by Rev Professor Stephen Noll, vice-chancellor of Uganda Christian University on The Global Anglican Communion and Anglican Orthodoxy. It can be read here.

12 Responses. Comments closed for this entry.

  1. Steven Berry Says:

    Professor Stephan Noll’s paper “The Global Anglican Communion: A Blueprint” is a must read. Forget the Anglican Covenant and adopt something based on his “Blueprint.”



  2. Steven Berry Says:

    Schism is an interesting topic for Anglicans to talk about since both the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches think that Anglicanism is schismatic.

    Some fear that GAFCON will split the Church, and perhaps it will, but to identify schism as a bad thing may be too great a stretch.

    If I may, don’t confuse “schism” with “denominationalism.”

    To clarify let me explain how I understand these words.

    Schism – is the separating from false brethren who have rejected the faith once delivered to the saints and refuse to repent. Failure to maintain Apostolic Teaching always leads to schism, and rightly so.

    Denominationalism – Though it seems to take on a negative connotation by some, it really is nothing more than the meeting of diverse groups of believers assembled together based on common teaching and order. 

    Professor Stephen Noll’s paper on “The Global Anglican Communion and Anglican Orthodoxy” contains a wonderful description of what historical Anglicanism believes and stands for. To be sure, our Lutheran, Baptist, and other brothers in Christ may not find it to their taste, but that is fine. God bless them mightily.

    Dr. Luke records for us a very interesting story.

    Luke 9:49 “And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us. [50]  And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us.”

    Apparently there was a man, not of the 12 or 70 (i.e. not in Apostolic Succession) that was ministering the things of God using Jesus’ name.

    Interestingly this unknown saint, in adition to other ministry, was casting out demons… a very key point to remember. You see, Dr. Luke also tells in Acts 19 starting in verse 13 “That certain of the vagabond Jews [non believers], exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth. [14]  And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so. [15]  And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye? [16]  And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. [17]  And this was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified. [18]  And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds. [19]  Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. [20]  So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.”

    So, what are we to understand from this? I think that it is clear that people can use the ‘name” of Jesus, but if they don’t have a personal relationship with Him, they are not only kidding themselves, but are endangering their souls. The unidentified servant of God was a believer in Christ, that he was able to exorcise the demons is proof, but he was not in the same denomination with the Apostles.

    Did Jesus reject his “denominationalism?” In a word, no.

    A Biblical view of Schism

    The Apostle Paul gives Timothy valuable instruction in how to deal with those in severe spiritual error.

    2 Timothy 3:1 “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. [2]  For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, [3]  Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, [4]  Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; [5]  Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.”

    He continues:

    2 Timothy 3:8 “Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. [9] But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was. [10] But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, [11] Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me. [12]  Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. [13]  But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. [14]  But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; [15]  And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. [16]  All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: [17]  That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”

    While there are those who argue that Paul’s instruction was to “turn away” from individuals who hold erroneous doctrine and practice, but not to split an entire Church, I think that view is rather short-sighted.

    When looking at the whole council of God, we find God actually commanding schism. In Revelation God calls the faithful to come out of a religious system which had forsaken and turned their back on Him.

    Rev 18:4 “And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. [5]  For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.”

    Eusebius records for us a practical demonstration of Biblical schism with “false brethren.”


    Although a fully developed Gnosticism did not come until mid second century the teachings of that group began early enough to affect the church at the end of the first century. The Apostle John’s opposition to the teachings of Cerinthus and Docetism was clear and authoritative. Cerinthus taught “that Jesus was a mere man upon whom the divine Spirit descended for a season and then left him.” They “asserted that Christ did not exist before He was born of Mary and was not begotten of God that Father before all ages.”

    The Church historian, Eusebius, tells a story of St. John as he entered into a public bath house and finds Cerinthus there. St. John ran out of the building without bathing, exclaiming, “Let us flee lest the bath should fall in, as long as Cerinthus that enemy of truth is with in.”

    The poet Mantuanus expressed the obligation of the Church to remain faithful to God by the act of schism when he states:

    “Vivere qui sancte cupitis, discelite; Romae Omnia quum liceant, non licet esse bonum.”

    “Ye who desire to live a godly life, depart; for, although all things are lawful at Rome, yet to be godly is unlawful.”

    In Him


  3. Bishop Ijaz Inayat Says:

    Very dear Steve,

    You are a good teacher. God bless you and your comments reach many a people.

  4. Alice C. Linsley Says:

    I agree with Bishop Inayat. You have a gift, Steven, and it is one that the Church must regard as very important. St Paul tells us that we are to show honor and provide for the work of: first Apostles, then Prophets, then teachers, then workers of miracles.

  5. Gerry OBrien Says:


    Ditto….Ditto….and Ditto

    Thank You, Teacher.


  6. Rosemary S Behan Says:

    I hope most of you know my heart,  so what I say below is NOT said to be argumentative,  but to ask questions.

    When Stephen Noll says,  “At the same time, the contemporary crisis has raised issues of philosophical hermeneutics which must be addressed. The recent work of Kevin Vanhoozer, for instance, opens an avenue for developing a faithful mode of understanding Scripture as “God’s communicative action.”

    You sort of get the impression that the hermeneutic problem is close to being solved,  but it’s still HUGE here,  and in the States I know.  For instance,  we all know that one of the foremost objections we share is that ordaining practising homosexuals is ‘contrary to Scripture.’  Confirmed by Lambeth 1:10.  Well the foremost objection to the remarriage of divorcees is also that it is ‘contrary to Scripture’  ..  except for valid hermeneutical reasons ..  and it is precisely those hermeneutical reasons which need stating and defending in an article such as this.  With great clarity too,  so that everyone will know why ‘A’ is contrary to Scripture,  but ‘similar to A’ is not.

    Stephen Noll also comments on the strategy of sending missionary bishops into under-evangelized portions of their own dioceses, or even of another jurisdiction.  He does so in a paragraph where he’s talking about unity.  I wonder if this would have caused as much of a problem if these dear folk had been designated ‘apostles’ rather than ‘bishops.’  However too late for that now,  but it IS painful for those of us who would like as much ‘virtue’ as possible on our side of the debate ..  when we seek to speak in judgement about error on the other side ..  to try and answer questions about this.  Especially with regard to the formularies of our church.

    I particularly like Stephen Noll’s emphasis on conciliar government of the Communion.  That it’s bishops meet in council with authority ..  rather than at a jamboree ..  but I think he muddles that in point three,  where he talks about a ‘focus’ and a ‘locus’  [two unity’s it would seem],  I’m not sure that gets around the difficulty.  Remember we’re a Three Tikanga church and know something of these problems.

    I’m also not terribly happy about sentences such as this ..  “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.”

    Heresy is everywhere in the church,  you and I are heretics in some way probably,  and if we’re not,  we WERE ..  but kind teachers helped us to see our mistake,  taught us a bit of theology,  had patience with our impatience,  and above all,  taught us a little about ecclesiology and what it means to be ‘church.’  I find that statement far too black and white ..  sigh ..  if only I were ‘perfect’ enough to make it!!!!!

  7. Alice C. Linsley Says:

    Rosemary, Dr. Noll’s remarks are probably best understood in the context of the African experience of the Lambeth establishment. Bishop Bob Duncan makes important observations on this: “The [Elizabethan] Settlement exchanged an international leader for a local leader (pope to king). All this took place under British systems. Theses systems were remarkable. Even after the collapse of the Empire everyone was still under the systems. Who calls the primates together? Who gives the mandate to the ACC and who appoints the General Secretary? The consensus that had existed that was the settlement and the settlement worked in a system. The system has worked, the settlement has worked for 400 years, but the agreement that authority rests in the bible, in the prayerbook and the English church system… all of that is collapsing…the old consensus is in horrendous disintegration…Dr. Samuels said that what it is that must emerge before Anglicanism can go on and progress is what will be the equivalent of the Elizabethan settlement, a Post Colonial Settlement. I heard his words and they came form that brown southern and traditional part of Anglicanism. I said within my spirit aha, now I understand. The Elizabethan settlement has served us well but no longer are we white western or British, a new settlement must emerge with systems and structures that will sustain and protect Anglicanism.”

  8. Rosemary S Behan Says:

    Thanks Alice ..  I don’t think it’s that I don’t understand that.  I feel that I can understand what folk are saying and why ..  it’s the result that worries me. 

    When I was a young girl,  I wrote a long essay on Elizabeth Fry ..  an extraordinary woman.  Basically,  in a day and age when women of her social standing really did nothing to rock the boat,  this lady completely reformed the English Prison system.  She didn’t open new prisons with her systems in place ..  she reformed the ones in existence,  and she did it as a woman in a man’s world and within a system that was completely against her.  Writing that essay has always remained with me.

  9. Gerry OBrien Says:


    You are very close to speaking above my head, but I feel I must weigh in on this subject.  You wrote the above sentence within your post #8 above.

    ” She didn’t open new prisons with her systems in place ..  she reformed the ones in existence”

    Obviously Elizabeth Fry was an extraordinary woman and a brave one.  To reform something that is in existence, is exactly that…. reformation.

    I wonder, is it reformation that we are looking at or rather is it Renewal?
    By this I mean, is the idea of a reformation within the Communion possible or is it now necessary to “Renew” our whole Communion worldwide and be rid of the heretics that have wormed their way into the Church, especially the North American, European and yes, the New Zealand and others within Global South also. 

    The Rev. Prof. Stephen Noll said:

    “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.”

    I’m not sure of your situation in NZ, but here in liberal Canada, our Primate is NOT elected by the synod of bishops BUT RATHER he/she/it is elected by the General Synod…House of Bishops, House of Clergy and House of Laity.  This fact flies in the face of Noll’s words and is very likely one of the leading causes of our challenges today…
    If our Primate was elected by our House of Bishops only, then the “liberal” would have had a much more difficult time “worming” their way in.

    Our challenge today is that the Modern Anglican Communion has not read the “Seven Letters to the Seven Churches” or at least have lost touch with the instructions of them…..  portions of each follow, shortened somewhat

    Ephesus:  “You have forsaken your first love;

    Smyrna:  Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer;

    Pergamum:  Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: You have people there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin by eating food sacrificed to idols and by committing sexual immorality. 15Likewise you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans;

    Thyatira:  Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols;

    Sardis:  I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2Wake up!;

    Philadelphia: I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name;

    Laodicea:  I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.

    With the exception of the Letter to Philadelphia,
    Jesus found something in each of the other six cities to fault.  Are these not clear cut indicators of our Church today….Perhaps the letter to Philadelphia is the one that is written to all true believers and true followers…I wonder where each one of us fit in?

    Noll’s paper or “blueprint” is right on the money as far as I can see in my non theological mind.

    The time has come to “Renew”, start afresh, break away, stand firm….

    In Christ,

  10. Steven Berry Says:

    Dearest Rosemary,

    When you state: “Heresy is everywhere in the church, you and I are heretics in some way probably, and if we’re not, we WERE…” I think I understand what you are saying, but perhaps you might be missing what Stephen Noll meant by the use of the word “heresy.”

    I know that there are various definitions for “heresy” floating around today such as the one given by Roman Catholic author, Richard M. Hogan where he defines it simply as: “… when a Catholic refuses obstinately to accept a teaching which the Magisterium officially proposes as revealed by God, that Catholic is guilty of heresy.” (Dissent From The Creed - Heresies Past and Present, 2001 edition, Pg 25)

    Using Dr. Hogan’s definition, yes, Anglicans would be considered heretics because they have not believed everything that the Roman Magisterium has declared as the “official” doctrine of “the church.” Doctrines such as Mary’s Immaculate Conception (that Mary was born without sin and remained sinless throughout her life), The bodily assumption of Mary into heaven, Mary as corredemptrix, Mary as mediatrix of all grace (Leo XIII, Octobri mense 1891 : “From the great treasure of all grace, which the Lord has brought, nothing… comes to us except through Mary, so that, as nobody can approach the Supreme Father except through the Son, similarly, nobody can approach Christ except through the mother.” Pope Benedict XV, AAS 29, 1937 “All gifts which the Author of all good has designed to communicate to the unhappy prosperity of Adam, are, according to the loving resolve of His Divine Providence, dispensed by the hands of the Most Holy Virgin.”) 

    I don’t think that Dr. Noll was using the term in the way you or Dr. Hogan mean it. Rather, I think that Dr. Noll is using “heresy” in its classical form, i.e. rejecting that which is clearly revealed by the Word of God or deviating from Apostolic Teaching or inovation (teaching, as doctrine, things not found in Scripture).

    Perhaps in discussing the three part concept of heresy, it might be instructive to listen to what Tertullian wrote.

    When discussing what the “orthodoxy of the faith” is, and what should actually be believed, the issue turns upon a single point… the sufficiency of the Word of God. Historically it was the heretics that taught that the Scriptures were not sufficient for understanding correct doctrine because oral tradition contained secret revelation which was never written down.

    “[The heretics insist] that they [the apostles] did not reveal everything to all men. Rather, they say that the apostles proclaimed some things openly and to all the world, but that they disclosed other things only in secret and to a few.”
    Tertullian - The Prescription Against Heretics, Chapter 25,  ANCF Vol. 3, Pgs 254-255

    “It is incredible [inconceivable] that the apostles were either ignorant of the whole scope of the message which they had to declare, or that they failed to make known to all men the entire rule of faith. Indeed, the apostles proclaimed it simply and fully. So let us see, then, whether the churches, through their own fault, set it forth otherwise than the apostles had done. All these suggestions of distrust you may find put forward by the heretics.”
    Tertullian - The Prescription Against Heretics, Chapter 27, ANCF Vol. 3, Pg 256

    Heretics in the early church encouraged and perpetuated thought independent of Christ’s teaching.

    “Now, with regard to this rule of faith—that we may from this point acknowledge what it is which we defend—it is, you must know, that which prescribes the belief that there is one only God, and that He is none other than the Creator of the world, who produced all things out of nothing through His own Word, first of all sent forth; that this Word is called His Son, and, under the name of God, was seen “in diverse manners” by the patriarchs, heard at all times in the prophets, at last brought down by the Spirit and Power of the Father into the Virgin Mary, was made flesh in her womb, and, being born of her, went forth as Jesus Christ; thenceforth He preached the new law and the new promise of the kingdom of heaven, worked miracles; having been crucified, He rose again the third day; (then) having ascended into the heavens, He sat at the right hand of the Father; sent instead of Himself the Power of the Holy Ghost to lead such as believe; will come with glory to take the saints to the enjoyment of everlasting life and of the heavenly promises, and to condemn the wicked to everlasting fire, after the resurrection of both these classes shall have happened, together with the restoration of their flesh. This rule, as it will be proved, was taught by Christ, and raises amongst ourselves no other questions than those which heresies introduce, and which make men heretics.“
    Tertullian - The Prescription Against Heretics, Chapter 13, ANCF Vol. 3, Pg 249

    Heretics denied that all true doctrine came from the Apostles. They believed and taught that through special revelation new doctrines could be developed or that new doctrines based on their own views and opinions were equally valid as those originating from the Apostles.

    “From this, therefore, do we draw up our rule… what it was which Christ revealed to them [the Apostles]—can, as I must here likewise prescribe, properly be proved in no other way than by those very churches which the apostles founded in person, by declaring the gospel to them directly themselves, both viva voce [living voice], as the phrase is, and subsequently by their epistles. … Whereas all doctrine must be prejudged as false which savours of contrariety to the truth of the churches and apostles of Christ and God. It remains, then, that we demonstrate whether this doctrine of ours, of which we have now given the rule, has its origin in the tradition of the apostles, and whether all other doctrines do not ipso fact proceed from falsehood. We hold communion with the apostolic churches because our doctrine is in no respect different from theirs. This is our witness of truth”
    Tertullian - The Prescription Against Heretics, Chapter 21, ANCF Vol. 3, Pg 252

    Notice what Tertullian says with regard to oral tradition; “and subsequently by their epistles.”  Those traditions which first given by word of mouth were then written down for us. WHile it is true that many things that Jesus said and did were not written down, all things necessary for our salvation were.

    2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:[17] That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

    Since St. Paul states that if we submit to the doctrine, reproof, and correction of the Word of God, we may be made “perfect”; it stands that we can have complete confidence then, that we are not heretics. 

    Rosemary, based on what Tertullian said, if anyone has any doctrine that is different from that which is found in Scripture, that doctrine is false. 

    Hummm? That is just what Article Six of the Trirty-nine Articles of Religion states.

    VI. Of the Sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures for Salvation.

    Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation. In the name of the Holy Scripture we do understand those canonical Books of the Old and New Testament, of whose authority was never any doubt in the Church.

    In Him


  11. Gerry OBrien Says:

    Steven Berry Said:

    “Heretics denied that all true doctrine came from the Apostles. They believed and taught that through special revelation new doctrines could be developed or that new doctrines based on their own views and opinions were equally valid as those originating from the Apostles.”

    I’m truly convinced that it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the above statement defines what has happened within the Anglican Church in TEC and The Anglican Church of Canada and others (S.Africa - Tutu), The United Kingdom (Many of the Clergy not to mention the Archbishop of Canterbury) and others in spots around the world.

    Those that follow the false doctrine and false interpretations are indeed committing heresy and are indeed heretics.

    In Christ,

  12. Steven Berry Says:

    I am sorry, but I neglected to point out in my previous post that Dr. Noll’s “Blueprint”, Footnote #1 clarifies what he meant by using the word “heresy.”

    Note that he uses it in the patristic sense.

    Footnote 1 “There is even need to justify the “orthodoxy” as the chief term of reference in this case. Clearly Anglican orthodoxy is to be differentiated from Eastern Orthodoxy. It has been chosen as being broad enough to include various groups of Anglicans – Evangelical, Anglo-Catholic and Charismatic – who agree on the essentials of the faith. At the same time “orthodoxy” recalls the position of those in the patristic period who identified and contended against its opposite, heresy.”