Bishop John Rodgers
Where Do We Go From Here Part 3
“The Days of Half Measures and Delays are Past”
This is the third and final instalment of the address given by Bishop John Rodgers at the first GAFCON Conference in Jerusalem 2008. His reasoning is more important now than ever because godly order and church discipline has disappeared from the Western Anglican provinces.
What is to be the relation of the faithful Common Global Family to the present Anglican Communion? Assuming that the present Anglican Communion is not reformed at the 2008 Lambeth Conference in accord with the essential marks of faithful, apostolic Anglicanism, there are only two possibilities: one is some form of impaired communion or the other is that of totally independent families.
Impaired communion would be one in which the faithful Anglicans, having formed themselves into a covenanted family, would simply in large measure ignore or sit lightly to the official structures of the present Anglican Communion and would be in broken fellowship with those provinces that are revisionist in character. It is hard to see how this would really work or that it could or should last, since the departure from biblical Faith in the revisionist parts of the present Anglican Communion is as radical as it is. The departure is not just a matter of human sexuality, but of biblical authority, of the uniqueness of Christ, of the depth of sin and the redemption by God’s grace, of the mission of the Church. Everything is twisted and distorted by this “fallen theology” and the ecclesial structures are used by the unorthodox, when they achieve the majority, to oppress those who are faithful to the marks of faithful Anglicanism. In addition this theological disease has spread to many, if not most, of the Western Provinces of the Communion and will surely find its way wider and wider in the present Anglican Communion in the days ahead. It is true that the orthodox family is the bearer of faithful Anglicanism and that it should be the unbiblical innovators and revisionist that should leave, but alas they have the majority of the positions of authority both in the Western Provinces of the Communion and in large measure in the Anglican Communion itself and they are of no mind to leave or relinquish their authority. Since this is the case, this writer believes that should Lambeth 2008 refuse to be reformed in accord with the marks of faithful Anglicanism, that a new faithful Anglican Communion must be formed as soon as possible.
III How might we do it
- The GAFCON Contribution
We at GAFCON can and should form and recommend a Covenant, preferably in a councillor form, that embodies the marks of faithful Anglicanism and a process of discipline, for all those that are prepared to align themselves with it. This Covenant can and should be taken to Lambeth 2008 by those of us who are attending Lambeth 2008 with a call that the Communion so reform itself. The present “proposed Anglican Covenant in both its forms” falls greatly short of embodying the marks of faithful Anglicanism; it does not authoritatively embody the doctrines of grace of the Reformation and thus fails in devotion to the Apostles teaching, nor does it challenge the autonomous character of the present provinces, leaving us with a toothless tiger. This is no time for half measures. Those of us who have been invited to Lambeth but are not attending Lambeth 2008, might go to Canterbury at the same time that Lambeth 2008 is going on, to inform, in informal opportunities, those attending of the seriousness of the issue and the necessity for reform. They need to know of our intention to live by such a Covenant as GAFCON has endorsed whether endorsed by Lambeth or not. We will no longer be hindered from carrying out the discipleship and mission for which the Great Commission calls and the Holy Spirit enables.
2. The Global South Contribution; the Fourth Trumpet
Should Lambeth fail to adopt the GAFCON Covenant or reform itself according to the marks of faithful Anglicanism, then the Global South, the orthodox body that has led the way all during this time of turmoil, at its 4th meeting in January of 2009, should initiate the GAFCON Covenant thereby constituting the beginning of a reformed Global Anglican Family which would involve all of those Provinces, dioceses and congregations as wished and were able to align with it and take such steps as to enable the reformed Anglican Family to take place.
IV Conclusion: Moving ahead in Unity, Global Fellowship and Mission
The days of half measures and delay are past. The issues are far too serious, too serious for the spread of the Apostolic Gospel, and for faithful Anglicanism. No matter the pain or cost, we are called by the Lord to devote ourselves to the Apostles teaching and fellowship, the breaking of bread and prayers while living in vigorous apostolic mission. That is what faithful Anglicanism is at its heart.