Last night (17th July) the Anglican Church League (ACL) of Sydney held their AGM, which included a panel session with delegates from GAFCON.
Your humble blogger is pleased to report that he was re-elected to the ACL Council, but suspects you are more interested in hearing about GAFCON.
Panel members were
- John Mason, currently Senior Minister at Christ Church New York, an independent church in the evangelical Anglican tradition.
- Tony Payne, publishing director of Matthias Media and blogger for the Sola Panel.
- Claire Smith, a member of the steering committee of Equal but Different.
- Zac Veron, Chief Executive OfficerAnglican Youthworks in Sydney
- Sylvia Tong, medical student.
Readers will, of course, by now be familiar with all that happened at GAFCON - the wonderful fellowship, the clear and unanimously received Declaration and so on. I won’t report each panel member’s accounts as they mirror so many reports you have already read. There was, however, a video made which I will direct readers to when available.
However, at the end there was time for questions and so I asked a question that I knew Stand Firm readers would be interested in:
Given that Anglo-Catholicism has an uneasy relationship with the 39 Articles and that the Jerusalem Declaration was certainly not least an evangelical document - affirming the 39 Articles; how was it that Anglo-Catholics signed the document and what will keep them in the movement?
The answers, provided by John Mason, Tony Payne and Mark Thompson (the President of ACL who was also at GAFCON and sat on the theological committee) were rather surprising:
First, it was recognised that all parties at GAFCON were clearly committed to the authority of the Bible, despite their churchmanship. There was a real desire to stand with those who stand in the same way and so that primary bond is what hheld those of different churchmanship together. At the conference the 39 A were seen by all to be an attempt to faithfully expound the teaching of the Bible.
Another speaker noted that the basic prayer book of TEC was derived from the 1549, so that few fully understood the 1552/1662 heritage that many evangelicals in the Church of England and Australia are familiar with. The sharp theological distinctions we experience from the 1662 are simply not there in TEC’s prayer book. Many evangelicals see it as normal for all clergy to be fully “attired” every Sunday.
Nevertheless, they are also committed to the priority of the Gospel, so though we may think that the gospel is shrouded by their form – they are nevertheless committed to introducing people to their Lord and Saviour.
Another speaker noted that it was a gathering of orthodox bible believing Anglicans, with broad approaches amongst them on age-old questions. There was also a move to accomodate this broader approach with phrases such as “historic succession” in the declaration.
Finally it was noted that all sides were being persecuted, in line with their commonly held positions above.
What intrigued me in all these answers was that this came from a panel of very conservative evangelicals. They are all abundantly clear on where they think Anglo-Catholicism is defective yet they spoke with great support of their Anglo-Catholic brethren. I was surprising but worth reporting that right in the bastion of the über-Puritans there was a real willingness to hold solidarity with the Anglo-Catholics.