A Battle for the Bible Was Won Last Weekby Alan Wilmot on January 16, 2016
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,back
Following a prayer meeting of pastors at the house of Dr. Mamdouh Riad last week, I was encouraged to send out an email about the outcome of a global meeting that was held last week. That meeting was of the national leaders of Anglican churches (of which my church, the Anglican Church of the Resurrection, is a part) hosted by the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the subject was whether The Episcopal Church would be disciplined for their departure from scripture, most recently illustrated by their official acceptance of same-sex marriages. The vote was yes, they are being disciplined.
For three years The Episcopal Church cannot represent the Anglican Communion, does not have a vote, and cannot take part in committees that determine the direction of the communion. The worldwide Anglican communion upheld the Bible as the inerrant word of God, and rejected a definition of marriage that is contradictory to the Bible.
Ironically, while I thought the disciplining of The Episcopal Church was light, a number of their bishops have already spoken out and professed no intention to repent or change direction at all. I predict that in 3 years, if they remain unrepentant, the sanctions will be increased.
I am proud that our Anglican Communion, led by giants of the faith like Iliud Wabukala of Kenya, Stanley Ntagali of Uganda, and Nicholas Okoh of Nigeria, has taken a stand for Biblical authority and teaching, insisting that if we're going to have fellowship, it must be based on a faithful respect for the Bible as God's word given to us by the Holy Spirit working through it's earthly authors.
Please pray that God will guide the new denomination of which my church (the Anglican Church of the Resurrection, Brewster) is a part, the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) as we develop our ministries and our outreach. Please pray that world wide the Anglican Communion with stand for the Bible as God's word to man, and for Jesus as our sole means for salvation. Pray that any church that rejects the full teaching of the Bible will repent of this behavior, and pray that the Church of England, in which this battle is being fought, will turn from the influence of the worldly culture of the flesh and toward the pure word of God.
Some background, and a more detailed account:
Back in the Great Reformation, when John Calvin led a work that resulted in reformed churches like the Presbyterians, and Martin Luther led the work that would result in Lutherans, the entire Roman Catholic Church in England broke away and became the Church of England, or Anglicans. In each country that they touched, a new church was formed, like the Anglican Church of Kenya, the Anglican Church in Canada, in many countries. These different, Anglican churches make up the Anglican Communion.
The Anglican Church in America ended up being named The Episcopal Church, 'episcopal' being an adjective referring to our form of government, involving bishops. If you were an American patriot fighting England for independence in 1776, it wasn't cool to say you worshiped at the Church of England. In the recent decades The Episcopal Church has been getting increasingly more liberal, with the result that more and more groups have split off and become their own church. This came to a head in 2003 when The Episcopal Church gave the title 'bishop' to a divorced father of two who had come out as homosexual and was in a homosexual relationship. That was too much for many Episcopalians, who pulled out in large numbers and asked for episcopal oversight from bishops of African Anglican churches, notably Uganda, Nigeria and Kenya. Soon the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans was born, Anglican churches of different countries taking a stand for the Bible, and under their leadership The Anglican Church in North America was formed, ACNA, the new denomination of which my church is a member.
To be clear, the reason for the spit was not just the orientation of an Episcopalian bishop, but that the Bible was not being treated as the inerrant, authoritative word of God. And that trend has continued, with The Episcopal Church this past year approving rites for same-sex marriage.
Anglican Churches around the world have been upset at this, and have seen it as a grievous breach in the Anglican Communion. Repeatedly meetings of Anglican leaders have challenged the behavior of the Episcopal Church and voted disciplinary actions, but the discipline was never really carried out. At the same time the new Archbishop of Canterbury, who was supposed to be an evangelical conservative, and NOT officially recognized my denomination, the ACNA. We are recognized by the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, whose meetings are called GAFCON (which is how they're referred to by the press). Another group of conservative Anglican churches, The Southern Cone, consider us Communion partners.
So the Archbishop of Canterbury has been afraid that the Anglican Communion is about to split, the conservatives from the more liberal churches like The Episcopal Church, The Anglican Church in Canada, the Anglican Church of Brazil and others. Some conservative churches had already said THEY WOULD NOT sit at a meeting with The Episcopal Church, and so the Archbishop of Canterbury called for an informal gathering to try to get people together. The GAFCON leaders, led by wonderful men like Archbishop Iliud Wabukala of Kenya, Archbishop Stanley Ntagali of Uganda, and Archbishop Nicholas Okoh of Nigeria came determined to stand up for taking the Bible seriously as the revealed word of God. The American and Canadian churches insisted that our Archbishop, Foley Beach, could be at a prayer service before the meeting started, but he could not be in any of the meetings. As it turned out, he was a full participant in all the meetings, he attended everything our GAFCON brothers attended.
The Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church of Canada, and a few others came intending to lead the Anglican Communion in campaigns against global warming, for LGBT rights, and away from a literal reading of the entire Bible. Instead, it turns out that The Episcopal Church will be disciplined for 3 years.
From an Anglican news website, Anglican Ink: "The primates of the Anglican Communion have suspended the Episcopal Church from full participation in the life and work of the Anglican Communion. On 14 January 2016 a motion was presented to the gathering of archbishops and moderators gathered in the crypt of Canterbury Cathedral that called for the Episcopal Church to be suspended for a period of three years.
The resolution as shared with Anglican Ink calls for the Episcopal Church to lose its “vote” in meetings of pan-Anglican institutions and assemblies, but preserves its “voice”, demoting the church to observer status..
The motion asks that representatives of the Episcopal Church not be permitted to represent the Communion in interfaith and ecumenical bodies or dialogue commissions, nor serve on the Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council, nor vote at meetings of the Anglican Consultative Council -- whose next meeting is this summer in Lusaka. Unlike the recommendations of the Windsor Report, which called for the “voluntary withdrawal” of the Episcopal Church from the life of the Communion, today’s vote directs the archbishop to discipline the American church.
The Episcopal Church may not take part in the decision making process “on issues of doctrine or polity”, either, agreed the primates."
Three years was chosen because The Episcopal Church has a national meeting near the end of that period, and how they respond to this discipline will determine whether another disciplinary meeting will be called. If they repent of their departure from scripture, well. If not, I foresee more intense disciplinary measures.
If you have any questions about all of this, please do not hesitate to ask. And if in your evangelism and discipleship you encounter someone who wants a more traditional way of worship, I hope you'll bear us in mind.
God bless you all!
Pastor Alan Wilmot
Anglican Church of the Resurrection, Brewster