Message from +John Rodgers, AMiA, to the Anglican Primates
Dear Reverend Sirs and Friends,
A number of you have asked what I think is needed and what I hope the Anglican Primates will do regarding the crisis in the Anglican Communion due to the recent actions of ECUSA. I am aware that we are at a unique point in Anglican history and that we have an opportunity to set things right in a way that we have not had since the 16th Century Reformation. I pray we will not be timid. Please excuse this general means of communication.
Here is my sense of what is needed if we are to be faithful to our calling:
1. One Anglican Province in the USA
a. There must be one Anglican Province in the USA in fellowship with Canterbury, not two: the concept of two overlapping jurisdictions is untenable for several reasons:
i. For the Archbishop of Canterbury to remain in communion with those bishops, clergy and congregations that endorse the election and consecration of Bishop elect Robinson would morally and doctrinally corrupt the Anglican Communion itself. Faithful Provinces would have to break with the Archbishop of Canterbury and with such Provinces that have so departed from the Faith and morals of Scripture. This is the chief, sufficient and fundamental reason. There are others; here are two more.
ii. Many of the Western Provinces are in a process of radical departure from the Faith in various doctrinal and moral areas. Some teach that Jesus is a way a truth and a life and that all religions are salvific, in direct contradiction to Scripture and Article 18 of the 39 Articles, others teach that the Cross of Christ was a revelation of God's love but not a substitutionary, penal sacrifice for sin as taught in Rm. 3:21-26, 2 Cor. 5:21, the Rite 1 Eucharistic liturgy and in several places in the 39 Articles. Will we have separate jurisdictions for all of these groups? Surely not, but once we start dealing with theological and moral differences in such a manner as two jurisdictions on theological and moral grounds where does one stop?
iii. Two jurisdictions one doctrinally and morally faithful and one not in a given area such as the USA would surely prove incredibly confusing to the populace and a great hindrance to evangelism.
b. How is this possible and what is to be done with the two contradictory groups in ECUSA? Here is one possible way:
i. Let the Primates declare the scripturally faithful to be the true ECUSA. The Primates should reaffirm the classic Anglican Formularies of Faith and Morals and indicate that they will recognize those clergy and congregations in ECUSA that affirm those formularies and who have and/or will now oppose the consecration of the Bishop elect of the Diocese of New Hampshire as continuing to constitute the true ECUSA. (The name probably should be changed thereafter.) Those taking the revisionist and anti-Lambeth view would be declared by the Primates to be outside of ECUSA from the Primates theological, constitutional and hierarchical perspective.
ii. By thus declaring the faithful to be the true ECUSA the Primates would indicate that in their eyes it is the faithful and not those who have violated the Constitution who own their respective congregational, diocesan property and funds in ECUSA While such a theological statement might be unwelcome to the official leaders of the institutional structures of ECUSA, it could perhaps provide a potential legal context the very possibility of which would encourage both parties to work out a charitable and equitable legal separation.
iii. With regard to the wider Anglican family in the USA, all clergy and congregations so desiring, including the separated Anglican congregations, should be invited to affiliate with this Province if they are willing to subscribe to the doctrine and to the commitment to mission of the Province.
c. Difficulties unavoidable within the Province to be borne or worked through
i. The difficult issue of the ordination of women to the Priesthood should be studied afresh. Given the profound differences on this issue, allowance would have to be made for dioceses to differ according to the convictions of the diocese and Bishop. It would be part of an un reformable section of the Constitution that no diocese or bishop or congregation would ever be required to receive or ordain anyone contrary to theological conscience. A degree of impaired communion would thus be embraced within the Province. Since Bishops ordain Priests or Presbyters it would be necessary that only men were made Bishops so that all in the Province could recognize the ministry of all ordained men in the Province. Short of this it would appear that 2 orthodox provinces would be called for and that would indeed be both tragic and dubious. (See comments above)
ii. The difficult issues of abortion and divorce and remarriage also require fresh study. Clear, biblical guidelines need to be set. These guidelines or canons respecting divorce and remarriage would not be retroactive.
d. The name "Episcopal Church" has become so besmirched that it would be wise in the process of reform that the name of the Church be changed to ACUSA (The Anglican Church in the United States of America or some other name)
i. If possible those who continue in heresy and apostasy should not be permitted to use the name "The Episcopal Church". That once grand name should be laid to rest.
2. an Orthodox Province
a. The Province would be orthodox in the classic Anglican sense by affirming the traditional Anglican Formularies: The Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as the Word of God written, the 3 great Catholic Creeds, the Book of Common Prayer and Ordinal (1662) as a theological norm, the 39 Articles of Religion and the Lambeth Quadrilateral as a sufficient guide to ecumenical cooperation and discussion. (It is not a sufficient statement of the Faith of the Anglican Communion)
i. Nota Bene: In matters of theological discussion and debate in the Province it will always be necessary and appropriate to appeal to sound interpretation of Scripture and not only to the canons of the Church. (See the contrary statement of the Court in the Righter Trial).
ii. The existing canons of ECUSA would not be adopted as a formulary for they will need to be seriously reformed.
3. A Great Commission Province
a. The Canons would need to be rewritten so that local ,Diocesan and Provincial structures would all be shaped to give central priority to the "Great Commission" which involves global and local evangelism, church planting, diakonia, and dedicated discipleship.
i. Some suggestions for this focus and reformation are:
aa. that each congregation would within a 5 year period move to giving 50% of its income to mission outside of itself unless there are exceptional conditions that make this impossible,
bb. that each congregation would have and be working a plan to plant a church at least every 2 to 3 years,
cc. that no mission or congregation would be aided financially beyond a 5 year period from its inception,
dd. that anyone, lay or ordained, may at any time, in any place begin to plant a church. After it had grown to a stated size such church plants may seek admission as a mission congregation of the diocese in which it had been planted,
ee. that significant lay representation be included in the decision making structures of the Church. In this respect the existing canons of ECUSA are good.
ff. that diocesan boundaries would be drawn with an eye to mission strategy and mutual mission and not according to USA state lines,
gg. that congregations would own their own real property,
hh. that the diocese has as its chief purpose to coordinate and serve the several congregations in their effective and growing mission.
4. One Orthodox Anglican Communion
a. Since the 1930s, being a Province in the Anglican Communion has involved at least two things: 1, embracing the same Doctrine and Orders and 2, being recognized by the See of Canterbury.
i. Holding the same Doctrine and sharing in the same Orders has grown weak in the Western Provinces where the 39 Articles are no longer held to be binding on the preaching and teaching of the Provinces and where little or practically no theological ecclesiastic discipline is exercised. Some would hold women's ordination provoked a crisis and now there is the crisis of consecrating a divorced man of homo erotic practice to be a diocesan bishop.
ii. The Primates should reaffirm all of the classic Anglican Formularies listed above and ask all Provinces that wish to remain in the Anglican Communion to officially affirm these as binding on the teaching and preaching of the Province as well as to give the highest regard to the resolutions of the Lambeth Conferences.
iii. Should any Province not be willing to do so or be unwilling to exercise proper ecclesiastic discipline to oversee this matter the Primates would publicly ask the faithful, orthodox Provinces to break communion with those Provinces that are contradicting the Common Anglican Formularies and ask the Archbishop of Canterbury to declare that the See of Canterbury does not recognize them to be in communion with the See of Canterbury or within the Anglican Communion.
Conclusion: for the sake of our mission to the lost, our renewed commitment to the discipline of the faithful and our affirmation of the godly unity of the Anglican Communion, I believe that something like the ends that I have outlined above are essential. There may be better ways to reach those ends and if so I pray the Primates will be led to them. Until better means are stated at least here are some specific suggestions.
With great concern and abiding in prayer for the Church,
I am your brother in Christ,
Return to the home page