Saturday, June 28, 2008

GAFCON: A Communion is (Re)Born

The meeting in Jerusalem of the conservative Anglican Bishops who are fed up with the liberal heretics running the Anglican Churches in most of the developed countries (yes that includes most especially TEC/ECUSA) have issued a communique that in all but name has created a new communion. The "Jerusalem Declaration" as it is being called is decidedly Protestant. But it is at least unambiguously Christian.

They mince no words in calling out by name the "heterodox" churches in N. America and making it clear they will have no communion with them. They also give a polite nod to the See of Canterbury right before declaring that it is more or less irrelevant. Later they make it clear that they are moving forward and creating their own governing structure which will adhere to the classical Anglican doctrines as reflected in the 39 Articles and the 1662 Prayer Book. This is unlikely to sit well with so called Anglo-Catholics, but let's be honest, that is a group that should be on the endangered species list.

Short of becoming Orthodox or going back to Rome (my first two preferences in that order); this is all in all a pretty great day for Anglicanism. I say well done to them.

Go here to read the GAFCON Communique & Declaration of Jerusalem.

P. S. Does anyone know which four ecumenical councils they accept and which ones they reject? They mention four but do not name them.


William Tighe said...

They mean the first four councils. A clause in the Act of Supremacy of 1559, which severed the Church of England from Rome and reestablished the Royal Supremacy, declared (I paraphrase from memory) that nothing hereafter shall be taken as heresy save that which goes contrary to the four councils of the ancient church or which shall hereafter be declared to be heresy by Act of Parliament.

It is hard to know why this limitation to "four councils" entered in. Lancelot Andrewes (who might be styled the first Anglo-Catholic) later stated that the fifth and sixth councils were but "auxiliaries" to the first four, and that while the seventh council, rightly understood, contained nothing objectionable, it was liable to be abused for superstitious purposes. However, most Anglican theologians of the 16th, 17th and 18th century roundly denounced the seventh council for mandating idolatry, in this following Calvin and most of the non-Lutheran Reformers, while regarding the fifth and sixth as unobjectionable, but also unimportant. Indeed, the views of one of the last of the "Caroline Divines," John Johnson of Cranbrooke (1662-1723), that if there were to be a "seventh council" the iconoclastic Council of Hiereia of 754 had a better claim to have defended "orthodox doctrine" than Nicaea, were not untypical of even high-church Anglicans before the Oxford Movement. One of the insurmountable theological obstacles in the conversations, desultory and star-crossed as they were, between the Nonjurors and the Russian Orthodox in the second decade of the 18th Century was the veneration of icons and the ecumenical status of the seventh council: the Nonjurors were willing unequivocally to accept the first six councils, but not the seventh.

Ad Orientem said...

Dr. Tighe,
Thank you for that illuminating explanation. For all of the unfortunate Protestant overtones of this communique I can not help but feel this is something close to a declaration of war on the liberal heretics in the AC. All in all it is the most encouraging this I have seen them produce since I started paying attention to the insanity over there.

I hope and trust that you and yours are well.


The young fogey said...

Likewise I wish them well.