Friday, November 11, 2011
At this point in the history of the Continuing Church it seems that three things must be emphasized. These three things are really about our future. They are unity, evangelism and Anglican identity. At this time, the leading bishops of the Anglican Catholic Church (ACC), the Anglican Church in America (ACA), the United Episcopal Church North America (UECNA), the Anglican Province of Christ the King (APCK) and the Anglican Province in America (APA) have, at one time or other recently, committed themselves to establishing that unity. Four of those leading bishops, as readers of The Continuum know (from this and this) were at the recent Provincial Synod of the ACC-OP, and there each of those four said that the recent effort of the pope in Anglicanorum Coetibus has had the unforeseen effect of renewing commitment to Anglicanism, and with it a desire to bring about unity among the major jurisdictions of Continuing Anglicanism. They have each credited the Holy Spirit for this.
Unity will mean that one Continuing Anglican presence can finally be free of the old range wars. None of the leading bishops (whether Arch or Presiding) ever created the divisions in the first place. They inherited them. Unity would have made us grow larger in the past, and it can do so in the future. It has been obvious to the laity and to observers that we all have more in common than any issues that cause division. In fact, it was not generally doctrine that caused divisions, as we all know. That would, at least, have been principled.
Evangelism is not an option. It is the direct command of Jesus Christ Himself; and any church that does not have His mission as part of its very reason to exist is not the Church He established. Sacramental validity is not enough to make up for that lack. Without the Gospel being preached and the mission of the Church as a priority, the Apostolic Succession is not complete; for the Apostolic Church was given the Great Commission. Just think about that for a while.
Finally, Anglican identity as we understand it and have Affirmed that understanding, is also not an option for us. Yes, we are free of destructive and erroneous One True Church theories, and unlike both of the two One True Churches we know ourselves to be but a part of the whole (as we know them to be). But, we have chosen to be Anglicans because we believe it to be, although not the only way to be Christian, the way that is most faithful to the revelation of God as revealed and recorded in Scripture, and as that scripture was understood by the most ancient catholic doctors and bishops.
These three priorities must be embraced as we go forward. Each has been attacked by the great enemy of our souls. It is time to stop being ignorant of Satan's devices (II Cor. 2:11). For too long the enemy has been able to say the words of Israel's enemies of old:
"But it came to pass, that when Sanballat heard that we builded the wall, he was wroth, and took great indignation, and mocked the Jews. And he spake before his brethren and the army of Samaria, and said, What do these feeble Jews? will they fortify themselves? will they sacrifice? will they make an end in a day? will they revive the stones out of the heaps of the rubbish which are burned? Now Tobiah the Ammonite was by him, and he said, Even that which they build, if a fox go up, he shall even break down their stone wall. Hear, O our God; for we are despised: and turn their reproach upon their own head, and give them for a prey in the land of captivity... (Nehemiah 4:1-4)"
If you have had enough of that, as I have, it is time to pray and do everything possible to put resources and energy into unity, evangelism and maintaining Anglican identity.