In a Statement issued today (August 23rd) the Essentials Council of Canadian Anglicanism speaks clearly and wisely of the forthcoming Conference (August 30). Let us pray fervently and often to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ for the Council in its leadership role.
In referring of those attending the Conference the Statement uses the word “orthodox” or “orthodoxy” many times. The impression is perhaps given that there is an obsession with “orthodoxy”.
I would suggest to the Council and participants that they cease forthwith to use the word “orthodox” and “orthodoxy” except on rare occasions. Leave the word for the “Orthodox Churches” of the East for the time being!
Certainly, I am fully aware, that objectively speaking the constitutional position of the Anglican Church of Canada is that of orthodox, of right doctrine. The commitment to the Scriptures, the Three Creeds, the classic Book of Common Prayer and Ordinal, as well as to The Thirty-Nine Articles is -- in terms of objective statement -- a statement of orthodoxy, that is of right doctrine which is expressed both doxologically and also in a propositionally correct way. (It is great that the Council has stated its commitment to the Solemn Declaration, a most important landmark in Canadian history.)
The word “orthodoxy” is not used in the classic Formularies of the Anglican Way, and in modern times it has lost its original corporate meaning in terms of the commitment by a church to a true and right standard of worship and doctrine. Further, and regrettably, it has been used recently and extensively by members of The Network in the USA and by the Anglican Mainstream in Britain – as well as by folk in Essentials - in a way that suggests that anyone who opposes the homosexual agenda and is allied with the evangelical or charismatic cause is “orthodox”. In other words, “orthodoxy” has come to mean in popular usage, “against the gay agenda” and generally for the Gospel.
The best thing that the Essentials Way Forward Conference can do in showing it is committed to the truth of the Holy Scriptures, Creeds and Formularies of the Anglican Way is to conduct its worship in such a way as to show that it is really and truly committed to these standards. After all, this is an Anglican Meeting and not an Inter-denominational or a Charismatic or an Evangelical Meeting. And what unites Canadian Anglicans, who desire to be faithful to God, is The Book of Common Prayer (edition of 1962). The world needs to see faithful, committed Anglicans united in worship and then in mission.
Since there are grave doubts as to whether the doctrine within the services of The Book of Alternative Services is sound, and in line with the doctrine in the Formularies, any use of the BAS should be carefully vetted and controlled. In fact it will be best for truth’s sake to avoid using it. Let it not be forgotten that the primary advocate of the BAS when it appeared (See, Rites for a New Age, 1986 by Michael Ingham) is the very same Bishop who pioneered the blessing of gay partnerships in British Columbia. There is a clear connection from what Ingham wrote in 1986 to what he has done in 2003/4.
May Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, be truly worshipped, adored, praised and served by this Conference and its aftermath.
The Rev’d Dr Peter Toon August 23rd 2004