On April 18, 2006 the American Anglican Council released its comment on the important ECUSA Report, “One Baptism. One Hope in God’s Call,” out of which, after debate and politicking, the response of General Convention of June 2006 to the Anglican Communion will be framed. The critique of the content of this Report is clear, and most traditional Anglicans will surely agree with the general drift of the argument that what is being offered and proposed by ECUSA is not truly sufficient to show that the ECUSA is intent on being a biblically-based, orthodox province.
Where it is disappointing to the serious-minded, and here it joins the very recent pamphlet, “Equipping the Saints” from the American Anglican Council, is that it does not tell the whole truth – perhaps because it does not want to face up to the serious consequences of so doing.
The AAC is obviously right to state that there have been too many “revisionist” bishops and theologians since the 1960s within ECUSA who had propounded their novelties and heresies with freedom and often with acclamation. It is also correct to say that ECUSA has often acted in such ways as if these “revisionists” were proclaiming the true Gospel. For example, the AAC rightly states:
In order to understand the [ECUSA]Report and its significance, it is necessary to frame its historic context. For over 30 years before the 1998 Lambeth Conference, some in the Episcopal Church began embracing revisionist theology that challenged basic tenets of Christian faith, such as the divinity of Christ, the doctrine of the Trinity, the Virgin Birth, the reality of Christ’s Resurrection, and the authority of Scripture. This slippery slope of heterodoxy went largely unchallenged by ECUSA or the Anglican Communion. In the wake of postmodernism, which denies absolute truth and espouses relativism, and the sexual revolution, the Episcopal Church gradually undermined Scriptural and traditional teaching on marriage and morality,
particularly regarding sexuality.
Yes, what is stated here is substantially true. The AAC is also right, I think, to take a further step and see a weakness in The Windsor Report:
One of the weaknesses of the Windsor Report is that it did not address the House of Bishops’ failure to affirm B001 (the resolution considered during General Convention 2003 which upheld basic tenets of Christian teaching and the authority of Scripture). Dismissal of traditional teaching and practice on human sexuality is a direct result of ECUSA’s abandonment of Scriptural authority.
Again, good people will agree.
However, where the AAC either does not see it, or is not telling the laity the whole truth, is in its total failure to recognize that the ECUSA legally and officially abandoned in the 1970s its received Anglican Religion by its doing three things, all inter-connected:
(a) changing the doctrine of marriage by the Canon of 1973 and by the service in the new prayer book of 1976/9; here the ECUSA lost its doctrine of Christian marriage and adopted a doctrine of marriage which may be Christian or sub-Christian;
(b) ditching the historic Standards of Worship, Doctrine and Discipline received in the historic BCP, Ordinal and 39 Articles of Religion, and putting in their place a “revisionist” alternative with an erroneous title – i.e., the varied services and varied doctrines of the 1979 prayer book (which is The Formulary of the ECUSA and with which apparently the AAC is wholly content) and calling it “The BCP”; and
(c) introducing the ideology of feminism into the Church through the changing of the language of faith and worship to satisfy inclusivism and through the Church being pressurized by the feminist movement to take women into the clergy – and again the AAC seems to accept this innovation as a scripturally required thing, when it is wholly opposed by the headship and patriarchal principles writ large in sacred Scripture and in holy Tradition.
In other words, there was a very major rejection in the 1970s of the authority of Scripture, as that had been understood for centuries in the Anglican Way, and also there was a very major rejection of Jesus as Lord of the family, of the church and of the ministry of the church. It was also in the 1970s that the rights of active homosexual persons were first pushed and debated in General Convention. But this innovation had to wait longer for acceptance by the majority.
In that the AAC says little or nothing about these mighty changes; in that its bishops have required the use of the 1979 prayer book as a Formulary and not always treated those well who desire to use the classic PECUSA Formulary & BCP (BCP 1928); and its bishops have worked seemingly happily within the new doctrine and (lack of) discipline of marriage (with the attendant acceptance of divorce and easy remarriage in church services), one has to say that this latest Commentary, as the latest Pamphlet, are VERY disappointing indeed.
When shall we hear from the AAC that the ECUSA went badly wrong in the 1970s and that in that decade was created the LEGAL foundation of both the revisionist theologies, liturgies, ethics, and the innovations in human sexuality. Surely this 1970s foundation has to be removed and a new one created, if there is to be any hope of the ECUSA being truly a biblically-based Church under Jesus the Lord.
The Revd Dr Peter Toon http://www.anglicansatprayer.org/
P.S. I do hope that in their kindness the leaders and senior members of the AAC will read my 64 page booklet, Episcopal Innovations 1960-2004, available in print or by downloading --- www.episcopalian.org/pbs1928 and http://www.anglicanmarketplace.com/