Monday, March 31, 2008

GAFCON, before or after Lambeth Conference, July 2008: A re-evaluation from a critic!

Peter Toon March 31, 2008

Since 2007 I have written various pieces arguing that (a) if GAFCON [Global Anglican Future Conference] is to occur then it ought to be after not before Lambeth; (b) that the East and West African Bishops, who are boycotting Lambeth are needed there; and (c) that an extraordinary effort needs to be made before, at, and after Lambeth to make room for the healing grace of God our Savior to flow into the life and affairs of the Anglican Communion of Churches. In stating this, I am fully aware that the in any reform and renewal of the Anglican Family, now so dysfunctional, the present dominance of the (in general, secularized) North will need to give much way to the (in general, dynamic and orthodox) South.

As I have continued to study carefully the statements and mindset of those who are behind GAFCON (e.g., the Primates of Nigeria, Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya, along with allies in America, Britain and Australia) what has come reasonably clear to me is this: that according to the developing mindset of the organizers, to have the conference and pilgrimage before Lambeth was essential to their deep sense of ministerial vocation and witness—a matter of conscience. This mindset has been profoundly influenced by the observation of the failure of the Anglican Communion of Churches, through its various Instruments of Unity and Lambeth Commissions and Reports, to do anything to halt the advance of the homosexual agenda in both The Episcopal Church and The Anglican Church of Canada, or to discipline these Churches for their heresies and immorality. Also there is the sense that Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, is at heart in sympathy with the innovations and has not done and will not do what was/is necessary to oppose them or to discipline the offenders.

To understand the mindset of GAFCON leadership, here is a message posted widely on the internet from GAFCON— :

Date: March 18, 2008
GAFCON is organized to enable the Anglican Orthodox to think, discuss and pray about the future of the Anglican Communion.

Many Anglican Orthodox leaders have come to the conclusion that the 2008 Lambeth conference as it is structured and led is fundamentally compromised and will not provide the environment and process to struggle with the challenges threatening the future of the communion.

The GAFCON gathering does not mean schism. It seeks to set out a clear biblically faithful and orthodox vision for the future of the Anglican Communion, share with the rest of the communion in all available forums and work at shaping the communion towards that end.

The Conference and Pilgrimage will identify the biblical and theological truths that unite and empower us, work on ways of equipping the whole church for ministry and mission, identify approaches and resources for the economic empowerment of the Church in the Global South, share experiences and resources of churches in their work addressing poverty, HIV/Aids, human rights, engagement in advocacy and policy and ministry in contexts of religious hostility and plurality.

Your support will enable Bishops and their wives to join with others not only in addressing the issues facing the future of orthodox witness in the Communion but particularly to chart a new path for developing enterprise solutions to poverty in many dioceses with important implications for their future well being... We believe this is one of the most important meetings involving the Anglican Communion that we have seen in our lifetime today. History is poised potentially to turn on its hinges if this gathering of world Anglican leaders is successful.

Sincerely in Christ

The Gafcon Leadership team
Donate to GAFCON by clicking here or going to

Let us now look at some of the main points or themes of this Plea for financial assistance.
The Conference is for those whom the organizers judge to be orthodox not for anyone who chooses to attend. Orthodoxy is probably defined as holding basic evangelical tenets and being opposed to the same-sex innovations.

The Conference is in some sense in opposition to or an alternative for the Lambeth Conference because the judgment is explicitly made that the Lambeth Conference, as organized under the leadership of Dr Williams, is incapable of addressing the real issues facing the Anglican Communion or doing anything about them, or of planning wisely for the future.

The holding of Jerusalem Conference in June 2008 does not meant that a schism is being formed; what it does mean is that an alternative vision (to the Lambeth 08 one global diversity) of what the Anglican Communion ought to be (when real input from the Global South is taken seriously) will be set forth in order to be carried around the world and made known to all who will listen.

At the heart of this new vision is commitment to Mission, but not only narrowly to evangelization of peoples and their conversion to Jesus Christ, but also to the ministry of healing and social service, facing some of the massive health, political, social and cultural challenges of our time—including poverty within many African dioceses .


Let us seek to get inside the minds of the GAFCON leadership.

If, as leaders of a very large proportion of Anglicans in the world, you feel so deeply and strongly that the leadership of the Anglican Communion has so profoundly failed to address the deep doctrinal and moral errors of two of its prominent provinces; if you think that the A. of C. has failed in particular and has compounded his failure by inviting to Lambeth 08 the bishops who actually consecrated Gene Robinson—more culprits than Robinson himself; if you believe that the whole context and content of Lambeth 08 is deeply flawed and compromised and that instead of joyful orthodoxy there will be heresy or deeply-compromised faith dressed up as reasonable religion on view; and if you believe that being a part of this compromised conference will be to deny that Jesus is Lord and that his Church is to be faithful to his Word, then obviously you cannot attend. Further, you cannot stop there by being absent: you have to do something to proclaim to the Anglican Communion, and its friends around the world, that there is another and a better vision of what is the Communion—and this vision needs to be declared and known before the world is presented, via a big media presence, with the vision of the erring leadership and vision of Dr Williams and his team!

With me, a growing number is coming to understand and appreciate GAFCON and the powerful matter of informed, godly consciences involved, but this does not stop us also hoping and praying that, after the two Conferences, in 2008 a way will be found by God’s guidance to keep the Anglican Communion as ONE Global Family, but renewed in truth and grace and for mission.

Just how that can be is totally beyond my predictions right now but I can dream and pray and hope.

The Revd Dr Peter Toon March 31 2008

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