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A “reset” of the Anglican Communion

Western heresy prompts the beginning of a historic reordering of Anglicanism

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby opens the General Synod in London, England, on Feb. 6. Getty Images/Photo by Leon Neal

A “reset” of the Anglican Communion
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The Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FCA) has spoken, and with a clear voice. The FCA recently held its fourth conference (known as GAFCON) in Kigali, Rwanda. Delegates representing nearly 85 percent of the world’s Anglicans had a lot on their plates, but the biggest concern was drafting a statement responding to the continued, unrepentant infidelity of western provinces of the communion, particularly the Church of England and its recent decision to allow for pastoral blessings for same-sex unions.

Of course, the archbishop of Canterbury and other bishops of the Church of England presented their policy as a compromise—a measure meant to keep together an institution that includes Christians who denounce sexual immorality as well as various members who affirm sin. This policy of blessing same-sex partnerships without establishing same-sex matrimony was supposed to achieve unity.

Predictably, that policy has failed the test of unity. Neither faithful Christians within the Church of England nor the majority of Anglicans worldwide deem this an acceptable way forward. In fact, this policy’s adoption has resulted in a clear, forthright denouncement from the majority of the world’s Anglicans in the form of the Kigali Commitment.

The substance of the Kigali Commitment focuses on the crises of the Church of England’s doctrinal unfaithfulness, which has been made manifest in its endorsement of sexual immorality. While the ecclesiastical endorsement of the LGBT+ agenda draws the most notice, such behavior is the tip of an iceberg. Most of the problems lie under the surface, ranging from the denial of the Bible’s truthfulness and clarity to other doctrinal errors with regard to salvation, Jesus Christ, the Church, and human nature.

Revisionism tends toward universalism, the downplaying of sin, and otherwise portraying reality—even God Himself—as malleable to our will, preferences, and desires.

Revisionism tends toward universalism, the downplaying of sin, and otherwise portraying reality—even God Himself—as malleable to our will, preferences, and desires. In turn, the Bible is reduced to a contradictory text that is prone to misunderstanding and thus a powerful instrument wielded for various agendas.

The Kigali Commitment front-ends these issues before dealing with the situation in England. In contrast to the revisionists, Kigali maintains that the Bible provides the clear, authoritative, enforceable standard for doctrinal matters that Anglican pastoral leaders—especially bishops—vow to uphold as outlined in the Ordinal. In their endorsement of sin, the archbishop of Canterbury and his colleagues that support same-sex blessings have broken these vows.

And make no mistake, Archbishop Justin Welby and his immediate predecessors, such as Rowan Williams, fall under GAFCON’s clear censure: “Successive Archbishops of Canterbury have failed to guard the faith by inviting bishops to Lambeth who have embraced or promoted practices contrary to Scripture. This failure of church discipline has been compounded by the current Archbishop of Canterbury who has himself welcomed the provision of liturgical resources to bless these practices contrary to Scripture. This renders his leadership role in the Anglican Communion entirely indefensible.” This references the welcoming of other western bishops, such as those from the USA’s Episcopal Church (TEC) and the Anglican Church of Canada, that had already capitulated to the LGBT+ agenda.

Ecclesiastical legitimacy does not ultimately derive from venerable institutions. The Anglican claim of catholicity arises not from a chain of consecrations leading back to the apostles to the exclusion of those bishops confessing the “faith once delivered to the saints.” The historic episcopate is meant to seal and confirm adherence to the catholic faith, not render such adherence secondary or unnecessary. So it was when St. Athanasius and his fellow orthodox bishops faced down the Arian bishops, so it is today. Doctrinal infidelity ruptures catholicity.

The Kigali Commitment is a public vote of “no confidence” against Archbishop Welby and his fellow revisionists.

The Kigali Commitment is a public vote of “no confidence” against Archbishop Welby and his fellow revisionists. It includes a parting admonition for errant Anglicans to repent of their sin. Moreover, liberal western manipulation is to be minimized through GAFCON-affiliated provinces achieving financial self-sufficiency. GAFCON-affiliated Anglicans have made it clear that fellowship has been ruptured, particularly due to the infidelity of progressive western leaders. They have not been “able to provide a godly way forward that will be acceptable to those who are committed to the truthfulness, clarity, sufficiency and authority of Scripture. The Instruments of Communion have failed to maintain true communion based on the Word of God and shared faith in Christ.”

Now, this is important. The Instruments of Communion were key institutions whose purpose was to facilitate global fellowship and ministry amongst Anglicans. The Kigali Commitment has clearly and openly revoked these instruments. As a result, those who accept the Commitment devote themselves “to working with orthodox Primates and other leaders to reset the Communion on its biblical foundations.”

There it is. The Kigali Commitment announces the setting up of a re-ordered communion.

New instruments of communion will be established to replace the current structures now compromised by heresy. Those who accept the Kigali Commitment will abandon the agenda of “reform from within.” They will instead be opting for an alternative entity that is separate from the archbishop of Canterbury and other institutions that used to dominate the Anglican Communion. Depending on who accepts the Kigali Commitment, it could be that the Instruments of Communion may no longer speak for the majority of the world’s Anglicans. If so, it will represent a tectonic shift in the global church—one of truly historic significance.

GAFCON-affiliated Anglicans still have plenty of other issues to tackle. They need to deal forthrightly with the Prosperity Gospel heresy, women’s ordination, and concerns over corruption and abuse, all while enduring persecution and pressures from false religions and secular ideologies. The innovation of women’s ordination to the pastoral offices of deacon, presbyter, and bishop in particular impairs communion within the GAFCON-affiliated world. But one thing is certain: They aren’t waiting for the Church of England or her primate to take the lead.

The old Anglican Communion is dead. Long live a reborn Anglican Communion.

Barton J. Gingerich

The Rev. Barton J. Gingerich is the rector of St. Jude’s Anglican Church (REC) in Richmond, Va. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in history from Patrick Henry College and a Master of Divinity with a concentration in historical theology from Reformed Episcopal Seminary.

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