TURN OUT THE LIGHTS, THE PARTY'S OVER. Reading a recent commentary by R. Albert Mohler, Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, I realize the Anglican Communion is not going to make it. You may as well print up announcements and plan the memorial service.
I guess my interest in the Anglicans comes from the fact that Baptists are “separated brethren” to the Anglicans. Plus, I am always happy when some denomination other than mine is in the news for fighting.
Anglicans consist of the Church of England in various places in the world, the Canadian church, the American Episcopal church and others. The head guy is the Archbishop of Canterbury, in England.
Conservatism is on the rise in the Church of England after years of liberal drift, and the explosion of the church in Africa has added many conservatives to the union. The issues in question have also served to awaken the conservatives. The Anglicans have been fighting over homosexuality for some time. The 1998 Lambeth Conference agreement seemed to settle the issue in favor of the conservatives, but that has not happened in practice. The American and Canadian churches have basically ignored their governing authority. This is pretty common for Americans, but the infection spread northward evidently. The Canadian church disobeyed by blessing same sex “unions”. The American church rebelled by ordaining an openly homosexual bishop.
The actions of the Canadian and American churches caused the Anglican Communion to react. Anglicans issued the Windsor Report telling the American and Canadian churches to repent and follow the doctrine of the communion. When the Canadians and Americans did not repent, Anglicans called meeting of the “Primates”. It appears the conservatives prevailed in that meeting also. They issued a statement that said "We request that the Episcopal Church (USA) and the Anglican Church of Canada voluntarily withdraw their members from the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC)."
This is analogous to your employer allowing you to resign rather than be fired.
The American bishops continue to support the ordination of Bishop Robinson even though many of their members oppose it and many churches are realigning with foreign dioceses to avoid falling under the leadership of bishops they deem to be outside the doctrine of the church. It is as if these bishops are not priests of the church, but priests of homosexuality. They are more intent on pushing the homosexual agenda than they are in protecting the flock of God.
Interestingly, the Archbishop of Canterbury supports homosexual priests and bishops. He has, however, seen the handwriting on the wall and read that the majority of his communion opposes them. He has attempted to be a peace maker between the two sides, but without success.
The debate over homosexuality is only part of the battle. Dr. Kendall Harmon, canon theologian for the diocese of South Carolina, says the issues are: (1) the authority and interpretation of scripture and (2) the way authority is expressed in the Church.
Liberals in the Anglican Communion are not happy, of course. They value tolerance over doctrine, as I guess liberals do everywhere. The problem is, the liberals do not discern the difference between tolerance and disobedience. We tolerate the homosexual who comes to church to find God and deliverance from sin just like the rest of us. We do not make him a bishop or pastor and glorify his sin, or decide that, since he cannot conquer his sin, we will decide it is not a sin.
This should be our position toward all sinners. The adulterer, the thief, the murderer, and the coveter are all sinners who come to seek God and are, hopefully, led to repentance and faith. We love them and we help them, but we do not make them pastor. We might elect them to be president of the country, but not the pastor.
I am glad to see Anglicans embrace the authority of scripture. I am thrilled with the explosion of the African church. I pray that the American church will repent and submit, but I do not think it will, for its leaders are more concerned with the values of the world than the values of the church.