The Global Anglican Future Conference (www.gafcon.org) has finished. The semi-conservative attendees have produced a statement, the Jerusalem Declaration, for which they commend themselves and assert that they have chosen not to split or leave the Anglican Communion, but to reform it.
Alas, what they have in mind is no reform-of-the-reform to reverse the damages of the last 450 years. What this declaration does is create something that has not existed in Anglicanism since 1558 – a magisterium. Unfortunately, instead of accepting the proper magisterium of the Western Church, this magisterium creates a confessional standard, an innovation. What are the bases of this confessional standard? They specified, inter alia,
3. We uphold the four Ecumenical Councils and the three historic Creeds as expressing the rule of faith of the one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
4. We uphold the Thirty-nine Articles as containing the true doctrine of the Church agreeing with God’s Word and as authoritative for Anglicans today.
6. We rejoice in our Anglican sacramental and liturgical heritage as an expression of the gospel, and we uphold the 1662 Book of Common Prayer as a true and authoritative standard of worship and prayer, to be translated and locally adapted for each culture.
Let’s look at these three sections one at a time. Section three, while it doesn’t explicitly repudiate councils after Chalcedon, by intentional omission does not acknowledge the authority of the rest of the ecumenical councils, either the seven acknowledged by all Anglo-Catholics, or the twenty-one acknowledged by the Western Church and accepted by many Anglo-Catholics. Such an implicit disavowal removes the GAFCON denomination from the mainstream of the Catholic Faith. Section four undoes the progress made since the inception of the Oxford Movement 175 years ago by requiring submission to the anti-Catholic articles of the reformation era, granting them explicit authority over even ecumenical councils. Or at least over seventeen of them. Section six enshrines the English prayerbook, with the intentional deviations from and denials of Catholic truth found in that book’s bowdlerized eucharist.
The GAFCON participants couldn’t have made any clearer their intention to reshape Anglicanism into just another protestant sect. What once was a place where Catholics could rejoice in their Catholic and Anglican heritage has made the final departure call. Can there be any doubt remaining about the proper path for real Anglicans?
What will we see as the results of GAFCON play out? I suspect there will be a sorting – the protestants into the GAFCON denomination (this “Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans” –FCA?), the trendy secularists fading into humanism, and the Catholics into some future hoped-for enclave under the Holy Father.
Blessed John Henry Newman, pray for us!