Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans

The perception I got on Sunday night at the FCA preparatory meeting here at Sevenoaks was confirmed by the proceedings at Westminster Hall yesterday. I did not go to the gathering but followed it all on a live web feed. It became clearer as the day progressed that this is an Evangelical fellowship with Anglo-Catholics tagged behind both for numbers and for the scoop of saying that Anglo-Catholics and Evangelicals are now presenting a united front. I think it was right for the Forward in Faith leadership to give this a go but now there are enough signs for the same leadership to pull out immediately. The fact that Anglo-Catholics in North America are part and parcel of this movement does not mean that we should be too. Many readers will know that Anglo-Catholicism in the States and here is different, especially in the way we think about re-union with the See of Peter.
There is also the myth that yesterday’s proceedings could be divided between a hopeful morning and an embarrassing afternoon. While the morning and afternoon were different in feel, yet the substance of the morning was very dangerous and undermining. I agree that in the afternoon it was all about Evangelical witness of “good practice” and hurt and Anglo-Catholics were sidelined to the very margins. The Evangelical ordinand who did not know what Confirmation is, for me, is a cause of grave concern as all the seven sacraments are Scriptural.
In the morning we all agreed with Bishops Hind and Ackermann, but there is no surprise there. However, it was in the same morning session that we heard Dr Packer and Archbishop Jensen. Dr Packer spoke about the 39 articles – are these Scriptural? Dr Jensen focused on sex and gender with the ordination of women relegated to a side issue that we will talk about – is that not Scriptural? He did not mention lay presidency, and that is heretical and yet he supports it.
As Anglo-Catholics we have fought inch by inch to live the Catholic faith, and this since the Reformation. Why should we overlook our history and go back to the event which in many parts stands against what we stand for?
Our battle is a difficult one, we shall win by being faithful to Christ, by washing the feet of his disciples and by holding the Faith Catholic once delivered to the saints. Playing political games, or hiding under the wings of those who do not understand Christ with the mind of the Universal Church is not only dangerous, but in my opinion sinful.
I believe that we have a place in the Church of England and we should stay in it for as long as needs be as witnesses to the Faith Catholic. When this is impossible, not any fault of ours, when we are driven to share the experiences that Anglo-Catholics in Wales are facing now, than we need to find a new home. I trust and hope that the home we seek is the one that is founded on Peter, consecrated by the blood of Martyrs and hallowed by the witness of the saints.
With the Orthodox Christian philosopher Vladimir Soloviev (1853-1900) I say: “I recognise as supreme judge in matters of religion him who has been recognised as such by St Irenaeus, St Dionysius the Great, St Athanasius the Great, St John Chrysostom, St Cyril, St Flavian, the Blessed Theodoret, St Maximus the Confessor, St Theodore of the Studium, St Ignatius, and on and on – namely, the apostle Peter, who lives in his successors…”
If Anglo-Catholics can own this statement than the new fellowship is not the right way to follow.

1 comment:

Kentish Man said...

Father, thank you for sharing these thoughts from which I took a lot of cause for optimism in spite of the general downbeat impression of the day.
I guess that this always risked being a coming together on a single issue. A bit pragamatic and perhaps a bit political. I assuredly feel far more comfortable with the inspiring words here.