One thing to consider concerning the African Anglican provinces and their conceptualization of the expression of the Christian faith beyond their creation by Anglican-Evangelical missionary societies is this: perhaps the greatest growth in numbers of Christians of both indigenous and foreign denominations in Africa is among the very American â€œProsperity Gospelâ€ organizations. Within the South American context, American Pentecostals and Charismatic denominations and organizations predominate. American missionary endeavors have been very, very successful, even in influencing non-Evangelical or non-Pentecostal/Charismatic churches. These dynamic and explosive movements cannot help but influence Anglicanism within African and South American provinces, particularly when many Africans see themselves as being in competition with Islam. This seems as culturally bound on their own part as is their accusation that Northern Hemisphere or â€œWesternâ€ Anglicans have capitulated to the same culture concerning homosexuality.
I think we can see the influence in the very Evangelical leanings of the GAFCON statement, particularly in its denial of the centrality of the See of Canterbury as being essential to true Anglican identity. In their formulation of Anglicanism, it ceases being a â€œChurch Catholicâ€ and becomes just another â€œProtestant denominationâ€ that follows Anglican liturgical norms. This new denomination will be predominately Charismatic and American-Evangelical and if Anglo-Catholics are tolerated, it will be only a shallow toleration.
Their insistence on following the Book of Common Prayer of 1662 (very Protestant) and especially the Thirty-Nine Articles (not only quite Protestant, but quite Calvinist/Reformed) make this move even more apparent.
Someone commented on the posting of the Jerusalem Declaration by Ruth Gledhill of the TimesOnline (UK) that, â€œThis is the Oxford Movement in reverseâ€¦ which wanted to get back to the 1549 [BCP].â€ and â€œThere are so many holes in this document, and so much self deceptionâ€¦ it is hard to believe that this forms a credible basis for unity and orthodoxy. It avoids key areas…and is a mockery of the 39 articles, when it includes bishops who openly repudiate the injunctions in the articles.â€
The titled of Gledhillâ€™s piece is: â€œA very â€˜Anglicanâ€™ schism.â€
I donâ€™t see traditionalist Anglo-Catholics lining up to follow this new denomination-in-the-making, despite their agreement on many things moral and Scriptural. But, when groups have a common enemy and scapegoat upon which to focus, it often breeds strange bed-fellows.
Dan Martin writes good stuff about all this.
Finally, this one line from the Gafcon final statement kind of amazes me:
â€œWe can only come to the devastating conclusion that â€˜we are a global Communion with a colonial structure.â€™â€
The whole â€œcolonialâ€ thing just doesnâ€™t hold water. It is a politically-correct statement (ironically used by conservatives) as an attempt at justifying a rejection of the See of Canterbury as the center of Anglicanism. The reason they stress this, IMHO, is only because the ABC has not done what they have demanded him to do. If he had (or would) he would be heralded as a great Archbishop, upholder of the true faith, and all this talk of rejecting the See of Canterbury would never be heard.
Aside from that, in my mind â€œcolonialismâ€ necessitates forced acceptance of â€œstuffâ€ from the colonizing entity upon the indigenous society. This has absolutely not happened! If it had, the â€œWesternâ€ provinces would be insisting that the â€œGlobal Southâ€ provinces accept our culture, our standards, and the stand taken by a majority of Anglican members in these provinces that homosexuals may well be brought into the structures of the Church without violating a more correct understand of the Scriptures. No one or no province has done this. Within the historical structures of Anglicanism, no one could. This is the difference between the old, historical Anglican Communion and the new â€œAnglicanâ€ organization that is developing. The new organization will impose itself upon all the provinces under itâ€™s domain. It may truly be a world denomination, but it will be one more akin to the Church of Rome than the Anglican Communion.
Text of the Final Gafcon Statement