What really happened in Auckland NZ at ACC-15 (Oct 28-Nov 7, 2012)

David Virtue
“Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints…” Jude 3

To our brothers and sisters in Christ, Anglicans everywhere, Grace and Peace to you in the mighty name of Jesus Christ our only Lord and Saviour. We write to you as representatives to the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC-15), which has just concluded in Auckland NZ. We represent the Church of Nigeria and the Church of Kenya, approximately 31 million active and worshipping Anglicans within our Anglican Communion. We write in the spirit of Jude 3 to express our concerns about the directions taken by ACC-15.

1. We are grateful for the warm Christian welcome we received from the “three Tikanga” Anglican Church of New Zealand, whose overlapping jurisdictions among the Pakeha, Maori and Polynesian peoples have enabled the gospel of Jesus Christ to be preached far and wide, with enduring faithfulness especially among the Maori and Polynesian peoples. We believe this model provides fresh room for reconsidering how our Anglican structures can fulfill our Lord Jesus Christ’s Great Commission to make disciples of all peoples and nations. (Matthew 28:16-20)

2. At the same time, we are grieved that this meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council avoided the real crisis in the Anglican Communion. Since Lambeth Conference 1998, the ongoing conflict in our beloved Communion continues to be a crisis of Gospel truth, not only regarding matters of human sexuality but the authority of Holy Scripture as the Word of God written and the unique and universal Lordship of Jesus Christ the Son of God.

3. In the discussion on the proposed Anglican Covenant, we avoided the serious issues pertaining to discipline in the Church. Instead, we were asked to discuss our feelings about the Covenant-“Why is it a sign of fear for some and a sign of hope for others?” We already have four Instruments of Anglican Communion: the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Primates meetings, the Lambeth Conference of Bishops, and the ACC. If our identity, faith and order as Anglicans cannot be maintained by these Instruments, the Covenant will not solve our problems.

4. Since the Reformation, our core identity, faith and order as Anglicans lies in a Church whose doctrine, discipline and mission are grounded in the Holy Scriptures and in such teachings of the Ancient Fathers and Councils of the Church that agree with the Scriptures. We find this core Anglican identity, faith and order in the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion, the Book of Common Prayer and the Ordinal. Many of us have reaffirmed this identity in the 2008 Jerusalem Declaration. The current crisis over Gospel truth and the confusion and conflict in Anglican identity, faith and order is a result of a failure of governance by the Instruments of Communion. This is a failure and, at times, subversion of leadership at the highest levels.

5. For this reason, we believe it is time for the Primates themselves to elect one of their own who will call their meetings with an enhanced responsibility to guard the Faith and Order of the Anglican Communion. We believe this can be done without sacrificing the primacy of honour we bestow upon the historic See of Canterbury, or diminishing the civic and ecclesiastical role Canterbury plays in the life of the Church of England.

6. While there were many reports and resolutions at ACC-15, we wish to highlight our concerns over the report and the resolution on “The Bible in the Life of the Church” project. There is much to commend in this report on the central role the Holy Scriptures play in the life of Anglicans everywhere. We affirm the need to address the gap between the pulpit and the pew, the scholars and ordinary Anglicans who are seeking to apply the Bible to their daily lives. However, we are seriously concerned that the context in which people interpret the Bible is considered as important as what the Bible actually says.

7. In our reflection groups, we heard Anglicans from the west say that this conclusion requires us to honour any interpretation of the Bible-since every context from which the Scriptures are read is to be honoured. We reject this assertion and the claim that there are no justifiable limits in interpreting and applying God’s word. The Bible stands over context, not the context over the Bible. God’s Word changes us-we do not change God’s Word. We note that in April of this year over 200 leaders-Archbishops, bishops, clergy and laity-gathered in London from 30 countries and 25 provinces within the Anglican Communion. They read, studied and proclaimed the Holy Scriptures together, focusing on Paul’s Letter to the Colossians . Despite their diversity of contexts, they affirmed in a spirit of unity and joy the Lordship of Jesus Christ, his uniqueness and sufficiency for the salvation of all people.

8. We close with an observation from the Right Rev. Michael Nazir-Ali on the limits of biblical interpretation: “We cannot, because of a process of inculturation, produce forms of the Christian faith that are entirely opaque to Christians elsewhere.” We are grieved that the Anglican Consultative Council continues to tolerate, and even honour, The Episcopal Church USA, the Anglican Church of Canada and other provinces who continue to produce revisionist forms of the Christian faith that are unrecognizable to the majority of Anglicans worldwide, contrary to a plain reading of God’s Word and in violation of Anglican Faith and Order.

9. We call upon all Anglicans to pray that our beloved Communion will stand firm in honouring the unique and universal Lordship of Jesus Christ as the Son Of God, and the authority of God’s Word written over all contexts, and in every matter of faith and practice.

“But you dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.” Jude 21

Archbishop Ikechi Nwosu, Church of Nigeria
The Right Rev. Samson Mwaluda, Church of Kenya
The Ven. Archdeacon Abraham Okoriah, Church of Nigeria
The Ven. Canon Philip Obwogi, Church of Kenya
Hon. Abraham Yissa, Registrar, Church of Nigeria
Hon. Samuel Mukunya, Church of Kenya

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