Reformation v Reclamation

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Whatever it may say, GAFCON is slowly moving along the road of making the claim to represent the legitimate voice of the Anglican Communion and towards a direct challenge and confrontation with the Communion establishment.

Let’s read what it has to say about Scripture:

GAFCON is a Bible-based movement which submits to the authority of the Scripture.

It goes on to add:

As well as the Bible, God has given humans reason and the historical witness of the church to discern matters of faith but GAFCON believe that Scripture is the higher authority.  It is the final court of appeal for doctrine because it is His revealed will.  All the foundational documents of Anglicanism, the Thirty-Nine Articles, The Book of Common Prayer and the Homilies all insist on this supreme authority.

All well and good. It is therefore somewhat odd that the communique which outlined its decision to consecrate a missionary Bishop has no recourse to Scripture to support this decision. It therefore impoverishes its case because ultimately it dismisses the need for a legal mandate, gleaned from the pages of the Scripture it seeks to defend.  Scripture is more than a final court of appeal, it is the legal codex by which all decisions are measured and should ultimately be made. Witness and discernment flow from it, it is not an ephemeral thing hovering over it, from this fundamental misunderstanding of relationships flows everything else that is wrong with this situation.

500 years ago Martin Luther started a rebellion which ultimately ended up solving a spiritual crisis in an organisational way. It failed. GAFCON, can and will do as they will, but the fact is Scripture is quite clear on the spiritual reality:

We, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another” (Romans 12:5)

This is why heresy has never been defeated by organisational separation because the spiritual reality of the situation is I may be a Protestant Anglican and you maybe a Roman Catholic but we are still part of the one body. Our project is not one of reformation but reclamation, to reclaim the body of Christ and drive out the infection of heresy against God’s Word.

The challenge to GAFCON is therefore to establish itself on a firmer Scriptural footing, to put Scripture in its rightful place, as the font of all conscience and of discernment and witness. Can it provide the legal justification for its actions within the framework of Scripture, of the Covenant? If it cannot, this promising initiative will flounder because it has started from the wrong place.

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