A Vision of a Reformed North American Anglican Church
By Robin G. Jordan
What is needed in North America is an Anglican Church that:
1. Is unwavering in its commitment to the authority of the Scriptures and the Anglican formularies. There is a clear need for an Anglican Church in which the centrality of the Scriptures to the Christian life is recognized, in which the Scriptures are taken seriously as God’s word to humankind, in which the authority of the Thirty-Nine Articles is acknowledged without equivocation as coming from their agreement with the teaching of Scripture and acceptance of their authority is unhesitatingly affirmed as constitutive of Anglican identity.
2. Is wholeheartedly devoted to the fulfillment of the Great Commission, to the task of making disciples, preaching the gospel, proclaiming the message of repentance and forgiveness of sins, and participating in God’s mission in and through Jesus, to the task of reaching all the nations and all the world. More than ever is there a pressing need for an Anglican Church for the congregations and clergy of whom the work of evangelism in its many forms is both their first priority and their second nature.
3. Truly values and practices responsible, synodical church government. Responsible church government is not autocratic. It is constitutional and governed by the rule of law. Those occupying positions of authority and leadership are answerable for what their actions. Synodical church government is based upon the principle that the government of the Christian community properly belongs under God to the whole Church, clergy and laity together, and not exclusively to bishops. The role of a bishop is not that of “a lord over God’s heritage.” Rather his role is that of a presiding officer who shares in the governance of the Church with synods and other bodies of godly clergy and laity. His central task is to preach and teach the Word of God. Whatever spiritual gift of oversight he exercises is in “the form of sound advice and wise judgment” in matters affecting the Church.
God was behind the spiritual movement that lay at the heart of the Reformation, in England as well as on the Continent. It was the Holy Spirit that led men like Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Thomas Cranmer to rediscover the gospel and realize its full implications. It was the Holy Spirit who inspired them to reform the Church in accordance with the teaching of Scripture. As the apostle Paul wrote the Church in Philippi, “…it is God who works in you to will and act according to his good purpose” (Philippians 2:13, NIV 1978). God raises up in every generation those who take with due seriousness the words that he has spoken and that he caused to be written for us.
God has permitted developments that not only call attention to the need for a reformed Anglican Church in North America but also create opportunities for its establishment. There have been several false starts—a number of Anglican entities built upon the wrong foundation. But here are opportunities to erect a new Anglican Church on the solid base of the Scriptures, the Anglican formularies, the Great Commission, and responsible, synodical church government. May God give us the courage, discernment, and wisdom to seize these opportunities and make the best use of them and not to squander them.