GAFCON AND ACC-17: A Response to Andrew Atherstone

May 16, 2019 by

by Stephen Noll, Contending Anglican:

At the end of April (2019) two church bodies met, the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC-17) in Hong Kong and the Gafcon Primates in Sydney. The Gafcon Primates published a Communiqué of their meeting. The ACC does not normally produce a summary document and so one has to rely on church news services (here and here), which are often spotty and biased.

Fortunately, this year Andrew Atherstone has published a separate analysis titled “What Really Happened at the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC-17).” Dr. Atherstone’s piece is of particular interest because he is an English Evangelical theologian, who along with Dr. Andrew Goddard, represents, if I may borrow the term, the “Remainer” party of conservatives in the Church of England.

Atherstone and Goddard, for instance, edited Good Disagreement? Grace and Truth in a Divided Church (2015), and wrote in the lead essay: “On some issues, ‘good disagreement’ will mean renewed efforts to hold together despite inevitable strains. On other issues, it may require discipline, differentiation, and even separation among professing…” (page 19). Dr. Atherstone’s response to ACC-17, therefore, should give some indication of how he assesses the current state of the Anglican Communion.

Although Dr. Atherstone devotes most of his report on ACC-17 to matters of church order, he does note that “our deep doctrinal disagreements as Anglicans rumbled along in the background,” because provinces “have changed their doctrine of marriage.” It would appear that he considers “disagreement” on marriage to be among the issues requiring “discipline, differentiation, and even separation.”

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