On the road in Dubai: Gafcon 2019

Feb 26, 2019 by

By Phil Ashey, American Anglican Council.

I write today from Dubai where Anglican bishops, clergy and lay leaders who were not able to attend GAFCON 2018 are gathered for a conference whose theme is “Serving Christ faithfully in the nations.” Many of these leaders come from countries in what we call the “10-40 window” where Christianity is a minority religion. Some were prevented from attending in Jerusalem, for a variety of reasons. All of these leaders have demonstrated enormous courage and conviction in standing for the faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 3), often at great cost. It is quite humbling to be in this gathering of the saints of God.

Let me share a few reflections I picked up today from Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, and a brother who shall remain nameless for reasons of security.

The authority of Bishops rests on an understanding of “apostolic succession” that has more to do with faithfulness than a mechanical “laying on of hands” 

Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali taught from Philippians 2, and observed that even in this early letter there was already an outward expression of the Church that included “overseers and deacons” (Phil 1:1-2)… Both kinds of overseers received their anointing for this office by the laying on of hands. So, we must understand apostolic succession as something more than the mere “mechanical” laying on of hands.

It is a combination of these three things:

  1. a sound commitment to guard the faith once delivered to the Church
  2. pastoral care and supervision of the local churches
  3. the laying on of hands. 

For this reason, apostolic succession must be understood to include the succession of apostolic teaching!

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