On the threshold of the great Anglican Communion Reset

Apr 19, 2023 by

by Canon Phil Ashey, AAC:

The first official draft of the GAFCON statement was read today to GAFCON Kigali delegates. The hard work to create an in-depth, thorough, and sweeping evaluation of the issues facing the Anglican Church, the proposed solutions, and the future for biblically faithful Anglicanism were positively received. We are grateful for their hard work and transparency. Tonight, these primates and church leaders will gather again to gather feedback from delegates who met after the reading of the statement in regional gatherings to discuss the draft and make suggested changes. We eagerly await the reading of the final statement on Friday morning!

This morning, Archbishop James Wong (Indian Ocean) taught from Colossians 1:28-2:23 on being “Rooted and Grounded in Christ.” Ultimately, this is what I believe the GAFCON Conference Statement is calling us to be. As Archbishop Wong noted, St. Paul actually uses a mixed metaphor, both a garden and a building, “rooted and built up” (Col. 2:7). We are to bear fruit and grow up to be a place together where God himself may dwell. That is the future of the great Anglican Communion reset.

What Paul described in Colossians is similar to the struggle we now face in the Anglican Communion. The church in Colossae was divided between those who had a simple faith in the supremacy of Jesus Christ and those who believed in “fine sounding arguments,” “hollow and deceptive philosophies,” and the “human traditions and elemental spiritual forces” of the world (Col. 2:4,8). What a perfect description of the context in which the Anglican Communion finds itself today, divided between those who believe in the supremacy of Jesus Christ and the clarity, authority, and superiority of his Word—and those who have produced “find sounding arguments” that have seduced people away from the love of Christ and his teaching, including his teaching on marriage. What St. Paul said is what GAFCON says today: “Do not be deceived.” In the context of our divided Communion, Archbishop Wong concluded, “Look up to Jesus and see that no one takes you captive to anything that takes you away from Jesus!”

In Colossians 2:2, St. Paul describes his mission to the Colossians and others who have not yet met him in these words: “My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love.” Just as he encouraged the Colossians to put love and unity together said Archbishop Wong, so GAFCON and the Global South are calling all orthodox Anglicans to stand firm by coming together “in love and unity to overcome the spiritual forces that draw us away from Jesus Christ.” The unity of the 85% of global Anglicans represented by GAFCON and the Global South must, therefore, be rooted in love of Jesus and love for one another.

That’s what I heard in the GAFCON Statement today. It is a call to evangelism, discipleship, and mission. But it is also a call, in the words of Archbishop Wong, “to good order, to be like an army in lines unbroken, in discipline, following the great tradition and rule the Colossians had already received, ‘So then, just as you have received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness” (Col.2:6-7).

May this be the word and the spirit of the great Anglican Communion reset!

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