The Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, Australia, has responded to the recent Australian Primate’s letter challenging the participation of Archbishop Davies and Bishop Condie at the recent GAFCON consecration.
The letter, available on the FAC-Aus website, is authored by Dean Kanishka Raffel of Sydney and seeks to reply in detail to Archbishop Freier’s letter. Perhaps the most telling moments come towards the end.
The Primate’s letter is disappointing. First, he does not express any concern about the decision of the Scottish Episcopal Church to abandon the teaching of Christ and his apostles with regard to marriage. This is deeply disturbing, and an omission that the Board of FCA-Aus finds inexplicable.
Of particular concern is the claim that, somehow, these actions are “out of communion”. The letter seeks to challenge directly where true communion comes from:
Second, the Primate says, “The consecration in the ACNA is not on any view an act in communion with the Anglican Communion and its member churches” (emphasis added). Presumably, the Primate means to say that the ACNA has not been recognised structurally by the instruments of the Anglican Communion. Sadly, this is true, though much to be regretted. However, the consecration of Andy Lines involved 11 Anglican Primates representing the vast majority of Anglicans worldwide. It is hard to see how this fails to be communion ‘on any view’. On the contrary, it might well be said that the consecration expressed the purest and most natural form of communion – the diverse people of God gathered by the gospel under the Lordship of Christ expressed through his Word and bound by his Spirit.
As the Primate says, ‘communion’ is a gift. It is a gift of the gospel. The Lord Jesus reconciles people to one another, as they are reconciled to God the Father through his blood shed on the cross. In this way, there comes into existence a ‘unity in the Spirit’ which the parties did nothing to create, but which they are bound to express. The participation of the Australian bishops in the consecration of Andy Lines was precisely an expression of such fellowship.
It’s a remarkably clear and challenging letter, taking on the main assertions that the Primate makes and challenging him (and the rest of the Anglican Church of Australia) to reassess their priorities.