to be an Australian Anglican is to accept our doctrine

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Just a quick one. There’s a small service tucked away on pages 95-97 of the 1998 “A Prayer Book for Australia” (APBA) that shows very clearly the relationship between membership of the Anglican Church of Australia and adherence to its doctrine.

In the liturgy for “Reception into Communicant Membership” (a way of someone who is already baptised to enter into the Anglican church) the bishop asks the following question:

Do you desire to be admitted into communicant membership of the Anglican Church of Australia and accept her doctrine and order?

To which the answer is a clear “I do“.

Just a few observations:

  1. The liturgy prescribes that a bishop ought to ask the questions. This is akin to confirmation and requires the reocgnised protector of doctrine in the diocese to ask and then make the declaration of reception.
  2. The liturgy quite clearly ties together Anglican membership with acceptance of doctrine and order.
  3. The Reception Canon 1981 establishes that someone received in this way has the same status as a confirmed member. Thus, by implication, confirmation is also an acceptance of our doctrine and order.
  4. It stands to reason that if acceptance of our doctrine and order is expected of all full members, that our leaders (especially our bishops) have this expected of them all the more.

So what are we to do when we have a prospective bishop who is understood by many to have spoken against our doctrine? Would this not undermine our order? Can they be a bishop, let alone call others into communicant membership or confirm?

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This Post Has 11 Comments

  1. Bruce Lyon

    Great line of argument, Rev David, but for one thing … the Grafton Bishop-Elect has pretty close to ‘zero’ to do with Sydney Diocese in a real sense. She cannot exercise much influence on any other Diocese except her own.

    When you ask ‘what are we to do’, well that pretty much comes down to (a) prayer and faith in the Lord and (b) the facilities available under Canon law, that apply at an inter-diocesan level within Australian Anglicanism.

    I note that the best course of action ACNA has adopted, was to effectively bypass / ignore the status quo unworkable structures and join with GAFCON and GFCA.

    My strong suggestion is that Sydney Anglicans, Armidale Anglicans and North Western West Australia Anglicans as well as Nelson Anglicans (NZ) form together the “Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans – Oceania”, similar to ACNA and just move on independantly, prayerfully first of course, and just in essence leave the Australian Anglican Church to wallow in its own ‘TEC’ like demise …

    1. Daryl

      And what is to happen to those of us who are orthodox but don’t live in an evangelical diocese? What about the High Churchers who haven’t succumbed to the liberal disease? and there are plenty of them about…

      1. David

        That’s right Daryl. They join the FCA and get alternative episcopal oversight if and when it is shown necessary. It’s a congregational as well as clerical organisation. The FCA isn’t low Church v. High church. It is Bible v. Non-bible. There is room for Anglo Catholics, charasmatics, evangelicals and whoever else wants to say: “we want to be Anglican but we need to be Biblical.”
        Which bishop takes that job will be determined by the issue at hand. NZ will be the place it is most likely needed first.

        1. Daryl

          Hi David, thanks for responding, I guess my concern is that from what I can see so far the FCA, for Australians is pretty much a pointless endeavour at the moment. I have been a member for almost two years – I wasn’t even aware GAFCON 2 was happening until I was told one of the clergy in a neighbouring parish was going – so poor is the communication.

          I think that the idea of a group of orthodox Anglicans communicating and supporting each other is great – the FCA isn’t that – yet.

          I am also concerned about schism… I would much rather the FCA work to reform the church from within rather than through schism and establishing new provinces etc. At least in Australia – we are not so far down the road as TEC (at least from my observations) and I think we can still steer the ship right without resorting to an ACNA style split. – I pray we can anyway.

          1. Bruce Lyon

            The split is already effectively happening / happened.

            Newcastle hates Sydney, but has pockets of evangelisalism. There is Kincumber, Campden Haven, ANeW, Tea Gardens, Bateau Bay to name a few. Newcastle’s new Bishop is a liberal as best as I can tell.

            Grafton’s Bishop is about to be a liberal with strange teachings. Pockets like Port Macquarie are EV.

            I think FCA-Oceania will allow alternate Episcopal oversight and co-incidental geography Diocese recognised by FCA to be set up, to initially cover NZ as David Ould suggests.

  2. David Mitchell

    I think that’s precisely David’s point Bruce. If Bishops show themselves to be not Anglican, but churches want to preserve the ‘order’ of the Anglican Church then what? We must create new mechanisms for them to be Anglican.
    FCA Oceania is a great idea. I expect there will be movement on this front in the next 6 months.

    1. Bruce Lyon

      There are some existing splinter group traditional Anglicans in Australia that would love to be a part of FCA-Oceania, as well as some Aussie based congregations and individuals in liberal Anglican Diocese around the place.

      FCA-Oceania will need some leadership to get going.

      I’ve already set up FCA-Oceania on Facebook … look for “Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans – Oceania” on Facebook … nothing there much yet, but its a starting point for those who wanted to make it happen.

  3. Daryl

    Hi Bruce,

    What concerns me in a lot of discussions is the apparent view that a dislike for Sydney style evangelicalism is tantamount to being heterodox. While there is a strong evangelical tradition in Anglicanism – Sydney is rather unique in its style of evangelicalism, and to be critical of the Sydney Diocese is not the same as being a raving liberal.

    I am what would be called a broad churchman, I love the best of both the catholic and evangelical streams of the Anglican tradition – I have worshipped in the Sydney Anglican style, but it wasn’t for me. I have worshipped in the staunchly anglo catholic style, and it wasn’t for me. I prefer that genuine via media style of Anglican worship, where the sacraments are respected and practised reverently, and the Gospel is boldly proclaimed and the Word of God honoured.

    I guess my point is that you don’t have to be from the evangelical camp to be an orthodox Anglican, while the Anglo Catholics and middle grounders have suffered the affliction of liberalism, there are still a lot of us who are orthodox, and are prepared to stand with the evangelicals in defence of God’s Word – as long as we aren’t excluded.

  4. Bruce Lyon

    True enough Daryl, and any orthodox leaning Anglican should not be excluded. FCA seeks to do that, certainly since GAFCON II …

    But locally in Newcastle, there are so many non-EV Priests and Deacons I have trained with and FB’d with who support SSM, who deny the Virgin Birth, and dont really mind if the Resurrection is spirit only or not. Even defining sin becomes a debatable point.

    I have previously made the point that any Anglican Priest who advocates for SSM is worse than an unbeliever. For this would define them as heterodox.

    I dont mind debating the role of women priests or not, or women bishops or not, or even the real presence or otherwise, and for me these are not show-stoppers.

    Show stoppers are those who cannot sign TJD …

    1. David Ould

      Daryl and Bruce,

      Couple of thoughts for you. First, the Australian contingent at GAFCON2 included some strong Anglo-Catholics. It was a delight to be there with them. Second, if you’re a signed-up member of the FCA on their website you’ll receive update emails.

      Last, I know that plans are in hand for FCA in Australia and the region. Can’t say more here but do rest assured things are moving along.

      1. Bruce Lyon

        Thats great news David on all three points you cover off. *Watch this space* …

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