The Anglican Way

On the Consecration of a Missionary Bishop

Guest Author
Written by Guest Author

Originally published on the American Anglican Council website on June 23, 2017 and written by The Rev. Canon Phil Ashey:

How is consecrating a missionary bishop for Scotland within the mission of our church?

On Friday June 30, God willing and the Bishops of ACNA already consenting, and the Most Rev. Dr. Foley Beach, Primate of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) Presiding, Anglican Primates, Archbishops and Bishops from around the globe will consecrate the Rev. Canon Andy Lines as a Missionary Bishop for Scotland and Europe on behalf of GAFCON.  This will be the concluding service—the exclamation point, if you will, of our Provincial Assembly.

These interventions are relevant to the crisis of false teaching that has troubled the Anglican Communion for the last 50 years.  The fundamental point is simply this:  a bishop who departs from the orthodox faith contradicts the very basis on which he is a bishop.  The reason the order of bishops emerged at the end of the first century was to maintain apostolic faith and order after the death of the apostles.  This unique and historic role of bishops to guard the faith and order of the Church (including doctrine, discipline and liturgy) is a governing principle in the canon law of the Churches of the Anglican Communion.[1] Therefore the ministry of a bishop who does not guard and teach the apostolic order of the Church is a contradiction in terms.  This is precisely why orthodox bishops in the Patristic period seem to have felt it necessary to replace an unorthodox bishop or to ordain in the dioceses of unorthodox bishops—presumably because in both cases the See was de facto vacant.

Following both their example and their reasons for doing so, the GAFCON Jerusalem Declaration (2008) authorized the formation of a Primates Council “to authenticate and recognize confessing Anglican jurisdictions, clergy and congregations,” and went on to declare

“We recognize the desirability of territorial jurisdiction for provinces and dioceses of the Anglican Communion, except in those areas where churches and leaders are denying the orthodox faith or are preventing its spread…”[2]

When bishops of the Church cannot or will not make clear judgments about false teaching and false teachers nor take firm and decisive measures to retake their churches from the heterodox innovators who dominate them, then they are paralyzed. This is the situation in the Anglican Communion status quo (the “Instruments of Communion”) today.  In fact, this deficit of authority is the wound that flows from bishops, among others, who cannot or will not make clear judgments about false teaching. In consequence, as William Tighe concludes in his essay Abusing the Fathers: The Windsor Report’s Misleading Appeal to Nicaea, such bishops and other Communion authorities “render their own situation hopeless, being able neither to fight nor to flee.”[3]  Worse than that, by their own inability to make clear judgments and take immediate action against false teaching, they lead those who follow them into spiritual darkness and peril.

On June 8, the bishops of the Scottish Episcopal Church willfully chose to ignore the warnings of others in the Anglican Communion, rejected the Biblical definition of marriage that the Anglican Communion holds (See Lambeth Resolution I.10 (1998)), and changed the definition of marriage in their canons to permit same sex blessings. In so doing they are engaged in false teaching that leads people away from the transforming love of Jesus Christ rather than towards Him. For this reason alone, biblically faithful Primates, Archbishops and Bishops have found it necessary to consecrate a Missionary Bishop to care for Biblically faithful Anglicans in Scotland and Europe.  In the ACNA, we are privileged to stand with them so that an Anglican Church in Scotland and Europe can continue to bear witness to the transforming love of Jesus Christ in every way.

We thank God for the courageous actions of those Primates and Provinces who offered orthodox oversight to churches under false leadership, especially in North and South America. Their intervention was based on an explicit rejection of the authority of those churches and leaders who have denied the orthodox faith in word or deed,[4] leading people away from Christ rather than toward him. They rescued us in a time of great peril, and we are privileged to stand with them in rescuing Biblically faithful Anglicans in Scotland and Europe who also want to carry on the mission of sharing the transforming love of Jesus Christ in every way.

We agree with the 1,148 lay and clergy participants at GAFCON 2008, including 291 bishops, representing millions of faithful Anglican Christians who concluded, “We believe that such actions will continue to be necessary and we support them [The GAFCON Primates Council] in offering help around the world…”[5]

The Rev. Canon Phil Ashey is President & CEO of the American Anglican Council.

[1] The Principles of Canon Law Common to the Churches of the Anglican Communion (London: Anglican Communion Office, 2008), Principles 37.1-4, 53.6, 56.7-8 and 60.

[2]GAFCON Jerusalem 2008: Statement of the Global Anglican Future Conference and the Jerusalem Declaration (Frisco TX: Ekklesia, 2017)

[3] Tighe, W. Abusing the Fathers: The Windsor Report’s Misleading Appeal to Nicaea, Touchstone Magazine April 2005, < http://www.touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=18-03-036-f > Accessed 23 June 2017

[4] GAFCON Jerusalem 2008: The Jerusalem Declaration at para. 13.

[5] Ibid., The Jerusalem Declaration

Leave a Comment