Sunday, June 29, 2008

Anglicans All But in Schism

The Church of Henry VIII is now in its deepest crisis. The Global Anglican Future Conference has spawned the GAFCON movement which, while formally not schismatic, is the Anglican version of the Society of Saint Pius X.

The GAFCON meeting was called a month before the official ten-year meeting of Anglican bishops. GAFCON was convened by conservative members, mostly on the evangelical protestant side of Anglicanism ,who were upset by the English, American, and Canadian churches turn towards liberalism. The first-world churches acceptance of things such as homosexuality and women bishops among others have divided the Anglican communion.

Now GAFCON is fighting back. The Jerusalem Declaration calls for "unity" under the basis of like-minded churches, calls for bishops who recognize the fellowship, and allows for a GAFCON church in North America. While GAFCON says it is not leaving the Anglican communion and claims it recognizes the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury; GAFCON claims to be Anglican one does not have to recognize Canterbury and GAFCON's action of establishing a new church is a sign of non-recognition of the liberal churches.

Dread is the best way to describe the response from the liberal churches. The Episcopal Church has already lost millions of dollars in church property to conservative parishes who are now under the Church of Nigeria's care. Expect more law suits and accusation of stolen property soon.

GAFCON is a sign of the post-colonial world. Besides conservative churches in North America, most of its members are in Africa, South America, and Australia. These former colonies seek to bring the faith back to its original home. Do not be surprised to see the black bishop as head of a GAFCOM communion or hearing Americans complaining about African missionaries trying to impose the Bible on them.

Notes: Depending on how one counts members, GAFCON may have more members than the regular Anglican Communion. Debate over this is can lead to the question of who is the true Anglican Church.

If GAFCON does breakaway then the Anglican Communion would then be surpassed in members by the Assembly of God and the Coptic Communion.

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