Mere Anglicanism

Wabukala cracks his whip

The chairman of the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans has laid down a three line party whip, calling Africa’s wavering bishops to order.

In an Advent statement dated 27 November 2014, Archbishop Wabukala offered a layered and nuanced appreciation of the issues facing the church. The archbishop touched upon the scourge of militant Islam and the false promise of relativism, while also making it clear that certain, unnamed, African bishops were stooges of the Episcopal Church and Anglican Church of Canada.

The archbishop recounted recent atrocities against Christians at the hands of Islamist extremists, including the murder of 28 Kenyan Christians who were pulled from a bus and executed because of their faith, the lynching of a Christian couple in Pakistan who were accused of desecrating a Koran, and the murder of a Canadian soldier in Ottawa.

Archbishop Wabukala singled out for praise the Rt. Rev. Charlie Masters, Bishop of the Anglican Network in Canada (ANiC) for his response to the jihadist murder in that nation’s capital. “For Bishop Charlie, part of the response to this murder was national repentance to bring the country back to its founders’ vision. The dominion of the Lord Jesus Christ is a reality unrecognized by many, but one day all creation will bow the knee and the greatest service we can do for our nations is to win them for Jesus Christ by the proclamation of the glorious gospel of the Prince of Peace,” he wrote.

Canada figured prominently in the second half of the archbishop’s letter, as he condemned as a sham the Anglican Church of Canada’s Bishops in Consultation initiative. Underwritten by the Canadian church and supported at its last meeting in Coventry in May 2014 by the Archbishop of Canterbury and his Director of Reconciliation, the Rev. Canon David Porter, the gatherings have brought together Canadian, American and African bishops to discuss the divisions within the church, with an eye towards achieving institutional unity while permitting a degree of latitude of doctrinal positions on issues ranging from sexual ethics, Christology, universalism and soteriology.

Archbishop Wabukala wrote: “For instance, the ‘Bishops in Dialogue’ group after their Coventry meeting earlier this year claimed that we must maintain visible unity despite everything because ‘now we see through a glass, darkly’ (1 Corinthians 13:12). In other words, things will only become clear in heaven. This is a bad mistake. It is true that there is much about our future state that we do not yet understand, but God has given us the inspired Scriptures as a lamp to our feet and a light to our path (Ps.119:105). Our future hope cannot be turned into an excuse for compromise or silence when Scripture is clear. For Anglicans the collegial mind of the Communion on sexuality and Scripture remains the orthodox position as strongly reaffirmed by the 1998 Lambeth Conference which continues to call us to obedience and pastoral responsibility. Dialogue is no substitute for doctrine.”

The archbishop’s statement comes a month after five African primates who had participated in the Dialogue – South Africa, West Africa, Tanzania, Burundi and Central Africa met in New York with American church leaders to reaffirm their ties with the Episcopal Church. Three of the provinces – Tanzania, West Africa and Central Africa – under their former primates had taken part in the formation of the GAFCON movement, but following the election of new archbishops had moved closer to the Episcopal Church.

The May meeting in Coventry also saw the participation of a Ugandan and four Kenyan bishops, who endorsed the communique condemned today by Archbishop Wabukala.

“Despite these challenges,” Archbishop Wabukala wrote, “I am confident that our efforts are not in vain. The crucial contribution of GAFCON to the future is that in an increasingly confused Communion it has a clear confessional basis in the Jerusalem Statement and Declaration which keeps the gospel at its heart. And where the gospel is, there will be life.”

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