A Long Path away from the Gospel
Reform Ireland notes with great sadness the determination of ECUSA’s General Convention to continue to follow the liberal revisionist agenda on the issue of human sexuality. Reform Ireland had hoped and prayed that ECUSA would repent of its previous actions and return to biblical Christianity. It has become clear that the ECUSA was intent on delivering a resounding rebuff to the Anglican Communion with the weak response to the Windsor Report from GC2006. Reform Ireland welcomes the dissenting letter signed by eleven orthodox bishops of ECUSA. We also endorse and support the initiative taken by Archbishop Akinola and other bishops of the global south in offering a ‘pastoral and structural response’ to the orthodox in ECUSA.
The vote has increased the likelihood of a schism in the worldwide Anglican Communion over the place of homosexuals in the Church. Traditionalists described the decision by the American church’s three-yearly convention as a clear rebellion against the Anglican hierarchy, which had appealed for a ban on gay bishops after the 2003 consecration of an actively gay bishop in New Hampshire.
Further to this the convention overwhelmingly refused to even consider a resolution that affirmed Jesus Christ as the "only name by which any person may be saved." The rejected resolution also affirmed "the substitutionary essence of the Cross and the manifestation of God's unlimited and unending love for all persons," while calling on the Episcopal Church to renew its Scripture-based witness to all persons.
When a church refuses to acknowledge Christ as the only Lord and Saviour then it has rejected the gospel; a completely new set of principles become its guiding force. ECUSA went even further when it stated that the Bible ‘was oppressive.’ Such statements deeply saddens and troubles faithful Anglicans throughout the communion. ECUSA constantly appeals to the ‘guidance of the Holy Spirit’ for such actions. Reform Ireland would point out to ECUSA, and those within the Church of Ireland who would wish to push a similar agenda, that the Holy Spirit does not teach what is contrary to the Word of God. It is certainly not the work of the Holy Spirit to lead any church to refuse to affirm the Lordship and redemptive purpose of Christ Jesus.
Reform Ireland humbly asks dioceses within the Church of Ireland who have links with ECUSA to prayerfully consider those links in light of these developments.
Reform Ireland awaits the response of the wider Anglican Communion to the rejection of the Windsor Report by ECUSA. We are disappointed but not surprised by the actions of ECUSA at its general convention. ECUSA has walked a long path away from the gospel and biblical orthodoxy. We note that the Church of Ireland is in no position to cast stones at ECUSA and that we too have those within our church structures who push a similar agenda here. Reform Ireland once again calls on church members and clergy to be much in prayer at this time and to waken up to the liberal revisionist agenda of many within our church. The danger is in believing ‘it will never happen here.’ It will happen, and it is happening, within the Church of Ireland. ECUSA GC 2006 is a wake up call for us all.
Reform Ireland calls on the House of Bishops to issue a statement on its response to the developments in ECUSA. Specifically we would ask that they clarify our position re communion with ECUSA now that they have rejected the Windsor Report’s recommendations and in light of their unwillingness to affirm the uniqueness of Christ Jesus in salvation. Silence is no longer an option, nor is it possible to call us to ‘listen to ECUSA.’ ECUSA has spoken very clearly and without the usual Anglican fudge – will our House of Bishops speak with equal clarity on this matter? 23th June 2006