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Nigeria and the Anglican Communion

The recent statement of the Anglican Church of Nigeria, defining itself and its relationship with other Anglican churches, on the basis of a common faith and doctrine, is not only to be heartily welcomed, but should be the standard for all faithful Anglican churches and ministers in a new realignment within the Anglican Communion. The Church of Nigeria has defined itself as being in full communion with all Anglican churches, Diocese, and Provinces that hold and maintain the Historic Faith, Doctrine, Sacrament and Discipline of the one Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, as the Lord has commanded in His holy word and as the same are received as taught in the Book of Common Prayer and the ordinal of 1662 and in the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion'.

With the Church of England drifting inexorably towards official acceptance of homosexual lifestyles, (as evidenced recently by the House of Bishops' Pastoral Letter regarding civil partnerships), the Church of Nigeria has correctly identified that interrelationships between Anglican churches and between Anglican Provinces ought always to be shaped by the Gospel. This is indeed the theological position of the Articles, the BCP and the Ordinal of 1662. It is the Word of God that governs what Anglicans believe and how they witness to the world. Therefore, even though the relationship to Canterbury has been long and close, if the Gospel is undermined by the Church of England (or any other Anglican Province), then it is time to insist on Scripture as the chief basis for an ongoing relationship.

Faithful Irish Anglican churches must insist that the Church of Ireland stands with the majority of Anglicans throughout the world in faithfulness to Christ the Head of the Church and to His Gospel. There are many liberal revisionists within the Church of Ireland, who seem willing to sacrifice the Church of Ireland's commitment to the Gospel in favour of 'another gospel' (2 Cor. 11:4; Gal. 1:6ff), which is no gospel at all. For these revisionists, (as in the homosexuality debate, for example), sin is no longer what the Bible teaches as sin but the Bible teaching itself has become sinful in their eyes; what the Bible calls evil, they call good; what the Bible condemns, they clearly affirm; what the Bible affirms, they clearly deny. And all this, when it comes from clergy and Bishops, comes from those who in their ordination solemnly vowed to uphold the clear teaching of the Bible.

The action of the Nigerian Province is prophetic, calling the Anglican Communion to align itself firmly with Christ and the Gospel. The call to the Church of Ireland is clear. The Anglican Communion is breaking up and will not be held together by any kind of covenant, such as that envisaged by the Windsor Report. The way forward for relationships between Anglican parishes and Provinces must be upon a common commitment to the Gospel, not upon a political document such as the covenant envisaged by the Windsor Report.

It is clear that the majority of Anglicans throughout the world seek to remain faithful to the common biblical Faith of the Anglican Communion as expressed in the Articles and Book of Common Prayer. If liberal revisionists in America, England and indeed in Ireland insist in going their own way, they should not be allowed to drag the Church of Ireland with them. Faithful Anglicans within the Church of Ireland should stand resolutely for the Gospel, call upon revisionist clergy and bishops to repent and if they do not, to call upon them to resign. Those who cannot stand by their ordination and episcopal vows have brought a noble office into disrepute.

Furthermore, it is no part of a Christian's duty to pay for unfaithful and unbiblical ministries, and Irish parishes that are firmly in line with the Gospel and the Scriptural position of world-wide Anglicanism, should ensure that they do not contribute to such unfaithful ministry. Rather, like the Nigerian church, if unfaithfulness to the Gospel continues to grow within the Church of Ireland, faithful Irish Anglican parishes need to establish a new alignment with those who firmly believe the Gospel within and without the Church of Ireland. As in the case of the Anglican Church of Nigeria, faithfulness to the Head and Lord of the Church is the first duty of any Irish Anglican.

10th Oct 2005

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