Saturday, September 28, 2013

FIFNA, ACNA, GAFCON and the 39 Articles

As I have feared and as I have expected all a long, the prominence given to the 39 Articles by ACNA and GAFCON has become an issue which threatens the unity of the Anglican Realignment. A la pointe du combat is a statement of belief  recently adopted by FiFNA which includes this affirmation:

I believe all Seven Councils are ecumenical and catholic on the basis of the received Tradition
of the ancient Undivided Church of East and West.

Joel Wilhelm has written an article entitled "FiFNA vs. Anglicanism" which takes to task FiFNA for abandoning the 39 Articles by asserting the authority of councils in general and  all seven ecumenical councils in particular. Bishop Ray Sutton ( and Fr. Robert Munday ( have provided persuasive responses to these charges. Less impressive is Deacon Nathaniel Kidd's response ( 

But none of these responses deal with  much more obvious questions: are the 39 Articles to be given one interpretation and one only? who decides which interpretation is authentic? does a literal and plain interpretation (as GAFCON seems to require) exclude an historical analysis of the 39 Articles (such as Newman among others gave)? if it is Holy Scripture which determines the  one and only understanding of the 39 Articles, whose interpretation of Scripture must prevail? what are the ecumenical consequences of dropping Conciliar consensus in favor of a National 16th century document enforced not by the consent of the Church but by government decree?

There is also the problem of 'good for thee but not for me'. Those great champions of the Articles, the Sydney crowd, ignore the requirement that only those in priest's orders can celebrate Holy Communion but actively persecute Anglo-Catholics in their diocese who wish to wear Eucharistic vestments, reserve the Sacrament and have Eucharistic adoration.

I might mention that in the Diocese of Ft. Worth before we made the decision to affiliate with ACNA we were assured that a Catholic understanding of the articles -- John Henry Newman's Tract 90 was explicitly mentioned --would be allowed. I should know because I asked the question of Bishop Wantland.

It is my desire to be a Catholic Anglican but we have learned that Anglicans are not very good at keeping promises they have made especially to Catholics.

We can only pray that wonderful and thoroughly Protestant prayer:  

receive these our prayers, which we offer unto thy Divine Majesty; beseeching thee to inspire continually the Universal Church with the spirit of truth, unity, and concord: And grant that all those who do confess thy holy Name may agree in the truth of thy holy Word, and live in unity and godly love.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Fr. Allen, not for publication: Catholic Anglicans have no chance triangulated out as we are by broadchurchmen and especially neo-Anglicans these days. ...I've wondered over the years about some things regarding Bp. Wantland--can't remember the specifics--but some years ago decided whatever his orthodoxy had a tin ear for ecclesiastical politics. ...Thanks for your pastoral leadership in the parish. I commented to friend Linda a couple of Sundays ago that Frs. Allen and Duncan represented my ideal of Catholic priests. Please keep up the good work. Your parishioners think a lot of you--at least the ones I talk to-- but please don't get a big head about that. Respectfully, Brent