Agreement between LCMS & conservative Anglicans

Who says Missouri Synod Lutherans can’t agree with anybody?  High level talks between the LCMS and Anglicans who broke away from the Episcopal Church have found some common ground (though, of course, not full doctrinal agreement).

ST. LOUIS, May 25, 2012—After four meetings over the past 18 months, the Anglican Church in North America and The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) rejoice in affirming core teachings of the Christian faith they share. The two church bodies, together with the Lutheran Church—Canada, are jointly releasing a report today summarizing the areas of agreement. . . .

“In a time when there is a widespread failure to recognize the biblical teaching regarding the creation of man and woman and their biblical roles, life-issues, and other grave challenges that society faces, it is a joy to find a group of Christians within the Anglican Church in North America who affirm this biblical teaching, and who desire to cooperate in externals with the Missouri Synod in upholding the biblical natural law in society,” said the Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison, President of the LCMS. “Our churches share much in common in the confession of the ecumenical creeds, but we also have differences in doctrinal belief. Hermann Sasse noted that churches who can honestly discuss where they have disagreements in doctrine are in fact closer to each other than churches who cannot discuss such matters. With the Anglican Church in North America, the Missouri Synod can discuss both where we need to seek more agreement and where we have sufficient agreement to cooperate in externals. May Christ bless His church and work unity in both doctrine and practice.” . . .

The report on the discussions includes a statement of the beliefs the church bodies have in common. These include a shared belief in the Triune God as confessed in the Apostles’, Nicene and Athanasian creeds; justification by grace through faith; the centrality of the Sacraments for the Christian faith; and the infallibility of Scripture.

The report also outlines areas about which the church bodies plan to engage in further study and discussion. These include the value of authoritative theological confessions, matters of ecclesiology and the office(s) of ministry, the understanding of Christ’s presence in the Lord’s Supper and differing views on the usage of the western liturgy.

“It is a great blessing to be walking alongside The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. We share an unwavering commitment to the authority of Scripture and have been able to support each other as we take a bold stand for the historic faith. It has been a particular joy for me to come to know President Matthew Harrison. We look forward to continuing our work together for the Gospel through prayers, evangelism, dialogue, encouragement of one another, and joint efforts to help those in need,” said the Most Rev. Robert Duncan, Archbishop and Primate of the Anglican Church in North America.

via Missouri Synod Lutherans, North American Anglicans conclude first round of theological discussions – The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.

Do you think such discussions are worth having?

Court rules against conservative Anglicans

Despite an earlier positive ruling, a court has ruled against Falls Church and six other conservative Anglican congregations that have left the Episcopal Church over its increasingly liberal theology.  Now the congregations will have to surrender their property to the Virginia diocese of the Episcopal church.  Here is the congregation’s press release:

Seven Anglican congregations in Virginia that are parties to the church property case brought by The Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia are reviewing today’s ruling by the Fairfax County Circuit Court that the property should be turned over to the Episcopal Diocese.

The Circuit Court heard the case last spring after the Virginia Supreme Court remanded it in June 2010. The congregations previously had succeeded in their efforts on the Circuit Court level to defend the property that they bought and paid for.

“Although we are profoundly disappointed by today’s decision, we offer our gratitude to Judge Bellows for his review of this case. As we prayerfully consider our legal options, we above all remain steadfast in our effort to defend the historic Christian faith. Regardless of today’s ruling, we are confident that God is in control, and that He will continue to guide our path,” said Jim Oakes, spokesperson for the seven Anglican congregations.

The Rev. John Yates, rector of The Falls Church, a historic property involved in the case, stated, “The core issue for us is not physical property, but theological and moral truth and the intellectual integrity of faith in the modern world. Wherever we worship, we remain Anglicans because we cannot compromise our historic faith. Like our spiritual forebears in the Reformation, ‘Here we stand. So help us God. We can do no other.’”

The seven Anglican congregations are members of the newly established Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic, a member diocese within the Anglican Church in North America. Bishop John Guernsey of the Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic has expressed to leaders of the seven congregations, “Our trust is in the Lord who is ever faithful. He is in control and He will enable you to carry forward your mission for the glory of Jesus Christ and the extension of His Kingdom. Know that your brothers and sisters in Christ continue to stand with you and pray for you.”

via Press Release Jan 10, 2012 (Events & News).

The Falls Church property is huge.  I don’t know what the Episcopal Diocese can do with it.   Sell it to non-Anglicans, I suppose.

HT:  Sandy

Confessing churches in Canada

In the Reformation, the catalytic issue was the sale of indulgences, but the underlying issue was the authority of the Word of God.  Today the catalytic issue has to do with sexuality, but the underlying issue, again, is the authority of the Word of God.  So says Matthew Block, Communications Manager for the Lutheran Church-Canada and editor of The Canadian Lutheran.   (He comments sometimes here as “Captain Thin”!)

He has written an interesting article about how this is playing out in Canada, specifically in the Anglican Church of that nation, which, as here, has split over the issue.  Matthew also notes the new affinity that is being explored between the new conservative Anglican bodies in Canada and the USA and conservative Lutheran church bodies (the LCMS and the LCC).

See Standing firm: The cost of confessing the Word of God.

Matthew also has an interview with J. I. Packer, the evangelical Anglican (I bet a lot of you didn’t know this popular writer is both Anglican and Canadian) whose church was one of the first to break away.   Note the distinction he makes between “ecumenism” and the possibilities of “partnership” among “confessing” church bodies: J. I. Packer on Biblical Authority, World Anglicanism, and Ecumenism.

I do like the terminology:  “confessing churches” is better than “conservative churches.”   “Confessing” means that they confess their faith rather than change or downplay it.  We Lutherans speak of being “confessional,” meaning adhering to our Lutheran confessions of faith.  I suppose “confessing” can refer to various churches that confess their own various theologies–Anglican, Calvinist, etc.–as opposed to those that have no particular theology.

Anglican-Lutheran dialogue

We’ve been having our own Anglican-Lutheran dialogues on this blog.  It so happens that today a more formal discussion is taking place on a much higher level:

Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Indiana will be the site for the third installment of dialogue between the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) and The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS), October 27–28. The focus for this meeting will be Contemporary Issues Facing the Church in North America.

An open forum will take place Thursday, October 27 at 7:00 p.m. in Sihler Auditorium on the seminary campus at 6600 N. Clinton Street, Fort Wayne. There is no charge for the forum and the public is encouraged to attend. Those unable to attend the forum will be able to watch it live via the internet by going to www.ctsfw.edu and clicking on the Watch Live! link.

Scheduled to speak at the forum are Rev. Dr. Matthew Harrison, LCMS President, and Rev. Dr. Jonathan Riches, Associate Professor of Liturgics, Reformed Episcopal Seminary, Blue Bell, Pennsylvania. “As the rapidly changing American culture confronts the church, it is important that dialogue between groups that seek to uphold the historic Christian faith occur,” commented Dr. Lawrence Rast Jr., CTS President. “We are delighted to host President Matthew Harrison and Dr. Jonathan Riches to share their perspectives as leaders, especially concerning how the church may make its faithful witness on the new millennium.”

via Concordia Theological Seminary – Seminary News – ACNA LCMS Dialogue.

If any of you are at Ft. Wayne and attend the sessions, we’d appreciate a report.


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