Most of the participants are angry at the progressive wing of the Anglican church for redefining the faith to fit the modern context. To correct this problem, it would be necessary for the participants (and the traditionalists more broadly) to agree on what the "Anglican" faith really is.
The obvious touchstone is the 39 Articles, based on Cranmer's earlier conception and enacted by Parliament in 1571 after the Protestant restoration. The 39 are:
- Of Faith in the Holy Trinity.
- Of the Word or Son of God, which was made very Man.
- Of the going down of Christ into Hell.
- Of the Resurrection of Christ.
- Of the Holy Ghost.
- Of the Sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures for Salvation.
- Of the Old Testament.
- Of the Creeds.
- Of Original or Birth-Sin.
- Of Free-Will.
- Of the Justification of Man.
- Of Good Works.
- Of Works before Justification.
- Of Works of Supererogation.
- Of Christ alone without Sin.
- Of Sin after Baptism.
- Of Predestination and Election.
- Of obtaining eternal Salvation only by the Name of Christ.
- Of the Church.
- Of the Authority of the Church.
- Of the Authority of General Councils.
- Of Purgatory.
- Of Ministering in the Congregation.
- Of Speaking in the Congregation in such a Tongue as the people understandeth.
- Of the Sacraments.
- Of the Unworthiness of the Ministers, which hinders not the effect of the Sacraments.
- Of Baptism.
- Of the Lord's Supper.
- Of the Wicked, which eat not the Body of Christ in the use of the Lord's Supper.
- Of both Kinds.
- Of the one Oblation of Christ finished upon the Cross.
- Of the Marriage of Priests.
- Of excommunicate Persons, how they are to be avoided.
- Of the Traditions of the Church.
- Of the Homilies.
- Of Consecration of Bishops and Ministers.
- Of the Power of the Civil Magistrates.
- Of Christian Men's Goods, which are not common.
- Of a Christian Man's Oath.
Meanwhile, at least four of the five solas of Lutheran and Calvinist theology are readily apparent in the articles: Scripture alone (#6), grace alone (#10), faith alone (#11), Christ alone (#18). I don't see Soli Deo gloria ("glory to God alone"), but the 1549 BCP is pretty clear:
through Christe our Lorde, by whome, and with whome, in the unitie of the holy Ghost: all honour and glory, be unto thee, O father almightie, world without ende. Amen.Still, there’s the question: are the 39 Articles a “confession” on par with the (Lutheran) Augsburg Confession or the (Presbyterian) Westminster Confession.
At GAFCON, apparently two different roles were ascribed to the 39 Articles. As Dr. Robert Monday, dean of Nashotah House wrote:
It was considered a virtual article of faith in the Confirmation class I attended that the Articles of Religion (the 39 Articles) were in no way to be viewed as a confession of faith. …Dr. Monday attempts to square the circle, and I’m not sure I follow all his arguments. But one bright line test is clear: are the 39 Articles subject to renegotiation, or are the fixed and the basis of all subsequent Anglican theology? The latter view is what I’d expect from GAFCON attendees, and most laity and clergy of the ACN, Common Cause, 28 Prayer Book and other traditionalist groups.
Such a view denies the obvious role that the Articles of Religion have played in both defining and describing the nature of a Reformed Catholicism that was no longer Roman. The fact that assent to the Articles is still required of those being ordained in the Church of England … makes the Articles the nearest thing to a confession of faith possessed by the Anglican tradition.
But what about the future? Is the future of orthodox Anglicanism to be seen as confessional (as suggested by the authors of "The Way, the Truth, and the Life") or should it be viewed as conciliar, as articulated by Bishop Duncan in his plenary addressh?
But does these articles help us solve the Culture Wars that are wrenching the church today — who is qualified to be a priest, what is the nature of marriage, how should the Bible be interpreted today?
It does seem to clearly put the Presiding Bishop of TEC outside the Articles, at least according to her responses to NPR and Time magazine about the uniqueness of Christ:
Is belief in Jesus the only way to get to heaven?This appears to directly contradict article 18:
We who practice the Christian tradition understand him as our vehicle to the divine. But for us to assume that God could not act in other ways is, I think, to put God in an awfully small box.
XVIII. Of obtaining eternal Salvation only by the Name of Christ.That the TEC leadership rejects John 14:6 is cited by Archbishop Akinola of Uganda as a major sign that
They also are to be had accursed that presume to say, That every man shall be saved by the Law or Sect which he professeth, so that he be diligent to frame his life according to that Law, and the light of Nature. For Holy Scripture doth set out unto us only the Name of Jesus Christ, whereby men must be saved.
The Anglican Communion has been deeply wounded.… Their Archbishop does not believe the Bible when Jesus says, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but by me.' Another American Bishop has said, 'The Church wrote the Bible, so the church can re-write the Bible.' It is wrong for them to continue to be Bishops and leaders in the Church. Yet, if their church will not discipline them, we will continue in broken fellowship with them. We cannot tolerate such theological corruption.