The high-profile launch of Be Faithful, the inaugural gathering of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FCA), took place on 6 July. It was attended by over 900 delegates.
The launch comes in the wake of the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) in Jerusalem, held in June 2008, when a statement of orthodox beliefs was drawn up. This aimed to set out true Anglican faith and practice, in the face of aggressive liberalising trends within Anglicanism, as exemplified by the recent ordination of an openly gay bishop in New Hampshire, USA. The new Anglican Church of North America formed in reaction to that ordination has 100,000 adherents.
Ahead of Be Faithful, Bishop of Rochester Dr Michael Nazir-Ali told the Sunday Telegraph: ‘We want to uphold the traditional teaching of the Bible. We believe that God has revealed his purpose about how we are made. People who depart from this don’t share the same faith. They are acting in a way that is not normative according to what God has revealed in the Bible.
‘The Bible’s teaching shows that marriage is between a man and a woman. That is the way to express our sexual nature. We welcome homosexuals, we don’t want to exclude people, but we want them to repent and be changed’.
Rev. Paul Perkin, chairman of Be Faithful’s planning team, said: ‘We want to express the co-operation of all orthodox Anglicans to ensure the continuance of orthodox Anglican faith in the UK, and to express our support for those orthodox Anglicans who are under severe pressure and persecution in the US and Canada’.
Held at the Westminster Central Hall, those taking part in Be Faithful included: president of Forward in Faith (North America) Bishop Keith Ackerman; Archbishop of Sydney Peter Jensen; Christian political campaigner Baroness Caroline Cox; Bishop Nazir-Ali; Rev. Vaughan Roberts; Dr James Packer; and Nigerian Archbishop Nicholas Okoh and Bishop David Onuoha (both representing Archbishop Peter Akinola, Primate of Nigeria). Worship was led by Stuart Townend.
The morning session heard from African church leaders and focussed on issues of unity, the uniqueness of Christ and the life of holiness. The afternoon sessions addressed the challenges of mission in a society permeated by aggressive secularism.
Writing in the Church of England Newspaper, evangelical Bishop of Lewes Wallace Benn said: ‘The FCA is not another organization. It is not seeking to create another church. It is a spiritual movement and fellowship for renewal, reformation and mission – uniquely bringing together those whose key shaping and commitment, but not exclusive identity, has been through the Anglo-Catholic, conservative evangelical, and charismatic expressions of Anglicanism’.
ET readers can, to a certain extent, be heartened by Be Faithful. We can also be encouraged (as the FCA clearly is) that the Queen has written to the FCA and declared she ‘understood their concerns’.
Nevertheless, there are issues within the FCA that Anglican evangelicals must still face up to. Currently, that movement embraces Anglican evangelicals, Anglo-Catholics and Charismatics. But (and it is a big ‘but’) biblical Evangelicalism is very different from Anglo-Catholicism and Charismaticism. Anglo-Catholic beliefs about the sacraments are inimical to the gospel and Charismatic beliefs about prophecy implicitly undermine the doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture.
The arguable presence of born-again Christians within these co-operating groups does not remove the obligation for evangelicals, who would indeed ‘be faithful’, to guard the gospel against all aberrations. This duty sometimes includes the necessity for gracious confrontation with friends as well as foes (Galatians 2:11-16).
We should pray for our Anglican brothers and sisters and be ready to encourage them in their present complex and difficult fight for the faith.