Volume 6 | October, 2018 View as Webpage
Monthly News & Updates
Dear Friend in Christ,

Grace and Peace to you from your fellow EFACters. Richard and I have just returned from meeting with EFAC-Australia in Melbourne and Sydney (where we both saw and ate kangaroo!) and then attending a conference in Dallas, TX ( RADVO) and one in Birmingham, AL (Anglican Theology Conference). Richard will tell you more about those below.

As we've interacted with believers around the world and spoken about EFAC, we frequently hear a question: what does EFAC want to do? Read on for an excellent answer by the Director of EFAC's Theological Resource Network, Dr Peter Walker. We are expanding in all directions--Peter explains why EFAC is so desperately needed in today's church.

Now, settle down with a a hot drink, put your feet up, and enjoy the October EFAC newsletter!
What’s So Exciting About EFAC’s Relaunch?
by Rev'd Dr Peter Walker

Those of us who had the privilege of meeting John Stott and hearing him preach could not but be influenced by his sustained vision of exposing God’s people week by week to the plain teaching of Scripture. 

If he were around today and if he could see the various difficulties confronting the Anglican Church in the 21 st century, he would surely be insisting that the only remedy for our common ills is, on the one hand, for clergy and pastors (Sunday by Sunday) to be diligent in preaching the Scriptures and, on the other hand, for all theologians (thinking and writing for the Church from Monday to Friday!) faithfully to be going back to those Scriptures to gain a ‘biblical mind’ on the urgent issues of the day. 

Moreover, he would want such theologians, committed to the supreme authority of Scripture, to be passing on their wisdom to the pastors, so that they in turn could be sustained in  their commitment to the apostolic faith and thus pass it on to their congregations ( cf . 2 Tim. 2:2). For how else could God’s people be fed on God’s Word? The sheep in Jesus’ flock will go hungry if their supply of biblical nourishment is cut off—for some reason—further up the chain!

That’s why I am so enthusiastic about the current revitalization of EFAC: it presents us with a golden opportunity to build a strong partnership between evangelical theologians and evangelical clergy, enabling trusted theological resources to be passed on to those with the ‘front-line’ responsibility of teaching the Word of God—the weekly task of feeding Jesus’ sheep (John 21).

There are also many other important tasks for EFAC at this key moment in Anglican life. For example, re-establishing itself on a proper basis in keeping with EFAC’s original constitution, helping to revitalize the nine ongoing provincial chapters, and creating new ones (21 are in progress). However, this aim of  providing evangelical theology for evangelical pastors should, I suggest, also remain firmly in our sights as a vital goal—the true end-result that all our other labours are designed to achieve.

Let me list a variety of ways in which EFAC could take this forward:
  • By identifying evangelical theologians to be EFAC ‘partners’ in each Anglican province and encouraging them to work collaboratively. They could then, together, identify particular areas of concern in their province and offer fresh but faithful theological responses to the local clergy.
  • By gathering those EFAC ‘partners’ to meet with those in other provinces—whether in that continent or indeed from around the globe—for ‘theological consultations’. They could then begin to articulate the particular challenges to, and opportunities for, evangelical theology within their particular province, and thus, by listening to each other, begin to see the varied colours of a world-wide evangelical theology.
  • By developing an area of the existing website that can be accessed exclusively by EFAC theologians and filled with trusted theological resources. The theologians could then begin to form an international ‘virtual community’ of theologians, so that they are able to draw strength, encouragement and challenge from their fellow-theologians.
  • Each of these are in our mind’s eye as we begin to re-launch EFAC. They may take a little while to achieve, but we are already taking steps in the right direction: 
  • In late October 2018, there will be an EFAC meeting in East Africa for delegates from many Anglican provinces, which will consider ways of building up or starting EFAC chapters in as many provinces as possible; 
  • There are plans for a Theologians’ Consultation in 2019 or 2020, possibly located in the Far-East;
  • From April 2019, we hope to see the start in Nairobi of a year-long programme (provisionally entitled the ‘Anglican School for Leadership and Ministry Formation’) which will deliver Bible-based teaching to clergy with senior responsibilities in the Anglican Church of Kenya—that’s our end-game, evangelical theology for evangelical pastors!

But, as we go forward into this exciting future, I note that so many of these aspirations depend on something intangible—namely, trust: not just faith and trust in God (though that is essential!), but personal trust between individuals and accountable relationships. EFAC (as its name implies) is trying to build ‘evangelical fellowship’—that is (as we know from the book of Acts),  koinoinia , sharing, partnership, or ‘holding things in common’. And such  koinoinia depends on trust. People need to be convinced that they do indeed share something in common and that therefore they can begin to reach out to each other, trustingly, both to give and to receive—so that they can work together on common tasks, and indeed stand together for a common truth.

What can help us to trust each other in this way? That’s where EFAC’s explicit commitment in its  Statement of Faith becomes so important. The first believers were able to build fellowship because they were all ‘devoted to the apostles’ teaching’ (Acts 2:42); in the same way, we can build fellowship by expressing our submission to apostolic truth by confessing our agreement with this evangelical Statement of Faith. Once we have each identified ourselves with that teaching, mutual trust begins to be released amongst us (by the power of the Holy Spirit within us and between us!).  We find ourselves standing, enclosed within an “apostolic circle of trust”, facing each other and recognizing that we are all part of one coherent family—bound together within the boundaries of apostolic truth.

In many parts of our scattered global Anglican Communion, trust has worn very thin. Many in Africa, for example, have found it difficult to trust teaching or resources emanating from North America or England, because of fears—often legitimate—that those teachings or resources may not be ‘apostolic’, that the clear boundaries of biblical teaching have (at best) become confused or (worse) deliberately crossed. So, mutual trust is eroded. Despite the Anglican model of “charitable presumption” they can no longer charitably presume that the others in the Anglican family are placing themselves under the apostles’ teaching. Trust evaporates.

But now, with EFAC relaunched, trust can be restored. For, underpinning us, will be our individual commitment to evangelical truth and our submission to the authority of the Scriptures. In such a climate, some beautiful flowers may once again open their petals: for example, true collaboration between theologians (despite many cultural differences), trusted and reliable written resources for pastors, and friendly ministry partnerships between clergy located in quite different provinces of the Communion. Who knows what wonderful things the Lord can do amongst his people once they have declared their obedience to his Word? Evoking the biblical paradigm of the Israelites at the foot of Mount Sinai after they had received the 10 Commandments, who knows how or where the Lord will lead us if we will but form a ‘circle of encampment’ at the foot of the mountain of his revelation?

In closing, and returning to the teaching of EFAC’s founder, let me quote from John Stott’s small book,  Focus on Christ (1979). Based on a sermon series at All Soul’s Langham Place in the summer of the 1978, “Uncle John” (as those who knew him often referred to him) goes through some key prepositions in the New Testament’s teaching about Christ ( e.g. Through Christ our Mediator’ or ‘ On Christ our Foundation’ etc). In his chapter entitled ‘Under Christ our Lord’, he teaches on our need to submit our minds and wills to the apostles’ teaching; and he concludes with a series of questions which struck me forcefully when I first read them nearly 40 years ago. Earlier in the chapter Uncle John had quoted a private comment to him from a bishop attending the Lambeth conference (taking place during that summer) who had been “appalled” at some of the “unwillingness …  to submit to the Word of God” which he had witnessed there.

So John asks: 
“I keep returning to this simple question: is Jesus Christ the lord of the church, so that it submits to his teaching however unpalatable, or is the church the lord of Jesus Christ…? Will the church listen humbly and obediently to Jesus Christ, or will it behave like the brash adolescent it often seems to be, contradicting its master and putting him right when he is wrong? Is the church ‘over’ or ‘under’ Christ?”

The Israelites wandered in disobedience for forty years. Perhaps forty years on from Stott’s pointed question, it’s time for us to stop wandering and to regroup. Will you join us as we regather under God’s Word and rebuild a truly apostolic and ‘evangelical fellowship’ in the Anglican Communion?
The Tale of Two Conferences
By Rev Richard Crocker

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times …”
Just last month, EFAC was represented at two significant USA conferences for Anglicans.  RADVO, the Radical Vocation Conference, was organized by the “Communion Partner” and “Gracious Restraint” bishops of the USA and Canada (the remaining orthodox bishops in the Episcopal Church (TEC) and Anglican Church in Canada (ACC)), and hosted by the large and impressive Church of the Incarnation in Dallas, TX. The conference included a robust celebration of faith and a call to young North American believers to consider the call to ordained service.

Plenary speakers included Stanley Hauerwas, Oliver O’Donovan, Ephraim Radner, and NT Wright, whose talk was outstanding. There were also a large number of younger men and women leading break-out sessions on a wide variety of ministry-related topics. The worship was spectacular and varied from cathedral style Choral Evensong to contemporary Communion services with a Texas style band. The attendance was impressive, at 500+. Perhaps it didn’t hurt that the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Presiding Bishop attended and spoke at one of the services!
The second conference on “What is Anglicanism?” was hosted by the Institute of Anglican Studies at the Beeson Divinity School, within Samford University, Birmingham, Al. The speakers tackling this question were no less impressive than in Dallas, including Archbishop Wabukala of Kenya, Bishop Mouneer Anis of Egypt, Dr Gerald Bray, and one common to both conferences, Dr Ephraim Radner. These were joined by a number of younger leaders, including Rev Dr John Yates III, an ACNA Rector in Raleigh NC, and Very Rev Andrew Pearson, Episcopal Dean of the Cathedral of the Advent in the host city, and seasoned leaders like Rev Dr Stephen Noll, and Archbishop Foley Beach of the ACNA, both of whom hold significant responsibility within GAFCON.

This more academic setting similarly attracted a youthful attendance, of about 200, which included people from TEC, ACNA, other Anglicans, and indeed other churches. The expected publication of the conference addresses will be worth acquiring, for the talks showed Anglicanism at its thoughtful best. Dr Gerald McDermott, the Director of the Institute, is to be congratulated on the achievement of this first Annual Anglican conference!
Why then might these conferences be called “the worst of times”? In Dallas, this derived from what was not said. Despite the energy, depth, talent and orthodox teaching offered, there was a definite and unaddressed elephant in the room. The Communion Partner Bishops, with their Canadian counterparts, are a small, tolerated minority in a church rapidly heading in an unorthodox direction. Though the recent General Convention obtained a little space, the outlook is by no means assured. One wonders what the long-term hope is for orthodox ordinands in TEC, when many in TEC may describe their position on marriage discipline, not theologically, as an arguable but acceptable minority position, but from a social justice perspective, as an unjust position deserving removal?
Archbishop Wabukala humorously described the disquiet Kenyans voiced when they heard reported what was achieved after their bishops went to a Lambeth conference: “We spent all that money for you to go to Canterbury, meet other bishops, and then you come back with a declaration that marriage is between a man and a woman!” Sadly, even so, many bishops went home and, even then, ignored what was agreed. The bishops in Dallas are clearly hoping their stand will grow and prosper in time. However, they are swimming against a strong current in both the church and the world.
At Beeson, the “worst of times” was portrayed by some pessimistic answers to the “What is Anglicanism?” question. Ephraim Radner started provocatively, “Anglicanism is dying!” His diagnosis arose from his assessment of the absence of a universally-agreed confessional identity. Gerald Bray affirmed the Reformation basis of Anglicanism in the Thirty-Nine Articles, the Book of Common Prayer and the Homilies, but considered that the absence of an agreed discipline had allowed almost insuperable problems to develop.

Stephen Noll outlined the history of the GAFCON movement, which asserts an analysis of the Gospel now proclaimed by some Western provinces as false. In 2008, The Jerusalem Declaration was accepted as a contemporary statement of the traditional reformation standard and, in 2018, “The Letter to the Churches” restated the problem and called on the Archbishop of Canterbury to use his influence to enable a godly discipline to emerge.

But based on Archbishop Welby’s talk in Dallas, that seems unlikely. The GAFCON movement, while proclaiming its loyalty to the biblical tradition and Anglicanism, is ironically seen as schismatic and power-seeking. In comparison, those who denied by their actions the decision of the 1998 Lambeth Conference have come to be viewed officially as loyal and faithful. Blaming those who hold to orthodox Anglicanism for schism, when they take action after over 20 years of trying might be called gas-lighting!
The Communion Partner Bishops were praised in Dallas for maintaining institutional connectivity despite strong disagreement. The audience at Beeson heard, amid the pessimism arising from the failure to hold erring provinces to account, hopeful and stirring presentations about the contemporary power of the Anglican formularies to present the Gospel in the USA, Kenya, and Egypt. Andrew Pearson was particularly forthright about the Advent Cathedral commitment to a return to Bible teaching, preaching and worship in this Reformation tradition. His examples of current practice seemed to resonate with the assembly, and yet, their very rarity in TEC served to emphasize the current crisis.
The role of EFAC in the current situtation is clear. We will continue to resource any church or church leader who affirms our biblical and reformation heritage in the Anglican family. We will uphold the authority and clear teaching of the scriptures and work for their growing acceptance in the church, wherever that may come. The evidence is that there are many who desire this in the USA, whatever their church home. These conferences demonstrated that there is potential for a thoughtful Anglican evangelical proclamation of Jesus in the USA today. And EFAC is there to help.
Archbishop Foley Beach and Richard at the Anglican Theology Conference.
Everywhere we go, we are ready to explain EFAC to anyone who wants to hear!
Richard presented the vision of EFAC global to Australian EFACters.
A panel discussion at RADVO in Dallas, TX.
Richard and Bishop Mouneer Anis at the Anglican Theology Conference at Beeson.
N.T. Wright's talk on the sacraments was inspirational.

Articles: To stay up to date wth what EFAC is doing, be sure to follow us on our website and Facebook. Note particularly that, on the home page, past articles are now searchable by month.

International Council: The second part of the EFAC international Council meeting will be held in Nairobi Oct 30-Nov 2.

EFAC Intercessors : The team has grown. These faithful people are willing and able to pray for us and for all EFAC chapters. So, if your chapter has a prayer need, please email us . We will add your need to the monthly prayer request email.

TRN: We now have 50 scholars signed up to help with resourcing the international church with solid theological teaching. Dr. Peter Walker is working hard to focus efforts where they are needed most.

EFAC Website : What's new at our website? Check it out! We have new posts (found on the homepage ), new entries to the calendar , and a couple of new papers (found on the Reading page).

Incidentally, if you missed previous newsletters, they are available on the EFAC website under Resources, Reading, Newsletters. Or you could just click here .

While you're on our website anyway, check out the whole thing and let us know what you think! Input is welcome.
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EFAC has a prayer team, but the more prayer, the better! Praise God for the great response we have had to EFAC's relaunch.

Please pray now as we plan and recruit for the EFAC Leaders Training session in Nairobi, Oct 29- Nov 1.

Also, pray for all EFACters around the world, that they will be faithful to the mission of Jesus Christ and powerful in His service.

Finally, if you missed responding to our request for intercessors and want to help, please email us .

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