Monday, February 22, 2016
Anglicans interested in Lutheranism. . .
...Bishop Elijah Arok from the Anglican Church of South Sudan visited the International Center in St. Louis. He came on behalf of Archbishop John Machar Thon. The Anglican Church of South Sudan was formed in 2004 as a breakaway from the Anglican Communion. Since that time, the ACSS has discovered the Small Catechism and is interested in becoming a Lutheran church body. The ACSS seeks to gain rich and full knowledge of Lutheran theology through study of Luther’s Small Catechism and the Book of Concord, several copies of which have been shared with the church leaders and have been enthusiastically received. In many ways the church body has shown its eagerness to learn more about Lutheran doctrine as taught in the LCMS and to have a close working relationship with the Missouri Synod.
The Anglican Church of South Sudan (originally, the “Anglican Church of Sudan”) was established in 2004 in separation from the Episcopal Church of Sudan over the issue of accepted homosexuality in the clergy and church hierarchy. A large number of bishops, clergy, and congregations (probably approaching 50%) left because they deemed the accepted practice was unbiblical. After the independence of South Sudan was declared in 2011, the new church body made its area of emphasis in South Sudan and modified its name accordingly. Through the subsequent years of war, the church body has continued its faithfulness and has ministered to the multitudes of Sudanese refugees in neighboring countries and to the many who now make their homes in Australia, Canada, the United States, and other Western countries. The ACSS has approximately 1 million members.
The next step for the LCMS is to visit Juba, South Sudan, and see the church in person. The goal would be to establish theological education in the Lutheran Confessions and Lutheran Doctrine.
Clearly, churches should not have to choose between episcopal structure and orthodox doctrine, between faithful liturgy and right confession, or between catholic doctrine and catholic practice. Yet neither is itself a guarantor that the whole will be sustained. Anglicans have a history of confession (though the 39 Articles are hardly mentioned except as historical documents) and they have a long and storied episcopal structure (but have been plagued with bishops who chose disconnect rather than continuity with the faith) and they have enjoyed a wonderful prayer book tradition of liturgy done generally very well. Now they reach out for the orthodox confession of creed, confession, and doctrine. Thanks be to God that we can assist them and perhaps they will aid us in our own struggle, also.
My point is simple. We should not fear engaging others on the ecumenical scene. Where there are faithful people who faithfully confess the catholic faith and maintain the catholic practice, there will be those who survey the ruins of their own churches excursions into social advocacy in place of the Gospel and social justice that ignores the clear voice of Scripture. Let us not be arrogant but neither let us be hesitant. The world around us is filled with people who would warm to a place where the Gospel is proclaimed faithfully and forcefully, where liturgy is reverent and catholic, where confession is robust and absolution is joyfully given, and where the people welcome those curious who may or may not be fully invested in the catholic doctrine and practice envisioned by the Augustana. We have something to offer.