The nearly 2,000 Anglicans gathered at the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) in Jerusalem in 2008 stood and chanted: “We shall proclaim Christ faithfully to the nations!” In the Conference Letter, the same Assembly affirmed: “The Gospel of God creates the Church of God.”
The Gospel and the Church are yoked together in God’s great plan of salvation for all through the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 3:8-10) This book is about the Gospel and the church in a particular tradition, that of the Church of England and of the Anglican Communion. It is a companion to the author’s previous book The Global Anglican Communion: Contending for Anglicanism 1993-2018, which was published prior to the Global Anglican Future Conference of 2018. This book, Dr. Noll’s latest, contains three essays:
- IS GAFCON A CHURCH?
- LETTER TO THE CHURCHES
- WOMEN BISHOPS AND RECEPTION
The first essay is titled “Is Gafcon a Church?” Dr. Noll presents the shape of this entity as that of a communion of Anglican churches, sharing a common confession, doctrine, discipline, fellowship and worship.
The second essay is an exposition of the “Letter to the Churches” (the conference statement from GAFCON in Jerusalem 2018) that takes up the specific topics of the Gospel and the Church, with a special emphasis on the Great Commission of proclaiming Christ to the nations. This essay continues this theme of the first and also argues that the church, founded on the apostles and prophets, is a church with an ordered ministry, and that church discipline must accompany orthodox doctrine if the church is to be a light to the nations.
The third essay “Women Bishops and Reception” was commissioned by the Gafcon Primates in 2015 to examine the nature of bishops in our Anglican polity. The Gafcon “Task Force on Women in the Episcopate” subsequently presented its Interim Report and Recommendations, with the prime recommendation being that the historic practice of the consecration only of men as bishops continue until and unless a strong consensus to change emerges after prayer, consultation and continued study of Scripture. The Primates approved the recommendation.
In April 2019, the Task Force presented a bound copy of its work, which included a dozen essays on Scripture, Episcopacy, Reception, and Women in Ministry. The Primates authorized the Task Force to organize continuing consultations on a regional basis, using the Interim Report as a base text, and asking how the Gafcon churches can come to one mind on this important matter.
These three essays are written for the wider church audience—bishops, clergy, and laity—rather than scholars, though there are endnotes and a bibliography for the essay on women bishops.