Anglican Compass is led by priests in the Anglican Church in North America. But we are not an official publishing arm of the ACNA. Recently, the ACNA asked us to help provide resources for ministry in a time of pandemic, which we are happy to do. Yet we remain unofficial. Our mission is to come alongside the ACNA, and other Anglicans, to support mission and ministry with clarity and charity.
Since we are here to support Anglicans, some question the fact that we sometimes publish posts that are critical of Anglicans. It is a good question, and we want to answer it with clarity and charity.
Why is Anglican Compass willing to publish posts that question, criticize, or challenge our own beloved church?
The first epistle of St. Peter says that “judgment begins at the house of God” (1 Pet 4:17). St. Paul taught us to “examine” ourselves (2 Cor 13:5), and Jesus taught us that we must “first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye” (Matt 7:5). The 39 Articles of Religion remind us that churches and councils “may err.” We must be open to the possibility that we may have some log-sized errors, and seek to take them out before removing specks from others’ eyes.
Following this pattern of self-examination, we believe that it is biblical and healthful for Anglicans to listen to loving and loyal criticisms. That’s why we publish challenging articles that cause us all to think and pray about where we might need to examine ourselves. We do this because we love our church.
These challenging voices come from many people within our church. But often left unheard are loving critiques that come from groups of people within our church whose voices have historically been ignored. African Americans and other minority ethnic groups have not had a widespread, prominent voice in our church. Society, and sadly even the Church, has only recently begun a process of listening to women and children who are survivors of abuse. They share about misogyny, sexual abuse, and harassment, and we are just beginning to listen. Gay or lesbian people have had almost no voice and have often been shouted down, even when they affirm orthodox, traditional beliefs and practices.
These groups, and others, often have a perspective that challenges the whole, but hearing from everyone in the Body of Christ can help us all thrive in Christ. Quite often the majority of Anglicans in North America are only willing to listen to these, and other, voices if they echo and confirm the majority position. Any critical analysis or new perspective is rejected out of hand. Holy Scripture calls us to do better than this.
Our church has an opportunity.
We can become a model of a traditional, orthodox church that strives to represent the diversity of all the faithful People of God. Being the whole Body is the mission of traditional Christianity. St. Paul taught this in Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12. There is one Body of Christ. To deny one member’s contribution reflects a movement away from orthodoxy. For Anglican Compass, our mission to become more representative of diversity flows from our Christian and Anglican mission. That mission is to preach the gospel and to continue to hold fast to the “faith once delivered to the saints.”
Some Anglicans may understandably wonder if publicly posting our flaws or sins will somehow weaken our witness. We believe the opposite is true. We believe that Christians best bear witness to Christ when we are willing to bring things to the light, to model listening and repentance.
There are other Anglicans who believe that we are engaged in a culture war and often they want to fight this war along a model created during actual wartime. During a war, nations usually outlaw internal criticism. They want first to defeat the common enemy, and then later come together to address internal issues. Yet the policy of ignoring national sins during wartime led to things like the Japanese internment camps. Suppressing or ignoring internal criticism often hurts minorities the most. We cannot fulfill a Kingdom mission using worldly methods. We reject the culture war model in favor of a culture mission model. I will be writing more on this in the future.
While our writing community affirms and witnesses the orthodox Anglican faith, we will not have the same perspective or experience on many other issues. We will try to share the perspective of orthodox Anglicans who may have a different experience of life from the majority group. We will sometimes criticize the church we love. But as the Book of Proverbs teaches, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend” and “iron sharpens iron” (Prov 27:6, 17).
Therefore, Anglican Compass believes that we best witness Christ and the faith of the Church when we take time to examine where we may have strayed, and to repent where needed. As St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, there is a “repentance that leads to salvation without regret” (2 Cor 7:10). We pray that our efforts to publish orthodox Anglican writers who challenge us as a whole will help us find places where we can have a better understanding, find out where we may need to repent, and learn from each other. In this way, our light continues to shine ever brighter for the gospel of Jesus Christ.