Anglican Perspectives

ACNAtoo Builds a Bridge Too Far

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Within the last year, ACNAtoo has been subjected to the scrutiny of its leadership for statements proclaiming its goal to “take down” the ACNA and for a compromised leader who has herself been implicated in “grooming” other victims of abuse. In its approach to helping survivors, this organization has shown bias, dishonesty, and a desire to see the accused judged in the court of public opinion. If anyone was still in doubt as to where ACNAtoo stands theologically, it has now shown its cards. It has crossed a line from survivor advocacy to a bastion of progressive ideology completely at odds with the biblical worldview of the very Church it seeks to bring down. Its latest statement is a full-on frontal assault on the ACNA College of Bishops 2021 Pastoral Statement on Sexuality and Identity. Despite its attempts to cover the statement with claims of a wide ideological breadth, the phrases used clearly show that there is only one ideological camp within which this organization feels comfortable.

Our readers will remember the American Anglican Council’s defense of the ACNA College of Bishops Statement when it was publicly questioned as to the authority of bishops to teach “the faith once delivered to the saints” (Jude 3), to declare the doctrine, discipline, and order of the Church on the issues of the day, and “to banish all strange and erroneous doctrine” (BCP 2019 Ordinal). You can find our defense here. We also encourage you to reread the ACNA Bishops’ Statement in its entirety which can be found here.

As you read the ACNA Bishops’ Statement on the one hand, please note the ACNAtoo Statement of Commitment to LGBTQ+ survivors on the other which states, among other things, that the bishops of the ACNA have no right to “limit or police the self-expression of sexual minorities,” including LGBTQ+ persons. The Church is also accused of perpetrating or enabling abuse, violence, murder, and other cruel and inhumane acts against “queer image-bearers” while Christians are those who “drive the culture wars that target and vilify LGBTQ+ people, enabling the spread of vitriol and hatred under a banner of theological purity.”

However, the tone and content of the Bishops’ Statement, one with which many Christian doctrinal statements on human sexuality—Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox—would agree actually states:

“We have become even more acutely aware of the power we all need to live faithfully in Jesus Christ as He redeems the whole of our identity, including our sexuality.

Furthermore, we equally affirm, following Paul, that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). We say, with Augustine, that this Fall has affected our lives in destructive ways that have disordered our affections. While same-sex attraction is one manifest type of disordered affection, there are many other types of disordered affections. Indeed, we recognize that same-sex sexual relationships have been an oft-targeted sin while other sinful manifestations of our common fallen nature, such as pornography, adultery, divorce, greed, and disregard for the poor have sometimes been tragically discounted or even ignored.”

Some will no doubt say that it is abusive per se because “it limits the self-expression of sexual minorities.” It appears that the Apostle Paul did exactly the same in Romans1:18-25. By the same logic, ACNAtoo must declare St. Paul and much of the biblical teaching on human sexuality in the New Testament abusive. That is no surprise coming from the Episcopal Church or other revisionist churches and leaders, but should it come from an organization supposedly dedicated to the welfare of ACNA members and (allegedly) composed of sympathetic members of a province that is, and has always been, biblically faithful in its views on sexuality? 

With regards to “limiting the self-expression of sexual minorities,” the bishops have been unequivocal in their reading of the Bible:

“We affirm, along with a broad range of biblical scholars, many of whom do not share our convictions about sexuality or our commitment to the authority of Scripture, the incompatibility of same-sex sexual practice within the canonical witness of the whole of Scripture. As we seek to read Holy Scripture according to the Church’s historic interpretation, we discover this universal and uniform witness among the teachers of the Church throughout the ages that in same-sex sexual practice there is the exchanging of “the truth about God for a lie” and a serving of the “creature rather than the Creator” (Romans 1:25).

The “self-expression of sexual minorities” is not our ultimate authority. Rather, such demands reflect the profoundly un-Christian, un-biblical view that our bishops rightly identified—a sexual worldview which attempts to redefine the image of God in humanity as predominantly one of sexual orientation and behavior. The idea that any Church cannot and should not limit such expression demonstrates its idolization within the culture. ACNAtoo’s advocacy for victims of abuse, whatever their orientation, is commendable, but their public, theologically-erroneous stance in the face of accusations that they level against a Church with opposing theological views shows the true nature of where they stand. 

To add insult to injury, they also claim the following in the statement: “Though we hold an assortment of personal views on gender and sexuality, we are united in our position of love and care for all survivors of abuse, with a particular tenderness for those facing social marginalization on top of abuse trauma.” But their clear statements of belief on the nature of sexual identity belies the truth that they do not, in fact, hold an assortment of personal views on gender and sexuality. They are espousing one view that is in stark contrast to the scriptures and the Church that ACNAtoo is seeking to denounce. In light of their demand for unconditional surrender of biblical and moral truth, there is not any room for respectful disagreement even as we share concern for survivors.

Given the animus of ACNAtoo towards biblical teaching on human identity, sexuality, and marriage, their disdain for “theological purity” and the Fundamental Declarations upon which this Church stands, ACNAtoo has forfeited whatever voice it once had among the “various publics” to which the presenting bishops in Ruch vs. Beach once referred. They are now demanding nothing less than an unconditional surrender of the very way we have sought to faithfully read and obey God’s word in the spirit and love of Jesus Christ. They have defined the issues to always reflect abuse even if the offending parties are simply holding the biblical line.

It is a bridge too far.

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