Most Rev’d Dr. Blessing C. Enyindah, JP
The title of this paper “Having a faithful and fruitful Anglican Ministry under God” is quite intriguing. On the one hand, one can have a faithful ministry and yet not be fruitful. On the other hand, one can have a fruitful ministry and yet not be faithful. But to have a holistic ministry, the clergy must be faithful and fruitful in their ministry. Another thrust of our topic is that the ministry is under God. This is very critical and should awaken our consciousness to the fact we are serving God and not man. Now, God is not a respecter of persons to the extent of acquitting us if we are wrong. He has no sacred cow. Also, He is of a purer heart than to behold iniquity (Hab. 1:13). He searches the heart and knows our hidden intentions. Before Him, all creatures are naked (Heb. 4:13). He does not look as man does and He does not judge as man does. Again, we are responsible and accountable to God, the judge of all.
Our focus in this discourse is to elucidate how the clergy can faithfully and fruitfully accomplish their ministry within the Anglican Church; a Church of order and conventionalities. A Church of tradition and liturgy. It is indisputable that the Anglican Church has a rich doctrinal and liturgical heritage that is cherished worldwide. This rich heritage has a long-standing history and has been tested, tried, and trusted to be a proper guide to the faith of the Anglicans. But unfortunately, some clergymen do not appreciate this rich heritage and so trifle with it. Some have even thrown it away to gather pebbles of mushroom doctrines that have not been tested for just a decade. By this, they behave like two categories of people on earth. The first category says, “This is old, therefore, it is bad.” The second category says, “This is new, therefore, it is better.” But the truth is, “That something is old does not make it bad and that something is new does not make it good.” The Anglican priest, therefore, needs to be guided by the saying, “Do not take the fence down until you know why it was put up.” There is no gainsaying the fact that there are some of our church traditions and conventions that some persons have attempted to change or abandon but they later returned to them.
Let us begin this presentation with the definition of our key terms.
To be faithful means to remain loyal and steadfast to a person, a boss, principal, or career. It is being true to the facts. According to Collins English Dictionary, to be faithful means a strict or thorough performance of a duty. It is to be true to one’s word. Cambridge English Dictionary defines “faithful” as the quality of being trusted or loyal. Similarly, Merriam Webster conceives “faithful” as being steadfast in affection or allegiance. It further sees “faithful” as being firm in adherence to promises or in observance of duty. A faithful ministry in the Anglican Church, therefore, is a ministry that complies with the rules of engagement in the Communion in the performance of one’s duty. Paul pictures it in 2 Timothy 2: 5 that “No man who competes for a prize is crowned unless he competes according to the rules.” Faithfulness abhors working anyhow or achieving results anyhow. It abhors achieving results in disobedience; for obedience is better than sacrifice (I Samuel 15:22). Faithfulness entails achieving results according to the rules of operations.
To be fruitful in the context of our discourse means to produce good or helpful results. It means to be productive or to multiply what is given to you. It is to make an impact. It is to have a ministry that contributes positively to the Church and society. It is to have a ministry that edifies the Church, lifts up humanity, and glorifies God.
The term Anglican comes from the Latin word ecclesia anglicana and refers to the Church of England. The Anglican ministry would therefore mean the work of God that is done in and by the Anglican Church. It could be missions and evangelism, hospitality, prayer, doctrinal and Biblical teachings, and so on.
To have a faithful and fruitful Anglican Ministry, the clergy needs to understand the tenets of the Anglican Church. By this, we mean what the Anglican Church stands for, her modus operandi, her doctrines, her tradition, her sacramental theology, her liturgical tradition, and the system of governance. Next is that the priest must be ready to accept and obey them as cardinal to the faith of Anglicans and sufficient for salvation.
The Anglican faith, no doubt, is espoused in the articles of faith and in her liturgical tradition. This faith is re-echoed in the declarations of the Global Anglican Future Conference of 2008 as contained in our Book of Common Prayer (BCP 2007). Some of the declarations are as follows:
- We believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the word of God written and to contain all things necessary for salvation. The Bible is to be translated, read, preached, taught, and obeyed in its plain and canonical sense, respectful of the Church’s historic and consensual reading.
- We uphold the four ecumenical councils and the three historic creeds as expressing the rule of faith of the one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.
- We uphold the thirty-nine articles as containing the true doctrines of the Church agreeing with God’s word and as authoritative for Anglicans today.
- We rejoice in our Anglican sacramental and liturgical heritage as an expression of the gospel, and we uphold the 1662 Book of Common Prayer as a true and authoritative standard of worship and prayer, to be translated and locally adapted to each culture.
- We acknowledge God’s creation of humankind as male and female and the unchangeable standard of Christian marriage between one man and one woman as the proper place for sexual intimacy and the basis of the family. We repent of our failures to maintain this standard and call for a renewed commitment to lifelong fidelity in marriage and abstinence for those who are not married.
- We gladly accept the Great Commission of the risen Lord to make Disciples of all nations, to seek those who do not know Christ, and to baptize, teach and bring new believers to maturity.
- We rejoice at the prospect of Jesus coming again in glory, and while we await this final event of history, we praise Him for the way He builds up His Church through His Spirit by miraculously changing lives.
Earlier than the Jerusalem Declaration, the Chicago – Lambert Conference came up with their quadrilateral including the polity of the Church. The quadrilateral states, thus:
- The Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as the revealed word of God.
- The Nicene Creed is a sufficient statement of the Christian faith.
- The two sacraments – Baptism and the Supper of the Lord, ministered with unfailing use of Christ’s words of institution and of the elements ordained by Him.
- The Historic episcopate locally adapted, the methods of its administration to the varying needs of the nations and people called by God into the unity of His Church (BCP 2007)
It is clear from the above declarations that we are both orthodox and evangelical. What more do we need to show that we are a living Church and stand by God’s word? Let us now turn our attention to some of the areas we need to be faithful in the Anglican Ministry.
Faithfulness in Doctrines: The Anglican Church believes in “All the Scripture” for the salvation of man or the total gospel for the total man. The Anglican priest must therefore shun the lopsided gospel. That is the one that emphasizes one aspect of the gospel over and above the other. It is “all scripture or no scripture.” Paul gave the hint. He said, “All scripture is given by the inspiration of God, and it is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness that the man of God may be perfect thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (II Tim. 3:16 – 17). The one-sided gospel may be popular but it kills. It is like sodium and chlorine which if taken separately kills. But when the two elements are combined in their right proportion, they become table salt which is useful to man. The popular gospel may draw the crowd. It may charm and entice. But it does not raise disciples of Christ. It only raises mushroom Christians who cannot stand the test of time. The Anglican doctrines are Bible-based and there is no better legacy our fathers of faith could have left for us. We must be faithful to them. At ordination, one of the questions posed is, “Will you be diligent in your prayer, in reading Holy Scriptures, and in all studies that will deepen your faith and fit you to uphold the truth of the Gospel against error? The clergyman must live up to his oath to uphold the truth of God’s word. He must shun error and heresies. Paul placed a curse on anyone who would teach any other gospel other than the one they received. He said, “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:8). This curse is still effective today.
TO BE CONTINUED