Fellowship is essential to the Christian life. There are no lone Christians. We are members of Jesus’ body. “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’ And the head cannot say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you!’” (1 Cor. 12:21).
Within Anglicanism, that fellowship has often been fraught. EFAC-USA is here to help with that. EFAC-USA’s second goal is, “To foster fellowship among Evangelicals in the Anglican and Episcopal churches, and to promote cooperation among all who recognize the ultimate authority of Scripture in matters of faith and practice.” So, what does that mean?
The fellowship that EFAC-USA has in mind is among Evangelicals in the Anglican and Episcopal tradition. That word is a moving goalpost, but I’ll offer this as good baseline: Do you believe the five Reformation solas (sola Scriptura, sola fide, sola gratia, solus Christus, and soli Deo gloria)?
If you can say the following, fingers uncrossed, it’s a safe bet that you are Evangelical: “I am saved by grace alone, through faith alone, by the work of Christ alone, to the glory of God alone, and Scripture alone is the final authority for the Christian faith.”
Anglicans who believe this have a lot in common. Going deeper, if you hold to the historic Anglican formularies as the heart of Anglican theology, welcome to the Evangelical camp. Anglican theology is not exclusive to TEC or ACNA. Both, when they hew to the formularies, are beautiful expressions of
EFAC-USA wants to establish relationships among Evangelicals in TEC and ACNA. Evangelicals in both are working toward the same goal: the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If we have that in common, even though we are not in communion with one another, we can join together in evangelical work.
The unchanging Good News that Jesus Christ is for you is what needs to be shared with the world. We as Evangelicals recognize with the prophet Jeremiah that the word of God must be shared: “[H]is word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot” (Jer. 20:9).
God’s word is dual in focus: Law and Gospel. Each are to be proclaimed to a world that doesn’t see a need for salvation and thinks too highly of itself. God’s Law robs us of any righteousness that we think we may have and shows us the reality of our sinfulness. God’s Gospel shows us that “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8b). This proclamation of God’s two words is fruitful because God uses it to evoke repentance and faith. Evangelicals in TEC and ACNA should be able to say that in unison.
EFAC-USA fosters that kind of fellowship among Evangelicals. Bishop J.C. Ryle sums it up nicely when he says, “Let us keep up a kind, brotherly feeling towards all who love the same Saviour, believe the same doctrines, and honour the same Bible as ourselves.”
The Rev. James Rickenbaker is the Assistant Rector of Aquia Episcopal Church in Stafford, Virginia.