Monday, December 8, 2008

THE JERUSALEM DECLARATION: A Commentary for Anglicans in Uganda


The “Lay Commentary for Anglicans in Uganda” on the Jerusalem Declaration was written by The Rev. Prof. Stephen Noll. Prof. Noll served on the Drafting Committee of the Global Anglican Future Conference. He was assisted in preparation of this Commentary by staff of the Bishop Tucker School of Divinity and Theology at Uganda Christian University in Mukono.It was made available in five different African languages.

The Anglican Communion is the family of Christian churches historically related to the Church of England. Anglican Christianity came to Uganda in 1875 with the first missionaries sent from the Church Mission Society in England. After a time of troubles that led to the death of Bishop Hannington and the Uganda Martyrs in 1886, the Church of Uganda (Anglican) began to spread from Buganda to other regions of East Africa. The East African Revival, beginning in 1925 and continuing to this day, relit the flame of Anglican Christianity, so that today nine million Ugandans call themselves Anglican.

Anglican Christianity grew and prospered after the close of the colonial era. In 1965, the first Ugandan archbishop, the Most Rev. Erica Sabiti, was elected and the Church of Uganda became an independent “Province” of the Anglican Communion. The Anglican Communion now has 38 Provinces on six continents representing 80 million Anglicans. Bishops of the various churches normally attend the Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops held every ten years in Canterbury, England. However, Lambeth 2008 was different.

Over the past decade the Anglican Communion has been troubled by the actions of churches in North America. Despite a clear statement by the Lambeth Conference in 1998 that the practice of homosexuality is “incompatible with Scripture,” the Episcopal Church in the USA chose a practicing homosexual as bishop in 2003. The bishops of the churches in the Global South (Africa, Asia and South America) strongly denounced this action, but the Archbishop of Canterbury, the nominal head of the Communion, has been unwilling or unable to stop the practice. For this reason, bishops in Africa, including the House of Bishops of the Church of Uganda, warned him that they would not attend the 2008 Lambeth Conference if the renegade American bishops were invited. When he went ahead and invited them, these bishops organized a separate “Global Anglican Future Conference” in Jerusalem in June 2008. More than one hundred bishops and wives and other representatives from the Church of Uganda attended.

At the closing worship service of the seven day Conference, Archbishop Henry Orombi read the Conference Statement to the assembled members. The Jerusalem Declaration was part of the Statement, setting forth the basic beliefs of the Conference and the “Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans” that emerged from it. The Jerusalem Declaration was approved with joy by over one thousand delegates and 280 bishops from many countries, but chiefly from Africa. We think it says important things about what it means to be a Christian today, what it means to be part of a Global Anglican Communion. We therefore offer this brief commentary for lay people in our churches. May God speak through these words to build up His people!

THE JERUSALEM DECLARATION


In the name of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit:

We, the participants in the Global Anglican Future Conference, have met in the land of Jesus’ birth. We express our loyalty as disciples to the King of kings, the Lord Jesus. We joyfully embrace his command to proclaim the reality of his kingdom which he first announced in this land. The gospel of the kingdom is the good news of salvation, liberation and transformation for all. In light of the above, we agree to chart a way forward together that promotes and protects the biblical gospel and mission to the world, solemnly declaring the following tenets of orthodoxy which underpin our Anglican identity.

1.                  We rejoice in the gospel of God through which we have been saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. Because God first loved us, we love him and as believers bring forth fruits of love, ongoing repentance, lively hope and thanksgiving to God in all things.
2.                  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.
3.                  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.
4.                  We uphold the Thirty-nine Articles as containing the true doctrine of the Church agreeing with God’s Word and as authoritative for Anglicans today.
5.                  We gladly proclaim and submit to the unique and universal Lordship of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, humanity’s only Saviour from sin, judgement and hell, who lived the life we could not live and died the death that we deserve. By his atoning death and glorious resurrection, he secured the redemption of all who come to him in repentance and faith.
6.                  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 for each culture.
7.                  We recognise that God has called and gifted bishops, priests and deacons in historic succession to equip all the people of God for their ministry in the world. We uphold the classic Anglican Ordinal as an authoritative standard of clerical orders.
8.                  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.
9.                  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 baptise, teach and bring new believers to maturity.
10.              We are mindful of our responsibility to be good stewards of God’s creation, to uphold and advocate justice in society, and to seek relief and empowerment of the poor and needy.
11.              We are committed to the unity of all those who know and love Christ and to building authentic ecumenical relationships. We recognise the orders and jurisdiction of those Anglicans who uphold orthodox faith and practice, and we encourage them to join us in this declaration.
12.              We celebrate the God-given diversity among us which enriches our global fellowship, and we acknowledge freedom in secondary matters. We pledge to work together to seek the mind of Christ on issues that divide us.
13.              We reject the authority of those churches and leaders who have denied the orthodox faith in word or deed. We pray for them and call on them to repent and return to the Lord.
14.              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.

COMMENTARY

Naming Our God

In the name of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit:
The Jerusalem Declaration begins by naming the God we believe and serve.

Our God is one God in three Persons. The Jewish people, the children of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were called by God who declared: “Hear O Israel, the Lord is God, the Lord is One” (Deuteronomy 6:4). To this day, Christians, in continuity with this declaration, hold that there is only one God, Maker of heaven and earth.

This God, Christians say, has made Himself known as the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, as the famous hymn puts it, “God in three Persons, blessed Trinity.” How has He made Himself known?

He has made himself known as the Son, who saves us. “God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son that whoever believes in Him shall not die but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

The Son has made known the true nature of the Father. “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” (John 14:9)

We know the Father and the Son through the Holy Spirit. “We know that we live in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.” (1 John 4:13)

We know God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and we praise Him, saying “Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be. Amen.

It is this God who called Anglican Christians together in Jerusalem to worship Him. It is this God who sends all Christians out to witness to Him to the ends of the earth, baptizing in the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19).

Coming to the Land of Jesus

We, the participants in the Global Anglican Future Conference, have met in the land of Jesus’ birth.
In June 2008, one thousand Anglican Christians gathered in the Holy Land. We visited Bethlehem, the town where our Lord Jesus Christ was born. We visited the Sea of Galilee, where He called fishermen to follow him, healed the sick and performed miracles. We stood in the Garden of Gethsemane, where He prayed and where he was arrested. We walked the streets of Jerusalem, where He carried the cross. We saw the tomb where He was buried, which was empty on Easter morning and is empty today – because He is risen!

We express our loyalty as disciples to the King of kings, the Lord Jesus.
Jesus called the first disciples, saying: “Come, follow me, and I shall make you fishers of men” (Mark 1:17). He calls disciples in the same way today. Every Christian, however great or small, rich or poor, is a disciple. Jesus is the Master Teacher, and we are His students. When a person is confirmed, he is asked: “Do you promise to follow Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour?” We answer Yes, not only with our lips but with our lives.

We joyfully embrace his command to proclaim the reality of his kingdom which he first announced in this land.
Some kings use fear to get their people to obey them. Jesus is a different kind of King. He rules by love, and we obey Him because we love Him and trust His Word. His commands are not heavy because they fill us with joy (Matthew 11:28-29). We are asked to invite others, our family, friends and neighbours, into a new way of life, a kingdom that is different from any other on earth, one that is ruled by love, a love that lasts for ever. Who would not wish to be a messenger of this King and this Kingdom?

The gospel of the kingdom is the good news of salvation, liberation and transformation for all. The gospel means Good News (Luke 4:18,43). Most news in our newspapers or on radio is bad news: news of wars, news of deaths on roads, news of corruption and defilement. Imagine an “all good-news” newspaper or radio channel. The truth is, this world is full of darkness and evil (John 3:19). The truth is that God has sent His Son into this world to save us from evil: that is the good news of salvation. Being saved means being freed from the prison of sin: where the jailors of anger and fear and lust keep us in bondage. Jesus Christ has defeated Satan, who has kept us in chains, and He has led us into the light of day. Having freed us from the world, the flesh and the Devil, he now wants to transform us by His powerful Spirit. Think of the witness of John Newton, the slave trader who wrote the hymn “Amazing Grace”: “I once was lost but now I’m found, was blind but now I see.” The gospel is the good news that we too can be rescued from Satan, sin, death and hell.

In light of the above, we agree to chart a way forward together that promotes and protects the biblical gospel and mission to the world, solemnly declaring the following tenets of orthodoxy which underpin our Anglican identity.
The Gospel is the basic message of Christianity. It can be grasped by a peasant digging her field as well as by a prince or a bishop in his palace. In fact, Jesus calls His message “good news for the poor” (Luke 4:18). The Gospel is also “mere Anglicanism.” Anglicans are not some special tribe. They are simply Christians who have heard the good news through those who came originally from England and from those local people who heard their word and believed. These basic beliefs are called “tenets of orthodoxy.” “Tenets” are things a person holds dear, like family jewels. “Orthodoxy” means “correct belief.” The opposite of “orthodoxy” is called “heresy,” which means wrong belief. Wrong belief is now being held as true by some of the Anglican leaders and churches, especially in North America and Europe. They have got the gospel story wrong; in fact, they are holding to a different gospel, one that does not save, indeed that sees no need for a Saviour. It is because of the confusion this false gospel has sown in our worldwide church that Anglicans gathered in Jerusalem to find ways to protect and promote true belief or orthodoxy. The Jerusalem Declaration is a new statement, but it tells the old, old story “of Jesus and His glory, of Jesus and His love.”


  1. We rejoice in the gospel of God through which we have been saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. Because God first loved us, we love him and as believers bring forth fruits of love, ongoing repentance, lively hope and thanksgiving to God in all things.

One day the Evangelist Philip met a man from Ethiopia riding in a chariot and reading the Bible (Acts 8:26-40). The man was reading from the Old Testament Prophet Isaiah about a Man who suffered for others. “Who is the Prophet talking about,” the Ethiopian asked, “himself or another?” Then Philip preached the Gospel to him, explaining that the Prophet was speaking of Jesus. As they passed by some water, the Ethiopian asked to be baptized and became the first African convert, “and he went on his way rejoicing.” Since that day millions of Africans have rejoiced when they accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour.

Every man or woman who comes to Christ is “saved by grace through faith” (Ephesians 2:8). What do these words mean? Grace is the free gift of God’s love. God loved us before the world began. He created us in His image and He sent His Son to die for our sins. By grace, he gives us ears to hear the Gospel through preachers like Philip. And we accept His offer freely by faith, His grace working in us. We have faith when we put our whole trust in Jesus Christ. God pours His Holy Spirit into our hearts so that we might be born again and receive eternal life (John 3:4-8).

Anglicans, along with other Protestants (Evangelicals), hold that a person is “justified by faith alone.” Think of the thief on the cross, who called on Jesus to remember him (Luke 23:42). Jesus promised that man a place in Paradise without a single good deed. The apostle Paul, who had tried to be perfect according to the Jewish law, gave it all up “in order to gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ-- the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith” (Philippians 3:8-9).

Does that mean Christians do not need to do good? Does the Bible not say “faith without works is dead” (James 2:18-26)? Yes, Christians do need to do good. Indeed Jesus challenged His disciples to have a righteousness even greater than their Jewish opponents (Matthew 5:20). But Christian good works are not actions we do to earn God’s favour; rather they are actions we do out of thanks for God’s salvation. As we are saved by grace through faith, so we are also made holy by faith through the Holy Spirit working in us (2 Thessalonians 2:13; Ephesians 2:10). St. John describes the relationship between faith and action simply, saying: “we love, because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

When we are born again, we are set free from the power of sin and death (Romans 8:2). At the same time, so long as we live in this fallen world in our decaying bodies, we shall continue to fall into sin and need to turn back to the Lord in ongoing repentance. In the Prayer Book, after we confess our sins and receive the Lord’s Body and Blood for the forgiveness of sin, then we ask God “so to assist us by Your grace that we may do all those things which You have prepared for us to walk in.” As in Jesus’ parable, Christians are not to think like the Pharisee who thanked God that he was more righteous than other men, but rather like the publican who prayed, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner” (Luke 18:10-14).


  1. 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.

When Bishop Alfred Tucker came to Uganda in 1890, he told one of his missionaries, George Pilkington, to spend all his time translating the Bible into Luganda. Shortly before he was killed in a fight with Muslims, Pilkington completed his work, and the Bible passed into the hands of the evangelists such as Apolo Kivebulaya, who took the message of Christ far and wide through East Africa.

The very first words of the Bible are that “In the beginning God said… and it was so” (Genesis 1:1-3). John’s Gospel explains it this way: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God” (John 1:1). God is by His very nature a speaking God, and all creation, everything we know, holds together because of His Word and Wisdom. Wise men have always known that there is a Reason – some Africans call this Reason a Creator God - behind the world we see, what is true and good and beautiful. God’s Word is that Reason for all things. What the wise men did not know is that the Word was not far away and impersonal, but very near and Personal because “the Word became flesh and lived among us (John 1:14). Jesus Christ is the Word of God!

If Jesus is the Word, then what is the Bible? It too is God’s Word. “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son” (Hebrews 1:1-2). The Old Testament is God’s word to the people of Israel, preparing the way of the Lord, who is called Messiah or Christ. The Jews looked for Him in various forms: as prophet, as priest, as king, and Jesus said to them: “You search the scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness to me” (John 5:39). But most of them could not accept the Word made flesh. Those who did accept him were His witnesses, and their report of Him is found in the New Testament. So both Old and New Testament point to Jesus Christ: the Old looking ahead to Him who was to come, and the New testifying of Him who had come.

This record of Jesus as the Word was written down in various ways and times. It includes the 39 books of the Old Testament and the 27 books of the New Testament. Joined together, these 66 books are called the canon (or rule) of Scripture. The Church has received this canon, but it cannot change it or add to it because it is chosen by God - “God-breathed” - for our benefit (2 Timothy 3:16-17). St. John states the purpose of Scripture clearly: “These things are written so you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:31). The Bible contains all things we need to know for salvation and for living a life pleasing to God. Other books have useful information about all sorts of things, but this book only is the road map to heaven.

Therefore it is important for every Christian to read the Bible, mark down what it says, memorize its verses, and take it in like food for our souls. The first Christians in Uganda were called “readers,” but in fact all Christians are to become Bible readers. Those who cannot read learn the Scripture by memory. They are also to be hearers of the Word, because God calls preachers and teachers to proclaim and explain the full meaning of His Word. And they are to be doers of the word, putting the words into action (James 1:22).

Christians throughout history have taken God at His Word in Scripture. Jesus said to Peter and John: “Come, follow me,” and they left their nets and followed him. God said to St. Francis, “Build my church,” and he began to rebuild the church, first physically, then spiritually. God told Aberi Balya, who became the first African bishop in Uganda: “Take off your shoes, you are on holy ground” (Exodus 3:5), and he walked barefoot for the rest of his life. Christians like these have read Scripture before us and have left their conclusions in writing. We can learn from those who came before, both to guide us to a common mind in the right way of understanding Scripture and to avoid false interpretations that always sprout alongside the good seed of the Word (Mark 4:15-20).

Sadly, today some Anglicans, highly educated ones in fact, have lost confidence in the Bible as God’s Word. Once they have lost this anchor, their views of God and Jesus and salvation drift like a boat on open seas. They miss the message of salvation in Scripture as they hawk new readings unknown to God’s church, like vendors selling cheap watches on the roadside. The Jerusalem Declaration is resetting that anchor of our Christian hope on the firm foundation of the Word of God. Not for the first time, God has chosen the humble who read the plain meaning of the Bible and blinded those who are wise in their own eyes and twist the Scripture (1 Corinthians 1:21). Today it seems Africans in particular are called to stand firm for the plain truth of God’s Word.


  1. 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.

In the Jerusalem Declaration, Anglicans commit themselves to the “old old story” of salvation in Scripture. They also commit themselves to the church of the ages. Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and for ever; so also His church will stand on the Rock and the gates of hell will not threaten it.

Many Anglicans recite the creed every week without asking where it came from and why it is important. Christians are heirs of a long history of those who believe all the way back to Abraham and Moses and Peter and Paul. The Church itself has a 2000-year history in which it learned lessons about the truth revealed in Scripture. In the first five centuries after Christ (AD), Christians struggled to understand and teach the full nature of the Trinity – one God in three Persons – and of Jesus Christ as fully God and fully Man. Heretics took parts of the New Testament and distorted its witness, just as some modern teachers do today. During these five centuries the bishops of the worldwide church met in council to settle these matters four times in four different cities (Nicaea 325 AD, Constantinople 381 AD, Ephesus 431 AD and Chalcedon 451 AD). These Councils are called Ecumenical, a word which means of universal, relevance, and they confirmed the apostolic teaching – sometimes called the “rule of faith” - about God in Three Persons and Jesus Christ as the God-Man. Their decisions on this subject define “orthodox” or “catholic” belief, and Anglicans consider themselves orthodox and catholic because they believe these creeds and councils are true. They share this belief with Roman Catholics and with Eastern Orthodox as well as with most Protestants. There were later Councils as well that dealt with other matters of the faith. Some Christians accept them as having binding authority; others do not.

As for the Creeds, the Apostles’ Creed is the shortest. It outlines briefly the nature of God the Father, Maker of heaven and earth. It recounts the key moments of Jesus’ life, His Virgin Birth, His suffering and death under Pontius Pilate, His going down into hell (the place of the dead), His Rising to life and going up into heaven, and His Second Coming in glory. It then turns to God the Holy Spirit in the universal church, which includes the communion of saints across space and time. It concludes with several other key teachings: the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body at the end of this age and life everlasting in the age to come. The Nicene Creed includes the teachings of the Apostles’ Creed, but adds an explanation of the Trinity, particularly saying that Jesus is fully God, being of one being or nature with the Father, and that the Holy Spirit is Lord, proceeding from the Father and the Son. The Athanasian Creed is not used as often in church. It expands further on the nature of the Trinity and the Divine Manhood of Jesus Christ, and it makes clear that right belief is necessary for salvation and that those who deny orthodox belief cut themselves off from the true church.


  1. We uphold the Thirty-nine Articles as containing the true doctrine of the Church agreeing with God’s Word and as authoritative for Anglicans today.

Christians have found it helpful to summarise their faith in short statements. “Jesus Christ is Lord!” and “Come Lord Jesus!” are early statements of faith found in the New Testament (Philippians 2:11; Revelation 22:20). The Creeds are themselves summaries of important teaching at a critical moment in history. Another such time was the Reformation of the 16th century in Europe. At that time, the Protestant churches recovered the centrality of faith in Christ and the authority of Scripture as the Word of God. Among these churches, the Protestant Church of England under Archbishop Thomas Cranmer produced a summary of faith called the Articles of Religion, also known as the Thirty-Nine Articles. The Articles are included in the Book of Common Prayer. For most of Anglican history, these articles have been accepted as the official teaching of the Church. In the twentieth century, however, the Church of England loosened its commitment to the Articles and the American Church has set them aside almost entirely. The Jerusalem Declaration aims to put them back in their proper place as our authority in matters of doctrine.

Let’s take a quick overview of the Articles.

Articles 1-5 affirm the teaching of the Creeds on the nature of God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit and the full Deity and Manhood of Jesus Christ.
Articles 6-8 are very important because they establish the sole authority of the Bible as God’s Word: “Scripture contains all things necessary for salvation” which means that no other beliefs can be required than those clearly taught in the Bible. Even the Creeds are true because they are biblical. The articles go on to list the 66 books of the Bible and state that “the Old Testament is not contrary to the New, for in both the Old and New Testament, everlasting life is offered to mankind by Christ.”
Articles 9-18 state the way of salvation found in the Gospel. Because of our inborn sinfulness, we cannot please God by our own free will. We are saved by God’s grace and Christ’s death for our sins, not by any works we do before or after baptism but only by faith in Him, “for Holy Scripture sets out for us only the nature of Jesus Christ by which we can be saved.”
Articles 19-22 speak of the Church. The Church does have authority to order its life in its particular cultural setting, but because Scripture is supreme, “it is not lawful for the church to ordain anything contrary to God’s Word written.” Church councils and traditions, however old, are not infallible and are subject to the Bible. The Roman Catholic teaching on purgatory as a place to work off one’s sins is contrary to the gospel offer of everlasting life to all who believe.
Articles 23-34 cover the ministry and sacraments. Ministers in God’s church are to be called to preach and minister the sacraments. The two Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion are to be understood as “sure witnesses and effective signs of God’s good will to us.” Other rites like confirmation, marriage, ordination, private confession and anointing with oil are not sacraments, since Christ ordained only those two.
Articles 36-39 speak to political duties. One duty is to honour those in authority; another is to be a good steward of private property; the final duty is to limit oath-taking to formal legal occasions, with no loose taking of the Lord’s Name in vain.

The Thirty-Nine Articles were written almost 500 years ago for the Church in England. Some issues they address do not apply to modern society or other cultures. Some issues, like homosexuality, were not even mentioned because its condemnation seemed self-evident from the Scriptures. Even after all these years, the Articles give global Anglicans clear lights to steer by.


  1. We gladly proclaim and submit to the unique and universal Lordship of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, humanity’s only Saviour from sin, judgement and hell, who lived the life we could not live and died the death that we deserve. By his atoning death and glorious resurrection, he secured the redemption of all who come to him in repentance and faith.

Jesus said: “All authority in heaven and earth is mine” (Matthew 28:16). He is Lord over all things, and He is Lord over our lives. Jesus said: “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). He is the only Saviour, He is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world. He is the Rider on the White Horse, who has conquered Satan, the ancient dragon and his forces of darkness (Revelation 19:11-20).

Jesus lived the life we could not live because we are children of Adam, bearing Adam’s burden of sin and curse of death (Romans 5:12-21). Though equal to God, Jesus humbled himself to become man, being born as a servant. Though without sin, he became sin for us, enduring the curse of the Cross for our sake (2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:13).

Here is what St. Paul says of Jesus’ atoning death: “God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished – he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus (Romans 3:25-26). Receiving His righteousness by faith, we sing, “O, the Blood of Jesus, it cleanses white as snow.”


  1. 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 for each culture.

Anglicans through the years have given praise and thanks to God for the sacrifice of His Son in the words of the Book of Common Prayer:

All glory be to thee, Almighty God, our heavenly Father, for that thou, of thy tender mercy didst give thy only Son Jesus Christ to suffer death upon the Cross for our redemption; who made there (by his one oblation of himself once offered) a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation and satisfaction for the sins of the world.

These ancient words – redemption, or buying back; oblation, or full offering; satisfaction, meeting the demands of justice – all point to the once-for-all act of atonement, another ancient word meaning reconciliation of enemies (Romans 5:10-11). These words of course come to most Africans and others not in their original English but in translation. This is good and right, because Archbishop Thomas Cranmer when he wrote them intended them to be “understood by the people.” Before that time, the only language of worship was in Latin, known only to scholars. After that time, the Bible and the Prayer Book were in the vernacular so that the ordinary person could join in.

One scholar has talked about “mission as translation.” The first missionaries learned the local languages and saw translation as a first priority, but they also saw value in keeping the substance, the liturgy of the Prayer Book and Hymnals. “Liturgy” is a word meaning the “work of the people.” At the same time liturgy forms the way people think and pray. So we say “praying shapes believing.” Anglicans have been blessed by beautiful and powerful prayers like the “Collect for Purity,” the “General Thanksgiving” and the “Prayer of Humble Access.” These have continuing power to shape our lives as Christians. At the same time, influences from the modern and global environment should also enrich worship. The Kenyan liturgy, for instance, has added distinctive African features and African choruses like “Jabulane, Africa” [“Sing for Joy, O Africa”] and “Lubanga na te” [“God is with us”] should take their place along more traditional hymns like “Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus.”

The Jerusalem Declaration claims that the classic Book of Common Prayer remains the standard for other revisions and adaptations, but also that such revisions and adaptations should be encouraged so that Anglican worship can reach and strengthen people who come from very un-English backgrounds.


  1. We recognise that God has called and gifted bishops, priests and deacons in historic succession to equip all the people of God for their ministry in the world. We uphold the classic Anglican Ordinal as an authoritative standard of clerical orders.

God has always chosen political leaders for His people from Abraham to Moses to Joshua to David. God has chosen prophets to speak truth to His people, from Elijah to Isaiah to Daniel. He has also chosen priests to teach and lead His people in worship from Levi to Aaron to Zadok. In Jesus Christ, all these roles of prophet, priest and king combine, as He is all in all. Jesus himself chose twelve apostles and gave them authority to preach the gospel and heal the sick (Luke 9:2). After His resurrection, He renewed the commission of the apostles to be His witnesses to the ends of the earth.

St. Paul describes a variety of leadership roles: “In the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues” (1 Corinthians 12:28). Some of these gifts are charismatic, depending on specific and even temporary gifts of the Holy Spirit. In another place Paul describes a more regular order of ministry: “His gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers” (Ephesians 4:11) The purpose of these ministers working together was “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” (verse 12). It is very important to note that a clergyman is not intended to do all the work of the church. Rather he is like a coach, training the laypeople to reach their neighbours for Christ.

At yet a later stage fixed leadership arises in the church in the offices of deacon, presbyter (priest) and bishop. Deacons were church social workers, distributing goods to the poor and visiting the sick. Priests and Bishops seem to have overlapping roles overseeing the congregations and house churches. About one hundred years later, the bishop was recognized as the sole head of a particular diocese, while a number of priests served under him.

This historic succession of the threefold pattern of ministry has been maintained in the Anglican churches down to the present. The Book of Common Prayer contains an “Ordinal” with services for the Ordination of a Deacon and a Priest and the Consecration of a Bishop. The word “ordination” means that a person is called by God into a spiritual office not of his own making. All those ordained are “ministers” in the sense that they are called to serve God’s people, just as Jesus served His disciples. The priest is above all a pastor and teacher, and he receives a symbolic Bible and is commissioned to “preach the Word of God.” Bishops are also priests but they are consecrated to lead a diocese; archbishops are bishops who are appointed to lead a group of dioceses called a Province.

The Jerusalem Declaration is reaffirming the historic pattern of ministry. However, for the church to flourish, it must raise up able and gifted clergy to lead the flock. The Christian ministry is not a paved highway to worldly success, but it comes with a rich promise from our Lord when he says: "no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields-- and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life” (Mark 10:29-30).


  1. 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.

“God made man in His own image…male and female He made them” (Gen 1:27).
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” (Gen 2:24).

These two sentences contain one of the deepest truths of all the world. “It’s a boy!” we cry, or “It’s a girl!” when a child comes into the world. The pastor stands up and says: “I announce that John, the son of… , plans to wed Mary, the daughter of…” How much our lives are shaped around this plain truth of God making us for each other. The Lord Jesus Himself recognized the love and joy of marriage when he attended a wedding feast at Cana and gave the couple much fresh wine to enjoy the event (John 2:1-10). He referred back to God’s purpose when he taught that marriage is lifelong and intended for one man and one woman (Mark 10:6-8).

The Prayer Book says that God ordained marriage for the mutual love of partners, for the procreation of children and for the avoidance of sexual immorality. Each of these purposes is necessary for the happiness of the human family and the well-being of society. Children in particular are a blessing from the Lord (Psalm 127:3-5) and it is duty of parents to protect and nurture them. As they are “knit together from the moment of conception in the mothers womb’ (Psalm 139:13), children must be protected from violence. Therefore the Church must speak out against the practice of abortion, abuse and defilement.

The “unchangeable standard of Christian marriage” is both natural and unnatural, easy and hard to maintain. It is obvious that males and females are born in equal numbers so that one man, one women makes sense. At the same time, some males in their greed for sex and power often take for themselves more than one woman. This is polygamy and it has been practiced through most of history and in many cultures. It is common, but it is not the Christian way. Why? First of all, God’s standard looks to stability for children and society, whereas polygamy involves jealousy and rivalry and hatred. God’s standard looks to the equal status of man and woman, father and mother; polygamy involves men dominating women.

Finally, God’s standard seeks to put love first, seeks to see in human love something of the exclusive relationship of love that God has with his people, that Christ has for His Church. St. Paul puts it this way: “Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:24-25). This kind of mutual submitting of wife to husband and husband to wife cannot happen in multiple relationships. It can only happen when two people commit all they have to each other and do so with the help of God.

Marriage is God’s way for most people, but it is not the only way. Young people live for many years before they wed and old people often survive for years as widows. A few people spend their whole lives single, whether by choice or by accident. God has a plan for them as well. Jesus speaks of “eunuchs” for the Kingdom of God, that is people who have sacrificed sexual relations in order to serve a higher good, the Kingdom of God (Matthew 19:12). Many of the great saints, many of the missionaries did not marry in order to carry out their work. All these single people are called by God to abstinence, putting away physical fulfillment of desire. Married couples in their own way practice purity by keeping faithful to each other and putting aside any temptations to adultery.

For many Africans, homosexuality is a taboo subject. Christians need to give reasons for their convictions. To understand homosexuality, we must see it in the context of God’s good purposes in marriage and the perversion of those purposes by human lust. Scripture says that homosexuality, along with idolatry, is a sign of man’s fallen desires. It is important for Christians to uphold God’s standard and resist those, in the church or outside it, who promote homosexuality. It is also important for Christians to condemn the sin and love the sinners (John 8:11). Many homosexuals come from broken families or schools where sexual defilement is common. They need patient love to find help and healing, and they must find it from caring Christians.

Good marriages make a good society, but a corrupt society will corrupt marriage as well. In Western churches, the tolerance of divorce and remarriage, which is a kind of polygamy, has undermined the authority of the church in society. Likewise in Africa, many prominent Christians have “customary” wives on the side and this has weakened the Church’s voice in society. The Jerusalem Declaration calls the church both North and South to repent and return to God’s standard of “one man, one woman, two sexes, one flesh.”


  1. 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 baptise, teach and bring new believers to maturity.

Jesus gave two Great Commandments, “Love God and love your neighbour” (Mark 12:30-31) and one Great Commission, where he says:

"All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matthew 28:18-20).

The Great Commission is a call to “mission,” which involves first of all evangelising those who do not know Christ and bringing them to baptism and full conversion and maturity. It was God’s great plan in choosing one nation, the children of Abraham, that in his offspring all the nations would be blessed (Genesis 12: 3). Israel was to be a light to the nations (Isaiah 49:6). Israel’s destiny was fulfilled by Jesus Christ, who came to save not only the Jewish people but every nation, tribe, people and language (Revelation 7:4-9).

The Great Commission is given to the apostles and through them to the whole church. Some members literally go out to foreign lands, which is how they came to Africa. Other members pray for the mission work. Others give financially to support the work. Some missionaries witness to Christ through works of love in areas such as medicine and health, education, disaster relief and economic development.

Whereas most mission work in the 19th century was done by Europeans, sometimes in a patronizing way, in the late 20th and 21st century, mission is seen more in terms of partnership among equals. Many Christians from nations that had been evangelized are now sending their own missionaries to other lands. Sometimes these missionaries have easier access to the local people than a Westerner would have. Effective missionary work requires cross-cultural knowledge and sensitivity, learning local languages and accepting local customs that are not directly against God’s Word.

About 3 billion people, more than half the world’s population, have never heard the Gospel for themselves. Since our God seeks to be worshipped by every nation, tribe, people and language (Revelation 7:9), Christians have a privilege and duty to pray and work to reach these peoples. We thank God that today the gospel is spreading rapidly in parts of Africa and in China.


  1. We are mindful of our responsibility to be good stewards of God’s creation, to uphold and advocate justice in society, and to seek relief and empowerment of the poor and needy.

When God created Adam, he placed him in the Garden of Eden to “tend and keep it” (Genesis 2:15). Mankind is neither to be a lord over the earth nor a slave to it. After the Fall, work becomes burdensome as man struggles to make the earth productive. The woman too labors in pain to bring forth children, and the good housewife works from early morning to evening at home (Proverbs 31:10-31). Hard work is also rewarding, and the harvest of success is the reward of much planning and effort. In a global society, work has become increasingly compartmentalized with each “professional” focusing on a particular task. Often these jobs involve more mental work than physical, but the same attitude of diligence is required (Proverbs 10:4). Care for the environment is an aspect of stewardship. It includes large issues like global warming and small matters of keeping a compound clean and attractive.

God has also instituted government to punish crime and maintain justice (Romans 13:1-7). Each person is a subject or citizen and is obligated to obey the law of the land and to pay taxes to “Caesar” (Mark 12:17). The governor is himself subject to the government of laws and a constitution and finally to God Himself. In a democratic society, citizens take some responsibility for the conduct of government, especially through elections. They must therefore keep informed through the news media. The Church is not directly involved in politics, but it does lay down basic moral rules that have political implications. For instance, the Church maintains that God gives life and takes it away. Therefore the practice of abortion is not only taking a human life but grasping authority that belongs to God alone.

The Bible and the Lord Jesus show a special concern for the poor (Leviticus 25; Matthew 19:21). Giving alms is a requirement of the Jewish law and of Jesus as well. In response to this concern, the early church appointed deacons to see that no member went hungry. The church has founded hospitals and orphanages for the wider society as well. In many countries, governments have taken over many of the social services, but it remains true that church leaders are often the most effective in social work because they know the poor and have their trust. They are also called to hold governments accountable, to uphold human dignity and rights and to oppose corruption and exploitation.

Charity to the poor is a virtue, but empowerment is equally important. A Chinese proverb says: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Empowerment looks to equip poor people to support themselves. We believe that God has given everyone certain abilities and the will to survive and do well. Christians in the helping professions should not try to keep others dependent on them but rather challenge them to become independent. There are many ways today that poor people can raise themselves. One is through education. Another is through micro-enterprise projects. Capacity-building is a political matter as well. Governments must fight corruption and make laws that make it possible for their people to use their God-given property and talents. Once again, the church may initiate its own projects as well as holding government accountable.


  1. We are committed to the unity of all those who know and love Christ and to building authentic ecumenical relationships. We recognise the orders and jurisdiction of those Anglicans who uphold orthodox faith and practice, and we encourage them to join us in this declaration.

Unity among Christians is at the heart of the gospel. On the night before He died, our Lord Jesus Christ offered to His Father this prayer concerning His Church: "My prayer is not for [these disciples] alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you” (John 17:20-21). It is said of the first gathering of the church: “All the believers were together and had everything in common” (Acts 2:44). Of course, as the church grew and the gospel passed from nation to nation, Christians were separated by time and space and by culture. Nevertheless, they sensed they were part of one, holy catholic and apostolic church.

From the very beginning Satan has been at work sowing divisions between believers. In particular, Christians often have shown partiality based on class or race or tribe, and this division has reached tragic proportions in genocides in supposedly Christian countries. The official church has also been divided by Catholic and Protestant, or by Anglican and Pentecostal. Following our Lord’s wish, Church leaders are called to break down artificial barriers and seek to build ecumenical relationships with other church leaders. Catholics and Protestants, for instance, have much more in common with each other than with secularists or Muslims.

Even among Anglicans, there have been very sad divisions. Some of these are based on matters of truth, and these cannot simply be ignored. Some believing Anglicans in North America have been forced to leave the church buildings and clergy have been removed from office because they will not accept the practice of homosexuality in the Church. The Jerusalem Declaration offers them the hand of fellowship across the ocean and across official church lines.


  1. We celebrate the God-given diversity among us which enriches our global fellowship, and we acknowledge freedom in secondary matters. We pledge to work together to seek the mind of Christ on issues that divide us.

St. Paul describes the Church as a Body, with many parts working together. “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in every one. (1 Corinthians 12:4-6) Every parish church needs all the people working together, not just the clergy, not just the Mothers’ Union, but all of them.

In the worldwide church, there is also a wide variety of cultures, but we are to speak together to the glory of God. On the day of Pentecost, they exclaimed:

How is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians, we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God." (Acts 2:8-11)

As of now, the Anglican Communion has 38 provinces on all habitable continents of the world, representing all races, hundreds of languages, and vast differences of wealth. In addition to these cultural differences, the Communion represents a variety of spiritual traditions. Some Anglicans learned their faith from the Evangelical missionaries, who emphasized preaching and Bible reading and who taught that alcohol is sinful. Other Anglicans come from a more “catholic” tradition, which emphasizes frequent Communion, calling the pastor “Father” and remembering saints’ days. Yet others are more pentecostal, with worship choruses, speaking in tongues, and prophecies. Some Anglicans ordain women as priests and others think it is unbiblical. Some Anglicans think Jesus is truly present in the Communion bread and wine; others believe Jesus is present in the Communion but not in the physical elements themselves.

These are some of the important but secondary differences among those who agree on the essential truths of the faith outlined in the Creeds and the Articles of Religion. The Jerusalem Declaration represents a variety of Anglicans, and we are committed to listening patiently to each other on these secondary matters.


  1. We reject the authority of those churches and leaders who have denied the orthodox faith in word or deed. We pray for them and call on them to repent and return to the Lord.

“How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity” (Psalm 133:1). Unfortunately, sometimes they do not. Worse still, sometimes it appears that they are false brothers and false shepherds that lead Christ’s flock astray. In that case the good shepherd must take action.

Jesus lays down the following rule for confronting a brother or sister who has sinned against you.

"If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.' If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector. "I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. (Matthew 18:15-18)

This rule applies not only to individuals but to churches and church leaders as well. Indeed it has happened in our beloved Anglican Communion. Ten years ago, the Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops voted 526 to 70 that homosexual practice is “incompatible with Scripture” and “cannot be advised.” The leaders of the official Anglican churches in North America deliberately refused to follow this Resolution, and in 2003 they made a man bishop who had divorced his wife and was living with another man (now this couple claim to be married). After repeated warnings, the churches of the Global South took the last step of breaking communion with the Episcopal Church in North America.

To break communion means that you will no longer break bread together in the Holy Communion. It means that the Anglican Communion is like a garment that has been ripped at the seams. In breaking communion with the official Episcopal Church, the churches in the Global South recognized that there were many faithful Anglicans stranded there. In fact, these people have been persecuted through lawsuits and clergy have lost their positions. It is in that context that the Jerusalem Declaration states that we shall not recognize the authority of a heretical church. It is for that reason that the Primates’ Council of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans called for a new Province in North America to be recognized. It is sad that such action was necessary, since we bear the common name Christian and Anglican, but not to act would be worse, as it would compromise our witness in the wider world. We should pray that they would turn to God, but until they do, we have to follow our Lord’s advice and have nothing to do with them.


  1. 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.

In the Nicene Creed we say: “He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead.” We expect that as Jesus came in Bethlehem at Christmas, so He will come again to bring time and history to an end. He himself promised this when he said: “you will see the Son of man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven" (Mark 14:62). When Jesus ascended bodily into heaven, two angels told the disciples: “Men of Galilee, why stand you gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who is taken up from you into heaven, shall come in the same manner as you have seen him go into heaven (Acts 1:11).

How are we to live in the meantime, between the first and second coming of Jesus? The Book of Acts goes on to show how. The apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost and became witnesses of Jesus to the ends of the earth. They prayed for and expected God to work miracles in their midst (Mark 16:17). That is why the world is full of Christians today and why we need to reach others with the message of hope. Jesus told His followers on the night he was betrayed that they would do “greater things” because he was going to the Father and when the Holy Spirit came (John 14:12). Jesus’ earthly ministry lasted only three years and covered a very small territory. In sending the Holy Spirit through the church, Jesus’ gospel has spread to millions of people over the entire globe and two thousand years of history whose lives have been transformed by faith in Him.

When will it all end? "No one knows about that day or hour,” Jesus said, “not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Mark 13:32). Christians should be expectant, like a mother preparing to give birth. St. Paul gives us good mid-wife advice:

Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, "Peace and safety," destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:1-11)

The birth-pangs of the new creation may not be easy. The Book of Revelation portrays a time when Satan – the ancient Serpent – makes war on those who obey God’s commandments and hold firm to their testimony to Jesus (Revelation 12:17). Again, the history of the church is written in the blood of the martyrs, those who like the page-boys in Uganda, would rather die than renounce their true King Jesus. The past century has seen more martyrs than all the others put together, saints whose faith is known only to God. The Book of Revelation also lets us see the end of the story, the outcome of the last battle: RSV “[His enemies] will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful." (Revelation 17:14)

So also we say with all the church, Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!


12 Dec 2008

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