A conservative Anglican has rejected comments from a priest who believes The Episcopal Church has been "pilloried" and described in "misleading" ways.
"In his opinion piece, Professor Jones noted that one speaker described the American Church as 'preaching a new gospel' and declared that this was 'misleading, if not incorrect.' Not so," stated the Rev. J Philip Ashey, Chief Operating Officer of the conservative American Anglican Council.
Ashey was responding to a recent commentary written by the Rev. Dr. James W. Jones, professor of Religious Studies at Rutgers University in New Jersey and a priest in The Episcopal Church (TEC) – the U.S. arm of the global Anglican Communion.
Jones wrote in the Church Times, an Anglican weekly newspaper, that he heard The Episcopal Church "attacked in ways I certainly did not agree with" during the legislative meeting of the Church of England last month.
"As far as I remember (I did not take notes), one speaker said that the American Church was 'preaching a new gospel;' another said Americans were 'tearing the fabric of the Communion apart,'" Jones recalled from the General Synod meeting. "I wanted to stand up and defend my Church."
"I have been a priest for 40 years, and I regularly read the church Fathers and the Anglican divines; I hardly feel as if I am 'preaching a new gospel,'" he added in the March 6 commentary.
Ashey, whose church – South Riding Church in Virginia – broke from The Episcopal Church in 2005, rejected Jones' claims that the criticisms of the American church body were unfounded and untrue.
"The speaker at General Synod was correct," Ashey wrote in the latest newsletter of the American Anglican Council. "The American Church (TEC) is preaching a new gospel that radically departs from Anglicanism and historic Christianity."
"In their own words, the Presiding Bishop (head of The Episcopal Church) and her predecessors, bishops and other leaders of TEC have denied Jesus as the only way to the Father, denied the divinity and uniqueness of Jesus Christ as savior of the world, denied the resurrection, denied heaven and hell, denied salvation through the cross of Jesus Christ, denied the authority of Holy Scripture, denied the creeds, and denied biblical standards for human sexuality affirmed by the Anglican Communion in Lambeth Resolution 1.10 (1998)," he argued.
Lambeth Resolution 1.10 states that homosexual practice is incompatible with Scripture.
The comments come a month after the American Anglican Council delivered a report outlining the "heresies" of The Episcopal Church to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, who is the spiritual leader of the worldwide communion. The report, titled "The Episcopal Church: Tearing the Fabric of Communion to Shreds," details how The Episcopal Church has been "systematically destroying the foundations of Anglican Christianity within the United States" and why Anglicans in North America have been forced to separate from the TEC and form a new church body.
Dozens of churches have voted to sever ties with The Episcopal Church and realign with conservative Anglican provinces overseas, particularly since the 2003 consecration of the first openly gay bishop – Bishop V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.
"Those who have fled to other provinces of the Anglican Communion have been appealing to the rest of the Communion for protection from the American Church, and rightly so," Ashey said, citing lawsuits against churches that have disaffiliated.
"I have seen the persecution of orthodox clergy, experienced the pressure to conform to heretical theology, and heard the false gospel presented by the leadership of TEC. I don't make these claims lightly," he highlighted.
Conservative Anglicans are currently in the process of establishing a new North American province called the Anglican Church in North America – which is seen as a rival body to The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada. Breakaway Anglican groups, representing 100,000 Anglicans, are coming together to comprise the new body which is scheduled to hold its first assembly in June.