This is a denomination that began as an Evangelical Anglican protest against Anglo-Catholicism, with a proper Prayer Book and Articles, and has since deliberately moved away from the Anglican Faith into the wonderful world of modern evangelicalism.
The standards of official Anglicanism, namely, the BCP 1662, the 39 Articles, and the Ordinal, while mentioned in the constitution as the faith that they profess, are detested and rejected by the clergy with few, if any, exceptions.
At their seminary, George Whitefield College, excerpts of a modern liturgy are occasionally used, and then grudgingly. In my four years there I was the only man to ever use the BCP 1662 when leading Chapel, much to the amusement and scorn of my fellow students.
Vestments, of course, are completely out, a relic of another time. Ultra casual clothing, even Superman t-shirts, have been worn in the pulpit. Their bishops can occasionally be seen in their robes, But in over ten years in that church I saw them used twice.
As for the 39 Articles, well, what can I say? I sat in class at GWC listening to the Administrator, Alan Beckman, telling us that we have problems with them as they stand, and that we do not agree to their plain and grammatical sense. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are two obvious examples, not mentioning the article on predestination, the great unmentionable doctrine.
What are we to think then, when we discover that candidates for ordination swear before God and man that they believe and uphold the BCP 1662 and everything in it as being agreeable to scripture, knowing that they do not? Is there a single clergyman in that church whose conscience bothers him, even a little, when he remembers how he lied to God and man?
The facts are that the bishops have led the denomination in a headlong flight from the Anglican Faith into a version of broad American evangelicalism. They are Baptists with Bishops, plain and simple.
You can imagine my thoughts, then, when I read recently that this ex-Anglican church had been to GAFCON, and that they had agreed to the historical formularies of the Faith.
Either they are cynical liars, or they have had a change of heart. Perhaps the GAFCON thing will be the catalyst that brings them back into the fold. The present Presiding Bishop, Frank Retief, recently actually used the swear-word word, Anglican, to describe the CESA.
Knowing them from the inside as I do, I believe that their Baptistic and Arminian mindset is set in stone. For them to turn from the path that they have set their feet upon will require a rejection of all that they hold dear, and a return to a faith and worship they have long since thrown out as not worth retaining.