Thursday, June 4, 2009

Can TEC improve its relationship with the Communion?

My understanding of TEC in relationship to the wider Communion is that it includes a significant movement who want TEC to do its best in this relationship to demonstrate that it is a fine upstanding Anglican church. That movement led to resolution BO33 (see a post below re an update on another movement's push re BO33). I also understand that there are those in TEC who are willing to say, If the Communion will not walk with us - sad - but we will walk where we are walking, even if that means walking apart.

Then there seem to be some in TEC who may not care one whit either way, since their walk is so ... out there ... in a weird direction.

Like this story of the retired TEC bishop (but actively in charge of a San Francisco church) working on his memoirs, including personal reflections on the contributions entheogens have made to his mystical experiences.

Like me you may not have known what 'entheogens' are. (The word literally refers to generating the divine within). Here is the handy Wikipedia on Entheogens.

Well, ACANZP has its critics too - that we are liberal etc. But I cannot think of one Anglican down under I know who would take entheogens or feed them to their cats!

I wonder if Otis Charles has an idea at all how difficult he makes the task of the movement in TEC who are really, really trying to assist TEC to do its best in its relationship with the Communion?


Anonymous said...

Once again you present a small-minded attack on TEC. Where do you even find the time to dig up these obscure stories? And “why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?” Your province is minute in comparison to TEC. Should you not be dealing with the issues within your own church? What motivates this incessant attack on TEC? Your ministers are in general poorly educated. Some of your small diocese ordain dozens of untrained ministers at a time. Your province runs a tikanga system that the primates meeting, one of the instruments of Anglican unity, entreated you not do. You have two bishops running a diocese together equally contrary to all episcopal ecclesiology from the early church. Your worship life is in chaos and what is there is often barely recognisable as being part of historic Anglicanism both in texts or practice. You have squandered your stewardship of inherited financial bounty. Your churches are generally shrinking and aging alarmingly. You have well-hidden scandals to the highest levels. You have preaching and practice that is barely recognisably Christian. That you “cannot think of one Anglican down under [you] know who would take entheogens” I can well believe as you seem unaware that one of the leaders in the study of parapsychology is one of your own ministers. Magnify your province’s issues to the size of TEC and the Anglican Communion would have reason to worry indeed.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Anonymous
I can see I can turn to you to know what is going on in our corner of the world!
Here is one difference between TEC and ACANZP (granted that there are similarities): so far conservative evangelicals have not felt the need to leave in significant numbers. In TEC a number of our conservative brothers and sisters have felt compelled to leave, yet committed to remaining Anglican. Thus they have sought assistance from bishops from other jurisdictions. The uniform response from the hierarchy of TEC has been to resist such incursions while doing nothing to put anything right that has been wrong (with the one intriguing exception of the almost certain rejection of KT Forrestor's candidacy for the Bishop of Northern Michigan).

We are not perfect in ACANZP (but nor, for that matter, are we guilty of all you allege) but we are together, however, shakily.

Perhaps it is small-minded of me to critique and to question TEC; is it big-minded of TEC to refuse to countenance any official Communion recognition of ACNA?

Anonymous said...

So the fact that a small percentage of TEC have severed their relationship and that this has not formally happened in your province recently is your point. There are several reasons for this:

Economies of scale. You are missing my point how small you are in comparison to TEC. From your links you appear to be the only “conservative evangelical” website in your province, and from your stats you appear to have only about 10-20 New Zealand visitors a day. Your viewpoint is just not big enough to be a viable break-away. And should you break away, your group would not even be able to agree on such basics as whether or not to have women ministers.

Your chaos. I have already mentioned your poor education of ministers and the lack of discipline in your province. There is no need for anyone to break away as there is no consequence – your pulpits have everyone from atheists to fundamentalists without the slightest consequence. “In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.”

Your province ignored the entreaties of the primates meeting and went ahead and divided your church into tikanga. Someone who accepts this novelty would not understand why TEC cannot accept two parallel Anglican entities in the same place. In any case, why are you, who do not accept that TEC is part of the same religion as you, let alone Anglican, be interested in having TEC accept its break-aways as Anglican? Furthermore, it is not TEC who determines who is Anglican or not.

As to your claim that my list of issues within your province is incorrect, please show some integrity and let me and your other readers know specifically which one(s) I have incorrect.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Anonymous
There are many issues in ACANZP and some we are attempting to grapple with. Improving the education of our clergy is one of those attempts. I cannot prove to you that there are no 'untrained ministers' in our church but I think some ministers you may think fall into that category and their bishops and educators responsible for their training would be highly incensed if such accusation were made.

It is true that the Primates once requested that we do not go forward with our Tikanga system, but I am not aware whether they would still make that request. It is a necessary part of the particular cultural life of these islands. Personally I have argued that it should be a provisional and not a permanent feature of our governance structures.

The two bishops in the Diocese of Waikato are more than able to make an apologia for the episcopal ecclesiology of that Diocese. I suggest you take that up with them!

I do not agree that our worship life is in chaos. There is huge diversity in that life; arguably too much. But some of it is part of the missional drive of this church to survive: is it not part of being an apostolic church to always be in mission?

The charge that our worship life is often barely recognisable as being part of historic Anglicanisn both in texts or practice is a fair one to make - I sometimes make it myself - but I have noticed that I have received some robust defences.

Our churches are generally shrinking as a matter of census statistics but I dispute that they are aging alarmingly as many parishes defy that demographic charge.

You mention well hidden scandals to the highest levels. I think I know what you mean. Do you have proof to the highest standards required in law to bring such a charge into the public arena? I do not.

The charge 'preaching and practice that is barely recognisably Christian' seems grave until one remembers that for most of the 20th century such a charge could have been brought to bear on someone somewhere in the Anglican Communion, esp. its Western parts.

I have absolutely no idea whether our leader in the study of parapsychology has ever had anything to do with entheogens. Have you?

Finally, the squandering of resources: in what way has this happened? As far as I know our major trust funds are all in good heart. Perhaps you are referring to the ways in which the interest earned is expended? In that case it would be a wide ranging exercise to gather up all the data in order to substantiate the charge of squandering. It is not a charge I would bring from my (subjective) state of knowledge of these things.

Finally, you are putting words in my mouth re TEC: I am raising questions about its true state as an expression of Christianity and of Anglicanism. That does not mean that I have already answered the questions. But I look for better evidence than is being provided. No doubt you will charge me with looking in the wrong places. But there are two claimants to being true expressions of Anglicanism in the USA: I think it reasonable to ask whether both might be given their place in the Communion sun!

Anonymous said...

That you are so casual about one of the few motions every passed by the Primates Meeting when it applies to your own province contending that your disregard of them was “necessary”, in the context of your berating TEC when it attempts to satisfy Communion requests within its own integrity, is nothing less than astonishing. That an intelligent man like you cannot even imagine any alternative to your tikanga structure as a “part of the particular cultural life of these islands” is also beyond belief.

It is not for Waikato to present an apologia for altering orthodox episcopal ecclesiology as that was an alteration to your provincial canons, not solely applying to Waikato. If you are not in favour of this unorthodox ecclesiological innovation please have the strength and integrity to say so.

Similarly in response to your knowing of the hidden-in-plain-sight scandal in your province needing “proof to the highest standards required in law” – have you even bothered to ask those on the bench of bishops who dealt with it? In the tikanga you find so “necessary”? Or would you only have such interest if it was a story in TEC?

Finally, your most recent post agrees with my statement not yours. As a senior minister in your province you know of faithful Anglican parishes “in the doldrums”, you know of growing parishes – but for their growth areas they have abandoned Anglican liturgy, you do not know of “any” parish in your province following Anglican liturgy and growing! I can give you the liturgy including collect and readings that will be followed in TEC next Sunday – be they growing parishes or not. I know you cannot give me the liturgy, collect, and readings for this coming Sunday in your parishes – conservative evangelical or not. “In those days …every man did that which was right in his own eyes.”

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Anonymous,
I am grateful that you see me as intelligent. It is a small mercy in the context of defending our church and constantly being outflanked by you!

I do not wish personally to be casual about a decision of the Primates Meeting, not least because I have been disappointed about some casualness by others in regard to some recent primatial decisions. But by 'necessary' I mean that the unfolding process through the 1980s, itself a response to a certain 'casualness' by the pakeha side of our church in relation to the Maori side, led to a particular arrangement decided in 1990 which has a 'necessary' character to it in respect of the flow of history. No doubt the General Synods concerned with this (esp. 1988, 90, and 92) [of which I was not a part] could have decided differently as a matter of logic. But they did not. There were and remain good reasons for making and sticking to the decision they made. But there also remain reasons to wonder (as I do) how long these arrangements should remain in place, not least because of another history, the history of episcopacy, a history which (as I understand it) motivated the Primates to make the decision they made at the time of the formation of the Three Tikanga church. I suppose, to anticipate a fair point you could make about this view of things, that I want to have my cake and eat it too.

You make a very fair point re Waikato's arrangements being the arrangements agreed to by our General Synod and therefore we are all responsible for this episcopal innovation. To be honest I have not given this particular arrangement a lot of thought and perhaps I should. (I was not, incidentally, a member of the GSs concerned with this decision - that does not excuse me not having a view on the matter but it may clarify whether or not I was a participant in the debates prior to the decision being made and confirmed).

Am I in favour of this arrangement or not? I would need ot go into the detail of it. But, in general terms, I am not against ecclesiological innovation and, again, to anticipate a rejoinder, there are such innovations present in TEC and they should not be dismissed out of hand because of that (as, indeed, I am arguing that TEC should not dismiss out of hand the possibility of offering a welcoming hand of fellowship to ACNA).

Our bench of bishops, you imply, have all the proof they need to act on certain scandal(s) in our church. Have you written to them asking them to so act? (My point about proof was that I am not stupid and will not enter into a public debate about actionable matters on which I do not have proof).

I am not quite sure re your last paragraph what you are saying. If it is that my post today (Monday) is in agreement with your charge that our church life, liturgical life in particular is 'chaos' then I do not think that holds at all, at least not with respect to the lectionary. I made no comment about whether Anglican churches here following or not following the liturgy do or do not follow the lectionary. In my experience some of our informal services follow the lectionary.

In any case, perhaps, for I sense you write from offshore, you do not realise that our parishes are entitled canonically to follow at least two lectionaries (3 year cycle and two year cycle) so the fact that one certainly cannot say what readings will be followed in parish X on, say, Sunday 28th June 2009, has no bearing on the question of 'chaos'.

Anonymous said...

Correct me if I am wrong: as far as I know neither your General Synod nor any diocesan synod confirming your constitutional change to Tikanga were informed that the Primates Meeting had voted against it in one of the few motions ever made by them. Please re-read what I have written – your church is poorly informed, your ministers often poorly trained and out of touch with what is happening.

You SHOULD give the abandonment of traditional episcopal ecclesiology further thought – you would have at least had to discuss and vote on it at your diocesan synod!

You are confused about the relationship between TEC and ACNA. There have developed a number of break-away groups from TEC over the years resulting from changes to the Prayer Book, ordaining women, and so forth. These do not recognise TEC as authentically Anglican as you appear not to. ACNA exists in disagreement with TEC and came into existence solely for that purpose. Your suggestion makes no sense for TEC to offer “a welcoming hand of fellowship” to ACNA, ACNA’s existence is foundationally in contrast to TEC – the doors of TEC are open to them. I emphasise, you are seeing the situation through eyes confused by Tikanga novelty.

I am not sure why you expect me rather than you to write to your own bench of bishops. You are, furthermore, very confused in the tenses you use. They have acted – what you see is the result of them having acted. When the history books are finally written it will be this not your earlier one that has the bigger chapter although your earlier one has clearly impacted you as you note in a comment about the dating of abandonment of your Prayer Book by your province.

I am fascinated that your state your province does not have liturgical chaos when you go on to state that it allows 2 completely independent lectionary systems. Is that not part of your chaos? In fact you allow what you call the 3 year series and the two tracts of the Revised Common Lectionary as well. Just look at your Lectionary for the options for your coming Sunday and tell me it is not chaotic. You are the only province that allows ministers to choose their own collect and readings, conservative evangelical parishes show on their websites the complete abandonment of your lectionary, you are the only province that allows ministers to choose any Anglican consecration prayer from anywhere around the world for Holy Communion or write their own on a Sunday. Nothing in your Prayer Book appears binding on anyone any more – and if in theory it is, in practice it isn’t. No one is being disciplined for abandoning it anywhere in your province. If you are not seeing chaos, you are not getting out enough and spending too much time at your computer.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Anonymous
Unless informed otherwise I assume that you are correct: we were poorly informed about the Primates decision. Yes, I should think more about our ecclesiology and its episcopal novelties.

Am I confused about TEC and ACNA? Possibly. I note, however, that on a site such as Preludium (accessible from my blog), Mark Harris gives quite a bit of time and thought to what is going on with ACNA, and in his latest post acknowledges that TEC may have things to learn from ACNA. I happen to think that it is possible that TEC could acknowledge the validity of ACNA as an Anglican church in N. America. I accept that vice versa would be required.

I get out and about around our church so I think I know what I am talking about. You interpret the situation as 'chaos', I do not. You may be right but I think you would have to obtain some support from within ACANZP. I suspect that you would find it difficult because most would agree with me that the smorgasboard of possibilities we have is just that; but it is not chaos. That would be when someone overturns the table of culinary delights!

One reason for not acceding to your description of 'chaos' is that many parish churches here, perhaps even 'most' continue to faithfully follow the authorized liturgies of our church in at least one service each Sunday.