Monday, August 24, 2009

An Anti-Nicene Father?

One way to source the writings of the church fathers is through the extensive series known as the Ante-Nicene Christian Library (ANCL). Fossicking around in such materials one might come across one of the Nicene Canons which says there should only be one bishop in each region. A commenter on this site has repeatedly made the accusation that my church, ACANZP, is in contravention of this ancient ecclesiology with the arrangements we have agreed to in the Diocese of Waikato which means there are two bishops there as 'full bishops' rather than one being diocesan and the other assistant or suffragan. Perhaps we do have an Anti-Nicene father in our midst! This article, published widely in NZ media certainly bears witness to (a) a proud ownership of a unique episcopal arrangement, and (b) a clear sense in which each bishop has his own cathedra since there will shortly be two cathedrals for the diocese.

My questions are fairly innocuous relative to the strong accusations made against ACANZP by the commenter:

(i) might the Taranaki region within the Diocese of Waikato one day become a separate diocese?

(ii) does the Archbishop of York who is coming to the dedication festivities for the new cathedral know he is walking into an ecclesiological minefield?


Anonymous said...

It is unclear from your post whether you are in favour of this revisionist ecclesiology or when it came to your diocesan synod whether you campaigned vigorously against it and continue to do so vigorously provincially. Please correct my impression that this revisionism was never strongly theologically debated in NZ.

The catholic ecclesiology of one bishop leading in each diocese you make appear as if it is only in a Nicene canon. It is of course the consistent teaching of catholic Christianity found in Ignatius of Antioch, Eusebius, Cornelius, bishop of Rome, Cyprian, through to Alexander Schmemann, and John Zizioulas. I notice that after four days your post has had not a single response.

Your question about Taranaki one day becoming a diocese has no bearing on this revisionism.

Your question about the Archbishop of York is a good one. One can only presume until demonstrated otherwise that the good archbishop would be theologically and ecclesiologically well-formed and take as read that he was coming to dedicate a cathedral that was the single one in a diocese. One hopes you will have at least the courtesy to pursue your question and let him know yourself. Your many readers look forward to the response you receive from him.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Anonymous
Thank you for commenting. I suggest your questions about this 'revisionist ecclesiology' are better directed to our Primates, one of whom is the Bishop of Waikato. Apparently I have had a minor role in this revisionism by virtue of my membership of the Synod of the Diocese of Nelson. But I am not inclined at this stage in the proceedings to take up reversing this revisionism as the most urgent priority before me at the present time. This includes not being inclined to write to the Archbishop of York.

I am pleased to know that I have the ability to ask a good question!

Anonymous said...

Your role in this revisionism is neither “minor” nor merely “apparent.” You either assented to it or you didn’t. Which was it? Why the energy about things you can do nothing about (overseas) and no energy for your local issues about which you can do so much? As far as I know only one diocese had the theological nous to debate what Anon1 terms “Kiwi pragmatism.” What was the purpose of your post’s good question about embarrassing the Archbishop of York, his not knowing “he is walking into an ecclesiological minefield”? Is this merely further glee as his visit affirms this “ill-thought out Kiwi pragmatism. A bit like [affirming] the (non) bishop of the (non) Diocese of Navajoland” (Anon1)?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Anonymous
You flatter me as to my power to influence local issues here in ACANZP!