Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Anglican Communion and the Anglican Church of North America (2)

Around Christmas time, having anticipated this series of posts in my last post for 2011, I found that Mark Harris at Preludium made a post about my views re the AC/ACNA with many ensuing comments, some of which I made, and now joined by comments here, including Andrew Reid's thoughtful points re post (1). The long and short is, of course, practically, realistically speaking, at least four conditions would need to be fulfilled before ACNA could even look like being admitted to Communion membership:

(1) ACNA and TEC recognise each other's right to exist as a bona fide 'Anglican' church for the territory of the USA; ditto ACNA and ACCan re Canada.

(2) Reconciliation is achieved in respect of outstanding disputes re property.

(3) ACNA, TEC and ACCan mutually recognise that the breadth of global Anglicanism in North America is best represented by an arrangement whereby all three churches operate in that region.

Don't say what you are tempted to say about 'flying pigs' ...

Andrew Reid makes an excellent point when he alerts to the danger of encouraging schism by accepting dual or multiple jurisdictions (saving the ones already existing).

One response to make (which I am inclined to make) is that we can consider whether exceptional circumstances exist which warrant accepting dual or multiple jurisdictions.

Three such exceptional circumstances already exist within the Anglican Communion:

(a) the respectively American and British oriented jurisdictions in Europe where (I suppose) the exceptional circumstance is the cultural differences between Americans and British residing, permanently or temporarily, in European cities and resorts;

(b) the arrangements of my own church the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, whereby up to three different bishops may have jurisdiction in a given area (such as my own city where Pakeha clergy are under the jurisdiction of Bishop Victoria Matthews, Maori clergy under the jurisdiction of Bishop John Gray, and one deacon is under the jurisdiction of Bishop Winston Halapua, the Bishop of Polynesia who lives in Suva, Fiji. While these arrangements have been questioned in the past by the Communion (by the Primates specifically), our church remains represented at ACC, the Primates, and at Lambeth Conferences;

(c) with appropriate permissions granted by the local Australian bishops, etc, our Maori bishops share responsibility for Maori congregations in the Australian cities of Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.

In the cases of (b) and (c) I assume that 'exceptional circumstances' revolve around cultural differences between Maori, Pakeha, Australians and Polynesians, along with the belief that those cultural differences mean the best way for ministry and mission to occur along cultural lines is through different jurisdictions within the same geographical areas.

A potentially fruitful question to ask about the situation in North America is whether cultural differences are involved in the disputes which have arisen there. After all, the conflict going on between 'left' and 'right', between 'GOP' and 'Democrats', or between 'Tea Party' and the rest are described in terms of culture wars!

If cultural differences in one part of the Communion lead to accepted dual or multiple arrangements re jurisdiction, why not in another part? I can already think of objections!!

To be continued ...


Father Ron Smith said...

One place where 'cultural difference' exists (re 'Anglican Provenance') is in South Africa. Here, as seems quite appropriate, the breakaway faction is not part of the Anglican Communion. And this situation is recognised by most of the Anglican Primates - especially in the Province where the split occurred - a primary consideration.

I suspect that this situation is not too different from that in the U.S.A. and Canada. Those who have schismatically departed from their parent Anglican bodies on grounds of theological disputes would need to repent of their schism, in order to resume their proper place in the Anglican Communion.

Authentic Anglicanism is founded on Scripture, Tradition and REASON - not 'Sola Scriptura'.

carl jacobs said...

Peter Carrell

This discussion requires a good definition of 'schism' because I guarantee you that at least two definitions are in play. All you have to do is read a sentence like this ...

Those who have schismatically departed from their parent Anglican bodies on grounds of theological disputes would need to repent of their schism, in order to resume their proper place in the Anglican Communion.

... to realize it. There is no one in ACNA who considers the formation of ACNA schismatic. They consider the relentless progressive apostasy of TEC to be schismatic. The people in ACNA won't repent because they have done nothing that requires repentance.

So to make any progress at all, you are going to have define what you think schism is and what you think schism isn't. And that means you are going to have to address doctrinal questions.


Peter Carrell said...

I agree with you Carl (and not with you Fr Ron).

ACNA has acted in 'good conscience' in a situation which had become unconscionable (and not one which was being judged solely on Fr Ron's definition of 'sola scriptura' ... one might ask where 'tradition' figures in the way TEC does things and makes its decisions ...!!).

One way to assess what ACNA has done is to think of them as being neither more nor less schismatic than the Church of England herself was when it cut its ties with Rome in the 1530s and re-cut them after Mary Tudor's death.

Father Ron Smith said...

re Carl's comment here: His contention reveals an impression that the tail is wagging the dog. The dissidents are seen by Carl to have appropriated for themselves the character and sole licence to represent Anglican Attirubutes in North America. Guess who moved? Not TEC but the amny schismatic groups who have teamed up to form an entriely new quasi-Anglican 'Church' called ACNA.

No amount of white-washing of ACNA will remove it's schismatic role in the Anglican Communion. TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada are the official inheritors of the Anglican Provenance - from which ACNA has departed. Full stop.

I'm amazed that any N.Z. Anglican (except perhaps the diocese of Nelcon) could champion the cause of the schismatics - against TEC & ACofC. After all ACANZP is in Communion with both parent Churches - and not with ACNA.

Peter Carrell said...

I am flabbergasted Ron that you think TEC has not 'moved' even though they hold a position agreeable to yourself which once they did not hold.

I am also amazed that any NZ Anglican thinks ACNA is schismatic!

carl jacobs said...

Father Ron Smith wrote:

Guess who moved?

Motion must always be defined relative to a frame of reference. ACNA defines TECs motion according to a fixed frame of reference in which Christian doctrine can be known and understood. TEC on the other hand denies that a fixed knowable frame of reference for doctrine can ever be found. According to TEC, doctrine must always be measured in a moving frame. TEC therefore justifies its doctrinal innovations according to its own internal measurements taken in this relative frame. Said frame moves where it will, and TEC blithely assumes the motion is controlled by the Spirit as revealed through its enlightened understanding. Conversely, it rejects any accusation of heterodoxy from ACNA because TEC denies ACNA could possibly have any knowledge of a fixed frame.

On the other hand, TEC has a very rigid fixed frame when it comes to organizational integrity. Motion into or out of an organization is schism. It is a breaking of relationship that can never be justified by doctrine because of all the logic stated above. In TECs world, doctrine can't cause schism. In TECs world, organizational unity is the greatest Christian imperative for the church. In ACNAs world, the breaking of organizational unity doesn't define schism. Doctrinal fidelity is the greatest imperative. ACNA won't consider you a Christian if you say things like what KJS said in her recent interview with Issues Etc. It will consider you a heretic and depart hence from your leadership without a second thought.

This is why you have dueling claims of schism, and why schism must be defined for any useful discussion to occur. But once you define schism, you must confront the fact that the act of making a definition decides who wins and who loses. The thread so far has demonstrated this fact. Neither side is really listening. Each side is asserting control of the definition. Once control the definition, and you win the argument by default.


Father Ron Smith said...

re your comment, Peter, inferring that TEC has moved. It has moved
forward in real Faith, but not out of the Anglican Communion. That is ACNA's particular move.

To answer carl's last remark; My definition of 'schism' is noe other than the classical one - to move intentionally out of communion with one's (AC) partners which was ACNA's preferred stance.

TEC & the A.C.of C. are merely practising traditional 'Unity in Diversity', an Anglican charism. This is definitely not 'schism'.

carl jacobs said...

Heh. I love it when my opponents confirm the truth of every word I wrote. This statement by FRS from the first thread is simply classic.

FRS: "The fabric of the Communion was not actually 'torn' until schism happened. It may have been newly shaped, but not torn."

Precisely so. Altered doctrine cannot cause schism. Breaking the relationship of the organization is schism. Unity in diversity and all that. FRS agrees with me in every particular about the structure of the conflict. If I accepted his definition as accurate, I would have to admit the correctness of his cause. But I don't.

Consider the following hypothetical conversation.

Bishop: There was no resurrection and what we call 'God' is merely an abstract vehicle intended to carry moral concepts.

Joe Anglican: If you believe that, then you are an unbeliever and no part a Christian, let alone a Bishop. I will neither support nor follow you.

Bishop: Schismatic! I am simply expressing unity in diversity. You are not an Anglican!

That in a few simple sentences is the whole of the struggle.


Pageantmaster said...

The reality is that the majority of Anglicans in the Communion are in communion with ACNA, either directly by decisions of their Synods or Houses of Bishops, or indirectly by the companion relationships they have put in place with for example CANA.

At Alexandria, the GS primates explained that there was little point in pushing for admission of ACNA into the Canterbury Communion, until issues over the working of the Instruments and the structure of the Communion had been mended. If anything, the Instruments are even more dysfunctional now than they were then, so I think it is unlikely that anyone is pushing for such an admission of ACNA, although I have no inside track on things.

The formal admission of ACNA [rather than the de facto arrangements of many provinces] will have to be sorted out at some time, if indeed the Communion ever gets its act back together, but when it does so, I see no point in making condition for that which are unrealistic. TEC will under the current regime never reconcile with ACNA - just look at their litigation programme and their recent attacks on even those conservative dioceses who wish to stay in TEC. There is little point in setting standards for ACNA which have not been required in the admission of other provinces.

Moreover, with TEC as a member of the Communion the bar is already set pretty low.

Father Ron Smith said...

If 'Pageantmaster' is correct - in his statement that "The majority membership of the anglican Communion is in 'communion with ACNA'" - is may be referring to the actual number of people contained in those Provinces which do affirm the shcismatics. However, he is not taking into account the actual number of Provinces that are not in communion weith ACNA - a very different proposition.

In any event, to say that the ACNA Associates are a majority in the Communoion is simply untrue, and wishful thinking will not reverse the reality.

The question might here be asked: If the ACNA supporters believe that the rest of us are in some sort of heretical situation, what is preventing them from moving out from the 'Unclean' and starting their own Sodality of The Pure and Holy?

Those of us who are left would still be rejoicing in the fact that "Jesus Christ came into this World to Save Sinners like us!
He did not come to 'save the Righteous'. We will still, of course, want to proclaim the love of God for ALL people - regardless of Race, Religious affiliation or none, Ethnicity, Culture, Gender or sexual Orientation. ALL humanity

Pageantmaster said...

Hi Fr Ron

It is generally reckoned that the number of Anglicans in provinces who have acknowledged communion with ACNA [although I have no connection with it and cannot speak for ACNA] is about 70% of the Communion. That is unless one believes that my Church of England is composed of 26 million Anglicans. I am not sure as far as number of provinces go, that anyone has a complete picture as some have made no public pronouncements.

I am not sure if I am a supporter of ACNA as I am not involved in it, but I wish them well. With their theology reflecting that of the majority of the Communion, there is no need for them, or anyone else to go elsewhere.

The issue you seem to come back to is that of gay Christians and I just wanted to say that I do believe that they should be in the church, along with the rest of us sinners. I would not presume to speak to their salvation prospects and hope that indeed God will exercise the same mercy he shows the rest of us, but I have noted the numerous references in the Holy Bible which having taken the time to examine them and the arguments round them, I see no way round. In some ways I would like to be persuaded otherwise and do not criticise people for being gay, and do not believe that people are defined by being gay or not.

That said, I believe in the words of St Paul that when one becomes a Christian, we surrender our lives to Him and our bodies become a temple. It is incumbent on all of us to the extent we are able to use them in a way which is honoring to God. For this we have the example set in the Bible. The only example traditionally acknowledged by the church for sex is within marriage between a man and a woman.

I think one needs to be careful in the church saying or teaching that behaviour criticised in the Bible or prohibited is in fact holy and to be blessed or to be taught to the faithful as being holy.

Father Ron Smith said...

I am reminded here of the reaction of Jesus to being greeted with the title: 'Good Master". His answer was this: "Who are you calling good? There is one alone who is good" - indicating that, in his human frame, even Jesus was incapable of being wholly 'good'.
("He took our sinful nature upon himself").

This should quench our thirst for wanting to be acknowledged as 'Holy' or 'Perfect'. Perfection exists only in God. When we are at last united with God, through the grace of OLJC, we may, perhaps, share in God's unique perfection. But, until that time, we are all flawed. We are like 'poor people, showing other poor people where to find Bread'.

Pageantmaster said...

Fr Ron Smith - you say:
"I am reminded here of the reaction of Jesus to being greeted with the title: 'Good Master". His answer was this: "Who are you calling good? There is one alone who is good" - indicating that, in his human frame, even Jesus was incapable of being wholly 'good'.
("He took our sinful nature upon himself")."

Are you quite sure about your reading of this passage? Is Jesus really saying that he is not good, or is this one of those many passages where Christ provocatively asks the listener to take the next step in acknowledging who He is? There are several such occassions, the most famous of which is the question He asks St Peter, and indeed all of us: "who do you say that I am?"

You say:
"This should quench our thirst for wanting to be acknowledged as 'Holy' or 'Perfect'"

I don't know any Christian who would claim to be holy or perfect, certaily not I. Not sure what point you seek to make.

Father Ron Smith said...

I'm glad to hear of your rejection of the claim to be either holy or perfect, Pageantmaster. Join the Club. The Church has long been known by realists to be - not a Mausoleum for Saints; rather, a Hospital for Sinners - You and Me.

Only as we proclaim ourselves to be sinners - like everyone else, will the children of the world reocgnise our affinity with them. In need of the grace of Christ - the same as they. The proclamation of God's Love in the Crucified, and resurrected Christ is ALL, to ALL and for ALL.

As I've said before, the Church is a group of God's little poor, showing other poor people where to find the Bread of Life.

Anonymous said...

"I am reminded here of the reaction of Jesus to being greeted with the title: 'Good Master". His answer was this: "Who are you calling good? There is one alone who is good" - indicating that, in his human frame, even Jesus was incapable of being wholly 'good'.
("He took our sinful nature upon himself")."

Now you really have uttered a heretical comment. The sinless perfection of Christ (his impeccability) in his earthly life ("Which of you convicts me of sin?') is part of catholic orthodoxy. I know that liberals in Tec dispute this, but they are, many of them, heterodox unitarians. I am dismayed to see you agreeing with them but not surprised, given your commitment to liberal Protestant exegesis.
Be one thing or the other. Ron - a proper catholic or a proper liberal. Stop halting between two opinions.