Tuesday, January 31, 2012

On marriage and separation

Following up on recent postings, in the wash up of the TEC Executive Council meeting, an intriguing element of 'separation' between the HOB and the HOD is in the air as we read Bonnie Anderson's HOD closing presidential remarks. Presumably no actual separation can occur between the bishops and the deputies so the July GC will be an exercise in reconciliation of sorts. Other posts worth a look are here, here and here, the first offering a very sober assessment of the future life of TEC (albeit with figures that likely are more or less replicable for other Western Anglican churches). 2012 is going to be fascinating: commenters on the blogosphere are already observing that Bonnie Anderson' radical questioning of the proposed budget lines up intriguingly with other questions within TEC about what are and are not constitutional requirements on dioceses (there is no constitutional requirement to support the budget). To say nothing of raising a major question as to whether or not TEC is a 'hierarchical' church. If it is not (e.g. the PB of the HOB cannot ride roughshod over the President of the HOD) then it rather undermines a major line of attack within the courts re properties.

[UPDATE: Previously I promised that Mark Harris would write about the draft TECian budget. He has kept my promise and written something which, with a tweak here and there, would apply just about anywhere in the world of ecclesial finances!]

Meanwhile Titus One Nine also draws our attention to a sharply critical Andrew Brown taking on the ABY and his recently published remarks about 'gay marriage.' Comment 2 is worth reflecting on. Despite what some commenters here may be presuming about my own mind on these matters, the fact is, we are a Communion working out our Christian life in a period of change within a diverse world, and within the Communion individual member churches are feeling their way forward on questions raised up within societies which were not dreamed of by our forbears. I am not in the least bit apologetic for raising here questions of how we would know when we have the right answer to the questions posed by society. I hope I am not in the least bit closed to the probing thoughts of an Andrew Brown or commenter 2 at Titus One Nine.

For what it is worth, I am stuck on the unchangeability of the core of marriage as the intricate dance through life of the opposing genders, male and female, being brought together into a unity of mind, body and purpose under God. Whatever else is going on in any other virtuous relationship, it cannot replicate the particularity of the mystery of blending of maleness and femaleness into 'one flesh.'

That we are a church and a society grappling with changeability in marriage, most obviously around response to broken marriages, means we face, and must face, responding to changes in socially and legally accepted relationships which were not in view when the Scriptures were being written.

Precisely because such matters both challenge us about our relevance to society and frighten us about losing our distinctiveness as God's new society within human society, we have the dilemmas we have. Whether discussed on blogs, debated in councils and synods, or played out in media interviews and responses, and whether explicit in what we say or implicit in discussions over (say) budgets, these dilemmas need always to be brought to the heart of our gospel mission: what brings life to the world rather than death?

Monday, January 30, 2012

Last night's preachers were listening to the Holy Spirit

Long time since I have been to a service where the preaching ministry (shared by a husband and wife) segued into healing based on discernment via a word of knowledge from the Holy Spirit of an injury present in the congregation, and associated with two specific words of encouragement given through the Holy Spirit. All rather lovely really, and a reminder that there is preaching (most of us most Sundays: God working, we might say, in ordinary ways through his ministers of the word) and preaching(!) (a few of us some Sundays, or a rare set among us most Sundays: God working, we might say, in extraordinary ways, wonders to perform, through ministers of the word endowed with particular spiritual gifts of healing, words of knowledge, prophecy and discernment).

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Archbishop of York not listening to the Holy Spirit

The Archbishop of York, John Sentamu is being reported as telling the British government not to change the definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman. Unfortunately, according to at least one regular commenter here at ADU, this means the Archbishop of York is not listening to the Holy Spirit who is currently guiding the church into new truth on marriage. It being a grave offence for senior church officials not to heed the direct guidance of God, I look forward to reports that the ABY has been disciplined if not ejected from office. Alternatively there could be reports that various liberal/progressive Anglicans around the Communion are revising their estimation of the Holy Spirit's intention to undermine Scripture ...

While on the topic of Anglicans listening to the Holy Spirit, we should all be very clear that great cost may come to those who faithfully listen to God and obey God's directions. This is precisely the place to which TEC, a leading listener to the living voice of God through the Holy Spirit, has come. Curmudgeon pulls together a number of reports which show that TEC's Executive Council is facing the dilemma whether to propose to the forthcoming General Convention that TEC should cut its budget by 5.9 million or 19.3 million dollars for the period 2013-2015. The courage of TEC in facing the consequences of its faithfulness to God's leading, extra courageous because it is against the grain of Scripture, is heartrending.

POSTSCRIPT: Many Western denominations are having their troubles with finances, attendances numbers. There is nothing special about TEC facing economic constraints relative to what many other denominations are confronting. What is special is that TEC has made a particular point in the past few decades of trumpeting its inclusiveness in response to its perceptions of the leading of the Spirit. Ordaining Gene Robinson and Mary Glasspool have been the actions of a church choosing one particular way to observe the dictum of John Spong that Christianity must change or die. Choosing Katherine Jefferts Schori to be its current Presiding Bishop (remember there were others to choose from, all of whom (from memory) were more experienced pastors and bishops than her) was a choice precisely to have an eloquent and fearless exponent of the new TEC way, and she has not let her voters down. What may be unfolding in the deliberations of the Executive Council (check in here, here and here) is the reality check when one realises that having undertaken a major change of direction, no is paying attention, no turn around has occurred. Titus One Nine underlines the reality check that may be occurring with this post. Again, the internal business of TEC should not be nosied around here Down Under, it is their busines etc. Except in this respect: we here have among our number those who would have us advance down the TECian way. Why would we want to do that?

UPDATE: Well, I am glad they (Bonnie and ++Katharine) got that sorted out and the Executive have sorted themselves out re the draft budget. But I am going to keep a watch out for what Mark Harris has to say. He will give us the low down.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Confusing array of Catholic liturgical options? Good for evangelisation?

I can never quite get what is happening in contemporary Roman Catholicism. One set of headlines implies that a 'new' mass is being introduced (though really it is the 'old' Latin Mass more accurately translated) and once introduced to a country has to be followed to the last consubstantial change. But then there are headlines which suggest that this and that form may be followed ... well let my confusion not confuse you. But head instead to Catholicity and Covenant which has a post on a recent Roman liturgical announcement and an excellent reflection thereon.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

How would we recognise an Anglican church?

Thinking about ACNA and what makes an Anglican church an Anglican church, reminds me of a word my friend and colleague, Bryden Black often refers me to: recognition. A quick googlurvey (Google survey) brings to mind some previous discussions here on ADU, some related writing (by Bryden), an essay by Jordan Hylden and, most importantly, a paper by ++Rowan (Advent 2007). All still worth consulting (especially now that the Diocese of Christchurch has a longer lead time into its Covenant-discussing Synod, 21 April 2012).

Recognition. How we would recognise ACNA as an Anglican church? What would count as Anglican character, content and charisma?

Some discussions on the Anglican blogosphere seem to treat recognition in this way: an Anglican church is recognisable as an Anglican church if it is on the official Communion list of Anglican churches. Thus, could ACNA be recognised as an Anglican church? No, it is not on the list. Could it get on the list? Yes, it could, I suppose, but it probably won't because it is not on the list. Not even if it had all kinds of recognisable Anglican qualities of character, content and charisma? That's right.

OK. Different line of questioning. Could a church on the list be de-listed because it was no longer recognisably Anglican? Possibly, but it is most unlikely. Why is that? Because it is not an Anglican thing to do, running around removing churches off the list.

Right. Let's get this straight: a church which can be recognised as having Anglican characteristics is unlikely to get on the Communion list of official Anglican churches and a church on the list which no longer is recognised as having Anglican characteristics is unlikely to be removed from the list.

You got it!

The Quiet American

Archbishop Bob Duncan has responded quietly and gently to the recent report from the C of E Archbishops about the relationship between ACNA and the C of E. ++Bob isn't reading too much into the report save for quiet encouragement for ACNA to continue on the course it is on. Reading around the traps I see the opponents of ACNA are saying "nothing changes for ACNA" and give a general impression of business as usual.

I think that is a mistake. The Anglican Communion is going through a convulsion, if not a revolution. No one knows what the new Anglican Communion will be like (e.g. will it be united around a Covenant or not?) but some signs are being given us. One sign is that the Anglican Communion is renewing its commitment to doctrine as part of the definition of being Anglican. Sure, some want doctrine to be wholly determinative for that definition and some are resistant to any totalisation of doctrine in the definition of being Anglican, with quite a lot of resulting 'noise' on the internet. But the noisy ones may miss the underlying trend towards greater importance being placed on doctrine as something Anglicans hold to rather than something we proudly display our doubts and scepticism about.

Just taking that one factor, I suggest ACNA is staying on course to be a good fit with the Anglican Communion when it is through its convulsion. For the record: I am not simultaneously arguing that ACCan and TEC are going to fail to be a good fit; they have as much opportunity as any Western Anglican church to renew their acquaintance with Anglican doctrine.

But I am arguing that any Anglican Communion church that thinks future membership of the Communion need merely rest on the laurels of "historic" commitments to the Communion should think again. The Communion is moving through its present convulsion to a point where it is going to be less interested in churches claiming they have always been part of the Communion and more interested in churches claiming to be Anglican in doctrine and in practice.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

One Cardboard Cathedral To Rule Them All

A commenter at Liturgy has alerted readers there to an opportunity to make a paper cathedral which is an exact replica of the badly damaged Christchurch Cathedral. Mutatis mutandem thickened paper is light cardboard, and thickened light cardboard is cardboard ... our cardboard cathedral could be our old cathedral.

OK. Cardboard is harder to bend than paper. Anyway, I am having a few thoughts about the future of the cathedral(s) here in Christchurch. Later with those. Here and for now we can salute the amazing ability of the artist and engineer of paper who has come up with this. Press P for Print!

Monday, January 23, 2012

New Directions

2012 has some new directions for me and my work. There may be many new directions which only God knows about, but the ones revealed to me so far include a shift of the temporary office for Theology House from the parish office building at St Barnabas' Fendalton to another location (which I will name when it is signed and sealed), and me taking up some extra duties as (part-time) Priest in Charge of St Aidan's Bryndwr (following the departure of Malcolm Falloon, its vicar for the past fourteen years, who will take up an opportunity to pursue doctoral studies at the University of Otago).

It will be good to have some continuity in the place where I worship, as well as in preaching and presiding. Please pray for the parish nominators as they work with Bishop Victoria and the diocesan nominators on finding a new vicar.

Inevitably this new ministry will affect regularity and length of posting here. For a while now I have tried to post daily. This may not happen or, if it does, some posts are going to be very brief!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

In fairness

Diarmaid MacCulloch is a brilliant church historian whose writings on the Reformation and on the whole era of Christianity I have appreciated immensely. At Comment is Free (@ the Guardian), MacCulloch argues that compulsory celibacy for gay clergy in the C of E is wrong. In fairness to the issue I am happy to draw attention to the argument which, it almost goes without saying, is presented by MacCulloch with great intelligence and insight.

What do you think?

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Open door to Communion membership for ACNA

ADU's 2012 campaign for ACNA membership of the Anglican Communion receives a timely boost in the form of a report to the C of E General Synod signed by ++Cantuar and ++Ebor. H/T to Thinking Anglicans. The full report is here in PDF.

Cited here (as on Thinking Anglicans) are these concluding paragraphs:

"15. Where then do matters currently stand concerning ACNA on each of these

three issues, namely relations with the Church of England, relations with the

Anglican Communion and the ability of ACNA clergy to be authorised to

minister in the Church of England?

16. The Synod motion rightly began by referring to “the distress caused by recent

divisions within the Anglican churches of the United States of America and

Canada.” That distress, in which we share, is a continuing element in the

present situation and is likely to remain so for some considerable time.

17. Wounds are still fresh. Those who follow developments in North America

from some distance have a responsibility not to say or do anything which will

inflame an already difficult situation and make it harder for those directly

involved to manage the various challenges with which they are still grappling.

18. We would, therefore, encourage an open-ended engagement with ACNA on

the part of the Church of England and the Communion, while recognising that

the outcome is unlikely to be clear for some time yet, especially given the

strong feelings on all sides of the debate in North America.

19. The Church of England remains fully committed to the Anglican Communion

and to being in communion both with the Anglican Church of Canada and the

Episcopal Church (TEC). In addition, the Synod motion has given Church of

England affirmation to the desire of ACNA to remain in some sense within the

Anglican family.

20. Among issues that will need to be explored in direct discussions between the

Church of England and ACNA are the canonical situation of the latter, its

relationship to other Churches of the Communion outside North America and

its attitude towards existing Anglican ecumenical agreements.

21. Where clergy from ACNA wish to come to England the position in relation to

their orders and their personal suitability for ministry here will be considered

by us on a case by case basis under the Overseas and Other Clergy (Ministry

and Ordination) Measure 1967."
The wording is careful, the acknowledgements of 'distress' are pastoral, the prospects of future membership of the Communion for ACNA are not dimmed by this report.

I suggest the following words repay studied reflection:

"its relationship to other Churches of the Communion outside North America".

++Rowan and ++John shrewdly place in this report a marker: ACNA's future in the Anglican family (broadly speaking) and in the Anglican Communion (i.e. a narrower definition of the Anglican family) cannot be denied or dismissed without consequences for other Anglican relationships. The C of E in this report does not come out as a powerful backer of ACNA but it notes that ACNA has other backers.

The door to Communion membership for ACNA remains open.

Expect the usual suspects to take a dim view of this report!

Friday, January 20, 2012


Why does Paul write the Epistle to the Romans? Unlike many other NT epistles, it is not very clear that there is a specific false teaching, or false teacher or group of false teachers that Paul is gunning for. It is possible that he is contributing his penny's worth to a debate among the Roman Christians (in which case, likely a debate between Jewish Christians and Gentilic Christians). But I wonder if Paul, excited by the prospect of visiting the great city, is taking the opportunity to offer his maturing (if not mature) thinking on the gospel. After all, as an intellectual Jew called to preach to Gentiles, as a scholar of the Hebrew scriptures reckoning with the spreading flame of the gospel beyond Israel, Paul at some point had to confront with honesty and rigour the questions Romans addresses: what is God's vast eternal plan? How do the Jews figure in this plan? Who may be saved and how might they be saved? What now is the point and purpose of the Law? How are Christians to live in a post-Law, Gentile-including dispensation?

But the gospel is the gospel of Jesus Christ so we also find in Romans a concerted effort to explain the role and significance of the man Jesus of Nazareth 'descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord' (1:3-4).

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The power of God and the gospel

In one sense all of the Christian faith is expressed in the following verses, and all Anglican issues would be resolved if we agreed on what these verses mean!

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, 'The righteous shall live by faith'."

Romans 1:16-17
What is the saving power of God? It is the gospel. What is the gospel? It is the saving power of God. How does this power save us? By believing in Jesus Christ. What is the content of the gospel? The disclosure of the righteousness (or, justice) of God. What is the righteousness/justice of God? (And, to go back a question or two, what does it mean to believe in Jesus Christ?)

Ah! Read Romans 1:18 to the end ...

Incidentally, Paul restates all this at the end, Romans 16:25-27.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The power of God versus the politics of churchianity

Following a visit to a church on Sunday which I last visited a decade or more ago and noting the dramatic decline in numbers at worship, I have been reflecting on what turns churches round. In the end, helpful though our activism expressed through planning, training, teaching, and performance of ministry tasks, from welcome to hospitality, from worship leading to preaching and so forth, the converting of people to Christ, and the convicting of our hearts that we should be at worship regularly is the work of God. Where is the power of God these days? Or, in the Western world, where is the power of God working to convert and to convict people in the way of Christ?

Following my bloglist here at ADU, I think you and I could be forgiven for thinking that the one question we do not ask ourselves in the Anglican world is about God's power to change, challenge, and transform us! We seem more interested in the politics of the church, that is, in how we can organise ourselves to our own or others' advantage. We might, it is imputed, be thinking of suing the church for having been cast aside as a bishop. We might be entangled on one side or another of a long-drawn out process of suing one another over property. We might be trying to rev up one another in respect of belonging to a political group or committee, or, for that matter, trying to sidle away from such responsibility.

From a human perspective there are good and worthy arguments for working on these matters in a political manner. There have been upsets, hurts, deprivations: what to do to obtain remedy?

But what about the divine perspective? What is God saying to us about a godly manner of responding to difficulties within the life of the church? Might God be chiding us to seek his power at work in the church so his glory might be seen in the church?

In the end, I do not think one person will be won to Christ if someone becomes a bishop by judicial challenge, or a property is retained or obtained by recourse to the courts. We need God's power to work among us powerfully.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Footnote to Extraordinary: fluffy coffee?

The Lead at Episcopal Cafe has a post entitled, Why Should There Be An Episcopal Church?

It serves as a kind of footnote to the previous post here as the person cited in the post and then the commentators give their comments on why they are Episcopalian. Many comments, with tweak here or there, would be made in other Anglican churches around the world (at least, around the Western world).

Some of the comments are a long way from my approach to being Anglican: a church with a theology worth subscribing to rather than a church which I like.

I also suggest some comments highlight why we are in the mess we are in today. To take one line of metaphor, when our reforming forebears served up strong coffee, undiluted with milk and unsweetened with sugar, today's Anglican churches like fluffy coffee, with frothed milk, sugar and a touch of cinnamon on top.

To take another line of metaphor, our reformers clarified the church as a roast lamb, three veges and potatoes church. Somewhere along the line Anglicans have said, "Roast lamb? Surely any meat will do. Why, even a combination of meats will be fine. Veges? Optional! Potatoes? Aren't they a carbohydrate? Yes, well, that's what God wants: some carbs."

The roast lamb, three veges and potatoes church has become the meat comb pizza church. Even worse (speaking theologically - the pizza church tastes fine to many palates), the pizza church looks down on the roast lamb, three veges and potatoes church. Protestations that we should be a roast meal church fall on deaf ears.

Saturday, January 14, 2012


It is sad how far Anglicanism strays from its foundations. The key to being an Anglican-kind of Christian is that, in humility, we believe we offer a form of being Christian which is truer to Christ than any other form (or, alternatively, at least as true as any other form).* Historically, we claim to have shorn ourselves of the errors of Rome while avoiding the errors of our fellow Reformers. Contemporaneously, we claim that Rome still manifests some errors, while gently asserting that our continuing adherence to episcopal leadership was a good Reformation-decision which many fellow Reformers failed to make. When pressed about continuing Roman error, I discern that the widest Anglican agreement across our rainbow spectrum would be our agreement to disagree that the Bishop of Rome is 'supreme' in episcopal authority. (We might agree to disagree among ourselves about other aspects of the 'primacy' of Rome such as respect for the ancientness of its episcopal presence in the universal church).

To be true to Christ, however, involves Anglicans continuing to press into the inexhaustible riches of Christ (cf. Ephesians 3:8), always seeking to align ourselves with what Christ taught us directly and what the apostles faithfully taught about Christ for our benefit. Thus reading in John's gospel the other day I was struck afresh by familiar (over familiar?) words in John 14:1-14, and especially by the extraordinary words in 14:8-14:

"... whoever has seen me has seen the Father ... I am in the Father and the Father is in me ... I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works ..."

In these few words God is disclosed to be who Jesus Christ is, and who Jesus Christ is shows us who God is. The claim a few verses earlier "I am the way, the truth and the life" is not so much a claim about the uniqueness of Christ but about the completeness of Christ as revelation of God. Christ is not a better way to God than other ways, or more truthful about God than other claimants, or better at giving the divine life: God the Father being in the Son and the Son being in the Father, the truth about God is only found in Christ, apart from whom there is no other way to the Father, nor life from the Father.

If being Anglican is about being true to Christ then being true to Christ is about the scandal of particularity: God is Christ-shaped and Christ is the only revelation of the truth about God. There is no alternative.

Strangely Anglicanism in the past one hundred years or so has often seemed embarrassed about the completeness of Christ as the revelation of God, in particular shying away from the implication of this completeness, that Christ is, indeed, the unique way to the Father.

I do not think God owes any great allegiance to Anglicanism - God is under no obligation to continue our existence as a denomination, let alone as a 'branch' of Christianity. Nor for that matter do we have any obligation to the God who is met only in Jesus Christ to preach and promote that God: we are free to adapt Anglicanism as we see fit.

There is just the tiny problem that if we adapt Anglicanism as we see fit then, paradoxically, we become another proposal to be a way to God, alongside all other proposed ways, none of which, according to Christ are the way to God.

Better, by far, to re-envision ourselves as Anglican: those who seek to be truest to Christ, that is, those who proclaim that Christ is the complete vision of God and therefore the unique way to God.

*In saying this I am not trying to be 'the Judge of all churches' and treating the churches as though we are in an 'X Factor' competition determining who is the best ... guess what, the Anglican church is superior to all others! Rather I am simply stating that if I am a person of theological conviction (as I attempt to be) then there are reasons why I remain steadfast as an Anglican and do not become a Moravian, why when I studied at a Presbyterian college (and loved it) nevertheless I saw no convincing reason to continue with Presbyterianism. In other words, wowed though I am by Luther and Calvin, I find Hooker to offer a better way; impressed though I am by Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, indeed in agreement with them on many things, nevertheless I cannot agree with them on all things.

Friday, January 13, 2012

NZ General Synod delegates in danger if they go to Fiji

I have written to some leaders in our church requesting that someone in authority writes to each member of our General Synod, informing them of the increased risks they run by participating in General Synod in Fiji in July this year.

The recent lifting of one set of martial law restrictions on public meetings has been placed by more draconian ones. A member of GS speaking in a manner deemed offensive by soldiers present at the GS could be arrested and once arrested will have virtually no rights as there is no legal means to challenge the arrest.

It would be naive to think that an arrested NZer will simply be deported back to NZ. There is the possibility of beatings while in custody and some do not recover from those beatings.

Read here, here, here, and here and tell me I am wrong ... that all will be well and all manner of things will be well for our GS in July if it goes ahead in Fiji.

Before you write in to tell me if I am wrong, please also assess whether all will be well only if our members say the most anodyne, inoffensive, and non-confrontational words in the midst of one of the most repressive regimes in the world! Is that a price we wish to pay as a church for meeting in Fiji: the constraint of our freedom to speak plainly and prophetically to the world?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

May Anglicans be panentheists?

Many Episcopalians are panentheists, at least according to no lesser an authority than Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori (on an interview on Lutheran radio, with transcript via Virtue Online):

"WILKEN: On that issue of "people-of-faith" the subtitle of the book is "Finding the Sacred in the Middle of Everything." so it might sound to some like pantheism. Do you believe that the "sacred", as you define it, is found in all religions?

JEFFERTS SCHORI: Yes, I think it probably is. We're not pantheists, many Episcopalians might be understood to as "panentheists". The difference being that pantheists see everything as God and panentheists see God reflected in all of God's creation. When we talk about human beings being made in the image of God that's a piece of what we are talking about and we would extend that to all of creation. "
But being part of a 'diversity-in-unity' Communion, if it is okay for Episcopalians to be panentheists, it is okay for any Anglicans to be panentheists.

What do you think?

I feel all Spongish about this (i.e. I am sceptical) ...

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Anglican Communion and the Anglican Church of North America (3)

I guess the most annoying thing I find about the Anglican situation in North America is that it seems like some arbitrary force field is at work in the minds of leaders and pundits. Actually, this force field works in other parts of the globe. It works in this way: it prevents a natural (or, if you prefer, unnatural) Anglican tendency to doubt and question things from doubting and questioning a select group of things. Bodily resurrection (may be questioned), virgin birth (can be doubted), Jesus as unique way of salvation (definitely to be questioned), Anglican history (to be much debated), marriage requires two people of different gender (what!?); but two Anglican churches in one region (no way), a Covenant (unAnglican), limit Anglican diversity (quelle horreur), question the decisions of a synod (get outta here: the Holy Spirit has spoken).

Why can't Anglicans question anything and everything?

If we can doubt what is said in the creeds, can we question the way we order our life? If Lambeth 1998 1.10 can be disregarded, why not disregard every resolution of the Communion, including the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral?

In the end what intrigues me about the idea that one day the Anglican Communion might accept ACNA as a member church is that it would demonstrate a certain consistency in being Anglican: everything about what we believe and what we do is able to be questioned, revised, and changed. We would even slaughter the sacred cow of one member church per region.

There is an alternative approach ... but it is a bit frightening for some. It would involve acknowledging that our tradition ought to be respected more than we do (including respected in a more consistent manner), as well as our Scripture being paid attention with greater consistency. That would be a quite reasonable thing to do. In working on these things we would be attempting to work out what a global Anglican understanding of being Anglican meant (i.e. something more profound than shouting 'unAnglican'), and we would need to formulate that understanding. Of course for such a profound formulation to work we would need some manner of keeping ourselves up to the Anglican mark.

Oh, wait. That's the Covenant!

Incidentally, some powerful African support from ++Thabo Makgoba for the Covenant - in fact 'a necessary Covenant'!

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 ...

Monday, January 9, 2012

Anglican Communion and the Anglican Church of North America (1)

Thesis: if we admit ACNA to membership* of the Anglican Communion then we take seriously what it means to be Anglican** and to be a Communion.

The existence of the Anglican Communion makes a claim that global fellowship between Anglican churches is both possible and desirable and raises questions about what it means to be ‘Anglican’ (can any church adding ‘Anglican’ to its name become a member church of the Communion?) and to be a ‘Communion’ (is fellowship in this Communion with or without obligations, and what kind of obligations? How is fellowship deepened between members? What (if anything) can break fellowship?).

Present difficulties in the Anglican Communion (exemplified by the failure of all bishops to go to Lambeth 2008 and by the absence of some primates from recent Primates’ Meetings) mean that all is not well. Among these difficulties the pressing need to develop our understanding of ‘Anglican’ is felt (e.g. some Anglicans are calling the actions of other Anglicans ‘unAnglican’). As well, there is stress on our understanding of ‘Communion’, most urgently experienced in the debate over the possibility of the Anglican Covenant being embraced as a key document for the ongoing life of the Communion. For some the argument for the Covenant is its necessity to hold the Communion together; for others the argument against the Covenant is its likely effect of transforming the Communion into a global (Roman Catholic-like) church.

In fact I would like to suggest that another question is implicit (at least) about our understanding of ‘Communion’: are we a formal Communion focused on arrangements between official national or regional Anglican churches with an unvarying principle of only one such church per nation or regiona being recognised, or are we a pastoral movement motivated to draw in as many Anglicans as possible into our global life?

To be continued ...

*membership = in every possible way: admission to ACC, ACNA primate invited to Primates’ Meetings, bishops invited to Lambeth, etc

**for purposes of this and related posts, ‘Anglican’ includes both ‘Anglican’ and ‘Episcopal(ian)’