Thursday, October 31, 2013

Not with a bang but a whimper does the Communion end (UPDATED)

PER KINDNESS OF A COMMENTER: An excellent response to Andrew Brown's column (addressed below) is made by Gavin at drgavsblog here (with a comment to it by Andrew Brown himself). Here is an excerpt:

"At the heart of the liberal revolt against this  call to surrender our right to please ourselves lies two things:
1 The first is a determination to claim as a right access to pleasure, and in particular sexual pleasure; and more, to rage against anyone who threatens this right rather like an emotionally incontinent child.
2 The second is an insensitivity to any form of spiritual conflict. There is no sense that there is a real agency of evil that sets itself against the patterns that God has laid down. There is no awareness that evil sets out to twist and deform what God has made good.
So the liberal is certain he or she is doing good by giving affirmative permission for people to do what they like, and calling this ‘love’ – while the conservative or orthodox thinks that he or she is trying to be obedient to a pattern of hierarchical holiness, in which our sacrifice and submission play a part in freeing us from the lure of self indulgent evil.
At the heart of this is a struggle for the Church; a struggle to define Christianity itself.
Who is right?"

START ORIGINAL POST: Andrew Brown kind of annoys me because he writes with what seems to me be an unveiled coat of cynicism. However even the most annoying cynic can put his finger on the truth of the matter.

As preparation for my GAFCON gaffe (2) post - draft in process - I refer you to this column of Andrew Brown, entitled "It started as a split over gay clergy. But now the Anglican Communion is dead.'

One prediction he makes is that there will not be another Lambeth Conference. I think he is wrong on that but my prediction is that the next Lambeth Conference will not amount to much more than a mostly white boys club get together to talk about nothing in particular.

Here is the decisive insight from Andrew Brown which coheres with what I want to say about GAFCON's gaffe:

"What's new is that no one any longer cares. The split has happened, and it turns out not to matter at all.

This is in part because the movement of public opinion on sexuality has completely overwhelmed that of church politicians. Congregations by and large have moved on, too. They are part of the public, too. But until very recently the conservative evangelicals in the Church of England lived in a bubble of self-importance, whose boundaries were respected by Rowan Williams. And from within the bubble, the outside world could not be clearly seen. Only, the fight about gay marriage made it apparent to the main body of the church – and to Justin Welby – that their attitudes were repulsive and immoral to the majority of people in this country.
The conservatives still don't really see this."

More soon-ish.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

GAFCON's gaffe (1)

The Nairobi Communique repays study. As a contribution I offer the following questions to which I see answers in the Communique.

Who is Anglican?

"we adopted The Jerusalem Statement and Declaration which commits us to biblical faithfulness, and has since provided the framework for renewed Anglican orthodoxy to which we, in all our different traditions – Evangelicals, Anglo-Catholics and Charismatics – are committed. ... Where, in taking a stand for biblical faithfulness, Anglicans have been marginalised or excluded from provincial or diocesan structures, the Primates’ Council has recognised and authenticated them as faithful Anglicans."

What step is required to heal divisions within global Anglicanism?

"Our willingness to submit to the written Word of God and our unwillingness to be in Christian fellowship with those who will not, is clearly expressed in The Jerusalem Statement and Declaration. This means that the divisions in the Anglican Communion will not be healed without a change of heart from those promoting the false gospel, and to that end we pray."

Is an alternative Anglican Communion like structure being set up? Yes, but it is not clear whether this will turn out to be a separate or overlapping structure.

"First, we have resolved to be more than a network. We are an effective expression of faithful Anglicanism and therefore, recognising our responsibilities, we must organise ourselves in a way that demonstrates the seriousness of our objectives. These are threefold.
  • Proclaiming and contending for the gospel of Jesus Christ. Examples of work we wish to resource are the preparation of convincing theological rebuttals of any false gospel; supporting a network of theological colleges whose students are better oriented to ministry, whose faculties are well-trained, and whose curricula are built on the faithful reading of Scripture.  
  • Building the fellowship. We need to find new ways of supporting each other in mission and discipleship.
  • Authorising and affirming faithful Anglicans who have been excluded by their diocese or province. The main thrust of work here would be devoted to discerning the need for new provinces, dioceses and churches — and then authenticating their ministries and orders as Anglican.
Second, pursuing these objectives will require GFCA to operate on a more systematic basis and to that end we shall organise around a Primates’ Council, a Board of Trustees, an Executive Committee and regional liaison officers, who will be involved in fostering communication among FCAs."

Has GAFCON resolved a step which could undermine the existing Communion? Yes, because the following statement urges reconsideration of financial support for the Communion.

"Third, we recognise that moving the GFCA on to a new footing will involve making substantial new resources available. We must, therefore, invite provinces, dioceses, mission agencies, local congregations and individuals formally to become contributing members of the GFCA. In particular, we ask provinces to reconsider their support for those Anglican structures that are used to undermine biblical faithfulness and contribute instead, or additionally, to the financing of the GFCA’s on-going needs."

Will cross-jurisdictional episcopal activity cease now that ACNA has been firmly established? No.

"4. We commit ourselves to defend essential truths of the biblical faith even when this defence threatens existing structures of human authority (Acts 5:29).  For this reason, the bishops at GAFCON 2013 resolved ‘to affirm and endorse the position of the Primates’ Council in providing oversight in cases where provinces and dioceses compromise biblical faith, including the affirmation of a duly discerned call to ministry. This may involve ordination and consecration if the situation requires.’
5. We commit ourselves to the support and defence of those who in standing for apostolic truth are marginalized or excluded from formal communion with other Anglicans in their dioceses. We have therefore recognized the Anglican Mission in England (AMiE) as an expression of authentic Anglicanism both for those within and outside the Church of England, and welcomed their intention to appoint a General Secretary of AMiE."

There are no gaffes here. Everything is carefully worked out. Alarm bells should be going off in Lambeth Palace about the decisive reshaping of the Communion going on via GAFCON. Wait, they went off and ++Welby hopped on a plane to Nairobi.

But should alarm bells be going off in the Church of England as there is a specific commitment to supporting the development of Anglican churches which are not Church of England churches? On reflection, I think not. The C of E has weathered the development of Anglican churches within England (Free Church of England etc). I wouldn't be worrying if I was part of the Australian Anglican church: their situation (e.g. with independent Bible churches aligned with Sydney) is what it is, irrespective of whether GAFCON came into existence or not. It is difficult to see any specific new development in North American Anglican/Episcopal life emerging from GAFCON II.

What about my own church? I do not see that GAFCON II makes our situation any more anxious than what it already is about how we go about our business, especially in respect of possible changes re human sexuality.

In general terms I think GAFCON is making considerable noise about the iniquities of aspects of Anglican life in Western countries which flows from a superficial, shallow analysis of the relationship between culture and gospel. In a subsequent post I will attempt to demonstrate why GAFCON's communique is simultaneously right and wrong about Anglican churches in the West. That is, GAFCON has made a significant gaffe, but it lies between the lines of the communique. GAFCON itself should be alarmed about the future of Anglican Christianity in the West.

PS No one from Kiwiland has arisen to my challenge at the end of a previous post re GAFCON!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Longley for Anglicans at Mass, Girard is Wright, CofE Wisdom

Pivoting away from whether Anglicans can share communion together, a very interesting article here re the Archbishop of Birmingham (UK), Bernard Longley reflecting out loud on the radical possibility of Anglicans being able to eat the crumbs from under Rome's table.

He confirms my suspicion that Roman theology is open to change so long as an archivist can find a document from the past which points in the direction of change!

At the heart of communion is atonement theology. Someone I have yet to read on atonement is Rene Girard. But Bishop Kelvin Wright of Dunedin has been reading Girard. His review here is a quick entry into the deep world of Girardian theology.

Finally, I note some progress towards refining proposals for women bishops in the Church of England as it heads to its next session of General Synod. I think these are the money paragraphs within documentation which is rather long for a process which keeps telling the reader that simplicity is the aim! The paragraphs are from here which I got to from here which I got to from here. I think these paragraphs look ahead to the period after legislation re women bishops has been past, hence the 'Now that' language in para 11:

"11. Now that the Church of England has admitted women to the episcopate there should
within each diocese be at least one serving bishop, whether the diocesan or a suffragan,
who ordains women to the priesthood. This has a bearing on the considerations that the
Crown Nominations Commission and diocesan bishops will need to take into account
when considering diocesan and suffragan appointments.

12. In addition, dioceses are entitled to express a view, in the statement of needs prepared
during a vacancy in see, as to whether the diocesan bishop should be someone who will
or will not ordain women. In dioceses where the diocesan bishop does not ordain women
he should ensure that a bishop who is fully committed to the ordained ministry of women
is given a role across the whole diocese for providing support for female clergy and their

The thought strikes me that we might in ACANZP need some similar legislation or legislative guidance re bishops and the ordaining of persons in same sex partnerships in the future. One piece of wisdom in the C of E proposals is the recognition that ordination in Anglican view sits within a larger theology of episcopacy in Anglican, Roman, and Eastern Orthodox view, and thus it is perfectly reasonable for Anglicans to hold a similar conservatism re ordination-and-women as do our siblings across the world stage. Ditto, I suggest, re same sex partnerships ...

Monday, October 28, 2013

GAFCON and the future shape of the Anglican Communion

As a first take on GAFCON's objective result, its communique and what it may (or may not) be signalling for the future, here are some Venn diagrams, for the geometrically minded.

First up, in the first diagram (not intended to measure actual proportions) the general situation is described. There are GAFCON churches in the Communion (actually nearly all the GAFCON churches, which are a significant proportion of the whole Communion) and outside of the Communion (principally ACNA). There are GAFCON participants (e.g. our Kiwi contingent) who are in the Anglican Communion because of membership of ACANZP (which is not a GAFCON church) and there are participants (e.g. from Recife) who are neither in a 'church' belonging to GAFCON nor to the Communion but are participants in GAFCON. If I am wrong re Recife, I am pretty sure this would be a fair description of Anglicans in AMiE (corrected from earlier AMiA since America and England are not the same) in England who are not within the Church of England.

Now some immediate discussion arises from the communique as to whether GAFCON is a serious player in the renewal of the Communion (with a side support for Anglicans struggling on the fringes of the Communion or just outside of it) or a movement trying to be committed to the renewal of the Communion but really harbouring huge doubts about whether anything will really come of this and out of those doubts putting in some pretty strong work in supporting Anglicans struggling on the fringes of the Communion or just outside of it.

If the latter and to take a case in point, support for Anglicans in England not of the Church of England, will GAFCON effectively undermine its own stated commitment to renewal because its effective energies will go into supporting Anglican churches and mission movements which operate against existing Anglican structures?

I use the word 'against' advisedly: if I am running an evangelical parish in (say) Durham, UK and then up the road a 'new independent Anglican' church starts up because my parish is 'not evangelical enough', it looks like one church is working against the other! One interpretation of GAFCON's communique is that in that situation they won't be supporting my parish but will be supporting the neighbouring one!

Now the question of anxiety for the Communion at this point concerns whether the momentum of the Spirit is with GAFCON or not. If the future of global Anglicanism is going to look like the following Venn diagram, then the Communion powers should be anxious about the future!

Of course I bet fervent supporters of the Anglican Communion who do not like what they see and read about GAFCON hope that the future turns out more like this:

But the last diagram will only happen if the non-GAFCON part of the Communion is renewed. Will that happen in the present state of capture of Anglican churches by Western culture? Can the tide of declining statistics in many Anglican churches not connected to GAFCON be reversed?

Incidentally, this Reuters article says that 331 of the 700 or so bishops of the Anglican Communion were present at GAFCON. That is a pretty impressive attendance and belies any sense that GAFCON is some kind of Anglican fringe dwellers movement or gathering of the crazies on the edge of the Communion's life.

About half the Kiwi attendees at GAFCON came from my own diocese. By my reckoning the vicars of three of our six largest parishes were among the contingent. Other vicars from other dioceses were from some of the largest parishes in ACANZP.

My challenge to fellow Kiwis unhappy about our colleagues' participation in GAFCON is this: tell us in comments here about your strategic vision and plan for the renewal of congregational life in our church. Please give illustrative examples of parishes growing in numbers through the preaching of a gospel which is distinctively different in tone and content from the gospel preached by our GAFCON clergy.

Remember dear potential Kiwi commenter: I know our church pretty well so your examples will need to be good ones! There are a few ... but they are difficult to find!

Living Wage

GAFCON reflection still in the making but here in the meantime is a link to a lovely article featuring my colleague Jolyon White, a fellow inhabitant of Theology House, on the Living Wage.

PS For Liturgy's GAFCON reflection, head here.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

GAFCON statement will send alarm bells through Communion

My immediate response to a very quick read of the GAFCON communique, here, is that it will send alarm bells throughout those parts of the Communion, a. not aligned with GAFCON, b. not intent on upholding historic Anglican theology and sexual ethics.

Please comment here if you have time to read, mark, inwardly digest. Otherwise I am not going to get back to this for a day or two.

Addendum: fascinating account here, of changes to the statement as it was being drafted (H/T Stand Firm). (If that link does not work, or, in any case, head here for further reflection on the process of drafting the communique).

KEY QUESTION FOR GAFCON: How come GAFCON can live with difference over women in leadership, "We recognize that we have differing views over the roles of men and women in church leadership," but not live with difference over partnered gay people in church?

(OK. I know answers to the question can be given ... but it is striking that GAFCON can be boldly Anglican=diverse on this matter but not on another ...).

PS For Liturgy's GAFCON reflection, head here.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Why GAFCON deserves our attention even if we cannot give it our uncritical support

A commenter posted re my previous post this comment:

"My question to you here, Peter, is: does your obvious regard for this new emanation of separately-contrived 'Anglicanism' exceed your loyalty to the Provincial Church of which you are a part, and which is not connected to GAFCON - except through the tenuous links of one bishop and 13 other New Zealanders?

Do you think that the Gafcon church is the 'new face' of world-wide Anglicanism? And is it superior in some way to the Anglicanism of which you presently are a part? I am a little disturbed that you are promoting this revisionist view of how Anglicanism should present its mission to the world - obviously in competition with the Instruments of Unity in world-wide Anglicanism.

I understand that you are the education officer for our diocese of Christchurch in ACANZP. Is your promotion of the Gafcon crowd part of your educational remit? Or is it just your personal opinion. There is a difference"

Let me reply first with a general comment that GAFCON is a large global event involving Anglicans from many churches around the world, including many primates and bishops, of such significance that the ABC himself chose to rearrange his schedule in order to address the Primates beforehand. At the very least GAFCON is worthy of the attention of any and every Anglican whether or not those paying attention wish to promote or oppose the event or just watch idly from a neutral position.

Secondly, any such event as this has positive and negative aspects, that is points worth praising and commending and points worth examining and critiquing. Before GAFCON I criticised the Jerusalem Declaration which is the heart of the common theological accord binding participants together. During GAFCON I am drawing attention to things people are saying. Some of those things are more agreeable than others. For instance (but not to make it a subject of reflection here) I would like to raise the question whether Mike Ovey (in an address linked to in the post below) is too hard on the Western church as it engages in the many difficulties of the Western situation. Is the Western church worse or better or just the same at being faithful in its context as the church in (say) Uganda or Syria?

GAFCON is too big an event, and too wide an event in the life of the Anglican church to speak as the comment does above about 'separately contrived' or of our NZ connection as 'tenuous.' I take seriously our fellowship as Global Anglicans. If most African Anglican churches (and a number of others) are meeting in the GAFCON way with the GAFCON concerns then I am connected to this event: my brother and sister Anglicans are making claims and staking territory in the development of global Anglicanism. There is no 'tenuous' connection here - unless, of course, I wish to contrive a separatist Kiwi Anglicanism in which I pay no attention to what Anglicans elsewhere in the world are saying and doing.

'Loyalty': the charge brought here is fascinating. On the one hand I had not realised that our church had a view on GAFCON to which one must subscribe in order to demonstrate loyalty. On the other hand I am pretty loyal. Why I would even go so far as to say that I am at least as loyal as those Anglicans busily criticising various recent appointments made in our church. Or is it just people who draw attention to GAFCON and refuse to speak badly of it that are going to be accused of disloyalty at this time? (Actually I believe in free speech in our church and if people want to criticise that is fine, so long as people are also permitted to discuss GAFCON!) Anyway: to give a blunt answer specific to the question, as a member of God's universal church I am equally loyal to global and to local expressions of the church. Theologically I can do no other. And I am as committed to GAFCON as the Archbishop of Canterbury!

Is GAFCON the new face of global Anglicanism? I have no idea. But if it turns out that it is, it has gone about things in a Christ affirming, Scripture based, Anglicanophile manner. Where is the official Anglican Communion organised event of similar breadth in its vision?

Is GAFCON superior in some way to the Anglicanism of which I am presently a part? Of course not. GAFCON is part of the Anglicanism of which I am presently a part. It is colleagues who have gone to GAFCON, not enemies or opponents. Do I agree with everything my colleagues at GAFCON think and say? No. Which makes them rather like the colleagues who have stayed at home!

I do not see that GAFCON is promoting a mission at odds with other Anglican approaches to mission. There are many Anglican approaches to mission and this is one of them. It is certainly no more revisionist than, say, the approach that says it is better to distribute food to the hungry than to proclaim the gospel, or the approach which says if we put on great liturgy then people will be attracted into the life of the church.

Competition with the Instruments of Unity? There is no competition. The instruments are broken. A much better question (and one which needs to be asked) is whether GAFCON will turn out to be a contribution to Anglican unity or not.

My educational remit: I think it is to make people think. It seems that that happens here. Nevertheless the blog expresses my views and I am clear about that on the sidebar. I am not setting out to promote GAFCON as such but to promote discussion about what it means to be Anglican. That, I think, happens to be also part of my educational remit, as well as a personal hobby horse.

GAFCON is making a claim about what it means to be Anglican. It is grounded in the historic prayer book, articles of religion, and scriptural tradition of the Anglican Communion. It would be a pretty mean achievement to persuade people that GAFCON was not a reasonable, traditional experience within the diversity of being Anglican in the 21st century.

A final point. I take very seriously the international inclusion of all nations by God in God's church. A grave danger which I ask Kiwi Anglicans concerned about global Anglicanism's future to think very carefully about is that a Communion-minus-GAFCON will be a Caucasian-centric communion, at odds with the international inclusiveness of the true church of God.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Bishop Richard Speaks in Nairobi and link to Mike Ovey

Many good links on Titus One Nine re GAFCON II and what is going on there.

One link is to a video in which various speakers speak about the situation in their church. The first speaker here is Bishop Richard Ellena of Nelson.

My overall impression from afar, including noting warm comments on Twitter, is that the event is outstanding as an occasion of Anglican Fellowship in Christ.

I do not think we should underestimate the importance of this fellowship, especially the depth and width of it. Here are some 1300 Anglican leaders from some 29 or about three-quarters of Anglican churches gathering to support one another in the cause of Christ. Out of such bonds of affection is generated new commitment to being Anglican with an almost inevitable revising-and-reforming what it means to be Anglican. For instance, it is not rocket science to imagine that a bishop's sense of what it means to be a bishop in the global communion of Anglicans is going to be much more impacted by GAFCON II than by Lambeth 2008 or 2018.

We live in changing times and the Anglican Communion is evolving as we watch Nairobi from afar.

ADDENDUM: A link here to Mike Ovey's address. Challenging catchphrase: Grace of God or World of the West!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Always revising = semper reformanda

With respect to Archbishop Duncan's toothache I think we can by-pass it as the main news out of Day One of GAFCON 2. On the other hand, reading here there is not much news from Day One worthy of ADU's expert panel (of one) analysis. (But do note the photo, critics of GAFCON, of a woman clergyperson).

So, back to yesterday's theme of Anglican revisionism.

Rightly correspondents to yesterday's post have queried my reflections. How can Anglicans keep revising if there are not queries to drive further revision!

Two issues, at least, are worth comment. One concerns substance and style. Are Anglicans free to revise the latter but not the former? Have Anglicans revised the former as well as the latter? Another concerns a possible distinction between revision and reform. Is reform the process we engage in when we refind and reformulate the unchanging truth of our faith (e.g. because we have lost sight of the truth, or because we recognise a need to restate the truth in contemporary language)? Is revision the process we engage in when we intentionally change what we say we believe in, that is deny the unchanging truth of our faith by, in fact, changing it?

I suggest that we need careful discussion as to what is substance and what is style. It could be that the distinction is clearer for some Anglicans than it is for other Anglicans.

I take it that every commenter here, if not every reader would agree to the substance/style distinction in the following propositions: Anglican believe, with the Great Creeds, that God is Trinity; Anglicans are indifferent to whether a chasuble is worn by the presiding priest at communion. Hopefully we also agree which of the two statements concerns substance and which concerns style!

I also take it that every commenter here, if not every reader would agree that the following is a proposition about the substance of our faith as Anglican Christians: the vows made in a marriage service are for life since marriage is a permanent contract only intended to be ended when one party to the marriage dies.

But would we all agree with the following propositions?

A. Anglican doctrine of marriage is fundamental to Anglican theological commitments, that is, it is as substantial a matter as (say) the doctrine of the Trinity or the doctrine of salvation (even though it is not referred to in either the Great Creeds or in the 39 Articles).
B. It is a change in the substance of the doctrine of marriage when Anglicans permit the remarriage of a divorcee except where the previous marriage has broken down because of adultery.

That is, Anglicans can agree on matters of substance but may disagree on which matters are substantial or may disagree on the degree of substantiality of a substantial matter.

We could multiply examples of potential rocks upon which the good ship Substance Distinguished From Style may founder.

If an Anglican priest refuses to baptise infants (because theologically unable to baptise infants of believing parents), is the priest guilty of infraction of substance or of style (or of both)?

If an Anglican priest encourages presidency at communion by laypersons, has a matter of Anglican substance or Anglican style been denied?

When an Anglican such as John Newman admits the claims of Rome upon his ministry, has he changed his mind on a matter of substance or on a matter of style? If on substance, what doctrine has changed for him? Is it, say, salvation? Episcopacy? Both? Something else? If concerning both salvation and episcopacy, are each of the same substantial status?

In other words, I and many Anglicans easily recognise the distinction between substance and style for a number of instances in Anglican life but I (at least) do not so easily recognise that distinction in other instances.

Thus I am less than clear whether, say, a distinction between 'revision' and 'reform' holds up when we work out how we handle the remarriage of divorcees. Have we made a revision to our doctrine of marriage or reformed it? If we determine that the doctrine of marriage is 'up there' with the Trinity, exemplified, say, by a willingness to enter into schism if the doctrine is changed (e.g. by allowing that marriage might involve two people of the same sex) have we revised or reformed the status of the doctrine of marriage within the panoply of Anglican doctrines?

Would an Anglican priest, driven by theological reflection to refuse to baptise infants, or to permit lay presidency, or to recognise the claims to primacy of the Bishop of Rome be involved in reform or revision in understanding of Anglican doctrine?

And, just to have a little kicker re GAFCON and the Jerusalem Declaration: are Kiwi priests who sign up to the Jerusalem Declaration (i.e. to accepting the conclusions of the first four Ecumenical Councils, including the Nicean Canons which specify one bishop per geographical area) and who remain under the authority of our General Synod (which permits more than one bishop per geographical area) guilty of a sin of inconsistency in style or substance? Do they and I belong to a church which has reformed or revised its understanding of episcopacy?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

GAFCON's just another revision of Anglicanism

In the absence of news from GAFCON on Monday (Kenya time) - reasonable since this site tells us it is registration day - actually there was one bit of news, a Tweet from a Kiwi participant said the ANZAC brigade were all going out for dinner together - so let's talk revisionism.

[UPDATE: Here is David Ould's report on Day One].

An exchange or two yesterday here saw that old Anglican blogging canard of 'revisionism' tossed about like a hand grenade from trench to trench in WW1 warfare.

The nice thing about claiming that this or that lot of Anglicans are revisionist is that it is always true!! When I write a draft of an essay or sermon and then seek to improve it by correcting some errors or finding a better way to say something I am, even as (I award the title to myself) the Most Orthodox Preacher in the Whole Wide World, engaging in revisionism.

Guess what? Anglicanism has always been in draft mode. Whether we think of the dear King James Bible and its many improvements before a settled version in seventeen hundred and something  which turned out to be a prelude to the Revised Version and many subsequent English translations, or Cranmer writing the Book of Common Prayer in 1549, wait, improved in 1552, whoops there were further corrections to get to the 1662 version which most (non-Americans) mean by invoking the BCP, or the Thirty Nine Articles which were preceded by the Forty Two Articles, a serious amount of Anglican drafting was going on from the time of the Reformation.

More recently we could talk about various Puritan, Dissenting and Methodist attempts to rewrite the Anglican draft which failed, except not completely since somehow the Evangelical Revival of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth crept into the Establishment and, shock, horror, revived elements of Puritan, Methodist and Dissenting emphasis on Bible teaching, personal holiness and general zeal for discipleship.

Naturally there was a bit of reaction to that piece of revisionism and Newman, Pusey and company got the Oxford Anglo-Catholic Revival Moving from the hothouse of a university city to the industrial heartlands of burgeoning Britain. To the charge that this was a New Revisionism, the Tracts of the Time, all 90 (?) of them, argued strenuously that this was just the meaning of Anglicanism as hidden in the Thirty-Nine Articles. At least Newman had the integrity to see that he was involved in writing tosh and recognised that the Thirty-Nine Articles meant his newly minted It's Not Actually Revised Anglicanism actually meant buying a pair of swimming togs and plunging across the Tiber.

Meanwhile in a far off country Colenso was anticipating bog standard aspects of Twentieth Century Anglican liberalism which ticked our very own George Selwyn off and set in train Lambeth Conferences which could be accurately renamed Half-Hearted Attempts to Define Anglicanism Every Ten Years.

Selwyn incidentally was a master Anglican Revisionist of the First Class. Dissatisfied with the Missionary Church he came to be bishop of, he set about excluding Maori from its governance and founded a Settler Version of Kiwi Anglicanism (which later would be revised again, radically, in 1990). In the process, however, he did do at least one good thing which was to toss his English patrician heritage of episcopal and parliamentary control of Anglicanism out the window in favour of synodical governance in which laity play a determining role.

Of course while all these eighteenth and nineteenth century moves in the British realm of Anglicanism were going on, the Americans were engaged in their own revisionism. Fair enough too. It is hard to pray a collect for the Sovereign if you have ditched the Sovereign.

Through the twentieth century revisionism of things Anglican spread like a virus throughout the globe. Infrequent communion was like a sandcastle before the tide of Parish Communionism. The BCPs' [intentional plural] antiquated versions of the vernacular gave way, both in America and in the Commonwealth, to new versions of liturgy. Neither Hymns Ancient and Modern nor the Book of Common Praise could hold the line on new songs beloved by Anglicans. Trends in robing changed (for good and for ill: are robes meant to be Wearable Art?). Requirements for ordination changed. In a shocking move the Church of England conceded that a theological degree might be as good as a degree in Classics or Mathematics as preparation for ministry. Male DNA as another requirement was hung on to for a lot longer!

Do I expect GAFCON this week to be revisionist? You bet. The draft paper called Anglicanism is always being revised. Do I expect some GAFCONites to charge that those not attending are revisionist? You bet. The latest draft or 'our current draft' always calls in question other versions of the draft.

Why, I even expect some commenters here to charge me with a revisionist view of Anglican history, as outlined with breathtaking speed above :).

Monday, October 21, 2013

That's Evolution: ++Welby's adapting position on GAFCON

Intriguing article here about ++Welby preaching twice in Nairobi cathedral with a (seemingly) evolving perspective on Communion/GAFCON. What do you think?

That's Communion: ++Welby and ++Duncan Share Leadership!

If you head to the ACNA Gafcon page now (here) you will see a report of a communion service in Kenya for the GAFCON Primates at which ++Justin preached, ++Wabukala presided, and ++Duncan (Archbishop of ACNA) assisted at Communion. Look also here, from which the photo below is taken. (A further report re ++Welby at GAFCON is here).

Yes, that is a sign of the importance of GAFCON: many Anglican primates and bishops conferring together in shared communion about the future of Anglican-shaped mission in the world Christ died for. Increasingly this mission is going to be carried out by those willing to break bread together. 

A sharp question being posed to the body known as the 'Anglican Communion' is whether this body encompasses Anglicans in action today or a past 'use by date' definition of who Anglicans are (or were).

I am confident that under ++Justin the sharpness of the question will be understood. How the question will be answered is going to be observed in the next decade, with Lambeth 2018 offering crucial evidence for progress in the answer.

We need some flexible Anglican intellectuals, able to juggle the competing aspirations in the situation, just like these amazing Arsenal footballers as they score the most amazing goal I have ever seen in my life ... (an earlier embedding of the goal has been removed by YouTube) seen here or here or best is here.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Get All Your Gafcon News Here

Well, get the news by clicking the link here. Looks like there will be a daily digest through the next week. As we go through the days I will link to the latest day (Kenyan time).

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Is anyone involved in Kiwi politics untainted?

As noted a post or two above there is an unfolding sex scandal involving NZ politicians which is full of salacious interest. One danger with such scandal is that it deflects attention from other stories of importance, arguably of greater importance. One such story involves an MP, John Banks, a politician both in national and local body politics, representing over the years two different parties, who has been dogged by a scandal of his own making, concerning the non-salacious but nevertheless politically interesting possibility that he may not have been as transparent as possible and as legally required concerning the source of donations for a political campaign in 2010. Until this past week police had adjudged that available evidence was insufficient to make a conviction likely to succeed. So no charges brought.

You are probably half-asleep if you have read this far, and wondering what this has to do with theology ...

This past week a keen Wellington businessman, Graham McCready, has successfully brought a private prosecution against Mr Banks to a point where a judge has committed Mr Banks to trial on the matter of filing false papers re the electoral finances. Victory for David against Goliath, for the individual against the system, for obscurity against fame, and for purity against (allegedly) impurity? But ...

A blog I follow, Keeping Stock (written by a fellow Christian) has done a little homework on Mr McCready, as you can read here. It is a salutary reminder of the obvious and well-known theological truth, that we are all sinners, not one of us is untainted. Nevertheless I find myself, as I reflect on these stories, avidly following the (mis)fortunes this week in American politics, keenly interested in the state of the political play in our fair land. Naively I keep wishing that some people in NZ politics were untainted by wrong-doing, obsessed only with serving their fellow-citizens and not personal agendas and wish fulfilments.

But then, are we citizens untainted? It is from our ranks that politicians come and it is we who buy newspapers, turn TV news on and read blogs, none of which are compulsory.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Great cities have great buildings

UPDATE: Outstanding post on the matter addressed below by Bosco Peters

The terrific thing about Sydney is that it has some great buildings. Not heaps like say a London, Washington D.C. or Paris, but enough to shape its identity, enhance its fame and add to the reasons to visit it. My second visit to Sydney did nothing to diminish the awe in which I hold the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House which, handily, can be seen in tandem from many vantage points, such as

While in Sydney I was totally impressed by St Mary's Catholic Cathedral. Architecturally speaking, with Gothic European cathedrals in mind, it is not distinctive, save that no other cathedral in the Southern Hemisphere competes with it for size. But its distinction, for this Down Under Anglican, was in its interior tone or 'tone': impressive soft golden hued lighting, general layout including lack of potentially noisy distractions contributed to an immediate sense of entering the house of the divine presence in which prayer, devotion and quiet reflection was the only appropriate mode of being. Awesome in its holiness I really rate this cathedral.

So with those thoughts in my mind it is interesting this week in Christchurch to read about a proposal for our permanent cathedral from left-field (almost literally as it is the brainchild of an ex Christchurch resident now living in London). You can read about it in this article. It is worth clicking on the video to gain a flying birds-eye view of the concept.

Here is the key pic:

If you cannot quite make out what is going on, the concept is of the cathedral being demolished to a safe level (left hand side of picture) and of a mesh roof stretching out from the existing cathedral footprint outwards to the Square surrounding the Cathedral (i.e. towards the top, bottom and right hand sides of the picture.

I think I see in the flying birds-eye view a set apart interior space under the centre of the mesh roof. But it is hard to work out how this space might work (thinking of my appreciation of St Mary's Cathedral) for prayer and devotion.

I am not going to make a judgment on the basis of limited knowledge of this concept whether it is worth further consideration or not, nor whether it might prove to be a great building which sets Christchurch apart like the Harbour Bridge and Opera House. But I have returned from Sydney very keen to see that our new cathedral is a great building which helps restore greatness to our city.

Addendum: an additional article is now available, with a picture of what the 'interior' or 'under the canopy' might look like, here.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Sunk with little trace

A while back there was a bit of media noise about a case brought to our Human Rights Tribunal concerning the possibility that rights had been denied by being turned down for ordination. It has taken a long time for the judgment of the tribunal to come out. But out it is, here on Taonga, and there will be a bishop or two who will sleep better tonight.

I cannot find the story on our Stuff or NZ Herald sites. Has it sunk with little trace already? That is probably because, as NZ readers of ADU know, a huge sex scandal concerning some politicians has completely enveloped our news hounds who cannot find enough salacious details to report. I am of course referring to this story in which, as you will read, unstoppable sex is reported.

Anyway, I am glad the Human Rights Tribunal judgment is what it is. It respects the rules of our church and permits the church to determine its own rules as and when it sees fit to change them or to establish new ones.

With H/T to commenter Nick, here are the links to the decision on the Human Rights Tribunal website:

the summary

the full judgement

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Crisis, what crisis?

Anglicans have barely begun to engage with Supranational Ecclesiology (no, it is not a fancy titled pension scheme). With a hat tip to Mark Harris at Preludium for the alert, here is an excerpt from Ephraim Radner's reflection on the Toronto pan Anglican Congress fifty years ago in 1963. A Congress that thought the Communion was in crisis. How little did they know!

"In this light let me suggest several possible new channels of communion:

First, diversity requires a clearer mode of mutual engagement. MRI was significant, because it put this reality and call squarely on the table. And we have seen its demand: not “partnership” in some kind of contractual mode, but “mutual subjection” in the body of Christ, as Paul speaks of it in Ephesians 5:21. That presses towards an ecclesiology that is more than the sum of its national parts, indeed that is explicitly “supranational” — something Bayne still could not countenance. We need “supranational” structures. MRI, in its deep sense, implies that the churches of England and of Canada and of Nigeria and of Ecuador and of the U.S. are not “whole” as they stand and act alone; they are whole only as they subject themselves to one another, in the form of spousal life, as Paul writes. We need to look at the ways that “sovereignty” can creatively and responsibly be broken down. Political scientists and legal scholars and policy-makers have been doing this, in the wake of things like the European Union, Kyoto, human rights law, and so on (see Anne-Marie Slaughter’s work). The Church, and the Anglican Communion of course, is not a political entity, though many of its decision-making forms function politically. But churches, we can be sure, are not “sovereign states,” and this whole idea that we are needs to be thrown away. Speaking personally, the Covenant is still the most creative means we have on the table in this direction. And I will argue this with anybody.

Second, it is true that a static prayer book cannot become a substitute for the revelation of Scripture and the priority of the gospel. But the prayer book’s scriptural structure, its formative application, and its embedded provision of the Church’s “traditions” are essential to Anglicanism’s missionary life. Prayer book revision has been driven by local incoherence. This is a central reality that must be engaged now, and not later. But working this out will require that the political issue be pursued first.

Finally, the missionary character of communion cannot be let go. It must inform both church politics and the prayer book, even as its own form must be shaped by them also. This is the deepest lesson of looking at the substance of the Toronto Congress and MRI. And it is why we are not political nations, but the body of Christ with a gospel to proclaim and share. Every decision about political structure and doctrinal form must be subordinate to this reality of Christ’s mission within and as his own body to peoples and a world that must be drawn into his embrace."

With thanks to The Living Church for the whole address here.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Only Fittest Anglicans will Survive Cataclysm

Sydney is a truly great city. Last week we spent from Tuesday to Friday there, taking in many popular sites/sights and even more shops (of which there seemed to be no end). I found very little to dislike in Sydney. There were some annoying flies and one day the temperature hit 37 degrees (Celsius). But everything else was likable. Australia is the lucky country and Sydney is its star (cue outrage from commenters living in Melbourne ...). Sure, there is poverty and we saw signs of that through a few homeless beggars on the streets of the CBD. But everything else spoke of a prosperous country, attractive to a swarm of immigrants (it was difficult to ever actually hear an Australian accent) and deeply appealing through its natural gifts. Is there, for instance, a more beautiful setting for a city anywhere in the world than Sydney Harbour? (How lucky to have Botany Bay 'down the road' in which to direct cargo ships and piles of containers, keeping Sydney Harbour free for scenic views, expensive houses and flash launches!)

Thus in a context of material plenty I did a little bit of reflecting about the course of the gospel amidst its adherents called Anglicans. One thing that struck me from a very brief visit to St Andrew's Anglican Cathedral, replete with its emphasis on Bible studies and de-emphasis on communion (its table-altar was wheeled to the side of the building), was a thought about Anglican evolution.

Yes, I (and many others) are keen on a noble view of centrist or mainstream Anglicanism: Word and Sacrament, via media, moderateness rather than extremism, Communion mindedness, balance in everything. Such keenness would be perfectly satisfied with a much more monochrome Anglican Communion, theologically, liturgically and ritually.

But past Anglicanism has not spawned a present Anglicanism with family characteristics from previous generations clearly replicated in the now vast generation spread around the world. Rather, more like Darwin's account of evolution, a vast array of 'animals' now populates the 'Anglican Menagerie'. To be sure there are family resemblances, some more striking than others. But some differences are perhaps like the differences between tigers and leopards, or lions or the domestic cat: it is tempting to give the strikingly different members of the Anglican family different names!

My insight in the city of Sydney this past week about the Diocese of Sydney is that (to the extent that there is an identifiable 'Sydney Anglicanism') it should not be critiqued for its perceived shortcomings in the light of a noble view of mainstream Anglicanism. Instead it should be appreciated for what it is, an evolutionary development in Anglicanism. Ditto the strange (at times) life of my own church, ACANZP, and the various species around the world which look just a little bit odd from the noble perspective (including, these days, the C of E which looks a little bonkers for not being able to go faster towards women bishops than the Scots, Irish and Welsh)!

Thinking in this way, of course, we welcome GAFCON, and ACNA as evolutions in global Anglicanism. And, yes, just before someone hits the Comment button, TEC and its life today.

This is not to say that all Anglican animals are equal. Some have (so to speak) two legs and some have four legs. Whether we view two legged animals as better or worse than four legged animals will depend on other values. For those committed to what I have called a noble view of the Anglican mainstream, then all deviations from that stream might be viewed negatively. For those committed to the importance of local contexts shaping forms of Anglicanism then expression of Anglican mainstream might be viewed as implausible: surely, it could be said, a true grasp of the importance of context should shape local expressions of Anglicanism away from the mainstream. Further, there is always the possibility that any given evolution of Anglicanism has produced a beast which has little or no connection to orthodox Christianity (e.g. Spongism).

What might be important to consider about evolving Anglicanism is whether what has evolved is fit for survival in a changing environment. Such environments pose challenges for the life of the gospel and for the living church in those environments. Life adapts to change or dies! From this perspective it is too early to tell whether (say) the Diocese of Sydney has made the right decisions about the course it has pursued these past few decades as it has engaged with modern and post-modern, secular,materialistic Sydney. Similarly, despite some statistics pointing towards conclusions, it is likely too early to determine the success or failure of TEC as it has engaged with a changing USA or ACNA as it seeks to adapt Anglicanism differently to mutating North American societies.

Global Christianity is (arguably) facing a cataclysm of opposition. Here it may be a tide of unbelief threatening to sweep the faith before it. There it may be the direct, violent opposition of militant Islam. Nearly everywhere the idolatry of 21st century materialism draws Christians away from discipleship in gospel terms, following Jesus the possessionless Master.

Time will tell which forms of Christianity, let alone Anglican Christianity will survive. Let's be honest, no one form of Anglicanism is doing really, really well in the West. Sydney Diocese, arguably, has as good a case for predicting the survival of Anglicanism within its city as any Anglican church has in its city or region or country.

Only the fittest Anglicans will survive the cataclysm. That is, Anglicans which adapt best for the circumstances which now face them have a chance of surviving to be Anglican one hundred years from now. Those who do not attempt to adapt will suffer extinction.

One of the salutary ironies of Christian history is that some New Testament churches became extinct. Possessing an orthodox letter from Paul did not save them!

Monday, October 14, 2013

This is why people are leaving the Anglican church

Judith Collins, Anglican parishioner and Minister of Justice in our country has offered an interesting reason for why Anglicans are leaving the church. It is found within the video within this TV One News item about Bishop Justin Duckworth of Wellington beginning a novel form of prayerful action drawing to the number of people in our prison system and the need to find better ways to cut the crime rate and re-offending rate. Taonga has two reports here and here about this week long focus on penal reform.

Incidentally what shoddy reporting by TV One's print team! Not one word within their words below the video clip about Judith Collins' challenge to the Bishop.

TV Three's clip is here.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Public Christian Gatherings

A good translation of ekklesia is 'public Christian gatherings.' Nevertheless even I was taken aback to see this description of services on the noticeboard of St Andrew's Anglican Cathedral, Sydney this week where I have been undertaking my internet fast.

Next week I will offer some reflections of an ecclesiological and missiological kind re my visit to Sydney (which was strictly holiday, not ecclesiastical, but we did pop in to St Andrew's Cathedral and Sydney's piece de resistance, St. Mary's Catholic Cathedral, an absolutely magnificent cathedral in every way).

Meantime, thanks for many recent comments here which I have just posted.

Update: On arriving home I see that the tin cans and strings between Nairobi, Sydney and Lambeth have been carrying quite a bit of traffic with the upshot that Archbishop Justin Welby will be re-configuring his diary and travel schedule to meet with the GAFCON Primates.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Christchurch Cathedral Announcement

As announced yesterday at our cathedral and conveyed to the diocese a few moments ago in a letter from Bishop Victoria:

"On Sunday 6 October I was  delighted to announce the appointment of the new Dean of ChristChurch Cathedral and also the appointment of an Associate Dean.  Both announcements were met with joy and thanksgiving by the Cathedral communities.

The new Dean is the Rev Lynda Patterson,  the acting dean of our Cathedral for the past 20 months since Peter Beck left the active ministry to enter local politics.  I cannot thank Lynda enough for her ministry and sacrificial service over this time at the Cathedral which as you know has been the focus of many emotional battles and debates.  She has held the Cathedral community together and also handled no small amount of international media interest about both the Cathedral in the Square and the new Transitional Cathedral. 

The Associate Dean is the Ven Nick Mountfort the vicar  of St John’s Highfield, Timaru and Archdeacon of South Canterbury. Nick is presently a member of the Standing Committee and has been involved with both Anglican Care South Canterbury and the Anglican Care Trust Board including some time as Chairman. 

Lynda will commence her new appointment on 1 November and Nick’s appointment begins on 15 February.  Both Lynda and Nick were elected at our September Synod to membership of General Synod.

The Transitional Cathedral continues to attract many visitors and on the 6 October when I was with the Cathedral community for all 3 services I was struck by the number of people who were visiting from elsewhere in New Zealand and overseas.  This is the beginning of a return to how things were prior to the need to walk away from the Cathedral in the Square."

This will be my last post for a week in which I plan to have several days of fasting from the internet.
After tonight (Monday, NZ time) I may not post any comments until Saturday (NZ time).

Saturday, October 5, 2013

The Nairobi Declaration: an offering

Having criticised the Jerusalem Declaration the least I can do is draft up Mark II which I will call the Nairobi Declaration. It is offered in freedom and without copyright constraints to GAFCON II!

For clarity. This is not being offered on the basis that all readers here at ADU will agree with it, or should agree with it. It is being offered on the basis that it improves the JD and on some assumptions about the likely make up of conferees in Nairobi that it might be agreeable to GAFCON 2.

It is worth noting at this time that, on the matter of the Anglican Covenant, the Church of Southern Africa these past few days has managed both to 'conservatively' affirm the adoption of the Covenant and to 'liberally' urge its bishops to provide guidelines for the blessing of same sex civil unions. The future of global Anglicanism lies in the holding together of conservative theology and liberal pastoral practice!


Towards The Nairobi Declaration (2013)

In the name of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit:

We, the participants in the Global Anglican Future Conference, have met in the land of Kenya. We express our loyalty as disciples to the King of kings, the Lord Jesus. We joyfully embrace his command to proclaim the reality of his kingdom which he first announced in this land. The gospel of the kingdom is the good news of salvation, liberation and transformation for all. In light of the above, we agree to chart a way forward together that promotes and protects the biblical gospel and mission to the world, solemnly declaring the following tenets of orthodoxy which underpin our Anglican identity.
  1. We rejoice in the gospel of God through which we have been saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. Because God first loved us, we love him and as believers bring forth fruits of love, ongoing repentance, lively hope and thanksgiving to God in all things.
  3. We believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God written and to contain all things necessary for salvation. The Bible is to be translated, read, interpreted, preached, taught and obeyed respectful of the rule of faith expressed in the four Ecumenical Councils, the three historic creeds and the Thirty-nine Articles.
  5. We uphold the four Ecumenical Councils (Nicea, 325; Constantinople, 381; Ephesus, 431; Chalecedon, 451) and the three historic Creeds as expressing the rule of faith (and orthodox faith) of the one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
  7. We uphold the Thirty-nine Articles as containing the true doctrine of the Church agreeing with God’s Word and as expressing clarification of the rule of faith of the one holy catholic and apostolic church for Anglicans.
  9. We gladly proclaim and submit to the unique and universal Lordship of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, humanity’s only Saviour from sin, judgement and hell, who lived the life we could not live and died the death that we deserve. By his atoning death and glorious resurrection, he secured the redemption of all who come to him in repentance and faith.
  11. We rejoice in our Anglican sacramental and liturgical heritage as an expression of the gospel, and we uphold the 1662 Book of Common Prayer as a true and authoritative standard of worship and prayer. All expressions of Anglican worship should be theologically consistent with the theology of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer and coherent with the sacramental and liturgical heritage represented in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer.
  13. We recognise that God has called and gifted bishops, priests and deacons in historic succession to equip all the people of God for their ministry in the world. We uphold the classic Anglican Ordinal as an authoritative standard of clerical orders for Anglican churches.
  15. We acknowledge God’s creation of humankind as male and female and the unchangeable standard of Christian marriage between one man and one woman as the proper place for sexual intimacy and the basis of the family. We repent of our failures to maintain this standard and call for a renewed commitment to lifelong fidelity in marriage and abstinence for those who are not married.
  17. We gladly accept the Great Commission of the risen Lord to make disciples of all nations, to seek those who do not know Christ and to baptise, teach and bring new believers to maturity.
  19. We are mindful of our responsibility to be good stewards of God’s creation, to uphold and advocate justice in society, and to seek relief and empowerment of the poor and needy.
  21. We are committed to the unity of all those who know and love Christ and to building authentic ecumenical relationships among churches holding the orthodox faith of the one holy catholic and apostolic church.
  23. We recognise the orders and jurisdiction of those Anglicans who uphold orthodox faith and practice in accordance with this declaration, and we encourage them to join us in formal agreement with this declaration.
  25. We celebrate the God-given diversity among us which enriches our global fellowship, and we acknowledge freedom in secondary matters. We pledge to work together to seek the mind of Christ on issues that divide us.
  27. We reject the authority of those churches and leaders who have denied the orthodox faith in word or deed. We pray for them and call on them to repent and return to the Lord.
  29. We rejoice at the prospect of Jesus’ coming again in glory, and while we await this final event of history, we praise him for the way he builds up his church through his Spirit by miraculously changing lives."

Covenant Adoption ... in Africa

The Covenant may not be lost yet. Southern Africa has adopted (yes, not a typo, adopted) it. Having previously adopted it, seen all sorts of prevarication and non-adoption of it since, nevertheless our Anglican sisters and brothers in the land of the terrifying Bismarck Du Plessis has reconfirmed that is has adopted the Anglican Covenant.


Friday, October 4, 2013

Going to GAFCON

Not me. But fourteen, maybe fifteen respected colleagues and friends are going from the Anglican Church of Aotearoa New Zealand and Polynesia to the second Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) in Nairobi, 21-26 October 2013. They will be led by Bishop Richard Ellena, Bishop of Nelson. I have been told who is going but cannot remember all the names. I think five dioceses are represented (Auckland, Waikato, Wellington, Nelson, Christchurch). Nearly half those going are in ministry in my diocese. One or two I have spoken with have assured me that 'the issue' hardly features on the programme for the conference, which is focused on mission and renewal of the church.

GAFCON is an important event in the life of the Anglican Communion. It will gather many keen, committed Anglican leaders from around the churches of the Communion. Their fellowship together will build relationships, networks and shared commitments in mission and renewal in years to come. Other Anglicans will come, notably from the Anglican Church of North America. Together these Anglicans will be greeted by Archbishop Justin Welby via a video link. ++Justin is, of course, engaged in welcoming the next but two Governor of the Church of England into his church when he baptises baby George on 23rd October!

Not all are happy with GAFCON. For a different approach to GAFCON and summary of differing views on it, read my colleague Bosco Peters' post on GAFCON here (and the comments which follow it). For the record, and previously signalled some time back on ADU, I am not terrifically cheerful about the Jerusalem Declaration (from GAFCON I).* But that doesn't mean we cannot be otherwise happy about GAFCON

These are my reasons to be happy with GAFCON:

1. It is a forum which gathers up Anglicans from around the globe in a more inclusive way than the Anglican Communion itself does. ACNA is not yet welcome into the Communion but it is welcome to GAFCON. I am happy about that: many fine Anglicans have left the North American Anglican/Episcopal churches in good 'Protesting' conscience while yet wishing to remain part of a formal Anglican church. ACNA fulfils that wish and I am glad that it exists. (I am also glad that TEC exists as many American Episcopalians could not in good conscience belong to ACNA).

2. GAFCON is a gathering of Anglicans keen to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ to the world. There will be no hesitation, deviation or waffle about this keenness, proclamation or content of the gospel. Not every Anglican gathering (in my experience) is thus and so. GAFCON sets us all a good example.

3. GAFCON offers hope for the future of global Anglicanism. Let's face it. Many attendees will be pondering the future of global Anglicanism. Many will be concerned about the future of their own Anglican churches. I know some (I guess all) of our Kiwi attendees wonder where ACANZP is going, who is going to be part of it when it finds out its destination. But note a simple fact about GAFCON. It is not GPFCON or GEOFCON or GRCFCON. A stands for Anglican (not Presbyterian, Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic). Everyone going to GAFCON is choosing to commit to the future of Anglicanism. No one has to. Life savers stand on the other sides of the Tiber, Bosphorous and Firth of Forth. But no attendee is putting on their swimming togs. Our hope for future global Anglicanism is the better for having a bunch of key leaders who choose to remain Anglican, to resist alternatives and to conference together as Anglicans.

Sure: it would be just fine if all Anglicans were 'in' the official Communion, if none had left over these past decades, and all disagreeable issues yielded happy 'agree to disagree' conclusions. But that is a pipe dream for the time being. We must make the best of an unhappy situation. GAFCON is a contribution to that making do.

*Reservations about the Jerusalem Declaration


(a) Language such as "We uphold the four Ecumenical Councils" and "the Thirty-nine Articles as containing the true doctrine of the Church agreeing with God’s Word and as authoritative for Anglicans today" is imprecise. Which "four" Ecumenical Councils (and why four and not one, two, three, five, six or seven) are meant? Are the Thirty-Nine Articles generally authoritative or is each and every article authoritative? Just one other example: this statement begs many questions, "We are committed to the unity of all those who know and love Christ and to building authentic ecumenical relationships." Is GAFCON actively working on unity with Rome, with TEC, with (say) Pentecostal churches, for in those churches are many Christians who 'know and love Christ'?

(b) Statements such as "we uphold the 1662 Book of Common Prayer as a true and authoritative standard of worship and prayer, to be translated and locally adapted for each culture" seem unworkable and unreal. Fine modern Anglican liturgies, well used and appreciated by many attendees at GAFCON are not translations and adaptations of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer (though they may be theologically coherent with the same). Further, there will be Anglican ministers at GAFCON who prepare and lead services of worship which do not work from the 1662 BCP as 'standard of worship' but owe much more to a general Protestant conception of worship services as some songs, some prayers, a Scripture reading and a sermon.

In sum, I suggest GAFCON and the associated Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, has missed the theological mark. Addendum: even though there is this document to refer to, here, the theological mustard is not cut by the JD at certain points.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Punishment and Crime

As some good news emerges from Syria re destruction of their chemical arsenal, a moment pondering the fate of just war theory in the age of relativity with its post-modernist twist(s) ...

"Throughout reactions and deliberations to the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons, the question of punishment has arisen on multiple occasions. Yet the importance of punishment—even its meaning and goals—has become contested and miserably confused. At some level, we still think that punishment matters in international politics. But we don’t understand why.

In the end, though, when Obama threw the punishment card into the discard pile, he folded his other cards as well—morally speaking anyway."

The whole of John D Carlson's First Things article is here (H/T a friendly commenter on ADU).

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Shifting sands of Anglican theology and practice

Occasionally here at ADU we argue about whether Calvinism is or is not part of Anglicanism. The following citation from an Eamon Duffy review of "Lancelot Andrewes: Selected Sermons and Lectures edited by Peter McCullough Oxford, 491 pp, £90.00, November 2005, ISBN 0 19 818774 2" in the London Review of Books (August 2006) is instructive. The great theologian and bishop Lancelot Andrewes both imbibed and preached Calvinism, somewhat standard fare in Elizabethan Anglicanism, and later moved on from it. In making this citation I am not arguing for or against Calvinism as having a proper place in Anglicanism but offering the observation that Anglicanism is capable of both supporting and distancing itself from specific systematic theologies such as Calvinism. Read on ...

"Recent writing on the English Reformation by Peter Lake, Nicholas Tyacke and others has exploded Eliot’s account of Andrewes as the voice of a tranquil via media, a man whose confidence sprang from the settled possession of ‘a formed visible church behind him’. His early religious opinions took shape in the godly Protestantism of mercantile London and Puritan Cambridge. From 1571 he was a scholar of Pembroke Hall, along with the young Edmund Spenser, under its Puritan master William Fulke, and he effortlessly took on the colouring of his Cambridge environment. He was a valued member of a formidably learned biblical seminar conducted by the leading university Puritans, and the godly of Cambridge flocked to his afternoon catechetical lectures on the Decalogue. 

Though these youthful works included many hints of some of his later theological and ritual concerns, such as the need for external reverence in prayer, they also insisted on such flagship Protestant causes as the impermissibility of images, and the strict observance of the Sabbath. 

Circulating in dozens of manuscript transcripts for three generations, the catechetical lectures were eventually printed by a Puritan bookseller at the start of the English Civil War, with a pointed dedication to the Long Parliament in which the editor recalled Andrewes’s popularity among the Elizabethan godly: 
      ‘He was scarce reputed a pretender to learning and piety then in Cambridge, who made not himselfe a disciple of Mr Andrewes.’ 

In 1586 he became chaplain to Henry Hastings, Third Earl of Huntingdon, the ‘Puritan Earl’ who, as president of the Council of the North, was commander-in-chief in England’s northern Catholic badlands, in the battle between popery and a beleaguered and pugilistic Elizabethan Protestantism. 

Andrewes’s duties under Huntingdon included the attempted (and apparently often successful) conversion of stubborn recusants. His surviving sermons from this period assume the framework of the conventional predestinarian Calvinism which was the theological default position of most convinced Elizabethan Protestants.

By the 1590s, however, Andrewes’s opinions were on the move. 

Steeped in the ancient languages of the Bible and, perhaps more significantly, in the writings of the Greek and Latin Fathers, he had come to feel the aridity of a religion which seemed at times to consist of nothing more than preaching: 
   ‘All our holiday holinesse, yea, and our working day too, both are come to this, to heare (nay, I dare not say that, I cannot prove it) but, to be at a Sermon.’ 

His own sermons fell silent about predestination, and emphasised instead the need for perseverance in faith and good works. Increasingly he insisted on reverence for hierarchy and order, and a high sacramentalism, which included the value and even necessity of priestly absolution. 

In contrast to most of his contemporaries, including the other great father figure of the Anglican via media, Richard Hooker, he preached the objective presence of Christ in the eucharistic elements of bread and wine independent of the faith of the recipient, he taught the sacrificial character of the eucharist, and, like Continental Lutherans but unlike most English theologians, insisted on the power of the material elements to forgive the sins of the communicant. 

Scorning Protestant irreverence and lack of ceremony in church, he insisted on kneeling for prayer and at the sacrament (God, he declared, ‘will not have us worship him like elephants, as if we had no joints in our knees’). He practised a heightened ritualism: incense was used in his episcopal chapels."

As best I understand Andrewes influence on the C of E he was a 'father' to Laud and thus a 'grandfather' to the 19th century Anglo-Catholics.

But evangelicals are grateful for Andrewes' role in the publication of the King James' Bible!