Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Richard Hooker would understand what GAFCON is (possibly) up to (Updated)

UPDATE
With relevance to talk of parallel churches (below), I note this morning a remarkable analysis of the creation of the NEC as a parallel to TEC in this Seitz & McCall article here.

ORIGINAL
Richard Hooker was a subtle, careful thinker about the true character of the Church of England. (A sign of that subtlety and care is enmeshed in a current post on a sidebar link here).

That means, of course, that he would understand exactly what GAFCON is up to this week as its Primates Council meets in London. He would understand that there are limits to Anglican diversity. When diversity gets ever more, well, diverse, then something is going to give, in even the most tolerant and inclusive of elastic organisations. Apparently a new Anglican church is in the offing in England. Or is it?

Both the Independent and Christian Today journalists write about what they think is going on in regard to the meeting. Ruth Gledhill writing for the latter - she is an observer of Anglicana of great repute - is likely to know what is what. (See also here). But the Independent report is off to a dismal start when it begins with

'The Church of England is at risk of an unprecedented schism as conservative Anglican leaders gather to discuss forming a “parallel” church in protest against women bishops and gay marriage.'

First, note that there are plenty of precedented schisms in the life of the Church of England. Secondly, note that the GAFCON Primates Council has a severely limited influence on congregational life in the Church of England. A few parishes might breakaway. They won't constitute a "parallel" church.

Back to Hooker and his ability to understand that too much diversity can be intolerable.

The ABC understands this too:

'The move to establish a parallel church comes six months after the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, warned church leaders that the diversity of the worldwide Anglican community “may be too much to manage”.'

One problem we Anglicans have is that there are different versions of being Anglican. The GAFCON Primates Council understanding of being Anglican emphasises a confessional character (with special reference to the Thirty Nine Articles) which not all Anglicans share.

Other Anglicans (represented, I suggest, by TEC) emphasise an inclusive tolerance for believing many things which cannot be squared with the Thirty Nine Articles. Interestingly this inclusive tolerance has its own built in limits to diversity by being generally inhospitable to the confessional approach. (It is not rocket science to discern that inhospitality to a confessional approach is in its own way another way of being confessional!)

Yet another group of Anglicans would see limits to Anglican diversity in a moderate, middle, via media manner, wishing their own church and the Anglican Communion as a whole could steer a path between the approaches of GAFCON and of TEC.

No doubt you can propose other groupings. Indeed I have not mentioned Global South ...

When the Communion eschewed the possibility of an Anglican Covenant, it also eschewed the possibility of determining what the character of true Anglicanism-for-the-Anglican-Communion is.

Fast forward to 2015 and we have a fight on our hands for the character of true Anglicanism integrated with a battle for the character of the Anglican Communion. "We're the real Communion." "No! We are the genuine Communion."

The question is not who will be the winner of the argument but whether we might all be the losers for engaging in the argument in the way we are doing. Without the Covenant to guide us we are like boxers before the Marquess of Queensberry established the rules!

For myself, as I continue to puzzle over what true Anglicanism is or should be, which may amount to no more than 'This is the kind of Anglican I will try to be', I keep coming back to a few basics. Next post ...

29 comments:

Kurt said...

'The Church of England is at risk of an unprecedented schism as conservative Anglican leaders gather to discuss forming a “parallel” church in protest against women bishops and gay marriage.'

A case of chickens coming home to roost. We told ABC Williams that this was likely to happen. He didn’t listen. Fortunately in the UK the laws on Church property are different than they are in the various American states.

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY

Kurt said...

“Other Anglicans (represented, I suggest, by TEC) emphasise an inclusive tolerance for believing many things which cannot be squared with the Thirty Nine Articles. Interestingly this inclusive tolerance has its own built in limits to diversity by being generally inhospitable to the confessional approach. (It is not rocket science to discern that inhospitality to a confessional approach is in its own way another way of being confessional!)”—Fr. Carrell

Well, Peter, “believing many things which cannot be squared with the Thirty Nine Articles,” is nothing new for TEC. In fact, in our Proposed Prayer Book of 1785 slashed the number of Articles substantially, and the first Standard Prayer Book of 1789 eliminated the Articles of Religion altogether. (The Articles were eventually incorporated, in a modified form, in the PB of 1801). The 1785 book, in particular, made a number of changes in a Latitudinarian direction that freaked out some eighteenth century Anglicans as much or more so, than anything TEC has done in the twenty-first century. And the 1789 book was much “too Catholic” for many others. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY

Jean said...

The ABC in his Holy Week lectures on you tube tells this story:

A member of his church apporached Spurgeon and and said, 'I am leaving to find the perfect church."

"Well, he said if you do don't join it because you will spoil it."

For any interested here is the link to the one on reconciliation:
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=a5kfczzS8gY

Father Ron Smith said...

"Fast forward to 2015 and we have a fight on our hands for the character of true Anglicanism integrated with a battle for the character of the Anglican Communion. "We're the real Communion." "No! We are the genuine Communion." - Dr. P,C. -

I guess that membership of the Anglican Communion might be realistically based on "Who is in Communion with the ABC, Lambeth, and the other 'Instruments of Unity'?

So far, neither TEC, the Church of England, nor the Anglican Church of Canada - with whom ACNA and the GAFCON Primates are not 'in communion' - have withdrawn, so presumably, these provinces are still part of the world-wide Anglican Communion. This does not mean they are a 'Church' - in the sense of the Roman Catholic Church under the rule of Pope and Vatican; but rather a federation of independent Churches.

GAFCON & ACNA, by virtue of their actual withdrawal from the 'Instruments of Unity' would seem to have extracted themSELVES from this collective.

As Kurt, on this thread, has stated, the 39 Articles are not an official 'Instrument of Unity'.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron,
Yes, there have been degrees of 'extraction' from the Instruments of Unity, though I do not think any church (save for ACNA) has withdrawn from the ABC.

My point is a little different. I am talking about the character of Anglicanism.

Suppose 34 of the 38 provinces did withdraw formally from the Communion. Would we say that the four remaining provinces constituted the true or genuine expression of global Anglicanism?

That would be a little odd to me!

Father Ron Smith said...

Peter, I would have thought that intentional withdrawal from a particular organisation would automatically exclude one from any claim to membership of that community - whatever else one might presume is one's entitlement to take over the name of the original community.

The difficulty here, I think, with your argument is that those of us who still have the original Bonds of Affection with the ABC and the 'Instruments of Unity' - without having withdrawn from that relationship - might still claim exclusive title to being Anglican, in the sense of not having resiled from partnership with one another.

Those who have intentionally given up on their relationship with parts of the total body, certainly in the case of the GAFCON entity (by their dint of their uniquely-professed 'Jerusalem Statement of Faith') cannot still claim identity with the original federation.

Father Ron Smith said...

A case in point, Peter, is this section from the recent article about the former Archbishop of Sydney (Secretary of GAFCON) on David Virtue's web-site:

""It is the GAFCON primates who broke communion," said Jensen. "GAFCON exists to heal, not to cast off, but to be a safe place where the gospel unites."

Jensen said the ordination of women arises from feminism. "If we accept this the consequences are far more grave and raise issues of anthropocentric and Trinitarian theology." Jensen cited I Tim 2.

"Homosexuality demonstrates the same point...."

While giving his reasons for the break, he does admit that GAFCON 'Broke Communion' - in a way that no other Provinces of the Communion were prepared to do! ACNA was only a splinter from the same schismatic origin and movement

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
You are confusing the definition of 'Anglican' with the definition of 'Anglican Communion.'

If I were a member of the Church of England and the Church of England left the Anglican Communion then I would remain an Anglican though no longer part of the Anglican Communion.

If the CofE left the Anglican Communion and the ABC declared himself consequently out of communion with the remaining provinces of the Anglican Communion, I imagine the Anglican Communion would quickly redefine the Instruments of Unity required for the AC to continue existing; and I imagine that every individual member of the member churches of the Communion would be utterly convinced that they remained Anglican even though they would no longer be in communion with the ABC.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron @ 9.40 pm
++Peter is a good and honest man!

Kurt said...

“Suppose 34 of the 38 provinces did withdraw formally from the Communion. Would we say that the four remaining provinces constituted the true or genuine expression of global Anglicanism?”—Fr. Carrell

This is NEVER going to happen, Peter. There are too many provinces which may not be happy with some of the decisions of the Western provinces (including the English) but who remain committed to the Anglican Communion because they have even more serious disagreements with the con evo fundamentalists of Nigeria, Uganda, Sydney, et al. Also, my guess is that many provinces which are sympathetic to the CofE, TEC, ACofC, etc. will keep a foot in both factions. They will do this if for no other reason than to maintain the appearance of Communion “unity.”

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY

tachesterton said...

Most of Ron's observations about whether what he calls 'schismatic' bodies claiming to still be Anglican would also apply, in the eyes of Rome, to Anglican churches claiming to still be 'Catholic'.

Tim Chesterton

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Tim: Exactly
Hi Kurt: that is not my point (whether that would or would not happen). My point is to expose the difference between two definitions being confused in the discussion here.

Kurt said...

Oh, I see, Peter. I would agree with you that denominations can be Anglican without being members of the Anglican Communion. We have about 35 Anglican denominations in the USA, but only one church that is a member of the Anglican Communion--The Episcopal Church.

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY

Father Ron Smith said...

One has to wonder, is 'NEC' - New Episcopal Church in the U.S.? - a figment of the imagination of another oddly-named coterie in North America, calling itself the 'Anglican Communion Institute'? Such an exalted title means little other than existence as the brain-child of what has become known in world-wide Anglican circles as '3 Theologians and a Web-site'

Really, Peter, to take this lot at all seriously is almost tantamount to saying that the A.C.I. is an instrument of Unity in the Anglican Communion. Their disrespect for The Episcopal Church in North America and Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts-Schori, is a breach of any oath of loyalty to the bishops of their Church - surely not to be encouraged!

It does seem that loyalty to one's bishop and one's local Church is fast becoming an attribute in the eyes of some of its clergy as well as laity.

Father Ron Smith said...

Yes, Kurt. I heartily agree. There are many who, for one reason or another, want to call themselves 'Anglican' - without any need to relate to any of the Communion Instruments. At least, TEC and the A.C. of Canada, have not broken their 'Bonds of friendship' with Canterbury and Lambeth. Most of the others have done so! Agape.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
You are completely missing the point of the ACI post. Their point is that TEC is working against its own constitution to work out a new way of governance. To point that out involves no disloyalty. It only involves speaking the truth.

Are you against speaking the truth?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
Your comment at 9.31 is patently untrue and almost got a Delete from me. No, repeat NO province of the Communion has declared itself out of communion with the ABC.

tachesterton said...

Ron said, 'There are many who, for one reason or another, want to call themselves 'Anglican' - without any need to relate to any of the Communion Instruments. '

And I repeat, it's not hard to imagine a Roman Catholic saying a similar thing about us: 'There are many who, for one reason or another, want to call themselves 'Catholic' - without any need to relate to the See of Peter'.

We, of course, think 'Catholic has to do with more important things than the See of Peter. Much like some of the breakaway Anglican denominations who think Anglicanism is to do with Anglican belief, not the historical accident of a connection to Canterbury, which, enjoyable though it may be, is hardly a gospel value.

Tim Chesterton

Father Ron Smith said...

Oh dear me! To post in haste is sometimes to post in error, as per my:
"It does seem that loyalty to one's bishop and one's local Church is fast becoming an attribute in the eyes of some of its clergy as well as laity." - What I really meant to say was quite the opposite: beginning that sentence with the words 'DIS-loyalty to one's bishop..'

Regarding the remark of my fellow ex-U.K. Midlander, Tim Chesterto (G.Day Tim!); The issue of Roman Catholicism is somewhat different from the issue of a more disseminated Anglicanism, which embraces High, Low and Medium.

(By the way, Tim, I'm still enjoying the episcope of your former Toronto Bishop, +Victoria).

tachesterton said...

Good to hear, Ron. Former Edmonton bishop, in my case. Victoria was a suffragen in Toronto, but she was my diocesan bishop here in Edmonton.

I thought you';d have a sophisticated way of getting out of the Anglican/Catholic comparison. Looks like special pleading to me.

Tim

Peter Carrell said...

(A comment from Ron which he tried to submit this morning but which was blocked in some way by Blogger ... are others having this problem?)

"NO province of the Communion has declared itself out of communion with the ABC."
- Dr. Peter Carrell -

With all due respect, Peter, I think you may actually be missing MY point: That GAFCON Provinces have already abandoned the fellowship of other Provinces of the Communion at both Lambeth and the ACC Primates' Conference - these are agreed 'Instruments of Unity' in the Communion.

Further proof is GAFCON's proclamation of their very own separatist, dogmatic, Statement of Faith, in their very own 'Jerusalem Statement'

Bryden Black said...

A parallel case in point, frequently exercised in the last century.

Citizen X, a fierce nationalist, 'rebels' against the current powers that be in the name of 'true nationalim'. Gets branded a 'traitor'. Some years pass, tide changes (with or without X's direct actions), and X's stance is vindicated. Take your pick for X: Havel, Mandela, ...
So; what's "Anglicanism"?

Father Ron Smith said...

Anglicanism is no0t a simple algebraic equation, Bryden. Rather, a more democratic system of federated Churches.

Bryden Black said...

"Anglicanism is no0t a simple algebraic equation, Bryden." - Ron.
I agree Ron; neither is Nationalism!

Nor would I draw the parallel between AC and federalism. Any due ecclesiology is far more organic than that. As Augustine put it: totus Christus. In which case a profound interdependence among the various bodies needs to be acknowledged!

MichaelA said...

"Without the Covenant to guide us we are like boxers before the Marquess of Queensberry established the rules!"

Why would the Covenant help, Peter? It is only effective while people want to follow it. Same as the Bible, Creeds, BCP, Articles of Religion etc.

MichaelA said...

"While giving his reasons for the break, he does admit that GAFCON 'Broke Communion'".

No he doesn't Fr Ron. The word "not" has been omitted on Virtue Online - something that should be obvious when read in context of the rest of his lecture. For example:

"The global South bishops called for repentance before reconciliation. The Episcopalians would not give. They had broken communion and caused schism, they were no longer in historic communion, so to invite them to Lambeth was to collude in their actions. We asked, why did the Archbishop of Canterbury not launch a campaign of non-recognition especially for those who had not taken action."

Or, try actually listening to the lecture.

Far from admitting schism, ++Jensen is accusing the bishops of TEC of being schismatic.

Christ is Risen
Alleluia!

MichaelA said...

Another point - many provinces in the Anglican Communion appear to be in a state of impaired communion with TEC and ACoC. However none of them, so far as I am aware are in less than full Communion with every other province.

If Nigeria for instance is in impaired communion with TEC and ACoC, but is in full communion with the other 35 provinces of the Commmunion, then why does the issue of schism even arise?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Michael
The difference concerning the Covenant was that it proposed a mechanism for dealing with infringement of the Covenant. No other 'gold standard' of Anglican common faith or practice has included such a mechanism for inter-church quarrels.

(That the mechanism might not have worked is a point worth considering, but having any such mechanism on an agreed basis would have been a novel step for the Communion).

Father Ron Smith said...

"If Nigeria for instance is in impaired communion with TEC and ACoC, but is in full communion with the other 35 provinces of the Commmunion, then why does the issue of schism even arise?""

- MichaelA -

Here we go again, MichaelA. More obfuscation and equivocation from you on this matter of intentional severance from the existing Instruments of Communion by the Gafcon Primates.

For Gafcon to have absented themselves, intentionally, from the Lambeth Conference, and from the Anglican Primates Meeting! That doesn't sound like your ethos of 'full communion to me. Nor, I suspect, to any other logically-minded Anglican.

Why, Gafcon has even substituted its very own 'Gafcon Primates Council'. If that is not 'severance' from the ACC, I don't know what is