Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Anglican Apostolicity (2)

Our church has a formal title, the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, which is, to be frank, a bit of a mouthful.

A great alternative (and used on the cover of our modern prayer book) is Te Haahi Mihinare (the missionary church).

Comments on my previous post on Anglican Apostolicity rightly reminded me that apostolicity is about preaching the gospel and founding new churches as much as it is about faithfulness to what the apostles taught.

This suggests that "Anglican Apostolicity" concerns both how we preserve and hand on the revelation of God in Jesus Christ (the Doctrine of Christ, according to our constitution) and how we grow and develop the church via proclamation of the gospel.

From this perspective we could argue that Anglican apostolicity has a lot going for it. The strengths of Eastern Orthodoxy as an apostolic church, for instance, have arguably not translated well into missionary work around the globe. (By contrast the Catholic and Anglican churches have good track records spreading the gospel and planting new churches in many lands beyond commencement points in Europe).

Of course some historians of Western Christian mission would say of both Anglican and Roman Catholic churches that bishops have often been an impediment to missionary work (e.g. resisting initiatives by laypersons and priests). Here in Te Haahi Mihinare, CMS missionaries and the fledgling Te Haahi Mihinare were trucking along pretty fine without a bishop and when one turned up, George Augustus Selwyn, there were plenty of awkward moments which followed.

We might further make a specifically Anglican self-critical point by observing that despite the English Reformation being a movement to renew the apostolic faith of the church by sheering off medieval accretions, there was absolutely no apostolic impulse to new missionary work. That would only come later with the likes of the Wesleys' preaching in America and the evangelical renewal of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries spawning the Church Missionary Society. Later still the Anglo-Catholic revival also led to new mission work outside of England.

So, with that very potted history in the above paragraphs, we see that apostolicity is a desirable quality in the church which in practice is not easy to achieve. Here is zeal to preserve the apostolic teaching but little concern for apostolic mission. There is motivated mission in the footsteps of the apostles with little concern to preserve and promote that mission via introduction of bishops as successors to the apostles. Over there are bishops with a profound sense of their continuity with the apostles but with little vision for preaching the gospel.

Anglican apostolicity, in other words, is a precious but often fragile treasure.

How might we strengthen our apostolicity for the rigours of the 21st century?

Another post is coming ...

16 comments:

Andrei said...

"The strengths of Eastern Orthodoxy as an apostolic church, for instance, have arguably not translated well into missionary work around the globe."

I have to pull you up on this of course Peter

In Byzantine times the great missionaries were St Cyril and Methodius - who spread the Gospel in Eastern Europe - the Greek missions declined with the fall of Constantinople

But the Russian missionaries spread the Gospel to the East and to the Americas - Alaska of course has a large Orthodox presence to this day and St Peter the Aleut was martyred in modern day California in 1815

There were also Orthodox missions to Japan and Korea - strangely enough the two major centers of Orthodox Christianity in Japan were in Hiroshima and Nagasaki both destroyed by you know what. The Orthodox Church of Japan has about 30,000 members today

Same in Korea

In Africa the Church of Alexandra has sent missionaries to sub Saharan Africa and there are Orthodox parishes in places like Kenya, under the Alexandrian Patriarchate

Protestant Christianity has followed Western colonization and imperialism and that is your world that you were grown and raised in so that is what you see - the David Livingstons not the Greek Monks from Egypt spreading the gospel in Africa nor the Russian ones spreading it in the Far East and to a lesser extent North America

For sheer joy check this Paschal Troparion from the Easter Liturgy being celebrated in Ghana

Andrei said...

An addendum to the above comment - there is some reticence in the Eastern Church to "sheep stealing" - you should not try and persuade a fellow Christian from a different tradition to follow yours, if they want to they should be made welcome of course - if they come to you that is great but to go out and recruit from them is not right

Years ago when I was young I was with my sister in the city on a Friday night - it was all new to us then, we were in a new world

There were some gospelers with guitars and drums etc on a portable stage doing their thing so we stopped to watch

And two earnest young people 20s or so came up to us and asked if we were enjoying the show and so forth

Then they asked if we went to Church and when we said yes they asked where and we told them

And then they asked if we had ever thought of becoming Christians

I have never forgotten this

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Andrei
I am happy to be corrected, and I also acknowledge that a typical Protestant treatment of Catholics and Orthodox is that they are "not Christians."

(Mind you, that can work the other way too ... Protestants do not belong to the true church etc).

Nevertheless not all Western European mission to foreign lands has tracked along with colonialism, including the example of the first missionaries who came to these islands.

Sometimes too, missionary work has had to work against (or get past) colonialism: my understanding of missionary work in India is that some keen mission-minded chaplains arrived in colonial centres only to be banned from doing more than taking services for the colonialists.

Father Ron said...

Peter, I appreciate what you are saying here. The world Apostello does imply being sent - to inform with The Good News. Sometimes, though, the Church seems only to have Bad News for the world into which it is being sent. The charge given by Jesus was to 'make disciples, in the Name of the father, Son and Holy Spirit'. This is the Gospel - which, perhaps has more to do with deeds than words. "Though you may have the tongue (the words) of angels, but without charity, they are nothing worth. The Gospel is not just a message, or an intellectual concept - it is a way of life, that ought to be presented in a way that convinces those who witness its fruits, that it is worth living.

Andrei said...

In any case Peter there is a big difference between planting Churches in the time of Catherine the Great in Alaska where the Gospel had never been preached before and working with the indifference and outright hostility to it in the Post Christian West.

Where I differ with Fr Ron is that I do not think the Church should conform to the zeitgeist of the age but should remain true to itself and speak loudly

Nor do I think the Priests and Bishops should be mealy mouthed or apologetic but should have the fire in their bellies and look like priests and bishops

After all Donald Trump got elected and "Bishop" Brian gets heard far more than any Anglican or Catholic Bishop.

St John Chrysostom was not noted for being a shrinking violet either

Your next opportunity comes with the fight against Easter trading and I think you should unapologetically wear a cassock when confronting the powers that be :) - I'm teasing but only partially :)

Peter Carrell said...

That would be a black cassock, Andrei, of which I am not a possessor!

Andrei said...

The next fight as the Western world slips into barbarism and decay and the churches close their doors

Brian Kelly said...

Now, now, Andrei - you must do what the Resident Optimist tells me and always look on the bright side - just be glad that progressive, liberal advanced, God-free Holland doesn't have the death penalty any more - except for the sad, the unhappy, the lonely, the unwanted .... Strange that the place isn't deliriously happy with all that dope, porn, prostitution, same-sex "marriage", unrestricted abortion (aka as "women's rights") and state-sponsored suicide (formerly known as "murder").
To think that a war was fought to liberate The Netherlands among other nations from the death cult that was Nazism - only to see modern atheists in power and in so much agreement with the Nazis about 'unlebenswertes Leben' - life that is not worth living.

Glen Young said...


"The charge given by Jesus was to "Make disciples in the Name of the Father,Son and Holy Spirit." This is the Gospel-which, perhaps has more to do
with deeds than words." Ron Nov.30th @ 2:39PM

This blog appears to be espousing more of the TEC "Progressive Christianity" doctrine than the legitimate ACANZP Doctrine as defined by the Constitution 1857 Fundamental Clause !. That is "Orthopraxy instead of Orthodoxy. In the short term,GOOD WORKS might make us FEEL GOOD about OURSELVES,but it is just a VANITY. "Then I looked upon all the works my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and behold, all was vanity and vexation of the spirit, and there was no profit under the sun." Ecc.2:11.

"Many will say unto me in that day,Lord,Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then I will profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." Matt.7:11.



Father Ron said...

"Many will say unto me in that day,Lord,Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then I will profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." Matt.7:1'1. - Glen Young -

Took the words out of my mouth, Glen. Couldn't agree more. What is it that the
conservative fundamentalists boast mostly about, but these attributes?

Glen Young said...


Ron,
Are you saying that Progressive Christians are really liberally conservative fundamentalists; because it is Progressive Christianity that proclaims that their emphasis is on orthopraxy instead of orthodoxy.And what about the new Bishop of Brisbane wanting to rid his services of the Creeds? Is that another good works?

Jean said...

Here I plead ignorance regarding the depth of my knowledge of the tradition of apostilicity in respect to the appointing of leaders down the centuries beginning with the first apostles. I can though see the patterns present in the bible of leaders being selected by other leaders and discipling them, the concept of imparting the gift of leadership through the laying on of hands, and also Jesus himself selecting Apostles (as such was Paul).

It appears the early leaders later called Bishops had the twofold calling of holding fast to preaching the gospel to others as well as overseeing the governance and encouragement of churches under their 'watch'. When you think (well according to Wikipaedia) St Timothy was martyred at age 80 while trying to preach to a group of gentiles paying homage to the Goddess Diana - I can only conclude his passion for the spreading of the gospel didn't wain.

Bishops in the AC of NZ have a pretty wide scope in terms of the number of churches they oversee - too many to have what appears to be the more personal oversight witnesssed in the early new testament days. Although I have enjoyed each time I have been in touch with a Bishop as a congregation member over the past 18 odd years it has been only around four times. Perhaps that's why we have Archbishop's. Peter? Maybe they should have more authority? Perhaps that would fit more the model of the earlier church?

It would be interesting to look into the idea of qualifications also. In the AC anyway to be considered an apostle that is if all Bishops and only Bishop's are considered such - ignore my ignorance - does the way they are called, selected and mentored reflect the same principles applied to the early leaders of the Way?

Right I am rambling, have a good weekend folks.

Jean said...

Oh and a P.S. for Andrei; hopefully you don't take the comment made to you too much to heart now. I remember being in a Pentecostal service once where everyone was asked to pray for Anglicans and Presbyterians to come to know Christ : ) . It seems humans never change we are still like the disciples fighting over who will (or does) sit at Jesus's right hand.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Jean
I read your comment as a question about the extent of the office of apostle in the life of the (Anglican) church post "the apostles", in particular asking whether only bishops continue this office?

(1) in terms of a lineage of ordered ministries, asking whether a layperson or a deacon or a priest or a bishop succeeds the apostles then I think the Anglican answer (as with Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox) is "bishops."

(2) in terms of a fruitfulness of ministry, measured, for example by apostolic qualities and competencies in the planting of new churches as the gospel is preached in new places, then as Anglicans we recognise the apostolic ministries of, well, apostles. For example, the lay and ordained missionaries who planted and watered Te Haahi Mihinare here in these islands, long before our first bishop came. (And, we might note, the Romans did it differently, sending a bishop - Pompallier - to be precisely the apostolic leader of their mission to these islands, an apostleship subsumed within the office of bishop. And, of course, today, we continue to see Anglican lay and ordained deacons and priests continuing to act in apostolic ways.

(3) I also see a shared apostolicity in the whole church: the guarding of our faith, for instance, is both a special responsibility of our bishops and a constitutional responsibility of our General Synod and the Synods who elect the members of the GS.

Finally,

(4) I suggest (1) and (2) above correspond to the New Testament phenomenon where there seem to be two kinds of apostles (or two groups of apostles): first, "the Twelve;" secondly, others, names and unnamed who are described as apostles or among the apostles, who form a larger group than the Twelve.

Jean said...

It was a genuine question - I thought afterwards it may have sounded like I was being criticial rather than curious. That's a helpful way of understanding it regarding the original twelve and their equaivalent successors being Bishops, and the apostles at large or en-masse as those called into Ministry who have an apostolic gifting. And of course the teaching or remaining true to the faith preached by the apostles is indeed the calling of all. Enjoy your weekend.

Andrew Reid said...

Hi Peter,
Just a bit further on your and Andrei's comments re Eastern Orthodoxy and mission from my experience in Egypt. As Andrei notes, there are churches in Kenya and Ethiopia founded by Coptic Orthodox missionary endeavours. However, most of what is described as "mission" these days is ministry among expatriate communities elsewhere in the world. That's great and God bless them but it isn't reaching the unreached.
My general comment would be that the early missionary fervour of the Oriental Orthodox churches was doused by the Islamic conquest. They learned to survive by protecting their faith and traditions and passing them on faithfully to the next generation. A millenium and a half of persecution and oppression has made the Oriental Orthodox great survivors and we can learn a lot from their perseverance and steadfastness. But they are suspicious of new believers from outside their circles, to the point where some reject Muslim enquirers for fear of conflict and being shut down. There are, of course, exceptions and many examples of spiritual renewal and vitality. I have worked with a number of Orthodox believers here who are as committed to outreach as any evangelical.