Monday, May 20, 2019

If not "Who is Anglican?" then "What is Anglican?"

In some ways last week's post ran into some quicksand in discussion in comments: attempting to define "who is Anglican" is tricky when then are so many claimants and there is no authority/body in the world which gets to determine who is Anglican. The nearest such body is the Anglican Communion, but many self-identifying Anglicans question its legitimacy relative to "true Anglicanism"!

The sand may be no less quick if I suggest this week some thinking about the "what" of Anglicanism. What makes an Anglican? What defines an Anglican?

This question has a sharp focus now we have the media release of two outcomes of the inaugural synod of the new "extra provincial diocese" being formed here in NZ. The release, made on Friday 17 May 2019, is here.

The opening part of the release, with my bold, is:

"A Statement by the Synod of the Church of Confessing Anglicans Aotearoa/New Zealand
Today representatives from twelve churches throughout New Zealand gathered and formed the Church of Confessing Anglicans Aotearoa/New Zealand. By the grace of God we are a new Anglican Diocese in these Islands, standing firmly in Anglican faith and practice, and structurally distinct from the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia.
This new Diocese is united in the crucified, risen, ascended and glorified Christ, committed to the authority of the Bible, and dedicated to our common mission of proclaiming to all the good news of Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit. We praise God for his guidance and grace, and the sense of unity and common purpose we shared as we met.
We also prayerfully elected as our first Bishop the Rev. Jay Behan, Vicar of St Stephen’s Anglican Church, Christchurch. Jay is a man of humility and grace, committed to the authority of the Bible and the Lordship of Jesus. He is an excellent preacher and caring pastor, and will serve and lead the Diocese as together we seek to reach these Islands with the transforming power of the gospel. ..."

The election of Jay has been widely expected by those who know him and have observed the significant leadership role he has already exercised among the congregations which have been working on the formation of the new church/diocese.

What about the name of the new church? the Church of Confessing Anglicans Aotearoa/New Zealand.

Already I have been in some discussion about the name. The following thinking reflects and develops that discussion (all in my own words).

A Confessing Church?

The notion of a “Confessing Church” reminds us of the church of that name which formed in 1930s Nazi Germany to stand against the evil of Nazism. The stand being taken by the new diocese against our church’s decision to permit the blessing of same-sex marriages is simply not in the same league of steadfastness for the cause of Christ. Homosexuality is not evil, it is a condition of being within humanity. Whatever we wish to propose re sexual morality for relations between people, being theologically motivated to bless lifelong, committed love between two people of the same sex, as some in our church are, is not evil. There is no need to invoke "Confessing" with a capital C in order to become a church with a different view on whether another church is judged to be too broad minded on the matter such that it includes more than one view.

From a different perspective I observe that every Anglican is a confessing Anglican: daily and weekly confessing our sins, regularly in corporate worship confessing our credal faith. All Anglicans belong to the Church of Confessing Anglicans!

Of course, in recent Anglican history, since 2003, "confessing" (with a small c) with respect to conservative Anglicanism is to do with being willing to commit to a statement (confession) of faith (such as the Thirty-Nine Articles), compared with that kind of Anglicanism which sits lightly to statements of faith, perhaps even celebrating doubt of basic credal statements. From that perspective we can talk, appropriately, about confessional Anglicanism.

Anglican?

A further pause for thought is the use of the word “Anglican.” In terms of this post, our question is, What is an Anglican?

In these islands, “Anglican” in relation to the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia is both a term relating to historic connection with the Church of England, as well as a term relating to our history as a transplanted church with English roots, now composed of Maori and Pakeha, bound by Gospel and Treaty (of Waitangi), secured by a constitution which sets out our partnership as Anglicans, incorporating also the Diocese of Polynesia.

A few months back, our General Synod Standing Committee, responding to a proposal of the Archbishop of Sydney re a possible "distinctive co-existence" for the future of the Communion, had this to say about the Pakeha-Maori dimension to being Anglican, as reported in Taonga,

"The letter goes on to say that that being bound together in constitutional and Treaty-based relationships is essential to being Anglican in Aotearoa in New Zealand."If those disaffiliating want to be committed to that fundamental consequence of being Anglican in Aotearoa New Zealand, then they must stay in these constitutional and Treaty-based relationships."We cannot recognise a Church as Anglican which does not encapsulate this 200 years of relationship and history.""

In other words, any church anywhere in the world can stake a claim to be "Anglican" but in these islands with our distinctive history, our church is saying that we cannot recognise such a claim in these parts unless there is a bond with Maori Anglican via constitutional and Treaty-based relationships. In other words, being Anglican hereabouts is concerned with a theology of covenant more than a theology of confession. Who are we related to?, is the critical question in the theology of covenant, in contrast to the question, What do we believe?, which lies at the heart of a confessional approach to Anglican identity.

Who are we related to as Anglicans? First, to the covenant making God - the God of Abraham, Moses, David - the God who in Jesus Christ makes a new covenant, revealed in Scripture, renewed in the sacrament we celebrate as commanded. Secondly, to each other: the Church of England is the broad church including all English men and women, a nation at worship; transplanted to these islands, the Anglican church is not now a whole nation at worship, but it remains a broad church welcoming all men and women, underpinned by the New Covenant or Gospel and by a particular local covenant, the Treaty of Waitangi.

The GSSC letter sets out a theology of covenant in which Anglicans are related to Anglicans in connection with constitutional arrangements which honour the Treaty between Maori and Pakeha. We are not Anglicans related to Anglicans if we have no such constitutional arrangements. According to the media release above, CCAANZ [corrected from CCANZ after comment below] is a church "structurally distinct from the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia" which, on this covenantal theology, evacuates the prior statement concerning "standing firmly in Anglican faith and practice" of its meaning, because the practice of Anglican faith in these islands is a relational, covenanted church, Pakeha and Maori.

Of course, no true Anglican can be solely interested in "who we are related to" at the expense of "what we believe." If the relational question is prior here, it is only slightly prior. ACANZP is thoroughly confessional (as touched on above re confession of sin and confession of faith). Notwithstanding GAFCON criticism of ACANZP as unfaithful (see here; and, sadly, also, here re a local view of ACANZP as "apostate"), in two services I participated in today we said the creed, read the Scriptures and sang the praises of God Father Son and Holy Spirit!

I could go on. Please stop the reader says! Seriously: there is much more to say but in the time allowance of this week I must stop now, well short of as full an answer to the question "What is an Anglican?" as I would like.

So far, What is an Anglican? provokes two further questions, Who do we relate to? and What do we believe? In this new situation where the new confessional church has clearly and publicly claimed "Anglicans" within its name, what answers to these questions do the two churches of Anglicans in these islands give? Are they satisfactory answers? Do the answers persuade people, both inside the churches, for instance, towards recognition of the other or towards declaratory judgements about unfaithfulness and apostasy; and outside the churches, so that outsiders are drawn to a persuasive welcome and inclusion of all enquirers?

47 comments:

Chris Spark said...

Hi Peter, this is an interesting post that raises good questions, much of which need much more thought and no doubt discussion. I will limit myself for now to a couple of little points related to the 'confessing' part, though the Anglican part is obviously vitally important too!

1) 'Confessing' in the name of CCAANZ (there is an extra 'A' as compared to the above) I think is most directly related to its wide use now as seen in the FCA label (that is now often being replaced around the world by the use of the title GAFCON), and the reasons that is used - some of which you have noted. But to tie it to the Confessing Church in Germany is not something I have heard I don't think, even though that German movement is inspiring to all I would think (and I have recently been reading of the way Bonhoeffer, for instance, related to Scripture and saw the need for it to challenge cultural norms and have been deeeply challenged and edified by him through this). I realise you may have just been generally musing on that connection, but as one person said to me who had read this, it has a bit of a feel of 'that escalated quickly'!

2) Regards what is and is not evil, which you connected to this, I think there is a danger of being slippery here. I realise you are wanting to differentiate from Nazi Germany - fair enough! And I realise the danger of simply saying something like 'homosexuality is evil'. For such a statement, the question has to be asked what we are speaking of at that point. Are we speaking of innate sexual or romantic desires (which all of us have, and which in all of us are broken in different ways), or are we speaking of sexual actions, the mix of both, or something else? But it needs to be said for clarity, yet again, that the thing which caused the sense that many of us have that ACANZP had moved to a place we could not go, with regards submission to Scripture, was simply an issue about whether certain sexual actions could be blessed, or whether they were actually part of a wider group of sexual actions that (as many of us think) the Scriptures put outside of those that can be blessed while still respecting the Scriptures' authority as God's primary revelatory means (witnessing to Christ, being inspired by the Spirit). It is not simply about 'bless[ing] lifelong, committed love between two people of the same sex', because the issue is more directly about sexual practise (the possibilities of blessing non-sexual love of various kinds is still of interest to me, as it is to people like Wes Hill). It is specifically to do with whether the Scriptures are a) clear on this issue, and b) have authority to to define the boundaries of where appropriate sexual activity can happen, which are binding on the church. If we think that the Scriptures are clear on this issue (in a way they aren't in many other areas which are often cited as parallels, which you know I think and have tried to spend time working through), and if you think they are trustworhily binding (an issue it seems to me many people fudge in discussion about this issue), then it is a very big deal indeed allow such blessings. I just thought that needed saying when I read your post. But I have said plenty, so I will leave it there!

God bless
C

Anonymous said...

"The nearest such body is the Anglican Communion, but many self-identifying Anglicans question its legitimacy relative to *true Anglicanism!*"

Those who still embrace the ecclesiology of the Congress of St Louis (CSL) deny that the Anglican Communion is in the Body at all. That, I take it, is the import of calling it, its leaders, or its churches "apostate." On the face of it, this radical ecclesiology sounds like a heresy induced by *triadic populism*. But if a self-critical defense of it grounded in at least a contemporary understanding of the scriptures is offered, then it should be charitably considered, of course. Until then, in is in, out is out, and the door should not open until at least the Bible does.

BTW *triadic populism* is the populism that imagines a righteous People being corrupted by internal Enemies being protected by Leaders who, because of that "betrayal," are no longer legitimate. The true leaders of the People demonstrate that they are such by opposing their enemies, exposing the betrayal, and defeating the false Leaders. As with the CSL's construct, it is less an idea than a human meme that can be deployed in any situation that psychologically fits it (eg Turks, Armenians, Sultan, genocide). In my country and several others, we are hearing quite a lot of this in secular politics. Some commentators at ADU have argued triadic populism in both secular and Anglican contexts.

BW

Anonymous said...

That said, it often looks as though a less distorted narrative of the past two generations could look like this--

The Church of England etc have been comprehensive from the beginning.

Within that early comprehension, the leading view was a Lutheran-Reformed hybrid with unusually rich patristic roots.

There have always been quarrels at the boundaries of that comprehension.

Until recently, the received comprehension has included both what the Anglican Church of Canada has called "the Reformed sensibility," and a conservative stance on society, culture, and politics.

In the meantime, the Reformed stream of the Body as a whole has moved far from the original Anglican hybrid, and in some places it is not distinguishable from *movement conservatism*.

Among Christians generally, C20 ecumenism has dissolved some denominational markers that, although theologically or historically spurious, were meaningful to those Anglicans who define themselves as Reformed over against other traditions and ecumenism generally.

And over the past century, Anglicans trying to remain comprehensive of the wider society have prioritised that over both the "the Reformed sensibility" and a series of conservative social causes.

At least in the eyes of Reformed conservatives, that priority has resulted in a default definition of Anglicanism-- it is the non-Reformed and liberal heritage of the Church of England and The Episcopal Church.

That has led to the equal and opposite reaction of defining Anglicanism as precisely-- unecumenically Reformed, conservative, and not necessarily English, let alone American.

Despite its Anglo-Catholic origin, the apostasy meme of the Congress of Saint Louis was adopted by Reformed conservatives in the Anglican Communion to create GAFCON.

By way of *triadic populism*, the apostasy meme has been applied to That Topic to attract a base of support for the new definition of Anglicanism.

In New Zealand, the merely tactical use of That Topic was demonstrated by the organisation of an alternate assembly before ACANZP had concluded deliberations.

The apostasy meme leads assemblies organised on that base to act as though those they have implicitly defined as in error and non-Anglican are for that reason also non-Christian.

This leap would have been incomprehensible to the spectrum of reformers of the Church of England.

However against a background of globalisation, pluralism, *whiteshift*, and *mega-identities*, the resulting assemblies are attractive to those who want a religious identity that is more definite, organic, and permanent than has been possible in the Communion churches that have prioritised comprehension and inclusion.

As the product of recent social forces, the alt-Anglican identity is new. But because its adherents need to believe that it is old, even the original, suppressed Anglicanism, their apologists retroject today's ideas into a past that was in fact more fluid and complex than either alt-Anglicans or Anglicans accept. Most, if not all, religious movements engage in some such retrojection.

Since both Anglicans and alt-Anglicans are retrojecting their priorities onto the reforming Church of England, its history seems not to be a ground for either arbitration or reconciliation.

The alt-Anglican religious identity fits an alt-Right mega-identity better than the older one of the Communion. It is not clear whether it has any advantages over other religious identities that also fit the alt-Right.

Nor is it clear whether, having finally secured a place for those polemically Reformed and conservative, the alt Anglican identity will in generations to come resume some of the old Anglican comprehensiveness or acquire ecumenical competence.

BW

Craig L said...

Thanks Chris for your excellent post - I was thinking along the same lines as you - the use of the word confessing seems to me to have a much broader context than the German church and the leap to comparisons with Nazi Germany was a leap indeed.

Also while I must bow to Bowman's superior knowledge of religious history and whatnot, I object quite a bit to fitting into an "alt-right identity" given that I am one of those who has reluctantly walked away from the ACANZP. I am in no way supporting alt-right or anything it stands for - unless I am completely missing the point, which I could well be of course.

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Chris and Craig,
I don't have time at present to make a full response but two quick notes:
1. on "Confessing": I think we need to listen carefully to those who say that this word invokes the 1930s situation, even if it is not intended to do so.
2. BW's sentence re alt Right is this: "The alt-Anglican religious identity fits an alt-Right mega-identity better than the older one of the Communion." I suggest the word "better" needs reflection on: in proposing a new form of Anglican identity, is the "alt-Anglican religious identity" closer in spirit to the "alt-Right mega-identity" than to the "older one of the Communion" bearing in mind that (as I understand it) the "alt-Right mega-identity" has characteristics which are less rather than more interested in fostering a broad society of citizens.

Father Ron said...

Like you, Peter, I don't really see the relevance in this new church's insistence on the inclusion of the word 'Confessing' in its inaugural title. The only thing it does is to stress its essential difference from the Churches of the traditional Anglican Communion - in unity with Canterbury and Lambeth. However, to use the title 'Anglican' seems to be a denial of its intention to secede from its original parent body in the A.C. which retains the right to claim the title. Perhaps it might better use the title 'GafconNZ' in order to proclaim its basic mission of objection to Same-Sex Blessings.

It reminds me a bit of a church in North Auckland which calls itself the 'Bible Baptist Church' - as though other Baptist Churches did not use the Bible in their worship.

I don't think too many citizens of Christchurch will take this new entity too seriously. For them, the Anglican Church will still be the legitimate successor of the Church of England in Aotearoa/NZ.

Shawn said...

I'm not at all sure the use of the term 'alt-Right' is helpful here. The alt-Right is a small, ideologically specific movement that has little to no relationship with Christianity, in fact it has generally been radically anti-Christian. The actual alt-Right consistently advocates five basic ideas; White supremacy (sometimes hidden under the banner of ethnic pluralism and the the equal right to ethnic identity for all peoples), the Great Replacement conspiracy theory regarding immigration, a rabidly hateful anti-Jewish bigotry arising from the belief that Jews constitute an alien "Other" that have historically acted as a corrupting influence in White societies, and a religious preference for Paganism combined with a fierce critique of Christianity. In short, the actual alt-Right is a modified form of neo-Nazism.

Bowman may be using the term in a wider sense, but that is, to put it mildly, risky, especially in this context, as it risks tarnishing people who are not remotely close to being neo-Nazi's with that stigma.

Chris Spark said...

Wow Bowman, if CCAANZ et al fit the alt-right thing 'better' as you say, the majority African and Asian leadership and constituency of the global movement of which it is a part of need to be alerted! On the other hand, maybe there are a few holes in that rather comprehensive pronouncement about motives etc of those (like me) involved? ;)

Ron, the 'basic mission' of CCAANZ (and GAFCON for that matter) would be better understood by seeking to understand (with an open mind) at what CCAANZ is for, rather than what it is against. That is certainly the emphasis those in CCAANZ are taking going forward.

God bless

Glen Young said...


Hi Ron,

I must say your blog, of May 21 @ 1.09 PM; shows a decided ton of GRACE and LOVE for your fellow sinners, who also seek to find solace in CHRIST. As your blogs have always said:"It is by the LOVE they show, that one knows they are your DISCIPLES".

It was the Ma Whea Commission, which was established to try and find a legal procedure by which the S.S.Sex Blessings might occur. That,that was necessary, was/is evidence,that the ACANZP was moving outside of it's accepted DOCTRINE.

Go back over the blogs I have posted over the years and have been accused of LEGALISM for my stance on the Constitution 1857.It is absolute hypocrisy, for the Church to now be debating, who is ANGLICAN and who is not.I am a ANGLICAN,born and BAPTIZED into the Church of England as per her Constitution 1857.IT IS NOT I WHO HAS MOVED FROM WHAT THE CHURCH BELIEVED.

Anonymous said...

My 2:41 is about the causation of events, not the taxonomy of ideas. In understanding causally why people are creating any new identity, attention to the forces driving us all into *identity politics* is pertinent.

We have no reason to think that the division of "Anglican" churches or the forging of new alliances among them is immune to those forces. To the contrary, religious quarrels have always stood out, even in the modern world, for their *motivated reasoning* based in prior identities that are sensitive to some things and blind to others. (That selective awareness, remember, is what has always disturbed secularists about religious claims about policy in the public square.) And insofar as the Anglican quarrels are about sex, an aspect of life that marks nearly all identities, it is hard to see how they could fail to exemplify the changes happening in our time.

"Alt Right" refers, at least in a causal inquiry, to the postmodern conservatism that consciously pursues identity as an objective, in contrast with the older, modern conservatism that instead suppressed such concerns for the sake of unity.
Like most other politics, the alt Right issues are in most ways local-- pagan in Russia, but Catholic around here-- and many have argued that, as the reaction of *somewheres* to globalizing *anywheres*, that localism is often the point. Shawn's list is not a universal platform, and even a platform would not be a useful definition of a color in a kaleidoscope.

Any politics has its politicians. In speaking for a movement, they do not always speak for minds that make any individual sense. That is not necessarily to their discredit-- context matters-- but it invites a prudent scepticism.

Speaking of individuals, I cannot find any sentence in my 2:41 about one.

Naturally, better explanations of the causation of these events than that one are warmly welcomed.

BW



Peter Carrell said...

Dear Chris
A slightly fuller response to your first comment above.
1. On "escalation": I am reflecting an immediate response of thoughtful people I am in discussion with, about the use of the word "Confessing", which is heightened in a move made from "Fellowship of ..." to "Church of ..." because the latter readily becomes, in conversation, " ... the Confessing Church, which meets at 10 am each Sunday on our street corner ...". So, no, not escalating but acknowledging that words have associations.
2. Your discussion of the GS decision underlines some dissatisfaction I (and, I understand, many ACANZP members) continue to have about (i) disaffiliation then (ii) using a word such as "Confessing" to assist in identifying what is at stake. That is, the disaffiliation and the name are about a difference over interpretation of Scripture and not over the Lordship of Chris being staked against a rival Lordship (such as Hitler's Messianic pretensions and Naziism's terrifying and deadly alternative "news", as was the reason for the establishment of the Confessing Church).

That there is genuine disagreement is not disputed. That an approach to Scripture to genuinely engage with whether Scripture offers a way to support homosexuals who choose to enter into a permanent partnership for life as a way and means of expressing a capacity for love between adult human beings (in a Christian context where few if any barriers stand in the way of divorced Christians going against the plain meaning of Jesus' own words by remarrying in order to express a capacity for love between adult human beings) = not submitting to Scripture, that is in dispute.

What General Synod determined was that such dispute and difference in approach to Scripture could occur within the church. That some have chosen, nevertheless, to leave is what it is, but is it a reason to establish a new denomination with its implicit if not explicit claim that Anglicans not choosing to leave are (to quote various things around the internet, including a title given to an interview with new bishop Jay, linked to above): unfaithful, apostate.

Do you see that "Confessing" with its "let's mean by that, that those not with us are unfaithful, apostate Christians" is not exactly "how to win favour among your fellow Anglicans"?

In short, much is staked in justifying the existence of the new church on the claim that those not forming the new church are not submitted to Scripture. That is a significant and unproven claim, not least because it is strenuously denied by those of us who are not in CCAANZ!

Shawn said...

Hello Bowman.

The problem is that you're using alt-Right in a way nobody else does, or at least nobody I have ever heard. The term was first invented and used by white supremacist Richard Spencer as a definition of a new version of the old neo-Nazism, and "Alternative Right" was the name of the first blog he helped create devoted to that ideology, and "alt-right" quickly became the self-identifier of the people who followed that ideology. So I don't see how the term can be used in any other way other than that which was intended by it's creators, as a label for a new form of neo-Nazism. It's not a neutral academic term. It's not a descriptor for all postmodern identity focused conservatism. It is a descriptor of a modified neo-Nazi ideology and movement, invented and used by neo-Nazi's, and that is how the vast majority of people understand it, and it's what they think of when they hear it or read it. So widening it out in the way you have done is extremely problematic, and deeply unfair to the people you are using the term to describe. In the public's mind, and in the minds of the people actually who invented and first used the term, it's a label for pro-white Jew hating fascists.

I'm no fan or supporter of GAFCON, but the're not alt-Right and I don't believe they should be tied to that term in any way, especially given that it's leadership is mostly African and Asian. They would likely find the use of the label to describe them as seriously offensive.

Peter Carrell said...

Perhaps we could draw a line under the "alt-right" discussion ... the thread is about who/what is an Anglican, not who/what is "alt-right' (interesting though that discussion is ...)?!

Anonymous said...

The term 'confessing' in relation to the problems of our church was suggested as a possibility by no less than Rowan Williams - a hasty search of the internet leads immediately to

a meeting at Lambeth in September 2003 between Williams and six American conservatives who were planning to split their church - plans now rather further advanced. In the course of this, Williams suggested that they call themselves "The Network of Confessing Dioceses and Parishes". One of the American delegation later claimed that Williams had not only suggested the name, but linked it explicitly to Bonhoeffer's struggle. See 'I am comic vicar to the nation' Guardian Alan Rusbridger
First published on Tue 21 Mar 2006 03.01 GMT

Regards
Rhys

M said...

The comment “Do you see that "Confessing" with its "let's mean by that, that those not with us are unfaithful, apostate Christians" is not exactly "how to win favour among your fellow Anglicans"?” is is a sharp observation and one that sums up the attack that those who remain feel - both in how they hear and receive it personally, and also on their local church. The implication is that it sounds like ‘you are not Christian’ and this is then coupled with the story that is being told by GAFCON etc which misleads with their own spin.

The church I attend has many faithful, authentic, Christian Anglicans who each day are prayerfully trying to follow the way of Jesus as shown in the gospel reading from last week in John 13:34-35 - ‘As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.‘

To suggest otherwise, (and that is what they are hearing from those who have left) creates sadness and upset, and the preaching of the good news of Jesus, the gospel, which they hold strongly to, is weakened.

Shawn said...

I come at this issue as something of an accidental Anglican, rather than as someone who was brought up as one, or who deliberately chose the AC, and thus has a strong emotional bond to an Anglican identity. That makes things odd for me at times, as I sometimes feel like an outsider looking in, even though I'm not. So my perspective is shaped by that experience. Which means my own answer to the question +Peter has posed is probably not going to be satisfactory to many.

Bowman has pointed out that the AC finds itself in a situation for which is was probably not well prepared, that of being a global communion. Things were simpler when being Anglican just meant being Church of England. That was an institutional (and perhaps cultural) definition that was easy enough, and it did not necessarily have all that much to do with what a person believed on theological matters. That is obviously not the case now. Things are decidedly more complex, and various trends and forces, not just from within but also from without, are tearing at the Communion in various ways, and thus tearing at the definition of who is or is not an Anglican.

Of all the possible answers to that question I think Ron's opinion that an Anglican is anyone who attends a church in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury is the strongest, and has the advantage of being about the only consistent definition historically. That said, for myself I am inclined to take the most inclusive position possible and say that anyone who defines as an Anglican is one, regardless of belief or any other consideration.

Unknown said...

I would have thought that any discussion about the new Diocese would be better focused on the first order/second order nature of the issue which has lead to this situation, rather than a critique of their name. Arguing that their name is inappropriate seems to be creating a lengthy discussion indeed about a very low level issue.
The passing of the motion to allow the blessing of same sex relationships was always going to lead to some serious kick-back as it is of first order priority for many people (obviously) but it went ahead anyway as I suppose that those voting in favour of it were happy to pay the price for doing so.

Shawn said...

To Unknown.

I suspect that the reason the issue you mention is not being discussed is because it already has been, extensively and repeatedly, on +Peter's blog, to such a degree, and without much in the way of progress or agreement, that people are wary of treading that path all over again. I am inclined to think there is not much point in rehashing the whole thing.

I think you're right that the passing of the motion was inevitably going to lead to a split in the church, and those who have left, and those who were prepared to risk a split, clearly have different priorities. Taking the long view of Christian history, church divorces happen, always have done, and so there is no reason to think the Anglican Communion is immune to that dynamic. Sooner or later, if not for this issue then another, a split was probably inevitable. As far as that goes, I'm pretty sanguine about it. Looking at the full half of the glass, I'm surprised and happy that the split in New Zealand has not been as large as it might have been. It looks as though a majority of evangelical parishes have decided to stay. That's a positive at least.

Glen Young said...


Hi unknown,

You make a very valid point. There did not appear to be any real intent,from the time of the appointment of the Ma Whea Commission on,to find a real solution to the question of how the two "integrities" were ever going to have a rational relationship in the same Church; and that to me was a first order priority.

The liberal faction has said to conservative clergy to sign the submission to G.S. or you are out. Those voting in favour of blessing same sex marriages did not pay the price;it was paid by the conservatives.The liberals still have all the buildings, the high flown positions and their pensions.And still they can not build bridges with the departing congregations. Bridge building is only to the mosques.

Peter Carrell said...

Dear All
A few responses:

M and Unknown: please use a name.

Rhys: excellent counterpoint - thank you!

Glen: you are oversimplifying a complex situation re relationships and you are not taking account of significant change between what went to GS in 2016 and in 2018.

General comment: I am genuinely interested in responses to what I have written because there is a heartfelt set of questions within some parts of ACANZP about how we speak both respectfully and realistically about this new denomination. It is not a big issue - of course not. But it is a real issue and for some a quite lively issue. Not least it is a real issue because ACANZP is not making any charges that CCAANZ is "unfaithful" or "apostate". That boot is on the other foot and while CCAANZ lives with such language it is reasonable for members of ACANZP to raise questions about what it means to be Anglican.

Finally, I note that no one so far has engaged with the significant question raised by our Tikanga Maori leaders about what it means to be "Anglican" in these islands.

Anonymous said...

+ Peter, it would be best for those in Christchurch to carry on this particular conversation.

My parting comment is that, for the reasons that I have given above, the deep difficulty in speaking well to and about the new denomination is that Christians down under need for all churches to succeed, but a negative identity for this one-- "We are the non-apostate Anglicans" or "We are the Anglicans reliving the Reformation as it ought to have been" or "We are the Anglicans standing up to the godless society around us" etc-- is likely to be an obstacle to its future thriving, and if it be God's will, growth.

I and some others here up yonder have concluded that the most faithful way to engage and support the new churches aborning is to bracket the disputed Anglican identity and instead take them seriously as ecumenical partners in the hope that they will someday develop a broader and more positive identity for themselves.

Ecumenical dialogue has often striven to minimise old differences, and affirm common ground. But in this sort of situation it also seeks to uncover hidden strengths and vulnerabilities that the new institutional differences may enable in a new social context. In practice, that appreciative inquiry has to be rather causal, indeed historical, hence my reconstructive comments above.

BW

Simon Walmisley said...

Sorry about the anonymous thing. First time I ever left a comment so must have done something wrong. In case it doesn't work again I am Simon Walmisley from St Aidans.
Thanks for your comment Glen. I still have the feeling that it is we who will pay the price in the long run though. No one from my church has left over what has happened but I do know that there are several people - myself included - who are deeply uncomfortable with the current situation. If the next step is taken and the canon of the church is changed to allow same sex marriages, there will undoubtably be another exodus of people who may then go and join with the new diocese; you don't win because you have all the buildings! The Anglican church in the Chch area is half the size it was just 10 years ago and shows no signs of turning that trend around. The church should actually be sticking to its core mission, and not seeking to align itself with this group or that group in society. To answer Peter's question then - to be Anglican should mean promoting our own special character and standing proudly as we declare it. By simply becoming a church that reflects society we give no reason for anyone to bother with us as we offer nothing different.

Glenn said...

"Homosexuality is not evil"

But you know that these parishes are not distancing themselves from people who are homosexual. They are distancing themselves from the blessing of same-sex relationships and eventually marriage, which - again, as you know - they do regard such an intent to "bless" as evil.

It's also weird that anyone would say, in effect, that they cannot recognise as "Anglican" any church that has not historically existed in New Zealand. It may come as a shock to the General Synod standing committee that there are, in fact, Anglican Churches all around the world. The Committee is free to say that they construe their own church in New Zealand that way. But to say that being Anglican itself requires that history is myopic. The question is - what do Anglican Churches around the world have in common?

The Anglican Church here has made historically and biblically conservatives seem unwelcome by changing the church to conform with a much more modern, progressive outlook (one, ironically, that would have been unrecognisable to our forebears in the faith who forged this history with Maori!). So they'll have to pardon conservative Anglicans for not caring if they now want to say "and by the way we don't recognise the space you now have, now that we've made you unwelcome in ours."

Shawn said...

Hi Simon.

It's interesting to me that you bring up the issue of reflecting society in a discussion about Anglican identity, interesting because arguably reflecting society has always been one of the unspoken aspects of Anglican identity. The Church of England, as many observers often noted, was, and is, very English. It is after all, an established church, closely tied to the Crown and Parliament. That dynamic has not radically changed here in New Zealand, hence the importance of the Treaty to ACANZP, and perhaps provides a partial explanation, beyond liberalism, for ACANZP's current approach to same sex relationships. Being Anglican has never been about being radical, let alone being radically outside of society. Anglican's roots are in a compromise between Catholicism and the Reformation, a middle way which went on to define the Anglican spirit and it's theological approach, and perhaps more importantly, a middle way that was useful to the State.

So ACANZP's current approach of blessing same sex relations, but not affirming marriage, and allowing a diversity of practice and conscience on the issue, in effect a compromise position, is deeply Anglican. On that score, with regards to the churches that have left, I'm scratching my head as to why they are surprised.

As to reflecting society in general, all churches do so to some degree, and it is impossible not to do so. The most conservative American Evangelical churches are still very American. Where any church draws the line is entirely dependent on one's theology and priorities. It's never a simple either/or.

Shawn said...

Hi Glenn.

"But you know that these parishes are not distancing themselves from people who are homosexual. They are distancing themselves from the blessing of same-sex relationships and eventually marriage"

To LGBT people that's the same thing. Being denied the ability to fully express their sexuality in loving relationships or marriage by a church, means that the church has in fact distanced itself from them. "Love the sinner not the sin" may sound good in conservative circles, but to LGBT people it might as well be "hate the sinner". There is no way around the fact that if a church insists that LGBT people give up any hope of living in a relationship according to their sexuality, it has in reality distanced itself from them in a profound way.

Glen Young said...


Hi Shawn,

Perhaps the question, as to whether the Church is acceptable to us; is not the first order question we should be asking. The primary question is;"whose Church is it"?, and then "what is Her function"?

Your blog seems to resonate with the attitude put to the Ma Whea Commission by a liberal Church here in Auckland; "the primary function of the Commission is,given the differences on these issues in the Church,how those of a liberal and conservative convictions convictions remain part of the same organization". That statement appears to pre-suppose that the liberal conviction had/has a Constitutional legitimancy of it's own and a right to demand that it is met.

To me,the fatal flaw in the establishment of the Ma Whea Commission was that to the best of my knowledge;it's terms of reference did not require it to take cognizance of the Constitution 1857. But all of that is now water under the bridge and the "broad Church" now "loves both the sinner and the sin".It can not get more accommodating than that.

Shawn said...

Hi Glen.

So as not to derail the thread topic I'll make this my last comment on the issue.

The Church as you put it is not the Church of the medieval period when prayers to the saints and for the dead were normal. It is not even the Church of the Patristic period when such things too were accepted and practised. Keep this in mind, the men who forged the Nicene Creed prayed to Mary and the Saints. So any church that was inspired by or affected by the Reformation, as Anglicanism was, is already a different church to that which was the norm for well over a thousand years, both on doctrinal matters and on institutional ones. Things for us have already changed, in some respects radically. The Reformation throws a big monkey wrench into the claims of Protestant conservatives to be conservative or traditional at all with regards to doctrine and practice and definitions of what the Church is and believes. When Evangelicals talk about what the Church has always believed, Roman Catholics and Orthodox Christians can be forgiven for laughing.

The Constitution is to me largely irrelevant. It was adopted in 1857, and it's now the 21st century, so it likely needs updating anyway. It was written in a very different time to ours, and such things should not be set in stone.

The issue of sin and sinner depends entirely on whether or not we think the Bible has anything to say on the matter, which is debatable, and whether or not we think it matters even if it does. The same Paul in the New Testament who appears to condemn homosexuality also says that women should cover their heads in church and not cut their hear at all. How many Evangelical churches abide by that? If they don't, and they have some "first order/second order/cultural difference" scheme to justify not doing so, then they have already lost the argument on homosexuality, and any moral leg to stand on, because any such scheme is just convenient cherry picking.

And as far as the Old Testament goes, this is the same text in which "God's Law" allows for slavery and the rape of wives. So to me it's not a valid source of moral thinking for the 21st century, or any other for that matter.

The Bible has to be interpreted. Nobody, no matter what they claim to the contrary, simply reads and practices according the "plain meaning" of Scripture. And the Bible has always been interpreted for the times, always. The Apostolic church threw out the necessity for new male Christians to be circumcised, which was controversial to some church leaders. The Reformation churches threw out the Bible's teaching on usury because they didn't see it as being relevant anymore. And most modern Evangelicals don't insist that women cease cutting their hear and wear head coverings in church. There is a glaring contradiction with conservative Christians who say the Bible condemns homosexuality, but happily play the stock market and go to church on Sunday to listen to a female preacher who is not wearing a hat.

For me the beating heart of the Gospel is love God and love your neighbour. That's it. Everything else is just commentary, and how that is practised changes over time, and always has done. I see no valid reason why loving my neighbour should not include allowing for LGBT people to be who they are in all the fullness of their humanity and sexuality, especially given that we now know that as far as nature is concerned, it's perfectly natural.

Malcolm said...

Dear Peter,

I like the name of the new church. It reminds me of verses like 2 Cor 9:13 and Heb 4:14. It was both hilarious and painful being in a group attempting to come to a consensus. The truth is, whatever name was chosen, it was going to come under scrutiny and criticism. Fair enough.

However, just like claiming to be an evangelical anglican doesn't exclude other anglicans from holding to the gospel, so too with the idea of confessing Christ. After all, as you rightly point out, there are many anglicans in the western churches who "sit lightly" with the 39 articles—particularly article 4!

Malcolm

Father Ron said...

The very title of an Austrian Free Church pastor's interview with Jay Behan - " "Leaving gracefully from an apostate denomination!" - implies a sense of judgement (bias?) against Mr.Behan's former Church - whose acceptance of committed Same-Sex Relationships has been affirmed by an Act of Synod in ACANZP.

To be called an 'apostate Church' is a very serious accusation - especially from a former minister of ACANZP of our local Province of the worldwide Anglican Communion. However, considering the foreign bedfellows Mr Behan has now chosen for his future ministry as a bishop of his new 'Anglican' diocese', it is likely that he - and the Church he now represents - will be governed by what he presumes to be the 'orthodoxy' of GAFCON, FOCA, ACNA and other dissidents from the offical Instruments of Unity of the Anglican Communion.

In other words, the 12 parishes that have decided to come under the episcopate of Mr. Behan will no longer be considered part of ACANZP and the Anglican Communion headed by the ABC and Lambeth; but a new entity headed by the GAFCON Primates, whose influence has encouraged them to secede from their local provincial Anglican Church.

For a group of disaffected clergy and their followers to seek to set up their alternative 'Anglican' Church in Aotearoa/New Zealand is one thing, but to label their former colleagues as 'apostate' is quite another. It seems that any hope of reconciliation between these departees and the Anglican Church in Aotearoa/New Zealand in its present Constitution is now impossible - UNLESS the graceless word 'apostate' is removed from their critical assessment of the Mission of Christ conducted by our Church of ACANZP.

john said...

Those (clergy and laity) who have been stripped of their church buildings, homes and assets, have had their names slandered by some of their Bishops, colleagues and brothers and sisters in Christ, whom they have served alongside for many years of faithful service, find themselves having to leave ACANZP because their own integrity stops them from being able to go along with the "two integrity" NONSENSE, to join the MAJORITY of ANGLICANS around the globe, and you are not happy with the name - really?

Father Ron said...

"Not happy with the(ir) name"? NO!

Not happy with the fact that they are arrogating to themselves the name "Anglican", which belongs to those of us still loyal to the original Christian Church they have chosen to abandon. Intentional schism does not give schismastics the moral right to label their former colleagues 'apostate'. GAFCONites should be sure enough of their status to use the name they themselves opted for from their beginning. By leaving their original Anglican Foundation, they automatically lose the right to call themselves 'Anglican'. Those leaving the mother ship are not entitled to take the furniture and fittings (nor, indeed, the title of their former vessel).

Peter Carrell said...

Hello

Shawn at 4.36 am: a comment in line for "best of 2019" - thank you! You highlight the challenges of consistently reading, interpreting and applying the Bible.

Ron: I have not heard Jay himself use "apostate" and it is most unfortunate that the producer of the video has so titled the video in that way.

John: an interesting point of view - arguably not shared by many in ACANZP.

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Malcolm
Good points - thank you!

cam said...

The enemy of my enemy...

As CCAANZ is supported and encouraged by Sydney and GAFCON one wonders how long before that which unites is subsumed by that which divides. I really feel for The Revd Jay Behan in this interview where he is led in his reflections by the pastor's questions, and feel much of the tone of the interview is not his. As you point out +Peter the word in the title is never uttered by Jay himself, and much of the tenor conveyed is contrived from the interviewer. There appears a sorte on the 'unique' nature of the Constitution 1857, what some would think Selwyn's genius, the interviewer suggests is odd and out of line with other Provinces. Personally voices from three houses meeting in synod to regulate and form church teaching seems reasonably laudable. And again personally speaking this does not effect the diffidence I hold to those called to Episcopal office. Partly due to trusting the Spirit lead structures our province has in place which raises up the men and women called to the episcopate.

It has been our 'unique' structure (not actually unique...adopted in many places) which has allowed the ACANZP to be forerunners in the Gospel of equality with regards female leadership, and yes headship of congregations and diocese across the province. And we are not done yet in undoing a patriarchy that made genitalia and chromosomes somehow pertinent in fitness of workers to the harvest.

When the hurmuph dies down over That Topic CCAANZ will have interesting bedfellows with regard the above. It may be they will have to work at accomodation or something like 'two integrities' if they are to hold together on this issue. Time will tell.

As we learn in ACANZP 101 the Constitution signed in 1857, when Maori still made up some 50% of the population had not one Maori signatory. This week we remembered, (and in terms of how long it took possibly repented) the first Maori ordained priest in 1858 The Revd Rota Waitoa. If Shawn ever a Constitution were no longer fit for purpose in a nation aware of it's bi-cultural genesis, then ACANZP's is one!

Again though nothing like what The Revd Behan or any communications from CCAANZ have suggested, the same Diocese 'leading' that interview can hardly be held up as champion of reconciliation and healing in partnership with the indigenous people. Google 'banning of smoking ceremonies', and you'll get a feel for some high ranking Syndey Anglicans disposition toward indigenous culture.

So to return to the opening proverb (non-sciptural) and +Peter's question as to what makes Anglicans so. I posit some degree of 'compromise with integrity' is a good starting point. Of course this is what the motion of General Synod 2018 was trying to effect. In looking at what unites CCAANZ with their 2/3 Anglican brothers and sisters it may be there will be need for 'holding with integrity' differences too. I hope so. Women, and indigenous rights being things as dear to my heart as That Topic will ever be.

Which begs the question in terms of Anglicanism, why schism on the grounds of what ultimately is part of, has been for 400 years, a particularly Anglican characteristc?

...Is my friend.






Peter Carrell said...

I think, Cam, that if we merge your "compromise with integrity" with Shawn's timely reminder of the ways in which every Anglican cherry picks Scripture to one degree or another (at the very least every Anglican has an odd take on episcopacy ... according to Presbyterians and Baptists!!), then we are talking about a difference of approaches to Scripture between CCAANZ and ACANZP rather than a question of apostolic faithfulness versus unfaithful apostasy.

john said...

The name Anglican does indeed belong to those who remain loyal to the original Christian Church. Amen. Those in the CCAANZ very much see themselves still belonging to the original Christian Church. Because ACANZP have ignored the fundamental provisions of its constitutuiton and Lambeth 1.10 and amended one of its canons- maybe they should no longer use the name Anglican? CCAANZ are maintaining the teaching the Anglican Church has always held to and which almost 80% of Anglicans worldwide still hold to. CCAANZ has not left their orginial Anglican Foundation - for that many are truly thankful.

Peter Carrell said...

Dear John
In order to get a better sense of what CCAANZP is based on, are you able to tell us whether, for instance, it has a constitution, and canons; and whether that constitution and canons is the same as ACANZP had prior to May 2018 (recalling that prior to May 2018 there was - it has been said - no cause for schism)?
Or is there another constitution?
Further, Anglicanism is best expressed through its agreed common prayers - BCP, NZPB etc. Are you able to confirm what prayer book or prayer books CCAANZP will be using?

Peter Carrell said...

A further question, John:
if "Anglican" means much to CCAANZ, why is it quite difficult to find the word on a number of their church websites?

Shawn said...

Personally Ron I don't find accusations of "apostate" serious at all, I find them hilarious.

Yes Cam, I wonder myself how long the unity within GAFCON can last given that in forming the group they have had to paper over a significant and serious difference between their members with regards to female leadership. I also find it fascinating that on that issue CCAANZ have no problem living with two radically different interpretations of Scripture, and two radically different church practices, yet could not do so with regards to the other issue. Why is one a "first order" issue that cannot be compromised, but the other isn't? That seems contradictory to me.

john said...

Hello Peter - Sorry I do not know all the answers to your questions - I'd suggest if you contacted the Bishop elect Jay Behan he could possibly answer in more detail.

john said...

Hello Peter, (I'm not sure if my first reply actually sent.) Sorry I can't answer your questions though I'd suggest contacting the Bishop elect Jay Behan. It does mean a lot to be Anglican but why that isn't found on a number of websites - no doubt it will in the near future now CCAANZ has officially been formed.

Father Ron said...

Dear Peter, with regard to the mention of 'apostate' in the video interview with the new bishop of the CCAANZ 'diocese'; do you really think he was unaware of the presence of that word in the title of the video in which he was significantly featured. Surely he would have had some sontrol over the distribution of the video and the offensive nature of its implication for his former colleagues in ACANZP?

Shawn, you may consider the use of the word 'apostate' to be a matter of amusement. However, When GAFCON-ites are accusing members of our Church and other legitimately- founded Anglican Churches of the Anglican Communion of being 'apostate' or 'unorthodox' (while declaring their own form of Church life as 'Orthodox Anglican') - this proclaims a state of serious separatism (schism) that denies Christ's call to unity in the Body of Christ.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi John
Of course I can ask Jay!
But it is not Jay posting here who is making claims about the Anglicanness of CCAANZ.

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Ron
In my experience editors do what editors do.
I personally do not check up on everything that an editor may say about me.
Time is precious!

Apostasy is a grave charge but we can treat it lightly in the heat of these particular moments in time.
What matters is whether charges of “apostasy” continue to be made in the cooler light of day as the years roll by: that will be awkward and difficult for any future reunion.

Glen Young said...


Hi Peter and Ron,

Peter, in you response to my blog,you say:[you are over simplifing a complex situation re relationships]May 22 @ 9.30 PM.

Well,lets have the full Monty.Can you show me the Canon of the ACANZP which states that the Doctrine of the Church, as per Her Constitution 1857 should read: "that sexual acts between two people of the same sex are acceptable; and/or that such relationships are considered "chaste" within that Doctrine".

To the best of my knowledge,a minor Canon on discipline was changed;to circumvent Synod's inability to change the Doctrine 1857.So,some people allowed in the back door, now wish to dominate the Church. There is a major difference between Bishops not being disciplined and saying that the Doctrine of the Church finds same sex activity part of God's Will.

Ron, I simply refer you to Art.19:"As the Church of Jerusalem, Alexandria,and Antioch hath erred; so has the Church of Rome hath erred,not only in their living and manner of Ceremonies,but also in matters of Faith".

Shawn said...

Hi Ron.

Schism is in the eye of the beholder. Like "apostate" I don't think it's a useful term. There were divisions, including institutional ones, from the early church onward. The debate over the nature of Christ led to several institutional splits, some of which exist to this day, which is why Egyptian Coptic Christians have a different institution to other Orthodox churches. Armenians have their own church, so do other Arab Christians. Then the Western and the Eastern churches split in the Great Schism. Then Lutheran, Anglican and Reformed Christians split from Rome in the Reformation. Anglicanism began as a schismatic church (at least as far as Rome was concerned), and to this day is not in any kind of institutional unity with the Pope, and our affirmation of the ordination of women means that's not going to be the case anytime soon. GAFCON is just doing what the Church of England did in the 16th century. And while I disagree with their reasons, they are at least doing it for reasons of conscience. England's church split from Rome because a king wanted a divorce and a new wife.

In short, there has never been institutional unity in the Church. We are all schismatics.

Personally I don't believe Christ's call to unity in the Body of God and in the Spirit has anything at all to do with Christian church institutions. I don't even think it has anything to do with Christian religion. I think it's a far more radical concept.

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Glen
The question is whether a church founded through its constitution on Holy Scripture is able to keep reading that Holy Scripture in order to support its people pastorally as they face the challenges of life and respond to deepening understanding of the human condition. In various ways the church has done that, sometimes with questions raised about the flexibility of the constitution to enable change (notably, ordination of women). The Anglican Church of the 1857 constitution has not understood itself to be frozen in time - we varied the constitution a little in 1992 (while preserving the core of the 1857 constitution); and we wrested to ourselves the possibility of new liturgies beyond BCP (so, my understanding of the 1928 Church of England Empowering Act). But you seem, in a time when many Anglican families are recognising that they have gay family members with capacity to lovingly enter into permanent partnerships, to be unable to see that it might be consistent with the 1857 constitution to explore whether some flexibility might be permissible within the general bounds of our life to offer ecclesial support to gay Anglicans in same sex partnerships. You are more than entitled to argue your view and, as you know, it has much sympathy in the life of ACANZP (and even more sympathy in the new CCAANZ). But what your view does not have is majority support within ACANZP. Notwithstanding that, no one requires you to leave!