Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Perfect Fear Casts Out All Love for the Covenant

A comment on my previous post asks:

"perhaps you could do a follow up post for those of us evangelicals whose fear is not that the covenant wrecks autonomy, but that it allows churches to remain too autonomous? Some evangelicals might have been signed up to the covenant draft presented to ACC-14 (can't remember its official name) that contained more serious consequences for provinces that strayed too far from the apostolic faith. Not to mention our other fear that the Covenant won't be worth the paper it's written on, because ACoC and TEC have already broken a number of verbal and written commitments not to take the path they have since taken. This breakdown in trust is mentioned time and again by the Global South primates as the deal breaker for them."


One of the problems global Anglicanism is facing is various groups of narrow-minded Anglicans trying to wrest control of the formal apparatus of world Anglicanism. In some cases the 'narrow-mindedness' is a 'single issue' approach to being Anglican, the specific and urgent issue at present being homosexuality. It is extraordinary how both globally, and within some member churches the question of whether one is 'for' or 'against' the two markers of formal change, blessing of same sex partnerships or ordination of partnered gay ministers, is determinative of whether the future is good or bad.

"What? The Covenant will rule out such change!? Do not sign it."

"What? The Covenant will not expel member churches making such change?! Do not sign it."

In other cases the narrow-mindedness is  about a style and substance to the future of Anglicanism which seemingly ignores the history of post-Reformation Anglicanism in which some breadth of approach, tolerance in attitude to one another, and liberality of heart towards others who are different has always featured in our life. I often argue for limits to Anglican diversity but I have never argued for no diversity at all.

So, I say to those who think the Covenant is not tough enough, that an earlier draft was better for holding out the possibility of greater punishment: soften up! Do not fear the future of a toughless global Anglican love. Have some trust that if we sign the Covenant there will be consequences: a changed outlook on being Anglican across the globe which over time increases coherence and commonality among us. What future do you want to be part of? One driven by fear or faith?

Perfect fear casts out all love for the Covenant.

One antidote to fear in this case is grasping that we are a global Communion  so that any such thing as a Covenant, when all drafts are said and done is likely to be a middling moderate, centrist document. And most unlikely to support a narrow-minded agenda. Some trust that when we find the middling way we have potential for significant support, for a majority vote in favour, is a sine qua non of belonging to any organisation. Why cannot GAFCON and the like front up to that? (Ipso facto, the question goes to other groups protesting the Covenant).

Incidentally, Lambeth Palace has a very fine response to the announcement of AMiE's existence. If you want to see a narrow-mindedness in action, look closely at AMiE and ask, Why did three people need to go to Kenya to be ordained, rather than front up to one of the excellent evangelical bishops in the C of E?


Fr. J said...

So true! Narrowness and an unquenchable desire for power and status on all sides has led to this strange bifurcation that we're seeing. AMiE seems to be the latest in a long string of such moves, and those of us who are on the traditionalist end of the spectrum do ourselves a disservice if we do not name such inanity for what it is when we see it, even if it comes from "our team."

Rosemary Behan said...

Hmm, I find it strange that there is so much agreement in some places as to the uselessness .. or for some the narrow mindedness .. of the group of folk who met in Jerusalem because they love the Lord and want the Anglican church to remain faithful to her roots. That in itself demonstrates a lack of Christian love to me. However, that aside, what have you to say to their reply to the 'very fine response' to be found here.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Rosemary,
GAFCON in the entirety represented at the Jerusalem Conference in 2008 was not narrow-minded per se: there were a lot of people there, many of whom were there to experience the event.

GAFCON as an ongoing organisation as expressed through support for AMiE appears narrow-minded when offering support for sending three Englishmen to Kenya to be ordained. Too many questions are begged about their (both the senders and the ones ordained) understanding of the breadth of the Church of England, to say nothing of the actual width of evangelicalism in the C of E. Whether or not the C of E has strayed from its roots, it is a broader church than AmiE would appear to accept.

The statement you offer a link to is not one which I find convincing and helpful, as it offers no serious explanation for why the ordinations took place in Kenya.

I also confess to being intrigued as to why those organising AMiE just a little while ago launched the St Augustine Society. Now it is named something else. Is the leadership here confused in their own minds as to what they are doing?

Father Ron Smith said...

"Why did three people need to go to Kenya to be ordained, rather than front up to one of the excellent evangelical bishops in the C of E?"
- Posted by Peter Carrell -

Peter, I don't think you are naive enough to require the only credible answer to your question.

It should be plain for all to see: that Kenya is a prime mover in the GAFCON plan to undermine the polity of the Church of England - aided and abetted by Charles Raven and other assorted schismatic ex-Anglican clerics.

Nothing will satisfy the GAFCON (No Lambeth) element other than the complete destablisation of the native Church of England - this, despite the recent visit of the ABC to Kenya.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron,

Personally I distinguish between the reasonable likelihood that the three ordained in Kenya will serve in Anglican churches which are not formally part of the Church of England (such as Charles Raven's church) and your speculation that the plan is the complete destablisation of the C of E.

Over the years there have been various attempts at the latter, all of which have failed.

Rosemary Behan said...

Sigh .. well forgive me then, but we need some plain speaking here if you cannot see the reasons for ordaining folk the church refuses to ordain, despite the fact that they’ve been through the selection process.

The money paragraph is .. “Significant challenges face those called to minister in England at this time. Its ordained clergy need oversight and encouragement from those who believe in their work and ministry and who will walk with them step by step both theologically and missiologically.”

And .. “Those recommended for ordination had already been through due processes of selection and training and were recommended after a thorough process of discernment.”

The same is true here in New Zealand, that is a fact, but it may be a little known fact to many of your readers here. The FACTS are that many people, especially men, are and have been turned down for ordination in our church because of where they were trained, or because the powers that be believe they will not follow the current theological trends in the Anglican church of New Zealand.

Yes, that’s blunt, but it’s true. I can say that because we worked for nearly 20 years in a parish as you know, with not a skerrick of encouragement from the Diocese. Zip, nada .. NOTHING, in fact the opposite. We have raised up many young men who have to fight battles to be accepted in the Anglican church. They are fine young men readers of this blog, fine young Godly men, known for their love for Our Lord and their teaching and preaching. So you might be surprised to learn that for instance, priesting is denied them, acceptance is denied them, where they trained is not accepted. You KNOW that is true Peter, but you are also aware that the same is true in other Diocese of New Zealand. Your continued lack of love for these people and their counterparts in England, demonstrate to me that you are in fact NOT interested in the welfare of the people who sit on pews in our church who are crying out for decent ordained oversight, but only in some sort of ‘unity’ that is too nebulous to name and only includes those in the upper hierarchy anyway, not those who sit in the pews.

On this very page, both you and Father Ron denigrate good people who love Our Lord and want the very, very best for both His church and the Anglican church. Shame on you. I would not be in your shoes when you face Him on Judgement Day for all the tea in China.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Rosemary,
At risk of stating the obvious, the question about the three men ordained in Kenya is not whether they are good, worthy and true men of the gospel, nor whether they are fully loved as brothers in Christ, but whether there was an actual exploration re ordained ministry with the Church of England, the church AMiE is pledged to work within and not without. We are not even told that these three applied and were turned down by the formal processes of the C of E. I will happily take these questions to God on judgment day since they are simply questions of clarity and facts.

As for the situation in NZ I hope you will appreciate that I am involved, and have been involved in many conversations over the years concerning ordination, much of which is necessarily private because involving personal lives, thus it is difficult to respond in detail to the charges you bring against our church.

Suffice to say that it would be unfortunate if any reader here got the impression from what you say that people are never ordained if they have been to college X or hold to theological views Y. Yes, there have been difficulties and hurdles over the years, even rejections. But the fact is that people have been ordained from a full range of colleges and from all parts of the theological spectrum. It is also a fact that in each of our dioceses approaches to ordination selection change over the years, not least with changes to bishops. Twenty years ago, for instance, there would scarcely have been an ordinand in some dioceses with a degree from BCNZ-now-called-Laidlaw College, now there are many.

My privilege is to work with and support folk in the ordination process and in post ordination training. Undoubtedly I fail in the discharge of these duties to exemplify the character of Christ in its perfection. But I will face God's judgment clothed with the righteousness of Christ and not with the rags of my failures!

Rosemary Behan said...

Peter, there are no denominations in the Bible, there is the church, the people of God. To help those people [the church] be and remain as the people of God, to ‘feed’ them, they are given servants to help them. There is much in Scripture as to the role of the servant given to the local church. You and others are going on and on and on and on about three fellows, about whom I know nothing, and there is talk about them undermining the Anglican church, about actions being taken that do not support the Anglican church. The letter from AMiE states .. “Those recommended for ordination had already been through due processes of selection and training and were recommended after a thorough process of discernment.” Am I to understand from you that is not true? That you believe this happened OUTSIDE the Anglican church, despite the fact that this group has promised to work WITH the Anglican communion? If so you must give me those facts. Otherwise, I’m going to re-iterate my point. That is that the hurdles put before applicants for ordination, put before those who would become the servants of our church are in some cases, insurmountable. Leaving one with the inescapable conclusion that the welfare of the people who make up the church .. and they are the ones that interest me .. are not our denominations first concern.

John Wesley was an Anglican, did the church support him? Find ways to help him, encourage him? No, they were so devoted to retaining their own strictures that they lost all the people who came to the Lord through his ministry, although he lived and died an Anglican. Our Lord made sure those people .. His church .. were well looked after for the time necessary .. but the Anglican church lost them in it’s blindness. Have a care that our heirarchy are not setting us all up for a similar scenario, because Our Lord WILL look after His church, His people. He will raise up people to care for them because He is in charge, not us.

You KNOW Peter that what I have stated is true, never mind that you cannot speak about such things because of your position. These people have NOT received encouragement and support, and it appears that those three in England haven’t either. Why is that? Are they fringe people? Are they theological misfits? Do they love Our Lord? Jesus said that whoever is not against us, is for us? Do we believe that? We are crying out for people to come and labour in the vineyard, and our denomination is busy protecting the church from such servant applicants. Makes the people who decide such things feel good, but it leaves His church, the people of God, bereft. He will not let that situation continue. You have previously stated that our denomination has remained, whilst people who have separated have not. Have you considered this from the point of view of God looking after and providing servants for His church, because those who believe THEY are in charge of His church, are NOT doing so.

Finally, you said, “I will face God's judgment clothed with the righteousness of Christ and not with the rags of my failures!” I’m not quite sure why you feel it necessary to give me that sort of put down Peter, [strange from someone who keeps telling everyone that women are great bible teachers] implying therein that I don’t know the Gospel, but to give you the benefit of the doubt, I was not referring to your salvation Peter, but to the Judgement that we all face even though our ultimate salvation is assured.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Rosemary,

It is hard for me or anyone to give you the facts when so little has been released by the AMiE. The key sentence is the one you quote:

"“Those recommended for ordination had already been through due processes of selection and training and were recommended after a thorough process of discernment.”"

I take this to mean that the AMiE group did the discerning, selecting and approved the training, and then proceeded to ordain via Kenya. It is possible that it means the official C of E processes went through to the point of recommendation, but that would only raise the question why the men then chose not to be ordained within the C of E. What the sentence is not at all clear about is whether these three men ever fronted up to the C of E official process prior to ordination. So I do not see any warrant for jumping to a conclusion that these men felt discouraged by the C of E. We just do not know that ... but perhaps further light will come to hand.

Incidentally, I am not saying that all this undermines the C of E etc (though plenty are elsewhere on the internet).

Yes, within our church, there are people discouraged by the processes we have for discernment and selection. I appreciate your recognition that these are difficult to discuss publicly.

As for my quip re my rags of failures: absolutely no put down was intended and I am sorry to hear you have read it in that way. I am simply saying: my conscience is clear on many aspects of these matters concerning my direct or indirect role over a number of years in two different dioceses; but I am not perfect and I (personally) have made mistakes, for which I need forgiveness and trust God through Christ to do this.

Father Ron Smith said...

I've only just noticed Rosemary's comments about young men she has helped to advance towards training for the Sacred inistry of ACANZP who have not been accepted by the diocesan bishop in Aotearoa for ordination.

Surely, ordination is, in the end, at the discretion of the bishop of the diocese for which they hope to minister. If that bishop does not find them statisfactory - on any grounds - then they can always seek ordination in another diocese or province that approves of their calling? (Nelson or Sydney diocese would quite possibly have accepted her candidates)

Priests are called into a specific ministry in Christ's Church - not because they might think they have a calling, but because the bishop has discerned their calling. However, having said that, there are somtimes Ministry Officers who may have as particular reason for declining candidates for their own reasons - without referring them to the relevant bishop. This can, and sometimes does, happen.

In the end, if a person is truly called by God to minister - it will happen. My own is such a case. It took a while for the call to be recognised and answered!

Rosemary Behan said...

In fact Ron, we ran a different system, I don't know if it's still the same, but I suspect so. The congregation recognised the calling of anyone and those folk did two years MTS. [Ministry Training Scheme] There they were the servants of the church doing all the necessary but perhaps boring serving jobs a church needs. At the end of that two years the folk themselves assessed whether God was calling them further, and a panel from the congregation did the same thing. Some didn't want to go further, some the panel didn't feel should go further, some the panel felt should do more living and growing as Christians before taking the next step. Only then did they go before an assessment panel in the Diocese to express an interest.

Anonymous said...

"Why did three people need to go to Kenya to be ordained, rather than front up to one of the excellent evangelical bishops in the C of E?"

Because diocesan bishops in the C of E have to work in lock-step, and people cn only be ordained to a "title" or designated post in the C of E - and bishops naturally want to control everything that goes on in "their" dioceses. Energetic evangelical Anglicans want to set up church plants - typically in school halls or gyms - in dioceses where the liberal bishop is anti-pathetic to their aims. This is what happened in South London, where pro-gay liberal Bishop Tom Butler refused to ordain for the growing conservative "Co-Mission" network and even took their leader's licence way until he was humiliatingly overruled by the bishop of Winchester.
The bishops do see themselves as the vanguard of growth, but others see them as bottlenecks. Meanwhile, free charismatic churches can be set up anywhere - again, usually in school halls - and not a few Anglicans of the child-rearing age go there because they enjoy the worship and the children's and youth work appeals.
Savvy conservative evangelical Anglicans understand this point but find themselves hampered by the Anglican parochial system, where every rector claims to be a pope in his or her parish.

According to my contacts and my reading of the situation, that's what is really going on, Peter. It is no secret that liberals use institutional power to try to exclude conservative evangelicals.

Another point, which you may not have made, is that over half (c. 3,500) of the parochial clergy in England are over 55 and due to retire in the next ten years. The current numbers coming through the present "system" will not make up this deficit. Closures, amalgamations and dependence on self-supporting priests looks like the future. Ah, how did that Leonard Cohen song about the future go?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Peter
You are surprisingly unconvincing here. To be Anglican is to be in relationship to one's bishop. Either these clergy enter the C of E system, pray like anything, and see how it goes, or they start a new church. On you own admission in your comment, plenty of independent churches have been started up in England. Why not a new evangelical one with Anglican flavours?

To pretend to be part of the Church of England while taking detours to Kenya is a pretence. Quite a few Anglican church plants are taking place with episcopal authorisation, especially in the Diocese of London. My suspicion is that what these particular Anglicans want is a version of Anglicanism which refuses to seriously engage with the breadth of Anglicanism and to take its place within such a church.

If you think the AMiE is being scrupulously honest in disclosing all that they have in mind, it would be good to have some links to fuller statements than have been forthcoming so far.

Anonymous said...

Peter, like you, I'm a (far) distant observer of these things, not a participant, so maybe my interpretation (like yours) is wrong. Anyway, you write: "To be Anglican is to be in relationship to one's bishop."
But they have. That's what the panel of bishops is about.

"Either these clergy enter the C of E system, pray like anything, and see how it goes, or they start a new church."
How very conservative that sounds. Is the church a franchise like MacDonald's? I make no comments on the virtues of institutions ('the system'), except to say that some systems (education, health, transportation) can become moribund and new ideas are needed. That's what "Mission" means - sending INTO a place.
"On you own admission in your comment, plenty of independent churches have been started up in England. Why not a new evangelical one with Anglican flavours?"
That's exactly what they're proposing - with Anglican orders, moreover. You can be sure their doctrine would be faithful to historic Anglican tradition - unlike, say, St Matthew's in the City, Auckland

"To pretend to be part of the Church of England while taking detours to Kenya is a pretence. Quite a few Anglican church plants are taking place with episcopal authorisation, especially in the Diocese of London."
With the oversight of a Ugandan bishop, no less - Bishop Sandy Millar. Why is that OK?

"My suspicion is that what these particular Anglicans want is a version of Anglicanism which refuses to seriously engage with the breadth of Anglicanism and to take its place within such a church."
Or - to recast your words of disapproval - as I suggested above, they simply want to be conservative evangelical Anglicans and to continue that very old tradition in a church that is trying to squeeze them out of the Anglicna world. Would you condemn St Michael's Oxford Terrace for not engaging with the "breadth of Anglicanism" if they declined to have a Bill Subritzky preaching there?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Peter,
"one's bishop" is one's local diocesan bishop. AMiE's panel of bishops is a collection of bishops with no jurisdictional power in the C of E.

If the C of E is moribund it needs renewal from within the system, not from people pretending to be within the system but actually working apart from it.

Again, at risk of being a cracked record: any Christians motivated to missionise England can do that. The question here is whether one can do this claiming to be C of E when not bound by or to the C of E and its structures.

The London/Sandy Millar/Uganda is fine because the official powers that be have decreed it so. Which only underscores the point that the official powers that be can be quite creative and helpful. What is the AMiE problem with working inside such a creative and helpful church?

Peter, you are evading the point at issue here with what you say about conservative evangelicals in the Church of England: there are many of them, and they are working well within that church. Why does this particular group not want to work with their fellow conservative evangelicals inside the C of E? (OK - there are some obvious answers re not wanting women bishops etc).

As for St Michael's and All Angels here: they understand the breadth of Anglicanism (they have even had me to preach), and continue to work inside a diocese which has much diversity. They do not have to invite Bill Subritsky to speak; I would be surprised if they protested another parish inviting him to preach. When they seek their next vicar, they will consult their diocesan not a collection of bishops of their own choosing.

Anonymous said...

Peter asks: "Peter, you are evading the point at issue here with what you say about conservative evangelicals in the Church of England: there are many of them, and they are working well within that church. Why does this particular group not want to work with their fellow conservative evangelicals inside the C of E?"

If I understand it correctly, they don't have a problem working with fellow conservative evangelicals; it is rather the "open evangelicals" of the "Fulcrum" website and the liberals who are opposed to them, just as "Fulcrum" campaigned against the Co-Mission churches in South London and bitterly opposed the establishment of Christ Church Durham.
You may know also that no conservative evangelical has been appointed bishop in the C of E since 1997. This was Wallace Benn, who is on the AMiE council and does in fact have jurisdictional powers.

As for the background issue, this has been clearly explained on the AMiE website by Bishop Nazir-Ali: the suspicion that the C of E hierarchy will maneuver to appoint a gay bishop over a diocese. As you must know, Colin Coward of "Changing Attitude" keeps threatening to out the 10 or so gay bishops he says are already in posts in the C of E, and there are repeated attempts to make Jeffrey John, a homosexual man now in a same-sex marraige, a bishop. AMiE is trying to pre-empt this in a way that proved impossible in Ecusa/Tec.
I am sure you are aware of these facts.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Peter,

Why would any evangelical support the establishment of Christ Church, Durham as a church (a) refusing to submit to the authority of the local C of E bishop (evangelical +Tom Wright as it happened), and (b) as a plant within the bounds of another evangelical parish (St Nick's in the Marketplace)? It would be lunacy for evangelicals of any shade or stripe who are committed to working within the C of E to countenance projects which undermined the authority, order and relationships of other parts of the C of E.

Fulcrum does not oppose church plants which work from the authority of the local bishop (again, see London). Without recalling all the details of the Co-Mission churches saga, my suspicion is that they opposed the way the Coekin co-ordinated ordinations were carried out. Again: who as a right-minded C of E member wouldn't oppose such manouverings?

I do not know why the C of E has not appointed another conservative evangelicals such as Wallace Benn, though I believe that the new-ish Bishop of Peterborough could be regarded as such a fellow conservative.

As for the C of E appointing a gay bishop: some say they already have! But if they appoint someone more openly, it will be according to the agreed polity of the C of E - a polity worked out according to its due processes: to belong to such a church is to accept that such processes will be worked through from time to time towards disagreeable conclusions. If the conservative evangelicals cannot muster a majority to oppose these conclusions then they need to squarely face what that means: they live in a broad church in which they are a minority and cannot get their way. There are then several choices, only one of which is to try to work out a future in which ordinands are flown out to Kenyan and then flown back on the basis that as 'overseas clergy' they must be accepted into the ministry of the C of E. As a matter of fact they do not have to be accepted! When I was an overseas clergyperson in the C of E and sought the permission to officiate of the local bishop, I was grateful to receive it as an act of grace!

Anonymous said...

Peter, I am basically describing a situation as I see it (from far, far away, and chiefly from websites), not commenting on its worthiness.
1. Christ Church Durham currently seems to be flourishing, with a larger team and more students and families attending it than St Nicholas. To judge from their website, St Nicholas' looks like a mildly liberal evangelical church to me. CCD seems to be opposed to feamle ordination, so that would damn it in others' eyes, in which this has become the new orthodoxy. Opponents of WO in England were told in 1992 their position would always be honored ('two integrities'), so you can't question their legitimacy. Maybe the preaching or the coffee is better at CCD than St Nicholas?
As for the interminably prolix Tom Wright: well, I have never met the man on his many world trips but have appreciated goodly parts of his scholarship - not all; I think he is plain wrong on lots of things, as well as stridently opinionated (I excuse myself from such a judgment, of ocurse!), and you will find many evangelicals who are not convinced by him. Wright's "evangelicalism" is idiosyncratic in many ways, not least his belief that the true meaning of justification by faith was lost to the Church of God from c. 400 until c. 1990. (And I thought only the JWs entertained such restorationist ideas!) I am just glad that many students in that city are hearing the gospel.
2. 'Fulcrum' exists chiefly to promote WO and women bishops among evangelicals, and - among the handful who contribute to its website - same-sex relations. I fear that "evangelical" for them is increasingly in danger of becoming a heritage title - like the 'C' in YMCA (now don't start singing!)
3. The absence of conservative evangelical bishops in the C of E is easy to explain. It has nothing to do with the lack of quality of men available - they lead the biggest churches in the land.
4. Your last paragraph displays a touching simplicity about the realities of power plays, as well as a robust worldliness. What about the Gospel? Michael Nazir-Ali knows what is going on - and what Colin Coward et co. are maneuvering to do - to get openly gay bishops institutionalized in the C of E, as they are now in Tec. As a self-described evangelical, you should be supporting Nazir-Ali.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Peter P,
Yes, I may be naive about what is going on; but it is possible that others are over anxious.

As someone who once lived in Durham I am glad that many students are hearing the gospel; and I am glad that Christ Church is a flourishing church ... but I think one could still ask about the "Anglican" bit.

+TW is, yes, interesting, even infuriating at times as an evangelical ... but I would trust him with my life to support a gospel-oriented church which wished to be within not without his jurisdiction.

I am interested in your comments about Fulcrum: again, I may not know all that is going on there; and, maybe it has drifted since it began and I first began reading it.