Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Anglican Communion and the Anglican Church of North America (3)

I guess the most annoying thing I find about the Anglican situation in North America is that it seems like some arbitrary force field is at work in the minds of leaders and pundits. Actually, this force field works in other parts of the globe. It works in this way: it prevents a natural (or, if you prefer, unnatural) Anglican tendency to doubt and question things from doubting and questioning a select group of things. Bodily resurrection (may be questioned), virgin birth (can be doubted), Jesus as unique way of salvation (definitely to be questioned), Anglican history (to be much debated), marriage requires two people of different gender (what!?); but two Anglican churches in one region (no way), a Covenant (unAnglican), limit Anglican diversity (quelle horreur), question the decisions of a synod (get outta here: the Holy Spirit has spoken).

Why can't Anglicans question anything and everything?

If we can doubt what is said in the creeds, can we question the way we order our life? If Lambeth 1998 1.10 can be disregarded, why not disregard every resolution of the Communion, including the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral?

In the end what intrigues me about the idea that one day the Anglican Communion might accept ACNA as a member church is that it would demonstrate a certain consistency in being Anglican: everything about what we believe and what we do is able to be questioned, revised, and changed. We would even slaughter the sacred cow of one member church per region.

There is an alternative approach ... but it is a bit frightening for some. It would involve acknowledging that our tradition ought to be respected more than we do (including respected in a more consistent manner), as well as our Scripture being paid attention with greater consistency. That would be a quite reasonable thing to do. In working on these things we would be attempting to work out what a global Anglican understanding of being Anglican meant (i.e. something more profound than shouting 'unAnglican'), and we would need to formulate that understanding. Of course for such a profound formulation to work we would need some manner of keeping ourselves up to the Anglican mark.

Oh, wait. That's the Covenant!

Incidentally, some powerful African support from ++Thabo Makgoba for the Covenant - in fact 'a necessary Covenant'!


Kurt said...

As some folks here may know, I have a somewhat different viewpoint on Anglican Communion relationships.

The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada are the “official member” churches of the AC in the USA and Canada respectively. To my mind this is as it should be. Both TEC and ACofC played instrumental roles in the process that established the Anglican Communion in 1867. (This includes the fact that the TEC and ACofC lines of Anglican bishops are the oldest such lines outside of the British Isles—dating from 1784 and 1787 respectively.)

However, I personally have no problem with granting “associate member” or “participant observer” status to other Anglican bodies such as ACNA IF THEY AGREE to welcome TEC and ACofC members to participate in Table Fellowship and take Holy Communion at their altars. (ACNA members are already welcome to take the Blessed Sacrament at TEC and ACofC altars). In this regard, these organizations would have a similar status with us that churches such as the Old Catholics have today. They would be welcome to participate in Anglican Communion functions, but without the decisive vote that official member churches such as TEC and ACofC have.

But why stop with associate membership for just the ACNA? There are numerous other Anglican groups in North America which might be considered for such status: American Anglican Church, Anglican Catholic Church, Anglican Catholic Church of Canada, Anglican Churches of America, Anglican Church in America, Anglican Church of Virginia, Anglican Episcopal Church, Anglican Orthodox Church, Anglican Province of America, Anglican Province of Christ the King, Christian Episcopal Church, Diocese of the Great Lakes, Diocese of the Holy Cross, Episcopal Missionary Church, Holy Catholic Church--Western Rite, Orthodox Anglican Church, Reformed Episcopal Church, Protestant Episcopal Church, USA, Southern Episcopal Church, United Anglican Church, United Episcopal Church of North America and the Universal Anglican Church.

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Kurt
One difference between ACNA and the other entities is that at the core of ACNA lie several TEC dioceses who voted to leave TEC.

Part of offering fellowship to ACNA (whether as full or associate Communion membership) is acknowledging that (on my arguments) there is no reason for Anglicans to cease to be Anglicans when their diocese determines that it can no longer go along with its national/regional church (even though that church remains "official" as an Anglican church).

Father Ron Smith said...

Peter, despite your protestations about TEC's place as the official Anglican Communion Partner in The U.S., and your equal insistence that ACNA ought to be considered an equal partner; you miss the point - I suspect, doggedly - that ACNA has surrendered any right it might be thought (by you, or anyone else) to membership in the Communion by it's schismatic action

All that 'inclusive' talk about the need for 'togetherness' with ACNA, avoids the basic question: If ACNA has 'left the Family', why should the Family then bend over backwards to re-absorb them - on their presumption that TEC has acted heretically? Your plea does not seem at all logical.

Only an overt act of penitence can bring the Dissidents back into the Anglican Communion - whose sole representatives in North America they have cast as heretics.

Andrew Reid said...

Just to make a comment on Archbishop Thabo's letter, I'm not sure he is applying the right part of Scripture to the issue at hand. He uses the passage about different gifts within the body of Christ from 1 Cor 12. This is written to a congregation arguing over whose spritual gifts are better than others, about who is truly "spiritual". Paul is reminding them that all gifts come from the same Spirit and are equally necessary for building up Christ's body.
Our dispute is different. It is about the fundamental nature of the gospel, and how that gospel impacts our lives. As Paul says in v3 of that chapter:
..."no one can say 'Jesus is Lord', except by the Holy Spirit". We are disputing whether Jesus really is Lord - "a" Lord or "the" Lord, whether he is Lord over all our life, whether his Lordship is over all the world, whether his words and those of his apostles have authority over us.

Father Ron Smith said...

Andrew, surely the 'fundamental nature of the Gospel' is that ALL people are sinners - no less those who call themselves 'Christian'. it is this simple truth that divides us - one side accounting the other to be 'Sinners', while lauding their own 'sinlessness'.

The words of Jesus certainly have their impact on TEC, the anglican Church of Canada, and those of us who really do believe that gender and sexual-identity are both God's gift in creation. It just mifght be blasphemy to deny that fact.

Just read Matthew 19:12, and try to understand what the underlying message could be - not what you have been taught to think of it.

Andrew Reid said...

Fr Ron, we're in absolute agreement that all people are sinners and in need of redemption and forgiveness, and It's a serious misrepresentation to assert that those who hold to the Biblical teaching on sexuality are lauding their own sinlessness. You would want to be very careful about accusations of blasphemy given the Lord's teaching in Mark 3. We believe that gender and sexuality are God's gifts to us in creation, to be used as he reveals to us in the Scriptures.

My point here is that the Archbishop is misdiagnosing the problem. He sees it as an issue of different gifts, rather than different gospels. Therefore, his treatment plan won't work.

I've already responded extensively to your interpretation of Mt 19:12 in a previous comment, so I don't think anything will be gained by repeating that.

Father Ron Smith said...

Andrew, you say that you believe Archbishop Thabo has mis-diagnosed *The Problem* in the Anglican Communion as being one of its confusion about 'different gifts'.

You are saying that what he really was talking about (or should have been talking about) was 'different gospels'.

If you consider the Church's openness to the LGBT community as being 'a different Gospel', this shows your prejudice, indicating that - in your opinion - any new understanding of gender and sexuality - other than that seen in the Scriptures - is somehow 'a different Gospel'.

If the Gospel is really Good News from God in Christ, then surely it is consistently Good News - to whomever it is vouchsafed; whether to Straight or Gay, Male or Female, Jew or Gentile, White or Black, Young or Old. There is not one Gospel for one category, as opposed to another one for others.

There is sometimes 'Bad News' for certain people, delivered by the proponents of something less than the charity of Christ in the Gospel. But that's something else.