Wednesday, January 25, 2012

How would we recognise an Anglican church?

Thinking about ACNA and what makes an Anglican church an Anglican church, reminds me of a word my friend and colleague, Bryden Black often refers me to: recognition. A quick googlurvey (Google survey) brings to mind some previous discussions here on ADU, some related writing (by Bryden), an essay by Jordan Hylden and, most importantly, a paper by ++Rowan (Advent 2007). All still worth consulting (especially now that the Diocese of Christchurch has a longer lead time into its Covenant-discussing Synod, 21 April 2012).

Recognition. How we would recognise ACNA as an Anglican church? What would count as Anglican character, content and charisma?

Some discussions on the Anglican blogosphere seem to treat recognition in this way: an Anglican church is recognisable as an Anglican church if it is on the official Communion list of Anglican churches. Thus, could ACNA be recognised as an Anglican church? No, it is not on the list. Could it get on the list? Yes, it could, I suppose, but it probably won't because it is not on the list. Not even if it had all kinds of recognisable Anglican qualities of character, content and charisma? That's right.

OK. Different line of questioning. Could a church on the list be de-listed because it was no longer recognisably Anglican? Possibly, but it is most unlikely. Why is that? Because it is not an Anglican thing to do, running around removing churches off the list.

Right. Let's get this straight: a church which can be recognised as having Anglican characteristics is unlikely to get on the Communion list of official Anglican churches and a church on the list which no longer is recognised as having Anglican characteristics is unlikely to be removed from the list.

You got it!


Father Ron Smith said...

Nice try, Peter. But it won't work. When people knowingly opt out of a Communion Church it is an opting out, vitually, of its claim to be part of the Communion.

Part of the preamble to any such consideration by ACNA - or any other schismatic body with similar ambitions - would be to renounce its statement of 'anathema', on account of presumed 'apostacy', on its original Church body. For ACNA, this would mean dropping charges of heresy against TEC and the A.C.of C.

Secondly, it would need to repent of its schismatic action.

Thirdly, it would need to willing to resume sacramental koinonia with its parent Church bodies.

Anything less would render ACNA's ambition to become part of the Communion a nonsense.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron,
You might be surprised to know that I two-thirds agree with you!

Yes, if ACNA were to be drawn into full membership of the Communion it would need to cease pronouncing anathema on other Anglican churches, and it would need to be willing to resume sacramental koinonia with its parent church bodies (if in fact this has ceased - I suspect some might argue it has not).

In respect of repenting of its allegedly schismatic action, that, I believe, would occasion much discussion ... and a more fruitful approach could be a discussion towards drawing a line under the past with mutual acknowledgements of all factors which led ACNA to leave a body it felt itself to be in strong disagreement with.

carl jacobs said...

Peter Carrell

Yes, if ACNA were to be drawn into full membership of the Communion it would need to cease pronouncing anathema on other Anglican churches

But what if the anathemas are warranted? ACNAs accusations against TEC have the benefit of being true. Doesn't Truth count in this calculation?


Peter Carrell said...

Hi Carl,

If ACNA is serious about wanting to be a full member of the Anglican Communion then it needs to consider how it responds to those member churches whom it deems to be in dispute with. An anathema may be warranted but does it have to be pronounced? Have other member churches pronounced a similar anathema? If so, ACNA might be in good company. But if not, then ACNA needs to consider why it would want to belong to an organisation which does not join its own enthusiasm for anathemas!

Yes, truth comes into all Christian situations, but not all Christian situations require us to make decisive judgements upon those whom we think are in error. I think the church of Rome is in error on some matters but I would be most agreeable to Rome opening up its altars to communion of all the baptized; conversely I find it regrettable that Rome, believing me to be in error (both in what I do and do not believe about the eucharist, papacy etc, and in my unwillingness to sign on the Roman dotted line) insists that therefore I am ineligible to receive communion.

I imagine you may respond by saying that what TEC is in error about is far graver than the differences between me and Rome!

Peter Carrell said...

[This comment from Shawn is slightly edited]

The only schismatics in this drama is the leadership of TEC. Certainly not ACNA.

It is the apostate leadership of TEC that as turned its back on the Communion, ignored the Communion's calls for a moratorium on homosexual ordinations, and essentially told the rest of the Communion to keep out of it's business. That's schismatic. Faithful Anglicans have been forced to look for alternative leadership, leadership that is loyal to the Communion, because of Katharine Jefferts Schori's abandonment of Biblical Christianity and Anglican tradition in order to further the political ideology of the Marxist left and her promotion of sexual perversion. [Editorial note: the last part of the sentence should be substantiated because it goes beyond saying that Anglican leader X has offered a version of Anglicanism which many other Anglicans would dispute; it uses absolutist language (e.g. "abandonment") about a wide-and-long situation (e.g. has TEC abandoned biblical Christianity in every aspect of its life?); furthermore it places a lot of responsibility on a comparatively recently appointed Presiding Bishop: many commentators critical of TEC see what is currently happening as the outcome of a long process of theological and cultural change.]

She has furthered this unBiblical agenda by [dubious] means, persecuting faithful Anglicans and denying them their rights to practice genuine Anglican Christianity.

It is KJS and her [group] of apostate heretics who must repent.

Father Ron Smith said...

Shawn, I was not going to rise to your bait, but I must ask this question in all seriousness; Does St. John's College leadership, under whose roof you presently dwell, know about your obsession against TEC? If not, I think you ought to come out to them about what you feel. They, after all, as a teaching community of ANANZP have a loyalty to TEC as fellow members of the Anglican Communion. I'm sure they'd be interested in your opinions here.

Perhaps you need to find out what is the opinion of the teaching staff of St.John's College on your allegiance to ACNA.

Andrew Reid said...

The "list" obviously determines who can participate in Communion events like Lambeth, ACC, Primates' Meetings, ecumenical bodies, etc. However, the meat and potatoes stuff of fellowship, partnership and cooperation in the gospel happens more at the individual diocese level or sometimes at the proinvicial level. So, many dioceses and a few provinces have already stated publicly that they are "in communion" with ACNA, even though it isn't an official member church of the Communion. So, even if ACNA isn't officially "recognised" as a member church of the AC, there is still plenty of ministry and fellowship that other dioceses and provinces can undertake with ACNA.

Conversely, many of those same dioceses and provinces have decided they are "out of communion" with TEC and ACC, even though they are officially recognised as member churches. That means, sadly, that there will not be fellowship and ministry together with those churches until there is repentance and a return to Biblical faith and practice.

While official recognition is important, the lower level fellowship counts too.

Peter Carrell said...

You are putting your finger on something important, Andrew, about recognition.

If (say) 25 member churches of the Communion "recognise" ACNA at the level of fellowship, cooperation and (as the two Archbishops mention as a possibility) of ministry orders as an 'Anglican church' then that counts for something, even if it falls short of "official recognition". It counts for more, I suggest, if at the same time cooperation is not shown TEC etc.

It is all very well saying ACNA have been schismatic as Fr Ron often says here, but if fifty percent or more of the Communion think otherwise, it is a little difficult to give much credence to the use of the word 'schismatic.'

Andrew Reid said...

Just saw this video from Bishop Mark Lawrence of Diocese of South Carolina. In the 30-41 min section, he tackles the issue of overlapping jurisdictions among Anglicans in North America, and suggests that having 6 bishops claiming to be Anglican bishops in apostolic succession in his patch is "un-Anglican" and "incoherent" and undermines the value of episcopacy.

Father Ron Smith said...

"Six would-be 'Anglican' Bishops in the territory of Bishop Mark in South Carolina" - Well there's a real problem for a start! I wonder how Bishop Mark really feels about that - deep down? Especially given his antipathy towards the canonical Leadership of TEC.

Anonymous said...


I agree that it has been a long process, and I am not putting all the blame on KJS. I do however think that things have accelerated under her leadership.

When in answer to a question about the uniqueness of Christ KJS responded that Jesus was only one "vehicle" to God amongst many. That is an abandonment of Biblical Christianity. However I should have been more clear that I was referring to the leadership and not to TEC as a whole. Obviously there are still good local churches, ministers and lay people fighting for their national Church. Good edit of my last post ;)


Try to stick to the issues and stop personalising the debate. My relationship with the College is my own business.

However to answer your question my views are very well known and I am not alone in them. Most of the evangelical students here disagree with TEC's leadership. For that matter, so do most Anglicans worldwide. Their disagreement and mine is not an "obsession", it is disagreement with heresy.

The teaching staff here encourage debate, as any good teachers would. They are not here to act as the liberal thought police.