Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Quiet American

Archbishop Bob Duncan has responded quietly and gently to the recent report from the C of E Archbishops about the relationship between ACNA and the C of E. ++Bob isn't reading too much into the report save for quiet encouragement for ACNA to continue on the course it is on. Reading around the traps I see the opponents of ACNA are saying "nothing changes for ACNA" and give a general impression of business as usual.

I think that is a mistake. The Anglican Communion is going through a convulsion, if not a revolution. No one knows what the new Anglican Communion will be like (e.g. will it be united around a Covenant or not?) but some signs are being given us. One sign is that the Anglican Communion is renewing its commitment to doctrine as part of the definition of being Anglican. Sure, some want doctrine to be wholly determinative for that definition and some are resistant to any totalisation of doctrine in the definition of being Anglican, with quite a lot of resulting 'noise' on the internet. But the noisy ones may miss the underlying trend towards greater importance being placed on doctrine as something Anglicans hold to rather than something we proudly display our doubts and scepticism about.

Just taking that one factor, I suggest ACNA is staying on course to be a good fit with the Anglican Communion when it is through its convulsion. For the record: I am not simultaneously arguing that ACCan and TEC are going to fail to be a good fit; they have as much opportunity as any Western Anglican church to renew their acquaintance with Anglican doctrine.

But I am arguing that any Anglican Communion church that thinks future membership of the Communion need merely rest on the laurels of "historic" commitments to the Communion should think again. The Communion is moving through its present convulsion to a point where it is going to be less interested in churches claiming they have always been part of the Communion and more interested in churches claiming to be Anglican in doctrine and in practice.


carl jacobs said...

Peter Carrell

You must take account of one undeniable fact. The CoE is moving steadily, inevitably, unalterably in TECs direction. What TEC now is the CoE will soon become, and there is no temporal force that is capable of changing this trajectory. So the difficulties of a renewed commitment to doctrine will fall just as heavily on the CoE as on TEC. The revolution in the AC is a re-structuring that moves away from a Canterbury-centric communion.

A replacement for the institutionalized Anglican church in the UK must eventually emerge, and that church - the younger sister of ACNA - will become the new British component of the AC. Lambeth is doomed to fade away with all the other liberal Western churches. There is no way to save a church that has both institutionalized doubt as its central tenet, and restricted leadership only to those who pay obeisance to doubt.

If the vote on women bishops in CoE goes against any form of institutionalized protection for objectors, the seeds will have been planted for an ACUK. It will grow and it will emerge. It will become the holder of Anglican heritage in Britain. When Lambeth is formally cast aside, the you will realize that the revolution has come to fulfillment.


Father Ron Smith said...

For once, I agree with Carl. The Church of England will probably remain in communion with TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada - despite the 'quietness and gentleness' of ACNA's Prelatical Robert Duncan. Duncan has his own problems right now with AMiA.

The noisier advocate's of ACNA's schismatic progress seem not to be quite so sure of the inevitable outcome as Carl is. But then, Carl does seem to be the prophetic voice of the reactionary rightwing of the Evangelical constituency.

However, I certainly do not agree with the Seer's future for the Anglicanism in England - moving away from the C.of E. into the apostacy of AMiE. Carl simply does not understand the English genius for Godly compromise - which excludes 'foreign control' of its ancient hegemony; in favour of a strong belief in the power of God-given 'Reason'.

carl jacobs said...

Father Ron Smith

the prophetic voice...

It doesn't take a prophet to know that a piece of granite will sink when it is dropped in a tub if water.

... of the reactionary rightwing of the Evangelical constituency.

You say that like it's a bad thing.

Carl simply does not understand the English genius for Godly compromise

There's no compromise possible here, or even being offered. The "compromise" placed on the table by the majority is "You submit, and then we might tolerate your beliefs for a time ... or not as we see fit ... until we institutionally euthanize them." It's the compromise of the hospice. The only possible outcome is the extermination of all opposition to WO within a generation. That is the whole of your "Godly compromise."

The Anglo-Catholics are already departing of course. The evangelical churches are not going to roll over for this either. They will seek external alternatives. They have already said they will do this. The more detached they become, the more the CoE loses ballast. The more ballast it loses, the quicker it approaches its natural endpoint as a clone of TEC - bringing upon itself all the conflict that TEC has generated with the rest of the Communion. Do you honestly think the rest of the world is going to tolerate a gay bishop in the CoE just because its the CoE? And how far is the CoE from appointing an open homosexual as bishop? This is what will force a ACUK. It must, or there will be no Anglicanism in the UK inside 40 years.

Why do you think the leadership of the CoE is micturating itself trying to find some way around the impending catastrophe this summer? They know what is going to happen if the liberals get their way. This is what the AoC warned about when he said predicted that Women Bishops could lead to a theologically monochromatic church. He's right. What he doesn't want to face is that a theologically monochromatic church is exactly the outcome the liberals in the CoE are working towards.


hogster said...

mmmmm re Carl simply does not understand the English genius for Godly compromise......

If compromise involves a denial of the tenants and teaching of scripture then the idea of a "Godly compromise" is in fact a oxymoron.

The difficulty as always though is interpretation.....

I am thankful for the words of Jesus, the Lord of the church, "I will build my church and the very gates of hell will not withstand it.

And please no inferences regarding the idea of evangelical glee or anything else at the thought of people missing out on the love and presence of Christ and further no narrowing of the scope of God's love and making it all about sexuality.....


Father Ron Smith said...

Hogster, the 'tenants' of the Scriptures were surely the people of their day. a New Day has dawned, in which God is an active partner, bringing new life.

Carl, you do sound just a wee bit overwrought just now. Why don't you just take a little holiday somewhere quiet. I think you could do with a good nerve tonic.

Cool it, man.
Agape, Fr. Ron

Anonymous said...

Ron is claiming that the Bible is no longer relevant, as a "new day has dawned".

This means of course that we no longer have the words of Christ or His teaching, as it was wriiten for a different time. Ditto the Eucharist, which Ron claims to love. But where do the words of institution come from? Scripture.

Ditch the Bible as out of date, and the entire Christian Gospel goes with it.

A "new day" has not dawned. Ron is just confusing the political ideology of a small minority of Western latte liberals with God's work, claiming this work now supercedes the the word and works of Christ in Scripture.

There is a word for this. Heresy.

Father Ron Smith said...

Shawn, please don't impute to me somthing i did not actually say, as quoted by you: "Ron is caliming that the Bible is no longer relevant". I happen to read, mark and learn from it on a daily basis, so how could that be true? Do you do the same?

Anonymous said...


Of course I read Scripture every day. Most evangelicals I have known do.

I am sorry if I misquoted you. Looking back at your post I see you may have been saying something different than I thought. My bad.

Anonymous said...

"Shawn, please don't impute to me somthing i did not actually say"

Because that's something *you would never do, would you, Ron?
'Pot, meet kettle...'

Cool it, man.

As for your diligence in reading the Bible - I read ancient Latin and Greek every day but I never confuse these writings for the Scriptures. You may indeed read the Scriptures but you don't consider them the Word of God, as faithful Anglicans and catholics do. We 'read, mark and inwardly digest' to receive 'the comfort of God's holy Word' but your uncatholic, 19th century liberal protestant approach to theology prescinds from this.
Why don't you return to your catholic roots and give up your schismatic views?

Father Ron Smith said...

Martin, I find your latest effort to communicate on this thread and your judgement of my capacity to understand the scriptures to be not worth a response - except to note its silliness. Take a break, brother, you need it

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Martin

Ron makes a fair point (and perhaps I should not have published your comment): in these kinds of discussions we need to take some things each other says at face value and not presume to know something we cannot possibly know about the inner workings of the mind of the other person. When Ron says he reads Scripture that is the end of the matter: he reads it. Discussion may then proceed on the result of that reading, whether a proposed interpretation is agreeable or disagreeable and so forth.

Anonymous said...

And perhaps I shouldn't have written it.
In any case, Ron should read my post carefully - I didn't say he didn't "understand" Scripture, I said he didn't *receive* it in the Anglican and catholic way - big difference.

What I said was his theology here is 19th century liberal protestant (a la Ritschl) and uncatholic - and that is something that Mr Smith is unable to gainsay. He never responds to Carl Jacobs' substantive points, despite repeated requests, so I can only conclude he is unable to.

You need to do more than wear a biretta to be a catholic, otherwise Robert De Niro would be pope.


Father Ron Smith said...

Martin, the more I read your comments, the more I realise that I am dealing with someone who perhaps has little understandoing of the word 'catholic' in an Anglican sense. Otherwise, you would know there is a difference between a Roman Catholic biretta and an Anglican Canterbury cap. but that is only peripheral to your arguments here.

What I take issue with is your fundamental misunderstanding of the Anglican tradition of common courtesy; preferring to abuse your opponent rather than engaging in rational argument. your citing of various theologians, whose writings you may have skimmed through, bears absolutely no weight with me - especially when your posts engage in litte more than personal invective - more like virtueonline, which claims to represent 'orthodox Anglicanism'.

Peter Carrell said...

Martin and Ron,

(1) Be more polite, Martin (I have already deleted a comment of yours tonight!)

(2) Ron, please give us something substantively Anglican-Catholic to underpin your conviction that the Spirit is leading the church (I accept that you are not claiming a hotline to God merely for yourself) in a direction away from the direction of Scripture. (One does not have to agree to the tone of some comments here to agree with their substance: when it comes to the LGBT issue you have said many things here which seem to come straight from a liberal/progressive hymnsheet and not from a catholic one).

Anonymous said...

Peter is right: I should be more polite. Where I have resorted to ad hominem comment, I have been unfair.
And Ron Smith does know more about ecclesiastical haberdashery than I. However, my point was not about his own preferences in medieval headwear (of which I know nothing) but the general one, that dressing up may have no more significant than being an actor. Indeed, I find it a fairly secure rule that the thinner and more heterodox one's theology, the more elaborate (even retro) the dressing up and liturgical ceremony.
As for my knowledge of 19th century liberal protestant theology (and German theology in particular) which Ron wonders about, it's a little more substantial than "skimming through" some book.
For the record, I am not charging Ron with 'bigotry' towards or 'hatred' of orthodoxy, as he has sometimes charged people opposed to homosexuality, but of being in the precise historical sense *un-catholic in his understanding of sexual morality, as well as not knowing the orthodox, catholic language to speak of God; that is ,of being out of continuity with the teaching of Rome, Constantinople or the unbroken tradition of the Church Catholic.
That is what I meant by liberal protesant; and Ritschl would have understood it perfectly.


Father Ron Smith said...

Out of charity for our host and others on this blog, I will refrain from conversing further with 'Anonymous Martin' on this blog - on account of his lack of understanding of my particular openness to the Gay Community in my pursuance of catholic faith as I have experienced, perpetuated, and practise it. I simply do not have time for, or the need of, personal invective.

Anonymous said...

Whether from charity or perplexity, I won't attempt either to engage Ron Smith on the meaning of catholicism, which I have always understood in my studies and essays to have a clear ecclesial, doctrinal and historical sense, not least as Anglicans have received it. Ashley Null (for example) is clear about this, and can articulate an authentic historical Anglican perspective. There are ex-Christians, too, like Diarmaid McCullough who understand the Reformation issues, even if they have turned their back on the faith.
I would be interested in contributions from people who are engaged in this question.
If I have engaged in "personal invective", then this should be pointed out, with examples. It is always right to "play the ball, not the man".

liturgy said...


I am a daily reader of this site, but tend not to participate in the comments thread when they degenerate, as this one has, to a point where there appears little learning, let alone changing.

If Martin, consistently signing with a plus before his name, indicates thereby, as is the tradition, that he is a bishop, that adds a certain further significance to the encounters here.

Having indicated my reticence to comment on this thread, I am urged, as no one else has, to respond to “Ditto the Eucharist, which Ron claims to love. But where do the words of institution come from? Scripture.”

There is a tendency amongst many to think that first there is the Bible. An individual reads or hears words from the Bible and is converted and becomes a Christian. Then individual Christians join together for mutual support and form a church. Wanting to worship, they look to the Bible for help and from it construct how to worship, including that Christ commands repeating the Last Supper, and from the Bible these Christians then construct how to do this repetition.

The reality, of course, is quite different. The Christian community, the church, has had its ongoing worshipping life from the time of Christ and through him and his earliest followers back on into the history of God’s worshipping people for millennia. The documents we bind together (with some differences), into what we call the Bible, are those used in this worship. The Eucharist is not drawn from the Bible, rather the Bible reflects the eucharistic practices of the early church which long antedate the documentation, going back into the practice of our Lord himself. The narratives in our historic Eucharistic Prayers are not derived from the Bible. Just as the biblical narratives differ from each other, so the liturgical narratives have their own history.

The Bible is part of our worship as Christians, it is not the sole source of our worship.