Thursday, July 19, 2012

Has General Synod Shafted the Three Tikanga Character of our Church?

I am deeply perturbed by our General Synod agreeing to even explore the possibility of tino rangatiratanga being exercised by Tikanga Maori over the assets of the St John's College Trust Board. The story is here and the text of the motion is here. Is the cart breaking away from the horse because someone has rammed a shaft into its cartwheel and stopped it in its tracks?

My perturbation is not about the assets and/or funds involved. There is no particular reason why Maori should not have more funds available for their work. Pakeha dioceses keep increasing the funds available for their work (a bequest here, sale of a property there, it all adds up).

No, my restlessness is about whether we are a Three Tikanga Church or not. That is, are we a church bound constitutionally to doing certain kinds of business in a threefold tikanga way or not? The exercise of tino rangatiratanga, that is, the singular sovereignty of one tikanga, is appropriate within the life of each separate tikanga (and, thus, is already in play). But in matters which we have been working together on as three tikanga, tino rangatiratanga cuts across the very constitutional principle which binds us together.

It is quite extraordinary that General Synod itself has entertained the notion that tino rangatiratanga may find its way into the taonga (the treasure which is St John's College and its Trust) which is common to us all. Essentially General Synod has lost the plot of our common life. The purpose for which General Synod exists is to govern and safeguard that common life. How could our representatives shaft the Three Tikanga character of our church? It beggars belief that no one stood up to Professor Winiata and called him out for the pathway he is leading our church onwards to (whether intentionally or unintentionally): division between Tikanga Maori and the remainder of the Anglican Church in these islands.

Again, to be clear, leaving our church as a whole Tikanga, may be an option which needs to be exercised by Tikanga Maori in order for the current restlessness of Maori leaders to be given a chance to settle into contentment. But why would General Synod which is bound to uphold the constitution of our church assist in this process unless it was by way of a review of our constitution? General Synod should not be entertaining motions which surreptitiously undermine the constitutional life of our church.

Last week I had some good responses to some decisions GS made. On slower and longer reflection I think GS overall in its 2012 meeting has let this church down. If we cannot have a reasonable expectation that GS will act in accordance with our constitution, what hope do we have for the functional future of our church?

Note in the Taonga report these words about Archbishop David Moxon's response:

"And this morning Archbishop David Moxon, the senior bishop of the New Zealand dioceses, described the resolution as a “landmark decision in the history of this church”.

It was a resolution, he said, “which honours our partnership in terms of the treaty and the church,” and he predicted it would have “huge, long-term implications.”"

On the one hand no truer or more ironical words are spoken about this situation than when he talks 'landmark' and 'huge ... implications'. On the other hand there is no mention of our constitution. Has the Treaty of Waitangi trumped it?

I think our church is in for a big shake up in the next few years. But whether we shake ourselves into separation or into renewed communion is unknown. We need to get our heads around what our constitution says. For instance,

"AND WHEREAS (2) the Church
(a) is ONE because it is one body, under one head, Jesus Christ,
(b) is HOLY because the Holy Spirit dwells in its members and guides it in mission,
(c) is CATHOLIC because it seeks to proclaim the whole faith to all people to the end of time and
(d) is APOSTOLIC because it presents the faith of the apostles and is sent to carry Christ's mission to all the world;"

I fail to see how the adoption of tino rangatiratanga into the common life of our church is consistent with our constitution which offers a straightforward account of orthodox ecclesiology: one, holy, catholic, apostolic church (though see below re whether our constitution is fully coherent with that orthodoxy). The determining factors in our common life, in other words, are to be our unity under the one Lord Jesus Christ, bound together by one Holy Spirit dwelling in our midst, united in proclaiming one gospel to all in a continuation of the apostolic faith and mission.

The story of the beginning of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church, as told in Luke-Acts, offers a clear paradigm for a church which is a unity-in-diversity of different peoples and cultures. Luke repeatedly offers instances of potential difference and division in the church being healed and held together through the work of the Holy Spirit guiding the apostles to make decisions as a united conciliar body (especially Acts 6 and 15) and to undertake work which joins together what is happening in (say) Jerusalem and Antioch (Acts 11, 13) or between the missions to the Jews and to the Gentiles (Acts 15). The tino rangatiratanga of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church is the Lord Jesus Christ's sovereignty working through the Holy Spirit according to the will of the Father.

If any General Synod members reading here would care to comment, it would be of great interest to know whether the debate about tino rangatiratanga included any theological reflection on the common life of our church under the Lord Jesus Christ or on the application of our constitution to that common life as the life of the one Holy Spirit dwelling in our midst.

Incidentally, for the rocket scientists reading here who are inclined to ask whether the Three Tikanga character of our church is itself completely coherent with the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church, I do not think our current constitution is completely coherent with orthodox ecclesiology. But I accept it is a necessary step in our historical development as a church in these islands embedded as it is in the greater historical narrative of migration, colonisation, loss of mana and whenua (land), and evolution of sovereignty in respect of the Crown - a provisional chapter in our history, if you like. The next chapter should be a new way of being one church instead of being three often separated tikanga bound by one constitution. A chapter which could include the separation of Polynesia to be its own church in its own islands, as well as a new way of being Maori and Pakeha partners in a single church with single regional synods and one General Synod (at each level incorporating houses of Maori and Pakeha), driven forward by the rangatiratanga of Christ.

However the next chapter may be the dissolution of our church within these islands of Aotearoa. It is not too late, General Synod has the next two years to reconsider whether it has acted in accordance with the constitution of our church or not.


Father Ron Smith said...

I do agree with you here, Peter. That it would be a wrong move to allow Tikanga Maori a 50% share of the St.John's College Endowment. Where would this leave the other two Tikanga - Pakeha and Pacifica?

I'm a wee bit concerned about the aetiology of the word 'Shafted' in your title, though, which has something of a sexual connotation to the outside world. I'm sure you did not mean to imply that.

Peter Carrell said...

Good point, Ron, re the aetiology. I shall edit the post.

Anonymous said...

Anyone who says that God no longer performs miracles should take note: Ron and I agree about something.

Allowing Tikanga Maori 50% of the St. Johns endowments would be a breach of justice.

To divide the Church of Christ along ethnic/racial lines is contrary to the Gospel.

Anonymous said...

The Treaty has become an idol in the Church, corrupting both our ecclesiology and our theology. The Bishops response to the police raids against Maori terrorists was a good example. The European population of NZ were accused of being Egyptian slave owners, a claim that is not only racist and offensive, but showed a total lack of understanding of basic principles of real justice. But then much of the tripe that is churned out by the woefully misnamed "Social Justice Commission" displays a lack of any understanding of real justice. Not surprising given that the Commission seems to have been deliberately stacked in favor of Left Wing activists from the Labour and Green parties.

And this gets to the heart of the problem. For far too long ACANZP's approach to social, political and economic issues has been driven by the Left, by Marxists, Socialists, Eco-Fascists, and Maori radicals.

This imbalance is why some of our leaders mindlessly genuflect at every invocation of "Treaty Principles" despite the fact that the phrase is meaningless.

ACANZP is in need of a political rebalancing, and this should start with closing the Socialist Injustice Commission and dismissing the Green and Labour party activists who have highjacked it to further the interests of their parties at the expense of genuine Biblical justice.

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter,

I agree with you that the sovereign rule of the Lord Jesus over his church should shape our understanding of tino rangatiratanga. After all, we prayer in the Lord's prayer kia tae mai tou rangatiratanga - your kingdom come. To my mine this is the best context in which to assess our three tikanga church and its common mission to proclaim the Gospel to all the earth.

It would concern me if as a church we were simply dividing the family inheritance so that each can go their own way - like three prodigal sons demanding their own fair share!

But I am happy to discuss issues of equality, as the Apostle does in 2 Cor 8:13-15. Though, I'm not sure that the categories of self-determination and social justice are the most helpful to use in this case.

Is the deeper issue rather that each tikanga has a different idea as to how we should utilize the St John's resource? Is Tikanga Maori frustrated that its mission priorities are not being sufficiently addressed? Is Tikanga Pakeha ignoring the cries for help from their sister tikanga? Not being directly involved, I don't know the answer to these questions.

What should be foremost in our considerations, however, is to seek ways in which the Gospel can again flourish in all three of our tikanga. For it does not appear to me that any of our tikanga are doing well in that regard. And I don't see that problem being simply a question of money.


Anonymous said...

It sounds like the Anglican Church is divided and have quite a few issues. Instead of worrying about the worldly things, you all need to stop and pray and listen to God's direction. Sorry I have felt to comment on the behaviour of some of your fellow Anglican leaders but not only are they making Anglicans look bad but are having a negative impact on all Christians and their churches. I am talking about your fellow Anglican leaders Clay Nelson and Glynn Cardy. Just go onto the Herald web pages to see the damage they have caused.
Peter you say under your paragraph "AND WHEREAS (2) the Church
b) is HOLY because the Holy Spirit dwells in its members and guides it in mission.
Well who forgot to tell Clay and Glynn this? their behaver is not of one who has the Holy Spirit dwelling in them. They need to be exposed for what they really believe and stand for, instead of hiding behind the priestly robes they wear. They are a example of a true hypocrite. What an example this behaver is to the ones who are searching Christianity.
What your church needs to do is clean it's act up and serve the Lord our God as is expected, before their day before the Lord comes. Again sorry if my comments are strong but as a Christian I feel the need to make a stand for my Lord God Jesus Christ.

Father Ron Smith said...

"They are a (sic) example of a true hypocrite. What an example this behaver (sic) is to the ones who are searching Christianity.
What your church needs to do is clean it's act up and serve the Lord our God as is expected, before their day before the Lord comes." - 'Kathy' -

This sounds like a 7th-dayer to moi.
Certainly not an Anglican.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a Godly Christisn to me. Liberalism has nothing to do with true Anglicanism.