Warning: I am well aware that beneath the issue(s) I draw attention to here is "the issue" of the day for the Anglican Communion. Do not discuss that issue here: the moratorium remains in place. Do not mention it in passing. If you do, your comment will be deleted. Please comment on matters ecclesiological, episcopathological, vagrantes and flagrantes bishops, the imminent triumph or failure of evangelical Anglicans, Anglican evangelicals, Anglican churches here, there or here-and-look-now-also-over-there.
In the last few days Anglican news has taken an unexpected twist and turn. About a week ago the GAFCON Primates announced that they were thinking of ordaining a bishop for the British Isles. Cue wondering who that might be, which country they might come from, where their support would be and whether or not they would in some way be recognised by the powers that be.
But a couple of days ago it was announced that a senior priest/presbyter in the Jesmond Parish (Diocese of Newcastle, England), Jonathan Pryke, has been ordained a bishop by bishops of the Reformed Evangelical Anglican Church of South Africa [REACH SA] (formerly known as the Church of England in South Africa [CESA]). This church, for the record, has orders recognised by the CofE.
At this point, because you will be bursting with episcopathological fervour to know more (sometimes also known as epistemology), I need to point you to some articles and press releases and what have you, because "why" Jonathan has been ordained a bishop, "where" his territory (or even simply his focus) will be, "what" his relationship with his licensing bishop (as a priest/presbyter) will be, and "to whom" he will be accountable as a bishop, to say nothing of "whether" he will be disciplined and "by whom" is quite beyond this bear of small brain.
Try here, here, here and here. Also, fascinatingly, here for the relationship of REACH SA, CPSA and the CofE. Note also this report which suggests that despite ad hoc action(s) taking now or proposed now, a larger plan is being worked out. Also Andrew Brown on the case here.
Update: Ian Paul kindly includes this post as an introduction to his own thoughts on the matter at Psephizo. And Cranmer also comments here.
But here is what I do get about this situation, as an evangelical Anglican I am embarrassed that:
- other evangelical Anglicans have taken unilateral action ordaining a bishop without transparently informing proper authorities (the Bishop of Newcastle, the Archbishop of York) of intention to do so. Does not basic courtesy and commitment to living in the light require that?
- when GAFCON and its English partner, AMiE, had another plan, this action is unilaterally taken against that plan. What is it about fraternity and coherency that these English and other evangelicals do not get?
- also, in terms of walking in the light, how could Jonathan Pryke, on the executive of AMiE, not inform his fellow executive members of what was going to happen? Are they not on the same side? Why hide things? In what way does such manner of doing things enhance the reputation of evangelical Anglicans?
It is not unknown for evangelicals to operate factionally rather than coherently, it is a bug in the feature of the Reformational DNA which spawned evangelicalism!
I think in this situation there are also significant episcopathological questions about what we Anglican evangelicals understand ecclesiology is. I will leave that for another post, save for this teaser:
Is it not strangely "Catholic" rather than "Anglican" when we go outside our national church boundaries to secure the ordaining hands of another bishop in order to have a bishop "of our own"?