Friday, April 6, 2018

Saturday 7th April 2018

It is no one's fault as far as I can tell - just one of those things when we set dates and all kinds of other dates squeeze possible alternatives - but this Saturday one piece of ACANZP will be in Wellington for a meeting of the Inter Diocesan Conference (i.e. General Synod reps of the NZ Dioceses also known as Tikanga Pakeha) and another piece of ACANZP will be in Christchurch at a one day conference of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans NZ. Both events are discussing You Know What.

I am going to Wellington. I would have been at the FCANZ Conference otherwise.

Three thoughts are especially in my mind as I prepare to go. Thoughts partly occasioned by my own thinking (influenced by this here blog and your comments on it). Partly by my listening to voices within our Diocese as we have conversations tinged by news that recently we voted as a synod 60:40 to support the Motion 29 proposal and now we have an electoral synod coming in the not too distant future.

In no particular order of priority.

A. What does God bless?

B. What may we do as Christians to live out our lives as fallen creatures?

C. What is the strength of our fellowship/koinonia: do we have enough in common to live with the differences that exist across the geographical and theological breadth of our church?

I will also be taking with me, in my mind, this thoughtful First Things article (which includes three great questions). Although focused on the situation of the RCC, it is not rocket science to translate it into the situation of Western churches generally, and our ACANZP situation in particular.

I am interested in comments on (a) my questions; (b) the First Things article; (c) the situation of our church as you perceive it, especially in the area of your expertise: your local ministry unit; your episcopal unit. 

I won't publish comments that are critical of either IDC meeting tomorrow or FCANZ's conference. These events are what they are and I don't think we need comment on (e.g.) their helpfulness to the journey our church is on.


Father Ron Smith said...

Thank you, Peter, for your loyalty to ACANZP - demonstrated by your preference for attending an inter-diocesan meeting of our Provincial Church - in order to discuss a serious matter that will also be discussed by a different organisation in a special-interest group (FOCANZ - an associate of GAFCON) at 2 separate local meetings.

As a concerned onlooker, I will be interested to see who is prepared to listen to an address by a Kiwi/Nigerian bishop working for CANA (schismatic) in North America, whose stance is - of necessity - against ACANZP's opening to SSBs in our locally confected Motion 29. One hopes that our next Docesan Bishop will not be amongst them

My own hope is that a qualified unity in diversity will prevail - over sectarian interests likely to split our Anglican Church in Aotearoa/New Zealand & Polynesia.

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Ron
Your first comment tonight squeezes in.
Your second does not.
Too much commentary on the local conference.
350 are turning out for it - that is a sizeable number of Anglicans on anyone's reckoning.
Am happy to take a comment on the article I have linked to, provided the comment doesn't extend to the conferences happening tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

Peter's Question A:

Is your question, Peter, sourced in noticing a lack of explicit articulation of the Judeo-Christian understanding, in this decades-long debate, of blessing?
Our church, for example, does not allow deacons to bless - whereas other churches (RC & other Anglican spring immediately to mind) do. Where is the theological reason given for this decision in our province?

The primary form of blessing (sourced in our biblical roots) is we bless by giving thanks. We bless by blessing God.

Thankfully (see what I did there), our Prayer Book sits comfortably within that tradition (including, of course, the marriage blessings provided). But, I wonder if you asked a (random) collection of those trained and ordained into the leadership of our church now to write (say) a marriage blessing - without reference to any previous ones - what proportion would even be aware of our (biblical) tradition...

I am firmly opposed to the proposal that individual bishops authorise blessings of CSSCs in their episcopal units, as I was to the recent change in our Constitution to allow them to do so. As a further point, I do not believe you can assure me that the different rites they so authorise would be of a consistent "quality" - or even that all these different rites would express the same understanding of blessing.

As to what we can bless - you know the list as well as I do - everything from money, through buildings, animals, the port, river, fields and plants, to hospitals where abortions occur, and instruments of war. There is only one "thing" I am aware of that our church explicitly forbids us to bless and threatens our licence and livelihood should we do so... As to whether God blesses all those things we wave our arms over - well, I am agnostic about that - but it seems that many in our church have a strong conviction about only one - and organising a 350-strong conference on the same day as IDC to talk about exactly that same topic but in quite separate cities so that people need to decide whether to be at one or the other has a symbolism all of its own that cannot be missed.

Easter Season Blessings (see what I did there)


Father Ron Smith said...

Dear Peter, with Bosco having effectively dealt with your first question, here is a response from me to your second question:

"B. What may we do as Christians to live out our lives as fallen creatures?"

My answer to this is, simply: to live out lives as 'Fallen Creatures", but with the consolation that Christ has already raised us up -with the Easter proclamation that "Christ is Risen, Alleluia".

We, the Baptised, are promised that through our Baptism we 'died with Christ' and that through Christ's Resurrection we have been raised with him.

The paradox is that: "While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" - and that, while we live 'in the flesh', we are fallen; but when we live 'in the Spirit' we are at one with Christ. That's why the Mass is so important. That's why I was pleased to celebrate the Mass this morning at 9am at Saint Michael and All Angels in the City of Christchurch. This was, as the Liturgy reminds us, an opportunity to 'share in the divinity of Christ, as he was prepared to humble himself to share in our humanity'. A glorious paradox!

Father Ron Smith said...

Dear Peter, regarding your third question (C), on the matter of whether, or not, there is any hope of 'koinonia' being exercised in our Church on the subject of 'You-Know-What' - presently being discussed in two different fora; in Wellington by the Province, and in Christchurch and Auckland by FOCANZ; this depends, I suspect, on the outcome of the meetings in Christchurch and Auckland.

It could well be that FOCANZ could find the threat to their Holiness Code to be beyond the pale of their recognition of what is needed to 'Maintain the Unity of the Spirit in the bonds of Peace (koinonia). In which case, there could well be 'a parting of the ways'. Sad, but there we are!

My prayers at Mass this morning were for the Unity of Christ's Church.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bosco
My question re blessings is a question that may never have a definitive answer but while at the meeting today I attempted to give my thinking towards an answer, in the light of your comment above.

I see blessing as
(i) giving thanks (exemplified in our eucharistic prayers, itself drawing on language about our Lord giving thanks, also 1 Cor 10);
(ii) bestowing favour upon a person or persons (exemplified when a priest gives a blessing - bestowing God's favour - on the people of God at the conclusion of a sermon, drawing on biblical stories such as Isaac blessing Jacob, and Aaron blessing Israel.
In marriage services, and in related services of blessing of relationships, I assume both kinds of blessing are given.
The second kind of blessing presumes some understanding of what God favours.
Hence arguments in our churches because we do not agree one what relationships God favours.

Jean said...

A. What does God bless? God blesses His people and His creation. The blessings received now come through belief in the grace wrought by Jesus on the cross - the promise made to Abraham. Many (not all) of the NT forms of blessing appear to be spiritual - e.g. you are blessed with all the spiritual blessings in the heavenly realms. In the OT a blessing was a pronouncement of something good that was /is to be for his people - e.g. Joseph was blessed by Jacob saying he would receive a double portion (he did receive a double portion of land).

In a colloquial sense I read, ‘to bless’ as to speak good as opposed ‘to curse’ to speak bad, as we are instructed to bless those who curse us. From this I ascertain it is God’s nature to bless and His desire for us to do likewise, to bless is to speak good into someone’s life. Of course this ‘good’ is to be God’s definition of ‘good’ not our own interpretation : ) .

In terms of ceremonial blessing I think it is important to discern what it is that God favours as you reference Peter (we can call it His goodwill towards His followers I guess). As ‘to bless’ or a ‘blessing’ is linked tangibly to what is good it makes sense that were anyone to ceremonially act as God’s conduit of blessing, or colloquially to bless another person, with what does not align with God’s definition of good it would not be a blessing. Perhaps even linking to the verse, do not use the Lord’s name in vain.

B. What may we do as Christians to live out our lives as fallen creatures? To continually seek to be re-created in and through Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit, knowing we are both saved and being saved. To live out the obedience of faith (yes Peter stole that from your lent study). To desire the spiritual gifts. To seek understanding and wisdom through the scriptures. In acts to ask for and offer forgiveness, to love mercy and justice. And above all to love as Christ loves us.

C. What is the strength of our fellowship/koinonia: do we have enough in common to live with the differences that exist across the geographical and theological breadth of our church?
Well Paul seemed to still remain in fellowship with the churches he oversaw, even ones with dubious practices. However, he did not do so without speaking the truth in love and gentle reprimand. Here I think is the difficulty with the term theological breadth. At what point does theological breadth become a smokescreen for no longer accepting the gospel (good news) as it has been received, and is it not every saints and all churches responsibility as Paul did to correct and to sharpen one another as iron sharpens iron? In this category today I put theological perspectives such as Jesus not rising from the dead.