Monday, May 13, 2019

So, who is an Anglican??

A few days ago I received an email from another part of the world in which an Anglican bishop offered to work in my diocese as a missionary bishop. On the one hand when I looked him up in that great clerical directory on the net called Google, it looked like he belonged to an Anglican church in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury. On the other hand in his email he did say that his church was not part of the Anglican Communion. Cue a closer look at the name of the church which in wording is pretty close to a church which is a member province of the Communion. But not exactly the same.

The name included the word "Anglican" and photos revealed liturgical events with robes being worn which would be completely in place in any member church of the Communion. Is my correspondent an Anglican? May he determine that he is an Anglican?

At precisely the point of trying to frame answers to such questions the handy phrase "it depends" comes into view!

It depends if you are talking about a person who is a member of a church which is a member church/province of the Anglican Communion of which the Archbishop of Canterbury is the leading primatial bishop. I think everyone (inside and outside the Communion) accepts that such Christians are Anglican Christians.

It depends if you are talking about a person who is a member of a church which names itself as "Anglican" but which is not itself a member church/province of the Anglican Communion of which the Archbishop of Canterbury is the leading primatial bishop. I suggest there are  a variety of answers which depend (!!) on a few factors which need ferreting out.

Is my episcopal correspondent seeking to become a missionary bishop in my diocese an Anglican or not? Speaking personally, I am loath to stand as judge and jury and say that a person so identifying as an Anglican is not an Anglican, but it would appear to be an objective fact that this Anglican bishop is not an Anglican who belongs to the Anglican Communion. (On a question which might be on some readers' minds, I know nothing which would help answer the question whether this person's episcopal orders could be recognised by my church.)

Closer to the issue of the day, is Archbishop Foley Beach, with whom I nearly had a coffee recently, and who will be back in NZ later this year (from what I am reading on the internet) to participate in the ordination of a bishop for the new diocese being formally set up here during this month, an Anglican?

Archbishop Foley leads the Anglican Church in North America which is composed of many former members of the Anglican Communion provinces, the Anglican Church of Canada and the Episcopal Church of the USA, as well as many new Christians who will definitely be also identifying as Anglican Christians.

Against answering "Yes" is a line, "He is not a member of a member church of the Anglican Communion."

For answering "Yes" is a line, "He is a member of an Anglican church which is in full fellowship as an Anglican church with a number of other Anglican churches (i.e. GAFCON) which are themselves members churches/provinces of the Anglican Communion."

Which answer is correct? Which answer is helpful?

Worth considering is a guest post on Psephizo by Andrew Atherstone which - spoiler alert - touches on many aspects of current controversy as it came to the fore at the last minute at ACC-17. But some of those aspects touch on the question of Anglican identity. Thus Andrew writes,

"One particularly urgent ecclesiological question is the relationship between the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) and the Anglican Communion. The 2016 primates meeting observed that:
The consideration of the required application for admission to membership of the Communion of the Anglican Church of North America was recognised as properly belonging to the Anglican Consultative Council. The Primates recognise that such an application, were it to come forward, would raise significant questions of polity and jurisdiction. (Primates Communique, 2016)
In 2017 they added, more bluntly: ‘It was confirmed that the Anglican Church of North America is not a Province of the Anglican Communion. We recognised that those in ACNA should be treated with love as fellow Christians’ (Primates Communique, 2017). This is to consign ACNA to the category of ecumenical relations, firmly beyond the boundaries of the Anglican Communion. It is a bald assertion, with no explanation or defence. That narrative is repeated in the recent Anglican Communion Office press release about invitations to the Lambeth Conference, that ACNA is ‘formed by people who left the Anglican Communion’, to which Archbishop Foley Beach (primate of ACNA) responded robustly:
I have never left the Anglican Communion, and have no intention of doing so. I did transfer out of a revisionist body that had left the teaching of the Scriptures and the Anglican Communion and I became canonically resident in another province of the Anglican Communion. I have never left. For the Anglican Church in North America to be treated as mere ‘observers’ is an insult to both our bishops, many of whom have made costly stands for the Gospel, and the majority of Anglicans around the world who have long stood with us as a province of the Anglican Communion. (Press release, 27 April 2019)
So here’s the ecclesiological question: is ACNA part of the Anglican Communion or not? And if not, what steps do they need to take to join the Anglican Communion? Who is going to take up the challenge to answer the ‘significant questions of polity and jurisdiction’ to which the primates allude? It will not do simply to tell ACNA (or any other province created under similar circumstances) that they are free to apply for permission to enter the Anglican Communion, and that we will begin to consider the case when they do so. On the contrary, the Anglican Communion must first take responsibility for investigating these questions, in a serious and rigorous manner, before any progress can be made. That is why my defeated ACC resolution appealed for clarity on ‘the core identity and boundaries of the Anglican Communion in the 21st century’. Which side of the boundary do ACNA fall? If currently outside, then how do they transfer across the boundary? We need an answer!
The Anglican Communion, of course, has no constitution and no legal definition. There is, in that sense, no membership list. But the ACC does have a constitution, attached to which is a Schedule of member churches entitled to appointed members to the ACC. In common parlance the Schedule doubles as a membership list of the Anglican Communion, though technically it is only a list of ACC member churches. At the most prosaic level, this is probably the closest we have to a formal definition of the Anglican Communion. It is not a question about doctrine or liturgy or bishops, but simple whether or not a province is listed on the ACC Schedule. ACNA is not on the list. Provinces may be added to, or deleted from, the Schedule by the ACC standing committee, at the request of two-thirds of the primates (Constitution 7.2). No reply from the primates within four months is deemed as assent. So for ACNA to be added to the Schedule, reckoning at 42 existing provinces, 15 would need to register their opposition for this proposal to fail.
The ACC standing committee also has responsibility to scrutinize the viability of new provinces, as a matter of due diligence. According to the current guidelines, they must be satisfied that the new province is a coherent and sustainable entity, normally composed of at least four dioceses, with a provincial constitution, a strategy for theological education, and proof of financial competence (Guidelines for the Creation of New Provinces and Dioceses, 2012). The first ACC meeting in Limuru, Kenya, in 1971, adds a further stipulation: ‘There must be the good will of the existing province in order not to create difficulties of disunity after division’ (Resolution 21 on ‘Creating and Dividing Provinces’). All current provinces have been created by the division of provinces, by multiplication within the existing boundaries. There is no precedent for adding a church from outside the Anglican Communion, or a church like ACNA which has separated from an existing province on doctrinal grounds, and therefore the ACC guidelines are not fit for purpose for the current realities facing global Anglicanism. We need a leap in our thinking.
The ‘significant questions of polity and jurisdiction’ which demand urgent consideration, include the following: First, what does it mean to be ‘in communion with the see of Canterbury’? The 1930 Lambeth Conference famously described the Anglican Communion as ‘a fellowship, within the one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, of those duly constituted dioceses, provinces or regional churches in communion with the see of Canterbury’ (Resolution 49 on ‘The Anglican Communion’). ACNA, we are told, is not part of the Anglican Communion, because they are not in communion with Canterbury. It sounds like a knock-down answer. But what does it actually mean? And how would ACNA enter communion with the see of Canterbury? What’s the mechanism? It can’t mean communion between ACNA and the Church of England, otherwise the Church of England would replace the Archbishop as an ‘instrument of communion’. It can’t mean communion between ACNA and the Anglican Communion, because that would be tautologous. Does it mean that ACNA and the Archbishop would sign an agreement of some sort? On what terms? We need an answer!
Second, can separate Anglican jurisdictions intermingle or overlap in the same geographical area? Some assert not, and therefore that it is impossible for ACNA to enter the Anglican Communion unless they supplant TEC or reintegrate with TEC. This is a zero sum game. For alternative possibilities we might look to the precedent set by continental Europe (where several separate Anglican jurisdictions intermingle) or to the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia which since the 1990s has three culturaltikanga, each with their own ecclesial jurisdiction,overlapping in the same territory. It must be possible to draw up sensible, practical, negotiated guidelines for how two provinces occupy the same space. But what would this look like? We need an answer!
Third, can two separate provinces be part of the Anglican Communion, if they are not in communion with each other? ACNA and TEC are unlikely to be reconciled doctrinally any time soon. Their relationship would be anomalous, but the Anglican Communion already has a proven capacity for bearing with anomalies. Broken relationships between provinces are already,de facto, a reality of Anglican life. We don’t live in the idealistic world described by the standard textbooks on Anglican ecclesiology. In fact, that world has never existed. It is better to bring the fractured parts of global Anglicanism together as closely as possible within the ‘instruments of communion’, even if not in communion with each other, and live with that tension for the time being, rather than keep them at arm’s length until they are fully reconciled. Of course, there may be need for mediated reconciliation on temporal questions (such as property and money), and public repentance for previous bad behaviour on all sides, but full reconciliation between provinces need not be a prerequisite to Anglican Communion membership. The textbooks need to be re-written. What should be the new terms of our relationship in the 21st century? We need an answer!
We need some urgent ecclesiological thinking at this level of detail, focused on ACNA as a worked example. And rather than throwing around brickbats in rival press releases about who is, or who is not, a member of the Anglican Communion, a more nuanced approach is required. For example, one way through the impasse is to think of ACNA as a province within the Anglican Communion (because grown from an existing province, like Sudan, or Chile, or Sri Lanka, or North Africa), but because it has jumped the gun by forming a new province without the agreement of two-thirds of the primates or the ACC standing committee, it is in an anomalous position and its relationship with the ‘instruments of communion’ needs to be retrospectively regularized." End of Atherstone citation.

Note that ACANZP's structure gets a mention!

There is a lot to ponder. I wrote a comment to the blog post which I reproduce here.

"Hi Andrew
You raise the mystery of why ACNA would want to be in a body with such disunity and what kind of unity it would deepen if it joined/were welcomed into the Communion?
This question is highlighted by your own unwillingness to take communion with your fellow Anglicans. ACNA could scarcely be welcomed in if it were not willing to break bread; if it were willing to participate in communion within the Communion then either it would be ignoring its own differences with a significant part of the Communion or it would be finding a way to be in a communion which transcends difference?
I find it difficult to see a way forward which involves agreement and unity. I can see a way forward which involves “good disagreement” and unity (it is kind of the way we roll in the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia). But if you yourself are not willing to take that road, why would ACNA do so?
Any which way, and I may have not explained myself that well, it is fascinating that ACNA are seemingly keen to be in this Communion with all its difficulties (the narrative of which I enjoyed reading above)." End of my cited comment.

I felt as I read this extraordinarily rich and challenging post by Andrew that something fascinating is going on when the Communion (on some analysts' reckoning) is in disarray and yet belonging to it, being counted within it rather than outside it seems to matter a lot, even for those in disagreement with it!

Whether my comment gets to the heart of the fascinating mystery of ACNA and the Communion is another matter. What does matter is that we remain in conversation about what being Anglican means.

After all, many Anglicans speak proudly of belonging to an inclusive church and Communion. Surely we need a definition (or set of definitions for differing questions) which is not too exclusive?!


Anonymous said...

Peter, June 16 etc, but I do not quite understand this OP.

The Anglican Communion is not the whole Body. Exclusion from the former does not preclude-- and may promote-- inclusion in the latter in another way.

So (1) the membership of the Anglican Communion is a down-to-earth thing, no more mysterious or definition-transcending than the membership roster of a local rugby team. It is determined by rule, and the more simple, objective, and inflexible the application of the rule, the more useful it is.

That makes sense. The Communion began as a mundane mechanism for discernment in controversies and recognition of orders. You cannot count votes if you do not know whose votes to count. If mutual recognition of orders becomes a case-wise decision, then orders are not in fact recognized mutually. Mathematically, fuzzy sets are interesting and useful, but practices like those two require clear boundaries. For the Anglican Communion to be conserved, they must remain pellucid.

And (2) a Protestant communion of national churches must respect subsidiarity. TEC's local theology of marriage to accommodate SSM understandably became a global topic. But the North American schism is a local matter about which global conversation is mostly unhelpful noise.

Precisely like the antecedents of United Methodist Church here, those of the Anglican Church in North America chose not to belong to The Episcopal Church or to the Anglican Church of Canada. Therefore, no matter how persons here or in other lands may feel about it, neither the UMC nor the ACNA are now or ever can be members of the Anglican Communion as it is.

From time to time, I have argued on several grounds that Methodists are Anglican. There is, however, no factual basis for thinking that the Central Methodist Conference is a lost constituency of the Lambeth Conference. They have different rosters; their luggage is shipped to different airports. Similarly, ++ Foley Beach may be every bit as Anglican as any local Methodist bishop-- I think it likely-- but neither belongs to the Communion because neither accepts its discernments or recognises its orders. The rules are reasonable and clear on all sides. In is in; out is out.

What I do not yet understand is why any should believe that there is a concrete, practical, real-world, worth-anybody's-time problem with this. Bluntly, some ecumenical relationships matter more on the ground here than some Anglican ones do. For ACNA and say TEC to treat each other as ecumenical cousins may be much better in the long run than continuing to be fighting siblings.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has a *merely ecumenical* relationship with TEC, but that relationship is grounded in decades of ecumenical dialogue (L-A-RC), full communion, and mutual recognition of presbyteral ministries. It is not unheard of for a Lutheran to work pastorally in an Episcopal parish, and there are also like-minded Lutherans close to ACNA. But I have never met a Sydney Anglican working for either church in say Virginia or New England.

Obviously, ACNA cannot agree with TEC or ACC on Anglicanism per se. It seems prudent, charitable, and faithful to let their dioceses build city-by-city the best *ecumenical* relationships in the Body that they can. The Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral is sometimes suggested as a basis for this. If they like, the Communion and GAFCON can pray for the success of this local process in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer etc. But they probably should have no further role in it, unless they also agree that the pope should have had a role in Henry VIII's marital problems. If every question is a global question, then all the luggage should be going, not to Canterbury or Jerusalem, but Rome.


Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bowman
Let me try to be clearer ... but agreed that the AC does not constitute the whole body of Anglicans, let alone the body of Christ!

1. Some Anglicans want - it appears from at least some of their statements - to be counted as within and not without the Anglican Communion; and they are counted within (notwithstanding pesky rules) by some Anglicans who are definitely within the AC. Perhaps there is not further question raised by this observation of reality?

2. There are some potential or real questions around validity and legality of ordinations, though not all answers depend on clarity of whether the Rev'd X belongs to the AC or not. Nevertheless, with respect to my correspondent offering to become a missionary bishop in my diocese, I would have to ask someone in some kind of authority whether his orders were valid or not, recognised by ACANZP or not, should I proceed to take up the offer. And, there definitely are potential questions about clergy ordained by our new bishop of the new diocese here in the Blessed Isles: should they wish to transfer at a later date to ACANZP, what is their ordination status? (My hunch, because the new bishop will almost certainly be ordained by at least three bishops who are members of the AC, is that he will be recognised as a validly ordained Anglican bishop even as he has no legal recognition within ACANZP ...).

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Peter.

On (1). "Perhaps there is further question raised by this observation of reality?" Not in the Anglican Communion that we have known. I am not rejecting any and all careful proposals for reorganization of the Communion as a whole, but I do oppose muddle-through measures that weaken the Communion that we have.

The sentimentalists seem not to understand the forces that they are conjuring. Inventing a unisex marriage theology was a bad idea; so is condoning the criminalization of homosexuality. Perhaps you remember Curt Hill's comment a few years ago that if Africans can put a new conservative Anglican church in America, nothing stops opposing Americans from putting a liberal Anglican church in Africa? If they really want a Communion of global competitors in every province, they can probably have it. The money is there. The question is: does anybody who is not a happy warrior want it? We need to hear from the silent majority of Anglican bishops in places where people do not argue about sex and ideology for sport.

On (2). There are two questions-- sacramental validity according to the ancient and received canons, and membership in the local province, ACANZP. A Yes on the first opens discussion on the second, and on that ACANZP can do whatever it thinks best for the Body there. From ACANZP, there is no appeal.

Anglican identity per se carries no weight on either question, unless ACANZP decides to give it some. A retired Orthodox bishop who assents to the formularies and makes the same offer would be in the same situation.

(3) Someday, we may want to consider whether the two usual sides have the same degree of need for some token of Anglican identity. TEC say is just being the Body here within Anglican conventions that are pragmatically helpful to that vocation; I have spent decades explaining that there is a Communion and why it somewhat matters. On the other hand, those who left the Communion but still want it to do triple backflips to give them a symbolic sense of belonging to something grand called Anglicanism seem to be of a different mind.


Father Ron said...

I suppose, Peter, that your reponse to the 'missionary bishop' who wants to enter our diocese ought, in the current climate where GAFCON and affiliates like ACNA, AMIE, FOCA and FCANZ have distinctively resiled from full membership with Anglicans who ARE members of the Anglican Communion as defined by the Lambeth Quadrilateral; to be a polite: "Thanks, but No thanks!" - a short and simple answer to a deceptive prior presumption; that you would be willing - this early in your episcopate in ACANZP - to act contrarily to the polity of our Church.

The very term "missionary bishop" may be seen to reflect the ethos of Gafcon/Foca which has consistently withdrawn from fellowship with certain Provincial Churches of the A.C. on account of our (including ACANZ) systematic rejection of separatism on account of gender and sexuality. This aggressive 'missional' status would seem to infer that your 'episcopal' enquirer believes he could add something of the Gospel imperative that is currently lacking in our diocese and in our Church.

I'm not sure that our 3 Tkikanga Archbishops would be inclined to even consider any of our bishops making a place in our nest of parishes to the wiles of the cuckoo.

Greetings from London, where the Brexit arguments are heating up. Another instance of exclusivist, nationalistic politics? I'm sure Mr.Trump would love a divided Europe. Thank God for our N.Z. Prime Minister who recognises our common humanity! I have heard much praise of her among the 3,200 people on board our cruise vessel.

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Ron,
Your holiday sounds wonderful!@
To be clear: there are many Anglican churches and "communions" around the globe; not all are attached/associated or even actual members of the AC or of GAFCON. The enquiry was not from within GAFCON.

Bryden Black said...

Dear Bowman and Peter, you’re both omitting a distinctly modern dynamic: “Show me the money!” Alternatively: “Follow the money ...!” For who pays for ACO? Who pays for Lambeth? Who pays for ACC? And at what percentages? And to what effect ...? For lastly: who’s ‘surrendered’ what ‘gifts’ ...?! And who’re still recipients of such ‘gifts’?!

Also see George Sumner here:

Jean said...

It would be nice to think the person making the approach came in an approach along the lines of the Church Army; working alongside but missional in outlook.... Funny how the terminology for being a ‘missional church’ is being a little skewed these days...

TJ McMahon said...

In response to Father Ron above, if the Lambeth Quadrilateral is to be invoked, it is important to remember what the four elements of the Quadrilateral are:

The Holy Scriptures, as containing all things necessary to salvation;

The creeds (specifically, the Apostles' and Nicene Creeds), as the sufficient statement of Christian faith;

The dominical sacraments of baptism and Holy Communion;

The historic episcopate, locally adapted.

Many churches not represented on the Anglican Consultative Council are Anglican under the definition of the Quadrilateral. Indeed, there are several denominations that are consistent with the Quadrilateral that are not Anglican in any sense, and have no desire to be considered as such.

It is also perhaps worth pointing out that one of the MAJOR reasons (there really were more than 1 reason) for the break up of TEC had to do with the rejection, in 2003, by the House of Bishops of TEC, of Resolution BOO1, which stated:


Resolved, the House of Deputies concurring, That the 74th General Convention affirm that "Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation," as set forth in Article VI of the Articles of Religion established by the General Convention on September 12, 1801; and be it further

Resolved, That the 74th General Convention re-affirm that "it is not lawful for the Church to ordain [that is, establish or enact] any thing that is contrary to God's Word written, neither may it so expound one place of Scripture, that it be repugnant to another," as set forth in Article XX of the Articles of Religion established by the General Convention on September 12, 1801; and be it further

Resolved, That the 74th General Convention affirm that every member of this Church is conscience-bound first of all to obey the teaching and direction of Our Lord Jesus Christ as set forth in Holy Scripture in any matter where a decision or action of this Church, or this General Convention, may depart from that teaching; and be it further

Resolved, That the 74th General Convention reaffirm that the statements known as the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilaterial of 1886, 1888, as set forth in the Book of Common Prayer, 1979 continue to be true and accurate statements of the faith and policy of this Church, and the Anglican Communion; and be it further

Resolved, That the 74th General Convention affirm that councils of the Church have, and sometimes will, err but that Our Lord Jesus Christ, present through the person of the Holy Spirit, can and will correct such error; and be it further

Resolved, That the 74th General Convention direct the Office of the Presiding Bishop to forward a copy of this resolution to every diocese within The Episcopal Church."

Again, TEC REJECTED that resolution, although at the time, the vote was close.

Unknown said...

You seem to ask why ACNA would want to be formally recognized by the AC. I can guess. Before there was an ACNA those who would become its leaders were building a constituency in the Global South. They tried to used it to put pressure on TEC's leadership, hoping to change our church's progressive direction. When they finally separated from TEC they attempted to take people and property into their new church. (The evidence indicates that they had planning for this eventuality for several years.) They claimed they were the true and legal Episcopal Church in the US. If Canterbury had recognized them it would have significantly strengthened their case in the courts. At it happens life didn't work out as they planned. So now, force to build a new church from the ground up, they would have found being part of the World Wide Anglican Communion added to their credibility and legitimacy.
You have identify some practical problems for the working of the Communion. We can fix those... motives on the other hand...

Anonymous said...

"Funny how the terminology for being a ‘missional church’ is being a little skewed these days..."

How so, Jean?


Anonymous said...

Bryden and Unknown, Gerald Bray can be hilarious when he wants to be, and his dry commentary on the debt that all real ecclesiology owes to Judas Iscariot is not to be missed. That said, money motivates some people all of the time, and all people some of the time, but it cannot motivate all people all of the time.

The North American Schism has comprised several local cases, and sadly no party in any of them has lacked competent attorneys and counselors at law obliged to warn their clients against the high pecuniary cost of doing what Jesus would do. I do not think that any of the principals has acted against conscience for the sake of the money and property involved, but one or two may have conserved precedents for the future of TEC that had badly mixed effects in the present.

The one matter here where a corrupt motive seems plausible is the routine deposition from orders of clergy departing TEC for ACNA. The sheer number of these depositions arouses suspicion that these were not uncoordinated case-wise decisions. They deprived many clergy of pension benefits that they had spent years building up without reproach. On one hand, nobody suspects the Church Pension Group of any impropriety, but by reducing CPG's payouts these depositions redounded to the mild pecuniary advantage of other beneficiaries. On the other hand, it is hard to establish a pious motivation for kicking unhappy men and women already on the way out of a church they loved and served. Is it better for bishops to be thieves or bullies?

If we worry that a few large donors from a certain province have too much influence on the ACO-- I doubt that-- then the obvious answer is for more people from more provinces to send money to the ACO. + Peter's clever readers will have realised before I can even get the words out that myriad contributions of the size that they too can afford would do the most to ensure an independent and impartial ACO.

If you want an Anglican identity, give to the ACO today.


Father Ron said...

Bravo B.W. I think your assessment of 'accountability' (in the commercial sense) is insightful.

By the same token, conservative Christians in the USA and Australia couLd well be the source of financinbg the non-A.C. (quasi-Anmglican) Churches that have recently joined the 'Anglican' diaspora. (e.g. Sydney (a wealthy Australian Diocese) had a lot to do with the establishment of FCANZ). Also, the Archbishop of ACNA *US) has recently visited N.Z., and will be coming again to share in the ordination of FCANZ' first 'bishop'. Were is the money coming from for all of that, one wonders?

Jean said...


I am inferring that often ‘missional’ is used now in the context of off-shoots of current churches setting up even in their local essence of being an option to go to for the former members of their church of origin, .... in contrast to the interpretation of mission being more widely a Christian one, reaching people with the Good News.

I was always surprised at the lawsuits in the US re TEC and ACNA, well surprised and saddened. It is unfortunate more could not have been negotiated. In many ways I am thankful to date it hasn’t come to that here but I see the hard calls here, the people walking away from Churches they have invested both their money and time in, some for generations. It is not easy to do that without resentment.

I can understand ACNA’s view that they never walked away from the Anglican Communion if the intent was they chose the path they did to stay true to Scripture and the Articles of the Communion, after all wasn’t that why TEC was ‘reprimanded’ by the Communion?

Father Ron said...

Jean, you state,categorically, thaT Acna never walked away from the Anglican Communion. However, as it DID walk away from TEC (one of the members of the Anglican Communion) I question your assumption.

What ACNA did NOT walk away from, but positively welcomed, was its association - even foundation - from the GAFCON sodality, which has itself in many ways refused to be part of the Instruments of Unity within the Anglican Communion.

As I have mentioned before, this reminds me of a banner in a car window which read: "Feeling the absence of God? Guess who moved!" Movement from one's original Church (in this case TEC) constitutes an act of intentional schism from that Church - which, in the USA, is the Church related to Lambeth and the ABC - both Founding Elements of the constitutional Anglican Communion. Disassociation from one's roots does not signal a movement towards Union with them. - fact!

Anonymous said...

Who walked away from whom depends entirely on where a person stands ideologically regarding the dispute. It's mere opinion backed by nothing more than hot air. TEC thinks ACNA walked away from the Communion, ACNA thinks TEC did. Who is right? Both, and neither, and it matters not one bit. Neither side is righteous, and the petty squabbles over property, and the unseemly resort to secular courts, are why so many people in the West today look at the Church and say, "No thanks". If the Church cannot model a different way of being, and a different way of resolving disputes and disagreements, than the rest of the world, then why should anyone take any notice of what the Church says? If all we do is reflect the US vs THEM division that plagues the rest of society, then is it any wonder the Church is declining?

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Jean.

Some young Christians here are using the phrase *missional church* to refer to a congregation engaged in some social action in Christ. For example, Blacksoil, which I mentioned last year, ultimately regarded its worship as redundant in a city with 260 churches, and agriculture for an inner city neighbourhood as their calling and gift in the Body.

"We all worship somewhere, and when we want to do it together we do it very well, but a worship style is not what makes a church the Church. Blacksoil became a real scriptural church when we aligned ourselves with the Father's will for this neighbourhood and fell into a collaboration that only makes sense to us in Christ." To be clear, the Father's will for that neighbourhood was for its diet to be less destructive to the human body and to the environment, and the blacksoilers were growing and distributing free fresh produce in a lively conversation with Jesus.

"I think of normal so-called 'churches' as little Solomon's Temples for our day and time. They are lovely in their way, and I still go to one when I need it. But obedience to a mission from God attracts the Spirit-driven community of Acts 2. There is no question which is my spiritual home." Hearing her, I thought to myself, "She wants The Episcopal Church to give way to The Diaconal Church. I have my criticisms, but up to a point, she may be right."

From what you say, it sounds as though "missional church" refers down under to what we know as a "multi-campus church."


Anonymous said...

"I have never left the Anglican Communion, and have no intention of doing so. I did transfer out of a revisionist body that had left the teaching of the Scriptures and the Anglican Communion and I became canonically resident in another province of the Anglican Communion. I have never left."

These words from ++ Foley Beach can sound like disingenuous double-talk, especially to a happy warrior on the opposing side. Or to someone like me who guards his wallet and calls the Speaker when someone starts ignoring pesky rules of constitutional order.

But the quote is actually an elegant precis of the standard ecclesiology of the *Continuum*. That whole movement of persecuted conservatives believes it fervently. ++ Foley's words represent their feelings well.

We should empathise with the feelings of any who suffer, especially those who have suffered blamelessly for their faith. More concretely, I would like to see TEC do the right thing in the matters of their depositions and pensions.

But the partisan Continuum ecclesiology has vast implications for the Communion. + Peter and his readers are bound to wonder-- In view of the Bible as a whole, is it true? And is it good ecclesiology?

To satisfy that curiosity, it is best to begin by reading the document behind the precis.


Anonymous said...

The litigation, Jean, is more reflective of TEC's Constitution and American civil law than of the souls of the contending parties. If I am not mistaken, I have already posted a long explanation of that here at ADU, and alas I haven't time this month to revise and repost it. Something that I did not then clarify for + Peter's readers is that the major litigation has been between TEC and whole dioceses (eg South Carolina).

Maybe it is enough to state the essential conflict-- TEC's Constitution treats local dioceses virtually as equal, independent, collaborating churches like CoE, CoW, SEC, etc, while the US civil courts prefer to defer to the highest American authority in a denomination as the arbiter of who owns what. Why? After the Revolution, America's lay founders both wrote a drastically decentralized polity with no primate at all for TEC-- they also neglected to require dioceses to have bishops!-- and strictly enjoined the Federal government to make no decisions "respecting an establishment of religion or the free exercise thereof." So if you are a Federal judge and someone calling herself the Presiding Bishop comes into your courtroom and says that a gang of imposters has stolen her corporate name, buildings, communion silver, episcopal seals, etc what do you do?

Meanwhile, if you are that diocese and you have done business for two centuries with all those assets, how do you continue to do a recognisable ministry in that place without any of them? Conversely, if you are something now called a Presiding Bishop and your lawyers warn you that if you let a seceding diocese keep even a candlestick, the resulting precedent will let any malcontents anywhere leave at will for all time to come, how will you and your successors hold TEC together through possibly stormier times? Personally, although I have my disagreements with both sides, I have not found either to be deficient in intelligence or concern for TEC.

My personal view is that the only equitable way to keep these matters out of the US civil courts is for TEC to recognise a limited process of departure under the church's own rules. Informally, a similar approach has worked reasonably well for a few dioceses with amicably departing parishes.


Jean said...

Hi Bowman

I haven’t been ignoring you just a little under the weather. The whole premise for the views of TEC and ACNA appear to pretty much mirror the situatIon here albeit we always operate on a smaller scale! And thankfully, thus far, the civil courts have been avoided. The differing take of the civil law in the US and the operational ‘legalities’ of TEC would certainly propose a conundrum. Unless perhaps TEC adopted the Les Miserables approach and offered the other candlestick as well 😊. I certainly think your views in respect to pensions etc is a fair proposition.

I remain in a toss regarding whether a congregation or diocese has ‘left’ a Church if they are unable to follow a ruling by their Church body due to the belief it contravenes scripture. I always go back to the Methodists because it is one of the few examples I know but at their inception they didn’t see themselves as having left the CofE and probably too should have claimed some of the decided upon regulations of the CofE they could not comply with, such as open air preaching to blue collar workers, were because the regulations contravened scripture. Of course this all isn’t just an Anglican phenomenon, the Presbyterian Church here, the Methodist etc have been all wrestling with the same ‘topic’.

Re Black Soil and *missional churches* of a similar nature. I have many sympathies for such an approach yet always feel short of being sold on the concept completely when the meeting of the ‘need’ starts to become removed from worship. A separation of the act and the reason so to speak. Here we have intentional communities but as far as I know they tend to remain a part of ‘a Church/the Church,’ however, our more formal social service arms of different denominations haven’t managed this quite as successfully. There have been quite original examples of efforts to keep the why while living out the ‘call’ or ‘act’ so to speak - I think of soul survivor in the UK, and even here our Wellington Diocese has deliberately ‘co-opted’ previously termed fringe christian communities into the wider church body, notwithstanding the current Bishop there was the founder of one of them 😆.

All the best

Anonymous said...

Hi Jean

Does this find you over the weather?

When you mentioned that you were under it, I was embarrassed to realize that I had not written anything on *disease, illness, and sickness* in Christ for my other project, so I have scheduled time to do that. Physicians, social scientists, and philosophers debate the distinctions, but roughly--

Disease is a molecular process in cells that interferes with the health of the body. The Bible does not directly discuss this.

Illness is the patient's experience of recognising her bodily self as unusual. The Book of Job is premised on this.

Sickness is the role played in a social world by one who is recognised as disordered. Job is also about this, but the scriptures treat this most concretely in Leviticus xiv-xv, especially xiv 1-4, and of course in St James v 14

As modernity slips away, these distinctions are becoming less alien to people like us, but they probably make more intuitive sense to an aboriginal people such as the Maori there or the Navajo here. So one thing that I shall look for when the scheduled moment arrives are some accounts of Christian aboriginals caring for the sick.

Another is a fair and thorough guide to the long history of rabbinical interpretation of *metzora* in scripture. For several reasons, the topic has recently attracted the attention of feminist talmudists, but I am presently interested in what premodern Jews living among Christians or Muslims made of it.

And finally I shall look back at some pioneering work on ancient and medieval Christian understandings of the body by Margaret Miles, Carolyn Walker Bynum, etc.

That Topic? I am mostly ignoring it. However, if one finds research like that at the link plausible-- and I do-- then the Bible's own discourse on disorder in the body may be obliquely relevant to That Topic among others that I find rather more interesting.

More direct replies to your 8:25 will follow from time to time.

I hope that you feel well soon!


Anonymous said...

Hi Jean

"I remain in a toss regarding whether a congregation or diocese has ‘left’ a Church if they are unable to follow a ruling by their Church body due to the belief it contravenes scripture."

Well, of course they must obey God rather than men in a clash between the two. And ACANZP conceded that in recognising a right of conscience and securing a mode of self-government for dissenters. So if all the latter do is shake fists at the General Synod, teach what they think true about That Topic, and decline to host SSB, they seem to be well within their rights.

The problem is with the leaving. On the first-order scriptural face of it, an allegiance to our God obliges us to seek reconciliation with all in Christ, and our assemblies exist as a sign to the world and a means for ourselves of that unity. The NT does not support a hostile division of any assembly because the apostolic imagination, although experienced in far deeper quarrels than this one, could not conceive of it. Give up on unity with whole assemblies of your brothers and sisters in Christ and you give up on faith that Christ is in the world reconciling it to himself. At that point, one is no longer a disciple, although one might still be one of those others who cast out demons in Jesus's name.

That, you can see, poses a crazymaking conundrum for the departing: God is telling you to come out from the uncleanness, but also telling you that when you do you will no longer be in him. The tension of that dilemma is intolerable to most minds, and so they choose the horn of the dilemma that they can live with. Some (eg Communion Partners in TEC) have decided to stay, to be Jonah in Nineveh, which is what the ACANZP provisions allow. Others are trying to leave, while insisting that they are not really leaving the Body because those allowing SSB are no longer in it. That motivates the seriously silly talk about "apostasy."

Either strategy has its challenges, but the latter deepens the craziness. Now, in order to think well of yourself as a fairly traditional believer-- in Jesus who forgave his enemies from the cross, remember-- one needs to deny that other believers in him actually do believe. And for that to make sense one further needs to magnify the importance of the few differences between oneself and them. One needs to magnify them a lot because, after all, Pentecost was a miracle that transcended all of the really deep human divisions, so that St Paul can write as he does in Galatians iii 28. So in stubborn fact one is acting as though the power of God that then overcame all those divisions cannot today overcome a disagreement that more and more comes down to whether we will look at fMRI scans or not. Welcome back, Galileo!

Anonymous said...

What is at all attractive about that path? Relief. Apparently in ACANZP, as in TEC etc, some have been very frustrated for a very long time. Bryden has been very frank about that here, and reading them through him and him through the lens of my own experience, I have heard him protesting the disconnect between the admirable Anglican authority system and the reluctance of synod-driven leaders to actually use it to help souls settle their hearts.

Most of the Anglicans that I have known have been too independent to listen to any authority until they crashed into a stone wall and had to. But there is a large minority-- think of Brendan as well as Bryden-- who really do want to belong to a credibly guided assembly with a Psalm 1 sensibility. That explains the double-talk of declaring churches apostate but then wanting to belong to their Communion anyway: they object, not to *episcope* as Anglicans have received it, but to being ruled in the deep things of life by hipsters too facile and untraditional to be believed from the heart.

For those who are not wall-crashers, that really is a spiritual torment. It ought to have been given the same listening tours etc that our brothers and sisters with SSA have gotten. So when GAFCON offered relief from that pain, some could not let the General Synod make up its mind about SSB before they had already accepted it, because SSB was anyway the symptom rather than the disease. And now that they have bonded with people who feel the same relief, they cannot imagine subjecting their hearts to that stress ever again. If God himself spoke to them from heaven and ordered them back into it, they would shake their fist at him. A few may still improvise the best arguments they can, but that is now as rational as defending the honor of one's mother. Their hearts cannot summon the will to go back.

You will recall, I think, that I agree with the departing on much of what they have said about the process that led to SSB, the destructive muddle-headedness of certain ACANZP reports, and offering as an act of the local Body something that it does not as a whole support. There is a disturbing disconnect between a pastoral act on which God, angels, and men should all agree and the admirable provision made for an expected disagreement. There may be another one between the 90% majority in ACANZP and its ecumenical partners who are also working through this. Is it right for a church to go it alone in a matter affecting the whole society? Between faith and love comes hope, and the virtue of hope is patience.

So I am far from commenting with any hostility for the departed. But from here up yonder, the departure really does look a lot like an ecclesiastical Brexit-- notions tolerated on the margins for years are being put to the test by reasonable people, and they do not have traction in the world that disciples take as real. Moreover, alliances united only by an adversary tend to squabble, and denominations with a negative identity tend to stagnate. There is probably no shame in having once believed in errors from the margins, but the sensible people among those who did will gradually change their minds, and then they will do different things than the things that they had expected to do. Looking back on that, those then living will see that-- for better and for worse-- a new and stable identity gradually formed.


Anonymous said...

Postscript-- Jean, I do not know if you can imagine this happening down under, but I can well imagine later-generation leaders in ACNA et al taking a position that is roughly this--

"Everybody today knows more about the natural history of human sexuality than was known in the Anglican sex wars at the turn of the millennium. TEC et al were right that homosexuality is organic for some, and hence necessarily an aspect of their vocation in Christ. We all read the brain scans now.

"But these churches also preempted the Church's independent discernment of the meaning of a very complex matter, abandoning the authority of the keys which Jesus gave her to quiet consciences and restore souls. They made it easier for Christians with SSA to belong to the social mainstream and even to the gay subculture, and we do not underestimate these goods of the natural order. But they also left those and other souls without authoritative guidance for the most powerful of human motivations.

"It was sloppy of those on our side to call these churches *apostate* in the heat of controversy, and we apologize for the offense then given. The more accurate criticism would have been that Jesus Christ founded his church on the rock of that guidance,and a church lacks apostolicity and holiness where it is not found. Sadly that was and still is the case in the churches that opposed our spiritual fathers. When we deny that they have authority, we only agree with what they themselves tacitly say. The divide was and is less about the ephemeral problem of homosexuality than about Jesus's provision for the cure of all souls in him during this aeon."

That Topic shall pass away; this problem may not.


Anonymous said...

Hi Jean

Are you feeling better?

"I have many sympathies for such an approach yet always feel short of being sold on the concept completely when the meeting of the ‘need’ starts to become removed from worship. A separation of the act and the reason so to speak."

Perhaps this is too tidy, but an old idea from Protestant scholasticism often seems to explain the motivation: if the three parts of salvation in this aeon are justification, sanctification, and vocation, then we should be able to look at the Body's life and see where we make each visible in time. Up to a point we can do that. The means of grace clearly exhibit justification. Congregational praise of God likewise manifests sanctification. But what in the life of the Body shows the human vocation in the Creation?

In principle, we should see it in the Prayers of the People in the Eucharist. But, putting it mildly, not all Christians have a motivating theology of intercession, never mind intercession in the Eucharist. And anyway, our varied "sorts and conditions" individuate the general human vocation into myriad particular ones. Where is the singular life-shape of a soul apparent to the Body as her vocation? Maybe in some pastoral rites-- solemnisation of matrimony, churching of women, and of course ordination to holy orders. But the first is debatable, the second rare or obsolete, and the third a very special case.

John Wesley saw the problem in the C18 and tried to meet it with a Covenant Service for New Years Day in which each Anglican of his sort recommitted to all to which God had called her or him personally. But tellingly, Methodists mostly neglect it. Although sometimes keen on Wesley's theology of justification and sanctification, they have so far forgotten his view of vocation that even in their social gospel mode they never mention it.

Yet ordinary people really care about the shape, purpose, and meaning of their lives as individuals. The careerism of at least my society is unimaginable apart from that passion. We see that in the many television series that celebrate *work families* in various professions. So too is That Topic insofar as the basic premise of SSB is that sex drives too much in any life to be unconsecrated in a human one. Yet one could fairly describe most Western church life as justification-rich, sanctification-thin, and vocation-less. Our preachers rhetorically flog the Pharisees for shaping life around commandments real and imagined, and they offer God's forgiveness for transgression of the few rules that Christians still keep, but in that purely negative view of it, evangelical liberty is just an *unbearable lightness of being* that can be experienced as nihilism.

So my guess is that participants in missional churches are in fact experimenting with ways of living in the Body that are vocation-rich. These groups do slight worship, as you say. I think the reason for that neglect is that their laic and Protestant imagination does not easily make the leap from the worship that they know to some liturgy that fits their callings.


Anonymous said...

Postscript-- As usual, Jean, I recognise the infelicities in my comments only after I post them. Faults of style aside, two are unbearable. This remedies the first.

"...each Anglican of [John Wesley's] sort recommitted to all to which God had called her or him personally."

When I was a lad, the construction *to call + infinitive* was used to refer to a quiver of the gut believed to be of divine origin. A postulant might speak of being "called to holy orders" when revealing that, upon due introspection. his gut had quivered toward ministry and away from investment banking or opera singing. Reporting on the divination of his own entrails, a leader who aspired to be inspiring might declare to a synod-- who else would listen to this?-- "we are called to realise an 11.3% increase in our annual net revenues..."

In other words, *to call + infinitive* was used to mean something like, "I feel strongly (and unscrupulously) about this and so I am making it socially awkward for you to question it." Which, because it was confused superstition, I have often done to make it socially awkward to say absurd things.

Not that anyone should ignore intuition, or that intuitions have no physical effects. Something like the James-Lange hypothesis could be true. Gerd Gigerenzer's talk at the LSE explains how serious decisionmakers can make better decisions by listening to their intuitions. One of the most interesting books I have read in recent years is the one Sarah Coakley and Paul Gavrilyuk edited on The Spiritual Senses. The confusion is in mistaking an indication for an evidence, a clue for a conclusion, a heuristic for a logic. The superstition is in believing that the unconscious never lies or betrays.

His heart having been strangely warmed at Aldersgate, John Wesley did have a pre-Romantic respect for intuition. But his idea of *calling* or *vocation* comes from St Paul generally, and more especially from those down-to-earth chapters in Romans where the apostle is discussing the daily life of the disciple who is still enmeshed in the present aeon being shaped by the sustaining and governing providence of the Creator. Simply, because God raised Jesus from the dead-- not at the end of history with everyone else, but in the middle of it as a sign of his ultimate intentions-- the believer can trust the Father's will for his life and death, embracing it, not as a fate from the gods, but as a call from God, who rewards heroic patience and hopeful suffering.

You will already have noticed that such a *found* calling comprises much more than one's livelihood. And that it is not at all an aspirational errand into meaning-making. To the contrary, it reminds one of Deuteronomy xxx 11-14.


Anonymous said...

"If the three parts of salvation in this aeon are justification, sanctification, and vocation, then we should be able to look at the Body's life and see where we make each [part] visible in time. This old idea from Protestant scholasticism often seems to explain the motivation [for missional assemblies]."

Postscript-- This, Jean, is the essence of my response to your comment. But reading it again after posting, I saw that it is not a box-car carrying a normal load down the track but a fifty word train. An explanation of that for everyone would be a chapter taking more space than even generous + Peter should allow, but you will grasp the basic idea with a simple diagram.

The gospel is about what God is doing. By raising Jesus from the dead, not with everyone else at the end of history, but in the middle of it, God inaugurated and exhibited his work of renovating the fallen creation at three scales-- Cosmos (creation, nature, world), Body (Israel, Church), and Soul (believer, individual, person)-- that we can imagine as three rows. Following the Western reading of Romans, Protestant scholastics often divided this renovation into the three columns of Justification, Sanctification, and Vocation. Three rows, three columns, nine cells.

If they make the chart and fill it in cell by cell, most serious evangelicals will find that they have lots to write in the Justification column, a little to write in the Sanctification column, and almost nothing to write in the Vocation column. And probably, they will have a lot to write in the Soul row, some spillover comment on that in the Body row, and little or nothing to write in the Cosmos row.

Of course, what they actually do write presumably depends somewhat on the tradition of their formation. Anabaptist, Reformed, and Wesleyan influences could show up as noticeably different patterns. But all would leave some white space in their charts, and that would mark gaps between the imaginary of the apostles and that of modern evangelicals. That is, the apostles would have filled in all nine cells.

Other diagrams are possible, and may also be heuristically interesting. I hasten to add that although I have been following new religious movements off and on for decades, I have not attempted a survey. This thought-experiment is best taken as a typology to be tested.

Which believers have been motivated to join missional, intentional, emerging, etc assemblies? Those trying to fill in the top Cosmos row, and the right Vocation column. Why might they be trying? Full cells and blank ones do not tell us that, of course. But in conversation with them it does not seem likely that the Soul row is helpful when believers are thinking about climate change or local worlds, or that the Justification column is helpful when they are thinking about careers or life trajectories.

Here endeth the postscripts.

I hope that you have returned to health.