My attention has been drawn to this video, a two minute message from the Archbishop of South Sudan and Chair of the Global South Fellowship of Anglicans (GSFA), Dr Justin Badi, in which, among other things, he calls for Lambeth 2022 to reaffirm Resolution 1.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference.
That raises at least two interesting questions in the run up to Lambeth 2022:
1. Will the GSFA be able to turn the current script of the Conference (to not have any resolutions) on its head, and to have the Conference shift into resolution mode?
2. If Yes to 1, for any such resolution mode to result in a reaffirmation of 1.10?
I don’t know the answer to 1, though I’d wager that if a majority of bishops want to change the script, the script will be under pressure to change.
If we are in resolution mode, would we reaffirm 1.10?
Again, I imagine a majority seeking to change the script, if responding to Dr Badi’s message, would be minded to reaffirm 1.10.
But I also imagine that a significant number of bishops would likely press for a reconstituted 1.10 to be affirmed rather than the 1998 version to be reaffirmed.
If we do have a discussion with an openness on the part of all to find as much common ground as possible across the Communion, then here are the elements of a revised resolution I would like to see.
A. An affirmation that when marriage is spoken of in the Bible it is marriage between a man and a woman.
B. An affirmation that the Bible also speaks about variations to the creation “ideal” of one man/one woman being one flesh permanently - as social contexts and other conditions change, there is polygamy, concubines are taken, Deuteronomy allows for woman taken captive through war to be forcibly married (and offers a way for them to be let go if unsatisfactory wives), and in the New Testament, between the gospel of Matthew and Paul in 1 Corinthians 7, the early church finds ways to support divorce in at least some circumstances. An affirmation, that is, that the biblical people of God experienced biblical marriage through time as complex and adaptable.
C. An affirmation of pastoral care for and listening to GLBTQ++ Anglicans, including an affirmation that these Anglican sisters and brothers are found in every Anglican province.
D. An affirmation that Anglican provinces across the Communion face differing circumstances and represent diverse cultures in respect of responses to human sexuality, including differing law codes, and that each Anglican province must determine what biblical faithfulness means, in their respective contextual circumstances, in the light of A, B and C above.
E. A resolve for provinces to both listen to each other in respect of each’s determination and to hold each other to account while maintaining a commitment to not separate. (Archbishop Badi’s video message makes the point that the GSFA is committed to not leaving the Communion.)
Since writing the above I have been reading a few things which some Western Anglicans have been deciding ,,, so their progressive directions are not my progressive directions, and I can see that Lambeth is going to be, er, challenging!
I was been invited to a dinner party on Thursday. It's high summer here, so the host plans to grill beefy hamburgers, etc on a fire outside as we all sip ice cold beer.
I've released a video urging that we instead eat vegan burgers and sip kombucha. All the guests are my friends, and I mean no disrespect to the host who is bringing us all together. But I know better than he does what the group ought to want to eat and drink.
He replied to my video with a phone call. "It's my party. I'm going to offer what I said I would. But if you host your own party, I hope you'll invite me."
Abp Badi's video obliquely raises the question of the authority of a Lambeth Conference for national churches.
Since around the 1930s, TEC has generally answered: it does not have any authority at all in any national church. And when an Anglican Communion Covenant (which I rather liked) was put up for a vote, the English themselves voted against joining it. Anglicanism is gloriously global, but it is not authentically globalist.
A certain North Atlantic tradition acknowledges that there is plenty to be gained by taking perspectives from around the world. But it reminds globalists (including papists) that Anglicans exist because their forebears preferred national to supranational rule. The Reformation, in England as elsewhere, was a movement for national self-rule or what the Orthodox call autocephaly.
This is not an absolute. Occasions, hard to foresee in advance, can arise in which the independence of the ABC or the Lambeth Conference can be temporarily useful to a church that does not normally rely on either.
Similarly, Orthodox have never believed that the Patriarch of Constantinople has anything like papal power even in the Church of Greece, let alone other independent churches. But in clear emergencies, +++ Bartholomew has been the only one who could sack a corrupt Patriarch of Jerusalem or recognise that Ukrainian Orthodoxy is not Russian.
From this perspective, resolutions and rumours of resolutions fritter away the moral and spiritual authority inherent in the two instruments of communion that have some. In a local emergency, a talk show host or debating society is impossible to trust.
Obviously, some, like those around Abp Badi, are not only Anglicans but globalists as well. They too have a long-standing but quite different notion of why the instruments are needed.
However-- if groups like that wish for their national churches to be bound by a global legislature, then why don't they assemble one, pass rules like I.10, and then abjectly obey them to the letter? Nobody will kick them out of the Communion for say reorganising their churches around something like the Covenant. Why don't they?
Time (a couple of weeks) will tell, Bowman.
Another analogy could be that my friend has invited a bunch of people to a party, most of whom are my friends, and has said he’ll get Ubereats to deliver pizza for dinner. I counter-video by urging a vote for Chinese instead. Everyone turning up for the party is uncertain what we’ll eat for dinner, though confident there will be dinner!
What I wouldn’t mind knowing now, given the role of the Primates in organising the Conference, is what Global South Primates were saying when they met with the ABC. Is the call for a Resolution rather than for an, er, Call, news to the ABC?
On a Global South Covenanting together - I imagine there is (at least) an informal one: a GS province shifting from the orthodoxy of the video would find themselves unwelcome at the next GS meeting? Does Southern African attend?
Peter, re your postscript I take it the TEC General Convention informs your comment
Not only, John. Some Synods across the way are also of interest!
"...when marriage is spoken of in the Bible it is marriage between a man and a woman."
Your (A) is true, of course, but I myself usually push on to something like: "The scriptures comment in depth on the pairbonding of men and women forming families of many generations throughout the world."
Here up yonder, any strictly definitional starting point has cheap authoritarian associations of which I am wary. But more theologically, I prefer to make it clear that the *scriptural* mode that is proper to this cluster of topics and faithful to our Lord is not Law by definition but Wisdom in narrative.
That is, from cover to cover, no author defined marriage as a matter of law detached from nature. Nor did any author describe gender relations invisible in the world outside the text or indeed outside Israel and the Body. Stitching together passages in scripture from hither and yon to compile a biblical view of pottery, gardening, parachuting, investments, marriage, sex etc and then promulgating the result as a law is the Puritan eisegesis that Richard Hooker ridiculed in Master Cartwright.
Rather, each author is primarily concerned with YHWH's project in Abraham's family and Christ's Body. In that project, Israel and the Body are specimens and indeed representatives of humanity throughout the planet. Since the project involves civilisation, and that everywhere continues because couples have children, the biblical tradents talk about sex here and there.
The most spectacular example of this is also the most surprising. Both rabbis and fathers read the canon's one book on feminine erotic desire-- the Song of Songs-- primarily as an allegory of the mystical relation between Israel and YHWH. Monastics like St Bernard of Clairvaux and evangelicals like Hudson Taylor have since appropriated that corporate reading as individuals, and readers today take its concrete sense seriously, but who has read it as sex law?
An uncluttered reading of the canon has three advantages--
(1) It lets the Israel be Israel, and lets the scriptures be writings. It does not retroject modern notions of a perfect book or a magic book onto ancient redactions of oral tradition. In that way, it keeps postmodern readers from endless rabbit holes that cannot help their faith and often harm it.
(2) Reading for narrative rather than for definition draws attentive to more of the canon and elucidates the interdependence the OT and NT.
(3) Listening for Wisdom as the fathers did acknowledges the Son's work in the cosmos in the act of reading.
"...the Bible also speaks about variations to the creation “ideal” of one man/one woman being one flesh permanently - as social contexts and other conditions change..."
So when the wise step out into the street with their Bibles what do they see? They see that the natural desires of men as men and women as women are ambivalent. They can bind in a polygamous ethos in which many men have no woman at all and many women compete for the attention of a few powerful men. In that ethos, the Me Too nightmares of Harvey Weinstein and Jeffrey Epstein are seen to be ordinary. Or they can pairbond in a monogamous ethos that, for all the difficulties of pairing, allows men and women to more fully realise God's intentions for them and to form families and societies that are more stable and just.
Taking the whole canon into account, we cannot imagine either Israel or the Body with a polygamous ethos. Not because that would break a rule or definition, but because in reality observable on the ground, that would break God's purpose in calling Abraham in the first place. Israel's confederation of tribes of relative equals embraced a moral order independent of central power, a Jubilee that remitted debts, a Sabbath on which all were forbidden to work, and the story of David and Bathsheba. So when the Bible favours M W M, it is excluding M W W W W W W W W W W W M, and in doing so defends many values that are not directly sexual. These become explicit in the teachings of Jesus and the counsels of St Paul.
Satisfying (1), we have let Israel be Israel, whilst seeing it as a prototype for the Body. Satisfying (2), we have offered a strong heuristic for biblical narrative. What about (3), the Son? "In him all things coinhere." As his nature and ongoing work are ultimately behind Isreal's other values, so they are behind the superior-- but always contested-- ethos of monogamy.
Dear Bishop Peter, in view of the existence of GAFCON/Confessing Anglicans,I found this pericope of yours most interesting:
"Obviously, some, like those around Abp Badi, are not only Anglicans but globalists as well. They too have a long-standing but quite different notion of why the instruments are needed.
However-- if groups like that wish for their national churches to be bound by a global legislature, then why don't they assemble one, pass rules like I.10, and then abjectly obey them to the letter? Nobody will kick them out of the Communion for say reorganising their churches around something like the Covenant. Why don't they?"
In point of fact; is this not what the G/CF conglomerate has already done?
When one looks at the 'Jerusalem Statement of Faith' - to which, presumably even the new 'Confessing Anglicans' have to subscribe - is this not a Declaration of Independence from the Anglican Communion and the Lambeth Converence?
I must admit that most Western Anglicans may be confused about the substantive difference between the Global South Bishops and the Gafcon Bishops. Would I be right in saying that Gafcon is intent on schism, while the G.S. Bishops just want to impose their agenda on the rest of us within the Communion?
I certainly don't envy your situation having to decide which group to give preference to in 'listening to what The Spirit is saying to the Church' at Lambeth. Meanwhile, the Eucharist is still being celebrated in ordinary parish Churches with prayers going up for a better realisation of "The great Love of God as revealed in The Son". Prayers going up from SMAA!
"Prayers going up from SMAA! The Eucharist is still being celebrated in ordinary parish Churches with prayers going up for a better realisation of "The great Love of God as revealed in The Son". Meanwhile, I certainly don't envy your situation having to decide which group to give preference to in 'listening to what The Spirit is saying to the Church' at Lambeth."
Father Ron, I like all of your comments, but this one was particularly satisfying to read upside down.
Speaking of SMAA, what will you do for August 15 this year? Here up yonder in TEC's BCP, that's the Feast of St Mary the Virgin. "O God, you have taken to yourself the blessed Virgin Mary, mother of your incarnate Son: Grant that we, who have been redeemed by your your blood, may share with her the glory of your eternal kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord..." In what it does say, does not say, and balances carefully, the collect is quintessentially Anglican. Reginald Fuller wrote it.
"Western Anglicans may be confused about the substantive difference between the Global South bishops and the Gafcon bishops."
There are exceptional places and persons, but most connected Christians in the non-Western South know that Christians in edgy Western places have revised their understanding of some basic things. So, in any denomination that has them, their bishops need to say or do something to show that their association with bishops from here up yonder has not changed their minds. As one would expect, Anglicans do this with style.
The usual Global South style is to say, at least in public, "we can still meet on the common ground of our shared tradition, and on that ground we have a lot to discuss, but we are much too culturally different either to have your sex problems or to adopt your solutions to them." Strong application of the national principle.
The Gafconian style is more like the "I hate you, please don't leave me" of *borderline personality disorder*. One denounces the Communion as colonialist, apostate, and depraved, but then inconsistently demands that it repent so that one can go to its meetings again. This always sounds crazy and slanderous to me, but then I have not walked a mile under a Gafconian bishop's mitre. Weak application of the national principle.
By the way, ACNA here up yonder reminds me less of Gafcon than of the anti-modernist SSPX. Here up yonder, ACNA's bishops have sincerely believed that TEC is apostate or at least post-Anglican in much the way that the SSPX have sincerely believed that implementers of the Second Vatican Council contradicted received Catholic teaching. There is also a close parallel in the way intolerant revisionists have from time to time forced out those deeply imbued with an earlier spiritual formation. Abandonment of the national principle.
There are also problems, Bowman, with the liberals. An over strong application of the national principle may be leading to some differences between Anglican provinces that trouble me, let alone GSFA, GAFCON, ACNA :)
Thanks, Bowman, for your reference to the Celebration of the Mother of Jesus at SMAA on Monday 15 Ausust; which celebration, I might add, is included in our ACANZP liturgical Lectionary. apropos of Mary's Asension into heaven; well it wouldn't be the first elevation of a human being. After all, the O.T. speaks of the Prophet Ejijah being 'taken up to heaven in a whirlwind'. If it's good enough for a mere prophet, why wouldn't it be good enough for the mother of our Blessed Lord who provided his human physicality?
An amusing story about the Feast of The Assumption.
I remember not too long ago, when attending Mass on 15 August at a small Anglican Benedictine monastery, in Speen, England; the preacher - one of the Brothers - recounting an experience of a discussion on this matter. An elderly parishioner stood up to say this: "Well if she aint in heaven, where the 'ell is she". (out of the mouths of babes and ...)
Dear Bishop Peter (wherever you are at this time); I do acknowledge that liberals, too, are Sinners. The only difference with us is that we know the extent of God's forgiveness and mercy - both biblical characteristics. Love and Blessings from us at SMAA.
I'm trying....I'm really trying!....to think like an Anglican.
I find it much easier to feel Anglican....the thinking bit doesn't come as naturally (yet)...
I thought Anglican churches are autocephalous, as Bowman reminds us. Why would you want Lambeth to affirm a particular view on (Christian) marriage? Clearly, it's not for *local* reasons. It must be because you want to influence other dioceses. But that's going against the self-governing nature of each church/province, isn't it? It deserves a sharp rebuke, doesn't it?
To my confused mind, what Dr. Badi is asking for isn't, well, very Anglican. It would make more sense in a Catholic church structure, but I'm not sure that's necessarily a good thing.
I think this is what you're saying, Bowman.
That Orthodox sense of one of the Big Sees (Rome....Constantinople) being appealed to and stepping in when disputes are really fracturous (e.g. Ukrainian Orthodox Church asking for recognition as autocephalous)....that doesn't exist in Anglican ecclesiology, right? Which was the whole point of the Anglican Communion Covenant I guess. But that was voted down, so....what is Dr Badi talking about?
What "resolutions" can Lambeth pass - why would they, and how are they binding?
Peter, you have a concern for the limits of this (national, autocephalous, self-governing) principle. But what else is there in the Anglican world?
As Father Ron says, that presumably doesn't stop provinces creating their own covenantal agreements and joining these. I guess that's one "Anglican" alternative to autocephalous churches?
Dr Badi wants affirmation that Resolution 1.0 is "the official teaching of the Anglican Church on marriage".
But that's not how doctrine gets made or clarified in Anglicanism, right?
Is there a colonial/colonizer dynamic that is being perpetuated here? The colonized are still seeking authority from the colonial centre, rather than exercising their own.
Long after my parents left as missionaries to India, Indian Christians still wrote to them to step in and settle disputes, offer clarification etc.
Yes, Peter. And I might have said so too, if I had had the heart to drag your poor readers yet again through the challenges of churches nearer this laptop.
The national principle supposes that a member church comprises all segments of its nation. But Anglicans in these United States have one niche-church for liberals and another for traditionalists.
Each is lovely in its way, but neither looks enough like America to be a credible national church. And so long as the culture war in our politics continues, neither will have the empathy or imagination to hear much from the other.
Thank you for recent comments - much aopreciated and much to think about, including the then and now fates of US Methodists!
Point taken re “national principle” and breadth of outlook for (e.g.) TEC (and, potentially now, the Australian Anglican church).
Yes, Anglican provinces are autocephalous (ad Lambeth Resolutions are not binding), but that doesn’t mean that there are not conversations (potentially, robust, even “resolutionary”) about matters common to Anglican identity - is the Anglican Church of X reasonably still defined as Anglican if, say, it determines to deny something that the remainder of the Communion has said is of utmost importance?
An Orthodox church which, say, introduced the filioque clause into the Nicene Creed could be said to have deconstructed itself as “Orthodox” and made great strides to becoming either Roman or Anglican!!
"This is about the sum of our teaching. As can be seen, there is nothing here that departs from the scriptures or the catholic church or the church of Rome, in so far as the ancient church is known to us from its writers. Since this is so, those who insist that our teachers are to be regarded as heretics judge too harshly." -- The Augsburg Confession (1530)
Thank you, Mark, your sense of humour has enlivened my day!
Thinking like an Anglican... To the surprise of many (and the disappointment of some), one is most receptive to the whole of this tradition if one thinks in a way that is, not denominational, but ecumenical. No entrepreneur, after all, set out to start a brand like Apple, Nike, Tesla or Anglicanism. And the reforming generations of the CoE participated fully in the Reformation on the Continent, which was diverse in itself and had deep roots in patristic and medieval tradition.
More deeply, territorial churches like those of Greece, Germany, Sweden, or England were not formed over against some other tribe. People in one place may disagree with people in another place-- or travel there to kill them-- but their own local identities in Christ are founded in how they concretely coexist together. Authentic tradition in the Son first absorbs, and then outlasts, aspirational confessions or antagonistic manifestos.
Sorry, gentleman, I still need to go slowly...it’s time to suck eggs again...
Where does the legitimacy – the ecclesial legitimacy – of an Anglican church come from?
There seems to me to be external and internal aspects. The external: the seed of the ‘one holy, catholic and apostolic church’ is planted and takes root within a (putatively) ‘non-Christian’ culture. In England, we can think of the very earliest missionaries (3rd and 4th centuries) and then the Gregorian mission (c.600).
Internally, because God is not 2022 years old, the existing ‘indigenous’ culture – and God’s presence and action within this – provides much human and spiritual elements. Out of the mix of these two aspects, an orthodox, indigenous, episcopal Christian Church develops.
But there is a tension within the original seedbed of faith, which gets stirred by local realities – how does an episcopal church resolve conflicts of authority and doctrine? So we have the Reformation. From an Anglican perspective, this says authority lies at a local, ‘synodal’ level, and the Church should take a via media in its decision-making and pastoral application to achieve catholicity (and holiness of relationship and peace) on the ground.
Anglican missionaries then seed (the above sorts of) churches in other countries. The British Empire, rather than the Roman Empire, becomes the web of connection. Churches still exercise their authority ‘internally’ – they are not dependent of Canterbury for church appointments, direction etc – although their apostolic succession/legitimacy is traced *through* Canterbury (just as Canterbury’s is traced through Rome).
So the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) is an illegitimate Anglican church not because Canterbury does not ‘recognize’ it, but because it did not emerge out of the local, synodal process of the established church (whose apostolic legitimacy is traced through Canterbury). This goes for the NZ Church of Confessing Anglicans, or any similar body that might be created in Australia (if conservatives come to dominate the Australian synod in future years, then that is a legitimate way of claiming and exercising ecclesial power).
Now, in some parts of the world, the local culture (where God is present and at work) has so shifted over the last 2000 years that it is interpreting and applying scripture and tradition in new ways around issues of intimate relationship and sexuality. No creedal statement is being threatened, however. And the core of the Gospel message – the redeeming power of steadfast and faithful love for all humanity – is happily being extended.
Dr Badi goes against local protocol by attempting to completely shift the consultatively-agreed on, publically-notified Lambeth Conference intention for 2022 (that there will be no resolutions this conference) *via video announcement*.
Dr Badi appeals to the conference to affirm a previous resolution as “the official teaching of the Anglican church on marriage”, even though so such ‘Lambeth magisterium’ exists.
Bishop Peter proposes his ABCDE via media.
The palace erupts.
My essential point, of course, is that a video announcement is not a via media.
(Comments may be playing up a bit - have lost a comment I attempted to post before and may have lost a comment by Mark, subsequent to the one just made above.)
You're doing well co-ordinating this in another hemisphere, Peter! Thank you.
My comments are:
1. A video announcement is not a via media.
2. Bowman, I found your last comments really helpful: to think ecumenically (rather than like an 'Anglican'), and...
"Authentic tradition in the Son first absorbs, and then outlasts, aspirational confessions or antagonistic manifestos". Beautiful.
Anglican legitimizing of authority is challenging.
For instance, when TEC wanted its first “own” bishop, the CofE wouldn’t consecrate one, so a workaround was secured: thanks Episcopal Church of Scotland … and TECers might remember this when getting angsty re ACNA!
When we speak of synodal government and if we mean by that synodal government which gives each of the houses of bishops, clergy and laypersons a veto power against the other two houses, then this was not something the CofE established at the Reformation: thanks Bishop Selwyn for this initiative through our 1857 constitution here Down Under.
Even the CofE didn’t have synodal government until after mid 20th century: thanks House of Parliament for synodal and very lay decision making for several centuries, and no mere rubber stamping body as proponents of the 1928 prayer book found it.
Indeed, what authority did Parliament have because no sooner than they turned down the 1928 book than the bishops did a bit of a work around on it!
Ultimately some kind of legitimacy rests on (i) the local people of God accepting that some proposal or other has Anglican character read against the background of “what other Anglicans around the world are up to” (with pioneering initiatives being possible) (ii) the same people getting on with the job of being the local Anglican church as shaped by such proposal.
A challenge, for example, for the recently established CCAANZ is not only that it was not established by a GS decision of ACANZP, but also that it is not likely to be recognised generally by ACANZP Anglicans as legitimately Anglican. (Some ACANZP Anglicans do so recognise but in my experience that is a minority view and not a majority view).
As a heuristic ** I usually start from the supposition that the Anglican Communion's polity is the *connexional* one that we see around the Mediterranean in the C4. But with two interesting updates.
(1) Early in the second millennium, kingdoms began to rise in Eastern Europe that mirrored and militarily defeated the Byzantine imperial court. So within the one ecumene, what had been Roman imperial provinces became national churches that were autonomous (they make their own rules) and autocephalous (they elect their own primates). Through the C14-17, Northern Europe followed Eastern Europe along a roughly parallel path. The main difference is not theological but geopolitical: if the Arabs of Sicily, Spain, and Sardinia had conquered Italy to the Alps as the Turks overran the East to the gates of Vienna, we would not often think about a see in central Italy.
(2) Bishops have always been surrounded by more or less powerful councils. From the late C18 toward some future time, episcopal churches have been supplementing those councils with synods that represent parish clergy and laity. There is wide agreement across communions that such synods fill a vacuum in national churches, but as Mark and I (and Bryden and I, and Bryden and + Peter) have discussed, the ideal shape of those synods is far from having been settled anywhere.
** By which I mean: a body of ideas valid across fields that are useful for discovering the facts most relevant to the next step. On polity, if I want to think about it with scripture. I place those facts among Paul S Minear's 90 odd images of the Body in the NT, but if I am thinking more systematically, I place them among Avery Dulles's Models of the Church.
Does God care about any of this?
He cares about the starting point. The Holy Spirit gave us the episcopate, the creeds, and the canon in the same creative wave. Offhand, I see no persuasive way to choose any over the others.
Does God also care about the updates?
Thinking about nations and so also about synods, I am cautiously receptive to Yoram Hazony's arguments that (a) both modern nationalism and modern republicanism were more inspired by Israel's tribal confederation than by the models of classical antiquity, and that (b) both the nationalism and the republicanism are ontologically opposed to empires like those of the ancient Near East. Does the OT reveal that God prefers, not tidy provinces, but distinctive nations? How then do we reconcile that to a generation of sound scholarship situating Jesus as the true Lord of the Roman world?
Protestant systematicians have classed nation-states among the *orders of creation* for centuries, so the idea that God forms them by his *governing providence* is not unthinkable. But for obvious reasons (looking at you Werner Elert) it became much harder to think that thought after Fascism caused the Second World War. The question is: have we resiled too far into a globalism more like Babel than Pentecost?
I hear three resonances in that question for Anglicans.
(A) Where our churches (TEC, ACANZP, etc) represent, willingly or not, settler cultures under postmodern scrutiny, we cannot avoid (i) making theological sense of the two British Empires as the nation-builders that they were, and (ii) interpreting that sense to the civil societies they founded.
(B) Remember Martin Buber's I and Thou? The Communion only I-It relations until each member church agrees that the others imagine its lands, lives, and mission in a spiritually perceptive way. If churches do not know that they are seen, why would they listen to the Communion?
Down the decades, I have read all sorts of things about TEC or ACNA, but the only Anglican interpretation of America itself that I know is U2's Joshua Tree. Now I've nothing against Bono, but isn't it odd that I know how a musician in the Church of Ireland makes religious sense of the United States, but not how say + + Justin Welby does? When Bono has an appraisal of something here, stagey as that may be, one can hear it clearly. When an ABC or another Instrument comments, it's usually too nondescript about America itself to resonate with oh a lawyer from New Orleans who is representing her friends back home at the General Convention.
(C) Are churches accountable to the Communion-- ethically, legally, somehow-- as *its* missions to the several nations? If not, why not? And-- can any other topic be treated reasonably apart from the way a church conceives its mission to the totality of the population around it?
Objectively, TEC sprawls through several countries, but primarily "caters" to upper middle class professionals in major cities and college towns in the United States. What that tribe likes a lot, right or wrong, the General Convention will not forbid.
In a church so geographically diverse yet demographically thin, moderates often vote for things that they would not like in their own dioceses simply to remove obstacles in the way of other dissimilar dioceses. When doing so breaks a venerable norm, Anglicans elsewhere fret about orthodoxy or at least denominational consistency.
Fine. There are flaky bishops here as everywhere else. Beat 'em up in Canterbury. Then buy 'em a drink in one of Father Ron's favourite pubs.
But what makes TEC a perennial flashpoint for the Communion is that it does not balance its "catering" to one thin slice of the society against the cultural breadth of history's most diverse nation-state. If TEC looked more like America, its broader base of human experience would be less susceptible to the special pleading that strays out of bounds. To promote more orthodoxy here, the Communion needs to promote-- or maybe provoke-- a more missional, less abjectly "catering" Anglican identity here.
+ Peter's readers will have noticed that I almost always compare Canterbury to Constantinople when everyone else is distracted by Rome. The heuristic above shows why.
In the pre-modern Body, the winds of change nearly always blew from the more civilised East to the barbarian West. The Orthodox were the first to recognise nations, and Luther and the other reformers were well aware of this in seeking a devolution of power to rising states in the North of the West. Henry VIII thought that he was Constantine because he knew his brother monarchs in the East had long been so seen in the New Rome, Constantinople.
Yet today, as the C21 marches on, Rome, some seven centuries after Avignon, still does not know what to do about nation-states. John Paul II did write movingly and well about patriotism as a moral virtue, but the Scandal began in his day because Catholic bishops in the late C20 still obeyed Rome rather than their local civil authorities in what is everywhere an unambiguously criminal matter. Speaking of natural law...
Francis is now trying to nudge Catholics toward some synodalism, which makes sense. But the stiff resistance that he encounters comes from whom? Catholics who are deeply uncomfortable with that devolution of power to a national scale.
We are centuries past that ambivalence. Both our polity and our global challenges are more like those of the East.
Thanks for your response, Peter, but I maybe more confused than ever.
It makes sense that synodality is evolutionary - because it looks like a local 'autocephalous' tradition is being worked out in greater detail, justice, and efficiency.
But legitimacy as
"...the local people of God accepting that some proposal or other has Anglican character read against the background of 'what other Anglicans around the world are up to'..."
...it can't be that, can it? Mainly because that would de-legitimize the principle and practice that churches are self-governing. And because "Anglican" is so contested and plural, how would you decide which version is normative?
Thanks, Mark, for your interest in all of this.
An alternate framing--
"Where does the legitimacy – the ecclesial legitimacy – of an Anglican church come from?"
This is an onion of six layers.
A church is legitimate because it is a church. As Jesus said about those who were not with the Twelve, but cast out demons in his name, "Those who are not against me are with me." From the crises of the Avignon papacy, the Black Death, and in places the loss of catholic bishops, Protestants inferred that whether a group is a church or not is an empirical question.
Most then agreed that unity, holiness, catholicity, and apostolicity were probable cause to believe that a group is an assembly of the Body. However, reflecting his acquaintance with the Rhineland mystics, Luther wrote on fully seven marks of the Church.
Early modern theorizing about the notes of the church had existential importance at the time-- should an Englishman dying in France receive communion from a Papist, a Gallican, or a Huguenot?-- but can remind one of that earlier debate about the one, two, three, seven, nine, forty ... sacraments. In practice, Anglicans have relied most on Articles 19ff and the Lambeth Quadrilateral.
Personally, I think that ACNA has the notes of a church. However, ACNA denies that TEC has the notes of a church.
A church is in the historic episcopate if its present bishops were consecrated by bishops who were themselves in the succession.
Nobody disputes that ACNA or the Union of Utrecht are in the historic episcopate.
A body is Anglican (a) if it is a church, (b) if its bishops are in the historic episcopate, (c) if it is in communion with the Church of England, and (d) if it is admitted to membership in the Communion. Its bishops will be invited to vote in Lambeth Conferences.
Compare and sort out--
The Union of Utrecht is in communion with TEC. For a time, the Union in North America was virtually *extraprovincial* to the Presiding Bishop here. But it is not Anglican.
"So the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) is an illegitimate Anglican church not because Canterbury does not ‘recognize’ it..."
ACNA has (a) and (b), but not (c) and (d). Why not?
Anglicans are catholics, and catholics cannot countenance disunity. Ancient canons forbid two bishops in the same see city. The related *national principle* forbids a second church from any country.
But more fundamentally, each bishop in a Lambeth Conference recognises the other bishops as leaders of real churches. No ACNA bishop can do this whilst TEC bishops are in the Communion, because he is obliged by church policy and personal conviction to deny that TEC is a church. Conversely, a TEC bishop could have reasonable doubts about a schismatic bishop who denies that his church is real.
This is not a narrow dispute.
ACNA is a federation of several bodies that have broken away from TEC over controversies of the past two centuries: episcopal ordination, the status of the 39A, Reformed identity, ritualism, Prayerbook changes, Protestant identity, more Prayerbook changes, the ordination of women, the ordination of queerfolk, and SSM. The ACNA does not necessarily oppose TEC at each of those points, but some of its constituent bodies actually do. Tellingly, ACNA seminarians have noted that their bishops-- who will not let them receive communion with TEC seminarians at the same schools-- are afraid to take up social questions because they do not know whether this fragile alliance can take the strain of what they might say.
Moreover, individual ACNA clergy, as distinct from the bodies to which they belong, were often outrageously mistreated by their former TEC bishops. For example, when priests uncertain about or opposed to the ordination of women confided this to their bishops, it was commonplace for them to be canonically deposed from the priesthood so that they could not receive the pensions that they had earned over years or decades of service to the church. Bad as that was, some who endured that have said that the power-mad infighting among the schismatic bodies of the ^Continuum* was even more demoralising. So one can understand why, quite apart from their opposition to revision, bishops elsewhere in the world felt that something had to be done for those TEC had itself kicked out.
Senior ACNA clergy are limping toward life's finish line because they believed what they were taught in TEC's seminaries when they were young. They do not believe that TEC is a real church; I understand that.
Culturally speaking, ACNA is just as Anglican as the United Methodist Church and the Anglican Ordinariate. If the Archbishop of York wants to print off Certificates of Cultural Anglicanicity and mail them out to all who hold those credentials, I have no objection. It would make many of them deliriously happy.
But healthy governing bodies do one thing simply and well. There should be an Archbishop in Canterbury. S/he should host a decennial meeting of bishops there who are in communion with each other and, if need be, competent to discern. The apostles did more with less.
I can more easily see TEC out of that meeting than ACNA in it. If Lambeth Conferences do anything about this side of the pond, it should probably not be institution to institution chitchat with the General Convention but steely fraternal pressure on TEC and ACNA to reconcile, form a one real simple church along Anglican lines, and do much more than either now does for more kinds of Americans than either now knows.
If the Son can use a church to reconcile the races, bridge political polarisation, pacify the warring sexes, order tangled liberties, heal broken ecologies, model holy lives, honour the saints, and open imaginations to beauty, then the Holy Spirit will help it to grow.
Thanks Bowman for taking time to write all this. It's very helpful. I shall let it sink in.
So, a fully authentic and authoritative Anglican Church (quoting our pithy ‘A New Zealand Prayer Book’ Catechism) is three things:
2. “holding the doctrine and ministry of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church” (Bowman, not just being in the same, unbroken episcopal ‘line of hands’; presumably, following and accepting local, synodical, episcopal authority is critical too?)
3. “in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury”
What does *communion with Canterbury* mean? Attend Lambeth? Stick to Lambeth resolutions? How and why do Churches lose communion? I suppose churches like ACNA and NZ Confessing Anglicans have opted out of communion themselves. Peter mentioned that, in theory, the hypothetical Bishop Kirill of the Moscow Anglican Church could be ex-communed. Good. But how does that work?
When I was reading one of your posts, Bowman, I made a link to finding authentic church membership in my own life. I never got there, I think, as most of us don’t I guess, by working out timelines, lines of episcopal hands, canon laws, who’s in communion with Canterbury or Rome or Constantinople. My parents baptized us simultaneously Catholic and Church of North India, and took us back and forward on alternative Sundays to both (long, happy story). In NZ, growing up, I felt a need to commit (at least in attendance) to just one – the local Catholic Church was the one I felt most attracted to, spiritually and relationally. The local Anglican Church felt rather dry. In my 30s, when I came back to the Christian tradition, I made a connection with a local Anglican church – it felt the most vibrantly ‘catholic’ church near to where I was now living, and spiritually attracted me in and on (marriage, baptism of two children etc.).
I suppose we mainly choose churches (Catholic, Anglican, ACNA, Confessing Anglicans) for ‘vertical reasons’ – it’s where the Spirit moves us. Something in your writing helped me glimpse this, Bowman – I wasn’t following denominations, I was just going with the most vibrant, local ‘holy, catholic, and apostolic’ church.
Forgot to say: your ABCDE is brilliant, Peter.
Bowman, I think this sentence of your is a real gem:
"Authentic tradition in the Son first absorbs, and then outlasts, aspirational confessions or antagonistic manifestos."
Maybe this is the basic reason why the Catholic Bishop of Rome; the Orthodox Patriarchs of Constantinople, Moscow, and Ukraine; the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury; and the newly 'Confessing Anglican Archbishop' of ACNA - together with all the Heads of the Churches of the World Council; have their separate jurisdicitions and are not yet ONE!
Perhaps one has, ultimately, to realise that Christ is The Head of His Body The Church, and that all of these different parts of The Body need to effect Christ's ministry in their different contexts? Maybe the glue that hold us together is the belief that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and Redeemer of ALL the world. Jesus himself said: "They will know you're my disciples by your LOVE" - which includes each of the Beatitudes in His Sermon on The Mount.
"We're the ABCD!" -- Ellie and Katharine Welby
Thanks for recent comments. I am encouraged!
Just one comment from me:
As a leader and influencer within ACANZP my concerns about being a faithful - holy, catholic, apostolic, united church - are not only that (e.g.) a Mark and a Ron find a “happy place” in it, but also that we are a church living for the future as well as for the present.
The Protestant project may be unravelling … can Anglicanism survive that unravelling?
"...finding authentic church membership in my own life. I never got there, I think, as most of us don’t I guess, by working out timelines, lines of episcopal hands, canon laws, who’s in communion with Canterbury or Rome or Constantinople... In my 30s, when I came back to the Christian tradition, I made a connection with a local Anglican church – it felt the most vibrantly ‘catholic’ church near to where I was now living, and spiritually attracted me in and on."
In Istanbul, where the maps are often inaccurate and sometimes deceptive, I had a weekly appointment at the patriarchate in the Fener for a while. One week, I was guessing my way to it on foot. Guessing my path through the unmapped streets of strange neighborhoods, I followed a rough sense of direction and the contours of the seven hills. I was afraid that afternoon that I might not be very punctual.
Then I looked down at the Golden Horn, the river that flows from Europe into the Bosphorus. I noticed that it was bending nearby with a certain curvature. I recognised that curve from photographs of the city taken 200 miles above in space that also showed landmarks of the Fener. So strangely, I still did not know where I myself was in the labyrinth of streets, but I knew exactly where my location was with respect to St George's Cathedral.
I orienteered from the memory of that photograph until I gradually stopped seeing squatters' huts and apartment blocks and started to see Byzantine palaces and ruins. Then personal acquaintance with the old Fener district took me to the compound where my tea was still steeping in the pot.
How does the same mind know a trustworthy body of the Body *both* as tacitly alluring us bodily into the kingdom of heaven and *also* as a peaceful participant in the catholic order long ago given by the Holy Spirit? This is analogous to the unpleasant question: how might that mind see oh a pattern of drinking alcohol without much enjoying it both as a comforting habit and also as evidence of molecular change reconfiguring neurons for addiction? And to my hike through Istanbul. All three involve knowing the same creature as both inescapably personal and cosmically impersonal.
First off, the Protestant point-- both knowings are real. The realities we know objectively like catholic order, lesions in an alcoholic brain, and photographs from space do not imply the unreality of what we know personally-- spiritual allure, a sensation of comfort, or the slope of a path. Working minds transit from the personal to the impersonal and back again.
And so, the Pauline and Johannine point-- the Resurrection uncovers this discontinuity in our spiritual lives. The Holy Spirit gives each of us the faith, hope, and love to anticipate our future selves in the true, undistorted image of God, but he is meanwhile also tugging the whole present Body into the shape of that image. Each movement is somehow also the other, but for now we know them separately, albeit with a sort of binocular vision.
So when we hear that some person or gesture is "unpastoral" or "too institutional" or even "pharasaical," the quarrel is with objective certitude that does not care whether it can possibly makes personal, existential sense to the spiritual sense of a living soul. If that is what + Peter means when he says that the Protestant project may be unraveling among Anglicans, he is probably right. In the New Jerusalem, I will ask why Soren Kierkegaard was sent to Copenhagen when he was so sorely needed in London.
“The Protestant project maybe unravelling” (+ Peter). Is this because:
1. Denominational causes and identities (“Baptist” vs. “Methodist” vs. “Presbyterian”) are mostly meaningless and irrelevant to contemporary people, North and South; and not how contemporary Protestant churches organize, theologize, and evangelize anymore…?
2. The fragmenting logic of schism…?
3. Meaninglessness of anti-(Roman) Catholic “Protestant” identity positions (c/f/. Peter Leithard)…?
4. Unreformed (in a modern sense) authoritarian, patriarchal, parochial, and psychologically-abusive tendences, as well lack of contemplative spirituality and relentlessly extraverted church cultures, resulting in *Protestant burnout* …?
5. Spiritual aridity of liberal Protestantism…?
Locally, I’ve observed quite a number of life-long Protestants (Baptists, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Pentecostals) become attracted to the Anglican Church after suffering *protestant burnout*. They seem attracted by a church with beautiful liturgy and ‘traditional’ elements (‘holy’, ‘catholic’), a settled, somewhat centralized form of accountable power (‘one’) but also a church that includes and celebrates local and indigenous cultural realties (so it is a church *of* NZ not a theological American or cultural British church *in* NZ), a catholic church that is rooted in scripture (‘apostolic’), but also ‘reformed’ in 15th and 21st C ways (not subservient to Papacy, open to women’s equal authority and ministry).
Again, I think they are attracted by the hope or reality of the best ‘one, holy, catholic, and apostolic’ church on the block – one that is reformed but not protestant, we might say.
Completely idealistic thinking here (from me).
Three Proofs that Christ’s True Body and Blood are Present in the Sacrament
1. The japonica is flowering again.
2. Raggy clouds moving across the hill’s broad saddle.
3. A wasp – searching the deck for bits of sugar.
As they say, “all of the above”, but my point perhaps is that the surviving churches at the end of the 21st century will either be those with catholic hardware/evangelical software (because that offers multiple entry points)* or something (such as Pentecostalism has been in 20th century) which offers inspiration and hope to desparate / disillusioned people - and where some forms of Protestantism are at today will not exist because they are neither of the above.**
*Roman Catholicism is at its best when it is exactly this.
**I am in a major world city where I have noticed (Prot) church noticeboards which basically say “these are our values, if they are yours, you might like to join us” - nothing about Christ, life in Christ.
Defining *unravel*, but perhaps not "unravel"--
Any X-ism is three things together: ideas, institutions, constituencies. It *unravels* when they separate.
Ideas have all sorts of destinies in time. One of them is to be sponsored by institutions that are themselves supported and followed by critical masses of some constituencies.
For example, classic French haute cuisine has sophisticated gastronomical ideas, schools and kitchens that teach them, and several publics that like to eat the result. On the other hand, the ideas are being absorbed by other cuisines, the schools and kitchens have rivals, and the publics are eating cooking unknown to them a century ago.
So lately, we have seen ideas in rude good health lose their institutional patrons anyway. And we have seen constituencies migrate from those institutions to movements that are not yet institutions.
Protestantism is one of these disintegrating complexes. As an early modern answer to late medieval questions-- Alister McGrath dates the justification question from the C13-- the ideas still make sense and have provoked worthwhile thought in the recent past. Some very Protestant seminaries are flourishing precisely because they are Protestant. But a church today cannot define its work merely with those ideas. And wisely or foolishly, not many today frame their own spiritual problems in C13-16 terms.
Because congregational religions have a huge blind spot right where postmoderns are stumbling across transcendence-- the consciousness of the individual.
To be clear, the folk Buddhism practiced by millions of South and East Asians is not much better. But what is spreading in the West is an ambitious laicisation of moderately sophisticated monastic practice.
When persons in the Lord are attracted to Buddhism, they seem to ricochet into some analogous Christian traditions-- the Philokalia, centering prayer, neo-Celticism-- that are also monastic. Their ideal pastors are not professional congregational leaders but experienced spiritual guides.
And how is it that Jesus is calling people to himself in dreams and visions across the Muslim world, who are forming themselves into churches that are neither protestant nor catholic? They are gatherings like the Corinthian church: worshipful, prayerful, Scriptural and evangelical with a joy that outfaces persecution. What are we missing?
PS though I am well aware the Corinthian church had its problems or we wouldn’t have the two letters - they just had different ones!
Speaking of Buddhism … a correspondent happened this weekend to send me this: https://www.guernicamag.com/carolyn-chen-buddhism-has-found-a-new-institutional-home-in-the-west-the-corporation/ !!
Carolyn Chen is right. And she might have gone on comment on the influence of Buddhist meditation on pain management in medicine (Jon inn), thinking about improvisation in jazz (Herbie Hancock), etc. In all those worlds, the contest-- or alliance-- is between neuroscience and premodern traditions like Buddhism and Stoicism.
There is an irony. If Christians want to join that conversation, they need not come to it empty handed. But any talk about the consciousness of the individual seeker awakens voices of the Protestant premoderns.
So, if that's a conversation one cares about, the dissolution of Protestantism (see above) is welcome news that the ideas have escaped their unreliable and resentful patrons. As already with worthwhile ideas from elsewhere, they are finally free to find their way into the next human horizon.
I'm with how various, generous, specific, and 'at service' the Spirit is...meeting us at our point of need ...
in Silicon Valley, as a technology of peace...
in parts of the Middle East, as the One who shrinks all human power...
To paraphrase Thomas Keating, to an amoeba, God appears as an amoeba; to a dolphin, as a dolphin, or perhaps a shoal of tasty fish...
Prayers for minds and hearts to be open to the Spirit of God at LAMBETH God bless these Bishops! Let them really listen to: "What the Spirit is saying to the Church - TODAY!"
Dear Bishop Peter,
Heere is a lovely word of encouragement for you and your fellow Bishops at the Lambeth Conference - from out Brother in Christ, Pope Francis:
SATURDAY, JULY 23, 2022
“The style of God is clear: closeness, compassion and tenderness. This is the style of God… Hope and conversion come from here: from believing that God is close and keeps watch over us: he is the Father of all of us, who wants us all to be brothers and sisters. If we live under this gaze, the world will no longer be a battlefield, but a garden of peace; history will not be a race to finish first, but a shared pilgrimage. All of this — let us keep in mind — does not require grand speeches, but a few words and much witness. And so we can ask ourselves: do those who meet me see me as a witness of God’s peace and closeness, or an agitated, angry, impatient, belligerent person? Do I show Jesus, or do I obscure him with these belligerent attitudes?”
Homily ~ July 3, 2022
Saturday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time
How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord, mighty God!
My soul yearns and pines
for the courts of the LORD.
My heart and my flesh
cry out for the living God.
How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord, mighty God!
Even the sparrow finds a home,
and the swallow a nest
in which she puts her young—
Your altars, O LORD of hosts,
my king and my God!
How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord, mighty God!
Blessed they who dwell in your house!
continually they praise you.
Blessed the men whose strength you are!
They go from strength to strength.
How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord, mighty God!
I had rather one day in your courts
than a thousand elsewhere;
I had rather lie at the threshold of the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord, mighty God!
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