Monday, October 24, 2022

New Methodism-Brethrenism is True Anglicanism?

Continuing to reflect on the question of Anglican unity in a fractured world, divided global Christianity, net-torn Anglican Communion, I note, looking over my ecumenical shoulder, that there are amazing stirrings of difference and dissent within Roman Catholicism, spurring Pope Francis to remark with concern about polarization on the 60th anniversary of the beginning of the Second Vatican Council in 1962.

In this report by Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter (H/T Ron Smith), the opening paragraph could have applied to the Anglican Communion any time since 1998!

"Pope Francis on Oct. 11 marked the opening of the 60th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council — a three-year period that launched landmark reforms in the Catholic Church's relationship to the world around it and the church's own liturgy and practices — by pleading for the church to "overcome all polarization and preserve our communion.""

What to do with our own Anglican "polarizations" and attempts to "preserve our communion"?

Well, I've been thinking about two previous challenges to Anglican polity which, unfortunately, did not end in unity but in a division, with a twist, as I shall attempt to explain.

Those two divisions (or, perhaps better, separations) occurred as Methodism found itself unwelcome in the Church of England and then a century or so later as Plymouth Brethrenism was established. In both cases (seeking here to comment as objectively as possible) there was aspiration to develop church life freed of the then structures and protocols of Anglican ways and means of being church. 

But there was a notable twist: no longer were there bishops (at least not initially for the Methodists) nor communion with Canterbury. Nor, for that matter, was there any attempt (so far as I am aware) to continue with the word “Anglican” (or similar) in the naming of the new churches which resulted. Thus there was separation and no confusion about the nature of each new church (or set of churches).

Fast forward to today’s world. While there are similarities in concerns today, for a purer, more biblical, more faithful-to-Jesus church to be formed, the disaffiliation of members of Anglican Communion provinces today is leading to a confused state of global Anglicanism. 

First, churches (which includes CCAANZ hereabouts and the Diocese of the Southern Cross in Australia) are being formed which have bishops. Just this past weekend, in the polity known as AMiE, three new "bishops for Britain" were ordained in Hull. 

Secondly, the word “Anglican” often features in the new names of such entities. In turn this means there is claim and counter-claim about who the “true” or “legitimate” Anglicans are today, around the globe. There is, so to speak, a sharp question whether a new “21st century Methodism-Brethrenism” is the true Anglicanism?

Now, this is where things get a little (if not a lot) interesting because there is a degree of arguing past one another on the matter of true/false Anglicanism.

I am exploring certain questions here framed by “true” versus “false” but, mostly, I do not like making claims about true Anglicans and false Anglicans. My preference is that we simply talk about what it means to be Anglican and what we agree or disagree about this matter.

For instance, I want to argue that there is an historic, personal component to being Anglican which means that Anglicans are Christians in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury.

But there are Anglicans in the world today who clearly disagree with me because they call themselves Anglicans when they are not in communion with the ABC.

On this line of argument, Anglicans hold to a set of beliefs (e.g., as expressed in the 39A and the BCP) and determine that communion with other Anglicans is based on sharing those beliefs rather than on a fellowship relationship with the ABC. Yes, such talk also involves considerations of polity: that Anglicans hold to certain beliefs-and-have bishops. And, with respect to “history” the claim here is that Anglicans today are in fellowship with Anglicans of yesterday because each generation shares the same beliefs.

I want to suggest that there is a bit more to the situation of 21st century Anglicanism and who may reasonably or legitimately claim to be "Anglican" than the above paragraphs. 

The point of our mother church, "the Church of England" is that it was "the Church of England." That church sought (and still seeks) to be a church of all England, both in the sense of potentially engaging with everyone in England and in the sense of reflecting a range of theological views (Catholic and Protestant, evangelical, broad and Anglo-Catholic, more recently, for and against the ordination of women). By implication, an Anglican church in the tradition of the Church of England, the 21st century CofE in the tradition of the CofE of previous centuries, is a church which is broad, inclusive, tolerant and intent on engaging all citizens of the nation.

Along the way of such intention, Anglican churches have adjusted ways of doing things and understandings of Scripture: women are being ordained, once they were not; artificial contraception was opposed by the Lambeth Conference in 1920 and then not so in 1930; remarriage after divorce is better accepted than it once was. Here in Aotearoa New Zealand we have restructured ourselves to better reflect the cultural diversity of our church for a bicultural nation and for a set of nations (we include, Fiji, Tonga and Samoa).

Of course such adjustments can be dismissed as some kind of sell out of the gospel to culture but they can also be robustly supported and advanced as the church understanding that the relationship between gospel and culture involves adjustments from time to time. Jesus spoke Aramaic but our four written gospels are in Greek. There was only one Jesus but we have four written gospels which are each shaped by different cultural contexts within which they were written and for which they were written and disseminated. On a matter such as divorce and remarriage, it is a simple fact that differences emerge between Luke/Mark, Matthew and 1 Corinthians. Under different circumstance, NT documents provide different responses to the power of the state (Romans 13 and Revelation 13). There is no one pristine, pure model of the first church replete with a set of infallible doctrines. This does not mean that 20 centuries later "anything goes" but it does mean that it is reasonable for Anglican churches to aspire to be either  a national church (CofE) or a church for the whole nation (many Anglican churches in many nations), that is, a church which is broad rather than narrow, inclusive rather than exclusive.

Consequently, alongside my argument that what matters in being Anglican is being in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury, I also place the argument that being Anglican is being intentional about breadth and inclusivity of views and approaches to being Anglican.

Now, rather than jump up and down re (say) the latest development for AMiE in Britain as being "un Anglican" or similar, a more diplomatic conclusion to this post is, I suggest, to end with a question:

As we who say we are Anglican journey through the next decades of the 21st century, are we shaping ourselves to be a church which in its potentiality is for the whole nation or only for part thereof?


Anonymous said...

I live day by day with a simpler, more empirical distinction between those freely and fully In and those who have freely opted wholly or partly Out.

Those In should be partners in dialogue about substantive matters of faith and mission. When ++ Justin first stepped up, he and we all had a wider horizon. We have a calling to recover that.

Those Out are (a) start ups on the edge of town that use a name we also use a bit, and (b) acquaintances one might meet alongside the Catholics, Mennonites, and Presbyterians at an ecumenical conference. Not missionally consequential.

All have freely made irreversible choices, and it is nobody else's place to undo them. If judgment is required, the Son will bring it.

Meanwhile, a hungry world needs for us to look at whatever real spiritual need the Father has placed before us. Our attention should go to those willing to work alongside us.


Anonymous said...


Beyond cheery dogma and a few ecumenical traditions, most of us balance the weights of contrary ideas about the Way.

So-- bishops, yes; congregations, yes. But between 80/20 and 10/90 there is a spectum and some noticeable differences.

If one should drift all the way out to 0/100, then one is a Baptist or Congregationalist. Schism happens when people believe that they can no longer hold the old tensions.

After so many centuries, why might they believe that? Well, those whose lives indicate 10/90 in some clash of framings could find themselves surrounded by others who score them 95/05. If frustration --> contempt --> argument-stoppers, then (as in many a marriage), the end is near.

Authoritarians expect churches to at least behave as though 100/00 were the human default. To them, ++ Peter's vision of a theologically diverse church can understandably sound close to nihilism.

But actually, it seems to stipulate that members never slip beyond reasonable persuasion in matters beyond the apostolic deposit. That is, they must treat their balancing on non-dogmatic matters as a spiritual practice.

This is not new. The fathers and medievals often did this before moderns insisted on system. But it may be new to us.


Liz Cowburn said...

Thanks for your post, I'm keen to read responses. Having grown up in the Open Brethren and left in my early 20s I thought I'd left all that behind. Decades later I've taken interest in the Anglican Communion (via TEC) only to find Brethrenism in the mix. I'm dismayed, perplexed, and very cynical about those driving the division.. wish I knew more about their funding!

Anonymous said...

Peter, I suppose we shall have to differ on your assertion that the Lord did not promise that His "pristine Church" would be the "bulwark of truth" and that the Spirit of truth would preserve it from doctrinal error.

Remarkably you got to the end of your piece without even mentioning the casus belli in Protestantism today, the incessant attempts by liberals to change the doctrine of marriage to include same-sex couples and thereby to reject the essential character of marriage as a state of life rooted in our created identity as men-facing-women and vice versa. This strikes me as rather like talking about the American Civil War without mentioning slavery. Did you ever reflect why Anglican bishop Michael Nazir-Ali retired early and joined the Ordinariate? It was because he could see where the Church of England is headed on sexuality. (One hooes as well that he had positive reasons for his decision.)

But what's in a name, anyway, as Juliet wondered on her balcony. Some of the churches birthed by the Church of England call themselves "Anglican", but most of them don't, preferring a national title. And what is the basis of your claim that "Anglican means in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury"? That sounds ammazingly papal to me - especially since the Archbishop of Canterbury recently denied he had or sought such powers! A Roman Catholic knows what it means to "be in communion with the Pope": it means that every bishop of the Catholic Church holds his office directly from the Holy Father and has vowed obedience to the Pontiff. You are not claiming something like this for Anglicanism, are you?
Because if you are, it runs aground on the rocks of history. As fas as I understand Anglican history, in the 18th century the Scottish Episcopal Church lived entirely separate from the Church of England and it consecrated bishops for the American Episcopal Church when England refused to do so, and for a long time both churches had little or nothing to do with the Archbishop of Canterbury. My Anglican friends (at least I assume they are Anglican!) tell me that Anglicanism is defined by "historical orders" and adherence to the 39 Articles and the use and doctrine of the BCP. Who would match that description today - and who would fall short?

Pax et bonum,
William Greenhalgh

Anonymous said...

I have understood the splits being about the authority of Scripture in the Anglican churches rather than just SSB or SSM. That is a single issue over it, but other issues have been resolved by new readings and new understandings.

Anonymous said...

it is likely that in every era, "Anglicanism" has been held to be something different. If a broad church Anglicanism had always applied then Catholics would never have needed to hide, Baptists would have been admitted ti Oxford and Cambridge earlier than the nineteenth century, and Methodists would have never left. Tghere has been a brad church strem within Anglicanism for centuries but it has never been the whole.

Father Ron said...

Mr. Greenhalgh. You seem to know something about the character of Anglicanism. However, you may NOT know about the fact that the first Lambeth Conference took upon itself its own defining identity which eventually issued in the agreed sodality defined by those who agreed to the acceptance of the Archbishop of Canterbury as 'Primus-inter-pares'. The ABC, ever since, has been privileged by the other members of the A.C.C. to call the Anglican family together at Lambeth.

It is surely reasonable to assume that those Provincial Churches that no longer accept the official invitation of the ABC to gather in unity at Lambeth, on theological grounds, have already, ipso facto, resiled from membership of the historic Anglican Communion. For such Provincial Anglican Churches to make a takeover bid for exclusive leadership of the Mother Church is what we call schismatic.

This is equivalent to the split that took place between East and West when the Orthodox no longer accepted the leadership of the Roman Pontiff. The departing sodality took over the name: 'Orthodox' as opposed to the more inclusive title of 'Catholic' - with a similar assumption of superiority now being claimed by the departing Anglican schismatics; who seem to think themselves the only 'orthodox' Anglicans.

You are also mistaken when you think that Anglicans are defined by common adherence to the historic 39 Articles (look up the 19th c. Oxford Movement, which ignored the original animosity toward the Roman Pontiff, while not being bound by his rule) and the Book of Common Prayer. Each Provincial Anglican Church has its own Prayer Book and Constitution - which may differ from Church to Church.

Also, Pope Francis is having problems with his own dissidents at the moment, so the parable of 'the mote and the log' should remind you of the need to look at one's own context before launching into criticism of others.

Anonymous said...

"...grown up in the Open Brethren..."

Liz, were your Open Brethren in the US? Here up yonder, even the Open folk usually call themselves Plymouth Brethren.

They are rare. I had never heard of them until an elderly Greek Orthodox monk who was teaching me to paint mural icons for churches mentioned that, when he was a teen in New England, they had baptised him. He later passed through the Roman church in his twenties on his way to the fullness of Orthodoxy and monasticism. The Brethren were too aniconic for his restless visual genius-- even his cooking was well-composed-- but their orality and informality prepared him to feel at home among hesychasts on cliffs above the Aegean.

Volunteering in a homeless shelter years later, I crossed paths with another former brother-- a wild-eyed Nietzschean who devoured armloads of library books on philosophy but would not cross the threshold of a university. To him, every other church in the land had risibly failed to attain the austere purity of the Plymouth Brethren. Nevertheless, a sex scandal had rocked the church that baptised him, so he would trust no church ever again.


Peter Carrell said...

A few comments (on the eve of our General Synod so there may not be much time to engage through the remainder of this week):

1. Thank you Bowman for the reminder to look for those with whom one has in common shared Christian interests - they may not use the word "Anglican."
2. Plymouth Brethren and Exclusive Brethren (albeit with different names these days hereabouts) are relatively well spread through the communities of NZ.
3. William: in communion with the ABC does mean something different to in communion with the Bishop of Rome if we focus on hierarchy, but not if we focus on communion, on willingness to meet in Christ's name, responding to the call of the lead bishop (cf. Ron's comment). Yes, historically, such communion has not always existed (Scotland, TEC in past times); but, also, historically, the call to be in communion with the ABC is to remember our roots and be connected to them.

Anonymous said...

Hello, Ron (no need to use formalities with me), I do know a little about the first Lambeth Conference, called over the Colenso affair and the Church of England in South Africa and the subsequent emergence of two Anglican churches in that country (so multiple Anglican churches in one country go back a long way). But I have never heard that the Archbishop of Canterbury was a Patriarch exercising legal powers as the Orthodox Patriarchs do (or try to), and Justin Welby was explicitly denying he had such powers at the recent conference, if I understand correctly. I suppose it is a bit like the late Queen as the ceremonial figurehead of the Commonwealth, compared with Victoria and the British Empire. And now some of the nations in the Commonwealth are ditching the monarchy to become republics. I don't think Charles will lure them back.
If Anglicanism ever was a communion, it is now clearly becoming a Protestant federation, like the Lutherans and Methodists around the world. Do Lutherans and Methodists argue about the copyright over the words "Lutheran" or "Methodist"? The dogs bark but the caravan moves on.
I'm afraid your third paragraph on the Orthodox-Catholic schism of 1054 is very wide of the mark. The history is immeasurably more complex and tragic than you may imagine.
If your fourth paragraph is true and there are no binding standards of doctrine, liturgy and order in the Anglican churches (and you may be correct in some places: American Episcopalians have long appeared to me to be Unitarians in vestments, elsewhere vestments seem to be disappearing), then it is really hard to see what keeps you together. Without authority founded on divine truth, we are left only with competing opinions - and worse, competing egos and desires. Monsignor Nazir-Ali understood this.

Pax et bonum,
William Greenhalgh

Liz Cowburn said...

BW re "Liz, were your Open Brethren in the US?"

I found your response such an interesting read! I grew up in the conservative Far North of NZ and my dad was a regional leader, a "full-time worker" in the church. We lived in a church hall in a rural valley, a hall that 50yrs previously had been the centre of Exclusive Brethren life in the valley. They'd had an edict to move to urban areas and the faithful departed, splitting some families. Eventually the hall got sold and my dad bought it. I was aware of the name 'Plymouth Brethren' as something the 'Open Brethren' had sprung from and that was the extent of what I knew. In recent years I recall reading in the news where a particular Exclusive Brethren church attracted very bad press due to a tragedy and they eventually regrouped as 'Plymouth Brethren' which I found interesting. As strict and conservative as our church was, I was just glad I wasn't bought up Exclusive Brethren as they seemed unbearably restrictive and petty. When I moved to the city to work at the age of 17yrs in the '80s I found the city Open Brethren very different (e.g. they had a pastor, music in the Sunday morning worship service, and were steadily getting more charismatic during the time I was there). For the record, I regard the strict interpretation of the Bible that I was bought up with as dangerous. It can lead to real physical harm and even death. I won't enlarge on that here but I know this from personal experience, from stuff that happened in my family before I was born, and I'm strongly opposed to the Biblical understanding that I was saturated in - I assume this is what's called 'orthodox' by some. (Thank goodness there were no christian schools anywhere near and I got a normal secular education). Thank you.

Father Ron said...

There is now much more to be worried about in the world-wide Anglican Communion and the machinations of Sydney and the other GAFCONITES promoting the ethos of schismatic severance within the Communion.

Here is the latest video from an Anglican minister in the Diocese of Sydney (who seems to be the public mouthpiece for the Sydney Diocese) Dominic Steele, interviewing the ACNA/GAFCON leader, Foley Beach; the Global South Leader, Archbishop Wong; and the AMIE Bishop Andy Lines; who each in their turn accuse the ABC of 'duplicity, and of betraying the Word of God in Scripture, in his acceptance of the appointment of the new Dean of Canterbury, who happens to be in a legal civil-partnered same-sex relationship. The have actually called on the Archbishop of Canterbury to REPENT. Pastor Dominic Steele, from Sydney seems to want then to enforce his resignation! Here is the link to the video:

Anonymous said...

St John xvi 33.

Mark Murphy said...

I think there was a ..Closed?...Brethren community near where my grandparents lived in Motueka. My grandfather, who lived in India as a missionary for 50 years and retired to becoming an Anglican minister in the diocese of Nelson, was an intensely curious man with an irreverent sense of humour. He and his friend friend wanted to see inside the Brethren church/building and so posed as "painters" to work on the bathroom (a complete lie). Once inside, they had a good look round, then escaped out the bathroom window.


Mark Murphy said...

Dear Ron,

I almost made three minutes on the clip you provided.

It's so appalling. What to say? The archbishop has "closed the door on orthodox Christians".....because he appoints or agrees to an appointment of a gay man (amongst other aspects) to be Dean of Canterbury?

How petty and insecure. How toxically scapegoating.

But I know this. We know this. Why am I watching this? Then I stopped.

I was wondering why *you* watch this. I mean, it's riveting TV.

I guess you really care about what's happening in the church, not just the Anglican church in Aotearoa, but overseas too. I guess this makes the point about Anglicanism being a communion and worshippers being in communion with Canterbury. You're a living embodiment of what is Anglican. But I'm not sure I am.

With love,


Liz Cowburn said...

Mark.. I'm incredulous at anyone wanting that much to see inside a Brethren church, there was precious little adornment in any churches I knew! Enjoyed your story :)

Anonymous said...

"I've taken interest in the Anglican Communion (via TEC)"

You are down under, but TEC is here up yonder. If I may ask, Liz, how did this happen?

"For the record, I regard the strict interpretation of the Bible that I was bought up with as dangerous."

You speak for many. On the other hand, many of the happiest hours of my whole life have been spent with a bible open on my desk. Also, it is not easy to form a clear idea of what would make an "interpretation" that is actually of the whole Bible "strict."

In the past half century, *popular* squabbles about the Bible up here have mainly arisen where a minimal theology has been merely instrumental to an extensive system of behaviour. When I was a teen, for example, some churchgoers who were unashamedly dubious of the Trinity were nevertheless certain that men could not be saved with long hair.

If you list the local beliefs about God and faith on the left side of a page and then describe them on the right side, you see that nothing said about either is independent of law as a root concept. Thin beliefs like that enlist the bare notion of a god to enforce, not only an interpretation of the Bible, but even what it is.

Refugees from congregations that think that way often carry away with them an allergy to the scriptures. So they do not read it very much or very well. When moralists who do know bits of the text better pick fights with them, this further deepens their alienation from what is actually a means of grace. Which is sad.

Back in the day, my hair was short, so the moralists did not bother me. But after listening to them for a few years, I noticed that they were both trying to represent Society and denouncing its godless secularity.

An interesting predicament! That would explain why they themselves could not say much at all-- notionally or experientially-- about the Father or about the Son or even about the Holy Spirit. Since those who do not know God cannot say anything worth hearing about him-- never mind for him-- I saw no reason to listen to them.

And so I didn't and I don't. Later, I was more formally taught this as the spiritual discipline of *custody of the senses*.

Souls have no windows, of course. But one does not need them to recognise the rare persons who have said enough about God over time to persuade one that she or he actually knows the Creator. This is not only a notional knowledge some itch to say, but it is nevertheless at least that since telepathy will not work.

To them, one listens. When they talk about the grace that they find in the scriptures, it is more likely that they are reading them in a good way as from and about God.


Liz Cowburn said...

Reply ~to BW. Many TEC clergy are generous in sharing online and I've been blessed to learn a new way of appreciating God's grace in the church and personally. TEC's very different to the black-and-white views I was bought up with. It's taken 5yrs for me to work through a whole raft of issues (it's an ongoing process). But you mentioned 'hair' so I'll pick up on that theme. As a child and through my teenage years I wasn't allowed to cut my hair. It was long, black and thick, made me hot in the summer, a nuisance for me, didn't look well with my pale little face, and contributed to mean kids at times calling me a 'witch'. But I was absolutely forbidden to have it short (due to a verse in the NT about a woman's hair being her glory). If dad was around when mum trimmed my hair he'd grumble about her cutting too much so she'd get nervous. In later years I found that mum in early marriage had her hair permed but dad didn't approve so she ended up with long hair that she kept in a 'bun'. It amazed me how soon after dad died she had her hair cut and softly permed and she looked wonderful! This level of control was not the norm for other christian kids but my dad was old enough to be my grandfather and as an 'old school' church leader/elder he took discipline in the family very seriously. I eventually realised that much of his control was really cultural/generational/denominational baggage but it's been a slow process. Somehow I never got put off scripture even though we read right through the Bible *every year* (3 chapters every morning when we got up, nothing skipped over). I *love* your last two paragraphs, that's exactly what's happened for me and you've put it so beautifully. BTW, I'd like to know more about *custody of the senses* and when I get time I'll look it up but if you have any references please let me know. I'm very touched you took the time to respond so kindly and thoughtfully, thanks!

Father Ron said...

Dear Mark. You aint seen nuthin' yet! (Sorry, Bishop Peter, I couldn't resist that!)

Just take a look at the response of a former Kiwi, editor of the North American blog called 'Virtue Online' - because his surname is 'Virtue'; first name, David. Because of the perpetual abusive nature of his blogs I felt it might better be called: 'Vice Online'.
One may detect that he is no friend of TEC or the ACC for that matter; being the U.S. mouthpiece for ACNA/GAFCON: -

(Another U.S. outlet for GAFCON Gossip is the oddly-named blog 'Anglican Unscripted".

Mark Murphy said...

Gosh, no I couldn't read much of that, Ron.

Even the Conservative Party of Britain, while remaining conservative, have updated their views around sexuality. Gay members are throughout the party and MPs. People don't blink. No one says: they've sold out, they've lost their edge.

While in the good old religion of love, "homosexuals" are seen as infiltrating the Church and "twisting" it into a "moral pretzel".

Ok, I'm just going to stop engaging with this hate.

Liz Cowburn said...

Father Ron, I checked online re D. Virtue and found a 2014 article authored by him stating he "was born in Wellington, NZ, [...] and grew up attending a Plymouth Brethren Assembly Church while attending a private, very liberal Presbyterian Boys College (school)."

Later in the article a particular sentence caught my eye, "The rejection of the Judeo-Christian foundation which has shaped the West is slowly being eroded along with its cultural and spiritual values. New Zealand is not exempt."

~struck me how similar the wording is to what we're hearing now from certain R/W US politicians. And interesting to see the early Plymouth Brethren influence.

Mark Murphy said...

Peter, I appreciate you keeping this post going, keeping on uploading and supporting our conversation while deep in Synod. Blessings to you and all meeting. Meanwhile, I'm surprised at how much juice is in these Brethren connections.


Peter Carrell said...

Thanks Mark!

Anonymous said...

Liz, what you call "the wording ... from certain R/W US politicians" used to be called "mainstream" or "consensus" opinion only a few years ago.This is because post-Christian western culture has moved sharply left in the past 15 years as Christianity has been abandoned as "the sacred canopy" and has been replaced by what US Professor Carl Trueman calls "expressive individualism" in his book "The Triumph of the Self" (2020) - a cultural mindset which is fundamentally about the drive to make sex the key to existence. Many young people, perhaps with same-sex attraction or bisexual feelings (but more usually just normal puberty anxiety), are now convincing themselves they were "born in the wrong body". I have witnessed this in numerous high schools affecting teenage girls. Professor Trueman, a historian of ideas, describes how we arrived at the "transgender moment" in our decaying culture.
Ideas about children and transsexualism which would have horrified our parents (and myself, at least) are now commonplace on the left and J. K. Rowling has been targeted for cancellation. But even I was not ready for the weirdness of an interview a couple of days ago by a singer called Dylan Mulvaney of the US President Joe Biden. The singer tells the smiling, approving president about his decision to "become a woman" 244 days ago and how genital surgery, "breastbinders" and puberty blockers must be encouraged for children - and Joe totally agrees. (Dylan hasn't had surgery, just hormones.) Look it up on YouTube and ask how we got to this point.
You may also have some views on why there is now warfare between feminists and "transwomen", and lesbians and "transwomen".
I am aware that Iranian mullahs agree that homosexual men should have gender reassignment surgery, so the modern world is throwing up some strange alliances.

Pax et bonum,
William Greenhalgh

Mark Murphy said...

Dear Liz,

You've certainly seen more of the inside of the Brethren Church than my grandfather did!

Thank you for sharing your experience with us. It's the best kind of 'knowledge'. I was particularly moved by the story of your hair. When I trained counselling students, I ran the encounter groups. One woman found them petrifying as they reminded her of the groups she grew up in that were deeply unsafe, exposing, and shaming.

Of course, we all have aspects of our whakapapa that are anti-life. I'm still teasing or coming to know and accept aspects of my parents' missionary ethos (warm and humanitarian as it was) that still wounds me and others now. Ngā mihi, Mark

Anonymous said...

"Now do you understand what ceaseless prayer is?" he asked me.

"Very clearly, dear Father. For the love of God please teach me how to make it my own," I exclaimed in joy.

"To learn about this prayer, we will read from a book called the Philokalia [of the Neptic Fathers]. This book, which was compiled by twenty-five holy Fathers, contains complete and detailed instructions about ceaseless prayer. The content of this book is of such depth and usefulness that it is considered to be the primary teacher of contemplative life, and as the Venerable Nicephorus says, 'It leads one to salvation without labor and sweat.' "

"Is it then more important than the Holy Bible?" I asked.

"No, it is neither more important nor holier than the Bible, but it contains clear exposition of the ideas that are mysteriously presented in the Bible and are not easy for our finite mind to understand. I will give you an illustration. The sun--a great, shining, and magnificent light--cannot be contemplated and looked at directly with the naked eye. An artificial glass, a million times smaller and dimmer than the sun, is needed to look at the great king of lights to be enraptured by its fiery rays. In a similar way the Holy Bible is a shining light and the Philokalia is the necessary glass."

-- Anonymous, The Way of a Pilgrim


Liz Cowburn said...

William, "the sacred canopy" sheltered a select few who were willing to toe the line. Your first few sentences appear to suggest the shift to the left is directly related to abandoning Christianity. I'd suggest there were many folks who were never welcome under the canopy to begin with unless they made massive changes to their lifestyle OR were under the canopy but merely tolerated (rather than welcomed with love into full participation). There are many Christians on the left engaged in making this world a kinder and more habitable place for ALL and yet if their work gains attention they're demonised and the fact they're Christians is ignored or even dismissed. And let's not forget the many people who work to make this world a better place who aren't Christian! My personal view is that the New Zealand of today is a much more inclusive society than that in which I grew up in the 60s/70s. Much can be improved of course, but we've come a long way. ~Liz

Liz Cowburn said...

Thanks Mark! and BW.. thought I'd jump in again to share a link to an article I found this morning about 'Hair' and control of women in Iran - it was so amazing it popped up in my email this morning! From the Washington Post, and I'm sharing it here as a 'gift' link - meaning that (hopefully) you'll be able to access it via this link even if you're not a WP-subscriber:

Article Title: Here's what it's like to be persecuted for your hair

Anonymous said...

"Many TEC clergy are generous in sharing online"

Liz, you are warmly welcome to as many of our clergy as you want-- we have extra-- but wouldn't it be easier to talk to some from the Blessed Isles of ACANZP?

*custody of the senses*

This is just what it sounds like: caution about what you see, hear, touch, taste, remember, notice.

Why? The habit avoids occasions of sin, which is good in itself, but also nudges one from passively drifting along a stream of consciousness toward more intentional attention.

Why bother with better consciousness? Because the heart is meant to be holy and bad dispositions defile it, as Jesus says in St Mark vii.

What consciousness is holier? Any that is being regenerated as the new creation St Paul describes in Romans v-viii.

Any? The Father who knows each hair on our heads has made us different, so although we are all made to know God, we approach that end along diverse paths.

So then how do we know that *custody of the senses* is for everybody? The first step for each, whatever her starting point, is to discover spiritual freedom from the dullness of addiction to the passions known in the West as the Seven Deadly Sins and in the East (where they were defined) as the Eight Evil Thoughts.

Anonymous said...

"...look it up... have any references.."

So you are a reader?

Tomas Spidlik, The Art of Purifying the Heart. It's short, thoughtfully elementary, and practical. Spidlik was a humble, perceptive Roman Catholic scholar of the spirituality of the Christian East. Amazon has a Kindle version in English.

"the Biblical understanding that I was saturated in"

I think of that understanding-- am I mistaken?-- as deformed Reformed, using law as a heuristic for absolutely everything in the creeds and Bible in a way that say Lutherans, never mind Orthodox, would never do.

For example, there is no defined dogma on how the cross saves, and several have been traditional someplace. Depending on where one worships on Good Friday, Jesus defeats demons, suffers a legal penalty, supplants the covenant of Moses, absorbs death into life, exposes evil as a scapegoat, exemplifies unconditional love, escapes into glory, etc. At their dullest-- the best are far better-- the Reformed go for just the penalty, so that when they read the Bible around that idée fixe they find law, law, law elaborated in diverse genres. Faith is then scrupulous obedience, and care is conscientious enforcement. There are worse ways to live, but this is not quite the Way.

“how similar the wording [rejection of the Judeo-Christian foundation which has shaped the West] is to what we're hearing now from certain R/W US politicians”

In the US, a party of the right must be a party of working class grievance. That constituency is enraged about culture and immigration rather than protective of limited government and the rights of capital. So yes, even though culture is beyond the scope of the state in a free society, Republican politicians do campaign on symbols to appeal to those voters.

Some have speculated that, in Plato's interesting cycle of regimes (Republic, IX, 572c-573c), we are at that cusp where democracy fades into tyranny. The left has continued to explore new modes of freedom whilst the right has resiled from their chaotic appetites toward submission and conformity. Even if so, both are past their peaks of influence.

“the most important hair in the world” --WaPo

Wow, Liz. Even Samson surely envies Masih Alinejad. The Father must love counting the curly strands on her head. If any hair can pull down the pillars of a repressive theocracy, she has it. But then what?

(And why the Washington Post rather than say the Christchurch Courier, or its rival Christchurch Chronicle? Or the Dunedin Dispatch, Otago Observer, Queenstown Inquirer, Tauranga Tribune, or even the venerated and feared Wellington Whisper?)

The next global order is being improvised on the battlefields of Ukraine. Certitudes of the last *new world order* lie abandoned in the mud like so many Russian tanks-- no empires, no land war in Europe, certainly no genocide in Europe, no criminality or human rights violations, no boundaries changed by force, no targeting of civilians or civil infrastructure, no talk of nuclear weapons, no change in German Ostpolitik, no serious need for NATO, no NATO expansion, no battles in the Slavic winter, no victory against the Russian superpower on its own border. Also-- no annexation of territory from which your army is fleeing.

Somehow, Europe and Asia will be changed. The US could retreat or re-engage. A mighty Intermarium could arise between the Three Seas. A more western Muscovy could survive a disintegrated Russian Federation. Iran could nibble at the Caucasus. India could control sea-lanes vital to East Asia. Merchant ships could attract pirates. Siberia could be colonized by its neighbours. In any case, North Korea feels ignored and China is readying for war.

Let us pray.

Bowman Walton

Anonymous said...

Many years ago I used to know Father Jack Witbrock. He used to be the Anglican vicar of Lyttelton but he converted to Orthodoxy as he was dismayed even in the early 70s by directions in Anglicanism. I think he ended up running an oratory in Rangiora. Once at a party he introduced me to a young former member of the Brethren man who was going off to Mount Athos to become a monk, which set me thinking maybe the Brethren and the Orthodox are not as far apart as I imagined. Both stress (theoretically) the immediacy and sovereignty of the Holy Spirit,
The Brethren comprised the Exclusive and the Open, and I knew several of the latter and none of the former. I have sometimes wondered if the Exclusive Brethren is what you get when families try to live as monks and nuns. Being a monk or nun is a fine thing but it's not for everyone and it's not for children.

Pax et bonum
William Greenhalgh

Liz Cowburn said...

Bowman, thanks so much! The "deformed Reformed" is lol funny while also being painfully true. The christianity I grew up with was really black-and-white, no grey areas. Now I have endless questions! I've purchased the book you mentioned and I look forward to reading it. But it's late now here, I'll re-read what you wrote tomorrow. As to why TEC? the leading of the Spirit (I knew little about Anglicanism and hadn't even heard of TEC previously).

Mark Murphy said...

Sometimes we are attracted by difference as much as similarity: my great uncle was a baptist minister who made a number of pilgrimages to Athos. I think he was attracted there by something he couldn't find within his baptist tradition.

Same for me and yoga: it fulfills a need for sacred embodiment - a dire need - that I don't get much support for within Christianity.


Liz Cowburn said...

"As we who say we are Anglican journey through the next decades of the 21st century, are we shaping ourselves to be a church which in its potentiality is for the whole nation or only for part thereof?"

Bishop Carrell, thanks for allowing me, a newcomer, to participate in this discussion. I'd like to add clarity to my interest in the discussion (without being overly specific in detail). Four years *before* I was born, one of my two teenage brothers fatally shot my two young sisters. Fyi I've known about this my whole life. I have no other sisters. In my early 20s I asked my parents for more detail about what happened and dad himself told me that my brother had done it to save his sisters from dad. This is why I believe that strict conservative christianity is dangerous and can lead to physical harm and death. Something that can be a theological discussion for some.. has real-world consequences for others. I'm watching what happens in the Anglican church with much anxiety. It's so much easier to loudly condemn others and quote scripture than to share a story like mine, so I feel the narrative gets very one-sided, and that's why I'm sharing my story (and subject to your moderation decision, I'm ok for this to go online). Thank you.

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Liz,
Thank you for sharing with readers here your personal, family story which involves such pain, grief and loss.

Our words matter.

Our challenge is to discern potential consequences for our words, because while words can bless and give life, they can also curse and destroy (even when we do not intend that to be so).

It is a shared concern of mine that some developments in the Anglican Communion (and global Christianity generally) lack concern for the well-being of people.

With very best wishes,

Liz Cowburn said...

Thank you Bishop Carrell, this means a lot to me. God bless.

Mark Murphy said...

Dear Liz, One thing I really respect about Peter's moderation here is his inclusion of many voices. Yours is most welcome. Please comment again.

I feel so sad reading your words about what happened. And I'll reflect on the meaning you've offered us in light of that horrific event.

Warm wishes


Liz Cowburn said...

Dear Mark, thanks for the warm welcome. Looking ahead I'm keen to follow Peter's blog.. there's very much I can learn, probably little that I can contribute. But it's a certainty I'll at least have questions! I'm grateful for this post and for the subsequent discussion, it's been very helpful to discuss these things.

Anonymous said...

"Here was a new light on the intricate texture of things in the world, the actual plot of the present moment in time after the fall; the way we the living are nibbled and nibbling-- not held aloft on a cloud in the air but bumbling, pitted and scarred and broken through a frayed and beautiful land."

-- Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek


Liz Cowburn said...

Such a wonderful quote Bowman, I'll copy it to keep. I was introduced to that same book by an ex-Lutheran minister via her blog and managed to borrow it from a library. Another favourite:

"Sometimes I ride a bucking faith while one hand grips and the other flails in the air,..." -- Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

Anonymous said...

Thanks from me too Liz. Your experience highlights to me the struggle I have with the authority of Scripture and the feeling of judgement that it sometimes makes me feel. I would like to be more able to read it with the grace that Bowman talked about. I do know God and can experience his grace but old teaching is hard to dismiss. However reading ADU enlarges my thinking blessedly.

Anonymous said...

Liz, your 12:12 had already led me to suspect that you would like Roger Hurding's Five Pathways to Wholeness when your 11:56 somewhat confirmed it. Roger, a lifelong CoE evangelical, was also an Oxford- trained psychiatrist and an adventurous reader of theology. The book's chapter on ministry to pain was on my mind, and is now more in my prayers. But you may like the wide horizon of the whole book.


Liz Cowburn said...

Moya, thank you. I find the condemnation I hear coming from those who claim 'orthodoxy' very triggering, I've heard those tones before! Through The Episcopal Church in the last 5 yrs I've learned so much about love and grace and I'm continuing to learn, it's a new journey for me.

Thanks again Bowman, when time allows I'll be sure to check out that book.

And to everyone who's been so kind, appreciative and helpful to me here I'm truly grateful. I'm away for a few days so I'm signing off now, thank you, and special thanks to Bishop Carrell. The sharing in this discussion has been honest and encouraging, and much valued by me. God bless.

Father Ron said...

Dear Bishop Peter, it would seem that what is 'true Anglicanism' is still being sorted out - even within the Churches of Nigeria and ACNA. Since the decision of All Nigeria's Primate to bring his own planted churches out from under the influence of the GAFCON-Sponsored ACNA Church in North America' one of Nigeria's daughter Churches in North America; the Nigerian 'Anglican Diocese of The West' has decided - of its own volition - to flee to the protection of ACNA, as evidenced here: