Category : Ecclesiology

(AH) Rodney Hacking–St. Ignatius of Antioch and the Renewal of the Anglican Episcopate

Ignatius offers a fascinating insight into the heart of a true man of God given over to His will. It is tempting to want to leap from his example and vision of episcopacy to its practice within our own Church at this time, but such a leap needs great care. A bishop in the first decade of the second century cannot fairly be compared even to one of 250 years later let alone in the Church of today. The three-fold ministry was still in an early stage of its development. Even though Lightfoot has cogently argued that a case can be made for regarding episcopacy as being of Apostolic direction, and therefore possessing Divine sanction, long years of evolution and growth lay before it. At this stage too the Church across the Roman Empire faced the daily possibility of considerable persecution and martyrdom. That demanded a particular kind of shepherding and witness.

On the other hand a bishop at the beginning of the third millennium might profitably and properly ask (or be asked) whether endless committees and synods are really the way in which their lives are to be laid down for their flock? An institution requires administration, but in the New Testament list of charisms, administrators are quite low in the order of priorities, and of its pastors at this time the Church has other, more pressing, needs. Rather than imposing upon an already disheartened clergy systems of appraisal (mostly copied from secular models of management) it would be good for parish priests to experience bishops as those who were around so much that they could afford regularly to ”˜drop in’ and just be with them. It is hard to expect the parish clergy to make visiting a priority if their fathers in God do not set an example.

In some dioceses the more obviously pastoral role has sometimes been exercised by a suffragan but as more and more diocesan bishops, at least within the Church of England, are being selected from the ranks of the suffragans the temptation is for those who are ambitious to prove their worth more as potential managers than those given to the ”˜Word of God and prayer’ (Acts 6.2). If the communities within which the bishops are to exercise their ministry of unity and care are too large for them to do their work has not the time come to press for smaller dioceses and for bishops to strip themselves of the remnants of the grandeur their office once held and be found, above all, with their clergy and amongst the people, drawing them together into the unity for which Christ gave himself?

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Ecclesiology, Theology

(Stuff) In New Zealand some parishes leave Anglican church over same-sex blessings

St Stephen’s Shirley vicar Jay Behan said the congregations voted to leave because they felt the motion could not be tolerated.

The decision was “sad” and not an easy one to make.

“We feel like we have been left behind,” he said.

“Synod has made a decision that we feel moved the church beyond where we can go. We haven’t changed in terms of doctrine and the things the church believes.

“The church’s belief has been that the Bible sets the standard for who we are and how to live and there is a feeling that we have moved away from that….”

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, Anthropology, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(SA) Archbp Glenn Davies presents a proposal for a different New Zealand Anglican future

“The dissenting churches from Christchurch and elsewhere cannot in good conscience remain in ACANZP, despite the gracious offer of alternative oversight from Polynesian bishops. The problem is that these brothers and sisters cannot continue to be a part of a Church which in their understanding has changed its Canons to allow the blessing of same-sex couples living in sinful relationships. Yet these brothers and sisters are still Anglican, and recognised as such by most Anglicans around the world.”

Archbishop Davies said it was important that the mistakes in North America be avoided in the South Pacific.

“North America saw the defrocking of priests and the confiscation of property, even diocesan property where a diocesan synod had agreed to disaffiliate with TEC. This merely demonstrates power and greed, not gospel partnership. The Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) is now one of the fastest growing denominations in the USA, whereas TEC is declining in numbers.”

He said if the proposal were to be adopted, “Aotearoa and Polynesia could lead the way in expressing generosity of Spirit to those who find themselves unable to accommodate the new consensus. This would be a model not only for other provinces but for the Anglican Communion as a whole.”

Read it all (my emphasis).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, Anglican Church of Australia, Anthropology, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(The Courier) Split from the Scottish Episcopal Church over same-sex marriage is ‘very sad’, says incoming Bishop of Brechin

“The decision last summer was to come up with the process so that those who in conscience felt they really wanted equal marriage – as this church here does – were given a space to be able to marry people of the same gender. We created a space where those who, in conscience, felt they couldn’t do that, could also with integrity stay in the church.

“It is just sad (what has happened at St Thomas’) because the conversations over the years were to create a space where we could stay together.

“I know the Church of Scotland are trying to go down a route similar where each church, each congregation, each minister, can find a way to follow their own conscience. And a lot of the other Anglican communion churches are doing that as well.

“It is a secondary issue within the church.

“There is a danger that others in conscience may feel that they can’t carry on.”

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Scottish Episcopal Church, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(ENS) At TEC General Convention, the Marriage rites resolution is heading back to House of Deputies after a small amendment by the Bishops

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, General Convention, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, TEC Bishops, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Anglican Taonga) Talks in Christchurch have begun to try to reach an amicable separation between members of 4 evangelical congregations who do not want to bless a shape of life outside of bounds for Christians and the Diocese

Negotiations are under way which will see most of the members from four Christchurch congregations cut their links to the Diocese of Christchurch.

These negotiations follow from the decision taken by this year’s General Synod on May 9 which paved the way for the blessing of same-sex partnerships.

Following that decision, four conservative evangelical Christchurch parishes held votes to decide whether their members would disaffiliate[1] from the diocese – and, in each case, large majorities chose to do so.

On Wednesday last week, Archbishop Philip Richardson[2] along with senior diocesan staff and archdeacons met with vicars and wardens of the four parishes in question to discuss how their members could disaffiliate “in a respectful manner while maintaining good communication and leaving doors open.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, Anthropology, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology

(ACNS) Britain’s Methodists debate Church of England full communion proposals

The Methodist Church of Great Britain has debated proposals that could see it enter into a full communion agreement, including the interchange of ministries, with the Church of England. The proposals are contained in a report “Mission and Ministry in Covenant”, which was published last year. The C of E’s General Synod debated the report in February, and called for additional work to be undertaken on it. This morning (Monday), the Methodist Church adopted similar motion at its annual conference, which is meeting this week in Nottingham.

The proposals would see future Presidents of Conference being ordained as bishops in the apostolic succession and have the title President Bishop. As Methodist Presbyters in Britain are ordained by the Conference, this would mean that, should the proposals be accepted, future Presbyters would be ordained by a bishop in the apostolic succession. The C of E is being asked to recognise existing Methodist Presbyters, who haven’t been ordained in the apostolic succession, as a “bearable anomaly” until, over time, all future Methodist presbyters are ordained under the new system replace those ordained under the existing system.

There is division in the Church of England’s House of Bishops about the proposals, which were formulated by the Faith and Order bodies of both churches. The Bishop of Carlisle, James Newcome, addressed the Conference this morning and acknowledged the lack of unanimity in the C of E.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ecclesiology, Ecumenical Relations, Methodist, Theology

(TLC Covenant) Ephraim Radner–Pastoral Faithfulness in Opaque Times

Trocmé fascinates me because I see aspects of our time and church in his witness. Debate and anxiety is now bubbling up, especially among more traditional Episcopalians, in the face of this summer’s General Convention, as it proposes to alter the definition of marriage and perhaps even change of the Book of Common Prayer to reflect this new understanding. Older priests — and I am still a priest of the Episcopal Church — wonder where this will leave us. Younger priests wonder what will become of the church they have committed themselves by oath to serve. And those who have felt the call to ordination now wonder if there is a viable future for them in a church that may not only reject their understanding of deep Christian truth, but will in any case lurch further onto a path of conflict and promised decline.

For me, the issue of marriage is not adiaphora; it is bound to the central claims of the Christian gospel. This is not the place to rehearse the arguments. But the simple axis of Genesis 1-2, Mark 10, and Ephesians 5, which speak to the creation of man and woman, their union, and the nature of the body of Christ, seems to form a scriptural scaffolding of divine purpose and destiny that any redefinition of marriage must intrinsically deny. Trocmé liked to speak of “absolutes” — and in the case of nonviolence, he considered this to be an “absolute.” I do not like the term, for various reasons. But if I were to use it, I would certainly apply it to the reality of marriage between a man and a woman: this is an “ontological absolute.”

The question for me, then, is how we shall properly witness to this absolute in the face of our church’s rejection of its meaning. This is where Trocmé’s example is such a challenge to me. When one of his deepest theological convictions was not only challenged but rejected by his church, and as he watched his friends led away to prison with questionable support from their ecclesial authorities, he chose to carry on his pastoral work where he was.

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Commentary, Anthropology, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Theology, Theology: Scripture

New Zealand Decision on Same-Sex Unions prompts ‘deep regret’ from Anglicans in Sydney

At its first meeting since the decision, the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Sydney passed a motion which “notes with deep regret that the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia has amended its Canons to allow bishops to authorise clergy to bless same-sex unions”.

The Committee also conveyed to the Primates of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia that it ‘notes with regret that this step is contrary to the teaching of Christ (Matt 19:1-12) and is contrary to Resolution I.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference.”

Further, the Diocese expressed “support for those Anglicans who have left or will need to leave the Anglican Church in Aotearoa New Zealand and Polynesia because of its abandonment of biblical teaching, and those who struggle and remain; and prays that the ACANZP will return to the doctrine of Christ in this matter and that impaired relationships will be restored.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, Anglican Church of Australia, Anthropology, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Gafcon) Archbp Peter Jensen–Sin and Error in the Church

I heard a strange argument recently. When the question of sexual ethics and the teaching of the Bible was raised with a senior leader, the reply was – well look how bad your church is. There followed a long list of sins and offences, some of them very serious: corruption, adultery, strife, false teaching. This is all very tragic. But it is not equivalent to changing the doctrine of the church and actually blessing what God condemns.

I am sorry to say, having been Bishop now for many years that nothing would surprise me. Indeed, knowing my own heart, nothing would surprise me. Indeed knowing the Bible, nothing would surprise me. Our own doctrine tells us how bad we are, even though the Holy Spirit dwells in our hearts. Our own Prayer Book majors on the confession of sins and with very weighty words indeed. And I hope our practice assumes the possibility of sin and even crime in our midst – it is always wise for two people to count the offertory for example.

Of course this is not the whole story. Christian people, blessed by the Holy Spirit of God are being transformed from one degree of glory to another. The Christian church so often shines in the darkness and Christians live for God sacrificially and lovingly. But this side of eternity we are far from perfect.

But that is what puzzled and worried me about this argument. It was as though the person did not know how bad the church can be and is in his own culture. You can find tribalism, sexual immorality and false teaching in all the churches. You may even find the leadership turning a blind eye to it. But–it is one thing to point to the sins of the church. It is another thing altogether to justify an official change in doctrine and practice to incorporate them! After all, no-one is pretending that greed is good or that corruption is Christian. But many are actually officially changing the teaching and practice of the church in a way which denies scripture. That is the problem.

Read it all (emphasis mine).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary, Anglican Church of Australia, Anthropology, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(TGC) Samuel Alberry–Only Messy People Allowed: Toward a Culture of Grace

The problem, I suspect, is something of a misstep in our formula of what it means to live for Christ. We think we’re his PR agents: If I look good, then Jesus looks good.

So we hate the thought of not looking good. It’s Christian failure.

If this mindset permeates a whole church family, however, our life together becomes a matter of performance. We put on our best Christian mask, take a deep breath, and head to church. If Christian parents adopt this mindset, parenting becomes about trying to perform well in front of the kids, making sure they only see the highest standard of Christian behavior from us.

This may be a common way of thinking, but it’s disastrous. It leads to hypocrisy. The fact is, we’re not good, and we can only keep up the façade for a little while before the cracks begin to show. Our children see it right away. They know what we’re really like and can immediately tell when we try to put a Christian sheen over it. And when we really make a mess of things, the last place we want to go is church. We’re supposed to look Christian there, so when we know we can’t remotely pretend things are together, it’s easier simply not to go. Best to keep the mess away from the sanctuary.

All this is a sign that while we may be professing grace, we’re not actually inhabiting a culture of grace. We’re not Jesus’s PR agents, and he is not our client. We are broken men and women, and he is our Savior. It’s not the case that I need to look good so Jesus can look good; I need to be honest about my colossal spiritual need so he can look all-sufficient. I don’t increase so he can increase; I decrease so he can increase (John 3:30). That means being honest about my flaws, not embarrassed about them.

Read it all.

Posted in Christology, Ecclesiology, Pastoral Theology, Soteriology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)

Church of Ireland House of Bishops Issue Statement to General Synod on Human Sexuality in the Context of Christian Belief

The archbishops and bishops said that it had been noted that following the production of the Guide to Human Sexuality, there was little appetite to discuss further these issues in parishes.

“It would seem that there is no consensus in General Synod, the House of Bishops, or in the church island–wide to change the Canons of the Church of Ireland on the matter of marriage. Thus the Church of Ireland marriage service remains unchanged and marriage may be solemnised only between a man and a woman. No liturgy or authorised service is provided therefore for any other situation. As the archbishops and bishops have already made clear to the clergy of the Church of Ireland, it is not possible to proscribe the saying of prayers in personal and pastoral situations, but if clergy are invited to offer prayer after a same sex marriage, any such prayer must remain consonant with the spirit and teaching of the Church of Ireland,” the statement reads.

The statement concludes: “It is widely recognised that there is no simple solution for these and other issues of human sexuality; but with compassion, humility and concern, we offer our continued commitment to attentive listening and to respectful discussion. We ask that all members of Synod who continue to hold strong opinions do so with integrity and compassion, and to also hold in prayer before God the challenging diversity that exists within the Church of Ireland”.

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Church of Ireland, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(David Ould) Australian Anglican Bishops agree it is ‘not appropriate’ to allow Same-Sex ‘Marriages’

The doctrine of this Church is that marriage is a lifelong union between a man and a woman. If we as a Church are to change this doctrine to permit same-sex marriage, the appropriate mechanism is through the framework of the Constitution and Canons of the Anglican Church of Australia. Bishops should give leadership in demonstrating trust in this framework as the way to move forward together, recognising that this will require care, persistence and generosity. The bishops commit to working together to manifest and maintain unity, as we together discern the truth….

In light of this Church’s doctrine of marriage, it is not appropriate for church buildings and halls, and chapels owned by Anglican schools and other Anglican organisations to be used as venues for same-sex marriages.

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Church of Australia, Australia / NZ, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans New Zealand response to the General Synod Decision to Bless Same Sex Relationships

From there:

It is with deep sadness that the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans New Zealand (FCANZ) receives the news that General Synod/Te Hinota Whanui has passed the Motion 29 Report allowing the blessing of same-sex relationships. While we are thankful for the gracious spirit in which the debate was held, we disagree with the final outcome. We believe the General Synod has acted in a way which leaves behind biblical authority, the apostolic tradition, and the doctrine and practice our church has always held. Upon the passing of the motion General Synod members Rev. Jay Behan (Chair of FCANZ) and Rev. Al Drye immediately resigned.

FCANZ believes that God loves all people, from all walks of life, calling each of us to repent and have faith in Jesus Christ. Sometimes speaking of this love involves saying difficult things that run counter to the culture of today. However we remain convinced that it is good for all humanity and the only place for the church to stand.

In light of the decision of the General Synod we are ready to support people and parishes that cannot remain within this changed Anglican structure. We will work together nationally and internationally to provide fellowship and support as we look towards new ways and structures of ministering the unchanging good news of Jesus.

Posted in Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, Anthropology, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

Douglas Farrow on the Meaning of the Ascension for Ascension Day

Ascension theology turns at this point to the Eucharist, for in celebrating the eucharist the church professes to know how the divine presents itself in our time, and how the question of faithfulness is posed. Eucharistically, the church acknowledges that Jesus has heard and has answered the upward call; that, like Moses, he has ascended into that impenetrable cloud overhanging the mountain. Down below, rumours of glory emanate from the elders, but the master himself is nowhere to be seen. He is no longer with his people in the same way he used to be. Yet he is with them, in the Spirit.

–Douglas Farrow, Ascension Theology (New York: T and T Clark, 2011), p. 64

Posted in Ascension, Christology, Ecclesiology, Eucharist