Category : Ecclesiology

Stephen Noll–What is the Global Anglican Communion?

The term “Global Anglican Communion” is aspirational. It is a vision of things to come; it looks to a future entity that fulfils God’s providential guidance for worldwide Anglicanism. It is not of course the New Jerusalem but a communion that takes shape imperfectly under the mercy of God, affected by the contingencies of history and the flawed character of even well-intentioned men and women.

At the same time, the Global Anglican Communion is already here. At the first GAFCON in Jerusalem, we asked arriving participants this question: “Are you leaving the Anglican Communion?” The answer came back strong and clear: “No, we are not leaving the Anglican Communion; we are the Anglican Communion.” This may seem to some a semantic sleight of hand, but in my view it represents a new consciousness and confidence arising in the Global South.

As for the so-called “Instruments of Unity” – the Archbishop of Canterbury, Primates’ Meeting, Anglican Consulative Council, and Lambeth Conference – the sad “fact” stated in the Jerusalem Statement is that they have signally failed to unify. Indeed, they have promoted disunity by colluding to give a pass to clear violation of Holy Scripture. Therefore let me put the state of affairs boldly: Lambeth 1998 was the last true conference of Anglican bishops, and the Primates’ Meeting in Dar es Salaam in 2007 was the last true meeting of Anglican Primates to gather under the aegis of the Archbishop of Canterbury. The true heirs of these “Instruments” were the subsequent Global Anglican Future Conferences in Jerusalem and Nairobi and Global South “Trumpet” meetings in Singapore and Cairo.

It will come as no surprise when I say that the powers that be in Canterbury do not see the future this way. Lambeth Palace and the Anglican Communion Office (and its financial backers in New York) are working diligently to create division in the Global South, to discredit the coming Conference in Jerusalem, and to promote Lambeth 2020 as the true heir. If they succeed – and they might – they will not in fact restore a true Anglican communion of churches but rather construct a Potemkin village of serfs under one colonial baron. To catch this vision of the future, look at the charade called a Primates’ Meeting in October 2017, where the Primates were paraded around Canterbury Cathedral and treated to days of meaningless indaba followed up with a harsh unsigned Communiqué condemning Gafcon for “border-crossing” and disowning the Anglican Church in North America as an Anglican body.

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Posted in - Anglican: Analysis, Ecclesiology, Globalization, Theology

The keynote address by Russell Moore at the MLK50 Conference last week–Black and White and Red All Over: Why Racial Justice Is a Gospel Issue

Black and White and Red All Over: Why Racial Justice Is a Gospel Issue from The Gospel Coalition on Vimeo.

You need to take the time to listen and ponder it all carefully–KSH.

Posted in Anthropology, Baptist, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(1st Things) George Weigel–Air Turbulence and the Resurrection

If there’s anything Catholics in the United States should have learned over the past two decades, it’s that order—in the world, the republic, and the Church—is a fragile thing. And by “order,” I don’t mean the same old same old. Rather, I mean the dynamic development of world politics, our national life, and the Church within stable reference points that guide us into the future.

Many of those reference points seem to have come unstuck, and that’s why we’re experiencing an unusual amount of air turbulence these days….Those who don’t remember the two decades immediately after Vatican II and haven’t taken the trouble to learn that history are understandably upset by the fragility of order in the Church today. But they should also understand that this is not 1968, or 1978, or even 1988, and that a lot of ballast was put into the Barque of Peter during the pontificates of John Paul II and Benedict XVI. For all the challenges it faces, and despite the determination of some to revisit what they regard as the glorious Seventies, the Church in the U.S. is in far, far better condition to withstand the air turbulence of the moment than it was forty years ago. And that’s because truth, spoken winsomely and in charity, but without fudging, has proven a powerful instrument of evangelization and spiritual growth in a culture wallowing in various confusions.

At the bottom of the bottom line is the Resurrection. It’s entirely possible to hold fast to the truth that Jesus of Nazareth was raised by God to a new form of bodily life after his crucifixion and be deeply concerned about the state of the Church today. But it’s not possible to know the Risen Lord and to indulge in despair. Despair died on the cross and unshakeable hope was born at Easter. That’s why Easter faith is the surest anchor for all of us in turbulent times.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Easter, Ecclesiology, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(ENS) The Episcopal Church General Convention will again grapple with same-sex marriage questions

The eight bishops who have prohibited same-gender marriage in their dioceses are Albany Bishop William Love, Central Florida Bishop Greg Brewer, Dallas Bishop George Sumner, Florida Bishop John Howard, North Dakota Bishop Michael Smith, Springfield Bishop Dan Martins, Tennessee’s [John] Bauerschmidt and Virgin Islands Bishop Ambrose Gumbs, according to the task force.

Love, Brewer, Sumner, Martins and Bauerschmidt prohibit clergy canonically resident in those dioceses to use the liturgies inside or outside of the diocese, the report said.

“At this point it’s very unclear whether canonically resident clergy could actually use the liturgies [anywhere] without the permission of their own bishop,” Bauerschmidt told ENS before the report was released “So, that’s not so much my idea, but I think it’s implied by the 2015 resolution.”

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Posted in Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, General Convention, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, TEC Bishops, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(CT) Duke Kwon–John Perkins Has Hope for Racial Reconciliation. Do We?

The call of reconciliation requires us to lament these historic wrongs, giving voice to the groaning of our soul. “I believe strongly that the church in America has much to lament,” Perkins declares, inviting us to “dig up the deep wounds of our history” and insisting that the church must “take more ownership for our collective sin.” He leads us to lament numerous failures from our collective past: the enduring racial segregation of our local churches, the egregious misuse of Scripture to defend slavery and protect the interests of slave-owners, our neglect of ministry to (and with) the poor and marginalized as a crucial aspect of biblical reconciliation, the prioritizing of global missions at the expense of local mission, and our lack of remorse for the sin of racism in the church.

Lament, which “requires that we acknowledge that something horrific has happened,” must also lead to confession. Our racial wounds will not be healed without first being exposed. As he provides examples for corporate confession, Perkins is notably inclusive in his approach. He names areas of common failure: the sin of creating Jesus in our own image, our debilitating fears around the issue of race (1 John 4:18), and our unwillingness to endure suffering (1 Pet. 1:6–7). But he also identifies specific areas of confession for black Christians and white Christians.

Perkins clearly acknowledges that “racism still haunts” the black community. Nevertheless, “for many of us black folks, there has been an anger that has not always been managed well.” Prior generations channeled that anger into nonviolent resistance and the building of black institutions (colleges, hospitals, churches), but now “we have turned that anger on ourselves, and our cities and communities have become unsafe places.” White brothers and sisters, on the other hand, “may need to confess denying that racism exists, choosing to ignore the implications of privilege, and at times acting to reinforce a double standard.” Some will resist the idea of a historically oppressed group having any obligation to admit wrongdoing, while others will resist the notion of privilege, but Perkins will have it no other way. We must revisit our past sins in order to grow in reconciliation.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Katie Ganshert via Ann Voskamp) Why the Church Can’t Keep Turning Away From Our Race Issues: Why We Can’t Put the Past Behind Us–Because It’s Buried In Us

Slowly I started to see what I couldn’t before—a pervasive injustice all around.

“The world is wrong. You can’t put the past behind you. It’s buried in you.” – Claudia Rankine

Slavery. Convict leasing. Over 4,000 lynchings. Jim Crow segregation. White flight and red-lining.

All of it is buried in us. All of it points to an appallingly racist past that has left a racist legacy that manifests itself in policies and systems that disadvantage and oppress specific people groups.

Like our education system, where black and brown students find themselves more segregated than they were in 1968—stuck in schools that are understaffed and under-resourced.

Or a criminal justice system that frisks 85% of blacks and Latinos stopped by police, but only 8% of whites. Those are just two examples of many—the tippity-top of a giant racial iceberg. Statistics I didn’t know until I started to listen.

I had no idea that Sunday remains the most segregated hour in America. I saw a handful of black people inside my church as proof that we were fine. I had no idea that many black evangelicals in predominately white churches report feeling unseen and unheard.

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Posted in Anthropology, Christology, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture

John Donne–Easter Faith that Sustains

If I had a Son in Court, or married a daughter into a plentifull Fortune, I were satisfied for that son or that daughter. Shall I not be so, when the King of Heaven hath taken that sone to himselfe, and married himselfe to that daughter, for ever? I spend none of my Faith, I exercise none of my Hope, in this, that I shall have my dead raised to life againe. This is the faith that sustains me, when I lose by the death of others, and we, are now all in one Church, and at the resurrection, shall be all in one Quire.

–John Donne (1572-1631) [my emphasis]

Posted in Christology, Easter, Ecclesiology, Eschatology, Theology

(Surviving Church) Stephen Parsons: IICSA–reflections on Archbp Welby’s conclusions

A second word came out of [Archbp Justin] Welby’s reflections at the end of the questions by Fiona Scolding. This was the word ‘tribalism’. The Archbishop wanted to make the point that when groups or factions within the church band together to protect themselves and their privileges, that creates an atmosphere highly hostile to good and transparent safeguarding. Although he used the word tribalism in the context of protecting vulnerable people in the church, it was clear that this word also sums up many of the problems being faced by the Church of England in other areas. Tribalism seems to be rife in the whole Anglican Communion and is the cause of many of its intractable divisions.

Those of us listening to his words realise that, for the Archbishop, church tribalism is a source of deep frustration. The problem is that everyone feels stronger when they band together with others to accomplish a particular task. Some tribalism is of course healthy. The church rightly encourages people to gather together the purposes of study, prayer and worship. Feeling support from others as we grow together in community is something that enriches our lives. But community or communion can become something dark when it descends into tribalism. This negative side of community is manifested when the individual surrenders their thinking and feeling to a group mind. In political terms this is seen in mass movements whether on the Right or on the Left. Anyone who attends a fascist rally does not have to think for themselves. He or she is part of something great and of enormous power. The Movement, the Cause has replaced the individual isolated functioning which belongs to a single person. Within the mass gathering there is power; outside the rally there is only insignificance and a sense of personal weakness.

A readiness to surrender our individual weakness in exchange for tribal power is perhaps not as far away from each of us as we would like to think.

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Children, Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Teens / Youth, Theology, Violence

(Church Times) IICSA: the dean’s bonfire and the destroyed report at Chichester Cathedral

A former Dean of Chichester Cathedral, the late John Treadgold, burnt a batch of files suspected to contain sensitive personnel material upon his retirement in 2001, the Dean of Worcester, the Very Revd Peter Atkinson, confirmed on Tuesday.

Dean Atkinson, who was Canon Chancellor of Chichester Cathedral at the time of the incident, was giving evidence to a public hearing conducted by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse (IICSA).

The hearing, now in its third and final week, is using the Chichester diocese as a case study.

Asked by Counsel about the burning of files, Dean Atkinson said: “He [Dean Treadgold] had retired in the autumn of 2001 and moved a short distance away. What I remember of the episode is that he returned to the Deanery, which then was empty — this was long before Dean Frayling arrived — removed a number of files from the Deanery basement and had a fire in the garden.

“I don’t know what the files were. I think there is some indication that they might have been old Chapter files, but they may well have been his own. It’s a bit odd that he’d moved away and then came back to do this, and it was sufficiently troubling for us to mention this to the police, which happened.”

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Posted in Anthropology, Children, Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Teens / Youth, Theology, Violence

(CT Editorial) We Need an Independent Investigation of Sovereign Grace Ministries

For six years now—and more intensely in the last few weeks—charges and counter-charges (see links…), accusations and defenses have been conducted in public forums and in the courts, without a satisfactory conclusion. This has left many, many observers bewildered, angry, and deeply suspicious of SGC. What’s worse, these unseemly events reverberate outward, mixing with the #ChurchToo discussion and lingering anger over the Roman Catholic Church abuse scandal. Many now wonder if there has been a habit of covering up and denying child and sexual abuse in evangelical churches in general—if there is something in the evangelical DNA that makes us hesitant to deal with accusations quickly, openly, and truthfully when there is the suspicion of grave sin in our midst.

We call for a fresh and thorough independent investigation not because we believe SGC guilty of every one of its critics’ charges. We are as bewildered as anyone and simply don’t have enough information to make a confident judgment on the matter. We see, however, that SGC and some of its individual congregations—and pastor C. J. Mahaney (founder and former president) in particular—are under a cloud of suspicion. A former ministry partner of Mahaney turned critic, Brent Detwiler, has been chronicling the controversyfor many years and claims that 100 pastors, 300 small group leaders, 40 churches (including his own), and 12,000 members have left SGC churches largely over what they claim has been abusive and deceitful leadership.

Given the prominence of Sovereign Grace, especially in Reformed evangelical circles, this puts the gospel we preach under a cloud. If, in fact, they are as guiltless as they have proclaimed, and if, in fact, the incidences are as few as they suggest, it would be great news for the evangelical community and the cause of the gospel.

At the same time, if the many charges prove to be true to a larger extent than they currently acknowledge, it would be sad and troubling—but not without hope if it leads to truth-telling and repentance. The truth of sin that leads to repentance is one of the most glorious moments in our life in Christ.

 

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Posted in Anthropology, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Theology, Violence

(BBC) Archbishop of Canterbury ‘ashamed’ of Church over abuse

The Most Rev Justin Welby told the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse that it was “horrifying” to read the evidence from survivors.

“I have learned to be ashamed again,” he said.

The three-week hearing is looking into the Diocese of Chichester, where dozens of clergy have been accused of abuse.

Mr Welby said: “To read the transcripts, to read the evidence, to meet the survivors, is horrifying to a huge degree, because you see this extraordinary and atrocious willingness to turn a blind eye to things going very seriously wrong and entirely damaging human beings for their whole lifetimes.”

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Children, Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Theology, Violence

(Psephizo) Andrew Goddard–Can the Church change its practice on marriage without changing its doctrine?

Seeing that one fundamental question arising from the wording of the PMM is that it is asking for an impossible liturgy given the church’s teaching, would it not be much better for the church – aided by the House of Bishops Teaching Document promised for 2020 – first to answer a question similar to that which Synod passed in 1981 in relation to remarriage – “Are there circumstances in which it would be right for a couple legally to enter a civil partnership or same-sex marriage in a church service and/or have a service of prayer and dedication in church after legally entering one of these unions?”.

There would be two ways to answer that question positively:

  • either show how this change in longstanding practice is nevertheless “neither contrary to, nor indicative of any departure from, the doctrine of the Church of England in any essential matter”
  • or to offer a theological justification and rationale for redefining that doctrine so as to enable such a liturgical development.

The bishops could follow either route solely on their own authority and, as proposed by the PMM, simply commend such a liturgy.  However, given its likely significance for the unity of the Church of England and wider Anglican Communion, it would be much better if any such change took the form of an authorised liturgy supported by teaching from the bishops.  This would allow the church as a whole, led by the bishops exercising their roles as teachers and guardians of the faith and the church’s liturgy, to be part of a corporate pastoral and theological discernment.  The church could then, guided by the bishops, consider carefully the fundamental question which the PMM seems to sidestep: is the proposed liturgy truly faithful to the teaching on marriage and sexual holiness which we have received and share with the wider church or does it require changes to that teaching to enable such a liturgy?

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Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Church Times) Lord Williams backs abuse survivors’ demand for independent safeguarding body at IICSA

The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Williams, has given his support to one of the key demands of survivors of clergy abuse: the creation of an independent body to deal with safeguarding cases.

Speaking at the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) on Wednesday, Lord Williams said that there was a “strong case” for handing over safeguarding issues to a new agency outside of the normal Church of England structures.

“There’s a strong case for having some such arms-length body,” he replied, when asked about it by the lead counsel to the Inquiry’s investigation into the Anglican Church, Fiona Scolding QC.

Lord Williams said that such a move would, in theory, free the Archbishop to take more of a leadership position in safeguarding for the whole Church, but admitted that the reform might never appear high on “any Archbishop’s list of priorities”.

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Posted in --Rowan Williams, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Teens / Youth, Theology, Violence

(Tablet) Rowan Williams Admits Failings Over C Of E Child Abuse

The Church of England was “naive and uncritical” when in came to abuses of power by clergy, former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams told the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse.

On day eight of a three-week hearing on the Anglican church as part of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), Lord Williams of Oystermouth said that a mindset in which the authority of an ordained minister was thought to be “beyond criticism” was a “definitely a problem” when it came to preventing abuse.

“So much of this turns on how we understand the exercise of power in the Church, in which we have often been in the past — myself included — naïve and uncritical,” he admitted. “It did take us an unconscionably long time for us to really focus on the need of the complainant and the proper care,” he told the inquiry.

He added that this “top down model of authority” leaves “little mental or spiritual space for a victim to speak out in the confidence that they will be heard”.

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Posted in --Rowan Williams, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Teens / Youth, Theology, Violence

Gafcon Chairman Archbishop Nicholas Okoh’s March 2018 letter

That is why it is so important that we, as disciples of Jesus, maintain the integrity and disciplines of the household of God. The Gafcon movement came into being nearly ten years ago because godly leaders recognised that the Anglican Communion was being divided by leaders who rejected the authority of the Bible, denied the uniqueness of Jesus and promoted patterns of life which defy Scripture and reject the pattern of creation.

These divisions are deepening and will not be healed by the techniques of the corporate world. They are spiritual problems which need spiritual solutions and the first step is repentance, which requires that the unchanging truth of God’s Word is clearly taught and acted upon. This is what we have sought to do in Gafcon and where there is no repentance, there must be realignment. This involves new jurisdictions coming into being where necessary, such as the Anglican Church of North America, and changing patterns of relationship, both within and beyond the Gafcon movement.

For example, I commend the recent decision of the Provincial Synod of South East Asia to both declare itself in broken fellowship with the Scottish Episcopal Church in the light of its adoption of same sex ‘marriage’ and to recognise the Anglican Church of North America as a full Anglican Province.

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Posted in Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, GAFCON, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture