Category : – Anglican: Commentary

Ian Paul–Putting the C of E at risk

The 2015 report (due out quite soon) will be much more specific about the particular operational issues, and lists

Failure to recruit sufficient new clergy and lay leaders
Failure of new initiatives to deliver church growth
Failure of safeguarding processes, and impact of national enquiries (such as the Goddard report)
Failure to gain support for the Renewal and Reform programme
Financial insolvency in a significant part of the church
IT capacity and security.
I wonder how that compares with your own list? I suspect most people would suggest that there is one very significant strategic risk for the church as a whole which isn’t covered by the above list of operational risks: the danger of schism over a major issue of belief or practice. Reading newspaper headlines, or attending to the internal workings of the Church, it would be hard not to notice that the debate on sexuality and its outcome is the ”˜major issue’ currently threatening the future of the C of E as we know it.

If that is the case, why would any diocesan bishop act in a way to exacerbate this risk? Yet in the last month, two appear to have done just that.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, - Anglican: Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Africa, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ecclesiology, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), South Africa, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Underground Pewster Ten Years On

…I committed myself to a continuing effort at discerning God’s will, and the message that I kept hearing was to first do my homework and study, study, study, and only after having agreed to do that should I join in public discourse on Church matters.

For the past ten years, I have studied the Bible alone and in groups. I have studied the heretics of the past and present, theology, and the world’s religions. Daily Bible study has become my morning cup of coffee.

Through Bible study, dissection of bad sermons, analysis of lectionary deletions, observation of and participation in the political processes in the Episcopal church, following religious news and speaking to religious leaders, as well as participation in on-line theology and Bible study, battling internet trolls, and getting kicked in the teeth a few times, I have come to a greater appreciation of the need for each and every one of us to do the homework for ourselves..

Read it all

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary

[Dr Peter Jensen] To go forward we must go back

..Christians are constantly assailed by non-Biblical thought. Today there is a very powerful temptation simply to capitulate and change our doctrine on key matters. Now you have to decide consciously, individually and as a church, that you will trust the written word of God and follow its teachings no matter what the world says. About this there can be no compromise. In public utterances church leaders must teach the Bible.

The tragedy is, that in some places the church has listened more closely to the culture around us than to the Bible. Instead of being different and holding out a better hope and a better way, sections of the church have become advocates for patterns of life which God rejects.

Sometimes the claim is even made that this represents the Spirit’s contemporary voice, as though the Spirit could contradict himself, or the Bible is not sufficient. We are listening to the human spirit rather than the Holy Spirit.

Or, we are told, the Bible is unclear in its teaching. We must therefore allow several interpretations to flourish even though they are absolutely contradictory to each other, and one has been the established interpretation for 2000 years..

Read it all

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary

A S Haley–TEC's Los Angeles Bishop Bruno Tries to Serve Two Masters

Under California law, a religious body or organization may create a unique form of corporation, called a corporation sole, whose principal purpose is to allow the parent organization (which may or may not itself be incorporated) to hold title to real property. A corporation sole is different from the usual variety of that entity: it has a single officer, director and shareholder, who are all one and the same person, called “the incumbent of the corp sole.” The governing body makes the rules for who can be the incumbent. Typically it is that body’s bishop or other spiritual leader.

Bishops may come and go, but corporations sole do not. Under law, their existence is perpetual — and that is why they are a good vehicle for maintaining ownership of real property. And like any religious organization, they are not-for-profit, and pay no income taxes.

So it comes as a bit of a surprise to learn that Bishop J. Jon Bruno of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles is at odds with his own Diocese over the disclosure of financial information concerning the corporation sole of which he is the incumbent. (In order to avoid a vote on an outside audit of his corp sole at the diocesan convention last December, Bishop Bruno promised to disclose its financial statements.)

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, - Anglican: Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Stewardship, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Parishes

(CEN) Peter Mullen–Getting to the roots of the Christian faith

“It’s not possible to preach the whole gospel from the New Testament alone, but it is possible to preach it from the Old Testament alone.”

When a friend of mine, a learned priest, said this the other day, it would be more than an understatement to say I was startled… the Christian faith is inexplicable and even nonsensical apart from its Old Testament background and so to sever the link between the movable Jewish Feast of Passover and the correspondingly movable Christian Easter does not only render the Old Testament redundant: it rips the heart and significance out of the Christian witness found in the New.

So there is more at stake here than the convenience of schoolteachers and the prosperity of the retail trade. The whole historical unity and coherence of the Christian faith as prophecy and the fulfilment of prophecy is at stake.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary

Ian Paul–Can the C of E 'Agree to Disagree' on Sexuality without Becoming Theologically Incoherent

I could quite imagine two adjacent dioceses within the Church of England permitting or prohibiting divorce, and recognizing or not recognizing the leadership of women. It wouldn’t be comfortable, but it would be possible. It is simply impossible, however, to imagine one diocese celebrating same-sex sexual unions as equivalent to other-sex marriage, and a neighbouring one holding that this is outside of Christian moral teaching, and therefore (among its clergy) a cause of discipline. These two different views are simply incompatible; two such dioceses could not co-exist in the same Church.

That is why the question for the Church is not about polity alone, but about the Church’s doctrine of marriage, and within that, its understanding of human sexuality. There is no middle ground to stand on.

Ritchie appears to share the view of Jayne Ozanne (former Director of Accepting Evangelicals, whom he cites) that change in the Church is “inevitable.” To that end, Ozanne cites survey evidence showing that popular opinion is changing, and changing fast. That is one way for the Church to decide its doctrine – on the basis of popular opinion.

Historically, though, the Church of England has pursued a patient engagement with Scripture in order to shape its theology….

Read it all from ABC australia.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, - Anglican: Commentary, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Primates, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, --Justin Welby, Anglican Primates, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Primates Gathering in Canterbury January 2016, Religion & Culture, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

Archbp Welby: The cost and the joy of unity-reflections on the 2016 Primates’ Gathering

Last week the Primates of the Anglican Communion gathered in Canterbury for a week of prayer and discussion. You might well have been following the events in the media. I want to share some thoughts of my own here about what took place last week ”“ which was without doubt one of the most extraordinary weeks I have ever experienced.

The first thing to say is that the week was completely rooted in prayer. The Community of St Anselm ”“ the international young Christian community based at Lambeth Palace ”“ took up residence in Canterbury Cathedral and prayed all day every day for the Primates as we talked together. As Primates we joined with all who gathered for Morning Prayer, Eucharist and Evensong in the Cathedral each day. And meanwhile thousands ”“ perhaps millions ”“ of Anglicans and others in the Christian family around the world prayed in churches and posted prayers on social media. I want to thank everyone who prayed last week. We felt it and we appreciated it deeply.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, - Anglican: Commentary, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Primates, --Justin Welby, Anglican Primates, Archbishop of Canterbury, Christology, Ecclesiology, Primates Gathering in Canterbury January 2016, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology

ACNA Leader Bill Atwood on the 2016 Primates Gathering

Last week in Canterbury, though many people were amazed that there were finally some consequences for the Episcopal Church, others were disappointed that the consequences were not more stringent. Certainly, after all the years of flouting Scripture, there is ample reason to be disgusted. Certainly, as more than a dozen Provinces recognized, there was ample reason to eject TEC from the Communion. Unable to win the day on the resolution for ejection, they moved to other expressions of discipline, focusing narrowly on last summer’s TEC General Convention decision to change the marriage canon and prayer book to embrace same-sex marriage. The focus turned to what was essentially described as a failure to consult and a decision to move outside institutional norms. There should not be, however, concern about institutional norms and practice. The greatest offense is that the Episcopal Church is engaging in activities that lead people away from Christ eternally. In other words, the Episcopal Church, rather than being the Ark of Salvation, is the instrument bringing spiritual destruction to people it is literally leading away from Christ and into Hell. Although they are more strident than some other Provinces, there are others doing the same thing. Soon, the focus of discipline needs to be on them as well. Canada is a great place to start the next round!

This Primates’ “Gathering” in Canterbury was the first one to gather a majority of the Primates in years. The reason is that since the Primates’ Meeting in Dar es Salaam in 2007, a deadline was put to the Episcopal Church to return to Anglican faith and practice or “walk apart.” Sadly, following the meeting, the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, unilaterally decided to overturn the hard-fought decision of the meeting and let the Episcopal Church completely off the hook. There is no way to describe gracefully what ABp Williams did. He simply unilaterally decided to declare that the deadline for conforming that had been given to TEC was “not a deadline.” Even worse, he invited errant TEC bishops to the 2008 Lambeth Bishops’ Conference, completely taking the teeth out of what the Primates had decided. From that point, it has not been possible to gather the majority of Primates because the Dar es Salaam decision had not been honored. Many Primates said that they would not attend until the Dar es Salaam decisions were implemented.
The new Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, was able to get Primates to come by insuring them that they would have control of the agenda. That is an assurance that several of the Primates I spoke with believe was honored at this gathering. The Archbishops wanted to discuss TEC, and they got to. Sadly, the resolution to completely eject TEC from the Anglican Communion failed, but almost half the Provinces were willing to give them the boot. Though the ejection resolution failed to pass, it was obvious though that the vast majority of Provinces wanted to see TEC disciplined. After lively discussions, the sanctions that were put in place were overwhelmingly approved. I understand that the numbers were 27 voting for sanctions, 3 against, and 6 abstaining. ABp Foley Beach of the Anglican Church in North America refused a ballot on the TEC vote, saying that although he had been completely included in the meeting and all the other votes that took place while he was present, he did not think it was appropriate to vote on TEC, because the ACNA’s status has not yet been formalized.

Now the question is: Were the sanctions enough? The answer is another question: Enough for what? From a spiritual standpoint, both the Anglican Church of Canada and The Episcopal Church (as well as several others) having pursued unbiblical activity without repentance deserve to be ejected from the Communion””at least until they repent and demonstrate suitable fruits of repentance. Is it enough that they have been denied voice and vote in some areas? I believe that it is extremely significant and sets the stage for more to happen with TEC and other Provinces.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary, --Justin Welby, --Rowan Williams, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Anglican Primates, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Primates Gathering in Canterbury January 2016, Primates Mtg Dar es Salaam, Feb 2007, Soteriology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Response to the 2016 Primates Gathering Communique from the TEC Bishop of Dallas

I have read the communiqué from their weeklong meeting, and I believe it is important to hear what they have to say in its entirety. First of all, the Primates have voted to exclude the Episcopal Church from the councils of international Anglicanism for a three-year period, during which time there will be continued conversation. This results from the fact that the Primates do not perceive the introduction of same-sex marriage in TEC as a legitimate development of the faith. At the same time, it is important to bear in mind that the goal of the meeting was to maintain the unity of the communion to the extent possible in light of strong differences.

The Primates have also made a number of other important points: they all share a desire to ”˜walk together’, as the Windsor Report put it. They have all decried homophobia and laws that discriminate against gay people. They have joined hands on other matters of concern to our world, such as political corruption and ecological degradation. On these matters we strongly applaud their commitments. At the same time, I think it is fair to say that the status of the ACNA was left aside. They were not recognized at this meeting, and their Archbishop wisely did not vote to discipline our church.

Someone called me today and asked ”˜Are we still part of the Anglican Communion?’ Constitutionally, we define this in Dallas as communion with the see of Canterbury, and by this measure the answer is an unequivocal ”˜Yes.’ However the decision of this past week is, while not surprising, saddening and disquieting. The wound in our communion is real.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Primates, --Justin Welby, Anglican Primates, Archbishop of Canterbury, Episcopal Church (TEC), Primates Gathering in Canterbury January 2016, TEC Bishops

Michael Sadgrove on the Open Letter to the Archbishops on Eve of the Primates Gathering

Thirdly, I’ve signed because the church must be a place of compassion and love. The Quakers (who have often been a long way ahead of the C of E in matters of justice, including their acceptance of homosexual people) are known as the Society of Friends. This is how St John sees the church gathered in the upper room, where disciples are set fee to love one another in a way that echoes God’s eternal love for them. Human pain and suffering have a particular claim on our compassion. And we shouldn’t make any mistake about the suffering and pain many gay people around the world experience. I include in this gay clergy and other ministers in the Church of England who, in an ecclesiastical culture perceived to be hostile, live in real fear of being found out. The Primates have a special responsibility to make sure that our churches are communities of hospitality and friendship that do not collude with hypocrisy. They, we all, have that calling because this is how God himself is always reaching out towards each of us. It’s a great deal harder to act hospitably than to uphold simple binaries that banish the non-approved from acceptance. This truly is ‘tough love’.

I hope that this letter will not come across as trouble-stirring or polemical. It’s meant to be firm but eirenic in tone. It would be great if it helped give the Primates confidence as they debate human sexuality, if it helped them to know that every step they take, however tentative, towards changing entrenched attitudes and welcoming gay Christians into their communities will be warmly and gratefully supported. The first step, maybe, is to recognise that just as with female ordination, there will be differences of view among the Primates and this needs to be respected. (I’m not sure that it altogether is, yet.) As Justin Welby has said, in grown-up communities there must always be room for ‘deep disagreement’.

But our letter is looking for much more than this. We’re looking for a deep change of hearts and minds. We use the word ‘repentance’. That’s undeniably a strong word, but nothing is less is called for in the face of any great wrong we have committed. I am pretty confident that in decades to come, we as churches shall be saying we are deeply sorry for the way we have mistreated and oppressed gay people in the past. So why not say it now? That would make the Anglican Communion a place of hope and sanctuary for LGBTI people across the world.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, - Anglican: Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, --Justin Welby, Anglican Primates, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Primates Gathering in Canterbury January 2016, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology

(AI) Gavin Ashenden looks at the choices faced at the Anglican primates Gathering

The teaching of the Holy Scriptures and the faithful traditions of the Church stand in the way of this new egalitarianism, and are widely attacked. Those refusing to subscribe to the emerging equalities agenda by adopting the LGBT value system, are increasingly ostracized and punished.

It began with Christian bakers who were targeted for refusing to bake cakes celebrating gay weddings. It developed into the sacking of people who held public office, ranging from the chief executives of Internet companies who had dared to support traditional marriage like Brendan Eich, to the sacked Harvard Urologist Dr Paul Church, who refused to endorse the new political correctness. Increasingly anyone holding public office does so as a hostage to the new uncompromising ideology.

The Church is having to decide whether or not accommodates itself to this new celebration of the gods of equality with the developing cultural fascism that is emerging to enforce it, or whether it remains faithful to Scripture and Christian experience (otherwise called, tradition.)

The Episcopal Church in the United States decided early on that it would accommodate.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, - Anglican: Commentary, --Justin Welby, Anglican Primates, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Islam, Other Faiths, Primates Gathering in Canterbury January 2016, Religion & Culture, Secularism, Theology

Archbp Cranmer on the Primates Gathering–Family it is..(not) the media caricature of Black vs White

The media caricature of episcopal Eloi and Morlocks suits this ”˜orthodox’ vs ”˜progressive’ spat: it’s either homophobes vs reformists, or traditionalists vs heretics. Theological nuance and ecclesial viae mediae get lost in the fray. If you’re looking for prayerful reflection and profound consultation on the Apostolic Faith, you won’t find it on the BBC or in the pages of the Guardian, Telegraph, Daily Mail or Independent.. because that is not the drama the media want the Primates’ Meeting to be, not least because it is no drama at all. Stories of good disagreement just don’t sell copy.

If a bishop or group of bishops do walk out of this Primates’ Meeting, they are doing nothing but walking out of a meeting. It doesn’t mean they are walking out of the Worldwide Anglican Communion or abandoning the Anglican Consultative Council, because it isn’t at all clear on what legal basis they may do so, not least because the Communion and Council have no structural-theological foundation and no one is under any obligation to do anything except consult. The Christian family are all those who are washed by the blood and share in the baptism of Christ. Walking out of a meeting neither un-washes nor de-baptises; we remain eternally Christian and provisionally Anglican, awaiting the consummation of Christ, the great reconciler. We are one family whatever the magnitude of rightness or wrongness of any doctrinal issue, regardless of whoever throws the biggest hissy fit or mounts the most militant media campaign.

It is tediously boring and disappointingly undramatic to say so, but the most likely outcome of the Primates’ Meeting 2016 will be that the differences which obtained at the outset will remain at the end. There will be no agreed statement and no authoritative declaration on marriage and sexuality, principally because Justin Welby did not convene this gathering to formulate such, but instead to work through the question of how the Anglican family might live together through profound disagreement. In reality, of course, the Communion has been impaired since the 1990s, but it is still the Communion and all provinces are in communion with it. Some consider themselves to be in full communion with each other; others in partial communion. In some cases, the bilateral bonds of communion are broken entirely, but they remain in communion with the Communion, despite that Communion being broken by uncommunicative communicants.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary, --Justin Welby, Anglican Primates, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Primates Gathering in Canterbury January 2016, Theology

Primates Gathering (12): Martyn Percy–Sexuality and the citizenship of Heaven

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary, --Justin Welby, Anglican Primates, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Primates Gathering in Canterbury January 2016, Theology

Primates Gathering (11): [Anglican Pastor] Why We Should Care about Canterbury

Here are 10 reasons why we should care about Canterbury and the Anglican Communion worldwide and the possibility for formal recognition.

Reform: It is consistent with our GAFCON vision to bring reform and renewal to the Anglican Communion. Our participation in the Anglican Communion will strengthen GAFCON’s identity as a legitimate movement for reform. But you can’t reform what you do not belong to.
Vision: It must be remembered that remaining apart from the Anglican Communion was never the endgame for our movement. We always envisioned that we would be part of the worldwide fellowship.
Mission: TEC cannot demand exclusive territorial rights to America. Overlapping boundaries are the future of any global church. Immigration patterns and globalization have changed the meaning of borders. TEC may want every worshipping member of the Anglican Communion to worship exclusively within a TEC church in a TEC Province, but try telling that to the thousands of Nigerians and immigrants from India that are attending ACNA churches in the US. They are members of the Anglican Communion worldwide and in their minds and hearts they are attending a legitimate Anglican Church.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary, --Justin Welby, Anglican Primates, Archbishop of Canterbury, Primates Gathering in Canterbury January 2016

Primates Gathering (10): Christopher Craig Brittain–Game Theory and the Anglican Communion

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary, --Justin Welby, Anglican Primates, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ethics / Moral Theology, Primates Gathering in Canterbury January 2016, Theology

Primates Gathering (9): Andrew Symes- ”˜good disagreement’ and a potential future'

What are the causes?
Again, the media likes to keep it simple ”“ this is a split over attitudes to homosexuality. Yes there are differences over sexual ethics, which can sometimes spill over into unwarranted accusations, for example that conservative Christians don’t like gay people. But underlying what we think about homosexual relationships can be seen very different understandings about the nature of the church and its relationship to society, what it means to be a human being, the meaning and authority of Scripture, and ultimately how we view salvation and God himself. And accusations of ”˜hating’ are either based on misunderstanding, or deliberate attempts to silence those with a different view. Serious disagreement with my neighbour’s ideas and actions is not incompatible with love and concern for him or her.
But inevitably history and ethnicity play a part in the tensions and divisions as well. Leaders from African and Asian countries have perceived the traditional ”˜corridors of power’ of global Anglicanism, based in London and funded from America, to be impenetrable, controlled by an Anglo-Saxon liberal elite, and patronizing in a way that has not quite shaken off the sense of imperial superiority. This is despite the outreach and reconciliation efforts of recent Archbishops not personally tainted by racist attitudes.

What are the potential outcomes?
An article on the GAFCON website calls for “action by the Archbishop of Canterbury and a majority of the Primates to ensure that participation in the Anglican Communion is governed by robust commitments to biblical teaching and morality.” Could this happen? Humanly speaking, it would be more likely if Archbishop Welby felt he had a clear mandate from the Church of England leadership to pursue a clear orthodox path, and reject revisionism ”“ which he does not. So the Canterbury meeting will see Primates with fundamental differences of opinion, hardening over the past decade, coming together in a format facilitated by David Porter, using techniques for encouraging listening and reconciliation….

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary, --Justin Welby, Anglican Primates, Archbishop of Canterbury, Primates Gathering in Canterbury January 2016

Primates Gathering (7)–Bowman Walton: High Stakes, Three Facts

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary, --Justin Welby, Anglican Primates, Archbishop of Canterbury, Partial Primates Meeting in Dublin 2011

Primates Meeting (5)–Matt Kennedy: What is at Stake

The Communion significance of Canterbury’s power of invitation is what makes Archbishop Welby’s invitation to Archbishop Beach, though not an invitation to the actual meeting itself, a potential game changer.

The GAFCON primates had previously determined not to attend any Communion meeting that included representatives of TEC and/or the ACC and that did not formally include leaders of the ACNA. But Archbishop Welby’s personal appeal to attend the January Primates Meeting and his willingness to invite Archbishop Beach prompted them to reconsider and, subsequently, agree to attend.

It may be that Archbishop Welby hopes to weaken the resolve of the GAFCON primates by acceding to one of their demands. Inviting the primate of the ACNA to attend a sub-meeting while also inviting TEC and the ACC primates to the full meeting may serve, he perhaps hopes, to ameliorate both parties. And should all parties remain throughout the meeting, even if there is no breakthrough, it will reinforce his much touted but false philosophy of “reconciliation” and “peace making”, his belief that parties holding two mutually exclusive versions of the Christian faith might recognize one another’s “Christian integrity” and remain institutionally bound together in one Communion.

But if this is his hope, the GAFCON primates seem to have a different perception. They believe this meeting must be definitive and decisive.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary, --Justin Welby, Anglican Primates, Archbishop of Canterbury, Partial Primates Meeting in Dublin 2011

Primates Gathering (3)-Vinay Samuel+Chris Sugden: Must Canterbury Fall?

The current power struggle is about redefining and recasting the faith of the historic Anglican Communion. Post-colonial Great Britain’s influence declined rapidly after second world war but it took longer for the dominant influence of Canterbury to wane. And it has now waned in the Anglican Communion. The Episcopal Church has tried to occupy that centre of influence in order to shape the communion according to its vision of the Christian faith, untethered from the authority of scripture. Canterbury under the previous leadership allowed TEC space and even support with its Communion Changing agenda. We expect the present incumbent to resist that agenda and pressure and to restore the role of Canterbury in leadership of the Communion. The battle is not primarily about a theological or ethical issue. It is really about resistance to a section of the western church who are redefining the faith of the Communion in order to be relevant in their context and acting like those who wish to erase and rewrite history; they are reinventing the faith that was protected and preserved historically so that it might be drawn on for the flourishing of the Church and its public witness.

Our call is to Canterbury to recognise that it still has a historic role and, rather than preside over endless confusion, to take a firm stand and move forward. The leadership of the Communion cannot deal with this challenge as a political issue in the way politicians might address it. We are a Church, the Body of Christ that is both part of history and also transcends history. The Church has sought to live out transcendent realities in history and offer to every historical context these realities as its public witness. It cannot allow culture to replace its historical witness. The leaders of the Church must act prophetically, not politically. They must uphold what has been tested in history as their public witness.

The temptation for the African, Asian and Latin American Churches will be to cut themselves adrift from what they sometimes read as an embarrassing past and a compromised present. There is the real possibility that the Communion could split between TEC and its dependencies (often financial) and allies, and the churches of the Global South unwilling to have what they see as TEC’s heresies thrust upon them. The result will be chaos, the end of the communion, and increasing independency among the churches. This temptation must be resisted. Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary, ACNA Inaugural Assembly June 2009, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Anglican Primates, Archbishop of Canterbury, Primates Gathering in Canterbury January 2016

(AI) The Poetry of Anglicanism–Peter Sanlon responds to Prof. Martyn Percy

Now poetry should be read slowly; meditated upon; dissected. Perhaps – good reader – we should together chew over what the Dean of Christ Church has said about the Archbishop? He has, in effect, charged Archbishop Welby as being incapable of transcending his background. He has ignored the widely-known stories of genuine suffering recounted in his biography (including an alcoholic father and child bereavement). He suggests that Archbishop Welby’s skills are ”˜arguably not the right fit for the church.’ He leaves hanging with his final phrase the possibility that the Archbishop is not equipped for ”˜any ordained ministry.’

Prof. Percy’s article throughout has a rather hectoring tone – directed in the main at the Archbishop of Canterbury. It is noticeable that the British media have refrained from such negative comment on Archbishop Welby’s personal background – finding his relational skill and leadership appealing. Thus Prof. Percy feels free to speak in negative and personal ways about the Archbishop. Regarding the polity of the Church of England more generally, he dismisses it as ”˜an inherently homophobic polity.’ None of this has the mark of empathic understanding essential to good poetry.

Might it be that Prof. Percy’s willingness to be so negative and insulting towards the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Polity of the Church of England, ill-equips him to discern that orthodox Anglicans have in recent years been deepening their respect and appreciation for traditional polity? Prof. Percy’s views are so rigidly held to that he seems to find it difficult to be charitable towards either Archbishop, Anglican polity or traditionalists.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, - Anglican: Commentary, --Justin Welby, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Education, England / UK, Religion & Culture, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology

(Guardian) Peter Ormerod–We need the C of E more than ever. That’s why we need it to die

It takes something special to unite Richard Dawkins, Giles Fraser, David Cameron and the archbishop of Canterbury in a common cause, but that’s what Britain’s three biggest cinema chains have accomplished. Their refusal to screen an advert for prayer has provoked scorn and damnation ”“ or, in more Anglican terms, “disappointment”.

Yet, strange as it sounds, I think the cinemas have done the Church of England a huge favour: they’ve given it the dose of reality it desperately needs. The C of E has no right to any special treatment. We still await constitutional disestablishment, but it’s clear that we are in the midst of a cultural disestablishment. The sooner the Anglican church grasps this, the better it will be for all of us.

Looking at hard numbers, the sociologist Linda Woodhead asserts that the big shift started in 1989. We have now reached the point where the majority of under-30s in the UK identity as having no religion. Woodward says that the C of E is “in freefall”. The question is whether it should bother opening the parachute.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, - Anglican: Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

A Ch of Ireland Gazette Editorial on the Anglican Church in North America

For background on this please see the 4 posts on ACNA and the C of I on October 12th listed there–KSH.

Over recent weeks, we have published letters on the subject of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) and the Church of Ireland’s relationship with that Church (Gazette, 2nd, 9th & 16th October; also this week, page 10). ACNA came into being as a denomination in 2009, in particular following disagreement over the theological direction of The Episcopal Church (TEC) in the United States. It is probably fair to say that both ACNA and TEC would describe each other as ”˜breakaway’, ACNA taking the view that TEC had departed from orthodox Anglican teaching, especially over human sexuality, and TEC taking the view that ACNA had separated itself. One could debate that particular question until the proverbial cows come home.

Last month, the Gazette asked the Church of Ireland for an indication as to whether or not it is in communion with ACNA. We published the response in our issue of 2nd October and do so again here for the sake of convenience: “As a Province of the Anglican Communion, the Church of Ireland is in communion with the other Churches or Provinces in the Communion. There has not been a definitive position taken by the Church of Ireland in respect of any Church that has emerged from structural changes or divisions in another Church or Province in the Communion ”“ as in the case of the Anglican Church in North America and The Episcopal Church. Following the Archbishop of Canterbury’s call for a gathering of Primates in January 2016, it seems likely that a period of discernment will ensue to determine the ways in which Churches within the Anglican Communion and other Churches in an Anglican tradition relate to one another and that this is likely to take considerable time.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Anglican Provinces, Church of Ireland, Ecclesiology, Theology

A S Haley-Analysis of the State of Play headed into the Meeting of Anglican Primates in January 2016

notice how similar the final outcomes of all of the last three scenarios are. The UK charity that represents the “Anglican Communion” as such will remain in place, because it is a perpetual corporation, and it is under the more-or-less permanent control of the minority revisionist provinces. The Archbishop of Canterbury is the legal head of that charity, and so will remain in formal relation with it, no matter what the majority of Anglican provinces decide to do. And since that majority will decline to play any part in an organization in which the revisionist minority are also members, they will also have to organize as a new entity, regardless of what the revisionists do (short of repenting, which will never happen).

I conclude from this analysis that the Anglican Communion is almost certainly headed for a formally divided future — one that reflects in fact the pro forma division which has been in existence ever since the Windsor Report and Dar-es-Salaam. Whether or not it remains a single but two-tiered entity, or becomes two entirely separate organizations (the old one, controlled by the minority, and a new one formed by the majority), will be up to the GAFCON / Global South Primates and how much they value an ongoing relationship with Canterbury. And that outcome will probably be determined by how well Archbishop Welby manages the first few hours of the meeting next January.

Either way, it looks like it is curtains for your Curmudgeon. Just as I am done with ECUSA, I will not have anything to do with an ongoing Anglican entity which allows ECUSA — in all its blasphemous ugliness — to be a member. And as I mentioned, if the minority retains the legal right to the control of the British charitable corporation, the new organization will probably not even call itself “Anglican.” I may not even bother to cover the demise, if it follows the most likely path sketched above. But stay tuned for a while longer, because the whole scenario is in God’s good hands.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary, --Justin Welby, Anglican Primates, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Global South Churches & Primates, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

Bill Atwood–Unicorns, skittle rainbows and the law of unintended consequences

There was a report that the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion office was offering “facilitators” for the January gathering of Primates. He may be planning that, but I would suggest that the facilitators get refundable tickets. There is absolutely no chance that the GAFCON and Global South Primates will stand for another meeting where they are “handled” and manipulated by “facilitators” who have a pre-cooked agenda. This upcoming meeting will either be utterly genuine in all the gritty reality that brings, or it will not happen at all. I think it is truly an important gathering and I pray that it will be effective.

When innovations are introduced, it is done with the expectation that there will be unicorns and skittle rainbows. When they are done thoughtlessly, the result can be catastrophic, as it has been with some Provinces who have discarded the historic Biblical teaching on sexuality. I’m sure that they think all will be well because they want it to be; that there will be rain showers of gumdrops and the pot at the end of the skittle rainbow will be found, but in truth, consequences that they did not anticipate or intend are actually driving the train. Superficial solutions never work more than superficially. This is a time in which we need to actually deal with the departures from Biblical faith, with issues of Christology that are being erroneously embraced, and a disastrous sexual ethic that is not bearing godly fruit.

Here is the bottom line. If the January gathering of Primates does not fully address the real issues, the Communion will not survive””nor should it.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary, --Justin Welby, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Primates, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Global South Churches & Primates, Pastoral Theology, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

Andrew Goddard on the Primates Meeting–From Communion to”¦..Federation ?

It is also far from clear that such a shift would either get much support (outside some of the liberal Northern primates) or offer a practical solution. Not just GAFCON but many primates from the wider Global South remain of the view that the solution to the continuing crisis (based around a Primates’ Council and Pastoral Scheme for traditionalists in North America) was put forward at the Dar Primates Meeting in 2007 but never implemented, in large part leading to GAFCON forming. The Archbishop has refused to accept their view that this must be the starting point of any new gathering ”“ that meeting will be nearly a decade old once the Primates meet, much has happened, and very few current Primates attended that meeting despite it being one which had a very high number of newly installed Primates. Justin Welby has rightly insisted, following extensive visits and conversations, that the meeting must find its own way forward face-to-face. But in talking of respecting the decisions of previous Primates’ meetings he has shown he is aware how many Primates still think that the proposal put forward there continues to provide a model for how best to proceed.

The sad reality is that support for something like the Dar approach has increased following the decisions earlier this year by General Convention (and to a lesser degree the Scottish Episcopal Church). These demonstrated that some provinces are now seeking to repeat the pattern of taking provincial action which disregards the mind of the Communion but in relation to the even more important question of Christian teaching on marriage. Some Global South provinces who were becoming more amenable to moving on from the painful history since 2003 and starting afresh (particularly with a new Presiding Bishop) are now clear that the fundamental problem of TEC unilateralism remains a serious one. That is one reason they have sought and secured a place for Archbishop Foley of ACNA during the meeting.

The way forward after January is unlikely to be simply a reversion to an earlier attempted solution, whether the Dar Primates’ model or the Anglican Communion Covenant in its present form. It is, however, even less likely to be an agreement from the Primates that they need to embrace a “federation” model of global Anglicanism.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary, --Justin Welby, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Primates, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Primates Mtg Dar es Salaam, Feb 2007, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Get Religion) The Atlantic goes halfway in reporting on Anglican primates meeting

Including Welby, there are 38 primates. With Foley Beach, that makes 39. Foley’s inclusion among the world’s primates, which is something conservatives have been wanting for years, is an admission by Lambeth Palace that the Episcopal Church cannot claim to represent all Anglicans within U.S. borders.

Also, the archbishop’s press release adds that Beach will be invited for “part of the time.”

What does that mean? The Atlantic could have inquired about that and about the obvious point that Welby had to have conferred in private with some of the conservative primates before issuing this call and that Foley’s inclusion in this gathering was the non-negotiable they insisted upon if they were going to show up. The Episcopal sites were commenting on this as were the Anglican ones, so The Atlantic should have picked up on these points, which were easy to find with a few mouse clicks.

The Atlantic did note that the only female primate, Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, will not be at this January meeting because her successor, Bishop Michael Curry, will have been installed. What should have been added is how her absence clears the way for those of the primates who still oppose the ordination of female bishops to attend. Now they will not have to abstain from Communion with someone they regard as having singlehandedly created a scorched-earth policy toward departing conservatives plus contributed to a 12 percent drop in church membership during her tenure. One wonders if Welby timed his gathering with that in mind.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary, --Justin Welby, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Anglican Primates, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Global South Churches & Primates, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(The Tablet) Mgr Mark Langham–Too early to call time on the Anglican Communion

The current Archbishop seems to have decided that a new approach is called for. There is a mood of crisis. He has postponed indefinitely the Lambeth Conference due to be held in 2018, and last December stated that the worldwide Anglican Communion possibly “will not hold together”.

But we should beware seeing him as wringing his hands in desperation; he is far from saying that it is all up for Anglicanism. Archbishop Welby’s experience in conflict resolution calls for a more hands-on approach: speaking directly to disaffected parties rather than proposing abstract solutions. He has set himself the task of meeting every Anglican Primate personally, and his call to the Anglican Primates to meet in Lambeth next year should be seen in this context.
It is indeed difficult to imagine a solution to the present crisis, when, for example, Nigerian bishops declare themselves to be out of communion with their American brethren. To our Catholic ears, the language used by the Archbishop’s staff of “moving into separate bedrooms” sounds an effective end of communion, a formalising of a rift ”“ and for Roman Catholics, such an arrangement would indeed signal a serious breach of communion.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, - Anglican: Commentary, --Justin Welby, Anglican Primates, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Other Churches, Pastoral Theology, Roman Catholic, Theology

(Peter Mullen) The meaning of TEC

On the basis of the well-known fact that those who ignore history are condemned to repeat it, we should ask first what has been going on in the English church in the last half century which has ”“ shall we say ”“ coincided with its collapse. Let me mention a few of what seem to me to be the most significant features.

The last fifty years have seen the rise of theological reductionism. Bluntly, this means that ancient doctrines, always previously proclaimed as true and the foundational beliefs of the church have been, in the jargon, demythologised. So Jesus was not born of a virgin and he didn’t rise from the dead. His miracles were really “acted parables” ”“ that is more jargon for the claim that they didn’t actually happen.

Concurrent with theological reductionism has run a fifty years programme of liturgical “reform” which has seen the discarding of The King James Bible and The Book of Common Prayer. This means that there is no longer observance of the rule that all the realm shall have one use. In fact, these changes mean that you have no idea what you’re going to find in a church service until the service begins. It’s a sort of churchy babel in which no two churches do the same thing and many priests and ministers seem to do as they like.

In addition to these changes, the bishops, the clergy and the synod have endorsed the secular mores of the age.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, - Anglican: Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Episcopal Church (TEC), Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology

AU 191 – St James Newport Beach and TEC Same-sex Marriage Resolutions


With thanks to George Conger and Allan Haley at Anglican TV

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary

A.S. Haley–TEC Bishops Bless Blasphemy at General Convention

One hundred and twenty-nine of the bishops in the Episcopal Church (USA) House of Bishops voted yesterday to embrace blasphemy as a “trial rite” for same-sex marriages in the Church. The blasphemy begins in the rite at the point where the celebrant says to the congregation (see p. 98 of these materials; my bold emphasis added):

Dearly beloved: We have come together in the presence of God to witness and bless the joining together of N. and N. in Holy Matrimony. The joining of two people in a life of mutual fidelity signifies to us the mystery of the union between Christ and his Church, and so it is worthy of being honored among all people.

As I wrote in an earlier post, critiquing the rite when it was first proposed, the bold language evinces a category mistake of the worst sort, by equating the union of two people of the same gender to the holy union between Christ and His Church. (How can they be equated? In the former, which of the two men — or two women — signifies Christ, and which the Church?)

The bishops approved three other rites for trial use, as well, but they are just as blasphemous in invoking the blessing of the triune God on the union/marriage of a same-sex pair.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, - Anglican: Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, General Convention, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, TEC Bishops, Theology, Theology: Scripture