ENS: Northern Michigan diocese, bishop-elect will 'respect' consent process

The Rev. Canon Charles Robertson, canon to the Presiding Bishop, told ENS that the consent process for a bishop-elect lasts the full 120 days as prescribed by the canons of the church, unless that person receives the required majority of consents before the period is over, at which time an announcement can be made. Until the required number of consents is received, or the 120 day period ends, bishops and standing committees are able to change their vote, he said….

Thew Forrester told ENS that his theology is “steeped in the orthodox tradition and deeply rooted particularly in the desert wisdom of Christianity and in the fathers and mothers of the early church as well as the medieval mystics” and is “thoroughly grounded in the tradition.” He added that the diocese’s experiments with liturgies are a “recovery of some of our earliest Christian roots” while upholding the tradition of the Book of Common Prayer and “recognizing that it is a dynamic and evolving tradition, which is why it continues to thrive.”

“We uphold the prayer book and continue to explore, and we’ve done so — and I’ve done so — as openly and responsibly as possible out of love for the tradition and out of commitment to the tradition and wanting to be in dialogue with the tradition and wanting to engage in dialogue with the 21st century,” he said.

Thew Forrester acknowledged that people may hear “echoes of other traditions whether it be Buddhism or another faith tradition, but those are only echoes,” but he said that the source has been the traditions of the early Christian church.

I note there is no mention of the only diocese (of which I am aware) which spoke directly to the Northern Michigan situation at a Diocesan Convention, South Carolina. In any event, read it all–KSH.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Northern Michigan

22 comments on “ENS: Northern Michigan diocese, bishop-elect will 'respect' consent process

  1. dwstroudmd+ says:

    Particularly that favorite time-period of the early church for liturgical reformers, the one with no documents! They can imagine all their little hearts desires and construct them any which way they like because there is no evidence to either prove them correct or disprove them. It’s Alice-in-Wonderland and it’s academically “respectable” even though it should be submitted to the same deconstruction as that alleged for the periods for which we do have records. But never waste a good void, as they say.

  2. Ad Orientem says:

    [blockquote] Thew Forrester told ENS that his theology is “steeped in the orthodox tradition and deeply rooted particularly in the desert wisdom of Christianity and in the fathers and mothers of the early church as well as the medieval mystics” and is “thoroughly grounded in the tradition.” [/blockquote]

    This man is not only a heretic, he is delusional. His opinions are so far removed from the Fathers that he might as well be living on another planet. He has explicitly or implicitly denied most of the Nicene Creed! And while I won’t presume to speak for my Roman brothers and sisters I find it breathtaking he would claim kinship with the medieval saints of their church. I think it more likely they would objected in every way to his theology in the strongest possible terms. There really is only one response to this sort of nonsense.



    Partially edited-ed.

  3. Todd Marchand says:

    Apropos of nothing, but does this guy ever wear clericals? I’ve not seen a photo of him in anything but street clothes.

  4. Calvin says:

    ALERT about Reappraiser Apologetics:

    Today alone we’ve seen TWO instances where there is a shift in their apologetic strategy. Instead of arguing that whatever clutch of ideas and practices they want to foist on the church are consonant with Anglican thought and practice historically, they are arguing that the tradition itself is “dynamic.” In making such an argument they effectively quarantine any appeal to historic thought and practice – basically all those things that have in fact shaped the tradition dynamically. Do you see the possibility here? By arguing that the tradition is dynamic I can affirm any development as consistent because it is in fact a development. What is clearly lacking in this strategy (and we should all recognize and call them on) is the question whether the development is a legitimate development of an aberration.

    No one should argue that we’re just trying to live in the 1660s, but rather that we wish to be consistent with the living tradition of the 1660s. That is most certainly not what TEC and ACoC is doing! BUT watch them argue that simply because the tradition is alive, therefore all developments are legitimate.

    Watch and see if we don’t see the word “dynamic” a lot in future weeks — and, as in the article about New Westminster, a reflexive strategy which includes painting reasserters as pushers of a “static” understanding of Anglicanism.

  5. Ad Orientem says:

    Re #4
    This sounds suspiciously like the Roman concept of “Doctrinal Development” employed to explain all of their innovations over the last 1200 years or so.

  6. Kendall Harmon says:

    It is very interesting to reread the original thread on the diocese of South carolina resolution back in March in the light of subsequent developments.

  7. Crypto Papist says:

    #5 there clearly [i]is[/i] development of doctrine that is legitimate [url=http://www.newmanreader.org/works/development/index.html](as Newman rightly shows us)[/url] but that is quite different from the sort of evolution that reappraisers propose.

  8. Ratramnus says:

    [Comment deleted by Elf]

  9. Ratramnus says:

    My comment was humor, of which there seems to be little here. Be fair and delete #3, too, so no one else will be tempted to make a lighthearted comment.

  10. Calvin says:


    That is in fact my point — there are legitimate developments and then there are aberrations. It’s been some time since I read it, but I might consider here Jaroslav Pelikan’s _The Vindication of Tradition_. Regarding this line of thought, though, the one thing we can’t argue is that simply because a tradition is alive (let’s recall that traditio in this context means handing down from generation to generation) therefore all developments are fine.

    I’d like to remind my fellow reasserters that, when we see such abuse of the reality that we’re part of a living tradition, the proper response is not to sink into antiquarianism or romantic visions of the past. There is legitimate change and then there is illegitimate change. Let’s be discerning here and not go running back to say old liturgies that have a devil of a time bringing people into a healthy relationship with Christ. Just remember that at one time the use of “thees” and “thous” in worship was colloquial and pretty new-fangled while Latin was the old fashioned.

  11. Choir Stall says:

    Bottom Line:

    Thew Forrester should be a mystic or an academic. His forest within forests of ideas, experiments, nuances, etc. are confusing to the laity and very hard to teach. “If they can’t reach it, then don’t teach it.”

  12. Ad Orientem says:

    Like most Orthodox, I am not a big fan of Newman. His construction of D-D leaves holes big enough to drive a truck through. Once you start “developing” doctrine then legitimacy becomes highly subjective. And of course I look at the historical development of doctrine in the west and I see too many inconsistencies with the consensus patri. But I note that I am straying from the topic of the thread…

    In ICXC

  13. Crypto Papist says:

    #11 development of doctrine is only subjective absent an infallible Church. But both Catholic and Orthodox clearly avoid that.

  14. libraryjim says:

    Calvin & others,

    just a reminder that when considering changes in terms of ‘developments’ there is much truth in the old saying:

    In essentials, unity
    In non-essentials, liberty
    In all things, charity

    We must be careful in noting ‘developments’ that these do not change the essentials of the faith. These ARE untouchable and unchanging. “Thee” and “Thou” were not part of the essentials (in spite of my father-in-law’s protests), and so can go the way of ‘developments’.

    In His Peace
    Jim Elliott <><

  15. New Reformation Advocate says:

    Crypto Papist,

    I’m totally in agreement with you. Thanks for providing the helpful link to Newman’s classic essay. I think any fair and objective analysis would be forced to conclude that Forrester’s thinly veiled Gnosticism fails ALL SEVEN of Newman’s tests for distinguishing authentic doctrinal developments that enhance the living Tradition of the Church from those corruptions that inherently undermine and destroy it.


    Back in March I was adhering to a self-imposed abstention from blogging during Lent, so this gives me a belated chance for thanking you for proposing that resolution you refer to that was duly adopted by the Diocese of SC on March 13th. You rightly called attention to Forrester’s blatantly heretical sermon on the Trinity as Exhibit A as to why he couldn’t be trusted to guard the apostolic faith entrusted to the Church. With Trinity Sunday falling this weekend, this was an especially appropriate time to remind us of that resolution, of which you and the diocese can be rightly proud. You nailed it.

    But having sided with Crypto Papist against Ad Orientem, let me here offer an olive branch to the latter. I think he’s quite right that Forrester’s outrageous claim to be faithful to the living, evolving tradition of the early fathers is not only wrong, but “delusional” at best, as AO pointed out in #2.

    That’s actually the most charitable interpretation of his turning the fathers, as well as Newman, on their heads. For of course, the other possibility is that he’s simply being duplicitous and downright mendacious. In Christian love, I’d prefer to suppose the former rather than the latter. Hopefully, he’s just been lying to himself for so long that he’s come to believe his own propaganda rather than deliberately being deceptive.

    In any case, Ad Orientem is quite right that the proper response to such bltant teaching of heresy is to declare the man “anathema” and shun him. Let me spell it out more fully.

    Kevin Genpo Thew Forrester is a bltant heretic of the worst sort. And as such he is not only unfit to be a bishop and successor of the apostles, he’s totally unfit to be a priest. Or even a layman in good standing. He ought to be summarily deposed and excommunicated.

    And I mean that quite literally. And the same goes for his colleagues in ministry who may express themselves more cautiously but are equally heretical in the end. Starting with the deposition and excommunication of the Presiding Bishop.

    And I mean that quite literally too. of course, that’s simply not going to happen in TEC these days.

    And that’s one of the reasons why this week I requested that my bishop, Bill Love of Albany, issue me a Letter Dimissory and transfer me out of TEC and into the new ACNA. I will be joining the new Diocese of the Holy Spirit, led by +John Guernsey.

    I’ve had it with TEC. I’m leaving at last and won’t be looking back. But I’ll keep praying for those faithful, orthodox Anglicans who are remaining behind in TEC and fighting the good fight and bearing faithful witness to the authentic gospel. The gospel that KGTF+ and ++KJS implicitly deny and falsify.

    David Handy+

  16. New Reformation Advocate says:

    A clarification of my #14.

    I don’t believe in an infallible Church or pope, hence my decision to transfer to the ACNA rather than to swim the Tiber. That’s contra Crypto Papist’s #12. So perhaps I should have said that I sided with “Calvin” (#4 and 10) as well as Crypto Papist.

    And since I made the same glaring typo twice, let me correct it here. I meant, of course, that Forrester is a [b] blatant [/b] heretic of the worst sort. A sort that can’t and shouldn’t be tolerated.

    David Handy+

  17. Calvin says:

    Hi David,

    I wanted to remark on the fact that you put my actual name in quotation marks — my name is in fact Calvin and not an homage to the reformer whose works I do read on a regular basis.

    Congratulations on your move to Bishop Guernsey’s oversight. I had the great privilege of hearing him speak just last week and am quite impressed with his mission-minded attitude. There are quite a lot of bishops in the new province and I am convinced that you’ve got the one who is least concerned about the spot-light, the honorifics, and the purple shirt and the most concerned about making disciples of Jesus Christ.

  18. Sarah1 says:

    RE: “. . . development of doctrine is only subjective absent an infallible Church. But both Catholic and Orthodox clearly avoid that.”

    Well . . . they certainly claim to avoid it anyway.

  19. New Reformation Advocate says:

    Calvin (#16),

    Thanks for the clarification about your name, and for the encouragement regarding my choice to affiliate with +John Guernsey’s diocese. He is indeed the finest bishop I know, and there are some truly excellent ones in the ACNA. I considered other options, but while I also deeply admire outstanding leaders and apostolic men like +Bob Duncan the Lion-Hearted and +Bill Atwood, the fact is that I live in Virginia and have known +Guernsey by far the longest and the best. Plus, I’m a supporter of WO and my home church in Richmond is affiliated with Uganda, so it really made my choice a no-brainer.

    I’m sorry if I caused any offense by putting your name in hashmarks. I merely wanted to make it clear I wasn’t making reference to John Calvin, which was probably unnecessary anyway.

    Since I obviously sometimes write with more passion than precision and thus my posts are marred with all too many typo’s, perhaps you won’t mind if I point out an important one in your #4. At the end of your longest paragraph you rightly point out,

    “What is clearly lacking in this strategy…is the question whether the development is a legitimate development of (sic) an aberration.” I’m sure you meant OR an aberration.

    And you thus zeroed in on the heart of the problem. The [i] homo-ousion [/i] (of ONE or identical being with the Father) in the Nicene Creed is a classic example of doctrinal development. And we’ll be celebrating the truth of it tomorrow on Trinity Sunday.

    The question, ever since Newman’s epochal essay came out in 1845, isn’t, “Do doctrine develop and evolve over time?” Of course, they do. That’s undeniable (though some fine Chrisitans still haven’t caught on and faced the implications of that historical reality yet). Forrester and company are attacking a straw man, and then claiming victory when they knock it down.

    No, the real question is exactly the one you put your finger on, Calvin. Are proposed doctrinal changes legitimate developments that enhance and clarify our understanding of the theological truths spoken of, or are they “aberrations” or corruptions (to use Newman’s term)? In other words, are they justified or not? That is the question.

    But that all important question probably involves two other key questions that lie hidden within the process of answering it.

    A. What are the criteria for sorting out legit developments from illegitimate ones? Some people, mostly Protestants and especially Calvinists, Baptists, and other free church sorts, would simply “The Bible is the criterion.” Others, more catholic types (including myself), would tend to point to the classic answer of Vincent of Lerins in the 5th century, “What has been believed everywhere, always, and by all” is the criterion. That is a good rough, rule of thumb, but it still begs the question of who determines what actually has been believed universally and at all times when so much doctrinal development has in fact occurred over the centuries.

    B. So in the end, it probably comes down to the questions of authority, as our Roman Catholic friends never cease to insist. That is, in the end, the million dollar question on which all hangs is probably the question, [b] “And who gets to decide?” [/b]. Rome, of course, insists that it’s the successor of Peter. Many of us (myself included), would instead say, it’s the world’s bishops, as successors of the college of apostles, who decide it as a whole. Though that, of course, in turn begs the question of who counts as a successor of the apostles. And finally, some would say, with reasonable justification, I think, that it’s the whole Body of Christ that ultimately decides. It’s the [i] consensus fidelium [/i] that finally matters.

    And on this eve of Trinity Sunday, the history of the struggle with Arianism in the 4th century would suggest that this last answer is indeed the best one. For during that tumultuous century, with Arian emperors frequently intervening and deposing orthodox bishops like the great Athanasius only for their actions to be reversed by orthodox emperors who reinstated those orthodox bishops (and back and forth it went for some 59 years or so, Athanasius himself being exiled no less than four times), it was, as Newman himself stressed, the orthodox laity who saved the day and preserved the true faith.

    I suspect it will be the same with Anglicanism in our own day.

    David Handy+

  20. New Reformation Advocate says:

    Oops. Well, there I go again with some glaring typos’ of my own. In that last, long post, what I wanted to say was that the question is NOT “Do doctines (plural) develop and evolve?” (Of course they do).

    And the battle with Arianism went on about fifty years or so, in a sense from AD 325 and the First Ecumenical Council at Nicea until it was officially concluded at AD 381 by the Second Ecumenical Council at Constantinople, which finalized the Nicene Creed. Though actually the battle continued even after that for a couple centuries more, due to the various Gothic tribes adopting a form of Arianism. The presence of two great cathedrals in Ravenna in NE Italy, one Catholic/Orthodox and one Arian, is a striking illustration of that historical fact. And Ad Orientem would probably remind us that in the West, the filioque clause was added long after AD 381.

    It was the same, incomparably great John Henry Newman who wrote his influential and justly renowned essay on doctrinal development that later wrote another important one, On Consulting the Faithful in Matters of Doctrine. In the end, the real test of whether a doctrinal development is legitimate or not is, for all practical purposes, decided by whether or not the whole body of the faithful accepts it as such. But of course, that assumes that the whole Body of Christ would never accept something that’s contrary to the teaching of God’s Word, as revealed in Holy Scripture, which remians the fundamental criterion or plumb line.

    David Handy+

  21. Creighton+ says:

    I suspect that I am not alone when I am stunned by this gentleman’s arrogance and unwillingness to see that he stands not in the ancient traditions of the catholic church but is re-inventing them. Sad. It would appear he has convinced himself that he is faithful and orthodox. This is extremely common in TEC but must be renounced by those who understand what the Christian Faith and orthodoxy truly is.

    In any case, kudos to Kendall and the Diocese of SC for making it clear that what the central problem is and making it clearly. May they continue faithfully to make their stand clear and unequivocal leaving no doubt where the problem lies.

  22. Karen B. says:

    It’s quite astonishing to see an ENS article which links Stand Firm and David Virtue! Also, I was glad to see links to actual primary source material – i.e. Forrester’s modified baptismal liturgy. Good reporting from ENS on that score.

    There are also several helpful facts in this article which clarify a few things:

    1) It looks like we now have firm dates for the end of the consent process:

    [blockquote]Under the canons of the Episcopal Church (III.11.4 (a)) that apply for all episcopal elections, a majority of bishops exercising jurisdiction and diocesan standing committees must consent to Thew Forrester’s ordination as bishop within 120 days from the day after notice of his election was sent to them. In Thew Forrester’s case, standing committees have until July 19 and bishops with jurisdiction have until July 25.[/blockquote]

    The article also notes that Forrester plans to wait out the full 120 day process.

    The same article also gives clarification on the required majorities:

    [blockquote]Fifty-six diocesan standing committees and 52 bishops with jurisdiction must give their consents for Thew Forrester to be ordained. The lesser number of bishops is due to the fact that some diocesan sees are vacant or currently filled by assisting bishops who are not eligible to vote.[/blockquote]

    It is interesting that they cite 52 bishops needed. I’d thought the count was only 50 or at most 51 bishops needed. By my count there are 9 vacant Sees (Alaska, Eastern Oregon, Eau Clair, Navajoland, Northern Michigan, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh, and Rio Grande).

    So with 9 vacant sees, to get to a total of 102 or 103 bishops with a vote, it seems to suggest that 815 is counting +Gulick as two votes, and also counting the convocation of churches in Europe (+KJS would have that vote) which is not technically a diocese.

    On one hand, I’m happy to have a higher bar (larger needed majority) for Forrester’s consent even though it looks like he has already lost. But I worry about how fast and loose TEC is playing with counting bishops with Jurisdiction…