Read it all.
I would like to ask KJS and now Mssrs Jones and Touche-Porter what evidence that they have that the TEC or any other mainline denomination can survive the transition to â€œfull inclusionâ€, their buzzwords for same sex blessings and homosexual clergy. There is plenty of evidence to the contrary. If Africa is â€œ50 years behind usâ€ then Europe is 10-20 years ahead of us. Christianity is for all intents and purposes dead in Europe except for those pockets who have not bought into â€œfull inclusionâ€.
If one takes away scripture or open up to such fast and loose, shopping cart exegesis and abandons 3000 years of tradition (aside from some obscure tenets that KJS thinks bolsters her border crossing position), then does that not leave the religion to all heresy?
Again, does she think the TEC can survive â€œfull inclusionâ€? An important question to ask before launching into this experiment.
The Primus of the SEC has always favoured these kinds of initiatives. The big churches in Scotland are all evangelical (e.g., St Silas Glasgow, St Paul and St George, Edinburgh). They slowed things down a bit when the House of Bishops preemtorily stated their policy on SSB last year, but this move by +Jones only indicates the general mood of the Bishops and much of the clergy. It is a tiny church. I think some estimates have about 15,000 in church on Sunday morning in the entire country. The new bishop of Aberdeen is moderately evangelical, but it is hard to see what impact that will make.
It is unclear how this kind of an attitude can co-exist with concern for Windsor, Dar, and the Primates Meeting. At the general synod of the SEC last week, people were debating the convenant, even as it was just stated as a consensus view and assumed for those attending Lambeth, as the invitations stand.
Less clear is whether there is some kind of organised effort to create a new federal structure of like-minded revisionists (Mexico, TEC autonomy Bishops, SEC, et al). This seems frequently to be mooted — as in the name change from ECUSA to TEC.
It is indeed a tiny church (see my posting about Anglicanism in Argyll). But the cathedral in Edinburgh is flourishing, as are the churches in St Andrews, none evangelical? But you will know better than I.
If Dr Seitz happens to be on line, I wonder if he would reflect and comment on his recent remarks at Christ Church, Greenville, SC at which he said in reference to the “disunity” created by the US church (paraphrasing from memory) “the bishops of the Scottish church would never speak with other than a united voice. Issues are always settled in private council before any public statement is made”.
Seems that there are an increasing number of folks out there who are taking a public stance which contrasts the position of the “global south”.
It also seems that Dr Seitz is engaged in the same sort of “counting bodies” (“it’s a tiny church”) that is criticized when the Presiding Bishop does it (“only a tiny fraction are leaving”).
I remember speaking at some length with Eric Mascall before the 1978 Lambeth Conference. He entertained the hope that the Anglican Communion would split over WO sooner or latter, and I well remember him saying that he hoped that the more “orthodox” and “Catholic” product of that split would include the Scottish Episcopal Church and the Union of Utrecht European old Catholic Churches.
Eheu, fugaces! But not it appears that Mascall might not have gotten the matter so much wrong, as backwards. If the AC should split over SS, it looks as though the Scottish Episcopal Church might well find itself in a revisionist camp including TEC and those same Union of Utrecht Old Catholic Churches that, after a late and awkward start in which they initially expressed principled opposition to WO, have now not only accepted it, but outstripped even the Anglicans in their acceptance of SS. Some account of this entertaining Old Catholic “sideshow” to Anglican affairs can be read here
From the Inclusive Church site: This area of the web site is for people who care about the church’s future and want to see it thrive within a modern context.
I don’t know why, after 30+ years of rapid decline in the mainlines, someone can still claim that liberalizing/modernizing the church is the way to sustain the church’s future. I know it makes interesting theory (e.g. Spong’s “Why Christianity Must Change or Die”), but the evidence, including the decline of Spong’s diocese, suggests otherwise. Continuing to claim that the progressive Christianity leads to a flourishing church is like Coke continuing to market New Coke.
Equally significant, re. Doug Martin’s post, is the “reaffirmer” habit of dismissing provinces with whose theology and/or politics they disagree as “small” or “tiny”. I have recently seen these adjectives applied to the Scottish church (Dr. Seitz) and to TEC itself (assorted posters). Archbishop Venables of the Southern Cone was recently described by the Daily Telegraph as a “senior Anglican primate”. Inquiry into the size of the Southern Cone led eventually to an estimate that there are perhaps 20,000 members in the whole of that vast province. This is supposed to be about religion and theology, not real estate. Anyone can play the numbers game – how about we drop it?
Incidentally, the Sun, a Nigerian tabloid, has published the following piece on the forthcoming election of the National President of the Church Association of Nigeria:
Statistics have been bandied about here many times, and the consensus is that they are only meaningful in context, and tend to loss significance as the scale of consideration moves toward the local. In other words, the “numbers game” probably isn’t too helpful, although, it is to be remembered that both side play it and shouldn’t.
It is not, however, meaningless to talk about growth and decline. How has the Scottish Episcopal Church fared over the past 20 or 30 years? The Southern Cone? TEC?
Well, we know about decline in TEC. It’s something over 30% in 30 years. The current rate of membership loss is about 1.5% a year. For one year (at least – that’s the one I saw) average Sunday attendance decreased more than the membership decrease. That is highly significant! Moreover, it’s unclear that the dioceses are accurately reporting the losses due to parishes withdrawing from the denomination. This is the “numbers game” that matters, and it is the game being hysterically ignored (to coin a phrase) by the leadership and reappraiser core of TEC.
I agree with 7. strangerabbit’s request to drop the numbers game. “The Faith once delivered” isn’t something open to democratic process, so adding up the votes doesn’t matter. And “growth and decline” is also a non-starter. Look at the growth of the mormons and osteen’s church. With regard to tec’s current situation, it seems that there are (thank You, Lord) a few faithful bishops; I remember something about “Athanasios contra mundum.”
Dear Doug–I certainly did not mean to be provocative. Coming from the US, with pretty specific control of the history of the Scottish church, I was personally surprised to see how small it was. There is nothing wrong with that, I suppose. It just meant a big adjustment. I believe the churches in Ireland and Wales are not quite so diminished.
And as for speaking together in the SEC HOB. I’d just be guessing, but being a ‘patron’ is open to all manner of finessing. Probably +Idris did not think it was a particularly big deal, or represented a ‘common statement’ from the HOB. I’m not saying he is wrong or right. Maybe I am not understanding your query.
It is odd how open to misunderstanding this medium can be.
Bob Gillies is the rector of the moderate church in St Andrews; he is going to Aberdeen as Bishop. It is nothing of the size of P’s and G’s. It does attract a lot of american students from various backgrounds, usually non-anglican. Our students in the PG department are from Fuller, Regent, RTS, WTS, Gordon-Conwell, TESM/TSM and with the exception of the latter, find anglicanism/liturgical worship something they enjoy during their time. Also, the Baptist church went through a lot of difficulties, and as you will know, it is usually the Baptist church which attracts visiting americans.
I know nothing about the cathedral in Edinburgh. I know it is hard to get a seat at P’s and G’s, even during their present big renovation.
I do actually know about the cathedral in Edinburgh. They do very well – and they’re not evangelical. Although I freely admit evangelicals often do well, there are other criteria, including (obviously) within certain contexts snobbery, beauty of liturgy, local competition, decent preaching, local ‘mores’, dynamic leadership, etc. etc.
I was not intending to be “smart” with the “tiny church” observation, Dr. Seitz. There’s a regular poster over at Thinking Anglicans who tends to pick up on an argument or line of thought and then, like a dog with a bone, worry it to death by fitting it to any number of topics. One of his recent “passepartout” responses involved the smallness of TEC.
“This is supposed to be about religion and theology, not real estate. Anyone can play the numbers game – how about we drop it?” The TEC seems very concerned about real estate. I know my question of crass expediency, but if a mainline denomination becomes “fully inclusive” and then folds, is the gospel well served by that? Numbers do count. And by the way, Kirk Hadaway puts the drop in ASA as about 3% per year for the past two years if one adjusts for the Chrismas effect of 2005. Thus, the bleeding is accelerating.
But my question was more than marketing strategies. If one abandons foundations, one opens the church up to every heresy, then how can the church survive. Bp Spong can pretty much say what he wants without fear of consequence. Full inclusion translates into loss of all cohesion.