[ACI] The New Episcopal Church: What Hath General Convention 2015 Wrought?

The time ahead

All this points to a time ahead of stress and uncertainty for Anglicanism in the United States. ACI believes that the following elements, however, must be recognized and acted upon if this time ahead is to prove fruitful rather than simply destructive.

First, we must acknowledge that TEC as a national body is no longer recognizably “Anglican” in an Anglican-Communion sense. A broad range of commonly defining features of Anglican Communion churches ”“ e.g. the Lambeth Quadrilateral, which makes Scripture the “rule and ultimate standard of faith”; the definition of Anglicanism specified in TEC’s own constitution and in 1930 Lambeth Conference Resolution 49 (i.e., “upholding and propagating the historic Faith and Order as set forth in the Book of Common Prayer”); other Lambeth resolutions including 1998 I.10; the Windsor Report and its moratoria that were subsequently adopted by all the Instruments of Communion; the framework of an Anglican Communion “Common Law” (as N. Doe and others have identified it), etc. ”” no longer exists in TEC.

Second, dioceses, bishops, priests, and laity who are currently members of TEC, but who do”‹ continue to hold their identity within the common Anglican elements noted above, need to set about, corporately and in a coordinated way, to work with the larger Anglican Communion for a way forward. That kind of work has, in the past, been subverted by a range of local and larger factors, including personal ones. Something different has to happen at this point, and both the American and Communion leadership concerned with this must work with a new consultative forthrightness and clarity.

Third, we believe that American Communion-minded Anglicans must formally call on Canterbury, and the Primates to respond to the need expressed above expeditiously and constructively. Past reticence, foot-dragging, deference to local politics, and simple failures to follow through are no longer viable ways forward.

Fourth, we urge friends and ecumenical partners to play a consultative, constructive and creative role in this process.

Insofar as TEC has claimed it has a life in the Anglican Communion it cares about, just to that degree it is necessary for the Anglican Communion to clarify what that might be, in the light of General Convention actions and the new self-understanding in NEC. General Convention has acted and declared its mind. What will the response of the Anglican Communion be?

Read it all, carefully


Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Polity & Canons

14 comments on “[ACI] The New Episcopal Church: What Hath General Convention 2015 Wrought?

  1. Undergroundpewster says:

    As members of the Communion have less and less in common with each other, guess what the result will be. Either a NAC (New Anglican Communion) or a dying Anglican Conglomeration of churches that are not truly in communion with each other. An Anglican Reconciliation seems unlikely.

  2. David Keller says:

    Underground–There is clearly a vibrant Anglican Communion, it just isn’t headquartered in Anglia/England anymore. I never really realized how insidious TEC was until I heard the story of a Rwandan bishop being told by TEC representatives to “tow the line” or be cut off financially, to which he replied “So; you actually think you can threaten me with poverty.” Things have worked out just fine for Rwanda and we in PEARUSA are working on a project to make them permanently self-funded. That said, in thinking about a cleric who has stayed in TEC all this time and will now leave because of gay marriage, I am reminded of a story told to me a few years ago by an orthodox Anglo Catholic priest: Two priests are standing in the back of the church and the rector comes to the pulpit and announces that General Convention has mandated human sacrifices and a baby will be sacrificed on the altar. One priest turns to the other and says “One more thing and I’m outta here.”

  3. Capt. Father Warren says:

    There is one thing, and one thing only, holding the vestige of TEC together; the credible threat of devastating lawsuits funded with dead people’s money they still have on hand.

    Plus, the money which parishes & then dioceses supply to the national church to finance the threat.

    Bishops who bleat about biblical authority, worship in the faith once delivered to the saints BUT still send money to the national church are talking out of both sides of their mouths.

  4. Luke says:

    When we first tangled with this mindset at our old, ECUSA, parish, our initial step, personally and for the parish, was to stop sending any $$ to the Diocese.

    This inflamed bishop Sauls to the point of wild accusations and reckless actions; it all culminated in St. Luke’s Anglican Church…see: stlukesmaysville.org

  5. David Keller says:

    #4–In Upper SC Christ Church withheld roughly $40K in 2004-5 which was NOT supposed to go to TEC. The 2006 Diocesan budget put the CC $40K into the budget of the Diocesan Camp and Conference Center. One little problem–they cut the Diocesan contribution to the budget of Camp Gravatt by $40K and sent that $40K to TEC. How creative.

  6. Luke says:

    5. Oh, yes, there’s no lack of creativity…Bottom line, though, was that DioUSC still didn’t get the $40M. And, as you tell it, it was a DioUSC decision to deprive the Camp of funding, no matter how they might rationalize it.

  7. pendennis88 says:

    The problem is that, essentially, there is no way to give to a TEC parish and not wind up supporting the national organization eventually, because money is fungible. And that makes it difficult to reconcile good stewardship with giving to a TEC parish. When I was still in TEC, I finally concluded that I needed to give my money to other places so they could not play these games with it.

  8. The Rev. Father Brian Vander Wel says:

    7. … unless that parish does not give to the diocesan or national organization at all. Some still have that luxury.

  9. New Reformation Advocate says:

    Back to #1, and the prospects for global Anglicanism. I partially agree with UP and partially disagree. Just as I partially agree with the noble ACI gang, and partially disagree.

    Let me introduce a new theme into the thread by making one of my typical claims that I’ve often made here at T19. I assert that we must stop confusing Anglicanism as a distinctive BCP-based system of doctrine, discipline, and worship with the “Anglican Communion.” The two are no longer even close to synonymous. The sooner we all learn to distinguish between the two the better off we’ll all be.

    Or as I often put it on this blog, and here I fundamentally agree with pewster, the Anglican Communion as we have known it heretofore is defunct and doomed. It is “a house divided against itself” and it can’t and won’t survive. However, Anglicanism, as an ism, i.e., classic prayerbook religion, is alive and well and thriving, and not just in the Global South. I firmly believe that the best days for Anglicanism are still to come, whereas there is no future for the Anglican Communion, as such.

    It would be helpful if the GAFCON/GFCA primates and other GFCA anbd GS reps stopped talking about their loyalty to “the Anglican Communion” and started talking about their loyalty to upholding classical Anglicanism instead.

    The learned ACI scholars are right, although I would, as usual, go much further than they would. TEC is no longer recognizably Anglican, in any meaningful sense whatsoever. And soon most of the Global North provinces will reach a similar sad state of degeneration that leave them effectively un-Anglican too. More importantly, they have ceased to be authentically Christian at all. The self-deceived leaders who now run the NEC (New Episcopal Church) have fallen for a new heresy that would’ve made Arius or Pelgius shake their heads in dismay and horror for its brazenness.

    Personally, I would suggest that the bright guys at ACI give up the futile task of trying to salvage either the Episcopal Church or “the Anglican Communion” and to devote their remarkable talents to the real challenge we face. That immense challenge is nothing less than the complete redesign and overhaul of Anglicanism, again as an ism, as a distinctive Protestant-Catholic hybrid that is prayerbook-shaped and founded upon the four key points of the Lambeth Quadrilateral. Neither the Episcopal Church nor the Anglican Communion can be saved. Both are hopelessly doomed. But the future of biblical, orthodox, classical prayerbook religion is brighter than ever. Or so I ardently hope and believe.

    Here are two teasers to stimulate further discussion. They are only two of the many strategic issues that will have to be solved if global Anglicanism is not only to survive but thrive in the Third Millennium as it should.

    1. How can we recover the essential truth that the English Reformers took for granted, i.e., that fidelity to Holy Scripture and classical (patristic) orthodoxy is a higher value than toleration? How can we write such a basic principle into the constitution of the New Anglicanism (which is really the authentic continuation of the old historic Anglicanism), when there are vast multitudes of Anglicans (and not just liberal ones either) who have been misled by the Broad church dominance of Anglicanism since the Act of Toleration in 1689 into thinking that the very essence of the Anglican Tradition is its tolerant, non-dogmatic, or even anti-dogmatic spirit? I don’t know the answer to that question of mine. I’m only insisting that we must somehow find a way to reassert the FACT that for Christians, unlike the secular world, faithfulness is a higher value or virtue than tolerance.

    2. Since in the end the ultimate issue is always the authority issue, that means that we simply must create a way (since there currently is no such way) to determine officially what faithfulness to Scripture and Tradition means in the vital, disputed cases where the truth of the gospel itself is at stake. As I’ve said for years now at T19, I suggest that this likely means that we must create, for the first time in Anglican history, a real international, inter-provincial Anglican judiciary that can definitively settle all such disputes in a final way that is binding on all provinces globally.

    If the predictable objection is that the Global North provinces would never agree to such an arrangement if they balked even at the pathetically weak Covenant arrangement that Rowan Williams and the Windsor Commission proposed, my own retort would be simple. Who cares?? Who cares if millions of liberal Anglicans are booted off the Anglican Island thereby, in a way reminiscent of the Great Ejection of the Puritan dissenters in 1662?

    I freely admit that I don’t one bit. I say, Good riddance, you bums!! Come back when you have repented of your heinous heresies and immoralities.

    There is no room for any negotiated truces. The only way that global Anglicanism can be reunited is through the unconditional surrender of the apostate liberals.

    But what army will force that surrender?

    David Handy+

  10. Luke says:

    The Army of Christian Soldiers? Through prayer?

  11. RobSturdy says:

    Reading this piece made me feel like Doc Brown had put me in a DeLorean and shot me back in time 10-15 years.

  12. Undergroundpewster says:

    David Handy+,

    Every time I suggest something like an Anglican Magisterium, innumerable objections are raised. I would like to see the idea developed but to build into it a means of correcting the Magisterium itself should it become corrupted.

  13. Dr. William Tighe says:

    “I would like to see the idea developed but to build into it a means of correcting the Magisterium itself should it become corrupted.”

    A nice recapitulation of Reformation differences between Catholics and Protestants in one sentence.

  14. New Reformation Advocate says:

    #12, UP

    Thanks for responding. I agree that in the unlikely event that we Anglicans finally get over our phobia about a central magisterium and create one for global Anglicanism, it is essential that there be some sort of check on its power. There are various possibilities that are worth exploring, but I also agree with you that so far there is little opennness to serious considderation of the matter.

    I’ll limit myself to a couple brief suggestions. As I’ve done for years here at T19, I again would propose that the place to start is by creating an inter-provincial judiciary that can authoritatively declare the actions of rogue provincial synods or bishops/dioceses null and void because they are deemed “unconstitutional”/unbiblical.

    Creating such a global Anglican Supreme Court would not only help to fill the gaping vacuum at the center of global Anglican polity, it would do so in a way that is least likely to produce some new ecclesial tyranny. First, because this new magisterium would be a collective authority (however many judges would sit on that high bench) rather than vesting such immense authority in just one man (like the pope). Secondly, the whole idea behind creating such an Anglican judiciary would be to create a new system of checks and balances at the international level. If the Anglican high court could provide a necessary check on the currently unlimited power of provincial synods, it is theoretically possible that the legislative branch (synods) could somehow impeach rogue judges and remove them from the Supreme Court by some sort of super majority vote.

    The details would have to be negotiated carefully and ironed out in the equivalent of a Constitutional Convention for global Anglicanism, similar to the way the structures of the ACNA were slowly worked out, only it would doubtless prove an even longer and more unwieldy process. But it could be done.

    Otherwise, we face the grim situation chaos and anarchy that is described in the last verse of the biblical book of Judges. That is, “[i]Because there was no king in Israel, every man[/i] (read, every bishop or province) [i]did what was right in his own eyes[/i]” (Judges 21:25). Of course, as you know, pewster, lots of Anglicans would say that such a situation of unlimited freedom sounds pretty good to them.

    All I can say by way or retort is that I utterly abhor ecclesiastical anarchy, and that’s precisely what we now have in Anglicanism. Not just chaos (which is bad enough), but sheer anarchy.

    Or as I’ve often said here at T19, personally, I don’t fear Roman “tyranny” half as much as I’ve come to dread and abhor Protestant anarchy. But there’s got to be a better way than either of those deplorable options.

    Of course, this presumes the dis-establishment of the CoE, which is also a highly controversial matter.

    David Handy+