Category : Ecclesiology

The new Christian movement seeking to open the Canon after 2,000 years

A body of believers representing a growing Christian “remnant” movement, the Doctrine of Christ Conference announced today that a vote to canonize new scripture will be held at its upcoming conference on September 2-3, 2017. The culmination of tens of thousands of hours of ongoing volunteer effort to assemble an “open” canon of Christian scripture, both ancient and modern, this effort represents a bold move to embrace the expansive truth-seeking roots of original Christianity.

The hosts of the conference are part of an emerging group of believers who have exited various organized Christian structures in favor of a new tide of open religious thought and worship that is highly individual, involving no paid clergy and no formal leadership. Consisting of fellowships, as taught and practiced at the time of Jesus Christ, the faithful in this new school of thought believe that God is capable of revealing His Word to anyone who earnestly seeks it, and when truth is discovered, it should be added to the canon of inspired writings.

Chris Hamill, spokesperson for the scriptures project said, “The last known major canonization was in 1672 by the Eastern Orthodox Church, so nothing like this has been seen in orthodox or Protestant Christianity in nearly 350 years. Not even the Mormon Church, or any of its offshoots, ever formally canonized (or accepted by common consent of the membership) all of their scriptures–including the Book of Mormon. This is a very important historical development.”

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Ecclesiology, Theology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology), Theology: Scripture

(CEN) Prominent C of E evangelical group warns of possible split over same-sex Relations

A division of the Church of England would be required’ if the Church declares that ‘permanent, faithful same-sex relationships are a legitimate form of Christian discipleship’, warns the ‘realistic’ Church of England Evangelical Council (CEEC).

A letter from CEEC President, the Rt Rev Julian Henderson, its Chair, the Rev Hugh Palmer, Treasurer, the Rev George Curry and Secretary, Stephen Hofmeyr, warns that there are three options available for the Church of England, but that only one of them will ensure that evangelicals represented by the CEEC won’t leave.

They say that while they were encouraged that the House of Bishops sexuality report contained no proposal to change the Church of England’s doctrinal position on marriage, there have been ‘disappointing developments’. They pointed to the fact that ‘a small majority of the House of Clergy refused to “take note” of the report and so, although the majority of General Synod members wished to do so, it was not taken note of by Synod’.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Pastoral Theology, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

More William Reed Huntington-‘Catholicity is what we are reaching after’

Dissatisfaction is the one word that best expresses the state of mind in which Christendom finds itself today. There is a wide-spread misgiving that we are on the eve of momentous changes. Unrest is everywhere. We hear about Roman Councils, and Anglican Conferences, and Evangelical Alliances, about the question of the Temporal Power, the dissolution of Church and State, and many other such like things. They all have one meaning. The party of the Papacy and the party of the Reformation, the party of orthodoxy and the party of liberalism, are all alike agitated by the consciousness that a spirit of change is in the air.
No wonder that many imagine themselves listening to the rumbling of the chariot- wheels of the Son of Man. He Himself predicted that ” perplexity” should be one of the signs of His coining, and it is certain that the threads of the social order have seldom been more seriously entangled than they now are.

A calmer and perhaps truer inference is that we are about entering upon a new reach of Church history, and that the dissatisfaction and perplexity are only transient. There is always a tumult of waves at the meeting of the waters; but when the streams have mingled, the flow is smooth and still again. The plash and gurgle that we hear may mean something like this.

At all events the time is opportune for a discussion of the Church-Idea ; for it is with this, hidden under a hundred disguises, that the world’s thoughts are busy. Men have become possessed with an unwonted longing for unity, and yet they are aware that they do not grapple successfully with the practical problem. Somehow they are grown persuaded that union is God’s work, and separation devil’s work ; but the persuasion only breeds the greater discontent. That is what lies at the root of our unquietness. There is a felt want and a felt inability to meet the want; and where these two things coexist there must be heat of friction.

Catholicity is what we are reaching after….

–William Reed Huntington The Church Idea (1870)

Posted in Church History, Ecclesiology

(GAFCON) Archbp Peter Jensen: Reflections on Truth, Division and Fellowship

At the heart of the divisions which have beset the Anglican Communion since 2002 is a profound disagreement over sexual ethics, in particular whether same sex unions can be blessed by God in the light of the teaching of the Bible. The teaching of GAFCON is that the Bible is clear on three vital points.

First, that sexual intimacy outside of heterosexual marriage is forbidden by God and not in the best interests of humans.

Second, that persistent behaviour of this sort puts those who engage in it outside the kingdom of God and therefore at risk of losing salvation.

Third, acceptance of this behaviour in the church means that the full gospel cannot be preached, since the full gospel requires repentance from sexual sin.

But there is more to it than that. The Bible tells us that in a society in which the truth about God is supressed, the consequence is godless sexual licence. This is a sign of an unhealthy community in deep trouble.

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Commentary, Anthropology, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Global South Churches & Primates, Pastoral Theology, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Archbp Cranmer Blog) Adrian Hilton–Theresa May did not instruct the CofE to allow same-sex marriage

INTERVIEWER

Is that the next stage though? Because – and there are many gay Christians. There are many gay clergymen who would like to be able to do this but at the moment aren’t able to. Would you like to see the law evolve on that?

PRIME MINISTER

I mean, this is – this has to be a matter for the – for the Church. I mean, it is important that the Church is able – and the Church – the Church of England has itself come a distance in terms of looking at these issues.  And obviously they will want to reflect as attitudes more generally change, as society changes.

Do you see a ‘should’, a ‘must’ or an ‘ought’ in there regarding the future of gay marriage or blessing? “This has to be a matter for the Church,” the Prime Minister said. Could she have been any clearer? Has her position on this not been utterly consistent? “I strongly support equal marriage, and I know that these debates will continue, but it will have to be for the church as a whole to decide if it wants to make a change to its canon law,” she said only a few months ago. The church as a whole: Theresa May has absolutely no intention of forcing the Church of England to perform gay marriage (or blessing), and absolutely no desire to lecture it in the way it should go.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Theology

Archbishop Nicholas Okoh–The Gafcon Chairman’s July 2017 letter

Chicago was therefore a foretaste of what we can expect in Jerusalem as we gather in June 2018 on the tenth anniversary of the founding of this great movement and the publication of the Jerusalem Statement and Declaration. Our theme is ‘Proclaiming Christ Faithfully to the Nations’ and invitations will be going out this month. We look forward with great eagerness to another wonderful gathering as we come together in true communion under the Word of God and in the power of the Spirit of God.

As a global family we do not want any to be excluded through lack of resources. We are looking to fund some bursaries for those in real need and I urge those of us who are materially blessed, whether as provinces, dioceses, parishes or individuals, to be generous so that our fellowship will not be hindered.

Gafcon began in 2008 as what my predeccesor, Archbishop Peter Akinola, described as a ‘rescue mission’ for the Anglican Communion. That rescue was not limited to North America. There is still much to do because history is repeating itself in other parts of the world, as the recent capitulation of the Scottish Episcopal Church to secular ideas about marriage has demonstrated.

False teaching is restless and relentless, and the Church of England itself is in grave spiritual danger. It is much to be regretted that there has been far more concern about alleged ‘boundary crossing’ than about the contempt of God’s Word that made a missionary bishop necessary. In fact, the Bishop of Edinburgh, who has strongly supported the Scottish Episcopal Church’s adoption of same sex ‘marriage’ was invited as a guest of honour to the Church of England’s July General Synod meeting.

Read it all.

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

(Church Times) Beware C of E free-for-all, new Anglican Missionary bishop recently consecrated at the ACNA Assembly to Europe, Andy Lines, warns

After the announcement of Bishop Lines’s preferment, the Archbishop of Canterbury spoke against “cross-border interventions and ordinations”. Canon Lines argued that ACNA was not a member of the Anglican Communion “and there­fore it cannot by definition be crossing borders. . . Bishops have always sought to meet needs where other bishops have been heterodox, and that overrides our structures: the gospel need.”

It was the Scottish Episcopal Church that had broken com­mu­nion, he argued. While he did not foresee a change in doctrine in the C of E soon, he was con­cerned about changes in practice: “What is being allowed is kind of a free-for-all.”

A message from two C of E bishops — the Bishop of Blackburn, the Rt Revd Julian Henderson, and the Suffragan Bishop of Birkenhead, the Rt Revd Keith Sinclair — was read aloud at the consecration: “We pray for you today, especially for Canon Andy Lines, consecrated as a Bishop in the Church of God. It has been good to meet and pray with Andy over recent years and to know his heart for the gospel and the wit­ness of the Church. Please pray for us in the Church of England for faith­fulness and fruitfulness in these days.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Scottish Episcopal Church, Theology

(Church Times) Archbishops criticised for inviting proposer of Scottish same-sex marriage motion to General Synod this Weekend

A group of the General Synod’s laity and clergy have been placed in an “invidious” position, they say, by the “entirely wrong” invitation to the Bishop of Edinburgh, the Rt Revd John Armes, to the Synod’s York meeting this weekend. They argue that it looks like an endorsement of the Scottish Episcopal Church’s change to its canons to allow same-sex marriage in church.

Bishop Armes, who was invited by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, was the proposer of the motion to amend the Scottish Episcopal Church’s Canon 31, on the solemnisation of holy matrimony, which was carried by the Scottish Synod last month (News, 8 June).

In a letter in this Friday’s Church Times, Susie Leafe (Truro) and 14 other members of the Houses of Laity and Clergy write that they are having to consider whether to “follow our consciences and withdraw”.

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Scottish Episcopal Church, Theology

Australian Primate Philip Freier Writes his province abt the Participation of 2 of his Bishops in the Consecration of Canon Andy Lines

You will have received correspondence from Archbishop Glenn Davies and Bishop Richard Condie advising of their intention to participate in the consecration of a bishop for Europe in the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), a church that is not a member of the Anglican Communion and is not in communion with the Anglican Church of Australia. That ordination will by now have taken place. Each of our colleagues, according to their conscience, declares their intended participation to be an act of solidarity ‘with those who will act to protect the gospel of Christ’ or ‘who contend for the faith once for all delivered to the saints’ – an issue as to the Fundamental Declarations and Ruling Principles of our National Constitution (ss 1- 6).

As you will have seen from that correspondence, I advised both bishops against this course of action. I take the view that communion – koinonia, is a gift of our Lord to his Church and that in our context it is the Anglican Church of Australia, through its constitution and the framework it establishes, that determines how this is expressed in practical terms. As s5 of our National Constitution provides:

Subject to the Fundamental Declarations and the provisions of this chapter [Chapter 2] this Church has plenary authority and power to make canons, ordinances and rules for the order and good government of the Church, and to administer the affairs thereof. Such authority and power may be exercised by the several synods and tribunals in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution.

For reasons explained below, I do not think that it is for us individually, acting independently, to determine with whom we are in communion or to act unilaterally to that end.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Australia, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Scottish Episcopal Church

Gafcon Chairman Archbp Nicholas Okoh’s June 2017 letter

I am reminded of Athanasius because we are facing a similar struggle for the integrity of the gospel in our time. On Thursday 8th June, the Scottish Episcopal Church (SEC) changed its teaching to allow men to be married to men and women to women. It followed the path already taken by the Episcopal Church of the United States (TEC) and the Anglican Church of Canada.

This attempt to redefine marriage is not a secondary issue about which we can agree to disagree and continue to walk together. It means that Jesus was mistaken when he taught that marriage was between a man and a woman and that sex outside of such a marriage is a sin. It is a radical rejection of the authority of Scripture. The Church claims that it can consecrate behaviour that God’s Word clearly teaches to be sinful. According to the Bible, this behaviour, without repentance, separates those who practice it from his kingdom.

Athanasius consecrated orthodox bishops in dioceses led by Arians because he knew that the apostolic faith itself was at stake. This was the principle guiding the interventions which led to the formation of the Anglican Church in North America in 2009 and it was affirmed by over three hundred bishops in assembly at Gafcon 2013 in Nairobi. It was therefore very appropriate that on the same day that the Scottish Episcopal Church formally turned aside from the historic Christian faith, Gafcon announced that Canon Andy Lines, already an internationally recognised missionary statesman, will be consecrated later this month as a Gafcon missionary bishop for Europe.

This is not a step we have taken lightly, but from the beginning Gafcon has been committed to standing with the marginalised. Requests for help from Scottish orthodox leaders to the Archbishop of Canterbury were turned down. Indeed, the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church told his General Synod last year that the Archbishop of Canterbury, had assured him that he would welcome the Scottish Church to the 2020 Lambeth Conference even if it chose to change its marriage canon to include same sex unions.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, GAFCON, Pastoral Theology, Same-sex blessings, Scottish Episcopal Church, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology

(TLC) Ephraim Radner–The missio Dei of communion: Anglicanism, change, and synodality

My question here is: How well this common vision of the Anglican Communion matches God’s actual identity as I spoke of it before — the “it is finished” identity of Jesus Christ by which God orders the history of creation? On the one hand, much of this divine identity is implied by the theological introduction of the Covenant: the great vision of creation’s Christ-embraced end, in Eph. 1:10; the providential shaping of time; the sense that there is a temporal history that marks the very character of the “wider church” and her particular “families” of identities, and so on. Much is helpfully implied in all this. But what the Covenant clearly failed to do was to take these brief pointers and flesh them out in way that could properly describe the divine movement implied in all this and demonstrate its ecclesiological form, as it were. When it came to the debated Section 4 of the Covenant — revised several times more than any other part — the question of how in fact to deal with one another in the Communion became an explosive topic: drawn-out procedures of requests, committees, recommendations all seemed laborious; a reluctance to give anybody “power” to make any final decisions — primates, joint committees, and so on — made the process even more intricate and undefinitive. It wasn’t that none of this could work; it has seemed, rather, that the purpose of Section 4 was only vaguely coherent in the preceding vision. “Too juridical,” as some argued, as if mission had given rise to committees, and not the other way around. But, for lack of a Covenant, committees have been all that we were left with.

In brief, the Covenant’s over-scheme could not integrate communion and change together in a concrete fashion. What are we to do with our declining Christian and specifically Anglican churches in the West and their eviscerating Christian cultural contexts? What are we to do with clamoring expansion of African and Asian churches — including Anglican ones — that stand in deep tension with the deracinated cultures of the West? How to disengage political corruption from ecclesial affairs, or reengage societies whose political form has left the gospel behind? These are all very real elements of historical change that the Covenant’s vision of communion, rich though it was, failed to engage concretely. (No one else, by the way, has done so either.) That failure was embodied in the great debate over the final section of the Covenant dealing with common life and decision-making. And that debate, although it has abated somewhat in public terms, is still with us, and has stymied in some ways the practical adoption of the profound theological vision of the Covenant that deserved to be assimilated into our common life.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Identity, Ecclesiology

An Important Reread–Oliver O’Donovan: The Wreck of Catholic Identity: Marriage Canon Revision in the Scottish Episcopal Church

Attracted as it may have been towards such a path, the Committee never entertained it as a possibility, and the reason for this was simply the rigid and incongruous way the arguments had been marshalled into two opposing camps. So the sum of the “reasoning” that it had to offer to the Scottish Synod is this:- It’s an all-or-nothing decision. You can take an initiative to care for the needs of gay couples, or you can keep faith with the doctrines of the universal church, but you cannot do both. But is the alternative really so exclusive? There is every reason to doubt it. It appears so to the Committee simply because they have suppressed the logic of other possibilities. They wanted a deductive logic, which would start from premises in Scripture and Tradition and yield conclusions that would meet the perceived pastoral need. In their attempt to get it, they maimed Scripture and Tradition to the point where they could supply no premises at all; having failed to get it, they effectively denied the possibility of any chain of reason that could bind practical innovation to Scripture and Tradition. But the logic of practical reason is always inductive, not deductive. And they never looked for a reasoning of that kind.

There will be questions, some of which will presumably be aired at the Synod, whether this or that initiative will attract the censure or support of the Anglican Communion, and how greatly that matters. But the question our review raises is a prior question, on which the minds of Scottish Anglicans, as of Anglicans worldwide, ought to be focussed before any thought is given to a concrete decision and its consequences: how to conceive and discuss new pastoral initiatives in faithfulness to the catholic Christian identity the church professes. If an Anglican church is convinced of the need to provide new support for same-sex couples, can it find a way of imagining that innovation that will not result in a shipwreck of its identity? If it cannot, it hardly matters what others will think of what it does or does not make up its mind to do, for it has given up the attempt to be true to itself.

Read it all (emphasis mine).

Posted in Anthropology, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Scottish Episcopal Church, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Christian Today) Rival ‘missionary bishop’ to be announced by GAFCON if Scottish Episcopal Church embraces false theology of marriage

Synod members are expected to pass that motion that removes the understanding of marriage as ‘a physical, spiritual and mystical union of one man and one woman’.

The teaching will read: ‘In the light of the fact that there are differing understandings of the nature of marriage in this Church, no cleric of this Church shall be obliged to conduct any marriage against their conscience.’

Rev David McArthy, a traditionalist priest in the SEC and part of the conservative Scottish Anglican Network, told Christian Today there was an ‘immense sadness from many people in Scotland’ about the upcoming decision.

‘It is not simply a group of evangelical churches who have concerns about this but a fairly wide group,’ he said.

‘I pray that the leadership realise what they are about to do will have serious consequences for the church.’

Read it all.

Posted in --Scotland, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Global South Churches & Primates, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Scottish Episcopal Church, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Vatican Radio) Anglicans, Catholics in Erfurt: ‘Walking together on the way’

‘Walking together on the way’ is the title of a new document to be published by the the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, whose members met this month in Erfurt, Germany. Despite some “difficult conversations” and “hard questions” over the past year, the Anglican and Catholic theologians who make up ARCIC III managed, at the May 14th to 20th meeting, to conclude the first part of their mandate, finding agreement on ways in which the two Churches are structured at local, regional and universal levels.

The new statement opens the way for the Commission to tackle the second part of its mandate on how the Churches, at local and universal level, are able “to discern right ethical teaching”.

But what does the new ecumenical text contain? And how will it affect ordinary Catholics and Anglicans in the pews?

To find answers to those questions, Philippa Hitchen spoke to the Catholic co-secretary of ARCIC III, Fr Anthony Currer of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity….

Read and listen to it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, Ecumenical Relations, Roman Catholic

(ACNS) Anglicans and Roman Catholics agree statement on ecclesiology

Anglicans and Roman Catholics should see in each other “a community in which the Holy Spirit is alive and active,” the latest communiqué from the official ecumenical dialogue between the Anglican Communion and the Roman Catholic Church says.

Members of the third-phase of the Anglican – Roman Catholic International Commission (Arcic) met in the central German city of Erfurt early this month for their seventh meeting. They chose to meet in the city to mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation – it is here that Martin Luther was ordained and lived as a monk.

During their meeting, the members of Arcic agreed the text of a new statement looking at Anglican and Roman Catholic ecclesiology. Walking Together on the Way: Learning to be Church – Local, Regional, Universal, to be known as The Erfurt Document, will be published next year.

Read it all and make sure to read the full communique linked at the bottom.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, Ecumenical Relations, Roman Catholic