Category : Ecclesiology

Bp Iker of Fort Worth’s Address to the 35th Convention of the Diocese of Fort Worth

The second event on the Provincial level is the completion of the five-year study of the Task Force on Holy Orders, concerning the ordination of women, and the meeting of the College of Bishops to discuss the report for the first time at a conclave in Victoria, British Columbia, in early September. At the end of the meeting, a Statement was released stating where we are in this continuing controversy that divides us. It was the first time that all the Bishops went on record by stating their position on this issue. It was evident that no Bishop had changed his mind as a result of the study and that a majority of the Bishops are opposed to the ordination of women priests on biblical and theological grounds.

It is interesting to note that when Archbishop Robert Duncan appointed the Task Force, he charged them with doing a study of the issue of women in holy orders, but instructed them not to come to a conclusion or to make any recommendation as to how to resolve the debate. The report simply summarizes the arguments for and against. This is in stark contrast to a similar study done by the Anglican Mission in America several years ago, known as the Rodgers Report, which concluded that women cannot be ordained bishops or priests, while leaving open the door to the possibility of women deacons. Those of us who agreed to the formation of the ACNA in 2009 did so with the clear understanding that a serious theological study would be done and that a decision would be made at that time.

So where are we? Most ACNA bishops and dioceses are opposed to women priests, but as it presently stands, the ACNA Constitution says each diocese can decide if it will ordain women priests or not. We now need to work with other dioceses to amend the Constitution to remove this provision. As you know, women bishops are not permitted in any diocese, and no bishop wants to change that prohibition.

I would underscore that the recent Bishops’ statement declares that the ordination of women “is a recent innovation to Apostolic Tradition and Catholic Order” and that “there is insufficient warrant to accept women’s ordination to the priesthood as standard practice.” Needless to say, the women priests and their supporters are very unhappy about that.

We are in a state of impaired communion because of this issue. The Task Force concluded that “both sides cannot be right.” At the conclave, I informed the College of Bishops that I will no longer give consent to the election of any bishop who intends to ordain female priests, nor will I attend the consecration of any such bishop-elect in the future.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Pastoral Theology, Women

“If you find that we are speaking contrary to Scripture, then do not listen to us!”

8.01 The Confessional Synod of the German Evangelical Church met in Barmen, May 29-31, 1934. Here representatives from all the German Confessional Churches met with one accord in a confession of the one Lord of the one, holy, apostolic Church. In fidelity to their Confession of Faith, members of Lutheran, Reformed, and United Churches sought a common message for the need and temptation of the Church in our day. With gratitude to God they are convinced that they have been given a common word to utter. It was not their intention to found a new Church or to form a union. For nothing was farther from their minds than the abolition of the confessional status of our Churches. Their intention was, rather, to withstand in faith and unanimity the destruction of the Confession of Faith, and thus of the Evangelical Church in Germany. In opposition to attempts to establish the unity of the German Evangelical Church by means of false doctrine, by the use of force and insincere practices, the Confessional Synod insists that the unity of the Evangelical Churches in Germany can come only from the Word of God in faith through the Holy Spirit. Thus alone is the Church renewed.
8.02 Therefore the Confessional Synod calls upon the congregations to range themselves behind it in prayer, and steadfastly to gather around those pastors and teachers who are loyal to the Confessions.
8.03 Be not deceived by loose talk, as if we meant to oppose the unity of the German nation! Do not listen to the seducers who pervert our intentions, as if we wanted to break up the unity of the German Evangelical Church or to forsake the Confessions of the Fathers!
8.04 Try the spirits whether they are of God! Prove also the words of the Confessional Synod of the German Evangelical Church to see whether they agree with Holy Scripture and with the Confessions of the Fathers. If you find that we are speaking contrary to Scripture, then do not listen to us! But if you find that we are taking our stand upon Scripture, then let no fear or temptation keep you from treading with us the path of faith and obedience to the Word of God, in order that God’s people be of one mind upon earth and that we in faith experience what he himself has said: “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.” Therefore, “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”

the Barmen Declaration, cited by yours truly in the morning sermon

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

[Fulcrum] Andrew Goddard on the recent Partial Primates Meeting (II)–Walking Together at Lambeth 2020?

Summary: Building on the analysis of walking together in the first part (which can be found here), this article explores the problems faced by the Lambeth Conference in 2008 and how they continue to be present as we approach Lambeth 2020. In order to enable as close and truthful a walking together as possible it suggests the Conference may combine the two forms of conference we have known and build on the decisions of the Primates in 2016 and 2017 about consequences for unilaterally departing from Communion teaching. This could take the form of a non-resolution gathering (as in 2008) in which all provinces and ecumenical partners walked together despite the significant distance between them followed by a more deliberative assembly passing resolutions (as before 2008) involving those living in a higher degree of communion and committed to intensifying that communion.

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Posted in - Anglican: Analysis, Ecclesiology, Partial Primates meeting Canterbury 2017

[Fulcrum] Andrew Goddard on the recent Partial Primates Meeting (I)–Walking Together?: Past and Present

Summary: The language of walking together to describe the current state and structures of the Anglican Communion needs more nuance and more detailed and theological analysis. This article attempts to begin developing the theme by setting walking together in a wider context than its recent use by the primates, including The Windsor Report’s language of walking apart, and by recognizing that the primates have also acknowledged impairment and significant distance even as they speak of walking together.

It then argues that the language is best approached from a wider, ecumenical perspective as a goal to be sought not just among Communion provinces. As such, within the reality of a fractured Church, we have to acknowledge degrees of communion and different ways of seeking to walk together that also recognize the reality of walking at a distance. By paying attention to this distance within Anglicanism we may be better able to find ways to maintain and even deepen the levels of communion we currently have.

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Analysis, Ecclesiology, Partial Primates meeting Canterbury 2017

The Rector of Saint Philips, Charleston, writes his Parish about the proposed mediation process in the South Carolina Anglican-Episcopal Dispute

Dear Friends,

From November 6-8, representatives of the Diocese of South Carolina and the Episcopal Church will be engaged in mediation under the direction of retired federal judge Joseph Anderson in Columbia. Both parties have agreed to mediate all issues currently pending before the State and Federal courts.

This is another step along the way toward resolution, but unlike arbitration, mediation is not binding on either party, and this is no guarantee of a positive outcome for the Diocese. It would be unwise to assume that this will necessarily resolve the litigation or guarantee that we will ultimately prevail. Instead, this is an opportunity for us to engage in fervent prayer. As Christians, we have the great privilege of laying our burdens, fears, and hopes before our Heavenly Father, and I encourage you to do so between now and the conclusion of the mediation on November 8.

Please remember Bishop Lawrence and our legal team as you pray, but also include Bishop Skip Adams and the legal representatives from TEC. It may be difficult to bless our adversaries and pray for those who appear to persecute us, but it is the Christian way. It is our hope that in ALL things Jesus Christ may be glorified, so pray especially that God’s will may be done on earth as it is in heaven, and that the ministry of St. Philip’s and the Diocese of South Carolina may continue unfettered and undeterred.

Faithfully Yours,

–The Rev, Jeff Miller is rector, Saint Philip’s, Charleston

Posted in * South Carolina, Anthropology, Church History, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina, Theology

(CEN) Andrew Carey on the Partial Primates meeting–The big picture behind ‘good disagreement’

The hope of the Anglican hierarchy is to drag the agenda of this week’s Primates’ Meeting away from the…[sex outside of marriage] issue, which has been unresolved since 2003.

Archbishop Justin Welby will undoubtedly have some success in this aim. For one thing, three Primates of the most outspokenly orthodox provinces have confirmed they will not attend the meeting. They are the Archbishops of Nigeria, Uganda and Kenya.

For another thing, the powers-that-be have already determined that the Scottish Episcopal Church will follow the North American Churches into the naughty corner. In other words they will not be allowed to sit on the standing committee or represent the Anglican Communion on ecumenical or doctrinal committees.

The fact that this discipline clearly doesn’t work in that it hasn’t brought provinces back into line with Christian teaching is all part of the plan for ‘good disagreement’. In other words, ‘discipline’ is merely a fig leaf to hold enough people at the table until those pesky traditionalists have got bored and wandered off.

–From the Church of England Newspaper, Octpber 7, 2017, edition; subscriotions are ecnouraged

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecclesiology, Partial Primates meeting Canterbury 2017, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

(GAFCON) The Anglican Primates are not Walking Together

Archbishop Ntagali, the Primate of Uganda and Vice-Chairman of Gafcon has said, ‘if we are not walking in the same direction, how can we walk together?’

In no way can these leaders, with the Archbishop of Rwanda, be said to be ‘walking together.’ They have chosen to witness to the truth by their absence.

The presence of the Primates from Canada and the United States and the absence of Archbishop Foley Beach whose Church is recognised by Anglicans around the world, is a further testimony to a Communion in which the leaders are not walking together.

Several of the other primates who are attending the meeting are equally concerned about the divisions over the authority of scripture within the Communion, but intend to remain in defence of the Gospel. The Primates are not walking together. At best, they say, “they are walking at a distance.” At worst, they are walking in different directions.

Surely public statements need to reflect reality rather than mere wishfulness.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of Nigeria, Church of Rwanda, Church of Uganda, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Partial Primates meeting Canterbury 2017, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology: Scripture

(ACNS) Scottish Episcopal Church Primus briefs Partial Primates Meeting on his Province’s same-sex marriage decision

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Posted in Anthropology, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Same-sex blessings, Scottish Episcopal Church, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology

(Tel.) Andre Spicer–Insidious management speak has infected the land, from our boardrooms to our churches to our school halls

Management speak has even found its way into the Church of England. In 2014, the Church commissioned a “talent management” programme for “future leaders“. A report about the programme mentioned the word “leadership” 171 times. “God” was mentioned 21 times.

Lamenting how this meaningless chatter had taken over our great national institutions, I turned to daily life for some respite. Instead of solid common sense I found the same guff. One friend remembered asking his girlfriend to meet him after work, to which she responded: “what’s the value add?“. I came across a prospective father who talked about naming his child as “personal brand design“. Another dad talked about how he used “six sigma” techniques to raise his four daughters. I even read a Harvard Business School professor describing marriage as a merger which involve “due diligence“, “synergies“, “costs of integration“, and “strategic execution“.

Why are we attracted to this impenetrable tosh. Are people just stupid? Not really – smart, well-educated people are particularly enthusiastic devotees of management speak. Do they lack experience in the real-world? No again. Management jargon is used by even the most seasoned operators.

So why do we use it? Managers told me there were some big gains to be made from business balderdash. Some said it made them look good. By walking into a meeting and firing off bullet points filled with management jargon, they hoped they would be seen as “up to date“, “intelligent“, and even “inspirational“. In this sense, management talk can also be a useful self-confidence trick. By describing themselves as a “Quality Catalyst” or a “Innovation Sherpa“, a middle manager can feel a little better about their boring job.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecclesiology, Religion & Culture, Theology

(AP) Episcopalians struggle with history of Confederate symbols

“You do have an identifiable connection to the Confederacy,” said Doug Thompson, history professor at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia. He said Episcopal churches prayed for the president of the Confederacy, not the Union, during the war. “Episcopalians have built into their very structure an attachment to this national identity.”

Just steps away from the Statehouse, the Trinity Episcopal Cathedral is wrestling with Confederate ghosts. The South’s Gen. Wade Hampton and its poet laureate, Henry Timrod, are buried on the parish’s grounds. A plaque in its sanctuary honors members who died in the Civil War. However, the church doesn’t allow the display of Confederate flags, and the Very Rev. Dean Timothy Jones said Confederate flags recently placed on soldiers’ graves were removed.

“I care deeply about how historical symbols can create hurt and communicate a message of discrimination,” Jones said. “We believe in redressing the terrible wrongs of slavery and affirming the dignity of every human being.”

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Church History, Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology

Forward in Faith UK Responds to the Sheffield Review

Forward in Faith welcomes the report on the nomination to the See of Sheffield and related concerns by the Independent Reviewer, Sir Philip Mawer, and his recommendations. As the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have said, the report is ‘detailed, thoughtful and authoritative’. Like them, we shall read it carefully. We look forward to the more detailed response that the Archbishops promise.

We welcome Sir Philip’s statement that ‘there is no doubt that Bishop North’s nomination was consistent with the House of Bishops’ Declaration and the Five Guiding Principles’ (para. 130).

Sir Philip finds that ‘not nearly enough’ has been done to inform and educate clergy and laity about the 2014 Settlement (190). We welcome his recommendation that the House of Bishops provide resources to help dioceses, deaneries, parishes and training institutions to engage in further consideration of the issues and to ensure that ‘mutual flourishing’ is achieved (191).

We note that Sir Philip does not believe that Professor Percy’s ‘view of what constitutes “mutual flourishing” is consistent with what the House and the Synod had in mind in espousing the Declaration and the Five Guiding Principles’ (167). He comments, ‘The challenge posed by Professor Percy and some others… is in effect a fundamental challenge to the 2014 Settlement’ (132). We welcome Sir Philip’s recommendation that the House of Bishops give further attention to this theological challenge to the Settlement (198). It is the House of Bishops’ Declaration, so the House of Bishops needs to defend it.

As Sir Philip says, the Settlement was a package. We note that the Measure and Canon which permit the ordination of women to the episcopate form part of that package. As Sir Philip comments: ‘Try to unpick the package and the basis for the settlement is immediately called into question’ (16b)….

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, Theology

The ACNA College of Bishops Statement on the Ordination of Women

In an act of mutual submission at the foundation of the Anglican Church in North America, it was agreed that each Diocese and Jurisdiction has the freedom, responsibility, and authority to study Holy Scripture and the Apostolic Tradition of the Church, and to seek the mind of Christ in determining its own convictions and practices concerning the ordination of women to the diaconate and the priesthood. It was also unanimously agreed that women will not be consecrated as bishops in the Anglican Church in North America. These positions are established within our Constitution and Canons and, because we are a conciliar Church, would require the action of both Provincial Council and Provincial Assembly to be changed.

Having gratefully received and thoroughly considered the five-year study by the Theological Task Force on Holy Orders, we acknowledge that there are differing principles of ecclesiology and hermeneutics that are acceptable within Anglicanism that may lead to divergent conclusions regarding women’s ordination to the priesthood. However, we also acknowledge that this practice is a recent innovation to Apostolic Tradition and Catholic Order. We agree that there is insufficient scriptural warrant to accept women’s ordination to the priesthood as standard practice throughout the Province. However, we continue to acknowledge that individual dioceses have constitutional authority to ordain women to the priesthood.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Church Discipline / Ordination Standards, Ecclesiology, Sacramental Theology, Women

Albert Mohler–The Urgency of Preaching

And how will they hear without a preacher?
Romans 10:14

Has preaching fallen on hard times? An open debate is now being waged over the character and centrality of preaching in the church. At stake is nothing less than the integrity of Christian worship and proclamation.

How did this happen? Given the central place of preaching in the New Testament church, it would seem that the priority of biblical preaching should be uncontested. After all, as John A. Broadus–one of Southern Seminary’s founding faculty–famously remarked, “Preaching is characteristic of Christianity. No other religion has made the regular and frequent assembling of groups of people, to hear religious instruction and exhortation, an integral part of Christian worship.”

Yet, numerous influential voices within evangelicalism suggest that the age of the expository sermon is now past. In its place, some contemporary preachers now substitute messages intentionally designed to reach secular or superficial congregations–messages which avoid preaching a biblical text, and thus avoid a potentially embarrassing confrontation with biblical truth.

A subtle shift visible at the onset of the twentieth century has become a great divide as the century ends. The shift from expository preaching to more topical and human-centered approaches has grown into a debate over the place of Scripture in preaching, and the nature of preaching itself.

Read it all.

Posted in Christology, Church History, Ecclesiology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(ACNS) Secretary General clarifies ACNA position with Communion as he reports to Standing Committee

The Secretary General, Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, has stressed that the Anglican Church of North America is not a province of the Anglican Communion. Speaking to ACNS as he delivered his report to the Standing Committee, Archbishop Josiah said he wanted to correct any suggestion that ACNA was the 39th province of the Communion rather than Sudan, which was inaugurated in July.

“It is simply not true to say that ACNA is part of the Anglican Communion,” he said. “To be part of the Communion a province needs to be in communion with the See of Canterbury and to be a member of the Instruments of the Communion. ACNA is not in communion with the See of Canterbury – and has not sought membership of the Instruments.

“There is a long-standing process by which a province is adopted as a province of the Communion. It was a great joy for me to see Sudan go through this process and it was a privilege to be in Khartoum in July to see it become the 39th member of the Communion. ACNA has not gone through this process.

“ACNA is a church in ecumenical relationship with many of our provinces,” he went on. “But that is also true of many churches, including the Methodist, Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches.”

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Latest News, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Anthropology, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Global South Churches & Primates

(SA) Scots ‘impair’ communion with Australia

The Scottish Primus said that the move meant his church now affirms that a same-sex couple is not just married but is married in the sight of God.

The move is in contravention of the doctrine of marriage in the Anglican church and breaches the Lambeth resolution of 1998.

The Dean of Sydney, Kanishka Raffel moved a motion at the General Synod meeting in Queensland which had earlier reaffirmed that marriage is between a man and a woman.

“Across the Anglican communion, churches are trying to work out how best to love people of diverse sexual orientation.  This is important because all people are made in God’s image; and God hates nothing that he has made.  It is important because all people are to be valued honoured and loved not only because they are created in God’s image but because of Christ’s costly redeeming love for them. ” Dean Raffel said in his speech.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Australia, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Scottish Episcopal Church, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology