Category : Ecclesiology

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

(CEN) Andrew Carey on the Consecration in Jesmond Parish–A wrong move on the part of evangelicals

The main problem with the Jesmond action is that it is ultimately so isolated and represents a fragmented and factional way of moving forward. It is an action that arises from a sense of frustration rather than a careful strategy. It is not borne of unity among critics of the Church of England. In fact it adopts the tactics of liberals in that it attempts to place facts on the ground rather than proceeding on the basis of unity, wide agreement and good order.

I say this as someone who thoroughly approves of protest and various forms of disengagement directed against the hierarchy. But Jesmond has leaped towards the nuclear option and evangelical Anglicans should not be in the business of ‘first strike’. The nuclear option should only be used as a weapon of the last resort.

The Church of England has not changed its teaching on doctrinal, creedal and canonical matters and until it does so the Church of England’s conservatives should organise, prepare and arm themselves but they should not deploy.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in - Anglican: Analysis, Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, South Africa

(AI) Bishop David Parsons response to BC Bishops rejection of reconsideration for the Rev. Jake Worley as Bishop for Caledonia

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Posted in Anglican Church of Canada, Canada, Ecclesiology

(AJ) Caledonia administrator ‘shocked and saddened’ by decision not to consecrate bishop-elect the Rev. Jake Worley

…[The Rev. Gwen] Andrews said she was shocked at the bishops’ decision, partly because in March, before the electoral synod, a search committee formed by the diocese sent a copy of Worley’s curriculum vitae and his employment history to Privett, pointing out his missionary work under the bishop of Rwanda and asking if it posed a problem to his candidacy. The search committee told her, Andrews said, that Privett did not think it would pose a problem.

Asked about this, Privett said his remarks were “off the cuff,” not part of the formal vetting process, and based on the fact that Worley had been received by the diocese of Caledonia as a priest in good standing.

“In itself, it may or may not have been an issue,” Privett said. “At that point, it didn’t seem to be, because he was functioning in the diocese of Caledonia and I’d assumed that the diocese of Caledonia had received him in due order…It was only when it came to the House of Bishops, when we were looking primarily at the criteria in the provincial canon, that we recognized that we needed to look further than we had been before.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church of Canada, Church of Rwanda, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Pastoral Theology

ACNA releases its Holy Orders Task Force Report

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

In 2012 the College of Bishops appointed a Task Force on Holy Orders to provide the College with a scholarly and informed study on Holy Orders and, specifically, women in Holy Orders (the enabling resolution is reprinted in what follows). The Task Force, led by Bishop David Hicks, consisted of people representing differing perspectives and practices. They have met for the past 5 years and during that time have periodically released progress reports. This past January Bishop Hicks presented a report on the last phase of the process to the College, and we are now releasing the whole report to the Province.

Please note the following:

• The Task Force was not commissioned to resolve the issue, but was asked to develop
resources to help the bishops in future conversation on this topic.
• Therefore the report does not answer the questions of what the College is to do, but it is
a study presented to the College to help the College in our discussions.
• The report does not change our current practice regarding women’s orders as stated in
our Constitution. Our current practice allows each diocese to determine whether it
will ordain women as deacons or priests.
• The report will now be sent to the GAFCON Primates for their input and guidance for
our discussions.
• The College of Bishops will now be studying the whole report, and we will meet in
special session later in the year to discuss how we move forward together.

Read it all and note the link to download the entire report at the bottom.

Posted in Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Ecclesiology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Theology, Women's Ordination

(Living Church) John Martin on the background to the consecration in Jesmond Parish

The Rev. David Holloway, the senior minister of Jesmond Parish, believes the Church of England’s Clergy Discipline Measure will not apply in this case. Ecclesiastical lawyers are studying the case, and it is not yet clear what their response will be.

The Rt. Rev. Rod Thomas, appointed as Bishop of Maidstone to work with conservative evangelicals, is reserving his opinion.

The action in Jesmond caught GAFCON by surprise. Except for a conversation with GAFCON’s general secretary, the Most Rev. Peter Jensen, Jesmond’s statement makes plain there was no consultation with GAFCON’s primates. A week earlier, GAFCON’s primates stated their intention to send a missionary bishop to the United Kingdom amid conservative concerns about the state of the Church of England.

Archbishop Jensen confirmed it was entirely independent of GAFCON. “But it does show, I think, that the situation in England is becoming very difficult for those who hold the traditional and biblical view.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Continuum, Church History, Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, Evangelicals, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, South Africa

Andrew Goddard–“Order! Order!”: Reflections on The Jesmond Consecration

This consecration has many unfortunate echoes of those at the start of the long unravelling process of The Episcopal Church (USA). It is often forgotten that this began before Gene Robinson’s election and consecration and the departures of parishes, clergy and eventually dioceses, to overseas bishops and the consecration of American priests as bishops by overseas provinces.

In early 2000, two conservative American parish priests, without the wider support even of formal conservative networks in the US, were secretly consecrated as bishops (though by two Primates of Communion provinces unlike here) to serve in the US (including in dioceses with conservative bishops). This famously led the Canadian Primate to comment that “bishops are not intercontinental ballistic missiles, manufactured on one continent and fired into another as an act of aggression” and censure from Archbishop George Carey. It also soon became clear that the Primate of South East Asia had acted without following due process in relation to his own province’s canons.

This was the birth of AMiA and the seeds sown there, while producing much good fruit on the ground in local churches, mission and church planting, have led to ongoing serious problems in relation to order and difficult often broken personal relationships. Throughout its history there have been recurring conflicts, confusion and further fractures with conservatives within ECUSA (notably in South Carolina), within AMiA itself, particularly between one of those originally consecrated bishops and the province of Rwanda in which he formally served, and with the wider orthodox movement in the US now embodied in the much more orderly ACNA. This is not a happy precedent to be following.

In terms of order, there could still be at least one positive consequence of all this mess and confusion and the warning signs it gives of repeating the North American conflicts not just within the CofE but among orthodox evangelical Anglicans in England who are eager to support one another even when following different paths of visible differentiation from parts of the wider church. Could GAFCON now pause and take time to learn some lessons and consult more widely about its own plans for a missionary bishop and how they relate to catholic and evangelical faith and order? Can we find a way of understanding episcopal ministry in the context of impaired communion among Anglicans, both nationally and globally, perhaps learning from wider ecumenical relationships?

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Analysis, Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, South Africa

(CWR) Ed Peters–Questions in the wake of Cardinal Coccopalmerio’s comments on Anglican orders

A rock dropped into quiet waters produces a visible splash and observable ripples. The same rock thrown into a storm-tossed sea, however, passes unnoticed, for its effects are overwhelmed by larger and wider waves.

Before the splash of Cdl. Coccopalmerio’s startling comments toward recognizing Anglican orders disappears in the theological chop that is the new normal for Catholics, let’s record some questions deserving of consideration.

Note, the only source I have for Coccopalmerio’s comments is The Tablet and, as that site sets the stage for its report by recalling “Leo XIII’s remarks [on] Anglican orders”—as if Leo’s letter Apostolicae curae (1896), which declared Anglican orders “absolutely null and utterly void”, simply conveyed, you know, some “remarks”—one is not reassured that The Tablet fully grasps what is at issue here. In any case, no Tablet quotes attributed to Coccopalmerio directly attack Leo’s ruling (we are not even told what language the cardinal was speaking or writing in, and I think that is an important point) so there is some room for clarification.

But, if Coccopalmerio said what The Tablet reports him as saying, the following questions would warrant airing.

Read it all.

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

(The Tablet) Anglican orders not ‘invalid’ says Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio

In a recently published book, Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, President of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, calls into question Pope Leo XIII’s 1896 papal bull that Anglican orders are “absolutely null and utterly void.”

“When someone is ordained in the Anglican Church and becomes a parish priest in a community, we cannot say that nothing has happened, that everything is ‘invalid’,” the cardinal says in volume of papers and discussions that took place in Rome as part of the “Malines Conversations,” an ecumenical forum.

“This about the life of a person and what he has given …these things are so very relevant!”

Read it all.

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

Ian Paul and Peter Carrell–Should evangelicals be embarrassed by Newcastle?

Peter Carrell’s comments [which are excerpted and which are posted at the start of Ian Paul’s blog post]…say almost everything that I would want to about the event itself. But there are some wider issues that it is also worth reflecting on.

First, I get the impression that those supportive of a GAFCON move to consecrate a bishop in England from within the Anglican Communion look on the events with a mixture of disdain, frustration and probably some anger. Whereas they had a considered plan which operated within the Communion as a whole, this move has jumped the gun without proper consideration or consultation. And I suspect that GAFCON supporters hope that everyone can see the difference between the two initiatives. But they won’t. Most of those within the Church of England will not be able to tell the difference, and the same will be true of all of those outside the Church. Both initiatives will appear to all but the best informed (and most highly motivated) to be petty, fracturing and unhelpful interference from people outside the Church of England. (I am not claiming that this view is correct—just that this will be the widespread perception.)

Secondly, it is becoming abundantly clear that this sort of approach to dealing with the perceived drift in the doctrine and teaching in the Church is singularly unhelpful.

Read it all and note carefully the links provided in the piece.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary, Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, South Africa