Thursday, November 20, 2008

A New "Province" in North America: Neither the Only Nor the Right Answer for the Communion

Written by: Rev. Dr. Ephraim Radner
Tuesday, November 18th, 2008

A new “province” for North American Anglicans is now promised to be “up and running” in the next month or so. It will comprise the 3-4 dioceses that have voted to leave TEC; the associations of various congregations that have left TEC (e.g. CANA) and those started outside of TEC from departing groups; it will also include congregations and denominations within the Anglican tradition that have formed over the past decades in North America. All of these groups now form part of an association called Common Cause.

The formation of this new “province” appears to be a fait accompli. It will presumably provide formal stability for the congregations and their plants who have left TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada, as well as some kind of more easily grasped relationship with some other parts of the Anglican Communion. It is important to note, however, that such a new grouping will also not solve the problems of traditional Anglicans in North America , and that it will pose new problems to the Communion as a whole. As a member of the Covenant Design Group, committed to a particular work of providing a new framework for faithful communion life in Christ among Anglicans, I want to be clear about how the pressing forward of this new grouping within its stated terms poses some serious problems:

1. The new grouping will not, contrary to the stated claims of some of its proponents, embrace all or even most traditional Anglicans in North America. For instance, the Communion Partners group within TEC, comprises 13 dioceses as a whole, and a host of parishes and their rectors, whose total Sunday membership is upwards of 300,000. It is unlikely that these will wish to be a part of the new grouping, for some of the reasons stated below.

2. The new grouping, through some of its founding members, will continue in litigation within the secular courts for many years. This continues to constitute a sad spectacle, and is, in any case, practically and morally unfeasible for most traditional Anglicans.

3. The new grouping is, in the eyes of many, representative of diverse bodies whose theology and ecclesiology is, taken together, incoherent, and perhaps in some cases even incompatible. The argument can be made that this is no different than historic Anglican comprehensiveness as a whole; but under the circumstances of a new structural distinction and the challenges this brings, the incoherence constitutes a burden that not all traditionalists believes is prudent to assume. This warning bell has been sounded repeatedly by traditionalists.

4. There is a host of irregularities regarding ordination, representation, consent, and so on that is included among the members of this new grouping. Some of these are both understandable and inevitable under the circumstances. But they nonetheless constitute barriers for future reconciliation with other Anglican churches.

5. Will the new grouping actually be a formal “province” within the Anglican Communion, whatever name it assumes? Surely, it will be recognized by some of the GAFCON Primates. However, it will probably not be recognized at the Primates’ meeting as a whole or even by a majority of its members, and will be yet another cuase for division there. Nor will it be recognized at the ACC. Thus it threatens to be yet another wedge in the breakup of the Communion, even while there have been signs of coalescing efforts to restore the integrity of our common witness.

6. Such division on this matter among the Primates and the ACC will likely strengthen the position of TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada. They will move forward as continuing and undisciplined members of the Communion. All of this will merely hasten the demise of our common life, even among Global South churches themselves.

In the light of these clear downsides, it is unclear what is gained for Common Cause by seeking a self-styled “provincial” status.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Gafcon leaders dismiss 'futile" Covenant draft

Here's the crux of the article that follows below:

Both Dr Thompson and Prof Noll argued that the exclusion of theologians and leaders of the Gafcon movement weakened the credibility of the document. "If the Covenant Design Group truly wishes to be inclusive, it needs to sit down with the leadership of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans and seek to incorporate the principles of the Jerusalem Declaration into the Covenant," Prof Noll said. "Any hope" for the future of the Anglican Communion, Dr Thompson said, "lies with those faithful bishops and other leaders whose voices could not be heard at Lambeth because they had chosen to gather in Jerusalem.

Interpretation: Gafcon wants to run the whole show. Any Covenant that falls short of imposing a "confessional standard" on Anglicanism will never meet their demands. (There! I summarized the whole article in two sentences!)

+ + + + +

October 30th, 2008 Posted in Anglican Covenant, Global Anglican Future Conference | By George Conger, CEN

THE PROPOSED Anglican Covenant is an "exercise in futility," theologians affiliated with the Gafcon movement tell The Church of England Newspaper, and the current draft is beset with "a considerable degree of theological confusion."

On Oct 22, the Anglican Covenant Design Group chaired by Archbishop Drexel Gomez of the West Indies (pictured) released a commentary on the proposed pan-Anglican agreement drawn from comments made by bishops attending this summer’s Lambeth Conference. The 33-page "Lambeth Commentary" has been distributed to each of the Communion’s 38 provinces, with the request that they offer their comments on the commentary as well as the underlying draft of the Covenant by March 9, 2009.

The Design Group said it hoped the Lambeth Commentary "will stand alongside the St Andrew’s Draft [released in February 2008] as a critique and as a stimulus for study and response."

The Covenant Design Group will meet in March 2009 to develop a new draft based upon the provincial responses and submit the final report to the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) at its May 1-12 meeting in Montego Bay, Jamaica.

The Lambeth Commentary suggests the Anglican Communion adopt a form of alternative dispute resolution to resolve its divisions over doctrine and discipline, citing the examples of conflict mediation, South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Chinese community centres,’ and the racially segregated Anglican churches of New Zealand.

The Commentary also urged the Design Group to permit dioceses to endorse the Covenant. During the Lambeth Conference, ACC Deputy Secretary General Canon Gregory Cameron said the St Andrew’s Draft did not envision dioceses being the primary signatories of the Covenant. However, the Lambeth Commentary urged a reconsideration of this view, noting if "the canons and constitutions of a Province permit, there is no reason why a diocesan synod should not commit itself to the covenant, thus strengthening its commitment to the interdependent life of the Communion."

US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori told members of the church’s Executive Council on Oct 21 that she would "strongly discourage" consideration of the Covenant at the July meeting of General Convention. "The time is far too short before our General Convention for us to have a thorough discussion of it as a church and I’m therefore going to strongly discourage any move to bring it to General Convention. I just think it’s inappropriate to make a decision that weighty," she said. However, critics note the 2003 decision by General Convention to affirm the election of Gene
Robinson was made in less time.

This week the Sydney theologian Dr Mark Thompson, Dean of Moore Theological College, argued the covenant process would not resolve the problems before the Anglican Communion.

The actions of Bishop Schori and New Westminster Bishop Michael Ingham since Lambeth "have made clear that the covenant idea simply will not deal with the real issues."

The "Lambeth Commentary itself refuses to deal with the real issues," he noted, observing that the Covenant was "entirely irrelevant" and would "make no difference to the current situation and will be unable to prevent future challenges of the same magnitude," Dr Thompson said.

The present draft of the Anglican Covenant made a "simplistic appeal to the biblical covenants" in support of its agenda, yet the biblical covenants "were instituted by God as a gift which provided a framework for understanding Israel’s relationship with him. At the heart was hearing, believing and obeying God’s word. They ought not be confused a covenant between human beings," he said.

The Lambeth Commentary was also unclear as to what it understood the Covenant to be, describing it both as a "central text" while also "speaking about it as a ‘foundational document’." Dr Thompson added that there was an "ecclesiological confusion when the ‘local church’ is described as ‘that portion of God’s people gathered around their bishop, usually in the form of a territorial diocese’," —- a description of the church not supported by the Articles of Religion.

It was "simply untrue" to say that the Windsor process and the Anglican Covenant were the "only game in town," Dr Thompson said. "It is the unwillingness of the current leadership of the Communion to deal directly and biblically with the crisis created by the American and Canadian revisionists, its prevarication and personal compromise that has radically deepened the crisis and ensured that the covenant as it is proposed simply will not work."

Prof Stephen Noll, Vice Chancellor of Uganda Christian University told CEN the "most important requirements of a workable covenant are doctrinal substance and disciplinary efficacy. The drafts to date have fallen short on both counts." Both Dr Thompson and Prof Noll argued that the exclusion of theologians and leaders of the Gafcon movement weakened the credibility of the document. "If the Covenant Design Group truly wishes to be inclusive, it needs to sit down with the leadership of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans and seek to incorporate the principles of the Jerusalem Declaration into the Covenant," Prof Noll said. "Any hope" for the future of the Anglican Communion, Dr Thompson said, "lies with those faithful bishops and other leaders whose voices could not be heard at Lambeth because they had chosen to gather in Jerusalem.

"The St Andrews Draft of An Anglican Covenant, and the Lambeth Commentary on that draft, are institutional responses to a situation that can only be resolved by much, much more," he concluded.

Friday, October 24, 2008


So where have I been and what's been going on in my life? Well, as you can imagine, Hurricane Ike threw us off course for most of the month of September. The seminary was closed for nearly two weeks, and generally speaking the city of Houston was a mess -- one big traffic jam for the better part of a month due to the fact that many of the traffic lights were out. My neighborhood was hit pretty hard, with downed trees and fences, but, of course, nothing like what happened on the coast. We were without electricity for two weeks. Fortunately the weather cooperated for much of that time, giving us some unseasonably cool and refreshing days and evenings. On the bright side, my electricity bill was low.

So what are these ch-ch-ch-changes afoot? Well, it may come as a surprise to some of you, but I've put in my notice -- January 15 being my last day at the seminary. Yes, I'm weary and need a change. And I'm really looking forward to going back into parish ministry. No doubt my relationship with the seminary will continue for quite some time, both as a self-study consultant and as an adjunct faculty member. But my days of being a full-time academic administrator are coming to a close, and my days as a full-time parish priest are drawing nigh. I'm excited, because I might actually have time to write and do some research for the first time since completing my doctoral dissertation in 2000. Ironic isn't it? My advice for young, promising academes: If you like teaching and writing, don't be lured into academic administration. Stick to the classroom. You'll be much happier.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Fascinating Article over at Preludium

Be sure to check out Mark Harris' article entitled "Charting the Anglican Elliptic: The Churches and the Communion as foci."

Friday, August 29, 2008

Cantuar: sic et non? Reflections on the "Canterbury-centeredness" of the Anglican Communion

What I find troubling about the whole "Cantuar sic et non?" debate is that the focus has been improperly placed on the man who currently resides in the office, with the result that disatisfaction and frustration with +++Rowan Williams (much of it justified) unfortunately morphs into questioning the wisdom of recognizing Canterbury as primas inter pares in the Communion at all.

From my perspective, any debate on whether or not the Communion should remain "Canterbury-centered" is really a secondary matter. So for instance, if, in its common life, the Anglican Communion were one day to decide upon instituting a "rotating primacy" or an "elected head" for itself, then so be it. I'd have no theological objection to this at all. (However, I suspect that if this were to happen Canterbury would still be afforded a symbolic figurehead role, such as that enjoyed by the Ecumenical Patriarch in the Eastern Church, but I digress.)

Maintaining our "Canterbury-centeredness" is not about maintaining ancient prerogatives of an historic see, per se, but about keeping the Communion -- in the present -- from fracturing. Right now, for better or for worse, the Communion has four Instruments of Unity, one of which is the Archbishop of Canterbury. This will not change in the near future short of a schism in the Communion (and then only for those folks that actually go into schism).

Thus any "common-life solution" to the present crisis in the Communion must work within the structures of the Communion itself and with the Instruments of Unity that we presently have. Those who choose to work outside these structures, or through parallel structures that effectively veto the decisions and actions of the Instruments, are not working within the common life of the Communion. Period. In fact, I suspect the only reason we are hearing so much anti-Cantuar rhetoric these days is because such rhetoric serves to rationalize or justify actions from outside the common life of our Communion.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Fr. Will Brown Comments on "A Word in Time"

I don't typically link to the comments from other blogs, but I thought this entry by Fr. Will Brown (a Covenant contributor ) over at Titus OneNine was brilliant.


I think, to shuck it down to the cob, we should not start a new group. Part of what it means to be an Anglican (perhaps the biggest part) is our commitment to discern these kinds of things (blessing same sex relationships, etc.) with our brother Anglicans. That’s what, in part, 1998.1.10 is all about. But the disciplinary stuff (e.g. what happens when a diocese doesn’t want to be part of its provincial structure but does want to be part of the Communion?) is no less a task for common discernment. In short: to be Anglican means to look for Anglican answers to these questions. Who enunciates Anglican answers? Well, over the past century and a half, the common life we lead as Anglicans has kind of indicated that we look to the ABC, Lambeth, the Primates Meeting, and the ACC to answer these kinds of questions. The problem is that the answers aren’t binding, because hitherto they haven’t really needed to be binding. Now the task is to mutually (as a Communion) discern a way to agree to be bound by Anglican answers (the answers of the Instruments). In other words, the task in front of us isn’t just for the Communion to tell TEC that TEC is wrong. The Communion has done that already… repeatedly (cf. 1998.1.10 and the various statements ever sense, most recently at Lambeth). We have to go back a step further and figure out a way to agree to be bound to one another more tightly. THAT’S what takes time. And rightly so. Its a sea change in the common life of Anglicans. And many of us think its a change for the better, because it will be the foundation not only for the solution to the current problems, but for future problems too. There will be not merely a resolution, but a MECHANISM for coming to a resolution. The lack of the mechanism is Anglicanism’s Achilles’ heal—i.e. the fact that there really is no legitimate way for the Communion to speak to TEC with authority. TEC is correct in pointing out that provinces are largely autonomous. But we now see that this kind of autonomy is disastrous. (That should be no surprise to anyone—autonomy literally means being a law unto oneself, and that just SOUNDS, prima facie, terrible unGospel—and it is.)

To recap: being an Anglican, at this point in time, means being willing to invest the time and psychic (aka “soulish") energy necessary to lay a foundation for a renewed Communion with stronger and deeper trans-provincial (aka global) relationships—deepening our koinonia, our fellowship, our communion with one another. And concomitantly relinquishing some of our (unChristian) autonomy. In short: finding a way to live into the truth that “what effects all should be decided by all”. Above all else now this means patience and a willingness to endure the birth-pangs. But the result, if we can just endure to the end, could well be a deepened, renewed, and sanctified Anglican Communion, able to carry the Gospel to the unbelieving world all the more effectively precisely in virtue of our visibly deepened and renewed love for one another. The world will see that we are committed to one another, that we patiently bear one another’s burdens, that we willingly forego advantage and individual “success” for the sake of one another. And the world will find that compelling, because people want to LIVE, and because the world only knows self-seeking, isolation, violence and exploitation: which all lead to death.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A Word In Time: An Open Letter to the Anglican Communion

August 25, 2008

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

We the undersigned contributors to believe that “a word in time” is now needed in order to assist the Communion to move forward in a constructive manner following the Lambeth Conference. We would like to speak such a word by specifically addressing the points Bishop Bob Duncan raises in his email to Bishop Gary Lillibridge, which has now been made public with Bp. Duncan’s permission. Our reflections are offered with all due respect for Bishop Duncan as a dear friend to some of us, and one whom those of us who know him personally admire as a stalwart in the faith. Bishop Duncan’s words are quoted in italics with our reflections following.

Read the rest of this important and timely letter and/or download a pdf version of it over at Covenant.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Interesting Quote

"It is often attempted to palliate slavery by comparing the state of slaves with our poorer countrymen: if the misery of our poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin; but how this bears on slavery, I cannot see; as well might the use of the thumb-screw be defended in one land, by showing that men in another land suffered from some dreadful disease. Those who look tenderly at the slave owner, and with a cold heart at the slave, never seem to put themselves into the position of the latter; what a cheerless prospect, with not even a hope of change! picture to yourself the chance, ever hanging over you, of your wife and your little children -- those objects which nature urges even the slave to call his own -- being torn from you and sold like beasts to the first bidder! And these deeds are done and palliated by men, who profess to love their neighbours as themselves, who believe in God, and pray that his Will be done on earth! It makes one's blood boil, yet heart tremble, to think that we Englishmen and our American descendants, with their boastful cry of liberty, have been and are so guilty."

--Charles Darwin, Voyage of the Beagle (1839)

Going Incognito

My readers may have noticed that I've removed most of the personal information from my profile -- not that any mediocre sleuth couldn't figure out who I was if they wanted to. While I don't want to go into details, let's just say that a more subtle profile is needed at this time. I don't want to shut down this blog to protect my privacy. Hopefully, this will be enough.

Friday, August 08, 2008

What is REALLY needed is a new Lux Mundi Movement

I realize that this won't resonate with many Anglican Catholics or "Anglo-Catholics" (if you like), out of fear of liberalism or suspicion of compromise, or what have you. I suspect that this is particularly true of those calling for a new "Oxford Movement" of late, like my friend over at De Cura Animarum (more power to them!). However, what is really needed is a new Lux Mundi Movement. Some have wondered why I call this blog "Catholic in the Third Millennium." Well, what follows is in part the inspiration behind the name.

The following was taken from Charles Gore and the Lux Mundi School.

We have here . . . to consider another aspect of the work of the third generation of the Revival, that associated with what might well be called the second Oxford Movement, the famous Lux Mundi group. It was this group which succeeded in doing that which the Tractarians has failed to do, viz. the relating of the Church's claim for the primacy of the spiritual to the new circumstances of a democratic age. Lux Mundi was in fact the foundation of a new apologetic in which Catholic thought no longer stood on the defensive against the thought of the age, but incorporated it and made it a vehicle for its own doctrine. The guiding principle was found in the Johannine doctrine of he Incarnate Logos, the Word entering to redeem the world of which He was already the Creator -- a world which included the historically-developing social order . . . Newman and Manning [had] sought to revive and give practical effect to some such idea of the world and of man. But on the whole the theology of the Movement had remained within the old Evangelical circle of thought -- the soul, sin, and redemption. To this it had added the thought of the Church as the sphere, the sacraments as the means, of Redemption, but still only the redemption of the soul, not the redemption in the full sense of man, nor the redemption of the world. Lux Mundi looked back behind redemption to creation. Evolution was accepted as the work of the Logos through whom all things were made. It followed, among other things, that man's historical development, including that of the present age, is part of the creative movement of the Word, and therefore manifests His Light. Democracy, which characterises the present era, can thus be seen as interpreting the worth of personality and the brotherhood of men. Socialism, again viewed as an existing tendency, illuminates the idea of authority in so far as this involves a rightful claim of the whole upon the part. But only the Incarnation, the fact, that is, of the Word personally become flesh to fulfill and redeem the world order which He had originally created, but which had fallen away from Him, is adequate, together with its extension in the Church and the sacraments, to interpret and validate the life of the individual and of society . . .

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Naming New Archbishops of Canterbury

From The Times

August 5, 2008
Arch appointment
Naming new archbishops of Canterbury

Sir, As Archbishops’ appointments secretary at the time of the selection of Archbishop Rowan Williams to Canterbury, I was disappointed to note Archbishop Orombi’s misleading description of the selection process as “appointed by a secular government” (August 1).

The fact is that the Prime Minister was presented with two names elected by the Crown Appointments Commission (CAC), of whom he was obliged to choose one for recommendation to the Queen. The CAC (now the Crown Nominations Commission, CNC) is an electoral college, with clerical and lay representation from the General Synod and the Diocese of Canterbury.

The commission was informed by a substantial process of widespread consultation. The Archbishop may not recall that I personally attended a meeting of all the Anglican primates, at which support for Rowan Williams was manifest. While not at liberty to disclose details of the CAC meeting itself, I can say that I have never attended a meeting where the presence of the Holy Spirit was so clearly and movingly in evidence.

Orombi must surely be aware that a process of “election by his peers” is not always beyond criticism. And of course this was precisely the method by which Bishop Gene Robinson was selected.

Anthony Sadler
Former Archbishops’ Secretary for Appointments
Ars-en-Ré, France

Comment: Touché!

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Lambeth Post-Mortem by Fr. Dan Martins

Thank you, Fr. Dan, for this hopeful assessment!

In his 1999 book Plato, Not Prozac!, Lou Marinoff contends that a substantial proportion of human mental and emotional suffering stems not from the actual events of our lives, but from our expectations about the actual events of our lives. The ants at the picnic didn’t ruin our afternoon; our expectation that the picnic grounds would be free of ants ruined our afternoon.

The Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops has now concluded after three weeks, and if the blogsphere is any indication, there is a palpable degree of human mental and emotional suffering floating in its wake. It’s certainly not suffering on the order of that experienced by those who are punched by a tsunami or a hurricane, but it’s nonetheless important to those who are feeling it at the moment. Perhaps Marinoff’s book should have been required reading for anyone with a horse in this race.

A couple of weeks ago, I took inventory of my own expectations, hopes, and wishes for this Lambeth Conference. This seems an appropriate time to audit that list and reflect on its relationship to subsequent developments:

Read the rest of this article over at Covenant.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

My Thoughts on the Fr. Kimel Kerfuffle

To quote myself:

I came to the conclusion some years ago that "Anglicanism" was not primarily about doctrine or formularies, but about connection to and continuity with the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church as mediated through the Church of England. So it seemed foolish to me to identify with Anglicanism on this level while aligning myself with a church or movement that almost entirely identified Anglicanism with doctrine (39 Articles) and formularies (1662 BCP). ("Why I Migrated to The Episcopal Church," Entry: July 30, 2007)

At least one constructive thing has come out of the recent dialogue (charity compels me to call it such) between Fr. Al Kimel and myself. It has reminded me of my own words above. Indeed, it was Fr. Kimel himself who linked the article which contains the above quote to his most recent critque of my article "Personal Reflections on Why I Remain in TEC".

As I hinted in the "trailer" of a previous entry, Fr. Kimel has asked the wrong question, (or, perhaps better, an inadequate question) in the title of his article, "Is The Episcopal Church Truly a Catholic Church?" In so doing, he has unwittingly pigeon-holed himself into answering the question in terms of the relative orthodoxy of TEC's adherents, and thus comes across not as a Roman Catholic apologist debating the catholic claims of Anglicanism as much as he does a former Episcopalian displaying his disappointment and disenchantment with his former church's continuous flirtations with erroneous teaching (the pan-sexual agenda), or, in some cases, embracing of innovative positions (e.g., women's ordination). His arguments in this respect are not much different than those who have thrown their lot in with CANA or the AMiA, or the GAFCON movement for that matter.

Now, I'm not about to engage in a debate over or defend various recent actions of TEC. I should think that Fr. Kimel and I agree for the most part about these matters, and so these hardly need rehashing. My point, however, should not be missed: To argue against the catholicity of a particular church based on a point-in-time snapshot of the relative orthodoxy of its adherents, whether a majority or a significant tolerated minority, is to subject every church at every point in history (including one's own) to the same standard.

But does Fr. Kimel really want to go down that road? Does he really wish to uphold the relative orthodoxy of the adherents of Roman Catholicism throughout its long and less than exemplary history as the standard by which all others are judged catholic? Or is he claiming for Rome and its adherents an "abosulte orthodoxy and orthopraxy" by which all other catholic claimants are judged? (The recent comment from the Anglican Scotist about how Fr. Kimel wants "to make a clean, binary distinction in terms of esse sufficient to completely unchurch Episcopalians" is right on the money here.)

If that is the route Fr. Kimel would like to pursue, then perhaps we should begin our discussion with the sins of simony and nepotism, or the sale of grace through indulgences in the sixteenth century. Or perhaps we should bring the discussion into modern times, and talk about the "Ted Kennedys" and "Nancy Pelosis" of the world. Should we discuss the American Roman hierarchy's complicity in covering up the recent sex scandals and child molestations which some of her priests have perpetrated? I, for one, would rather not go down that road.

So, Fr. Kimel, let's not go there, because, unless one wishes to assume the foolish position of an absolute orthodoxy, there are no winners in such a contest. Instead, let's engage in a debate about the nature of catholicity itself. And I think a good place to begin would be with my quoted statement above. Show me how my "connection to" and "continuity with" the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church as mediated through the Church of England has been severed or interrupted by my remaining in The Episcopal Church.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Anglican Scotist's Comment on the "Kimel Kerfuffle"

I grabbed this from the comments section of my entry that links to Fr. Al Kimel's "Is the Episcopal Church a Truly Catholic Church"(Click Here). As I've come to expect from him, the Anglican Scotist concisely gets right to the heart of the matter:

It seems [Kimel] will have to speak without contradicting Vatican II's ecclesiology, which might be difficult, given that he seems to want to make a clean, binary distinction in terms of esse sufficient to completely unchurch Episcopalians.

He may also have to ignore the significance of the distinction between (a) Christ being with the Church always, and (b) Christ chastising the church because he loves it. That is, it seems Christ may remain sufficiently present in the church he punishes, which implies deserving punishment--say for material heresy--does not alone entail abandonment.

Anyhow, let's hope he says something new soon; summer is draining away.

Interesting Take on the "Kimel Kontroversy"

Room With A View has weighed in on the latest from Al Kimel (see entry below). Doug Martin, a former Anglican and now a Roman Catholic convert, provides an interesting perspective.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

"Is The Episcopal Church Truly a Catholic Church?" Fr. Al Kimel's Response to My Article

In the interest of fairness, I'm posting a link to De Cura Animarum so that my readers may read the ongoing dialogue between Fr. Al Kimel and me. He is invited to post directly to my blog if he so wishes.

By way of a trailer to my counter-response, I'll simply say that Fr. Kimel is asking the wrong question.

Postscript: It is interesting to note that Fr. Kimel did not actually choose to respond to my article "Al Kimel's Comments on My Recent Entries," but rather chose to continue his critique of my original article "Personal Reflections on Remaining in TEC," which obviously was not intended to be anything more than a brief rationale for staying in TEC and the Anglican Communion rather than throwing my lot in with GAFCON. Quite frankly, I think my response to Kimel provides much better material for a debate between a Roman and an Anglican. But perhaps there are issues that I raised in that article that he would rather not address.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

CT Interview with +Tom Wright

The Bishop of Durham, the Rt Rev Tom Wright, offers some reflections on the Lambeth Conference so far and how he thinks the Anglican Communion can move forward after the three weeks of prayer and discussion draw to an end on Sunday.

Read the whole CT interview over at Fulcrum.

CT: You must have had some kind of expectation before you came to Lambeth of what it was going to be like. Have those expectations been fulfilled?

TW: I did have various mental pictures of what it was going to be like before I came and I keep on being surprised now because it has not been at all like I expected. I am not quite sure now what it was that I was expecting. It is wild and wacky and there is so much going that I have only heard about three days after they happened by reading them on somebody’s blog or whatever.

CT: Some conservatives were anxious in coming to Lambeth and some here have actually said they don’t feel any hope towards the future of the Anglican Communion. Do you share those feelings?

TW: I always tell my staff at home to distinguish between feelings and thinking because your feelings will come and go if you are tired or in a meeting perhaps and then you will feel like all hope is lost. You have to go back and pray and think.

The situation is still extremely complex. The Archbishop of Canterbury said when he invited us all that if you accept this invitation you are accepting to work with the Windsor Report and the Covenant process. The Archbishop reiterated that on Sunday afternoon and has reiterated it publicly several times.

If the Windsor Report is properly followed through and if the Covenant process actually gets somewhere where it is designed to get then things can happen which will give hope to a lot of people who are at present in danger of losing hope. I say that in general terms because I am not in charge of the process, I’m not on the group for taking forward either of those things. So I am not entirely sure what will happen with either of them and to put it devoutly I am not sure how the Holy Spirit will lead those who are working on those things.

Friday, July 25, 2008

A Fifth Instrument of Unity: Proposed Anglican Faith and Order Commission

Some hopeful rumblings from Lambeth. See commentary and links over at Fulcrum.

My Conversation with Stand Firm's Sarah about GAFCON

My readers may view the full discussion (including Roland's entry) here: Restating a Third Mill Catholic Prophecy.

Sarah writes:

Oh, I certainly believe that the Communion will break up -- but not for anything that Gafcon did or didn't do.

I think that Gafcon is merely the consequence of the Communion's inability -- and I believe it to be unable -- to discipline itself.

For example, you state that setting up the Gafcon Primates Council undermines "the authority and relevance of the already-established Primates' Meeting" -- but of course it was already undermined and ignored and appears to have no authority at all, as Dar has now well-demonstrated.

It seems that we are debating the *causes* of the inevitable breakup of the Communion and I just can't see that Gafcon will have had much to do with it. I think that Gafcon's eventual -- and I think it is eventual in a long-term sense -- separation from the Communion will be a *consequence* of the fracture and dissolution of the Communion and not its cause.

There will be a long long long list of causes of the dissolution of the Communion and I don't think that history will record Gafcon as a major one, if at all.

Roland, you say "If conservatives had maintained a united front and lined up behind +Rowan's covenant proposal, they could easily have isolated the North American revisionists" and I have to laugh at what seems to me to be breathtaking naivete about the process.

Conservatives could have maintained a "united front" till the cows come home but again -- it is the ACC and the Covenant Design Group that determines what the Covenant actually is and whether it will be effective.

Of course -- there is still time. The Design Group meets after Lambeth for its next draft, and the ACC will get its mitts on the Covenant some time in early April of 09. It will then proceed to the provinces' for their individual approvals.

I personally believe that *all* the provinces, including TEC and Sydney, will sign on to the Covenant.

And so, by the end of 2009, we will be in the exact same place as we were in December of 03, with all the provinces of the Anglican Communion staring at one another, completely opposed in their two gospels, and with no discipline.

And a signed, approved Covenant -- with *all* the conservatives approving it -- won't, of course, solve any problems at all.

Someday, I'll probably leave the Communion. But saying that Gafcon is "causing the breakup of the Communion" sounds very similar to a person saying "when Sarah left the Communion, she caused its breakup."

I guess if you are operating under the assumption that if all conservatives, including Gafcon members, simply sat in the Communion and never did anything, that *then* the Communion would never break up, then I can see your point. But in that case, you seem to be advocating for all of us to simply sit still -- and the Communion will survive.


Dear Sarah,

You're correct that the Communion is currently unable to discipline itself, but this is because the structures were never in place to do so. No one denies this, and in fact this is precisely what the Windsor Commission originally reported.

So the question at hand is NOT, nor has it ever been, why hasn't the ABC (or the some other instrument) done anything to "discipline" TEC? There is no process to discipline. Rather, the question is what structures must evolve over the next few years to bring the Communion to the point where it can live together in "autonomy with accountability"? (As the Windsor Continuation Group has recently said). This implies that the Communion is working towards the accountability structures that will provide for discipline. We're simply not there yet.

GAFCON effectively is already a schism -- "Methodist-style" as I have argued in the past. Never in history has the "church within a church" strategy ever worked for reform, but has always ended in separation via estrangement.

The essential problem with GAFCON (as evidenced by the Jerusalem statement itself) is that its major movers and shakers (e.g., Akinola) are federalists. No less than a federal (and confessional) solution will please them. Akinola made his move long before GAFCON by changing his province's constitution to write Canterbury out of the definition of what it means for his province to be Anglican.

I think you know me better than to suggest that I advocate sitting still. I actually think we need a "refuge" of some kind for the disaffected in our province. However, this should be set up as an extraordinary "safe space" for conservatives, not as a first step towards "realignment" or separation (i.e., schism).

Indeed, I'm sure that this is precisely where you and I differ in our estimations of GAFCON. You see what has been done as essentially what I advocate in the paragraph above (i.e., safe spaces). I see these so-called "safe spaces" as hopelessly compromised (and dominated) by federalists who don't give a rat's ass for saving the so-called Canterbury-centered Anglican Communion (Noll and Rodgers for instance).

So if you wish to talk about causes, well there are plenty to choose from, indeed. But it's naive to give GAFCON a "get out of jail free card" on this one. The intellectual engine behind GAFCON is compromised by federalism, and there is nothing stopping that train now that it's rolling down the track.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

GAFCON and the Anglican Covenant by Andrew Goddard

Check out this analysis of the recent GAFCON response to the Covenant Process. This is brilliant.


Monday, July 21, 2008

"Anglicans and Orthodoxy" from the Land of Unlikeness Blog

Published by DWMon July 17, 2008 (See link below).

Cynthia at Per Caritatem pointed to a couple blog posts on recent affairs in the Anglican Communion. She also asked for other links to Anglican reflections. Besides my link to NT Wright’s article on GAFCON, there were a couple comments on the state of affairs. I suggest you read the comments yourself as I won’t be quoting directly.

In any case, as an Episcopelian theology student and instructor who considers himself to be practicing orthodoxy, I’m getting a little tired of the straw-man claims that TEC and the Anglican Communion have been possessed by the heresy demons. It seems that there’s an implicit understanding that what constitutes orthodoxy among a communion necessarily includes not only no women in the episcopate, but also, if you will, a “roman” idea of infallibility amongst the decisions makers. So, the reasoning goes something like this: the C of E has necessarily made a mistake in affirming women in the episcopate, and we all know what kind of blunder TEC made with Gene Robinson and their apparent unwillingness to repent and atone for their sins, their resistance to the work of the Spirit via the splinter factions/alternative oversight from the southern cone, and let’s not forget Abp. Williams’ “failures in leadership” as one commentator so charmingly put it. All of this equals a failure of orthodoxy, or again as one put it today, a tolerance of heterodoxy in the name of catholicity.

Yet, this reasoning errs on two levels, I think. First, the church has never been comprised of a 100% orthodox episcopate. Orthodoxy has always resulted from the decisions of councils when faced with risky moves by theologians and by changing demands in the world. This necessitates at least two sides, usually more. One side often gets labeled heretical, and more often the not the winning side even gets chastened a bit. To borrow methodologically from William Desmond, orthodoxy is not a mediation determined by one side at the expense of the other. Rather, orthodoxy is a true mediation of the spirit, and is therefore a truly theological, and therefore is a spiritual/liturgical practice. In other words, Arius and Athanasius were both involved in a community of right spiritual practice (orthodoxy). Both were necessary to the process.

Second, the above view also errs in its omission of the orthodox and often conservative views of Bishops like Tom Wright and many of the southern cone bishops. Often this view acts as if orthodoxy in the communion is an aberance and must come from outside the communion. This fails in seeing that theologians, like priests, bishops, and lay people are all formed by their participation in the communion of practice. They don’t develop their ideas in a vacuum or apart from the church, despite how much they try. And this is not an excuse for heretical theology, but rather a realistic description of the contexts in which both orthodox and heterodox theology is formed. Once we’ve recognized this, it becomes harder to relegate an entire church to heterodoxy or failed catholicity pell mell.

Lastly, this view errs in its ability to locate orthodoxy in anything but polity decisions at a second or third order levels. if we go with a traditional understanding of orthodoxy starting in first order theological issues (Trinity, Christology, etc..), and then second order (soteriology, harmartiology, angelology, anthropology, etc..), and then third order stuff like polity decisions, one fails to see the crisis of orthodoxy in the Anglican Communion. Show me a lack of Orthodoxy among leaders in the communion like Apb. Williams, the Abp. of York, and NT Wright, and maybe then I’ll start to concede to something like Lambethgate. Until then, you Rush Limbaughs of theology, chill out.

The Land of Unlikeness

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Dark Knight a Lapsed Episcopalian?

The Religious Affiliation of Batman

Al Kimel's Comments on My Recent Entries

Below is a portion of a post written by Al Kimel over at Per Caritatem. This entry was excised from the discussion of my recent brief essays "Personal Reflections for Remaining in TEC," "The Problem of Confessionalism," and "Restating a Third Mill Catholic Prophecy." Biretta tip to Cynthia Nielsen for bringing these posts to the attention of her readers, and for maintaining the best theological blog in the blogosphere bar none. See link for the discussion below.


I don’t believe that most who are really struggling with the present direction of the Episcopal Church will find Fr Daniel Dunlap’s reflections very helpful. Basically he seems to be saying, Episcopalians are all over the place theologically, but the TEC and Anglican Communion still formally retain catholic creeds and catholic orders, so there’s no imperative to break communion. As Fr Dunlap writes, “the only thing that really matters at the end of the day is the Church’s credo, not our individual “credos,” and endeavoring to live into it.”

This, of course, has been precisely the line advanced by most orthodox Episcopalians during the past thirty years. It is a failed strategy, and it ignores the political, theological, and ecclesial and seminary realities now confronting the “orthodox” (however one draws the lines of “orthodoxy”).


First, I'll make a concession. Yes, Episcopalians are all over the place theologically, but then so are Roman Catholics. The difference? The Romans have in place a magisterium and a very nuanced rationale for doctrinal development that, when taken together, have so far managed to cover over centuries of theological missteps and still leave room for an infallible definition or two from time to time. However, they also make good hiding places for the "existentialist-expressivists" for whom Fr. Kimel apparently has no liking, and whom Fr. Kimel apparently would rather pretend did not exist within the Roman camp.

Be that as it may, the magisterium-doctrinal development thesis is so ingrained in the Roman psyche that to deny its catholicity (which I do) seemingly places its detractors on a playing field slanted in favor of those who affirm it. Okay, fair enough. I accept the premise that an "Anglican magisterium" would make Anglican life so much easier. But would it make Anglicanism more "catholic"? Would it solve the issues that so divide the Anglican Communion today? Or, rather, would it solidify for all time certain theological innovations in the name of "Anglican doctrinal development"? I believe the latter to be more likely, and I believe that supposedly "infallible" Roman dogmas (e.g., the Immaculate Conception) make the point better than I ever could.

Such a scenario, of course, is nonsensical. An "Anglican magisterium" is about as oxymoronic a term as one can imagine. However, my point should be obvious: the Anglican way of being "catholic" (or living into catholicity) is different than the Roman way. So why is it that Roman apologists (many of them ex-Anglicans, I might add) only come out to play when they have homefield advantage? Obviously it's futile to argue for the catholicity of Anglicanism on Roman terms. So I won't. I will be content to argue for the catholicity of Anglicanism on Anglican terms.

At first, it may appear odd to my readers to hear me suggest that Anglicanism has its "own terms" or definition of catholicity. But it shouldn't. I have argued on a number of occasions that each of the three major apostolic communions (i.e., Roman, Byzantine, Anglican) operate on quite different understandings of what it means to be "one, holy, catholic, and apostolic." Romanism and Byzantinism both make claims of ecclesial ultimacy. But their respective claims are mutually exclusive, as the former insists on papal supremacy and the latter on the received faith of the ecumenical councils. Thus, despite whatever superficial similarities Rome and Byzantium may have, they are different ways of understanding what it means to be catholic. In contrast, Anglicanism has never made a claim of ecclesial ultimacy, and so defines itself not as the Catholic Church, but rather as a catholic church, and thus recognizes the other two communions as legitimate branches of "the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church." Unlike Fr. Kimel, I see this as Anglicanism's greatest strength, not its weakness. And if it survives the present struggles, then it will only be that much stronger.

You see, believe it or not, I still believe in "common prayer catholicity," which, contrary to Al Kimel's reductionism above, is more than just the formal retention of ancient creeds and apostolic orders. Neither is my position merely a "strategy," failed or otherwise, for the orthodox to stay put in TEC/Anglican Communion. I don't need a reason or a strategy to stay in TEC. Indeed, the burden of proof is STILL on those who insist that I should leave! Rather Anglicanism is a way of being catholic, or living into catholicity, that has proven itself very effective and extremely resilient over the last nearly 500 years of this independent Anglican experiment. I still believe that Anglicanism is a movement of God. I may be wrong. But why should I give up on it now?

Per Caritatem

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Ephraim Radner's Open Letter to the Bishops Gathering for Lambeth

Biretta tip to Covenant.


To the Bishops gathering for the Lambeth Conference:

I write to you personally and openly. I hope that at least some of you will take my words to heart, not because they are mine (which, on their own, would not count for much), but because they represent the mind, I believe, of many in the Communion who are not as vocal in the councils and organs of communication within our church as some.

I write to urge you to prayerful action in the face of widespread concerns that the upcoming Lambeth Conference will prove not only wholly irrelevant to the needs of our common life, but perhaps also the last such conference that our Communion will engage. Yet, in large measure, God has placed these matters in your hands. Although I am not privy to the planning, the intentions, and the ordering of the Conference, there are clear signs that the Conference runs the risk of failing to face and respond faithfully to the needs of God’s people within our Communion and her churches.

Let me outline first what your Conference embodies, as I and many understand it; next, what dangers we are in that your gathering must somehow address; then, what I believe God is calling you to specifically; and finally how you might practically respond.

What is the gathering you are now attending?

1. The Lambeth Conference is the only, the widest, and the most venerable gathering of bishops within our Communion of churches. Within the catholic tradition of our common life, this means quite simply that it is the most representative gathering of our Communion, with all the promise and responsibility that this implies. People have long spoken of the Lambeth’s “moral authority”; there is none greater among the gatherings of Anglicans.

2. I am well aware that the Lambeth Conference itself has long proclaimed that it is not a “synod” in some technical sense, granted the canonical powers to legislate for its member churches. But, with these canonical constraints granted, it remains a fact that the Lambeth Conference is the one gathering of Anglican bishops; and if it is your mind, guided by the Holy Spirit, that is spoken and heard, what we have called a “moral authority” will be understood, and rightly so, by the people as an authoritative voice, equivalent to any synod or council within our tradition. As I have argued before, Lambeth “can be what it wants to be”, that is, if the will of the bishops is joined by a divine grace to speak as one. And you are called so to speak (1 Cor. 1:10).

3. I am also aware that there is a deliberate desire at this decade’s conference to avoid a focus upon parliamentary debate and resolutions, and instead focus upon common discussion, listening, and prayer. This is as it should be: for what council of bishops could ever speak faithfully unless its words emerged from a mind submitted to and brought together in the Spirit of Christ Jesus? And how shall this happen but through the gathering in prayer in the example of the first Apostles?

But if this prayerful reflection does not, in this time, give rise to a common resolution regarding the responsibilities of your own pastoral office and the ordering of our common life, such devoted intentions will have been wasted, perhaps culpably so.

The Moment We Face

1. Your responsibility is shaped, in part, by the times we are in. For we are facing the most perilous crisis in our life as a Communion and as members of it, that we have ever faced. To be sure, this is not the first major threat to our common Christian life as Anglicans. During the first half of the 17th century, the Great Migration saw thousands leave England, and effectively leave the Anglican church, for North America; the subsequent Civil War nearly destroyed for all time this tradition and her gifts, and despite emerging from this, the Anglican Church was long beset with exiles and schisms. These were first made international at the end of the 18th century, with the American Revolution and the Methodist divisions, and the 19th century also saw a long struggle, marked by anguish and departures, one however that was more than compensated by an unparalleled missionary outreach. For all that, nothing in the past compares with the sheer extent of the threat to Anglican existence that we now face, as the Communion looks into permanent and multiple fracture, and local churches do the same in the wake of already grievous divisions.

2. There are those who believe that Anglicanism’s structural dissolution could represent not only a “new thing”, but a “good thing” as God reorders His church during this epoch. And who is to say for certain?

But we should beware of attributing to God’s goodness the fruits of our own failures. For the signs are not good at all: in the West, the Christian witness has flagged, in some places diminishing terribly. Even in the United States, most indicators point to the beginning of a decline in Christian faith that is afflicting all churches in different ways. And in the global context, where growth has been noticeable among Christian churches, we should not fool ourselves: the fastest growing religions are not Christian at all, but often something very different (e.g,. Mormonism). The demise of the Anglican Communion will weaken all Anglican churches; some – among whom are the poorest – will lose the support of their brethren to the hurt of their people; others, in richer nations, will carry on perhaps in shrinking and increasingly irrelevant niches; while finally others will merge into the simple arena of religious competition within their societies, left to the fortunes of politics and the struggle over limited resources.

3. In any of these not only possible, but likely scenarios, Anglicanism will not only have squandered its historic bequest, but we will have failed in our vocation to stand with and serve the larger Church in our single witness to our Lord Jesus Christ. Only 100 years ago, in Edinburgh, we were willing to take the lead in such a common privilege. Now we struggle even to stand upright within the wind.

4. Within the United States in particular – and now I speak of my own church – the future of Anglicanism looks grim. On the one side stands the national office of the Episcopal Church, supported by many bishops and dioceses, that has flouted the traditional teachings of the Church, rejected the pleas and recommendations of the Communion, and engaged in formal and informal processes of bullying, denigrating, and smearing those who disagree. On the other side are traditionalist bishops, dioceses, and congregations, the most formally organized of which (e.g. the Common Cause groups) are moving in a direction of denominationalist marginalization. Whatever GAFCON’s hopes may contain for the broader world, the context and dynamics of American religion mean that any movement determined by autonomous structures will be swallowed up by sectarian identities. What are American Anglicans to do who remain committed to the Anglican Communion’s vocation of unity-in-council for the sake of the Gospel? If the Lambeth Conference cannot take it upon itself to act with clarity and evangelical coherence in the face of the threats to our common life, you abandon us.

What you are called to do

You must pray, you must reflect, you must listen. You must also act. Let me suggest four central actions you must come to a common mind about. In all these cases I use the term “must”, not because I am absolutely certain of these matters, but because I believe that God is indeed calling you to act, and this belief is buttressed by the discernment of countless others around the Communion.

1. You must state clearly that the actions of TEC as an official body, and of certain Canadian dioceses, are unacceptable to you as bishops of the Communion. And you must decide, resolutely, that those bishops from these churches who are in agreement to press forward in ways the Communion has now clearly and consistently repudiated no longer partake in your common councils. I am not eager to state this; but I know of no other reasonable course to take at this point. This is not a matter of punishment, or even “discipline” in any technical form: it is a matter of common Christian sense. TEC (to use this example) has demonstrated clearly, and with increasing hard-heartedness, that it does not wish to respect the common recommendations and pleas and even hopes of the Communion as a whole. Not only that, TEC’s enacted wish to go her own way has caused chaos in our midst.

I do not deny that a part of that chaos has involved reactive responses by other provinces and bishops in the Communion; and that, in a merely pragmatic way, some of these responses have sown an extensive amount of confusion that requires disciplined resolution (see below). But the root cause of all of this has been, without doubt, the uncompromising insistence by TEC’s leaders that they must go their own way. In March of 2007, I was present when a proposal was made to TEC’s House of Bishops that TEC take 5 or 10 years “break” from the Communion; it was a proposal that was greeted with much applause by the bishops. Now is the time to take this proposal up among yourselves, and formally accept it with deliberated application to your own common life.

You can still be friends; you may still choose to cooperate in this or that matter. But the disagreement between TEC and the Communion’s members as a whole has become too great and too destructive, and “walking together” (Amos 3:3) is not only no longer possible; it has long ceased in any substantive way.

2. You must call back into your midst those who have stayed away from this Conference, not simply as a sign of continued fellowship, but in order to meet face to face again to resolve and heal the breaches that are widening among you month by month. There is much speaking of the truth, repentance, and reconciliation that needs to be done among you and with them. But it is not right simply that declarations be made or statements offered or private counsel kept in the face of the present estrangements, irregular episcopal acts, and hostile words. There is scandal on every side: confront it and heal it among yourselves, armed with powers of Christ’s spirit.

3. You must come to a common and directive mind on how you will recognize and work with those Anglicans in North America especially – bishops, dioceses, congregations, and clergy – who have remained faithful and wish to remain faithful to the common agreements of our life in the past and those upon which you are ready to embark (and yes, this includes many who do not accept the ordination of women; they cannot be forgotten). You cannot, of course, resolve or expel the litigious spirit so deeply and scandalously embedded among Americans of all theological stripes. But you can state clearly what your communion in Christ constitutes and with whom, and you can agree on how you will do this in a single and common way. Do not be afraid to do so, thereby giving hope and a foundation for continued witness in our lands.

4. I pray that you will state clearly your commitment to the expeditious formulation and application of an Anglican Communion Covenant, one that will be faithful, concrete and adaptable to the mission entrusted to us. We have done good work thus far, but there is more to do, and beyond that the daunting vista of how we might put such a covenant in place so as to be both effective and capable of including all who are willing to commit to its common vision. Help show us the way, and do not simply stand on the sidelines and watch this project either float or sink of its own accord. Its purpose and character are yours first of all.

How can you accomplish this?

The grave concern that many of us have is that your conference will come and go without any of these matters being dealt with straightforwardly and positively. We know that there are many among you even who do not believe that your conference should be dealing with such matters, and would like the format of your meeting to exclude any decisions.

I cannot say what formal means are open to you. But I can say this: you are bishops of this church, you are gathering in the great name of Jesus Christ, and you are called to be faithful stewards of the mysteries entrusted to you (1 Cor. 4;1). In such a posture you have no choice but to be courageous and call for the work that needs to be done, and then do it, whether the conference seeks your counsel or not. You are Esthers before the king, come for such a time as this (Est. 4:13-14). And as Augustine notes, it is up to God to change the king’s heart, not you: yours is to witness faithfully. You must find a way to bring these matters before your colleagues; you must press them with vigor, charity, and focus; you must be untiring and hopeful that God will bless your testimony. If not you, who shall it be? The Church of Christ depends upon her Lord; but He has called you to be His servants in His mission.

My good bishops: we pray for you ceaselessly; we seek the blessing of the Lord Jesus upon you; we yearn in the Spirit, often in ways we cannot express, for the healing of our church and the life of our mission together. May God himself be your strength and your guide.

Your brother in Christ,

Ephraim Radner
Wycliffe College, Toronto
Covenant Design Group

Link to Covenant

Friday, July 11, 2008

"Faux Catholic"? Could be the beginning of a new movement

Check out Haligweorc's blog entry entitled "faux catholic." It's worth a read.


So What Now? By Andrew Teather of "Anglican Wanderings"

It is almost impossible to collate the information below and produce some sort of commentary, not least because we are still waiting for statements from the Bishops of Beverley and Richborough. So far we do not have a consensus of opinion though. This points to the obvious answer that we are not going to have one, therefore we are, as an ecclesial body of Catholics in the Church of England, divided in this respect. Some of us, like one commentator on these pages, will shift position and say that it is possible to be a Catholic and accept the Ordination of women, a view which, in all fairness, has found some support even in the Roman Church, notably Bishop Conroy of Arundel and Brighton said that he had no objections whatsoever and Cardinal Hume said a number of years ago that there were no theological objections, just those of tradition and ecclesiology. So this is unlikely to be seen as a good enough reason for seeking ordination in Rome, as is being suggested elsewhere. For these reasons, it would seem to me to be far better, as we are divided in our aspirations, if those who wish to swim the Tiber were to do so, for their quicker submission would, I suspect, be received with great courtesy, for there may not be a 'plan' for us, this is still speculation. Many people will claim to have definitive information on both sides, but this is, as I said, speculation.

Others among us, myself in point of fact, will stay, at least until we find out what provision is to be made for us. As Jeremy Paxman pointed out on Newsnight on Monday, we have passed legislation which legislates for us in a way we have as yet not decided. The positive letter from +Chartres is good news. Remember the London Plan is not the same as the act of synod, but a separate entity. If it can be argued that it can continue under the 'code of practice' then I see no reason why the two Archdioceses cannot erect a similar plan, which would leave us with something very similar to what we already have. As for the paying of the Parish Share, those of us who, in our hearts know we wish to remain if we can know that we are remaining in a structure which we hope will support us, therefore I would argue that we must support it in the ways we can, prayer being one and the parish share being another. I know we may not feel as though we want to at the moment, but gloom gets us nowhere, not even a one way ticket to Italy!

Other Diocesan Bishops will issue letters, I hope, which will seek to reassure us, which we can attach more or less importance to depending on what they voted for! All will point out that they wished for a code of practice for us, which is, at least, true. I see no other options, I have had friends who have joined the Orthodox Church, but have been unhappy, I know nothing of it and suspect I never will, so wanting to join because of disillusionment seems difficult and slightly contorted. My antipathy for the continuing churches is well known, and I believe them to be a one way street ending in a cul-de-sac. However, some of us will probably try and resurrect the TAC or a variant on these shores. Some will strive for the Orthodox Faith. Some will just give up, I fear and go home.

As I said, what is clear is that nothing is clear and that there is no firm direction. I do believe that the road to Rome, if it is in your heart to take it, is best taken now. However I think the Church of England will find a lane for us and who knows what will happen in our favour in it in the future. Who knows, with our great Parishes, our common bonds of faith, our peculiar but Godly ways, our prayers and sacraments, who knows what we may be. We can be part of this Church, ministering to the poor and the needy, teaching the word of God and being His witnesses. The order of the Church is not the only thing which ties me to this Communion, the pull of love for the people of God, to whom this is largely an irrelevance, is the stronger bond. What may we be? We may be faithful servants of God, even in what for us are the darkest hours. What we may be then is faithful and not dissimilar, it would appear to me, to our forebears for generations, to Christ, who is with us in our struggle. For what we may be and what every man and woman in this nation and in this Church may be, is redeemed and we may stay and act for that. That is what we may be, we may be children of God, reaching out and ministering in the hardest times, that we may all be what we may be, that we may be redeemed. As Bishop Martyn said to me the other day, 'Our God Reigns'. For Ever.

Anglican Wanderings

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Bishop Edwin Barnes: A Message to Anglo-Catholics

Until July 2008 it was possible for members of the Church of England to claim to be part of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. By the vote in General Synod on 7/7/08 that possibility was removed. Now catholic Anglicans are looking to the future without any real chance of remaining members of the Church of England.

Fifteen years ago, we were told we had an honoured place in that church, and that there would be no discrimination against any of us who believed in conscience that women could not be priests. Now, the majority in General Synod have reneged on those promises. They have sought to cover their naked ambition with the fig-leaf of a 'code of practice' but we are not deceived. The code of practice of the House of Bishops which accompanied the Act of Synod in 1993 has been either ignored or positively undermined by those in authority. The even-handedness which was promised us has been replaced by a determined and successful effort to ensure that no-one who believed women's ordination might be against the will of God would gain any sort of senior office in the church.

For myself, this clear decision that the majority wants to be rid of us comes as a great relief. We can now begin to plan for a future which will not involve us in compromise. Our Fathers in God (the Provincial Episcopal Visitors, and the few remaining orthodox bishops such as Fulham, Chichester and a handful of others) will do their best to encourage us and keep us together, so that we can hold together. We believe our friends in the Roman Communion will do all they can to help us. Meanwhile, we must pray for one another and support one another - and pray for those who despitefully use us and want us gone. It is a sad time for the Church of England; but not for the Church of God. Great is the truth, and will prevail. God bless and sustain you - and in this interim the Church Union will do all it can to help you. Link for Article

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

On the Actions of General Synod (CoE) to Allow for the Ordination of Women to the Episcopate

For me, yesterday's vote of the Church of England's General Synod to authorize the ordination of women to the episcopate WITHOUT MAKING ADEQUATE PROVISION for dissenting traditionalists was a bigger blow to the stomach than GafCon. Now I made my peace with the ordination of women some time ago, so in a sense I didn't have a dog in this fight. After all, by my own choice, freely and without reservation, I was ordained into a diocese that ordains women. So I would hardly "qualify" as an Anglo-Catholic by comparison to the 24 karat variety of catholic in the Church of England or in the Continuing Church for that matter. (I don't count my previous ordination in the Free Church of England as valid episcopal ordination since it clearly lacked "intent.")

Still, I'm afriad that the Church of England lost something very precious and unique this week. The English Church has always been a microcosm of the Communion itself, comprehending within her the whole spectrum of Anglicanism. Not anymore. One might say that the Mother Church, if not all of Anglicanism, has suddenly become stingy, if not outright miserly, in what she is willing to present to the rest of Christendom as her "generous orthdoxy."

But who's to blame?

Think back, if you will, to the 1993-94 measure to ordain women as priests. Many moderates and "liberals" also supported a separate measure to keep Anglo-Catholic traditionalists under the same tent by providing Provincial Episcopal Visitors ("flying bishops"). This made sense. The Church of England was bracing itself for a MASS exodus of traditionalists. But the mass exodus turned out to be trickle. Why? Because adequate provision for dissenters of women's ordination was made.

I still recall a chapel sermon given in the Michaelmas term 1993 by Dr. Dick France, then Principal of Wycliffe Hall, who preached vociferously against Anglo-Catholic "bullying" on the issue of women's ordination. I was stunned, especially to find out how different English-style Evangelical Anglicanism was from my own experience of Evangelical Anglicanism in the USA (I was at the time a deacon in the Reformed Episcopal Church). Clearly, it was the moderates who came to the rescue of the Anglo-Catholics in that day.

However, the tide has shifted. Perhaps it is an overstatement to place blame on the "recent unpleasantness" in Jerusalem (i.e., GafCon). Okay, it is an overstatement to blame GafCon. But can there be any doubt at all that the same attitudes and events that led to GafCon also contributed to the cool reception of General Synod towards any measure that would provide "safe space" for traditionalists via a parallel structure in the Church of England? Certainly even before GafCon, the cross-jurisdictional actions of the Southern Cone and other provinces, not to mention Reform's incessant calls for Evangelical "flying bishops," along with the illicit ordinations of Evangelical "presbyters" in London, created a climate of distrust for parallel structures in England. GafCon was merely icing on the cake!

But whatever else may be said, here's what I know from my own experience in England. There is very little love lost between Evangelicals (of any variety) and Anglo-Catholics. A major difference between American Catholics and English Catholics is that the former are more at home with Evangelicals, which is why +Iker, +Ackerman, et al. are quite comfortable working hand-in-hand with them. The kind of cooperation we see over here (in the USA) between parties is not nearly as common as I think we Americans assume it must be over there. That's just the way it is. It would not surprise me in the least if many Evangelicals (the so-called "open" ones) voted in favor of yesterday's measure. Not at all.

That's my take. I'm not infallible and I'm open for critique. So please let me know what you think.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Restating a Third Mill Catholic Prophecy

Let me suggest that the GafCon response is a case of self-fulfilled prophecy. As ineffective as the Archibshop of Canterbury's leadership has been, it pales in comparison to the resolve of those who seized upon the opportunity of Rowan Williams' “dithering” to force a Protestant structural change upon the Communion in the guise of a Communion-wide solution to the revisionist agenda of TEC. Truth be told, a united conservative front had the voting bloc to make a real difference in the Windsor/Covenant process, despite a “dithering” Archbishop, but now those hopes are seemingly dashed. Impatient federalists have seized the day to take control of the conservative Anglican destiny and re-create it in their own image, and now we are more divided than ever. The recent blasting of N.T. Wright by the federalists is but scratching the surface of just how divided conservative Anglicans are. I said it before, I’ll say it again: In five years, perhaps ten, there will be two distinct communions, neither of which will be recognizably Anglican.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Why Anglican Confessionalism will Undermine the Anglican Catholic Position

Spinning the 39 Articles to negate the Reformation doctrine behind them is not an honest interpretation. This was Newman’s folly in Tract 90, which even he in time came to understand. GAFCON and the Jerusalem Declaration will, in time, undermine the Anglo-Catholics who threw their lot in with the new Confessional Anglican Fellowship. Like the Reformed Episcopal Church, where some presbyters push the Protestant confessional envelope with smells and bells, debates over “catholicity” will be reduced in meaning to eccentric tastes in vestments and arguments over funny hats and sacred trinkets, which amounts to how “high church” one can be in worship and still remain a faithful Protestant!

The Problem with Confessionalism

The problem I have with confessionalism can be summarized in two words: locality and constitutionality. I don't have difficulty with confessions of faith, per se. But we must recognize them as limited by their local nature (i.e., they are not universal), local context (i.e., they address issues at hand at a particular time and in a particular setting) and local perspective (i.e., they cannot anticipate later developments, broadening horizens, or new circumstances). This is particularly problematic when a church or tradition affirms a confession as constitutive of its life and existence, where a confession stands as the unalterable sine qua non of "true" Christian faith and practice.

GAFCON's "confessional Anglican" alternative shifts the balance between "catholic" and "reformed" that presently characterizes Anglicanism dramatically to one side (i.e., the reformed). Hence, the suppression of those Anglicans out of sync with the confessional rationale is inevitable, IMO. This is not a good scenario for catholics. Just ask Jim Packer.

The Real War is Trinitarian

A long time ago I stated that the real war out there was Trinitarian, not the Bible and certainly not sex, which are but proxy wars. Think of the Korean War, Vietnam, Afghanistan (in the 80s), Nicaragua -- all proxy wars of the Cold War. Proxy wars still need to be fought. They are like moves in a game of chess, but the real war isn't over and won until checkmate. Unless we keep our eye on the real war, we may be distracted and make a wrong move to protect the wrong chess piece and end up losing the whole game. GAFCON appears to be poised to make a wrong move.

If GAFCON results in two distinct communions, neither of which are recognizably Anglican, then at that point the Anglican "knight" on the chessboard will have been extinguished, and many Anglican Catholics will be off to fight the Trinitarian war alongside the Roman "queen."

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Personal Reflections on Remaining in TEC

I can continue to minister in TEC and the Anglican Communion for two overriding reasons. First, TEC and the Anglican Communion are still explicitly catholic, even if many of the bishops/clergy are (in varying degrees) preaching/teaching inconsistently with the Church's credo. Second, I don't believe in the doctrine of "the total depravity of TEC" (sorry folks). In my experience, though things may be bad, even really bad at times, I have not written off every person, every bishop, every priest or deacon that holds (to some degree) "revisionist positions."

If one were to listen indiscriminately to the rhetoric of the GAFCON conservatives, one would conclude that every person, every bishop, every priest and deacon that is in any way identified with "revisionism" is totally void of a living faith. I know this to be an unfair generalization.

In essence, I don't believe that the simple "two gospels" dichotomy is an accurate working description of the way things really are in TEC or the Anglican Communion. Truth be told, people are all over the map. Only the most tenacious folks on the extreme wings are living into the reality of "two gospels" and believe it to be their divine calling to impose one or the other "gospel" on everyone else. That's why the only thing that really matters at the end of the day is the Church's credo, not our individual "credos," and endeavoring to live into it.

Monday, June 30, 2008

GAFCON - Initial Thoughts

I'm breaking my self-imposed blogging embargo to share my thoughts about GAFCON with whoever still visits this blog.

Essentially GAFCON has tragically redefined Anglicanism in an attempt to force an ineffective Archbishop to do what needs to be done. It's a tragic day for the Communion, with plenty of blame to place on all parties. But to re-create Anglicanism as a "confessional body" along the lines of the Missouri Synod Lutherans, or worse, the PCA, is the biggest blow of all. This is not the way to fix the Communion. It is schism -- Anglican style. If we are not careful, within five years, perhaps ten, there will be two distinct communions, neither of which will be recognizably Anglican.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

For those who need proof...

...that I'm still alive, here is a photo of my recent ordination.