Monday, February 16, 2009

My Parish's Disafiliation with the American Anglican Council

The Rt. Rev. David Anderson, President and CEO
C/o The American Anglican Council
2296 Henderson Mill Road NE
Suite 406
Atlanta, Georgia 30345-2739

Dear David,

This letter is to inform you that, after prayerful consideration, the vestry of The Episcopal Church of the -------- at its regularly scheduled meeting on February 16, 2009 voted unanimously to disaffiliate with the American Anglican Council (AAC).

Over the years, -------- parish has valued its longstanding affiliation with the AAC, as a support to its own commitment to orthodox faith and practice in The Episcopal Church and The Anglican Communion. However, certain recent actions and events have caused us to reconsider this relationship, particularly your organization’s collaboration in parish and diocesan realignment efforts, inevitably leading to the formation of the self-styled “Anglican Church in North America,” of which your organization is listed as a “founding entity.”

These efforts demonstrate that the AAC has moved substantially beyond the purposes of its original mission, and thus is no longer able to be an advocate for, or represent the interests of, parishes that are committed to remaining in The Episcopal Church and The Anglican Communion, such as --------.

We respectfully request the AAC to remove The Episcopal Church of the -------- from its list of affiliated parishes.

Sincerely yours,


The Acting Rector

Note: The names have been removed to preserve my loosely-guarded anonymity. Some of my readers might recall that a nuisance attack some months ago caused me to go semi-anonymous on this blog. It's also one of the reasons I haven't been very active of late.

37 comments:

Andy B. said...

Fr. Dan, as one who constantly wrestles with the intrigue and mystery in and with (but not under) Catholic ecclesiology, I wonder what your thoughts are regarding this post?

The author of that post declares with some certainty (and with a degree of sound reason) that TEC is schismatic in and of its own actions. If he is correct, then why the objection to the AAC's actions of supporting realignment? If he incorrect, how would you say that he is?

Thanks,
Andy B.

Third Mill Catholic said...

Frankly, I think the author's conclusion is a bit silly, and I quote:

"If General Synod proceeds with women bishops, Catholic continuity in the Church of England will end and she will become schismatic, like The Episcopal Church in America."

Conceding for the moment Bramhall's description of what constitutes an act of schism, why did the author of the article arbitrarily draw the line at General Synod's decision to allow women bishops? Why not General Synod's earlier decision (nearly two decades ago) to allow women priests?

And if we apply this across the board, what about Rome's "infallible" definitions of the IC and the ABVM? What about the West's adoption of the filioque?

In principle, I don't really have a problem with Bramhall's statement. How people choose to apply it to their own contexts is another matter.

In the abstract (i.e., as an ideal of what the church should be), Bramhall's statement is good reading, yea, inspired even. But in the concrete (i.e., as a practical guide in context), frankly, it made no more sense in his day (e.g., the 39 Articles) than it does in our own.

Andy B. said...

Thanks for your thoughts. I wonder then, is there a boundary line one jurisdiction (or diocese/bishop if we are speaking ecclesiologically) can cross that can be generally identified as schismatic? I assume you don't think TEC's actions are schismatic, is that so?

Third Mill Catholic said...

Sure there's a line. And in my estimation it has been crossed in recent times by some who I otherwise regard as theological allies (e.g., Duncan, Schofield), whose actions amount to an "abandonment of the communion of this church."

It's difficult to determine what constitutes a schismatic action with respect to TEC - not because her doctrinal innovations and aberrations are difficult to discern, but rather because of the nature of the Anglican Communion itself, which is defined in terms of communion with the See of Canterbury.

So far the Anglican Communion has only managed to define "impaired communion" as a working definition for its bilateral relations within the orb of Canterbury-centered churches. This is precisely why I favor the Covenant Process as a way forward. A better instrument of mutual accountability must be in place for the communion to have any chance of surviving intact.

Andy B. said...

So it's easy to point out who the schismatics are in your otherwise theological allies, but in TEC it is difficult to discern...because the Anglican Communion has difficulty discerning?!

Mascal once wrote of the distinction between the appeal to Anglican tradition versus Anglican's appeal to Tradition. It sounds to me you fall in with the former rather than the latter.

I'm also confused on how exactly your theological allies have abandoned the communion? They are still in communion with Canterbury. They are still in communion with the (few) remaining orthodox TEC bishops (such as +Beckwith and +Lawrence). How is leaving a jurisdiction for another abandoning communion? If anything, TEC's own schismatic actions (i.e., her doctrinal innovations and aberrations) have been appropriately responded to (Heb 6).

Choosing to remain under juridical authority of schismatics is what you are choosing to do. Nobody is breaking communion, just realigning jurisdictions to reflect the current state of koinonia (or lack thereof). By choosing to wait for the entire Anglican Communion to decide to do something, you are not being catholic, for that would mean that the Anglican Communion is the catholic church in toto. But surely you don't believe that. Why risk the souls of your parishoners any longer? The Diocese of Texas has a suffragan who was consecrated by Mrs. Schori, does it not? +Wimberly was one of the first to vote to depose your theological allies.

What good is it to say you have theological allies of +Duncan or +Schofield when your actions make you allies of +Robinson and Schori?

The young fogey said...

Good point about where exactly one draws the line. Being in communion with conservative Protestants is as problematic as with liberal ones.

ISTM a big difference between us (even though we share the creeds and arguably the sacraments) is where we ascribe authority.
As you might know I think authority - is the church infallible or not? - is THE criterion separating Catholics from Protestants when all else - creed, episcopate, Mass - is the same.

Online I've seen others like you, conservatives who are also loyal Episcopalians, some of whom still consider themselves Anglo-Catholics, but they strike me as the C21 version of old Tory high churchmen: Anglican authority like the king's/state's is enough for them, and as long as the creeds and core doctrines are in place or allowed, they support at least most of the recent changes. (I can't help thinking of the late Fr Richard Neuhaus's observation, though, that when orthodoxy becomes optional that's really a cover for banning it.) God's in his/her heaven, Queen Elizabeth quietly governs them and there are 100p to the pound. (Now that 20 shillings have gone the way of sound Anglo-Catholic dioceses.)

That approach to authority doesn't work for Vincentian-canon Catholics and politically I'm a libertarian shading into anarchism (yes, anarcho-Catholicism) so there you are.

All that's a long-winded explanation that I understand your logic even though I don't agree with it.

We're out of communion (on this earth anyway) and must be honest about that but I think are heading more or less in the same Godward direction. Blogging ecumenism rocks.

WO was the flashing neon sign announcing the end of Anglo-Catholicism and those of us in it were wrong about Anglicanism; it was Protestant. In the end we have to choose one of the one true churches, one of the Catholic churches. As for the Continuum and these proposed new Anglican arrangements (the Southern Cone's Northern Annexe for example) as now-RC Fr Jeffrey Steenson (a fine man I had the honour of knowing a long time ago) says the world doesn't need more denominations, something on which I think we can agree entirely.

Living the rest of your life in somebody else's Catholic church isn't perfect (I don't do convert glurge) but what's important is it is a Catholic church.

Oremus pro invicem in this Passiontide.

John (Ad Orientem) said...

I think some of the posts seem to be missing the forest by focusing on a tree. The real issue is not schism. It is heresy. If one believes that TEC is at least heretical (and arguably more) how can one remain in communion with it? This is inconsistent with the canons of the Church and consensus patri.

Under the mercy,
John

Andy B. said...

John, Thanks for your point. I think a matter of clarification might reveal we are trying to say the same thing (or at least similarly enough).

It might be worth noting that there is a consensus of the Fathers that schism is heresy (and, of course, vice versa). Cyprian was challenged famously by Augustine in the Donatist controversy, delineating a difference between schism (which is a unique kind of heresy--rejecting "authority" or "obedience") and doctrinal heresy.

My point of juridical realignment was to point out how TEC created schism by its own doctrinal heresies (thus rejecting the authority of the Church Catholic at large, hence my Mascall reference).

The end result is not only two different jurisdictions, but also two different faiths.

This is what Fr. Dan (and frankly the ACI and "Covenant Communion" movements) do not deal with.

As von Balthasar said, the two natures of Christ (human and divine) correspond to the two natures of the Church (juridical and sacramental).

Andy B.

Third Mill Catholic said...

"What we've got here is failure to communicate." (Cool Hand Luke, 1967)

I perfectly understand why "realignment" appeals to those who, like Andy, believe TEC is essentially heretical. It appears to be the only remaning option for many.

But this is precisely why my parish cannot support the AAC. We don't believe that TEC is *essentially* heretical. Hence, realignment is a rose by another name -- aka schism.

This is not to say that TEC (or Anglicanism in general!) hasn't become a safe haven for heresiarchs, or that her current direction isn't alarming. I'm only saying that while the church is under attack from both inside and out, it is not time to abandon her. To put it into ecclesiological terms, as long as she remains a church, far be it from me to forsake her.

On these terms (going back to Andy's question) it is a huge stretch to say that TEC is "schismatic." Her actions have led others to schism, and thus may be seen as the "presenting cause" of schism. But schism is a formal act of separation or division.

Blaming the actions of TEC (no matter how horrible) for one's own act of schism is like a grown child who blames his parents' poor parenting skills for his own substance abuse. There may indeed be a measure of culpability on the part of the parents, but that doesn't absolve the child of the choices that were made.

Andy B. said...

Fr. Dan,

You wrote:

"We don't believe that TEC is *essentially* heretical."

and:

"To put it into ecclesiological terms, as long as she remains a church, far be it from me to forsake her."

and finally:

"But schism is a formal act of separation or division."

These points, seem to me, to be two (and on which we fundamentally disagree, which leads to our two "strategies"): 1) That TEC is not essentially heretical, and 2) That schism is a formal act of separation or division.

We also disagree that TEC remains a "church", because of the two reasons I've highlighted. But due to the logical ordering of the two points, I shall first address point 2) and then back to point 1).

The second point, "That schism is a formal act of separation or division" is only true in part. That is the final result, but the tearing, the schisma refers to two things: an act, and the condition or state that is the result of that act. Your definition only takes into account the latter part, not the former.

St. Clement, echoing St. Paul's usage in 1 Cor. 12, and Eph 4, writes in his own letter to the Corinthians:

"Why should there be among you disputes, quarrels, dissensions, schisms, and war? Have we not one and the same God, one and the same Christ? Is it not the same spirit of grace that has been poured out upon us? Have we not a common vocation in Christ? Wherefore divide and separate the members of Christ, be at war with our own body, be so foolish as to forget that we are members of one another?"

Clement highlights that those who create dissension (i.e., heresies) in the Body of Christ are creating a situation of members of the Body at war with itself. Thus by their heresies, the Church is rent asunder (like the old hymn says). This was my point about schism being a particular type of heresy, and vice versa.

This is why Canon XV of the First-Second Council of Constantinople says:

"...But as for those who [...] severe themselves from communion with their president, that is, because he publicly preaches heresy and with bared head teaches it in the Church, such persons are not only not subject to canonical penalty..., but are worthy of due honor among the Orthodox. For not bishops, but false bishops and false teachers have they condemned, and they have not fragmented the Church's unity with schism, but from schisms and divisions have they earnestly sought to deliver the Church."

As for the first point, "That TEC is not essentially heretical," one must enquire as to your definition of "essence" as well as what would indeed constitute the marks of being essentially heretical? There seems to be a division you draw between what one says and does and who one is. Ontology is thus divorced, in your view, from teleology. Can one divide the soul from the body or the fruit from the tree?

Third Mill Catholic said...

Hmm...where to begin.

Well, Andy, let me begin by thanking you for revitalizing an inactive blog. Third Mill Catholic hasn't seen this much activity in many months, partly because of time restraints, partly because of a barrage of unsolicited attacks via private email generated by this blog, and partly because Facebook has become my new cyber past-time of choice. Nevertheless, I do enjoy the thoughtful interaction.

It intrigues me how much I've seen the Protodeutera Council come up in argument recently. That realigners must appeal to the 15th canon of an otherwise obscure local synod (whose acts were lost) should be an indication that perhaps their argument is not as strong on the counciliar front as they think. Besides, it's questionable whether the canon implies that monks, etc. are actually under obligation to break communion with an alleged heretical bishop, or if the canon is merely saying that once a bishop is judged heretical by a general synod the actions of said monks is exonerated post factum. In any case, we're not dealing with something that has ecumenical force or authority.

I don't follow your reasoning with Clement. I could just as well spin the passage in a way that supports my position, so I won't belabor the point.

In a black and white world, your suggestion that I divide between ontology and teleology would make perfect sense. But of course we are dealing with human beings and the present imperfections of the Body of Christ on earth. I don't know about you, but the world I inhabit looks pretty gray. In any case, I know people who I believe are WRONG on the issues, and yet are better Christians than I. I also know people who are completely orthodox on the issues, and yet are otherwise far less than Christian in how they deal with the "other side."

Now back to the definition of schism. I have already conceded that TEC's innovations have been the presenting causes of schism. The actual ACT of schism, however, has been committed by the realigners. To me, that just seems like common sense. My earlier illustration still holds true: a bad parent may share some measure of culpability for a child's life of crime. But that doesn't absolve the child of the life decisions that were freely made.

Todd Granger said...

My earlier illustration still holds true: a bad parent may share some measure of culpability for a child's life of crime. But that doesn't absolve the child of the life decisions that were freely made.

Let us grant, arguendo, that the illustration indeed holds true.

Without reflecting on the patristic and conciliar quotations offered (though I cannot let this pass without observing that Episcopalians offering up citations of the canons of the First Council of Nicaea in defense of the impermeability of diocesan boundaries and against schism are indefensible to the point of being risible), let me ask a pastoral question.

Extending the illustration, let us assume the TEC-loyalist conservatives (among whom I suppose I am to be numbered, still being in a TEC parish myself) to be siblings to the errant, family-tie-denying child whose criminial actions were stimulated in some way by the negligent or abusive parent. Should not the obedient child, in the interest of reconciling the parent and the wayward sibling attempt to bring them both to repentance for their actions? Is the Covenant such a means? If so, then why stake one's witness so entirely on dissociation only from the wayward child, and not the neglectful or abusive parent?

Or more positively put, why should this sibling-caught-in-the-middle not seek to maintain ties with both, ties that are visible to both, in the interests of truth and reconciliation?

And shouldn't that be true not only of the TEC loyalist conservatives, but also of those in the Anglican Communion who wish to preserve the catholic and evangelical witness of the Communion?

Might this not take the form, in this painfully uncertain period in which the Covenant is being framed (with no guarantee of either its success or its faithfulness), of maintaining communion with both of these who have broken communion with each other?

Third Mill Catholic said...

A very thoughtful post, Tom. Thanks.

I'm wondering though if I've come across to you in a way that you think goes against what you say. Or if you think the letter of my parish amounts to a "breaking communion" with those who have chosen to separate.

Ongoing membership in the AAC on the part of a TEC parish would not be about maintaining communion with the "errant-sibling" in your metaphor (there are better and more tangible ways to do that). Rather it would be about supporting the current objectives of the AAC; objectives that my parish never signed onto when it joined AAC years ago (given that AAC objectives have changed dramatically in recent times).

To put this into context, my parish is one of those unfortunate congregations that suffered a split, with 2/3 of the congregation and its two priests leaving to found a congregation down the road "aligned" to another jurisdiction. For a short time, our respective parishes (though in "impaired communion" with each other) were in the anomalous situation of both being members of the AAC.

It is intriguing to me that their members now refuse communion from our altar (e.g., at a recent funeral), while a few of our members who have visited their church have felt no qualms about receiving communion from theirs.

Andy B. said...

"I don't follow your reasoning with Clement. [...] I have already conceded that TEC's innovations have been the presenting causes of schism. The actual ACT of schism, however, has been committed by the realigners."

My point of using Clement is that he was saying that if we have the same Lord, we necessarily have the same faith. Those who change the faith, thereby worship a different Lord. In the case of the orthodox, those who leave are reacting to the act of schism already committed by leaving the corrupt jurisdiction (communion was already broken by the heterodox long ago!), for how can orthodoxy be schismatic by definition?

I realize that the First-Second Council isn't ecumenical, and regardless of whether it is talking about monks or not, it serves as an illustration of my point. Those parishes and dioceses who have left the jurisdiction of the heretical bishops still maintain communion with the orthodox bishops (like +Beckwith or +Lawrence) who are still in TEC. This is why Todd Granger's point so refreshing.

The fact of the matter is that the Anglican Communion is NOT THE Church (I second Todd's statement about the foolishness of Episcopalians citing the Nicene Canons about boundary crossings), and so our "ecclesial communities" must stick together on the basis of our shared faith and must seek restoration with the Catholic Church and Orthodox Church(es) on the basis of that same faith, for what else have we got?

I also would like to know, "why stake one's witness so entirely on dissociation only from the wayward child, and not the neglectful or abusive parent?"

Third Mill Catholic said...

(First, let me apologize to Todd Granger for referring to him as "Tom." Brain fart moment. Sorry.)

Andy said:

"My point of using Clement is that he was saying that if we have the same Lord, we necessarily have the same faith. Those who change the faith, thereby worship a different Lord."

Obviously, asserting that TEC worships a "different Lord" is a judgment call that you and other realigners have made. Certainly, it is an argument that justifies your position and the actions of those who have left TEC. For that reason, I can respect the argument. But I don't agree with it. Indeed, this is the crux of our disagreement.

What you say might be reality for many in rhetoric, and thus serve to "rally the troops" and take "decisive action" leading to and justifying separation. But the reality on the ground is rather different, at least from my perspective.

"...how can orthodoxy be schismatic by definition?"

You're correct, the two are antithetical. But history is replete with "orthodox" schismatic movements, that often began on the high moral ground of a controversy, but ended up tearing the very fabric of the Body of Christ. The most famous historical example is Donatism. But Anglican history has its share of "orthodox" schismatic movements, such as the Non-Jurors, the Free Church of England, and, here in the States, the Reformed Episcopal Church.

I'm not sure what you mean by "the Anglican Communion is NOT THE Church..." In the Roman or Orthodox sense of "THE CHURCH," I agree. However, it is OUR Communion (not just a federation), and thus, for Anglicans, the AC is the closest practical manifestation of "the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church" that we have. Indeed, constituent membership in the AC is a defining statement in TEC's constitution.

William Tighe said...

I've been following this discussion with interest, but is it not, in fact, the case that what Andy refered to here as the "First-Second Council" (i.e., of Constantinople) is in fact either the Council of Constantinople of 869 (regarded by Roman Catholics since ca. 1600 as the "Eighth Ecumenical Council") or that of 879 (which annulled the acts of the 869 council, and is regarded by some Orthodox to this day as the "Eighth Ecumenical Council")? I don't have my reference books by me, but I'm pretty sure it came from one or the other of those two councils.

Third Mill Catholic said...

I'm fairly certain that the "First-Second Council of Constantinople" (aka the "Protodeutera Council") refers to the first of the Photian councils which occured in 861. The second and third Photian councils were those held in Constantinople in 867 and 879, either of which have been recognized as "ecumenical."

The council of 861 upheld the deposition of Ignatius, Patriarch of Constantinople in favor of Photius. Pope Nicholas had sent delegates to investigate Ignatius' "retirement." But the Photian party engineered the proceedings to go in their favor so that the papal delegates upheld the deposition. The pope was not impressed.

Third Mill Catholic said...

Sorry, that should say "869 and 879" above.

Andy B. said...

I was indeed referring to the Photian council of 861. I was not appealing to its "authority" as there is none, but rather to its logic on that particular issue.

Andy B. said...

Fr Dan, you wrote:

"Obviously, asserting that TEC worships a "different Lord" is a judgment call that you and other realigners have made. [...] But I don't agree with it.

What you say might be reality for many in rhetoric, and thus serve to "rally the troops" and take "decisive action" leading to and justifying separation. But the reality on the ground is rather different, at least from my perspective.
"

Indeed, this is the crux of our disagreement. When women's ordination is not only tolerated (which is its own issue), but actually required (+Iker was threatened a lot for turning away women from the ordination process), how is this not total apostasy? When abortion is proclaimed to be a blessing in a sanctioned liturgy (on TEC's website) and recently from a dean of an Episcopal seminary (who's an open lesbian, mind you), when an unrepentant divorced homosexually active man can become a bishop, when the issue of Forrester's own heterodoxy isn't enough to bar him from becoming a bishop (much less be deposed as a priest) and appeals to canonical irregularities of process have to seal the deal instead, when the Diocese of Los Angelos is now (or will be soon) officially approving "rites" of same-sex blessings (I could go on and on), how does this not signify that the very essence of the institution is not totally corrupted? The fact is that TEC's governance was set up to be akin to a federal democracy, where anything potentially is up for a vote. That is not the mark of a true church.

Third Mill Catholic said...

Well, the "logic" of the synod of 861 appears to have been used to support the deposition an orthodox patriarch, Ignatius, recognized by the Roman Catholic Church as a saint, in favor of a usuper, Photius, who ironically is recognized as a saint by the EO's. Hmmm...sometimes "holy posturing" makes for poor law.

Third Mill Catholic said...

Women's ordination = total apostasy? Tell me you're kidding, right? If that's what you think then you should have left Anglicanism a long time ago.

When you find the perfect church, or at least one that is "perfectly orthodox," let me know. Donatism will not save you.

Andy B. said...

I think I wrote about women's ordination, "but actually required." And you ignored the other references.

The logic I highlighted wasn't at fault, the premises on which it was based (that Ignatius, the Pope, the filoque, etc. were heretics). In other words, it was improperly applied. The theory (i.e, the logic) itself is not wrong.

Andy B. said...

And you still never answered the fundamental question I asked, What would indeed prove to you that TEC was apostate if not the examples (that you refused to deal with) that I cited?

Andy B. said...

And also I see you still haven't given an answer to Todd's question of what the integrity of your witness requires public dissociation from the "schismatic conservatives" - the errant sibling, in your psychologized metaphor - and not from the abusive parent that is TEC.

Third Mill Catholic said...

Andy,

I caution you on your tone. You are a guest at this blog...my guest in fact. And you have been treated with courtesy.

You wrote:
"I think I wrote about women's ordination, "but actually required." And you ignored the other references."

So if women's ordination is merely allowed, that's okay, but once it's "required" then it's total apostasy? I still don't follow the logic, but let's move on.

As to your "other references," were you expecting me to defend them?? I'm certainly under no delusion about the dire condition of our church, so there's little need to "enlighten" me. So what's the point of the list? Do you think this is the first time in history that the church has been saddled in sin and/or heretic views? Moving on.

"The logic I highlighted wasn't at fault, the premises on which it was based (that Ignatius, the Pope, the filoque, etc. were heretics). In other words, it was improperly applied. The theory (i.e, the logic) itself is not wrong.

So if it's such a great canon then why doesn't it, or another canon similar to it, appear in any authoritative canonical code? Do you think it might have something to do with the potential misuse of this canon, e.g., invoking it to justify breaking communion with one's bishop anytime there might be a disagreement with him?

"What would indeed prove to you that TEC was apostate if not the examples (that you refused to deal with) that I cited?"

Apart from the rhetoric, none of the examples you cited are considered DE FIDE in TEC. Nor are these problems exclusive to TEC either. Rome may not officially promote such things, but it is complicit in the same abominations by failing to discipline its clergy and communicants who promote, encourage and endorse them.

So what would it take for me to concede apostasy? Any consistent reader of this blog could answer that question for me (if there are any consistent readers left after the long hiatus!). Simply put: a constitutional renunciation of the Trinity, or something along those lines.

"And also I see you still haven't given an answer to Todd's question of what the integrity of your witness requires public dissociation from the "schismatic conservatives..."

Go back and read my answer to Todd and you will note, in my first paragraph, that I was seeking clarification from him on that very point. Also, if you read the rest of the entry, you will note that I don't see the disaffiliation of my parish from the AAC as a "dissociation" from schismatic conservatives as much as it is a "dissocation" from an organization that promotes, endorses, and assists those who are planning to separate from TEC. And given the history of my parish, that only makes sense.

Andy B. said...

Fr. Dan,

Perhaps carrying this on serves no further purpose. You seem to have an easy answer to dismiss everything I and others find concern over. For instance, I never said the ordination of women was "okay", as you put it; in fact, I said the exact opposite (that "it was its own issue") but that the more serious crime was making it mandatory even upon those bishops whose consciences wouldn't allow it.

Your bare-minimum stance of "formal rejection of the Holy Trinity" being the only sign of TEC's apostasy is quite different from what I've heard about you back in your REC days--not to mention that it is in no way catholic in any sense of the term--and I want to recall you to your roots. A statement like, "none of the examples you cited are considered DE FIDE in TEC," would be absurd to any other non-TEC traditional Christian, Protestant or Catholic alike! What changed?

Please don't interpret my "tone" as anything other than a dire warning from a concerned Christian. And don't worry, this will be my last post. I'll be praying for you.

Third Mill Catholic said...

Then I will say a prayer for you as well, my brother, and return the favor of issuing you a dire warning: Get out of fundamentalism while you can. It cannot save you. The perfect church does not exist.

You seem to know who I am but I have no idea who you are or what your situation is. Those who know me best will tell you that I have not "changed" so much as I have become more consistent. My time in the REC was a constant struggle to come to terms with schism. Over the years, I gradually became aware that I would have to leave that body eventually, either for Rome or for Anglicanism. So while I grew to love Anglicanism in the REC, and grew more secure and consistent in my Anglican catholicity, I knew that my home would eventually be either in the CoE or in TEC, depending on which side of the Atlantic I happen to be on at the time.

What you call "bare-minimalism" I call a "foundation." Complain all you want about how the walls of the temple are caving in, or how the ceiling is falling in this room or that, or how many cracks you see in the pillars, and I'll tell you that as long as the foundation is solid, there is hope to rebuild the edifice. Indeed, all things in the temple are relative to the foundation. I know many folk who glory in the edifice while it's still in good repair, but when it falls into disrepair would rather find another building to admire than get their hands dirty working with stone and mortar.

The current culture wars are but proxy wars for the real war, which is Trinitarian. As long as there is a Church I will fight for the Trinity.

Your lesbian seminary president is not representative of the vast majority of Episcopalians, who perhaps while being generally confused about what they believe, or even holding some wacky positions here and there, are nonetheless counted among the baptized (by virtue of the indissoluble nature of the Sacrament) and thus worthy of my service and ministry as woefully inadequate as it is. So go ahead and cast us all into apostasy if you must. No one can fault you for consistency, least of all will I. But I will not forsake the flock entrusted to my care either.

One last word of advice: beware the pitfalls of ecclesial ultimacy, and remember that the Bible is not a "Christian Koran." The duality of natures in Christ is theology's ultimate paradigm. Ponder the mystery of Christ in two natures as regards the Church and as regards the Holy Scriptures. It is the only cure for fundamentalism.

There may just be hope yet.

All the best.

Dan

Fr Jeffrey Steel SSC said...

Dan,

I think the last paragraph to Andy is a bit OTT. Come on, surely you do not believe that one who holds to Catholic teaching across the board is a fundamentalist? This sort of characterisations is not worthy from someone with an Oxford degree. If so, then all of your old friends are now fundamentalists. I can hardly believe I am hearing this sort of thing from you.

Third Mill Catholic said...

It is sound advice for all of us, Jeffrey. I include myself in that equation. Fundamentalism is a tendency and constant danger for all conservatives, even some who hold "Catholic teaching across the board." I am preaching to myself as much as to anyone else.

I don't know who Andy B. is. I know nothing but what he has contributed on this blog, which sounds in places like a form of ecclesial ultimacy.

On the other hand, you seem to know him, and that's why it probably looks OTT to you. If I am mistaken about him, then enlighten me. If I have sinned against him in my remarks, then it is certainly done in ignorance.

Fr Jeffrey Steel SSC said...

That is a convenient tag to place on someone and then refuse to not deal with the substance of a theological argument. It is a weapon to say that I do not want to take your view seriously and deal with it because what I have found in most cases is that the other party simply cannot theologicaly justify something that is not a part of the liberal conceptual grid. It is a word that the media has hyped and as soon as one throws it out there all sorts of preconceived ideas get into people's heads other than the issues. I think you may have misused it here and not answered a number of important theological questions.

Has heresy only become for you anything that is substantially denied in the Creeds? What sort of theological criteria do you use to define something as heretical? How far do the goal posts need to be moved before one is on another pitch?

Third Mill Catholic said...

Jeff, there is a HUGE difference between heresy and apostasy. Don't make the assumption that just because I'm not following the GAFCON/ACNA herd out of TEC that I don't acknowledge that TEC is rife with heresy. If there wasn't a difference between heresy and apostasy, then why are YOU still in the CoE?

One of Andy B's last retorts to me was "you seem to have an easy answer for every concern." Looking past the obvious sarcasm of his remark, what did he expect? That I would just roll over and concede? Does he really imagine that I haven't struggled and agonized for years over these things? Does he imagine that I have defaulted to putting my head in the sand?

I'd be happy to continue this dialogue and answer his theological concerns. But I can only continue with those willing to stay in the dialogue, and with those who are willing to accept an answer as an answer even if they don't agree with the answer.

Third Mill Catholic said...

Jeff,

Incidentally, if you haven't noticed already, I posted a new entry that addresses the questions you raise. This thread was getting too long.

All the best,
Dan

Todd Granger said...

Dan, I've noted in reviewing comments subsequent to mine that you were looking for a clarification regarding my question based on your psychologized metaphor.

Simply put, no, I don't think that you've declared yourselves out of communion with the folks in the American Anglican Council. But by means of this letter - and your posting it publicly - you have differentiated yourselves from the American Anglican Council in a way that at least seems asymmetrical in terms of differentiating yourselves from the unfaithful direction of The Episcopal Church.

I freely admit that to the Episcopalians and other Christians in your neighborhood and diocese this may not be the case. The parish's (and your) witness to the catholic and apostolic faith may be well-known.

But perhaps you could let the rest of us know what differentiation from both the abusive parent and the errant child looks like, or put more positively, how you and your parish envision becoming agents of repentance, restoration and reconciliation between the two.

Third Mill Catholic said...

"Simply put, no, I don't think that you've declared yourselves out of communion with the folks in the American Anglican Council. But by means of this letter - and your posting it publicly - you have differentiated yourselves from the American Anglican Council in a way that at least seems asymmetrical in terms of differentiating yourselves from the unfaithful direction of The Episcopal Church."I'm not trying to be difficult, Todd, but I need further clarification. Is it the writing of the letter or the posting of it that seems "asymmetrical" to you?

Given the history of my parish, continuing our affiliation with the AAC would have been a conflict of interests, in that the AAC supports those leaving TEC and is a founding entity of the ACNA.

Todd Granger said...

The posting of the letter is what at least seems an asymmetrical response to the current troubles, Dan. I understand the reason for its being written.

Third Mill Catholic said...

Todd,

Look for an answer in my next entry. I just posted it.

Regards,
Dan