Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Answering Todd's Question

A continuation of the discussion that started over my letter of disaffiliation with the AAC...

Todd Granger writes:

"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."

Okay, Todd, I think I know where you're coming from. My asking you the follow up questions was just my way of making sure you weren't suggesting some kind of Yin-Yang approach on my part was necessary to balance out the forces of good and evil...like, say, if I disaffiliated from something on the conservative side of the spectrum then I must act in a reciprocal fashion against the liberal side to keep things in balance.

Feel free to correct me where I may be misreading you. You seem to understand that it was necessary for my parish to disaffiliate from the AAC. Yet, nonetheless, you think that posting the letter publicly was a bad idea because (I presume) you think such a letter might potentially cause a rift between conservatives who should be working together. I think I also detect in your "asymmetrical" language a hint of skepticism on your part that I take the problems in TEC seriously enough, or perhaps you perceive a measure of apathy on my part to the obvious misdirections of TEC.

Well, sure, I'll concede that I'm not as venomous or knee-jerk reactive towards revisionism as are the folks over at Stand Firm (nor do I have as much time to blog as they have). But that doesn't mean I'm apathetic or that I'm only too willing to turn a blind-eye to obvious heresy. On the contrary, I am a firm supporter of the Covenant Process as the way forward for the Anglican Communion and for TEC. But this requires patience on the part of those willing to see the process through, and I suspect that this patience is what is being misunderstood by you and others as tolerance for evil.

Moreover, as a supporter of the Windsor Process I view the federalist approach of the GAFCON/FOCA/ANCA crowd not only as counterproductive to the process, but also as potentially destructive of the Anglican Communion. In fact, I view GAFCON federalism as more of a threat to the fabric of the Communion than any other challenge facing the Communion at present, including TEC's innovations. (I suspect that this is where you'll demur, but demur if you must.)

To my way of thinking, the GAFCON crowd has "disaffiliated" from the Windsor Process. In so doing, GAFCON has essentially forsaken the Communion itself. Thus any pretense of there being two parallel strategies working together towards the same ultimate goal -- one "inside" and one "outside" -- is, IMO, a total farce; and I have precious little time, and precious little patience, to pretend otherwise. So while I don't necessarily see myself as "out of communion" with the federalists, I certainly don't see myself working together with them either.

So, yes, if you detect that some of my greatest criticisms are directed towards fellow conservatives, then I take this as a fair assessment. However, I don't view this as indicative of a fundamental "asymmetry" in my approach. Indeed, it is perfectly consistent with everything I've said up to this point.


Anonymous said...

As I see it, the major problem with the conservative reactions against the liberal ascendency in contemporary Anglicanism is not that their various criticism of liberal theology, when taken as a whole, are incorrect, but rather that their various realignment solutions, when taken as a whole, are not properly Anglican.

To the contrary, the conservative reactions to Anglican liberalism all seem to propose a fundamental restructuring of Anglicanism along lines of historical party spirit rather than the Anglicanism qua Anglicanism of the Formularies.

Hence, all the "solutions," tend to do too much by introducing there own set of new problems. I have in mind various Evangelical centered (GAFCON) and Anglo-Catholic centred (the so-called Continuum) solutions that seek to recreated an Anglicanism purified of liberalism but with partisan gloss.

The generally expressed rationale for the these neo-Anglicanisms is that Formulary Anglicanism, often sneeringly and pejoratively called comprehensive Anglicanism, is the what caused the ascent of cancerous liberal and liberation theology in Anglicanism. Hence, any solution must entail the Formularies plus or minus certain features. The Evangelical solutions tend to allow the innovation of women's ordination (contrary to scripture and tradition and the historical Ordinals) and the Anglo-Catholic solutions tend to require certain Roman-leaning innovations (contrary to scripture, tradition and the 39-Articles).

The real problem with these "conservative" reactions to liberalism is that they leave the historic, orthodox Churchman high and dry (and not necessarily the other way around, as the Evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics have always claimed). And it is this "silent centre" that any partisan group must "capture" to make its case for being THE Anglican Church. In sum, we are fasting heading to a point in which the various Anglican parties -- Liberal, Catholic, and Evangelical -- will all have competing Communions claiming the appellation Anglican, while the actual Anglican qua Anglicans will be left, as in the days of the Interregnum, with no church at all!

Todd Granger said...

Dan, thank you for answering my question. But you go too far with your assumptions about my meaning. I am by no means asking for "venomous" reaction, nor have I mistaken patience for tolerance for evil. I am not a "Federalist" (save in the 18th century political sense), and I would love nothing more (short of the consummation of the Kingdom) than to see the Churches of the Anglican Communion, including a suitably chastened and reordered Episcopal Church, flourish in mutual submission through a robust Covenant.

The real problem with these "conservative" reactions to liberalism is that they leave the historic, orthodox Churchman high and dry...the actual Anglican qua Anglicans will be left, as in the days of the Interregnum, with no church at all!Quite so. And when I think on this further, then a great abyss opens beneath my feet, for despite (or because of?) all my love for classical Anglicanism, for the balance of the Articles of Religion and the beauty and holiness of the Prayer Book, for the sermons of Andrewes, the hymns of Wesley, the missionary zeal of Kemper and Hannington and Kivebulaya, the theology of Ramsey, the music of the English cathedral; despite my love for all this, an insinuating, whispered question rises from out that abyss: is Anglicanism - classical, or "Formulary", or reformed catholic Anglicanism - anything more than an ecclesiological phantasm?

Andy B. said...

"is Anglicanism - classical, or "Formulary", or reformed catholic Anglicanism - anything more than an ecclesiological phantasm?"

This is what I was getting at when I brought up my original statement about how apostasy must indeed be more than simply not formally rejecting what is in the Creeds. What does it mean when the 'church' officially supports abortion? Is that any different that officially supporting anti-Nicene 'Christianity'?

And before anyone might say that TEC does not officially condone abortion, it is listed here, here, and here.

The young fogey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The young fogey said...

My comment is here.

Of course to Catholics, Anglicanism is an ecclesiological phantasm (an ecclesial community, polite Vaticanese for a non-church) which is why Dutch-touch priests are reordained by Rome and the Orthodox never receive ex-Anglicans in their orders. But with the good doctor I can agree that as wicked as TEC being pro-baby murder is, it's not apostasy.

BTW, hanging by a thread - of wishful thinking? - like the last of the Anglo-Catholic Movement in TEC used to, there are still pro-life Episcopalians including clergy of both sexes.

Augustinian Successor said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Third Mill Catholic said...

FWIW - Jason Loh (aka Augustinian Successor) is the fellow who I suspect was spamming my inbox in the past with his childish insults. I have removed his comments as being unhelpful to the dialogue.

Third Mill Catholic said...

Andy B. asks:

"What does it mean when the 'church' officially supports abortion? Is that any different than officially supporting anti-Nicene 'Christianity'?",Nice to have you back here, Andy B. I mean that sincerely. You ask an extremely important question, and one that I continue to agonize over.

Please understand that this blogger is pro-life and supports all legislation and judicial actions that would limit and/or prohibit all elective abortions, save for the life of the mother. My position is obviously in direct contradiction to the 71st General Convention resolution which declared the church's "...unequivocal opposition to any legislative, executive or judicial action...that abridges the right of a woman to reach an informed decision about the termination of pregnancy...etc."

The question, however, is whether or not this policy position constitutes apostasy? My answer is still NO. For one thing, I am not bound to uphold this resolution or to teach it or to defend it. In fact, I am free to contradict it, work against it and express a contrary opinion about it in any context of my choosing. It is not De Fide. It doesn't even carry the force of a canon. It is merely a resolution, which means that it expresses the stance of the 71st General Convention. True, given that it is a General Convention resolution it has impacted and continues to impact the policies of TEC at the highest levels. (I certainly don't intend to minimize the disastrous policy statement that it is, or make light of TEC's complicity in the abortion atrocity.) But even a cursory glance at history is enough to demonstrate that the Church (not just TEC) has been complicit and often directly responsible for human atrocities of the grossest magnitude. In short, holding out hope that TEC is not apostate for its present stance on "reproductive rights" is holding out hope for ALL of us, in that the Church's record down through history has been anything but impeccable. That is not an excuse for atrocity. It is just a statement of fact.

However, I take a little heart, and find a glimmer of hope, in the positive aspects of the same resolution, namely:

(1) Its affirmation of the sacredness of human life "from inception to death."

(2) Its "emphatic" opposition to abortion being used for birth control, family planning, sex selection, or "any reason of convenience."

(3) Its insistence on the priority of a formed conscience in moral decision making.

(4) Its insistence that any member of the church consulted about a "problem pregnancy" must explore "with grave seriousness," with the person seeking advice other positive courses of action, like adoption or family assistance.

Indeed, I would argue that pro-life Episcopalians have done a better job of living up to the spirit of the positive aspects of the resolution than have the "pro-choicers"! Ironic...

Anonymous said...

"1930 Lambeth Conference
Resolution 16

The Life and Witness of the Christian Community - Marriage and Sex

The Conference further records its abhorrence of the sinful practice of abortion."

* * * * *

Just one additional piece of the puzzle: A Lambeth Conference Resolution trump a TEC resolution regarding the content of Anglican moral teaching.

Third Mill Catholic said...

D.B. - I agree wholeheartedly that "a Lambeth Conference resolution trumps a TEC resolution regarding the content of Anglican moral teaching." However, that fact in no way diminishes TEC's complicity in the atrocity of abortion on demand.

Anonymous said...


Oh, yes, I definitely agree that the TEC resolution is outrageous, scandalous, and out of order.

I am only suggesting that many Anglicans stay in TEC parishes because they see themselves as members of a larger Anglican Communion and, therefore, do not see every formal, offensive act or a particular Province or Diocese or Parish necessarily as grounds for breaking with the broader Communion as a whole.

Indeed, as long as the Lord tarries, there is no place we can receive without finding ourselves in communion this folks that behave despicably and that are open and notorious sinners. Alas, no earthly jurisdiction has a perfect disciplinary system -- not Anglicans, Catholics or Orthodox.

If you leave Canterbury for Rome; you are in communion with numerous pro-abortion politicians and more than a few shady Bishops. If you leave for Constantinople, you are in communion with the Pope of Istanbul, who has lauded and decorated Fidel Castro as well as several leading pro-abortion politicians.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps some review of the common ground between many of us in the diaspora and our traditionalist kin within the formal Canterbury Communion might be in order:

1) While some in the diaspora (REC, AMiA, ACNA, etc) might have a cavalier attitude toward the formal Canterbury Communion, I do not. Nor do many of my compatriots. We grieve the de facto separation of GAFCON from the Windsor Process and advocate patience from our end;

2) I believe that the "inside strategy" folks clearly love the Lord, the Church and apostolic deposit of faith that we share. Further, I don't think most of them disregard the concerns of the diaspora as much as they are concerned about losing the historic, catholic heritage of the anglican tradition-- the formularies are a product of the communion, not the other way around.

Here's the problem-- can the diaspora function while recognizing the inherent irregularity of our situation (somewhat like the nonjurors) and continually work towards reunion, while at the same time our friends on the inside work to make that day more possible, not less.

It is a big problem, whose solution seems to be less obvious with each day that passes. I fear that the diaspora is headed to a situation where it will become a new Methodism-- not entirely a bad thing, but not what we had intended, either.

AMiA in Upstate New York