Sunday, September 07, 2008

Ecclesiastical Musical Chairs

APCK diocese goes to the ACA, APCK diocese splits off into new jurisdiction, REC parish goes to AMiA, REC parish goes to APA, now the latest. . .

Anglican Province of America Diocese of the West Joins Reformed Episcopal Church

By David W. Virtue


In a move that could have serious implications for the Common Cause Partnership, an entire diocese of the Anglican Province of America with some 22 plus churches has fled that Anglican jurisdiction and allied itself with the Reformed Episcopal Church in America (REC).

"I pray that you will understand that we are not leaving the APA out of any anger but are entering into the REC so we can fulfill what we have been working on for the past ten years. By transferring to the REC we remain in intercommunion with each other and still brothers," wrote the Rt. Rev. Richard Boyce, OCD Bishop of the Diocese of the West (DOW/ APA.)

In a series of letters obtained by VirtueOnline, Bishop Boyce announced this week that he was taking his diocese out of the APA and formally bringing it into the Reformed Episcopal Church, a move that angered the Presiding Bishop of the APA, the Most. Rev. Walter Grundorf, who promptly relieved Boyce of his position as Bishop and appointed the Very Rev. Douglas King as interim administrator of the DOW.

"You are no longer the Diocesan Bishop of the DOW of the APA as of September 5. I have named the Very Rev. Douglas King as interim administrator." Grundorf then said that all DOW priests and parishes wishing to leave the APA must send a letter of their intention to him and request Letters Dismissory. He then said that until he hears from them, they remain in good standing and has his and the APA's full support.

He concluded his letter saying that the letters would provide for an "orderly transition" to the REC. "We have made such orderly transfers in the past between REC/APA and I hope and pray that this will be no exception."

Boyce responded from his parish in Seattle, saying that Grundorf's understanding of the meaning of the word "jurisdiction" was a misconception on his part.

"I have not resigned my jurisdiction nor has coadjutor Bishop Winfield Mott. We have only requested the REC to receive the Diocese of the West (DOW) which has not been acted upon."I would remind you that the Reformed Episcopal Church (REC) has similar beliefs, traditions and practices on the Sacraments and Holy Orders particularly as they pertain to women's ordination."

The DOW is a jurisdiction. I would refer you to Article 2., Sect. 6 of the Constitution of the Anglican Province of America (APA), and Canon 16, Sect. (a) and (e) which refer to the Bishop's jurisdiction. If you recall since the third century tradition has said that "Where the Bishop is, there is the Church, where the Church is there is the Bishop". Boyce went on to say that the Anglican Communion has stated through the Archbishop of Canterbury, that the basic unit of the Church is the Diocese, and you do consider yourself as Anglican.

"Boyce said that no one is required by the Constitution or the Canons to send the Presiding Bishop a letter of resignation when leaving the APA. A letter Dismissory is from Diocesan Bishop to Diocesan Bishop.

Boyce blasted Grundorf saying that provincial protocol was a recent invention, "as I do not find it stated anywhere in APA documents. You, as Presiding Bishops have authority only to conduct the meetings of the House of Bishops (HOB) and to take orders for the consecration of Bishops.""As a result of this restriction you have no authority to declare that I am no longer the Diocesan Bishop of the DOW."

Boyce argued that the APA Constitution states that a bishop shall confine the exercise of his office to his own Diocese. "Therefore as a Presiding Bishop with no authority, and functioning as a Diocesan Bishop of the Diocese of the Eastern US (DEUS), you must not intrude into the affairs of the DOW."

"There is no authority conferred to you by the Constitution of the APA nor by the Canons of the APA to appoint the Rev. Douglas King, nor anyone else as an interim administrator of the DOW. This action would appear to follow The Episcopal Church (TEC) as in the case of the Diocese of San Joaquin.

"DOW Priests and Parishes do not need to send you a latter of intention of staying members of DOW. This is a Diocesan matter for DOW.

"This supposed protocol has no standing in the Constitution of the APA nor in the Canons of the APA.

"No Article of the Constitution of the APA or Canon of the APA prevents the DOW from effecting a merger with the REC, with whom we are in communion, as is the APA. We are following the time-line established by the APA and REC as this is the ten year mark leading to the merger. We just plan to do this before the rest of the APA."

Grundorf wrote to all the parishes of the DOW responding to Boyce's letter saying that while he was not totally surprised, "I am disappointed. I am also disappointed that the REC did not discuss this with me if indeed they are fully aware of all of Bishop Boyce's plans.

"The Presiding Bishop said the DOW "still exists" with some having notified him that they had no intention of leaving the APA."Bishop Boyce has resigned from the APA, therefore he is no longer the Bishop of the APA/DOW." Grundorf who then said he was appointing King to serve as interim administrator "until such time as we can determine who is leaving and who is staying. I will then call an extraordinary Synod to reorganize and elect the appropriate officers." Grundorf said there would be no attempt to claim church property or funds. "For all concerned in the APA and the REC, this transition must be done in a proper and orderly manner."

The PB said that one of the subjects to be addressed at their next Federation of Anglican Churches in the Americas (FACA) meeting will be "jurisdiction hopping."

"I am well aware that the motivation of this action has been driven by the Common Cause Partnership (CCP). While I support much of what the CCP stands for I, along with many others, have reservations as to what will be the final decision on the ordination of women, which most of the CCP members enthusiastically support. We have stood our ground for the last 30 plus years to the theological innovations of the Episcopal Church and I do not think we should abandon our principles at this point."

One observer told VOL that APA's Diocese of the West's decision to secede was to join Common Cause by way of the REC. It is believed that, in time, CCP will form the basis of a new North American Anglican Province, an orthodox alternative jurisdiction separate from The Episcopal Church and coming under the oversight of the newly formed Global Anglican Fellowship Conference (GAFCON.)VOL could not obtain comment from leaders of the Reformed Episcopal Church.


Monday, August 25, 2008

Bishop Ridley on the Holy Eucharist

(in discourse with representatives of the Church of Rome)

"Both you and I agree herein, that in the Sacrament is the very, true, and natural Body and Blood of Christ; even that Which was born of the Virgin Mary; Which ascended into heaven; Which sits on the right hand of God the Father; Which shall come from thence to judge the quick and the dead; only we differ in modo, in the way and manner of being. We confess all one thing to be in the Sacrament, and dissent in the manner of being there. I, being by God’s word fully thereunto persuaded, confess Christ’s natural Body to be in the Sacrament indeed by spirit and grace, because that whosoever receiveth worthily that Bread and Wine, receiveth effectually Christ's Body and drinketh His Blood (that is, he is made effectually partaker of His passion); and you make a grosser kind of being enclosing a natural, a lively, and a moving body, under the shape or form of Bread and Wine. Now this difference considered, to the question thus I answer, that in the Sacrament of the Altar is the natural Body and Blood of Christ vere et realiter, indeed and really, if you take these words ‘indeed and really’ for spiritually by grace and efficacy; for so every worthy receiver receiveth the very true Body of Christ. But if you mean really and indeed, so that thereby you would include a lively and moveable body under the forms of bread and wine, then, in that sense, is not Christ's Body in the Sacrament really and indeed."

"Always my protestation reserved, I answer, thus; that in the Sacrament is a certain change, in that the Bread, which was before common bread, is now made a lively presentation of Christ's Body, and not only a figure, but effectuously representeth His Body; that even as the mortal body was nourished by that visible bread, so is the internal soul fed with the heavenly food of Christ's Body, which the eyes of faith see, as the bodily eyes see only bread. Such a Sacramental mutation I grant to be in the Bread and Wine, which truly is no small change, but such a change as no mortal man can make, but only that omnipotency of Christ’s word." – Works, edit. 1843, p. 274

"Think not because I disallow that Presence which the first proposition maintaineth (as a presence which I take to be forged, phantastical, and beside the authority of God’s word, perniciously brought into the Church by the Romanists,) that I therefore go about to take away the true Presence of Christ's Body in His Supper rightly and duly ministered, which is grounded upon the word of God, and made more plain by the commentaries of the faithful Fathers. They that think so of me, the Lord knoweth how far they are deceived. And to make the same evident unto you, I will in few words declare what True Presence of Christ's Body in the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper I hold and affirm, with the word of God, and the ancient Fathers.

"I say and confess with the Evangelist Luke, and with the Apostle Paul , that the Bread on the which thanks are given is the Body of Christ in the remembrance of Him and His death, to be set forth perpetually of the faithful until His coming.

"I say and confess the Bread which we break to be the Communion and partaking of Christ's Body with the ancient and the faithful Fathers.

"I say and believe, that there is not only a signification of Christ's Body set forth by the Sacrament, but also that therewith is given to the godly and faithful the grace of Christ's Body, that is, the food of life and immortality, and this I hold with Cyprian.

"I say also with Saint Augustine, that we eat life and we drink life; with Emissene, that we feel the Lord to be present in grace; with Athanasius, that we receive celestial food which cometh from above; the property of natural communion, with Hilary; the nature of flesh and benediction which giveth life, in Bread and Wine, with Cyril; and with the same Cyril, the virtue of the very Flesh of Christ, life and grace of His Body, the property of the Only-Begotten, that is to say, life, as He Himself in plain words expounded it.

"I confess also with Basil, that we receive the mystical advent and coming of Christ, grace, and the virtue of His very nature; the Sacrament of his very Flesh, with Ambrose; the Body by grace, with Epiphanius; spiritual flesh, but not that which was crucified, with Jerome; grace flowing into a sacrifice, and the grace of the Spirit, with Chrysosthom; grace and invisible verity, grace and society of the members of Christ's Body, with Augustine.

"Finally, with Bertram, (who was the last of all these,) I confess that Christ's Body is in the Sacrament in this respect; namely, as he writeth, because there is in it the Spirit of Christ, that is, the power of the Word of God, which not only feedeth the soul, but also cleanseth it. Out of these I suppose it may clearly appear unto all men, how far we are from that opinion, whereof some go about falsely to slander us to the world, saying, we teach that the godly and faithful should receive nothing else at the Lord’s table, but a figure of the Body of Christ." – p. 201, 202

Thursday, August 21, 2008

With Angel and Archangels and All the Company of Heaven. . .

I’ve chosen to address the Invocation of the Saints (a bit of a repost, to be honest) because I was reminded of this topic by Father Chad's fine post on Saints and the Liturgy:

How to address this contentious issue, the issue of the "Invocation of the Saints"? Do Anglicans accept this practice? Many do, but think that the Articles are thereby opposed to “Catholicism” as they see it because it denounces the "Romish Doctrine of Invocation." As with some of the other issues we’ve addressed, we must not equate the Roman practices of the Reformation era (or the 19th century, which many Anglicans chose to mimic) with Catholicism proper.

We’ve seen that Purgatory is not a Catholic doctrine (rejected as it is in the Eastern Church and without foundation in the ancient Church), but a Roman one. Here too we must distinguish the Roman from the Catholic, for they are not identical. We can still pray for the departed (as we do in the 1549 and 1928 Eucharists) and have no need to embrace the Roman justification for engaging in the practice by making recourse to the concept of Purgatory. So, do we Anglican believe that the saints pray for us? Yes, for we pray with “all the company of heaven” in the Holy Eucharist (whether one uses the 1549, the 1662, or the 1928 variations). I’ve read pieces by C.S. Lewis and the Rev’d Dr. Toon supporting the notion that as we can ask the saints on earth for their prayers (“oremus”), so too can we ask the Saints in heaven for theirs. However, are there objections to the practice? I must admit that there are, if we engage in this practice after a certain way, namely phrasing the prayers to the saints without reference to God the Father or Christ Jesus. Can the objections be overcome? I believe they can, in a manner commensurate with the thinking of the Caroline divines of Anglicanism and the practice of the ancient Church. On this issue I will first turn to a favorite English Catholic text of mine—Vernon Staley’s The Catholic Religion, for I believe Canon Staley addresses this issue in a concise, honest, and forthright manner:

“That the saints who have gone before pray for us, has always been the belief of the Church. We believe that they join in prayer for us on earth with a power which was not theirs whilst in the flesh—the mother for her children, the priest for his flock, friend for friend. And it is lawful to ask God to grant us a share in their intercession. In what way, or to what extent, the saints are conscious of our needs, has not been revealed to us. The Church of England, in Article XXII condemns “the Romish doctrine concerning invocation of the saints,” that is to say, that system of prayer to the saints which led to their being regarded otherwise than as exalted supplicants. Before the Reformation serious abuses had arisen. It was supposed, for instance, that the saints had power with God because of their own merits, and that they were kinder, and had greater sympathy for sinners than Christ our Saviour. Upon this subject we quote the words of Dr. Pusey—

The exclusive address of unseen beings has an obvious tendency at once to fall into a sort of worship; it is too like the mode in which we address almighty God to be any way safe; the exclusive request of their intercession is likely at once to constitute them intercessors in a way different from God’s servants on earth, and to interfere with the office of the Great Intercessor;”

and again ,

For members of the English Church, who desire the prayers of the departed, it has to him ever seemed safest to express the desire for those prayers to God ‘of whom and through whom and to whom are all things.’”pp 130-131

Here we are actually left with a solution to any perceived problem with “invoking the saints,” which we will come back to shortly. In summary of the points above, Canon Staley notes that the Roman practice was tied up with the saints having merits of their own, something that is rejected in the Articles when they reject the works of supererogation: “whereas Christ saith plainly When ye have done all that are commanded to you, say, We are unprofitable servants.” The only merits we can rightfully plead are the merits of Christ. So this element of the practice must be left by the theological wayside. We must also reject the notion that the saints are, in a sense, replacements for Christ as a mediator—that Christ is too far off, too fearfully awful that we must come to Him through another channel. The is a notion of the Middle Ages that Staley rightfully notes as erroneous. This idea must be countered, for Christ is our only Mediator and Advocate who intercedes with the Father on our behalf. That Christ is too remote or unsympathetic is no justification for invoking the Saints: We do not come to Christ through the Saints; rather we have communion with the Saints in and through Christ.

The last issue that Staley notes it the idea that the Saints in heaven may not be conscious of our needs. This issue must be addressed. Pusey remarks that “The exclusive address of unseen beings has an obvious tendency at once to fall into a sort of worship; it is too like the mode in which we address almighty God to be any way safe.” Pusey is not rejecting prayers to the Saints—he is commenting that prayers composed in a manner in which they are exclusively addressed to the Saints comes too close to the form of prayer we use to address God alone. What then is the remedy to this and to the criticism that we have no assurance that the Saints even hear our requests? Pusey provides the suggestion that addresses both of these issues, that

“. . .for members of the English Church, who desire the prayers of the departed, it has to him ever seemed safest to express the desire for those prayers to God ‘of whom and through whom and to whom are all things.”

Here we have a conclusion that was arrived at also by the Caroline divines, one that is illustrated by reference to the old Roman Mass itself. For in the old Roman Mass, we have a prayer addressed to God Almighty, but within this prayer there is a request for the prayers of the saints. Again, note that this is not initially a prayer addressed to the Virgin, St. Andrew, or St. Agnes—it is addressed to God and concluded “through Christ.” What many Anglo-Catholics rejected (see Pusey, Staley, or Westcott’s Catholic Principles) were long prayers addressed to the saint alone and giving the saint (especially the Blessed Virgin) titles usually reserved for Christ. But the prayer in the old Roman Mass is different. Within it is a petition that the saints may pray for us. Several other prayers of the old Missals resemble this prayer. Consider this prayer on the Vigil of the Feast of St. Andrew:

Grant, we beseech Thee, Almighty God: that as we do prevent the festival of Thy holy Apostle Saint Andrew, so he may implore Thy mercy for us; that we being delivered from all our iniquities, may likewise be defended against all adversities. . .”

At this point it should be clear that this older manner of requesting the prayers of the Saints addresses the main concerns that usually arise. In that we are addressing the prayer to God through Christ, we have the assurance that the Saints in heaven are being commanded by God. We do not pray to the saints to bypass Christ because He is too stern and the saints more merciful—the mercy of God is implored and His omnipotence is rightly assumed. Also, we do not use titles and manners of address reserved for God in Trinity. As Pusey rightly states, those who desire the prayers of the saints ought address this desire to God, in whom are all things.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Icons, shrines, and Anglicanism

Iconoclasm, the destruction of images of Christ, the Virgin, or the Saints, stems from an insufficient appreciation of the full humanity of Christ, and as such it is a heresy. The creation of specific imagery of Christ and other Christian figures did not become prevalent until after the waning of paganism. Iconoclasm was most prevalent during these introductions; by the 8th Century a great deal of superstition had arisen in connection with the images and the debate concerning their use had become contentious (Moss, The Christian Faith, 1957, p 88). Saint John of Damascus clarified the issue of images as it related to Christology, stressing the reality of Christ’s humanity. The Second Council of Nicea in A.D. 787 condemned the iconoclasts and directed pictures be restored to the churches.

Churches north of the Alps not represented at Nicea II rejected the decrees of the council. The Council of Frankfort declared that pictures could be used in churches, but not worshipped (misunderstanding the nuances of Nicea II between "veneration" and "adoration" or worship). The authority of Nicea II was questioned by the theologians of the western Church as late as 1540. The Protestant Reformation ignited a new wave of iconoclasm in the West, especially in the churches of the Puritan, Presbyterian, and Reformed traditions. Iconoclasm did not affect Lutheranism to a great degree—crucifixes, statues, and paintings have been in continuous use in Lutheran worship since the Reformation.

Anglicans had varying views on the subject. The cross and candles upon the Altar were often retained by the high churchmen (for instance, Queen Elizabeth I kept an ornate crucifix in her chapel). Post-Reformation portraiture of Anglican divines such as Cranmer, Andrewes, and Laud demonstrated the development of a type of “Anglican iconography,” as did the continued practice of creating effigies for the monuments of the deceased prelates in English Cathedrals. During the Puritan Commonwealth much ancient Christian art left in place in England at the Anglican Reformation was thoughtlessly defaced (literally—it means to destroy the faces) or otherwise destroyed. Anglo-Catholic churches (from the late 1800s to the present) have brought back the crucifix, icons, and statues of Saints to Anglican places of worship (they were never completely gone in some places), but the iconographic structure and organization of the images as found in the Eastern churches is often lacking. Indeed, in many parishes proportion and focus are lost amid a sea of statuary and images and a repetition of the crucifix.

While God the Father cannot be pictorially represented (He is never depicted in the icons of the Eastern Church, although He often is in the West—as an elderly mirror image of Christ; this is indeed an example of bad theology), both the Holy Ghost and Christ have been depicted in Eastern iconography, the Spirit as a dove or a tongue of fire, both images with biblical foundations. As Christ was Incarnate and fully assumed our human nature, it is not incorrect that His image can be likened as best we can assume He appeared in the flesh. Honor (veneration) paid to such an image is not to the wood or paint, but to the Person of Christ (just the same as when we bow in the Liturgy at the Name of Jesus, we bow not to vibrations in the air, but to the Incarnate Word). The ability to depict Christ as man, as Incarnate God, speaks to the truth of Christianity—we don’t just worship some unseen Deity. Even though we cannot imagine the glory of God the Father nor create any likeness of Him, we have the human attestation of His nature in the Person of Christ.

I have a Methodist relative (I come from that tradition myself and have a bust of John Wesley on my desk) and she has a picture of Jesus (normal European depiction: flowing hair, pale skin, blue eyes) in her bedroom. When I visited her house some time back she mentioned, looking at the picture, that she talks to Him every day. I knew what she meant, as would almost any other Christian. Nobody would think that she spoke to the picture or thought that it had any special power. She had an implicit theory of Christian iconography. She speaks not to the image, but to the One that it represents.As Christ was Incarnate, we can depict Him and revere His image and likeness. As the Saints were humans, we can do likewise. We cannot think that the images have any value or power in and of themselves. They are not magic. I believe most protestants have an understanding of icons close to the understanding of the Second Council of Nicea, even though they might abhor or question their use in Lutheran, Orthodox, Anglican or Roman Catholic worship. Pictures of Christ (or even the Holy Family, if it is Christmas time) might be set upon the mantle and treated with respect in Christian homes of many traditions. If someone were to come into the home and spit upon the image of Christ or smash the crèche the person would probably be horrified, because they would rightly interpret the attack upon the image as an attack on the idea of Christianity or the person of Jesus. If a Democrat has a picture of Kennedy on the wall or the Republican a picture of Reagan and a visitor looks at the image and expresses pleasure or disdain, almost everyone knows that the displeasure or appreciation is directed at the person, not at the image.

The Affirmation of Saint Louis embraces the Seven Ecumenical Councils without qualification. The Constitution and Canons of the Reformed Episcopal Church states: “Nicea II (787). . .is disputed in respect of its ecumenicity and application, though in principle its condemnation of Iconoclasm is conceded to be orthodox.” Therefore, the bulk of classical Anglicanism embraces the theology of Nicea II. The main questions that remain for many classical Anglicans pertain not to the general theological conclusions of Nicea II, but rather to the wording of many of the directives within the pronouncements of the Council. The canons resulting from this council do not just allow for images in places of worship, but direct that images be placed in all churches and that honor be paid to these images through gestures (bowing, kissing, etc), and that those who reject “all ecclesiastical tradition, whether written or non-written” be condemned (something that would have to be reconciled to the Articles and their affirmation that nothing is required than that which can be proven by Holy Scripture). An Anglican service of the Holy Eucharist can be validly celebrated without a cross upon the Holy Table or a single icon in the parish church; several Anglo-Catholic churches I know have no images and no stained glass except for the cross or crucifix on the altar. An Orthodox liturgy (to the best of my knowledge) demands the use of an icon--even a mission parish requires a portable set of standing icons. It is in these regards that many Anglicans still question the “ecumenicity and application” of the council, while readily admitting that its Christology in defense of Christian art and its use is orthodox. If any Anglican you speak with says otherwise, ask him if he has a Nativity set or has sent a Christmas card with the Virgin and Child upon it.

Relics and Pilgrimages

Every year or so I go to a large shrine that houses the mortal remains, the relics, of a man beloved by millions--the shrine is huge and impressive, filled with icons of the man entombed there. There are paintings, busts, and in a museum nearby numerous wax figures. It is the shrine of the 16th president of the United States. Usually I will take a token of my pilgrimage back with me; last time it was a bust of President Lincoln. With this example we see that most people will embark on some manner of pilgrimage in their lives to visit the tomb of a famous person now deceased, even if it is a secular one. All of us visit the graves of those we have loved and lost. Even the most ardent Protestant must admit the similarity between the two practices.

Wheaton College in Illinois has a collection of the "relics" of C.S. Lewis (personal belongings, etc) and many Christians have made pilgrimages to see them. However, there are no indulgences granted for such trips, and no years will be taken off of time to be spent in purgatory. What such pilgrimages will do is help to connect the living with the faithful who have "departed this life in Thy faith and fear" that "we might follow in their good examples."There should be no objection to pilgramages to such shrines, either to C.S. Lewis or to Lancelot Andrewes, or to the site of Cranmer or Laud's martyrdom. What most find abhorent (as the Reformers did in the late Middle Ages) is the creation and selling of relics--body parts taken from the grave, dismembered portions from a desecrated corpse removed from his resting place in Christian burial and sold for profit. There is a great and important difference between visiting the tomb of a faithful Christian and taking parts from that faithful Christian in order to create "a tomb away from the grave." We must ask ourselves if we would approve of the dismemberment of a saintly elder of our family so that a church might have "a piece of her" for the parish. . .I would hope not.

Monday, August 18, 2008

A piece that illustrates some of the perils on the ground of Anglicans hoping for "The Roman Option"

The Roman Option

Commentary and proposal
by Mark Cameron

I recently read (almost at a sitting actually as I found it quite gripping) William Oddie's The Roman Option (New York: Harper Collins, 1997), the story of the entry of Anglo-Catholic dissidents into the Catholic Church in the UK, and to a lesser extent the US, after the decision of the Church of England to "ordain" women. I think there are many lessons in this book which are relevant to traditionalist Catholics, especially when it comes to tactics on how to carve out our own distinct but integral place in the Church.

The Anglo-Catholics were by and large perfectly orthodox, willing to accept all Catholic doctrine and to submit themselves to reordination. But they also wished to preserve some of their liturgical and historical traditions. Quoting Pope Paul VI's statement to Anglican Archbishop Michael Ramsey, they wished to be "united but not absorbed." They also wished to maintain their group and parish identities, not simply be absorbed into the anonymity of large (and liberal) suburban Catholic parishes. While traditionalists may argue with some of their liturgical preferences, and certainly with married priests, I think most of us would sympathize with their general goals.

The path they faced in trying to find a way to join the Church as distinct groups and to preserve their liturgical heritage is both discouraging and highly familiar to traditionalists. At first, they received a warm welcome from Cardinal Hume, and an even warmer welcome in Rome (where their biggest ally was, surprise, surprise, Cardinal Ratzinger). Their ideal goal was an Anglican rite personal prelature. But they quickly realized that this was a non-starter, so they started negotiating for a lesser aim: a canonical structure that would allow them to be catechized and join the Church together, and to continue to worship together after they had joined. (I will come back to the details of this later) Rome was keen for this, and Hume was initially willing. But the English Catholic bishops, egged on by liberals and feminists in the Church who did not want to see 1,000 priests and 50,000 laity loyal to Rome and against women priests enter the Church, balked. What the English Bishops eventually produced was a very watered down statement saying that parishes or groups could join together, but once received they would be absorbed into the mainstream church. The hope of staying together as parishes or keeping elements of Anglican liturgy was more or less crushed. It was join Father Flippant at St. Teilhard de Chardin's for the Novus Ordo, or nothing.

Some U.S. bishops, led by Cardinal Law, were more keen and were promoting a wider explansion of the "pastoral provision", by which a few Anglican parishes, mostly in Texas, had already been received into the Church. Rome tried to push for a more generous settlement in both the US and the UK, but it came to nothing. Some of the individual stories are shocking. One key player in the negotiations was Episcopalian Bishop Clarence Pope of Fort Worth, Texas. He tried to negotiate for a personal prelature, or some form of nationwide, expanded patoral provision, with the help of Cardinal Law. They had a meeting in Rome with key Cardinals, which concluded with a dramatic meeting where Pope John Paul II embraced Bishop Pope and gestured towards him saying, "in communion." But when they went back home, nothing happened. Finally, the ailing Bishop Pope announced his retirement as Anglican bishop, and that he couldn't wait any longer and wished to come into the Church as an individual. On retirement, he moved to the diocese of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The bishop of Baton Rouge had said that he would happily reordain Bishop Pope as a priest. But having said this, the bishop then said that he would first... (wait for this) put it to a vote of the diocesan priests council. Guess what? They voted against allowing an Anglican bishop, involved in direct negotiations with the Pope and Cardinals Law and Ratzinger, to become an ordinary priest. Pope was completely isolated from the Catholic community in Baton Rouge, and was left in the dark as to what was happening atthe national and international level (after all, he was just a retired layman now). Old and sick, he started getting calls from the Episcopalian primate and the new Episcopal Bishop of Fort Worth to return to the Episcopal Church to the dignity of being a retired bishop. He did, thanks to the petty jealousies and heartlessness of a small bishop and his liberal priests.

In the end, thanks to a myriad of stumbling blocks on the Catholic side, and a more creative response on the Anglican side by giving the dissident parishes four bishops of their own and allowing them to opt out of the regular Church of England structure, the negotiations with Rome and Westminster came to nothing. Many individual priests and laity came over, but the prospect of a mass conversion of whole parishes flopped.

The similarities to the position of Roman rite traditionalists to the Anglo-Catholics discussed in Oddie's book were striking. How many times have we had friendly words or documents from Rome, only to be shot down by bishops? How many times have we heard initially positive responses from bishops, only to be shot down by a vote of the priests council? How many times have we had to endure insults that we are not really loyal to the Church because we want our own distinct liturgy? It also makes me think that if Rome is too powerless to bring over an Anglican bishop who the Pope has said he is "in communion" with because of the Baton Rouge priests council, or unwilling to help bring over 200+ whole Anglican parishes, how much power will they have or energy will they spend to help us? We may have to come to the same sad lesson that most of the Anglo-Catholic dissidents still in the Church of England came to: the bishops and priests don't want us, and Rome is unwilling or unable to help us. Therefore, we have to help ourselves. The dissident Anglicans, with their own four bishops, are united through the Forward in Faith movement in the U.K. (and now in the well) This will give them a powerful structure to negotiate with Rome as a bloc. Next time, it will take more than kind words from Cardinals: they will want it in writing.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Anglican Unity

There is a great hunger for Christian unity within Anglican circles these days, pulling various factions of Anglicanism in different directions. In some respects one of the forces at work seems to be the desire to be part of "something bigger." On the one hand you have groups like the Traditional Anglican Communion (represented in America by the Anglican Church in America) and perhaps certain elements of the Diocese of Forth Worth hoping to become something of a "uniat" Anglican Rite within the Roman Catholic Church. Of course, for most traditional Anglicans this is not a viable approach. Perhaps more viable (for those who desire to be a part of a larger group of Christians), given the Anglican ethos, is to explore the Western Rite currently in use in one or two Orthodox jurisdictions. Why do I see this as more viable? I have a copy of the Western Rite Service Book and roughly 90% of its contents comes from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer--most high church Anglicans probably couldn't tell the difference during a service. However, one thing that hinders many is the feeling that they are second class citizens in Orthodoxy as those who use either the 1928 liturgy or the Gregorian canon and not one of the "real" Orthodox liturgies. The creation of a western rite bishop--or working towards such a creation--would be a great move forward.

However, many Anglo-Catholics feel the pull of Rome much more strongly, even if they have previously identified themselves as being of one mind with the Seven Councils (thereby rejecting the peculiar Roman additions to the faith). The visible unity that Rome provides is apparently far stronger.

Similarly, the pull from remnants of the Canterbury Communion is also very strong. The Common Cause Partnership, which includes Anglo-Catholic dioceses from the Episcopal Church, elements of Forward in Faith, the Anglican Mission in America, and the Reformed Episcopal Church is hoping to become the new orthodox Anglican province in North America and become recognized by the more conservative elements of worldwide Anglicanism that met in Jerusalem. However, parts of the Common Cause Partnership ordain women to the priesthood and show no signs of stopping--as Bishop Martin Minns has put it, there are "two integrities" on this issue, both of which will "be respected" (as women continue to be ordained). I hate to sound cynical, but this language is remarkably like that of the Episcopal Church from a few decades back. However, leaders such as Bishop Hewett of the Diocese of the Holy Cross sound very hopeful that the majority in Common Cause will win the day and the historic order of the Church will be preserved. We will need to wait and see, but the 800 pound (and he seems to be gaining weight) gorilla in the corner of the room need be acknowledged. If he is not, the result will be a new province with "impaired communion" as one of its founding elements, and as such it will not remain viable for long.

Anglican Christians do indeed need to work for unity, but it cannot be achieved at the expense of a common ministry for the Holy Table or Common Prayer built around the Cranmerian-Laudian prayer book tradition.

Just my two cents. . .

Thursday, August 14, 2008

August 15th

Saint Mary the Virgin, Mother of Our Lord Jesus Christ

(The Falling Asleep of the Blessed Virgin Mary)

The Collect
O GOD, who hast taken to thyself the blessed Virgin Mary, mother of thine only Son: Grant that we who have been redeemed by his blood may share with her the glory of thine eternal kingdom; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost ever, one God, world without end. Amen.

The Epistle Isaiah 61:7-11
THEREFORE in their land they shall possess a double portion: everlasting joy shall be unto them. For I the Lord love justice. I hate robbery and wrong; and I will direct their work in truth, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them. And their seed shall be known among the Gentiles, and their offspring among the people: all that see them shall acknowledge them, that they are the seed which the Lord hath blessed. I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels. For as the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth; so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.

The Gospel St Luke 1:46-55.
MY soul doth magnify the Lord and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name. And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation. He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. He hath holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy; as he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The List

Over at The Continuum (now, due to the writing of Father Hart, my favourite blog) a discussion in the comments has generated a list of basic premises that ought to be held when dealing with the Church of Rome in ecumenical dialogue. I've laid them out in a mildly adapted way here and can only add my hearty agreement.

Father Lawrence Wells contributed the following points that ought to be essential:
1) Anglican orders are absolutely valid and always have been,
2) The papal claims of infallibility are rejected,
3) The Marian dogmas of Immaculate Conception and Assumption are lacking in true Catholic consensus,
4) The Reformational understanding of justification is the only correct reading of Scripture.

Father Hart rightly added:
When Rome understands our position, then we can talk. This is no arbitrary list. I would say that at least all of these points are necessary. I would add one more:

5) "Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation."

Thursday, July 24, 2008

William Temple,

Archbishop of Canterbury, on symbolism and the Holy Eucharist

From Christus Veritas:

In the physical universe symbolism is the principle of existence. Each lower stratum of Reality exists to be the vehicle of the higher. The organism which was Christ’s Body in His earthly ministry derived the significance entitling it to that name from the fact that it was the instrument and vehicle--the effective symbol--of His Spirit. . . .The identity which makes it appropriate to speak of our Lord’s fleshy organism, the Church, and the Eucharistic Bread by one name—the Body of the Lord--is an identity of relation to His Personality on the one hand and to His disciples on the other. The addition of the outpoured Blood makes it plain that it is the symbol of His Personality as offered in sacrifice. As we receive His sacrificial Personality we become able to take our part in the one Sacrifice, which is the self-offering of humanity to God. . . .It is essential to the spiritual value of this sacrament that we do what the Lord did. It is all symbol, but it is expressive, not arbitrary, symbol; that is to say, the spiritual reality signified is actually conveyed by the symbol. The symbol is emphatically not mere symbol; if it were that, we should only receive what our minds could grasp of the meaning symbolised. It is an instrument of the Lord’s purpose to give Himself to us, as well as the symbol of what He gives. What we receive is not limited by our capacity to understand the gift. When with the right intention I receive the Bread and the Wine, I actually receive Christ, whether I have any awareness of this at the moment or not, and always more fully than I am aware. We, by repeating and so identifying ourselves with His sacrificial act, become participants in His one sacrifice. (1924, pp 239-251)

Friday, July 18, 2008

"These are the days when the Christian is expected to praise every creed except his own."
— G.K. Chesterton


Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:Grace and peace to all of you in the Name of our gracious and eternal God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I write to provide you with a report on the historic gathering of faithful Anglican Christians which took place in the city of Jerusalem from June 22 through 29, 2008. Participation in this event, known as the Global Anglican Future Conference, was by invitation only, and drew together nearly 1,200 participants representing some 35 million of the world's orthodox Anglicans from more than 25 nations on 6 continents. The Reformed Episcopal Church was represented by 14 persons including five of our bishops. The Rt. Rev. Charles W. Dorrington, the Rt. Rev. Alphonza Gadsden, Sr., the Rt. Rev. Royal U. Grote, Jr., the Rt. Rev. Ray R. Sutton, and I were all privileged to be part of this unprecedented gathering.Throughout the span of 8 days pilgrims devoted themselves intensively to worship in daily plenary sessions, to prayer in small groups, to Bible study and discussion, and to substantive examination of significant issues in skillfully conducted workshops and discussion groups. Throughout the week we traveled together to the holy places of Jerusalem and its immediate environs, as well as to more distant places such as Bethlehem and Galilee. An especially moving experience came on Wednesday, June 25, when all pilgrims assembled on the southern steps of the Temple, joining in a service of rededication and renewed commitment of Christ, to the truth of the Gospel, and to the mission of the church.The purpose of the Global Anglican Future Conference (or 'GAFCON') was stated by the Most Rev. Peter Akinola, Primate of All Nigeria, in his opening address. The Archbishop said that "GAFCON is a godly instrument to reshape, reform, renew and reclaim a true Anglican, biblical, orthodox Christianity that is firmly rooted in the historic faith and in the ancient formularies....We are here to inaugurate and determine the roadmap to our future."The logo of GAFCON bears the two words "Unity" and "Truth" superimposed upon the cross. The truth-claims of Christianity were the reiterated emphasis of the Conference, because they are the bedrock upon which historic Anglican Christianity was established. Every conference speaker and workshop leader made clear, in his own way, that Christ's desire for the unity of His people is always based upon truth. "Sanctify them through the truth; Thy Word is truth." (St. John 17:17)The outcome of this eventful week in the Holy City is articulated in the GAFCON Conference Statement, and in the Jerusalem Declaration which it embodies. This important document is attached to this letter, and I commend it to the serious attention and study of all of our people. The following matters are worthy of special note.

* Our core identity as Anglicans is clearly defined as based upon the Holy Scriptures as God's Word written; upon the catholic creeds and the ancient Councils of the undivided church; and upon the historic formularies of our Anglican heritage: the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, the Book of Common Prayer, and the Ordinal.

* The Jerusalem Declaration offers a clear and forthright articulation of our present-day commitment, mission and purpose as a fellowship of faithful Anglican Christians.

* The establishment of a Primates' Council marks a step toward restoring the church to the ancient, conciliar form of order and government by which substantive matters of belief and practice can be collectively considered, effectively determined, and strongly upheld, so that both orthodoxy and orthopraxis are maintained and promoted in the life of the church.

* The Primates' signed affirmation, attached to the Conference Statement and the Jerusalem Declaration, provides authentication and recognition to the Reformed Episcopal Church as full partners in the realigned global Anglican fellowship which has emerged from GAFCON, together with other "confessing Anglican jurisdictions" who also agree to promote the Gospel and defend the faith.

* The commitment of the Primates anticipates the formation of a new ecclesiastical structure for North America, to be presented to the Primates' Council for recognition as a province. Work on the formation of this new structure has engaged the Lead Bishops' Executive Committee throughout the past ten months, ever since the College of Bishops of the Common Cause Partnership met in Pittsburgh in September, 2007, and commissioned us with the task. Relationships within this new structure will continue to be federated, with jurisdictions retaining individual identities, integrities, and autonomy.

GAFCON establishes a new alignment and marks a new beginning for faithful Anglicans throughout the world. In particular, it launches a new era of opportunity for the Reformed Episcopal Church. With joy and thanksgiving we take our place as members of a global family and fellowship, uniting in witness, mission, and purpose to bear testimony to Jesus Christ as the only Name whereby men must be saved, and to serve Him, together with all faithful Anglicans, in building His church.

Faithfully yours, in Christ,

The Most Rev. Leonard W. Riches

Presiding Bishop

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Thoughts on GAFCON

by the Rt. Rev. Paul C. Hewett, SSC

Moderator of the Federation of Anglican Churches in the Americas

Bishop of the Diocese of the Holy Cross

Nearly 1,200 pilgrims from five continents, representing 35 million faithful Anglicans, two thirds of the Anglican Communion, gathered for 8 days in Jerusalem, in what must surely be the most significant watershed for Anglicans since the Reformation.

The Most Rev. Peter Akinola, Primate of Nigeria, the Communion’s largest province, gave the Opening Address, entitled “GAFCON – A Rescue Mission.” “GAFCON,” he said, “is a godly instrument to reshape, reform, renew and reclaim a true Anglican Biblical orthodox Christianity that is firmly anchored in historic faith and ancient formularies...We are here to inaugurate and determine the roadmap to (our) future. And from what better place in the world could we take the fullest advantage of the most powerful reminders of the life and ministry of our Lord and only Saviour Jesus the Christ than here in the holy land where he was born, grew up, served, was killed, rose again for our justification, ascended to heaven and now is seated at the right hand of God the Father, interceding for us.”

Normally a conference of this magnitude takes years to prepare. GAFCON was put together, brilliantly, and funded, in five months. The hand of God was upon this mighty work. Our time together was filled with pilgrimages to holy sites, worship, devotional prayer sessions, workshops, Bible study and several plenary sessions. Each of these was arranged so that we could truly be pilgrims, journeying from our roots into the future God has in mind for us. We heard outstanding presentations and sermons from Professor Os Guinness, Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali of Rochester, England, Archbishop Yong Ping Chung from Malaysia and Archbishop Gregory Venables from the Southern Cone, and numerous others. The daily morning workshops were superb. I looked in on two, “Family and Marriage,” and “Anglican Identity in the 21st Century.” The others were “Gospel and Culture,” “Gospel and Leadership,” “Biblical Authority and Interpretation,” “Evangelism and Church Planting,” “Theological Education,” and “Bishops’ Wives.” We had opportunities to visit shrines in Jerusalem, Bethlehem and the Galilee.
FACA was represented by bishops, clergy and laity from the Diocese of the Holy Cross, the Episcopal Missionary Church, the Reformed Episcopal Church and the Anglican Mission in America. I had an opportunity to speak as part of a panel of bishops in the Common Cause Partnership, when we met as the CCP to lay out our perceptions and expectations. I said that it was clear that a green light was being given to us in North America to use CCP as the nucleus of a new and recognized North American province that could remain federated until it resolves its differences. And in so resolving our differences, we must always commit ourselves to the consensus of the undivided Church of the first millennium.

Forward in Faith from North America and England were well represented, and it was very useful to have time to network closely with them, to keep coordinated and on the same page. We could see that what GAFCON was doing was launching a new, or second, reformation, positioning itself as the beginning of an ecclesial movement for renewal and proclamation opportunities. To do this GAFCON would open up enough structure, like a giant umbrella, within which we can deal with secondary issues. The largest of these is the ordination of women. In his Address, “Where do we go from here?” Bishop John Rodgers noted the “serious degree of impaired communion...around this matter,” and the need for a proper study such as the one AMiA conducted. To encourage this, Forward in Faith at its recent Assembly in Belleville, IL, passed a resolution urging Common Cause Partners who ordain women to begin such a study, with a moratorium on ordinations until the study is completed. The same resolution will be on the agenda at FACA’s meeting this September.

Bishop Rodgers went on to assert the necessity of returning to “a common prayer book tradition. The classic expression of this is the 1662 Book of Common Prayer and Ordinal. This classic prayer book is grace-centered to a unique degree. Cranmer surpassed all others in placing the Gospel in the center of the worship and prayers of the people.”

He also takes a strong stand for a conciliar form of governance, using the sobornost theology of the Russian Orthodox Church and the other Orthodox. “Our present form is really more like a global family picnic than a council. The early Church from biblical times onward held councils, not picnics...In addition, with regard to ecumenical conversations, a conciliar form of Communion would enable clearer and more easily recognized conversations and cooperation. We should do this because it is biblical, traditional, catholic, missional and ecumenical.” In a Diocese like ours, Holy Cross, we already have a markedly conciliar way of governance. For example, we have holy synods, not conventions. The business or political part of our synods is an hour or two at most, and the rest is all “fellowship in the Holy Spirit.” It is recognized in advance that no matter of Faith or Morals could ever even appear on an agenda.

Bishop Rodger’s projection for the future is that a new faithful Anglican conciliar Communion should be formed as soon as possible. The GAFCON primates would call a Council “which would begin the reformed Global Anglican Family comprised of all those provinces, dioceses and congregations as wished and were able to align with it. It would thus initiate the reformed Anglican Family allowing it to take its place in the world, unattached from the present Anglican Communion. The days of weak response and delay are past. The issues are far too serious, too serious for the spread of the Apostolic Gospel, and too serious for the preservation and vital work of faithful Anglicanism. No matter what the pain or no matter what the cost, we are called by the Lord to devote ourselves to the Apostles’ teaching and fellowship, the breaking of bread and prayers, while living in vigorous apostolic mission.”

The opportunities for networking were massive, meeting new people and strengthening existing ties, with people like Fr. Kevin Donlon, Bp. Mark Lawrence, Professor Edith Humphrey, Bp. John Rodgers, Fr. Douglas Mussey, Bp. and Mrs. Jim Davis, and Ron Spears and the Association of Western Anglican Congregations, and many others. After the final Eucharist and lunch, the Ackermans took me to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and I shall never forget kneeling in the Empty Tomb with Bishop Keith, placing our SSC Pectoral Crosses on the spot where Jesus rose from the dead.

Bishop Keith by the way was a strong presence at GAFCON, as was everyone from Forward in Faith and FACA. Everyone knows that we cannot and will not compromise the ministry as our Lord instituted it and the apostles continued it. We are not, and can never be, in communion with anyone who ordains women. If those who do so continue the practice, we will remain in our federated relationships, entirely independent in our own synods and structures. But we will declare to them “all the counsel of God,” (Acts 20:27) and the way in which all the issues we face are interrelated. All these issues are one and the same thing: the gnostic impulse to redefine human nature apart from Christ. Those who persist in ordaining women are backing themselves into an ever-shrinking corner. It is the women themselves who are increasingly going to rise up against it, and ask that the tables in the house of the Lord have men at their heads. Boys must have this if they are to be men-in-Christ. Our culture is crumbling because not enough boys are learning how to be godly men. Chesterton predicted, early in the 20th century, that the most radical thing in the world by the end of the century would be Christian Fatherhood. The Bible shows us how patriarchy is redeemed, modeled in Jesus the Son, who reveals the Father as the ultimate gracious Patriarch. The Incarnation of the Son is the ultimate in kenosis, or self-emptying. In the Holy Spirit, patriarchy is gracious and kenotic.

For a proper, biblical release of feminine gifts that grows out of the one great tradition, we begin with Our Lady, the first Christian, the new Eve. With a growing awareness of Mary as our Mother, we can begin to ennumerate and build up the ways in which girls and women live in the Body, first as wives and mothers, and then in the plethora of ministries that are or can be open to them, according to their gifts, to build once again a culture of life. Christian women from Africa, with their dress, modesty, courtesy and manners, have some things to teach us, and are a good example to our secular culture.

It is essential that we deepen our relationships with Rome and Orthodoxy, first and foremost because our Lord desires this, and also because the Muslims are coming. At the very least, we need to learn to speak with one moral voice in the face of the rising tide of Islam. The person who hinted at the need for convergence with the larger Catholic world was the Bishop of Rochester, Michael Nazir-Ali, in his brilliant talk, “The Nature and Future of the Anglican Communion.” The patristic consensus of the undivided Church is our foundation as Anglicans, and is now the basis for dialogue with Rome and Orthodoxy.

As Anglo Catholics we have been in the purgative fires for over 30 years. The Evangelicals have not been in as many refinings. We need to help them understand the Catholic Faith. We need to help them get rid of the cancer of gnosticism that has invaded evangelicalism and the mushy theology that has marked much of the charismatic world. We can help them to really go counter cultural and swim against the tide, as transformers of our culture. Meanwhile they can help us become better evangelicals and take sides with John Wesley, who saw the world as his parish, not his parish as his world. I am going to be asking what opportunities or structures we can create for encounters, at the deepest level, between Anglo catholic, evangelical and charismatic Anglicans.

I would say that GAFCON got it about right with the amount of structure being put into place. We can go slowly on structures now, until we begin to sort out the issues we face. This is the Anglo-Saxon-Celtic way. We cooperate to the greatest extent possible, and let the paperwork follow. This will help us to steer clear of some of the division that followed the St. Louis Congress in 1977. In some ways GAFCON resembled St. Louis on a global scale. One senses from both events that from now on, nothing will ever be the same. What makes GAFCON different is the preponderance of Global South leadership and membership, which will drive our faithful Communion for generations to come.

Of the three models for governance (confessional, conciliar and magisterial) we will, many of us hope, emphasize the conciliar. We are a confessing Church, (now, more than ever, like the confessing church movement in Nazi Germany that resisted Hitler). But we are not a Church with a Confession (a quite lengthy doctrinal statement) like the Lutherans and Presbyterians. Our only confessions are the 3 creeds of the primitive Church, and the Ecumenical Councils. There can be magisterial elements in our governance, because the Book of Common Prayer is our equivalent of a magisterium, a teaching office. But like the Orthodox, we do not have a magisterium centered in the Pope. The teaching office of the Pope should be sufficient for the entire Body, because all Christians should be aware of what he says, and take it very seriously.
GAFCON’s blessing to us in the United States is the acceptance by the Primates’ Council of the Common Cause Partnership as the nucleus of a new province in North America. Building this is a monumental task, probably our last chance to “get it right.” The task before us is staggering, as it was before Nehemiah and the Jews returning from exile. Nehemiah told them “of the hand of my God which was good upon me; as also the king’s words that he had spoken unto me. And they said, Let us rise up and build. So they strengthened their hands for this good work.” (Nehemiah 2: 18)

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Bishop N.T. Wright on the Colbert Report. . .

Truth in advertising here: I think N.T. Wright is an excellent New Testament scholar and theologian. However, he is very weak on other areas of theology and when he walks off the path into political theorizing he sounds like a liberal member of the House of Lords channeling Karl Marx. Also, I really don't like the parody show "The Colbert Report." All that being said, I think N.T. Wright did rather well in this little segment, given to his sticking to what he knows best:

Some initial thoughts (on GAFCON)

by + John H. Rodgers Jr.


It is important, when considering what was accomplished at GAFCON, to keep in mind its singular focus. That focus was to identify the Anglican grasp of the apostolic faith, to claim that identity for the whole Anglican Communion and to provide a firm oversight and standing from which to confess the apostolic faith as we Anglicans have received it. This singular focus meant that many very important matters were not directly addressed at GAFCON, in the Statement or in the Jerusalem Declaration. This by no means relegates matters such as the status of 5th, 6th and 7th Councils, the ordination of women, the form of the Anglican Communion, abortion, the nature of and conflict with militant Islam, our relation to the persecuted Church etc. to secondary issues. There are serious issues and differences among the fellowship of confessing Anglicans that must and will be faced. It will not be easy, nor will solutions be sudden, nor can we be absolutely certain that some will not, in the end, decide they must walk apart. The difference is that they will be faced in the context of the authority of Holy Scriptures and the apostolic faith as Anglicans have historically received it. The Conference said, echoing Canon A5 of the Chu rch of England: “The doctrine of the Church is grounded in the Holy Scriptures and in such teaching of the ancient Fathers and Councils of the Church as are agreeable to the said Scriptures. In particular such doctrine is to be found in the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion, the Book of Common Prayer and the Ordinal. We intend to remain faithful to this standard and we call on others in the Communion to reaffirm and return to it.”

With that in mind, let me state I believe to be the most important things that we did accomplish:

1. We are the Communion. “We are not breaking away from the Anglican Communion.”
In essence the fellowship of confessing Anglicans took things in hand and declared that we are the true and faithful Anglicans, upholding the historic Anglican grasp of the apostolic faith, and as such we are the true representatives of the Anglican Communion. Let those who are departing from historic Anglican convictions about the authority and content of the Scriptures come back to what Anglicans have confessed all along. If they are unwilling to do so, it is they, not we, who should leave. I suspect that there are differing expectations among those who have placed themselves under the Jerusalem Declaration as to the future of the structures and membership of the Anglican Communion as it is presently constituted. I myself do not see how we can long abide together structurally, but I could be wrong, my friends do remind me of the parting of the Red Sea and God still does miracles. However, of a faithful confessing Anglican Communion, all at the Conference expressed a confidence in a fruitful and “bright future”.

2. We are under the Jerusalem Declaration.

If we are a confessing fellowship of Anglicans, then we have to be clear as to what we are confessing. In essence we are simply confessing what the Scriptures confess, the apostolic confession. The 16th Century Reformation was not a new faith but a correction of teachings and practices where the Western Church had contradicted Scripture. It was a return to the apostles teaching, particularly with regard to the depth of sin in fallen humanity and the application of God’s grace to the sinner. The specific value of the Declaration is not that it is new, for it is not; it is really ancient in content. The value is that it is clear and concise and we can all be held accountable to teach and act in accord with its statements. One need only to be familiar with much that is being said and taught and done in significant portions of the Anglican Communion today to see what a difference adherence to the Declaration would make, were all to comply with its teaching. We mean to set a caring, welcoming example of obedience.

3. We are under the oversight of Primates who themselves are under the Jerusalem Declaration.
The establishment of a Council of Primates who can and will give recognition, oversight and direction to the various expressions of the fellowship of confessing Anglicans constitutes a new form of authority among Anglicans. It is an effective form of authority. It is concilior, that is, we are governed by a council. It has authority to act. And it is new and distinct from the all other authorities previously existent in the Anglican Communion. It is hoped and expected that other Primates will be added to this Council. There is a freeing aspect to the formation of the Primates Council as well. Being under the Primates Council, we can ignore erroneous and oppressive structures and leaders. In the Jerusalem Declaration we have said that we reject the authority of leaders, structures and churches that operate in contradiction of the apostolic faith as Anglicans have received it. For example, it is noteworthy that this Council of Primates will give recognition to the new orthodox province in North America. The Anglican Consultative Council, which is the official body in the Anglican Communion which recognizes provinces, will be by-passed and not be asked to recognize the new province. Surely this is an application of the rejection of an authority which at present is not seen to be in agreement with the apostolic faith. Couple that claim to and exercise of authority with the assertion that being Anglican is not necessarily attached to recognition by the Archbishop of Canterbury and one sees a very serious demarcation and hedge of protection for the fellowship of confessing Anglicans and for the call to all Anglicans to return to the apostolic faith.

Two thoughts come to mind. First, I wonder if those quickly reading the Statement and Declaration have realized just how serious this action is. One could hold that this action is actually more searching and radical than just leaving would have been.

Second, we can only hope that this initial concilior form of governance under the Primates Council will one day be the form of the entire Anglican Communion. At present, with our autonomous provincial structure, we Anglicans lack an authority to effectively discipline errant provinces. The Concilior form of oversight is biblical, apostolic, patristic, catholic, and ecumenical in nature. Our present structure in the Anglican Communion has existed only after Henry the VIIIth absorbed concilior authority to Himself and as the Anglican Communion grew outside of the Great Britain. Our loose federation resembles an international annual family picnic more than a global Communion. The early Church held a council not a picnic. Unlike some in fellowship of confessing Anglicans, I do believe the Communion is a visible expression of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church as are congregations, dioceses and provinces, each in their own sphere, and hence is best governed by a council and is to be in conformity to Articles 19, 20 and 21 of the 39 Articles. This too is a difference among us needing to be addressed in the days ahead.

Conclusion: On Mission: Free to Serve

We do not know what the future holds, given this bold claim and action by the fellowship of confessing Anglicans, but we do know that we have been delivered from the oversight and from limitation by those oppressive structures and leaders in the Communion (not all of structures and leaders in the Communion by any means) that have been moving in an increasingly unbiblical consensus and direction. Such compromise, error and time-consuming delay has hindered us in our mission. Now we have been freed to serve without hindrance or delay. May we in the days ahead, by God’s mercy, take full advantage of the freedom to serve Him that He has given to us. And may the entire Communion return to its apostolic foundation and calling. So help us God!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Remaking Anglicanism
In Jerusalem, conservatives stage an ecclesiastical coup.

By Travis Kavulla

Jerusalem — The future of the Anglican Communion, the third largest Christian church in the world, has been in serious doubt since the 2003 election of Gene Robinson, an openly gay cleric, to be bishop of New Hampshire.
This week, some of that uncertainty is being resolved. The Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) convened in Jerusalem on Sunday, drawing 1,200 conservative Anglicans, including 304 bishops. One of their number, Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini of Rwanda, describes the event as “the beginning of a second reformation.”
Immediately in advance of the gathering, conservative church leaders issued a pamphlet entitled “The Way, the Truth, and the Life.” In it, they assert that on issues of sexuality the collective decisions by primates, as the leaders of the 38 Anglican provinces are known, have been “ignored” and conservatives “derided” and “demonized” by the U.S. Episcopal Church. “There is no longer any hope, therefore, for a unified communion,” the document proclaims.
GAFCON attendees have been reticent to use the word schism — they prefer “broken.” But this seems a preference without distinction. Most of those at GAFCON are boycotting the Lambeth Conference, the once-a-decade gathering on doctrinal matters — deemed “an instrument of unity” in Anglican theology — which will be held next month in Canterbury, the ancient seat of the Church of England. One of the pamphlet’s authors, the Oxford theologian Rev. Roger Beckwith, says that the move puts Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury and nominal head of the global communion, “in an impossible position.”

Read the full piece here:

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Christianity as "hate crime."

From the London Telegraph:

A police community support officer ordered two Christian preachers to stop handing out gospel leaflets in a predominantly Muslim area of Birmingham.

The evangelists say they were threatened with arrest for committing a "hate crime" and were told they risked being beaten up if they returned. The incident will fuel fears that "no-go areas" for Christians are emerging in British towns and cities, as the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, the Bishop of Rochester, claimed in The Sunday Telegraph this year.

Arthur Cunningham, 48, and Joseph Abraham, 65, both full-time evangelical ministers, have launched legal action against West Midlands Police, claiming the officer infringed their right to profess their religion.

Mr Abraham said: "I couldn't believe this was happening in Britain. The Bishop of Rochester was criticised by the Church of England recently when he said there were no-go areas in Britain but he was right; there are certainly no-go areas for Christians who want to share the gospel."

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Ah. . .tolerant liberalism. . .

(from the Corner of the National Review)
Misguided youth with a liberal fascist instinct:

"In response to a series of controversies over abortion debates on Canadian campuses, the student government of York University in Toronto has tabled an outright ban on student clubs that are opposed to abortion.

Gilary Massa, vice-president external of the York Federation of Students, said student clubs will be free to discuss abortion in student space, as long as they do it "within a pro-choice realm," and that all clubs will be investigated to ensure compliance.

"You have to recognize that a woman has a choice over her own body," Ms. Massa said. "We think that these pro-life, these anti-choice groups, they're sexist in nature ... The way that they speak about women who decide to have abortions is demoralizing. They call them murderers, all of them do ... Is this an issue of free speech? No, this is an issue of women's rights."

Another sign that open-minded classical liberalism is by and large a thing of the past. I think I hear the Emperor's March from the Empire Strikes Back playing quietly in the background.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


There are two Sacraments ordained of Christ our Lord in the Gospel, that is to say, Baptism, and the Supper of the Lord.

It is through baptism by water in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost that an individual dies to sin and rises to new life in Christ. Through this rebirth, or regeneration, baptism washes away original sin and opens the door to God’s grace. At baptism, a person is grafted into the Church, the Body of Christ, and becomes a branch of the Vine. Furthermore, in Baptism a visible confirmation is given of God’s forgiveness of the individual’s sins, and one’s adoption as a son of God and an heir of salvation.

Baptism is not only a sign of profession, and mark of difference, whereby Christian men are discerned from others that be not christened, but it is also a sign of Regeneration or New-Birth, whereby, as by an instrument, they that receive Baptism rightly are grafted into the Church; the promises of the forgiveness of sin, and of our adoption to be the sons of God by the Holy Ghost, are visibly signed and sealed, Faith is confirmed, and Grace increased by virtue of prayer unto God. The Baptism of young Children is in any wise to be retained in the Church, as most agreeable with the institution of Christ.

Not every deadly sin willingly committed after Baptism is sin against the Holy Ghost, and unpardonable. Wherefore the grant of repentance is not to be denied to such as fall into sin after Baptism. After we have received the Holy Ghost, we may depart from grace given, and fall into sin, and by the grace of God we may arise again, and amend our lives. And therefore they are to be condemned, which say, they can no more sin as long as they live here, or deny the place of forgiveness to such as truly repent.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

A new book linked to at Cranmer and Laud!

Hardwick's A History of the Articles of Religion

A must read for all classical Anglicans, demonstrating the soundness of our doctrine.
What's in a name?

(Summer is a time for re-runs, so here's an oldy with some new comments)

This may be completely inconsequential, but as a traditionalist Anglican priest I always take notice of what conservative Anglicans/Episcopalians call themselves. Our parish is within the Reformed Episcopal Church, but we do not label ourselves primarily as "Reformed Episcopalians," because we've taken note that very few people know what this means--are they Calvinist Episcopalians? Not really, since the Prayer Book and the Articles are not Calvinist, but biblical, patristic, Augustinian, and protestant, but by no means Calvinist (indeed, many of the Calvinists of generations past claimed the Anglican Articles did not go far enough and wished to throw them overboard and replace them with something "more Calvinist"!). Indeed, there is no reason to expect anything "Calvinist" in them, for they predates such disputes--see Browne's excellent Exposition on the Articles as well as Hardwick's History of the Articles (see the link over at Cranmer and Laud). It is ironic that in the past history of the Reformed Episcopal Church in the United States the Articles were "rewritten" a strongly Arminian manner--gutting the doctrine of predestination--while the Free Church of England essentially left them alone). This doctrine of Predestination is not "Calvinist," but biblical and Pauline, as many Anglican authors have noted.

Also, we are in full-communion with the Anglican Province of America and the Anglican Church of Nigeria, and in federation with the Anglican Church in America and the Anglican Mission in America. Our primary bond of unity is found in our common history as Anglicans; the designation of "Reformed Episcopal" is a jurisdictional title. Therefore, the moniker of our parish is "St. Andrew's Anglican Church, a Reformed Episcopal parish." Most classical Anglican parishes do something similar, using the word Anglican as the primary designation with a later description that informs the reader of the jurisdictional link. The word "Anglican" in use in the United States has become a bit of a code word for "conservative" or "traditional" Episcopalian, something that seems to make the mainline body quite angry--they're not real Anglicans, they often say, but counterfeits! I've noticed that several parishes in the Anglican Province of Christ the King do something similar to what I mentioned above in regards to my own parish--"All Saints Anglican Church, a traditional Episcopal parish of the Province of Christ the King."

The Episcopal heritage of the Church in the United States is something that traditionalists sometimes use to demonstrate that we really are Episcopalians, just as much as the "official" and now heterodox body. We have bishops, and we have the Anglican Book of Common Prayer. I've seen the title "Anglican Episcopal" used as well to describe parishes in several jurisdictions. Although we lack communion with the See of Canterbury, we lay claim to the heritage and doctrine of the Reformed Catholic Faith as expressed in the Anglican Way via the classical Prayer Books (1549-1928), the Ordinal, and the Articles of Religion. I've noticed that some parishes in the United Episcopal Church and the Reformed Episcopal Church are even bold enough to simply call themselves "Episcopalian" without an "Anglican" qualifier: "St Paul's Episcopal Church, a parish of the. . ." How this must upset the mainliners. Ah, but what is in a name? I prefer the term Anglican myself. If someone doesn't know what I mean when I say "Anglican" I may fall back on something like "traditional Episcopalian." Yes, we have bishops, but is that enough? The mainline church put all of their stock in the office of bishop, but those bishops turned out to be wolves, not shepherds of the flock. They cast aside the Prayer Book and the Articles, cast aside Catholic order of bishop, presbyter, and deacon, and cast aside the heritage of the Anglican Church. Notice how all of the classic texts of Anglicanism once published by the mainline church are now being replaced by books that fit the "new religion" of "affirming catholicism." In the end, all they had was the title "Episcopalian," but that is not enough to be Anglican--it may be necessary, but it is not sufficient. As we continue as "Continuing" or classical Anglicans, let us be mindful that what makes us Anglicans is not just episcopal polity, but the faith of the primitive Catholic Church as expressed in our liturgies and the Creeds.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

New Books. . .posted over at Cramner and Laud

Saturday, April 12, 2008

New "old" books coming soon!

I'll have more books posted to Cranmer and Laud in a couple of days. Please stay tuned.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Thoughts on Common Cause. . .

I have a few misgivings about the current state of the Common Cause Partnership between numerous Anglican bodies (mostly those that are somehow linked to Canterbury); they can be summed up in the following 1) the use of numerous and conflicting liturgies, 2) the open rejection of Catholic order in some quarters (while this a minority position, in many estimations), 3) a sometimes glaring lack of contact with actual Anglican theology, leading to a "reinvention" and questioning of things settled in the Magisterial Reformation. However, the basics are sound:

"1) We confess the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments to be the inspired Word of God, containing all things necessary for salvation, and to be the final authority and unchangeable standard for Christian faith and life.
2) We confess Baptism and the Supper of the Lord to be Sacraments ordained by Christ Himself in the Gospel, and thus to be ministered with unfailing use of His words of institution and of the elements ordained by Him.
3) We confess the godly historic Episcopate as an inherent part of the apostolic faith and practice, and therefore as integral to the fullness and unity of the Body of Christ.
4) We confess as proved by most certain warrants of Holy Scripture the historic faith of the undivided church as declared in the three Catholic Creeds: the Apostles', the Nicene, and the Athanasian.
5) Concerning the seven Councils of the undivided Church, we affirm the teaching of the first four Councils and the Christological clarifications of the fifth, sixth and seventh Councils, in so far as they are agreeable to the Holy Scriptures.
6) We receive The Book of Common Prayer as set forth by the Church of England in 1662, together with the Ordinal attached to the same, as a standard for Anglican doctrine and discipline, and, with the Books which preceded it, as the standard for the Anglican tradition of worship.
7) We receive the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion of 1562, taken in their literal and grammatical sense, as expressing the Anglican response to certain doctrinal issues controverted at that time, and as expressing the fundamental principles of authentic Anglican belief.

In all these things, the Common Cause Partnership is determined by the help of God to hold and maintain as the Anglican Way has received them the doctrine, discipline and worship of Christ.

"The Anglican Communion," Archbishop Geoffrey Fisher wrote, "has no peculiar thought, practice, creed or confession of its own. It has only the Catholic Faith of the ancient Catholic Church, as preserved in the Catholic Creeds and maintained in the Catholic and Apostolic constitution of Christ's Church from the beginning." It may licitly teach as necessary for salvation nothing but what is read in the Holy Scriptures as God's Word written or may be proved thereby. It therefore embraces and affirms such teachings of the ancient Fathers and Councils of the Church as are agreeable to the Scriptures, and thus to be counted apostolic. The Church has no authority to innovate: it is obliged continually, and particularly in times of renewal or reformation, to return to "the faith once delivered to the saints."

To be an Anglican, then, is not to embrace a distinct version of Christianity, but a distinct way of being a "Mere Christian," at the same time evangelical, apostolic, catholic, reformed, and Spirit-filled."

I can find nothing to disagree with in any of this--the sticking point is to get all those involved to take such a declaration with the utmost seriousness. Classical Anglicanism, in the past, would take this all quite seriously: No innovation. Period. End of sentence. To fully resolve any issue in dispute, see what the practice and belief of the ancient Church was.

The problem with extreme "party" aspects of Anglicans (here I do mean Anglo-Catholic, Evangelical, and Latitudinarian/Liberal) is that they all want to introduce innovations and somehow baptise such innovations as right, proper, and truly Anglican (meaning, in essence, truly ancient and Catholic). Elements of the Anglo-Catholic movement have tried to impose elements of the Roman system into Anglicanism and say "it is as it always has been" (extra-liturgical devotions to the Blessed Sacrament, Roman feasts and their underlying doctrines, Purgatory, etc--Catholicism is assumed to be an equivalence with 19th century Italian Roman practice or the Council of Trent). There is a tendency among some in the Evangelical party to ignore those parts of the Prayer Book found to be "too Catholic" (the teachings concerning confession, the theology of Baptism as an ingrafting into the very Body of Christ, the nature of the ministry--a Puritan streak comes about from time to time which tends to reject anything not in the Bible and even to embrace some things not in the Bible as long as they flow from "evangelical theology"), and there is the most striking tendency, that of the modern Liberal, to pretty much throws out all foundational doctrine while retaining the externals (perhaps the unkindest cut of all).

American Anglicanism does indeed need a Reformation and a restructuring. The CCP is a good place to start. I hope and pray it succeeds. As a body the CCP must seek an honest return to the old and Catholic ways of the Reformed Church of England as outlined above, and it must not be afraid of saying to Canterbury that it will walk apart from her such a move would be the best thing for the survival of the Anglican Way in its fullness. I am given some hope that there is strength in the current numbers of parishes now associated with CCP--right now over a thousand. For those in the Continuing Anglican Churches, please pray for those in the various Episcopal groups that comprise the CCP, that they may be filled with the Holy Spirit to follow the truth of Christ in all things.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Yet Another Free Book!

Now available for download over at Cranmer and Laud. . .

Happy reading!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Prayer Book Catholics. . .

(I've taken the following comment from a discussion group discourse. The original author will know who he is, and I hope he doesn't mind me reposting his thoughts here).

"Prayer-Book Catholics are truly Catholic in the ancient, authentic, nonsectarian sense of the word as it is used in the Creeds -- looking to the doctrine of pre-Great Schism and the mildly reformed liturgical trajectory of the Ancient British Church. Remnant Prayer-Book Catholics are found scattered about in various jurisdictions attempting to witness to the Anglican Formularies in an authentic, faithful manner."

Which is why we all need to try and foster such thinking in our own jurisdictions, wherever we find ourselves. At the roots, most Anglican jurisdictions (and even many diocese in ECUSA/TEC) affirm the ancient Faith, the doctrines set forth in the worship of the classical Prayer Books, and the Anglican Formularies. We need to unite around these common principles and start a grass roots effort to work together as Anglicans with a common purpose for the Gospel of Christ and His Church.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Do we need another Anglican blog?

The answer, of course, is yes.

I've set up the blog just for Cranmer and Laud. For those who would like to contribute to the blog please e-mail me via the link at the Cranmer and Laud web site (the link on the side-bar of this page). The blog link is below:

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Society of Archbishops Cranmer and Laud

The Society is established to be beneficial to members of the Anglican Church, particularly the clergy and especially those in the traditional Anglican community, who desire to see the Anglican Christianity of the Book of Common Prayer strengthened and preserved.

Why Archbishops Cranmer & Laud?
"We must honour Thomas Cranmer and be grateful to him, for in the English Bible, the Book of Common Prayer, the Book of Homilies, he helped translate and reform the faith and worship of the English speaking world, recalling it to a simpler more direct proclamation of Christ and the Gospel. His faith enriches ours day by day and week by week whenever we pick up the Scriptures, open the Prayer Book, and indeed, whenever we open our mouths, for along with Shakespeare, the English Bible (revised again in 1611, admittedly) and the Book of Common Prayer are as formative of our very language as they are of our faith."
The Rev'd David Garrett, the Prayer Book Society of Canada

"Gratefully remembered by scholars, Laud has found apologists among the clergy of the Church for which he died, but he is not generally loved. If his methods had been mistaken, his diagnosis of the ills of the Anglican Church has been right and his vision for its improvement had been lofty. . . .Had he succeeded in what he meant to do, he would be one of the great architects of the English Church. He failed, and sealed his failure with his blood. He stands with Archbishop Cranmer as an imperfect and much criticised man, but in the final record a faithful servant and martyr whose blood has been the seed of the Church."
Historian C.V. Wedgewood in The King's War

Principles of the Society:
1) The spread of the Christianity as enshrined in the faith of the historic Church of England, Reformed and Protestant according to the principles of the Ancient Catholic Church (after the teaching of Bp. Cosin), as taken from the One canon of Holy Scripture in the Two Testaments, as taught in the Three Creeds of Western Christendom, as clarified by the Four Ecumenical Councils of the undivided Church, as practiced during the first Five centuries of the ancient Church (after the teaching of Bishop Lancelot Andrewes, Abp. Laud’s mentor).

2) Dedication to the prayerful study of the Holy Scriptures and ancient Fathers and Doctors of the Church, per the principles of Abp. Cranmer during the Reformation.

3) Holding to the doctrinal teachings of the Reformed Church of England as clarified in the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion and as understood in their historical context based on a patristic and reformed foundation.

4) Holding to the sacramental teachings of Anglicanism as espoused in the Church of England’s 39 Articles, the Catechism of the 1662 Prayer Book, the 1662-1928 Prayer Books, and the Ordinal, stressing the preeminence of Baptism and the Holy Eucharist.

5) Dedication to the continued use of the classic English translation of Holy Scripture, the 1611 text dedicated to King James I or a close derivation or revision thereof (RSV, ESV, ASV, NKJV).

6) Perpetuation of the use of the classical and orthodox Church of England Prayer Books of 1549, 1662, and 1928, the 1928 American Prayer Book and the 2003 Prayer Book of the Reformed Episcopal Church (containing the 1662 English and 1928 American services), and the 1962 Canadian Book of Common Prayer.

7) Dedication to the study of the Anglican divines, particularly of the Reformation and Restoration periods.