Thinking Anglicans

some American views of the Communion

The recent flurry of announcements from Lambeth and elsewhere concerning the Covenant Design Group, the Panel of Reference re Fort Worth, and the question of who will or won’t sit down with whom in Dar es Salaam, have led to a flurry of opinions by several American Episcopalians, collectively questioning the desirability of continuing membership of the Anglican Communion. I have listed a selection of these below.

Lionel Deimel
9 Jan Do We Need the Anglican Communion?
11 Jan Advice to the PB for the Primates’ Meeting
11 Jan Just to Be Clear …

Jim Naughton
9 Jan Revisiting “The Question”
10 Jan Revisiting “The Question”: Stewardship

Mark Harris
9 Jan Drip, Drip, Drip: Are we dealing with water torture or fresh springs?
11 Jan The Vocation of the Episcopal Church. (scroll down).

Marshall Scott
11 Jan Patience Through the Pain of Waiting

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Göran Koch-SwahnePluralistmynsterpreost (=David Rowett)TonyFord Elms Recent comment authors
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Cheryl Clough
Guest

Lionel Deimel probably has the key phrase “The Episcopal Church has become the co-dependent enabler of this behavior.” Jim Naughton’s paper is lucid and clear and very succinctly explains how the Episcopal church has been that co-dependent enabler. Marshall Scott comments that “If, as Archbishop Tutu has said, what holds the Communion together is that “we meet,” when folks stop coming to meetings the Communion will change.” But Naughton’s paper rightly points out that certain folks had already been restrained from coming and participating. In that sense the Communion had already excluded parties. If they wish to formulate a puritanical… Read more »

ruidh
Guest
ruidh

Well, it seems there are schismatics on both sides of this issue. I was beginning to think that the middle was disappearing, but this new push opens it up again.

I wrote a reply on Mark Harris’ blog which was censored. I wrote that there’s plenty of time to make the decision he’s urging today. No one knows how the covenant is going to turn out and be received. It might not be a big deal to say “No, thanks.” It might even become something we can live with.

laurence
Guest
laurence

Lionel Deimel 9 Jan Do We Need the Anglican Communion? Having just read this, right now it feels like the answer. (It might feel different in the morning). I think that TEC leaving the Anglican Communion would solve its problems and by and large, ours too. I think it would call the bluff of the minority of reactionary TEC bishops — they’d have to leave — or look very unprincipled (odds on ?!). TEC could get on with its mission, and I could it imagine a pacification of the AC. It would show the forces of reaction that their big… Read more »

clr
Guest
clr

laurence – I hope TEC walks as well, but for a different reason.

TEC has been hemorrhaging membership, is heretical and apostate. More akin to the Universal Unitarian Fellowship than a Christian church, it needs to go away, wither, and vanish.

Pluralist
Guest

The scenario works in various ways: A Covenant is produced that is unacceptable to many, possibly at both ends, and then the process would be to produce others – in other words, leaving is delayed beyond the point where various provinces declare they are out of communion with this and that, and it gets down to parishes all over Anglicanland. But if TEC leaves, then the Covenant would be unacceptable on the liberal end (surely) but we’d expect TEC to work on its own basis of faith and to reach out to others. They would form their own links and… Read more »

Pluralist
Guest

Funnily enough Sunday the local Anglican church trouped down to the Methodists for its Covenant service, as part of an exchange. They had visited us the previous week. Preaching was exchanged. The Anglican congrgation can easily add to the Methodist and fit in their church, and vice versa. The Methodist Church faces a final end by about 2050 if it carries on like it is. Now the Church of England pretty much recognises it fully and completely now, or it will, despite its lack of bishops. American Methodists have bishops but they derive from a priest doing it (he didn’t… Read more »

GB
Guest
GB

Great Lionel. We agree on something. You do not need the Anglican Communion, and the Anglican Communion certainly does not need you. Take your TEC agenda and your Presiding Bishop and please leave NOW. There is no need to wait until February or until you are kicked out. Just pack your bags ASAP and GO before more damage is done.

Dennis
Guest
Dennis

a rather sensible set of postings. I can assure you that many Episcopalians are starting to ask why we should be so scared of not being allow to continue in the club. We lose not a bit of our Anglican heritage or our prayer book or our church’s valid orders if we are no longer having to worry about being threatened for accepting gays and lesbians in the church and ordaining women. For the average parish and diocese in America little will change. The fights will stop and we will be able to devote our time and resources to growth… Read more »

Neil
Guest
Neil

Leaving the AC would open the door for more vicious church planting in TEC from any old province which wants to. Don’t forget the logic of that. How successful such reactionary forces might be in the American context is a different matter though.

GB
Guest
GB

You know what, Neil? We do not care if you call us reactionary. BELIEVE IT. “Reactionary” is a political term, and it is your side which is playing a political game. We are interested in religion and theology. Our term for our position is “orthodoxy”, and we do not mind being labeled as such. BELIEVE IT OR NOT.

Peter
Guest
Peter

It’s about time to stop the profligate use of the word “orthodox”. The word means “right belief”, and we ALL believe we believe rightly.

What those who style themselves as “orthodox” really are is “homodox” – wanting to believe the same thing forever. Those who are willing to change are “heterodox”.

Only God will decide who is really “orthodox”. Our opinions do not matter. It is idolatrous to think that we can really make this decision for God.

Pete

Tony
Guest
Tony

So, given these writings, are liberals as willing to admit that they are the schismatics as they are of proposing that their be a split?

C.B.
Guest
C.B.

Peter – You are correct. It’s like the conservative right trying to call themselves “patriots,” or “pro-life.” It should not go unchallenged. It is the use of language to frame a debate whereby one party sets the terms to their own advantage.

The “fundementalists” (smile!) use of the term “orthodox” should be challenged at every time.

C.B.

GB
Guest
GB

Well, Pete, the orthodox definitely want to believe the same thing forever. You are facing a hardsell if you want to get them to use the term “homodox” to describe this position, however. In your belief system, the terms “heterodox” and “orthodox” could both be used to describe the same position. For us, orthodoxy means those doctrines taught by Church and Scripture from the earliest days. It is not a matter of what each individual thinks.

mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)
Guest
mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)

GB- please, something a little more edifying than ‘yah, boo, you smell’ wouold be appreciated.

The words ‘our term for our position is orthodoxy’ is one which every group and sect has used from time to time to distinguish itself from its opponents (Montanism, Nestorianism, Monophysitism, etc etc). Semantic content, nil

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

GB, There have been countless millions of Christians through the ages who would not agree with you, I venture to bet, on the nature of Biblical authority, ecclesiology, the nature of sacraments, and numerous other issues. Curiously, while there is so much theological disagreement between you and them, they also call themselves Orthodox. Why don’t you go argue with them over which group has the stronger claim to the title (you’d lose, I bet) and let the rest of us get on with discussing our disagreements. I don’t care if you call me heterodox, or a “reassessor” or a “liberal”… Read more »

John Robison
Guest

Apparently CB and clr have bought into the Big Lie that Harmon and his ilk have spun.

Donatistism, a biblical inerrancy that would make Calvin and Luther cry “idolatry,” and a narrow concept of doctrine and theological language that would make the Spanish Inquisition blush do not make for orthodoxy.

mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)
Guest
mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)

I have just had the deep misfortune to listen (Radio 4’s PM programme) to a far-right French MEP claiming how his coalition in the European parliament will stand for the preservation of ‘Christian values’. It struck me how the self-styled ‘Orthodox’ lambast the rest of us for our contribution (as they see it) to the rise of feminism, homosexuality, family breakdown and the rest. As an exercise in empathy, I ask them to imagine how they would feel to have the excesses of the far right agenda laid at their door, on the grounds that the proclamation of Christian Values… Read more »

bls
Guest

And the usual “Unitarian Universalist” epithet appears at last; that’s so 1970s, really. And “hemorrhaging membership” is old-hat, too; attendance is up since the early 90s.

These folks are really, really out of touch with the reality of what’s happening. Either that or else they are deliberately bearing false witness.

I guess time will tell.

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

bls:
“Either that or else they are deliberately bearing false witness.”
I linked to this before:

http://www.americananglican.org/atf/cf/%7B0124EFED-8D9A-4067-9C7C-969A768F1648%7D/ets_updated4-1-05.pdf

This is one of the things that, I believe, leads to the kind of comments you decry. I leave it to others to decide whether or not they think it constitutes false witness. I know what I think.

John Henry
Guest
John Henry

Jim Naughton, Daily Episcopalian, has published a letter by TEC’s Bishop of Bethlehem, PA, Paul Marshall, which appeared originally on the HoB/HoD Listserv. Paul Marshall, appropriately, starts out with Pauline theology and the Apostle’s engagement with Christians who disagreed with him. Then he narrates the failures of ++Rowan Cantuar, since 2003, to engage personally with the elected leadership, ordained and lay, of TEC, while spending countless hours listening to +Bob Duncan, the self-appointed “primate” of the reasserters. Instead of meeting with TEC’s bishops as a body, ++Rowan keeps sending his CofE bishop emissaries, denying, however, in ambiguous statements that they… Read more »

Tom
Guest
Tom

All this infighting between the opposite ends of the spectrum is awful, and most un-Anglican. the Anglican vision only works if different members are willing to see things differently from what they normally would… to allow themselves to be challenged. Does the Episcopal Church need the Anglican Communion? Probably, but the Anglican Communion also needs to Episcopal Church. As soon as one voice is no longer heard, Anglicanism failed. what could possibly be of such importance that we can no longer share Communion together? That we fail to see Christ working in another person’s story of faith? Those calling for… Read more »

drdanfee
Guest
drdanfee

The underlying point of the linked comments seems to me to be finally moving in the right direction of no longer wishing to be presumed to be agreeing to participate – with Canterbury, Tanzania, Abuja, and others – predicated full tilt and nothing less – on just those closed and categorical ConsEvs starting assumptions whose tags are prejudicial if not false witness against so many of us in TEC. Just take a brief happenstance poll of all the tag names used to tell us just how inferior, wayward, pagan, filthy, silly, and dangerous we are by new ConsEvs definitions. Unitarian… Read more »

Cheryl Clough
Guest

Peter I loved your comment “What those who style themselves as “orthodox” really are is “homodox” – wanting to believe the same thing forever. Those who are willing to change are “heterodox”.” Ford, you articulate an issue that the thread today also brings up. People are choosing not to call themselves evangelical, not because they don’t believe and trust in Jesus, but because they don’t want to be associated with cruel and selfish theology. Having the biggest soap box with the biggest media coverage does not make for the best theology. Robust theology understands that many parts of the bible… Read more »

Pluralist
Guest

>TEC has been hemorrhaging membership, is heretical and apostate. More akin to the Universal Unitarian Fellowship than a Christian church, it needs to go away, wither, and vanish.< As a matter of information, the Unitarian Universalists have had a small but steady growth in the United States, where it quite well defined in its libralism. It stretches from the historical Unitarian Christianity of Kings Chapel Boston through to its other “rational” position of religious humanism, to other more spiritual and arguably comparably “irrational” positions of Eastern mysticism and neo-Paganism. Some of the churches specialise, and some have groups representing the… Read more »

Tony
Guest
Tony

As a matter of misinformation: “As a matter of information, the Unitarian Universalists have had a small but steady growth in the United States, where it quite well defined in its libralism.” As a matter of information, Sydney Ahlstrom in his standard work, A Religious History of the American People that there were roughly 100,000 Unitarians in 1900 (pp. 985-986) and the highest number I could find for Unitarians today was from 1993. That number is 204,000 in North America. If you go to the Unitarian Universalist Association website and add the numbers of their congregations together (I didn’t find… Read more »

Prior Aelred
Guest

The numbers game. From it’s organization, The Episcopal Church has claimed a membership of from 1-2% of the population — a remarkably steady performance. It is never going to be a majority church because it does not offer what most people in the USA think a church should (viz., the former rector in my home town — under whom the parish was growing because of his outreach to the gay & lesbian community — told me that the people who WERE leaving were going because he refused to tell them what to think). But TEC has had & should continue… Read more »

Pluralist
Guest

And your point Tony is…? My point is that the UUA holds its own and has indeed grown slowly in the contemporary religious climate. It is a minority provision. That is not, though, my main point – rather that it occupies a slot in the American religious landscape and it leaves plenty of space for the Episcopal Church, and a wide space too, where it can express modern and postmodern Christian theology and into some traditional stances, and add to that a range of liturgical practices from the experimental to the evangelical and high. If it wants to overlap with… Read more »

JCF
Guest
JCF

The point isn’t whether the Unitarian Universalist fellowship is growing or shrinking, whether they have a good model or a bad one.

The point is, we Episcopalians are ***Trinitarian Christians*** and we’re bloody tired of being wrongly labelled, merely because we have a different view of theological anthropology (believing that God created gayness, and that gayness is therefore GOOD—despite gay people being sinners just like everyone else. Sinners saved by our Divine Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, like everyone else! :-D)

Pluralist
Guest

Well if you look at it, definitions of trinity are rather more complex than simple doctrinal definitions (if they are simple) and Unitarians are sometimes not quite unitarian in implication. So the notion that there is a hard and obvious wall between them is not so. It was not pre-Nicene (and surely they were Christians) and it was not in aspects of the Reformation either. The intellectual geography of theology is rather more continuous.

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

But, JCF, you’re not an Evangelical, therefor you aren’t a Christian. At best you’re some sort of subChristian. So am I.

Tony
Guest
Tony

Pluralist, my point is that the Unitarians have fared even worse than the Episcopalians as a percentage of the population. To go from 100g in 1900 to 204g in 1993 means that Unitarians are a much smaller portion of a much larger national population now. ecusa has a similar, but not as dramatic diminishment. In fact, we have been decreasing as a percentage of population and in sheer numbers. This is not a picture of health, and neither is the picture from the Unitarians.

mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)
Guest
mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)

Tony: my usual gripe: such statistical titbits need detailed analysis to show things like of the increase in the population of the USA since 1900, how many are from (eg) Hispanic RC backgrounds and so on. An analogy exposing the flaw in your raw data would be to maintain that Islam in the UK has been wonderfully successful as a missionary and expanding faith on the basis that it has increased from a handful of adherents in 1900 to a couple of million today without correcting those figures to account for the fact that the last century has seen large-scale… Read more »

Pluralist
Guest

The numbers game gets us nowhere but the ability to renew is important. I’ve spent many hours over some days achieving (I hope) a smooth account of the Kanai, a Jewish group who starting from about his death to 70 CE believed Jesus (Yehoshua/ Jshua) was the Messiah. It has only 300 adherents left in the whole of Europe. The message it displays has its own importance, a maintenance of the most primitive Jewish Christianity that we too easily forget and which puts into relief the changes from Paul, Greek culture and Roman power. Kanai is still caught between a… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Perhaps this would be the place where somebody could explain to a poor EU-nuck what this “unitarian” thing is.

It is often mentioned on American web sites, but never explained. I have no idea.

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

I am all with Cheryl by the way.

Pluralist
Guest

This Unitarian thing… If you look in the Bible there is no doctrine of the Trinity, and this was noticed by some reformers. It was noticed in Transylvania (Rumania) in the 1500s and a Bishop Francis David (pron. Dah-vid) eventually became Unitarian and so did his King John Sigismund. They were able to because Turkey was nearby. Socinus out of Italy thought David had gone too far, but set up a Socinian Church in Poland. That was crushed by the Jesuits, and Unitarians in Trnaylvania suppressed by Austro-Hungarian power, wiped out in Hungary. It is village Unitarianism now. In England… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

O dear! shouldn’t have asked 🙁

Looks like the Greek Orthodox charge of Christomonism is to the point… but what on earth has any of this to do with the present troubles in the Anglican (no longer) Communion?

How did it get from Transylvania to the USA? Bram Stoker?

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

… or should that have been King Kong?

Pluralist
Guest

>How did it get from Transylvania to the USA? Bram Stoker?< I remember when Don Cupitt, the Anglican priest, and far more radical than many a Unitarian, had something dismissive to say about Unitarians, and yet was in a Camridge college play as Dracula. Dracula, I thought, should not insult the Transylvanians. They were entirely separate developments. They didn’t even know about each other until the nineteenth century. Central European Unitarianism has two bishops and a catechism, whereas Anglo-American Unitarianism is about being creedless. However, the UUA (as might be imagined) has the money to help develop congregations. The other… Read more »

Pluralist
Guest

All it has to do with it is space to occupy in terms of religious provision. But it has got something else to do with it, means and ways that religious liberalism come about. It is about secularisation and religion, about liberty of thought and religion, about having a place in the market place and appeal, about making sense in this culture. People say they believe in the Trinity, but if people say what they mean by that today many would horrify their forebears. The Unitarians of that time would be happy with many modern definitions of the Trinity, for… Read more »

mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)
Guest
mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)

Pluralist asked
“More jokes vicar?”

The current going rate at St. Mary’s for the insertion of a specific line, phrase or sentence into a sermon varies from a bag of liquorice allsorts up to a bottle of port, though occasionally one-liners may be put in place for charity. Please contact my agent for details….

Pluralist
Guest

I tend to provide paintings and drawings as means towards charitable inserts. I once did a cartoon strip of Unitarians about Unitarian issues. It was too controversial when published. People recognised themselves.

Pluralist
Guest

The issue seems to me to be breadth and boundaries of the Church, and what it does. The reason I am Anglican rather than Unitarian is one of spirituality and practice, plus my view that from the historical Jesus to the Christ of faith there is a wealth of resource for reflection: notably a sacrificial relationship hopefully inclusive with others around us and a practice that reflects this. In the 1920s a Free Catholic group arose. It never went anywhere. It was sacraments without creeds. Conversations with a number of Unitarians dismiss it even now as an oddity, and I… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Centre – Christ.

Boundaries – not so much.