Thinking Anglicans

Three articles from the Living Church

There have been several articles recently in the Living Church by Church of England writers.

Andrew Goddard has written about Establishment in the CofE.
See Arbiters of the Faith?

The Church of England, wrestling with internal differences over provision for opponents of women bishops and over responses to same-sex relationships, could soon find a further contentious topic being added to the mix: the question of establishment, the church’s relationship with the state. This has been highlighted by two recent developments in which government ministers or Members of Parliament have pressed for a certain conception of equality in English law and society…

Paul Avis and Geoffrey Rowell have both written about the Anglican Covenant.

See Catholicity Outweighs Autonomy by Avis.

The future of the Anglican Communion is in jeopardy. The Windsor Report proposed an Anglican Covenant, centering on mutual commitment, to secure a unified future for the Communion. The Anglican Covenant is the only credible proposal that I am aware of to help hold this family of churches together. The alternative to the Covenant is to allow the present sharp tensions to be worked out in the formal separation of some churches of the Communion from others — and that means schism, and the fracture and possible dissolution of the Anglican Communion…

And Belonging Together by Rowell.

…As vice-chair for a number of years of the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Ecumenical Relations, I am aware of how divisions in the Communion pose challenges to our ecumenical partners in dialogue — who are we talking to? Do Anglicans affirm same-sex relationships as equal and equivalent to marriage, or do they uphold Christian teaching of marriage as being a lifelong union between a man and a woman? Behind the particular questions are questions about authority in the Communion, and our belonging together. The Anglican Covenant emerges out of this situation and is a result of careful consultation. If we can make ecumenical agreements with other churches we ought clearly be able to do so among ourselves…

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Jean Mary Mayland
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Jean Mary Mayland

We have managed to act differently and stay together in the past. Paul Avis does not explain what is so special about sexuality.

Geoffrey Rowell speaks of ecumenism solely in terms of Roman Catholics and Orthodox. There are other Churches- Methodist, URC ,Presbyterian and Congregationalist who have much more open ideas about same sex couples. Surely we need to be in dialogue with them too. Sadly recently the ‘powers that be’ in the C of E only seem to have been concerned with an ecumenism that looks one way.

Richard Ashby
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Richard Ashby

Andrew Goddard’s concern about ‘the Church of England’s teaching and discipline in relation to marriage’ would not be of so much concern if the C of E hadn’t appropriated marriage to itself in the first place. If the State wishes to change the nature of civil marriage to include same sex unions then why not? The problem is that the Church has got itself so mixed up with the State that it has to oppose such developments and looks increasingly out of touch with developments in society. Te best outcome by far would be for all marriages to be civil… Read more »

Tobias Haller
Guest

The articles by Avis and Rowell both seem to me to reflect the old argument about the Eucharist: is it a sign of unity or a means to unity? Can it only be shared with those already united by some other means (whether baptism itself — under some challenge in some places; or ecclesiastical affiliation — with those not part of the same sect excluded) or as the “medicine of the world” to bring about unity. As the Covenant itself becomes the object of dissension and division, based on who signs on or not, then it has become the very… Read more »

Prior Aelred
Guest

What Jean said — within the Anglican Communion there has been significant ecumenical advance with the Mar Thoma Church (in South India) & the Old Catholics (who rejected Vatican I) & recently with the Lutherans in Scandinavia (Porvoo) & North America (TEC & ELCA — the Anglican Church of Canada with Lutherans — TEC with the two Moravian groups in the USA) — certainly ecumenism with these groups will face a setback if the WWAC ostracizes gays since the Old Catholics & the Swedish Lutherans have taken a position more advanced than TEC or the Canadians, whereas progress in ecumenical… Read more »

Jeremy
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Jeremy

Paul Avis wrote, “The alternative to the Covenant is to allow the present sharp tensions to be worked out in the formal separation of some churches of the Communion from others.”

Won’t the Covenant “formalize separation” as well? How is the Covenant a solution to that problem?

Is it too much to ask that pro-Covenant arguments be coherent?

Perry Butler
Guest
Perry Butler

And Lutherans too Jean ,and Old Catholics. We seem to still be in communion with Poorvoo Churches that have women bishops ( including a partnered lesbian) and an accepting view of same sex couples. Are we likely formally to break communion with these Churches?…after all the Poorvoo arrangements are pretty recent.I suspect not, despite some huffing and puffing in Synod.I would have thought the present atmosphere in both Roman Catholicism and Orthodoxy precludes much liklihood of ecumenical “progress” for a good while. I rather wish we could have more realism and candour.

peterpi - Peter Gross
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peterpi - Peter Gross

Andrew Goddard, I suspect, has no problems with Establishment — when Establishment works in the direction he desires. He is discomforted with Parliament’s intervention (How dare MPs feel women bishops should be treated equally!), only because he disagrees with the MPs. But, as long as the CofE is an Established Church, as long as Parliament has a legislative role to play in the life of the CofE, then consequences like what Mr. Goddard fears can happen. Under the present English anti-discrimination laws, I assume Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox Churches, and other faith groups are free to have (presumed) heterosexual men… Read more »

JCF
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JCF

When I was doing my doctorate in ecumenism, I recall using Dr. Paul Avis’s book “Christians in Communion.” It was clear explication of the then (1990) century-old Anglican ecumenical vision—rooted in the ***Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral***.

The fact that in his LC piece, Dr Avis doesn’t even *mention* the Quad, is tremendously sad. What is it about the (homo)sexuality issue that makes otherwise intelligent (and faithful) Anglicans simply devolve from their previous faith commitments?

I honestly don’t understand. 🙁

JCF
Guest
JCF

Rowell: “…or do they uphold Christian teaching”

Once you’ve phrased (spun) it that way, any pretensions of DIALOGUE are going, going, Gone.

Bill Moorhead
Guest
Bill Moorhead

Every time the threat of secession/expulsion in the context of the “Anglican” Covenant comes up, I am reminded (as an American) that we are currently observing the sesquicentennial of the American Civil War. Despite all the baloney that some folks (I think primarily but not necessarily exclusively in the South) put out, our Civil War really was about enslaving other human beings. The issue of “States’ rights” was a smokescreen. The “rights” the states wanted was the right to enslave other human beings. If in the early 19th century the United States had said, “Yes, the Brits are right, it’s… Read more »

Cynthia Gilliatt
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Cynthia Gilliatt

Right after the Revolutionary War, when the C of E was disestablished in the States, it could have disappeared. Instead, it re-formed itself with a polity not unlike that of the fledgling US, gritted its teeth, and went on being church, leaving state to fend for itself. [I know, I know – over simplified]. When I read about the C of E’s difficulties over marriages, sexuality, and the like, I am very glad we are not the church established!

Father Ron Smith
Guest

“The very first thing we want to say about our church is that it belongs to the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church of Jesus Christ. But if we belong, with others, to something much bigger than ourselves, then we belong together and not in autonomous isolation.” – Paul Avis – Would Paul Avis contend, then, that the Church of England, which governs itself and is independent of the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches, is not part of the ‘Catholic and Apostolic Church’? After all, it is independent of both the others. By the very same reasoning, the independent Provinces… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

Geoffrey Rowell makes the same mistake as his friend Mr Avis – in putting his argument for the need of a Covenant, he says, in order to retain the catholicity and apostolicity of the separately governed Provincial Churches of the Communion: ” To be in Christ is to be bound together in mutual responsibility and interdependence.” – Geoffrey Rowell – Do these two people not believe that each Provincial Church of the Communion is an entity in itself – bearing the marks of the ‘catholic and apostolic Church of Christ’? We don’t need a Covenant to affirm what we already… Read more »

Cheryl Va.
Guest

These ponderings lead to the comment that some care about the Anglican Communion because in the UK, that somehow reflects what the secular state will condone. Better to be free of the secular state, so that one’s followers are for thee, and not the implied “power” of being able to influence a state in what it will or will not condone. Even better, be in a state that denounces all abuse and failure to provide refuge (e.g. as then Prime Minister Rudd did for Australia) and provide refuge and justice for all souls. Better to be in secular state that… Read more »

Sara MacVane
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Sara MacVane

I think the question of unity in order to sign ecumenical agreements is nonsense, since those Anglican churches which have signed important agreements and those churches with which they have signed are all separate ‘of a certain tradition’ churches rather than ‘all the X churches round the world’. C-of-E signed the Porvoo agreement, but Canada didn’t or Australia either and C-of-E didn’t sign up with the German Lutherans or the French Lutherans. TEC has an agreement with one important group of Lutherans in USA, but not all the Lutheran conventions there. And we could go on and on ….This is… Read more »

Mark Clavier
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Mark Clavier

JCF, I think you implicitly answer your own question. The Quad was intended to be used as an ecumenical document, aimed at providing guidance on ecumenical talks with non-Anglican Churches (though, the Chicago quadrilateral also had the newly formed Reformed Episcopal Church in it’s sights). Now, it may be useful to use it for internal matters, but I think such a use would need some explanation as it would be to use the document in a way that it’s framers did not intend. I still think that a careful reading of section 4 of the Covenant, which lays out a… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
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Martin Reynolds

Mark Clavier makes a good point, and asks appropriate questions, particularly as presently in some places the autonomy of diocese and the creation of a central, provincial juridical authority is gaining some notice. My own view is that the Covenant (and much of the Windsor Process) has ecumenism as one of its main driving forces – it is not insignificant that the man behind a great deal of it and who still passionately speaks for it (the Bishop of St Asaph) was the Ecumenical Officer for the Communion. The RCC has been pressing for some time for us to become… Read more »

Lionel Deimel
Guest

I must agree with Sara. Frankly, I believe that having the Anglican Communion qua Anglican Communion in ecumenical talks is a total waste of time and money. The Communion has never made an agreement with another church and, if it did, would not the individual Anglican churches want to have some say about it? As an Episcopalian, I do not want the ABC or his minions negotiating for my church.

John (1)
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John (1)

Practically speaking, I am in communion with Lutherans and Moravians in North America, and I am not in communion with Anglicans in Nigeria or Uganda. When I travel in Europe, I welcome the opportunity to worship in Old Catholic parishes, or the Church of Norway. It bothers me not at all that I am not in communion with Rome; the distance between my beliefs and that church’s is so great, I cannot imagine attending a Catholic Mass. And I certainly would not want to see us make commitments to the Roman or Orthodox churches that would require us to turn… Read more »

Prior Aelred
Guest

What Martin said: “this is not the time and this is not the document which will secure this. In fact it will (and has already) divided us further”

(although it actually seems to me that the entire point of the Anglican Covenant is to cause schism)

Robert Ian Williams
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Robert Ian Williams

Sorry, but the Covenant is only a start for the Roman Catholic Church. We want you to give up and repent of no fault divorce and re-marriage, contraception, women deacons, priests and bishops, lay celebration, gay blessings, gay ordinations and adoptions. Also throw in embryo experimentation and IVF. Total capitulation is required..as we told the Ordinariate converts , the Catholic Catechism is what you sign up to.

So the idea that the Anglican Covenant will help ecumenism is complete drivel.

Marshall Scott
Guest

Brother Clavier, having studied the text, and participated in discussions on it, I agree that Section 4 might be “less curial” than feared. Sadly, I found it difficult less because it’s curial than because it’s capricious. Any national church can raise an issue with any other – virtually *any* issue – and there is no guidance in the document to guide the Standing Committee regarding what “affects all.” New authority is given the Standing Committee to make that determination on the front end, and to recommend “relational consequences” on the back end. So, with no standards established at the beginning… Read more »

Tobias Haller
Guest

The Anglican Covenant as proposed is not the cure for the Anglican allergy to uniformity. It is not even a treatment for the symptoms. It is itself an allergen exacerbating the ailment.

Geoff
Guest

“Now, it may be useful to use it for internal matters, but I think such a use would need some explanation as it would be to use the document in a way that it’s framers did not intend.” This is the stock pro-Covenant response to JCF’s objection, but it essentially grasps at a distinction without a difference. If the CLQ is sufficient for determining whether we have enough common ground to enter into full communion with Christians with whom we aren’t yet in such a relatonship, surely we can’t move the goal posts once the communion is achieved? “Here is… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

” I think we ought to explain why we’re happy with internal, provincial authority but not an external, minimally conciliar authority. Or is it ultimately all about the locus of power?” – Posted by: Mark Clavier on Sunday – Not so much Power, Clavier, as Authority. Each of the Provincial Churches of the Anglican Communon presently has its own statutes and ordinances – while adhering, generally, to the ‘Catholic and Reformed’ ethos of Anglicanism – as received, and later moderated, by each Province in accordance with local needs of mission and context. We are not Roman Catholics, even though we… Read more »

Prior Aelred
Guest

I wholeheartedly & entirely agree with Robert Ian Williams (when did I think I would ever say that?)
🙂

peterpi - Peter Gross
Guest
peterpi - Peter Gross

Has RIW on Sunday, 17 April 2011 at 8:43pm BST gained a sense of humor?
Or is he serious? If he’s serious, when did he replace Fr. Federico Lombardi, SJ?

Mark Clavier
Guest
Mark Clavier

Martin, I think you’re largely right about the ecumenical dimension of the Covenant document, though I would add that almost every process and statement these days has at least a token ecumenical dimension. It occurred to me after writing my last post, that for all the appeals to the Lambeth Quadrilateral, I suspect few of us today would actually support it’s raison d’etre: to provide guidance for minimal requirements for ecumenical engagement and for the sharing of pulpits. I suspect most of us prefer the present environment which allows for a much wider engagement than just with those churches that… Read more »

Mark Clavier
Guest
Mark Clavier

Geoff, But none of the churches presently engaged in the process entered into communion through the Quadrilateral. Either they were already in existence or were formed by those who initially supported the Quadrilateral. So, no movement of goal posts, unless we oddly began to insist that those with whom we do engage ecumenically must agree to the principles of the Covenant. I like to think of the Quadrilateral as the equivalent of a country’s diplomatic protocol for international agreements while the Covenant is closer to something like the Lisbon Agreement. In fact, the development of the European Union provides all… Read more »

Mark Clavier
Guest
Mark Clavier

Marshall, Yes, the lack of detail in section 4 is one of the reasons why I’m a little lukewarm about the actual document…that, and it seems like a bureaucrat’s dream! In terms of the traditional Anglican regard to external authority, I think there is much to what you say. I can’t say that I’m entirely comfortable, though, with that tradition, dependent as it is on the concomitant growth in nationalism. Also, we Anglicans have been happy to depart from our traditions in the past. Many decried the abandonment of the traditional role of the Articles or, more recently, the movement… Read more »

Robert Ian Williams
Guest
Robert Ian Williams

Yes I am serious..that is the reality. Furthermore I forgot to mention that we also require renunciation of reformation theology.The 39 articles are for the bin and you can keep parts of the BCP only when it has been doctored by ourselves, and Protestant errors removed!

By joining Rome, Anglicans are implicitly agreeing that Cranmer and his chums got it wrong.

Behind all the ecumenical froth and pleasantries, that is the reality!

Sara MacVane
Guest
Sara MacVane

@RIW (can’t resist)
As I’ve said many times before here and others have confirmed, Robert, it’s a two way street. It’s just that we Anglicans are a little more discreet about those who cross the Tiber in our direction.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

Robert, your evangelical slip is showing!

RPNewark
Guest
RPNewark

Prior Aelred – “I wholeheartedly & entirely agree with Robert Ian Williams (when did I think I would ever say that?)”

Just what I was going to say.

peterpi – “Has RIW gained a sense of humor? Or is he serious? If he’s serious, when did he replace Fr. Federico Lombardi, SJ?”

Oh, he’s serious alright and he replaced Fr. Federico when he gave up thinking and went over to Rome.

Geoff
Guest

“But none of the churches presently engaged in the process entered into communion through the Quadrilateral.” Hmm. Imagine this. A group of Christians approaches the Anglican Communion about negotiating a relationship of intercommunion. For simplicity’s sake, let’s assume that they inhabit a part of the world outside the jurisdiction of any extant Anglican province, and that while not Anglican by descent or branding, they practice a recognizable episcopal-synodical evangelical-catholicism as expressed by the Quad. As a result of dialogue with the Communion’s structures they are able to form a relationship of Eucharistic sharing with its provinces, and then ultimately able… Read more »

Robert ian Williams
Guest
Robert ian Williams

Do I not speak the truth? This is what Rome wants, and so often they disguise it in convulated praise.

They are still pursuing ARCIC… do they really believe that 9,000 women priests will one day voluntarily resign.

That contraception will be banned.

The list could go on….. I apologise for ecumeniucal self deception.

Mark Clavier
Guest
Mark Clavier

Geoff, I think in some ways it’s not as complicated as you suggest and in other ways much more so. More so, because my understanding is that provinces within the Communion have differing ecumenical approaches. So, for example, the Church of England still pursues full ecclesial union while TEC now has a policy of not doing so, seeking instead to establish full communion with other churches while leaving the question of union ‘to the parousia’ as one representative once put it to me. Finally, some Global South provinces (I am told) share communion with all sorts of non-episcopal churches that… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
Guest
Martin Reynolds

Is “ecumeniucal” a combination of ecumenical and maniacal. At Robert’s tender hands it somehow seems to make sense …..

Fr Mark
Guest
Fr Mark

You wouldn’t guess from Geoffrey Rowell’s piece that he IS by the terms of his job description in full communion with the Church of Sweden, Church of Iceland, Church of Norway, Church of Denmark and Old Catholic Church, all of which bless or marry same-sex couples; yet he is NOT in full communion with the Orthodox or Roman Catholic churches, the latter of which does not even recognise his orders.

Robert ian Williams
Guest
Robert ian Williams

Oops ..typing error.

An excellent comment from Mark…..and also note Rowell has women priests in his diocese who he doesn’t believe are priests! There is also a large wodge of evangelicals who believe his
” Catholic ” theology is a travesty of true Anglicanism.

Sara MacVane
Guest
Sara MacVane

@RIW:
And yet the Bishop in Europe does license women as ‘priest-in-charge of xyz’, so does that mean he foments non-ordained non-priest on his faithful? Doesn’t sound good (and as you know I am one his priests)

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

RIW posted “Sorry, but the Covenant is only a start for the Roman Catholic Church. We want you to give up and repent of no fault divorce and re-marriage, contraception, women deacons, priests and bishops, lay celebration, gay blessings, gay ordinations and adoptions ….”

Perhaps, in an effort to get away from this kind of patriarchal dogmatism, that is why so many roman Catholics, according to this R.C. source, are taking their business elsewhere…. or just no where…
http://ncronline.org/news/hidden-exodus-catholics-becoming-protestants

rick allen
Guest

“our Civil War really was about enslaving other human beings. The issue of “States’ rights” was a smokescreen.” Not exactly. The substantive issue was slavery. But an important component of that was whether the slavery issue actually required a national resolution. Could the Union continue with one section condemning slavery and another embracing it, as it had at its inception? Could the problem be finessed by “States’ Rights”–state autonomy–on the issue? Similarly, the questions regarding sexuality and marriage raise the question of whether, in a single polity, it is credible for one part to affirm and bless what the other… Read more »

Marshall Scott
Guest

Geoff, if I recall the text of the Covenant, it still defines membership in the *Anglican Communion* is still participation in the Anglican Consultative Council. So, we can have the unclear situation where an Anglican church could be a participant in the ACC, and invited to Lambeth, for example, without signing the Covenant. The provisions of the Covenant would then be directive for a subset of Anglican churches that have signed, and for signatory churches that are not participants in the ACC (as some have speculated ACNA might act); but not for all churches of the Communion. Indeed, the test… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

Rick:

Still a smokescreen. In 1860, there was no federal effort to make slave states renounce slavery. Lincoln was elected on a platform of not expanding slavery, but not abolishing it, either.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

“Similarly, the questions regarding sexuality and marriage raise the question of whether, in a single polity, it is credible for one part to affirm and bless what the other part considers seriously sinful and in need of repentence.”
– Rick Allen –

The same goes with the polity of the Roman Catholic Church – regarding Marriage annulment.
Not to mention allowing couples practising contraception to receive Holy Communion!

Throwing dirt does no-one any good.
Allen

Nat
Guest
Nat

“…the questions regarding sexuality and marriage raise the question of whether, in a single polity, it is credible for one part to affirm and bless what the other part considers seriously sinful and in need of repentence.” Perhaps a more important question is whether it is acceptable for one part of the polity to refuse the other permission to bless what they believe they are called to bless by the Holy Spirit, or to deny the validity of their discernment? Over and over, conservatives seem to believe that there can be no New Thing, that we have learned nothing, that… Read more »

robert ian williams
Guest
robert ian williams

Bishop Rowell does not ordain women, but licenses them..says everything about his theology.

Ron, abuses, do not disprove Catholic doctrine.

the facrt is Anglicans cannot even agree as to what their doctrine is.

Is it the neo-purtnism of Sydney or the Anglo catholic extremes of Zanzibar?

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

“the fact is Anglicans cannot even agree as to what their doctrine is.”

The fact is that Anglicans do not have to agree on what their doctrine is. Each Province can follow its own discernment.
That is the whole point of it.
Or was, before people proposed the Covenant.

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

“the fact is Anglicans cannot even agree as to what their doctrine is…”

Because Anglicans have only one all-encompassing “doctrine”…it’s called the Nicene Creed. Everything else is window-dressing, at best.