Saturday, 29 November 2008

GAFCON, NEAC and an alternative province

Two pieces recently on Daily Episcopalian.

Adrian Worsfold wrote Taking over the Church of England.

…Why is GAFCON like Militant? Because a core group maintains control as a reaction to the failure of other Evangelicals to get their way in the wider Western Churches. It then infiltrates to force its agenda. Even at the Conference itself, that jumble of oddities called the Jerusalem Declaration was born in a back room - it was leaked even before the assembled could give it the rubber stamp. GAFCON itself was planned by annoying the local Anglicans in Jerusalem because of their opposition to its divisiveness.

In Britain came the entryism into one of the theological colleges and the scattering of much of its evangelical staff, replaced by hardliners and the agreeable. The same man, Chair of the Church of England Evangelical Council (CEEC) has chaired the recent National Evangelical Anglican Consultation, in which, without notice, and without a right to amend, a pro-GAFCON motion was put to the meeting. The assembled would not have it, and refused to give it a vote. The result is that the CEEC will vote for it anyway on the spurious basis that it represents Evangelicals. Perhaps the CEEC once did, but as ever the hardliners continued to attend when others dropped away - it is how the entryists work…

George Clifford wrote An “alternative” province? Why not?

Until two weeks ago, I strongly advocated the Anglican Communion refusing to establish a new province in North America and mandating that provinces cease violating provincial boundaries by conducting ministries or establishing congregations within the Episcopal Church’s jurisdiction.

Then I read that the Episcopal Church had spent in excess of $1.9 million in 2008 on lawsuits connected to the departure of parishes and dioceses from this Church. Daily I read about critical needs for healthcare, food, sanitation, and shelter in the United States and abroad. I see the spiritual illness and death that afflict so many. I remember that Anglicans have wisely never claimed to be the only branch of the Christian Church.

I started to wonder, Was I wrong? Why not another North American province?

Also, Jonathan Wynne-Jones wrote at the Telegraph Squabbling evangelicals need to find a united voice.

…Now it’s the evangelicals who are fighting amongst themselves.

In truth, the unity that was central to their success in forcing the gay cleric, Jeffrey John, to stand down as Bishop of Reading has long gone.

With hindsight this may be viewed as something of a pyrrhic victory as it led to a splintering in the evangelical movement: Anglican Mainstream and Fulcrum emerged from the 2003 row to represent the conservative and more ‘open’ factions.

The simmering tensions spilt over at the recent meeting, held at All Souls Langham Place - the church which was home to the evangelical doyen John Stott for 30 years.

Lacking such an inspirational and unifying figure, they have been reduced to bickering and squabbling.

Richard Turnbull, the chair of the Church of England Evangelical Council, was heckled by a group led by Graham Kings - a leading member of Fulcrum, and his opposite number as it were.

While some there found this childish and inappropriate - more befitting the floor of the Commons than a church, it is nevertheless easy to appreciate their frustration…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 29 November 2008 at 9:39am GMT | TrackBack
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Comments

Is George Clifford suggesting that TEC should not defend itself from the uncanonical, illegal taking of its property? Would he likewise suggest that TEC should not defend itself against a bishop who appropriated diocesan property to his own use?

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Saturday, 29 November 2008 at 11:23am GMT

George Clifford's piece is well-meaning but wooly-minded stuff. The AC's recognition of an "alternative province" would have no effect on TEC's legal claim on the properties seized by "departing congregations". The $1.9 spent in litigation this year was spent because those departing congregations refused to accept what is stated unequivocally in the notorious Chapman Memo, that "recent litigation indicates that the local diocesan authorities hold almost all the cards in property disputes and clergy placement if they want to play 'hardball'".

Posted by: Lapinbizarre on Saturday, 29 November 2008 at 1:11pm GMT

When a break-in occurs at George Clifford's does he not expect he shall have recourse to the law? If his accountant swindles him does he not expect.......?

Posted by: ettu on Saturday, 29 November 2008 at 2:32pm GMT

From the moment I became involved in the Episcopal Church, I was told that parishes held their property in trust for the diocese and TEC itself.
No one is stopping disaffected members from leaving. If they are horrified at women priests, modern language in the BCP, or gay priests, no one is stopping them. But the buildings and property aren't theirs to take. The disaffected want to eat their cake and have it too. They want to seize that which is not theirs and have TEC quietly walk away.
That $2 million wouldn't have been spent on lawsuits if the disaffected had simply found another building to worship in and moved on.

Posted by: peterpi on Saturday, 29 November 2008 at 5:16pm GMT

I wonder how much the absconding ones are spending on lawsuits? Duncan spent at least 100,000 US dollars (250,000 pounds sterling) for lawyers. I think that number might actually more and that's just for the diocese of PIttsburgh. Wouldn't be cheaper for these disaffected to just find new property (preferably with large open spaces for praise bands, projection screens, jumping hand raisers and those fall on the floor and speak in tongues. Yes, this does happen in some Pittsburgh churches).

I'm sure they'd make out in the end and we could have an amicable divorce (it's hard to sit in a pew with someone who raises their hands and sways. Pews with kneelers just aren't conducive). Sarcasm abounds.

Posted by: bobinswpa on Saturday, 29 November 2008 at 6:25pm GMT

It is the height of HYPOCRISY for G Clifford to use the funds that TEC has used in DEFENSE of its canonical property, as some kind of "cause" why it should lose its claims!

The schismatics want to kill TEC, and then whine to the Primates that they're orphans!

Lord have mercy...

Posted by: JCF on Saturday, 29 November 2008 at 6:30pm GMT

So, if George Clifford has his way, TEC should just give in because wrongdoing should be rewarded or those who want to leave and take their property should have their way just because they say so. If that were the case, anyone who wanted to take their property for any reason at any time should just have it for the asking., since bullies and blackmailers must always be appeased.

Posted by: CanadAnglican on Saturday, 29 November 2008 at 7:16pm GMT

I suppose it is "wooly minded", but Jesus said something about turning the other cheek. Must we continue to fight over property when the poor are suffering? Let them rent the properties for $1 a year and get back to the work of the Gospel.

Posted by: Davis d'Ambly on Saturday, 29 November 2008 at 10:27pm GMT

Jesus said turn the other cheek to insult and attack, not to theft.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Sunday, 30 November 2008 at 12:07am GMT

Other way around SWPA Bob- more like 40K pound sterling.

Posted by: choirboyfromhell on Sunday, 30 November 2008 at 12:07am GMT

"...Then I read that the Episcopal Church had spent in excess of $1.9 million in 2008 on lawsuits connected to the departure of parishes and dioceses from this Church" - George Clifford -

These law-suits must have been defended by someone - at the same expense presumably. Where, I wonder, did that money come from? Except that we all know whence it came, and is still coming from - the limitless pockets of the rich American Fundamentalist manipulators of the re-Asserters!

I wonder, George, what really changed your mind? Surely it was not about the money begin spent? On the other hand, it could hardly be about any eirenic perception of a need to coax the re-Asserters back into the Fold. After all, it was they who booked their passage out.

They are clearly determined to get their own way in their pogrom against women and gays, even though they appear to be double-minded (like your colleague Ruth) about whether it would be better to stay within the Communion or to form their own special brand. We shall see on December 3.

It may be, though, that the leaders of the Anglican Communion have detected their plans to use 'entryism' as a means of forcing their aqgenda on the rest of us, and will act accordingly. In other words, wave 'goodbye' - as they have done to the 15 or so other schismatic bodies in the US and Canada, before them.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Sunday, 30 November 2008 at 12:44am GMT

$1.9 million is peanuts.
The case for an alternative province is just that these people want to stay on in the AC, and surely this must be accommodated. I think it is a little paranoid to talk of entryism. They have moved to a position in which they are comfortable and with which the rest of the AC may be most comfortable too. As all sides continue to develop and change there may be fusions where now there are fissions, and keeping all parties under the Anglican umbrella favours that prospect.

Posted by: Spirit of Vatican II on Sunday, 30 November 2008 at 3:23am GMT

Spirit:

The problem is the conditions under which they wish to remain...one of them being that they get to keep property that isn't theirs, the other being--apparently--that the rest of us abide by THEIR rules as to gays and women, especially gays.

The first is theft, the second is blackmail.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Sunday, 30 November 2008 at 10:54am GMT

The answer to Bobinswpa's question "I wonder how much the absconding ones are spending on lawsuits?" will almost certainly be found in Newton's third law of motion - "To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction".

Posted by: Lapinbizarre on Sunday, 30 November 2008 at 11:42am GMT

"Jesus said turn the other cheek to insult and attack, not to theft."

Well, I seem to remember that he said something about if someone wants your coat, to give him your shirt as well.

I'm not of the opinion that defending Church property is wrong, but as long as we're going to bandy Christ's words about we might as well be accurate.

Posted by: BillyD on Sunday, 30 November 2008 at 1:05pm GMT

What is entryism?
Who or what coined the term?
Columba Gilliss

Posted by: Columba Gilliss on Sunday, 30 November 2008 at 3:03pm GMT

It's smoke filled rooms time regarding the aftermath of NEAC...

http://pluralistspeaks.blogspot.com/2008/11/i-am-dalek.html

Posted by: Pluralist on Sunday, 30 November 2008 at 4:42pm GMT

But it isn't a "coat" they want, BillyD.

I think a better analogy is this: say one carries a knife (for cleaning fish, and picking your teeth----preferably not in that order!)

Now you've just seen a Bad Guy stick his own knife into *another person*, leaving it there---he then comes to you and says, "Give me your knife!"

[If you think this analogy is over-the-top, just ask the LGBTs of California what "Houses of God" (so-called) can be put to use for. Lord have mercy!]

Posted by: JCF on Sunday, 30 November 2008 at 4:49pm GMT

Try this for a definition
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Entryism

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 30 November 2008 at 5:32pm GMT

I think we all feel thoroughly exhausted by the bile that passes for argument and dismayed by the costs associated with those seeking to separate themselves from TEC, so I have the greatest sympathy for George Clifford who would like to turn his back on all of it and concentrate on our calling.

Here in the UK however, charity law would not allow me to turn my cheek or my back if I was a trustee and someone was walking off with the assets for which I was responsible. Even if the persons were well intentioned and intended to set up a similar or parallel organisation – even if they were arguing their purpose was closer to that of the founders of the trust I am now accountable for.

The Charity Commissioners would hold me and my fellow trustees personally liable for any lack of care.

Besides noting the machinations of Jack Iker – it all seems like a put-up job to me, these people are throwing themselves on the swords and claiming to be martyrs

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Sunday, 30 November 2008 at 7:12pm GMT

Thanks for the article, Simon. Is "entryism" more of a British term? (this side of The Pond, I would just think of it as "subversion")

I've also encountered a form of unintentional entryism, which I call (TM!) "group-flux regression". This is when a large number of people join a (loosely-structured) organization, en masse but unorganized, and want to revisit (often quite basic) decisions which have already been made. In my experience, it's very destructive to the original purposes which gathered the group in the first place (then again, when a few people show up for a "Is Anyone Interested in _____?" meeting, rarely is the FIRST thing they think of, "Let's write a Constitution!" ;-/)

Posted by: JCF on Sunday, 30 November 2008 at 8:36pm GMT

Pat commented "The problem is the conditions under which they wish to remain... that the rest of us abide by THEIR rules as to gays and women, especially gays."

It's more than blackmail.

It's demanding that souls remain in churches where they are insulted, scapegoated, violated, shunned, and abused. It's demanding that souls have no point of refuge from abuse in the bigger world. We are meant to be able to go to church to get a break and reprieve from the violence and agression of an "ungodly" world. From personal observation, the secular state in Sydney Australia is doing a better job than its Protestant Christians in having a minimum standard of behaviour. It is ironical that it is safer to be outside of a church community than within one.

Jesus must be "proud" to have such vehement Christians championing their 2000 years plus right to abuse women and their children. Lucky for Jesus that non of his promises to females (e.g. to the Daughter of Zion) matter. Too bad if they feel hoodwinked into sponsoring a man who promised to fulfill the messianic requirements of the scriptures, but hasn't bothered to get around to doing the feminine redemption ones for over 2000 years. It's not like we didn't give him enough time to get it right, or that we kept moving and changing so that he couldn't find us.

Posted by: Cheryl Va. on Sunday, 30 November 2008 at 8:45pm GMT

"Well, I seem to remember that he (Jesus) said something about if someone wants your coat, to give him your shirt as well." - Billy D -

Modern hermeneutics might have us believe that Jesus, here again as so often in his discourses, was speaking a parable. The outcome of what Jesus was suggesting here might well be that such an action could 'pile heated coals upon the heads' of those who are in receipt of such an exchange. Now, would that utlimately please the robbers?

This is one of the problems, isn't it, of taking the Scriptures at their 'face value', without any recourse to finding root meanings (hermeneutics)of what was being said? No wonder Jesus did most of his teaching parabolically.

Of course, to act literally here would give great pleasure - as well as undue power - to the re-Asserters. Is that good for their humility?

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Sunday, 30 November 2008 at 9:00pm GMT

Wearily I will say yet AGAIN that the litigation in Virginia was BEGUN by the Neo-Africans, the morning after all of their congregations voted to depart, and all of the filings were identical. What a strange coincidence!

It would have been the height of irresponsibility for the Diocese of Virginia not to defend those lawsuits.

That property was held in trust for TEC. The generations of people who contributed to the maintenance, development and upkeep of those properties certainly assumed that they would remain within TEC.

The folks whose familiy members' ashes are or will be placed in my own parish's columbarium did/will do so in the expectation that the columbarium will remain in an Episcopal church.

I have friends whose ancestors are buried at one of the absconding churches, and another whose great great great [I think that's how many greats] grandparents worshipped there, and who helped build the colonial building. They are NOT happy to cede the property to these interlopers and thieves.

If these groups are so vibrant and growing, they will soon be able to buy property to build their own churches, won't they?

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Sunday, 30 November 2008 at 9:03pm GMT

Obviously entryism involves a range of strategies used in a variety of contexts, sharing common invasion and take-over goals. The time period involved also seems crucial.

So far as USA goes, I think it quite fair to say that the right has been using similar strategies to hard-line realign at least two recent successful take-overs, one the USA Republican party which can lay little claim to being at all the big tent Republican Party it has sometimes at least aspired to be, and of course, that other blatant success, the invasion/take-over of the Southern Baptists, who were certainly conservative enough for starters except for strong congregationalistic and individual believer leeways that were soon narrowed and conformed through purging the SBs of room for even that much inquiry, questioning, or dissent.

Emboldened by these two passing campaigns, the USA hard right decided the moment was right to move on long-standing plans for targeting the standing old Protestant mainline USA churches, including records of target plans for Methodists, Presbyterians, and of course, TEC. TEC has gotten the most public attention, because it was moving successfully farther middle to left than the other groups which are far larger and so more difficult to move substantially in as short a time period.

That all of this spills negatively over onto global Anglicans is of little import to the hard-line USA Dominionists on the right, except insofar as it inspires them to think that Home Invasions, Campaign Spin Doctoring, and Laying Claims on property once a parish/diocese has been sufficiently tilted are God's special work.

Posted by: drdanfee on Sunday, 30 November 2008 at 9:24pm GMT

Totally OT, but OMG!

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/dec/01/nigeria-christianity-islam-jos-riots

Posted by: Prior Aelred on Monday, 1 December 2008 at 2:09am GMT

I agree with Cheryl Va's opening two senteces of the paragraph after "It's more than blackmail."
The absconders or entryists (or thieves?) want nothing less than to be regarded as "the" authority on what is moral and what is not. On what is biblical and what is not. They cannot stand the fact that others have the truth as well.
They are so appalled at the thought of two men or two women loving each other in an ethical or moral way, including common concepts regarding fidelity and monogamy, that they refuse to recognize the humanity of the people in the relationship. It's what appalls me the most about their treatment of Bishop Robinson, for example: All they can see is "homosexual". They refuse to see "Christian and human being".
Thank you Cynthia Gillett. I have similar feelings about the past generations who built and maintained these buildings for the greater benefit of the whole. TEC owes it to those who came before to fight for that property.

Posted by: peterpi on Monday, 1 December 2008 at 2:55am GMT

Thanks for the correction. I meant the figures the other way around but I couldn't quite process it that way.

Lapin thank you for this. "The answer to Bobinswpa's question "I wonder how much the absconding ones are spending on lawsuits?" will almost certainly be found in Newton's third law of motion - "To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction".

Again I was a little off the processing.

Ron+ I've often wondered why Jesus spoke in parables. He must've wanted us to use our "little gray cells." In other words thanks for pointing out that parables are a teaching tool and shouldn't be looked at literally. I wish we could tell that to the Evangelical/Fundies.

The local Episcopal churches near me (just south of Pittsburgh) that have left TEC are still telling the average parishioners they are Episcopalians. It seems some people really don't understand what's happened and keeping them in the dark is fine (esp. the elderly). I will add that some churches are proudly calling themselves members of the Anglican Communion and/or Anglicans.

Posted by: bobinswpa on Monday, 1 December 2008 at 3:59am GMT

“Thanks for the article, Simon. Is "entryism" more of a British term? (this side of The Pond, I would just think of it as "subversion")”--JCF

Actually, it has quite a respectable American aspect, too, JCF, which as a former Trot I can attest: The French Turn.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_Turn

Posted by: Kurt on Monday, 1 December 2008 at 2:42pm GMT

This is useful. It will be possible to talk about Evangelicals and the GAFCON Turn. So when they undergo the GAFCON Turn there is a shift in loyalties and a greater emphasis on separation and international episcopacy.

Posted by: Pluralist on Monday, 1 December 2008 at 4:37pm GMT

Martin, we have similar laws on this side of the Pond. Leaders of the church have a fiduciary responsibility to see to it that funds given to the church continue to be used for the church -- not for some subset of dissatisfied members. Our canons and civil laws are quite clear about the alienation of property from its intended use. Here in NY, for example, if a church wishes to sell a piece of its property -- even, for example, a lovely house across town ceded to the church in the will of a deceased member -- the permission not only of the Bishop and Standing Committee of the diocese (this is required throughout TEC), but of the Supreme Court of the State of New York as well. This is a relic, in NY, of an English law that was extant in the colonial period, in which the state is seen as the protector of the church's best interests against the depredations of any temporary incumbents (clerical or lay!) There may be similar laws in other states, though I doubt many of the postcolonial states have such memories of the establishment on their books.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Monday, 1 December 2008 at 6:39pm GMT

I agree with 'Spirit'. There is a sense in which these people wish to remain Anglicans - they aren't endlessly, boringly, self-demeaningly, flirting with 'the Holy Father' to deign to regard them. We should give them space. We should be confident that eventually - actually, rather soon - WO and full recognition of the legitimacy of principled homosexual relationships will win out. There is cause for hope here rather than despair. Despite all the crude, superficial indications to the contrary, 'Anglicanism' will survive and prosper, because, acually, it's the only sane way to 'do church'. Enormously encouraging that liberal RCs like 'Spirit' actually recongise this, though of course they rarely admit it.

Posted by: John on Monday, 1 December 2008 at 7:52pm GMT

I'm afraid, John, that it's more than just the 'gay' thing. The departing purists are also resisting the hermeneutical study of the Bible Perhaps this is at the root of their problems with the 'modern' Church. It's almost (for them) that to move in any way from the assumption that the Gospel is always a counter-cultural message, is to betray what has been set in stone for a by-gone age.

Scripture, Tradition and Reason, each needs to be brought to bear on our teaching and living out of the Gospel for today.

To believe that development of human knowledge has nothing to add to the exegetical method in today's world and Church is to say that the Holy Spirit has finished the work of teaching - when even Jesus told his disciples that "when the Spirit comes, s/he will lead you into all TRUTH".

In other words, there was still truth to be found. Perhaps this is why Jesus resorted to teaching by parable - so that his words could not be 'set in stone', but rather pondered upon in the light of 'what the Spirit might be saying to the Church' in today's context, which is so different from yeaterday's.

The question here is, has the Holy Spirit given up on 'leading us into all the truth' to be known about human nature and God's ongoing relationship to us in Christ?

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Tuesday, 2 December 2008 at 9:56am GMT

"the Gospel is always a counter-cultural message"

I think it is, the problem is in defining what culture it is against. Let's be honest, there is the culture of power and wealth that wants everything to stay the same and can coerce the fearful into obedience. There is the "me first" culture that says that My rights and concerns are paramount and I must fight for them to my dying breath, and justifies its position with talk of "freedom" and "justice". Neither side will brook any opposition. Then there are the indigenous cultures, the smaller cultures, what we usually understand as culture. We have traditionally seen the Gospel as countering this latter form of culture, and destroyed countless ancient cultures in the process. Conservatives are "counter" the second one, but only by being staunch defenders of the first. Liberals are counter the first, but only by being supporters of the second. The culture to which the Gospel is counter certainly contains the first two, but since it integrated pretty well into preChristian European culture, I wouldn't say it needs to be counter the third.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Tuesday, 2 December 2008 at 11:43am GMT

The sanctimony about property issues is so laughable. I've said it before and I'll say it again: unless those who defend denominational property rights call on the ABC to hand over the keys to Westminster Abbey, the Canterbury Cathedral, and hundreds of other buildings to Rome - not to mention gold and property taken from the Holy See in the 16th century - they have zero credibility. Let me put it this way, unless you're willing to trade the Truro Church for the Canterbury Cathedral stop whining.

The fact of the matter is that these lawsuits will work their way through the courts in the next few years and both sides will lament how they were "cheated" out of what was theirs. And yet, despite all that nonsense, it seems to me that Clifford's advice bears an irenic and sensible tone that most "thinking Anglicans" should embrace.

Posted by: Joe on Tuesday, 2 December 2008 at 2:54pm GMT

Joe, have you read the Chapman Memo?

Posted by: JPM on Tuesday, 2 December 2008 at 3:47pm GMT

I'm a very new Anglican. According to most posters here, I'm of the absconding, thieving, hateful, abusive, blackmailing and thoroughly villainous/naughty/wicked sort of Anglican . . . but I agree 100% that we should walk away and leave whatever property you want. There are more important things at issue; squabbling over property seems shameful . . . .

Posted by: susan on Tuesday, 2 December 2008 at 4:38pm GMT

Joe, three things. First, I don't know where you get any idea of sanctimony. This is a question of law, not piety.

Second, yes, this will work its way through the courts, perhaps even to SCOTUS, and 90% of the cases will favor TEC, because of its clear claim not to ownership but to trusteeship of the property. The idea that the current membership of any given parish or diocese somehow "own" the parish or diocese is not in keeping with either most civil or any canon law. This goes back way before the "Dennis Canon" which, like it or not, is still the law of the church and was crafted in explicit response to SCOTUS to do exactly what SCOTUS said would remove any ambiguity about the control of property. (The Virginia case is unusual, in that it deals with a purported "division" in the church itself. Even so I imagine the higher court will overturn the statute on constitutional grounds, as it involves the state in determining that a church has "divided" even when that church's highest governing body says it hasn't.)

Third, your comment about the C of E indicates your lack of understanding concerning what happened there at the Reformation. This was the liberation of a national church from the governance of a foreign hierarchy; the question goes way back before the Tudors, and hints of the emerging problem were there in the Statutes of Provisors and Praemunire and so on. The Church of England is, well, the Church of England. Nothing was taken from "Rome." And, btw, Westminster is a Royal Peculiar, so it doesn't even really come under the hierarchical control of the C of E.

Irenic or not, Cliffords proposals involve ignorning civil and canon law. That might in fact be a good thing to do, but one ought not be shy of facing that fact.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Tuesday, 2 December 2008 at 4:56pm GMT

I thought this quote quite telling..."Richard Turnbull, the chair of the Church of England Evangelical Council, was heckled by a group led by Graham Kings - a leading member of Fulcrum, and his opposite number as it were."

So Christ-like! Just makes you wanna join your nearest church.

Posted by: bobinswpa on Tuesday, 2 December 2008 at 6:03pm GMT

Fr Ron & Ford are on to something important about the precise frame of 'counter cultural.' A PRAXIS speaker I once heard suggested 'culture critical' as a less reactionary alternative.

Posted by: mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) on Tuesday, 2 December 2008 at 6:06pm GMT

'culture critical'
Yes, it might well be a better term. What we are supposed to be "counter" to, as far as I can see, are those things that are not attributes of the Kingdom. We must also remain mindful of the ways our fallen humanity can lead us astray in discerning these things. So, we cannot ally ourselves with any earthly culture, since we have to be critical of all of them. "Liberals" and "conservatives" alike fall prey to this, from the conservatives who believe capitalism, democracy and the free market are some sort of God given state to those who consider Mary the first Communist. The Gospel is neither Socialist nor Republican, nor anything in between, nor is it to be imposed on society. Yet each side, while loudly claiming to be "countercultural" seems only to be counter to those things it considers wrong in "the other side" while vigourously defending the aspects of it's own position that it considers to be virtuous, and lobbying for the imposition of its particular blend of faith and politics on society as a whole. Society is kicking back, leaving both liberals and conservatives in a turmoil, each blaming the other for society's rejection. I have had great larks in times past baiting conservative Evangelicals on this site, God forgive my wicked soul. There have been some very interesting arguments, like the Parable of the Talents being justification for usury, for example! But, I'm sure that, if I had the stomach to wander around some of the more venomous conservative sites, I'd see the same thing happening to liberals.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Tuesday, 2 December 2008 at 7:17pm GMT

Myn :

It really depends on how you define counter-culture. I would think counter culture would deal more with how we've all got into this financial mess. The idea of borrowing money to make more money seems to be the sin of greed (at least IMHO). Now if I watched Fox News (for UK friends, very, very conservative) this may not be called a sin. It's like orthodox women clergy (esp those opposed to ordination of GLBT members. They pick and choose what's acceptable.

There are so many areas which we can be counter-cultural. I would think including everyone (regardless of sex, or sexual orientation ect...) into the parish family and holy orders would be a goal for all Christians.

Posted by: bobinswpa on Tuesday, 2 December 2008 at 8:12pm GMT

"I'm a very new Anglican. According to most posters here, I'm of the absconding, thieving, hateful, abusive, blackmailing and thoroughly villainous/naughty/wicked sort of Anglican . . . Posted by susan" (proudly)

Call you anything but "gay" eh?

Posted by: JCF on Tuesday, 2 December 2008 at 11:32pm GMT

Bob - "Richard Turnbull, the chair of the Church of England Evangelical Council, was heckled by a group led by Graham Kings - a leading member of Fulcrum, and his opposite number as it were."

This first appeared as a quote over on Anglican Mainstream (not exactly Fulcrum's best friend), has never been alleged anywhere else despite extensive blogging and press coverage, but seems to have been picked up by the Telegraph. I asked Graham about it on the NEAC thread on Fulcrum.

All I can say is, don't believe all you read in the papers...

Posted by: Simon Morden on Tuesday, 2 December 2008 at 11:41pm GMT

"...squabbling over property seems shameful . ."

So is squabbling over people's private relationships. Terrible to break a church over it.

Posted by: choirboyfromhell on Wednesday, 3 December 2008 at 12:54am GMT

Ford: "those who consider Mary the first Communist"

As in:

Sing we a song of high revolt!
Make great the Lord, his name exult!
Sing we the song that Mary sang,
of God at war with human wrong.

He calls us to revolt and fight
with him for what is just and right;
to sing and live Magnificat
in crowded street or walk-up flat.

Posted by: Malcolm+ on Wednesday, 3 December 2008 at 5:05am GMT

Malcolm,

Precisely. It's where the Gospel overlaps with Socialism, which isn't surprising, since Socialism developed in Western Europe, where the culture has been informed by Christianity for over a thousand years. Trouble is, some people behave as though that convergence means that Christianity is Socialist, some sort of "government of the Gospel". It's exactly paralleled by the conservative belief that Western style consumerism and democracy are also God given.

Posted by: Ford ELms on Wednesday, 3 December 2008 at 12:25pm GMT

Yes, JCF, I agree completely about how it goes when "a large number of people join a (loosely-structured) organization, en masse but unorganized, and want to revisit (often quite basic) decisions which have already been made. In my experience, it's very destructive to the original purposes which gathered the group in the first place."

Obviously, you missed the irony.

Posted by: Phil on Wednesday, 3 December 2008 at 2:30pm GMT

Tobias, below is a response to your comments in turn:

First, I seriously don’t care how the courts decide. I have no dog in this fight, except that I hate to see Christians squabbling over money in secular courts. Such behavior brings disgrace on the Gospel, which is precisely what Clifford was trying to say. Perhaps the question to both sides ought to be: Would you be willing to suffer loss if it meant the advancement for the Kingdom of God?

Second...Oh please…the Reformation [in England] during the 16th century had more to do with the king’s libido and greed than it did with theology. And if you can’t admit that then you’re just naive! The “Visitation of the Monasteries” was nothing more than an inventory for the “Dissolution of the Monasteries” permitting Henry to confiscate monastic properties/treasuries. Now, I’m no expert of 16th century canon law, but I’m sure Rome would have argued that those buildings and that gold were “held in trust” for Catholics, don't you? Sure, the king did get to keep much for himself which was subsequently passed on to the gov’t, but the CofE also made out quite well. So, yeah, those buildings/lands did "belong" to Rome and they were transferred to the CofE (or granted rights of usage) without regard to Catholic "trusteeship".

Third, only a lawyer would think that canon law trumps a path of peace. My guess is that you’re protecting the union not the kingdom. Nevertheless, I appreciate your insight and your willingness to debate the issue. Blessings…

Posted by: Joe on Wednesday, 3 December 2008 at 4:03pm GMT

Joe, if I believed that simply giving up the trusteeship of church property to those who were walking away from the Episcopal Church was in fact advancing the kingdom, I would agree with you. Sadly, I see few signs of kingdom-orientation in the language or attitude and actions of those who are leading this departure. I see a great deal of fear and anger, self-justification and projection, not the signs of the Spirit. So, for me, this is not just about the property, but about the good of the church.

I guess we will have to disagree on the Reformation. It is, to be fair, a matter of perspective; but you tried to make a simple analogy between individual dioceses or parishes leaving a national church, and one national church asserting its independence over against another. Those are in my opinion two very different things, as I hold the concept of the national church very highly. In addition, I think historians would say that it is simplistic to put this all down to Henry's libido and greed. As I noted, many of these currents were well play a century and more before Henry came to the throne. Henry's "Matter" was a proximate, but not the only, cause for the Reformation.

Finally, peace such as the world gives is not the peace of God. As I said, if I thought division was the way to further the kingdom in this case, I would say, go for it. But I do not see this -- which is why I disagree with Clifford. In this case, the kingdom is best served by preserving to the greatest extent possible the union of the Episcopal Church -- a fact which many even among the conservatives recognize, as evinced in other posts on TA, and who are choosing to remain within the church.

Peace to you, under God's grace.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Wednesday, 3 December 2008 at 5:39pm GMT

The Anglican Church, Joe (how many times does one have to keep repeating this?) dates from the 1559 Acts of Uniformity and Supremacy, not from Henry VIII.

Re property ownership, guess you would agree that the Pantheon, along with a fair number of other churches, should be returned to Pagan ownership.

Posted by: Lapinbizarre on Wednesday, 3 December 2008 at 6:20pm GMT

Joe, have you ever read the Chapman Memo?

Phil, there is plenty of irony to go around. For example, some of us find it very strange that fundamentalists who convulse on the floor and "prophesy" are claiming not only that they are Anglicans, but that they are the only *true* Anglicans.

How's that for some powerful irony?

Posted by: JPM on Wednesday, 3 December 2008 at 11:04pm GMT

"some of us find it very strange that fundamentalists who convulse on the floor and "prophesy" are claiming not only that they are Anglicans, but that they are the only *true* Anglicans."

Actually, "strange" is a far kinder word than I would, or have, used,

Posted by: Ford Elms on Thursday, 4 December 2008 at 1:21pm GMT

JPM, I join you in finding that strange. It's funny, though, I've been to services in Bob Duncan's diocese, and I've even worshipped at what, I guess for you, would be the oogedy-boogedy capitals of the Earth, Truro Church and The Falls Church, in Virginia. Oh, sure, there was a lot of bad music, but no convulsing on the floor and no prophesying. At which parish have you seen those? Because, I'm sure you're not just rolling out an ignorant stereotype there.

Posted by: Phil on Thursday, 4 December 2008 at 4:53pm GMT

I used to visit this site regularly, since the coverage is so good. The nastiness of those who comment, to my mind, meets and usually exceeds that of those comment on the "conservative" blogs. I can understand why some Episcopalians feel compelled to leave, if this is representative of the "liberal establishment" they have to deal with. Ordaining women and blessing homosexual activity were only invented yesterday, and don't happen in my church, or most other Christian bodies for that matter. I find it hard to see how people who want to retain the doctrines they were brought up with are such vile and frothing fundamentalists. But I suppose one has to be an insider to understand.

Posted by: austin on Thursday, 4 December 2008 at 6:46pm GMT

Actually, Phil, I can provide evidence that some of the so-called "orthodox" are involved in prophesying and such (which the less polite among us might point out sounds an awful lot like the old Montanist heresy).

There's this bit from the San Joaquin's diocesan blog describing the visit of a so-called "prophet" to the cathedral in Fresno. (http://web.archive.org/web/20070724143414/http://surrounded.classicalanglican.net/ -- scroll down a bit to the entry entitled "Report on Visit of Prophet Dennis Cramer to DSJ Cathedral.")

Amazing what passes for "orthodoxy" in Schofield country!

And then there's Bob Duncan's famous announcement of a "breaker anointing" in his diocesan newsletter: http://www.pitanglican.org/news/trinity/Trinity%201-08_v5.pdf

While it is true that these people are apparently more decorous in their holy rolling than those who convulse on the floor, it is undeniable that many of the so-called "orthodox" are engaging in doctrines and practices that put them closer to Benny Hinn than to Benedict XVI.

Posted by: JPM on Thursday, 4 December 2008 at 11:10pm GMT

Thanks for the update Simon. I've heard some of the papers reporting can be questionable.

Just a side. Tobias+, loved listening to some of your music.
I might have my first piece published. Woo Hoo. Written in reaction to finding out my old parish had joined the Duncan Train wreck.

Posted by: bobinswpa on Friday, 5 December 2008 at 4:32am GMT

Austin:

Modernity is not necessarily a sign of being wrong. Your complaints of the "born yesterday" nature of women's ordination and same-sex blessings might well have been charged by the first century Jews against the practices of Jesus' followers.

The important thing is whether or not it's the Spirit leading us to these things. You believe it is not; I do. Time will tell.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Friday, 5 December 2008 at 11:24am GMT

"The nastiness of those who comment, to my mind, meets and usually exceeds that of those comment on the "conservative" blogs."

I find this an interesting comment, since I can find nothing here or an any other "liberal" site that can compare to the venom, bile, and allround nastiness of, say, VirtueOnline. I appreciate that you see it exactly opposite. Which, I think, should give both of us pause about what it is that gets us riled up, why, and why it is that we see "the other side" as so much more venomous than "our own crowd". Let's start from the position that, whatever we might disagree with the other's point of view on this, both POVs are valid. I have to ask though, how many you see as being barred from this site, the reasons for that, and the number of "contrary" posts, so to speak, that are censored or not posted at all. To me, as someone who has tried to post, and not in my usual nasty tone either, on conservative websites and never being posted, I think there's far more of that on "the other side", but, as I said, you see it quite the opposite. Now why is that? Might it be that we humans all fear the "other" and are primed to see more injury in what "they" say than in what "we" say? Or might it just be that some, perhaps even most, on both sides need to see themselves as persecuted in some sense, and thus react to anything from the "other side" as persecutory. To me, conservatives are especially guilty of this, but you, from your vantage point, might see it differently.

And, it isn't that they want to preserve the beliefs they grew up with. It's their false claims: that they are persecuted by those with whom they disagree, that they are being forced out of the Church when it is they who are trying by hook or by crook, to get rid of those who disagree with them, that they are "orthodox", their misrepresentation and out and out lying about gay people and those who support them, their claim that those who oppose them are faithless, have no respect for Scripture, and are trying to subvert the Church, the support for "ex-gay" ministries that play on the insecurities and brokenness of innocent people and drive them to suicide, the justification of attempts to jail gay people and those who support them, and I'm sure if it thought longer about it, and didn't mind being even more nasty than I usually am, I could come up with a more complete list. These are pretty obvious facts, as far as I can see, and not mere bad characterizations on my part, but again, you may see these things differently. Take +Akinola's attempts to jail us and our families, for instance. Are you not appalled that a Christian bishop, no less, could suggest such a thing?

Posted by: Ford Elms on Friday, 5 December 2008 at 1:04pm GMT

Much was said at Gafcon, and much has been written since about the Unitarianism and even atheism of the leaders of the American Episcopal Church and their ability to tolerate any theological view apart from the "orthodox". The example of the Muslim/Christian Priest showed more of that, what it did not show was the Bishop's sensible and compassionate response.

I met many TEC bishops at the Lambeth Conference and asked some the simple question “How has Jesus changed your life?” The answers I received were both “orthodox” and inspiring. The leaders and people of TEC are people of faith, prepared to step out in faith for what they believe.

We must be careful to put down the lie of the “faithful remnant” leaving the apostate Church of North America. We also need to know how many people, and churches, have really left: 30,000 people and 300 churches, or 100,000 people and 700 churches? That a number have left, partly for genuine reasons and partly because of the scare-mongering shown above, is sad. It will become a serious problem if the breakaway group is recognised by the Anglican Communion.

I hope this is a useful contribution to the debate.

Iain Baxter

Posted by: Iain Baxter on Sunday, 7 December 2008 at 4:38pm GMT

Actually, Iain, TEC is quite willing to tolerate the so-called "orthodox" as well. Nobody kicked them out until they slammed the door behind them.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Sunday, 7 December 2008 at 5:27pm GMT
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