Monday, 8 February 2010

The Episcopal Church and the ACNA

The Episcopal Church
Office of Public Affairs
February 4, 2010

The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA)

The following is one in a series of talking points prepared as a resource for The Episcopal Church.

Talking Points:

The Episcopal Church and the ACNA

The facts about The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA).

  • The Episcopal Church is over 7400 congregations in 109 dioceses plus three regional areas in 16 countries with 2.2 million members.
  • It is important to note that membership in ACNA includes churches and denominations which have disassociated from The Episcopal Church both recently and over the last 130 years, as well as congregations which have never been part of The Episcopal Church. A definitive number is difficult to ascertain.
  • ACNA is led by an archbishop who is not a member of The Episcopal Church, The Church of England, the Anglican Church of Canada, or The Anglican Communion.
  • The Episcopal Church laity and clergy believe the Christian faith as stated in the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds. We call the Holy Scriptures the Word of God because God inspired their human authors and because God still speaks to us through the Bible. We look to the Holy Spirit, who guides the Church in the understanding of the Scriptures. Our assurance as Christians is that nothing, not even death, shall separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
  • The Episcopal Church welcomes all who wish to serve God through Jesus Christ.
  • The Episcopal Church welcomes women in ordained ministry – deacons, priests and bishops. The Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church is the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, the first woman to lead The Episcopal Church as well as any of the 38 provinces of the Anglican Communion. ACNA does not permit women to serve as bishops and, in some areas, bars women from all ordination.
  • The Episcopal Church is a member province of the worldwide Anglican Communion, serving God together and working together to bring the Reign of God on earth. ACNA is not a member of the Worldwide Anglican Communion.
  • It is important to note that those who have remained in The Episcopal Church in those places where some have left include conservatives as well as liberals, persons on the political right as well as on the political left, and everything in between.
  • It is an inaccurate and misleading image that pictures those who have broken away from The Episcopal Church as the persecuted faithful, when in reality those who have remained have felt deeply hurt, and now in some cases are exiled from their own church buildings by ACNA.
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Comments

I don't know much about this.... it's actually a very useful things to have some bullet points when so much seems to be done in abbreviations and long paragraphs. But some of these points seem a little bit disingenuous.
From wikipediaing (I know, but where else can I easily get some info) it looks as though Robert Duncan (who is (I think) the arch-bishop referred to in point three) is not a member of the Episcopal church because he was thrown out. It seems odd to point out the organisations he's not a member of, without the context of organisations he was a member of.

Posted by: PeterB on Monday, 8 February 2010 at 10:17am GMT

One can only hope that a copy of this statement about the relationship between TEC and ACNA could be placed in the folder of documents for every member of the C.of E. General Synod. The false testimony given by the mover of the relevant PMM would thus be effectively ruled 'out of court' - as it ought to be.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Monday, 8 February 2010 at 10:19am GMT

Robert Duncan was not "thrown out" of TEC. By the canons of the Episcopal Church--canons he swore to abide by, both when he was ordained as a priest and consecrated as a bishop--when he affiliated himself with the Province of the Southern Cone, he voluntarily removed himself from the Episcopal Church and its discipline and worship. TEC's decision to say so publicly merely affirmed the facts on the ground.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Monday, 8 February 2010 at 12:24pm GMT

Question from England:
1. '2.2 million members': how many actually attend a TEC congregation on a weekly basis?

(Ditto ACNA & C of E, for that matter: any idea where I can find out?

2. "The Episcopal Church laity and clergy believe the Christian faith as stated in the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds": again, for TEC, ACNA & the C of E:
how many bishops & clergy actually believe in the bodily resurrection of Christ nowadays? Didn't someone think it was just 'a conjuring trick with bones?

Your servant
Elias

Posted by: Elias on Monday, 8 February 2010 at 12:48pm GMT

It is heartening to see TEC actively defending itself.

Posted by: Lionel Deimel on Monday, 8 February 2010 at 12:52pm GMT

Although these talking points are somewhat useful, they also appear self-serving. Tobias Haller's Post Card would seem more effective. The problem is the devil in in the details and most of us, even in the US are unwilling to look at the issue of what these folks actually did vs. what they claim they did and very vocally claim was done to them. It just takes too long. Ironically, it is the documents from the civil cases that reveal their strategies, their true assertions about themselves, their view of the CofE and the communion. The attorneys here are arguing about law, but what they are revealing are the presuppositions of the litigants about, church, communion and faithfullness. In the case "won" by the CANA congregations in Virginia, for example, CANA attorneys argued that there are two communions, one led out of Nigeria and one led out of Canterbury. [The legal reason for doing this was to prove that the "communions" were churches or religious societies in accordance with Virgina's legal statute.] They asserted that they belonged to the former, the Nigerian and even referenced the fact that Nigeria had removed any reference to Canterbury from its constitution. To hold on to property, then, they were more than willing to dispose of their bonds of affection. Now when, for many in ACNA, Canterbury and the CofE may again be important for property reasons or the sensibilities of their Anglophile members, they are requesting CofE recognition. TEC does not need Canterbury's approval to exist. It can exist quite well without it. Its only real reason for the relationship is true bonds of affection. By contrast, ACNA now needs the CofE, just as it needed Nigeria and Uganda and Rwanda and Kenya to provide it "cover" while it implemented its strategy, it now needs the CofE to validate it and establish its credibility. One wonders if the CofE and Canterbury is truly held with bonds of affection or, I assert, like disposable Nigeria, simply a means to an end.

Posted by: EmilyH on Monday, 8 February 2010 at 1:16pm GMT

These talking points were distributed on a number of list-servs, yet the Anglican right has portrayed them as part of a secret dcoument sent to bishops only.

Posted by: Jim Naughton on Monday, 8 February 2010 at 1:49pm GMT

Dear PeterB,
Robert Duncan has assumed the role of victim, when in fact he currently is where he himself chose to be.
When a clergy person declares he is no longer a member of The Episcopal Church, it triggers a number of our canon laws. It begins a process that lasts for months in which the facts are discovered and the person in question is given time to reconsider.
Actually, Duncan had been preparing for years to leave The Episcopal Church. He was trying to set it up so that he and his fellows could take the building and silver with them, and that meant he had to wait to trigger the canons until the very last minute. Then when he finally did so this forced the Church canonically to recognize that he had abandoned his cure, and it also forced us all into the civil courts where he thought he had a chance of winning control of the property and assets. The Episcopal Church, following its canons, found that he had abandoned his cure and the civil courts, following long-stand precedent, declared that he had to return what he had unjustly taken.
TEC knew what he was doing for many years, but resisted doing anything about it until forced to at the very last minute. I guess we just hoped he wouldn't jump. The Episcopal Church willingly accepts people with a wide variety of points of view and is loath to act against any one in particular.

Posted by: Tom Downs on Monday, 8 February 2010 at 2:11pm GMT

Elias, it was actually a Church of England bishop, David Jenkins, who coined the phrase "conjuring trick with bones."

Posted by: JPM on Monday, 8 February 2010 at 2:25pm GMT

Tom and Pat,
I have no intention to go over old issues but I am ignorant of the details. I said 'thrown out' because the wikipedia article says he was deposed, which seems to me to mean pretty much the same as thrown out. I can understand that organisations might throw people out because they've 'left' and cause and effect sometimes go in reverse order, but I'm trying to simplify these complicated issues.
As far as I can see it still seems as though the following has happened.

1) the branch of Anglicanism in the USA has undergone a doctrinal shift over the last x number of years.
2) Some of the members of the church didn't subscribe to the change in doctrine and couldn't wouldn't cope with it any longer.

The result being (I presume) that the throwing out/leaving must have happened at pretty much the same time.

The Church of England has pretty much the same split, and everyone is getting fed up with Rowan Williams because he seems happy to say and do anything to anyone to avoid the split happening on his watch.
Stick the Pope, Queen, and Gordon Brown in the mix and we're heading for a massive dent in the ability of Christians within the CofE to actually focus on living out the Gospel and explaining how Jesus loves us and calls us to repent. We're going to be too busy fighting over keys, organs, bells, and candlesticks.

Oh, I'm feeling all eeyore now.

Posted by: PeterB on Monday, 8 February 2010 at 2:45pm GMT

"These talking points were distributed on a number of list-servs, yet the Anglican right has portrayed them as part of a secret dcoument sent to bishops only."

They seem to expect TEC to behave with the same duplicity with which they operate. They are the folk of secret documents and underjanded conspiracies. I guess honesty and tranparency are invisible to them. Pathetic.

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Monday, 8 February 2010 at 2:48pm GMT

Elias,
no, David Jenkins said the resurrection was "not just a conjuring trick with bones".

Posted by: Erika Baker on Monday, 8 February 2010 at 3:00pm GMT

For purists, the actual terms used in the litigation were "branches" of the communion, but for the legal argument to work, they needed to be mutually exclusive and CANA had no problem jettisoning Canterbury for Nigeria Judge Bellow's opinion leaves no doubt that he bought this argument in helping to decide in CANA's favor.

Posted by: EmilyH on Monday, 8 February 2010 at 3:09pm GMT

Elias,
I don't have the latest figures at my fingertips, but a copy of the 2008 "Red Book" is at hand, and it lists the average Sunday attendance for the previous year at just over 800,000. This comes out to be around a third of the total membership -- from my experience, that is about right at the parish level. I don't know about the C of E, especially with its large number of "titular" members. ACNA is a complete unknown to me. Americans in general tend to be churchgoers, though by no means so much as even 20 years ago.

As to those who may doubt the resurrection -- we are talking here of official teaching, not the speculations of individuals. I think you will find odd or discordant theological opinions among the members of almost any church. But the church as a church teaches the orthodox faith, enshrined in the Catechism.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Monday, 8 February 2010 at 3:26pm GMT

Elias:

I hate to say this, but it is a serious concern that much of what people think is the Episcopal Church's theology would be represented by the likes of Jack Spong. To this day, his brethren have not made any effort to collectively criticize some (if not all) of Spong's theological positions in their capacity as bishops of the Church (especially, I must note, his controversial 12 Theses).
On the contrary, by letting them stand, it gives the impression that they not only tolerate the kind of views that Spong represents, but also hold them as well.

I hope I am mistaken, but that is what I understand has happened.

Posted by: Ren Aguila on Monday, 8 February 2010 at 3:39pm GMT

No Elias. Bishop David Jenkins said the Resurrection was "MUCH MORE than a conjuring trick with bones"

Posted by: Rev Ivan Ackeroff on Monday, 8 February 2010 at 4:21pm GMT

Bishop Duncan and ACNA were not thrown out. They walked out, and took the furniture with them.

"You shall love the Lord with all your heart, with all your mind, and with all your strength, and your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."

The Apostles' Creed and the Nicene Creed are enough.

All of Christendom failed disastrously over the last 2000 years just to keep the above simple statement of faith from the Gospel. Perhaps we should work on that before we start adding any more items to the admission exams for applicants to the Feast.

Posted by: Counterlight on Monday, 8 February 2010 at 5:25pm GMT

"how many bishops & clergy actually believe in the bodily resurrection of Christ nowadays? Didn't someone think it was just 'a conjuring trick with bones?"

Elias I think you ought to check up on that oft misreported quote from a former Bishop of Durham, who in fact said quite the opposite of what you report him to say.
If you actually know clergy who do not believe in the resurrection, (and i somehow doubt you do) then the proper thing would be to ask their bishop to have a pastoral conversation with them, rather than casting vast unhelpful inaccurate generalisations wouldn't it?

Posted by: Canon Andrew Godsall on Monday, 8 February 2010 at 6:32pm GMT

Elias:

Here are the relevant canons that define "membership" in the Episcopal Church:

According to the Constitution and Canons, Title I, Canon 17, Section 2(a) on p. 50:

All members of this Church who have received Holy Communion in this Church at least three times during the preceding year are to be considered communicants of this Church.

Title I, Canon 17, Section 3 on p. 54 goes on to say:

All communicants of this Church who for the previous year have been faithful in corporate worship, unless for good cause prevented, and have been faithful in working, praying, and giving for the spread of the Kingdom of God, are to be considered communicants in good standing.

I interpret that to mean that a "member" must have attended a Eucharist at least three times in the past year and that he or she must be recognized by their rector/vestry as actively involved in the parish.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Monday, 8 February 2010 at 6:44pm GMT

Elias--if you want another version of the Inquisition, please don't expect TEC to conduct it for you.

Posted by: Doxy on Monday, 8 February 2010 at 7:25pm GMT

David Jenkins, when Bishop of Durham said that the resurrection was NOT a conjuring trick with bones.

Posted by: Rosemary Hannah on Monday, 8 February 2010 at 7:27pm GMT

Elias, I presume you know that the phrase "conjuring trick with bones" was never used by an Anglican to describe the Resurrection. It was quite justly used as a characterization of the impoverished fundamentalist approach to the Resurrection narratives. I Corinthians 15 is a good starting-point for a more integrated vision.

Posted by: Spirit of Vatican II on Monday, 8 February 2010 at 7:31pm GMT

Even I, a non-Anglican, know that what Bp Jenkins actually said was that the Resurrection is something much more than a conjuring-trick with bones. http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/1999/sep/04/books.guardianreview10

Posted by: Spirit of Vatican II on Monday, 8 February 2010 at 7:37pm GMT

"On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures"

THAT is what the (Nicene) Creed says, Elias. THAT is what Episcopalians believe. Going beyond that to personal interpretations, is a matter of individual preference. No one's interpretation is binding on anyone else! [Or else, That Way -> to form your own sect...]

Posted by: JCF on Monday, 8 February 2010 at 7:52pm GMT

Elias,

You can find 2008 figures for the C of E and for TEC online.

http://www.cofe.anglican.org/info/statistics/2008provisionalattendance.pdf

http://www.episcopalchurch.org/documents/TEC_Membership_and_Attendance_Totals_by_Province_2008.pdf

In summary, C of E claims an Average Sunday Attendance of 960,000. TEC claims an Average Sunday attendance of 747,000.

Posted by: Scott Gunn on Monday, 8 February 2010 at 7:56pm GMT

Elias,
You asked: "Didn't someone think it was just 'a conjuring trick with bones?"

I believe he was British and said the opposite "Not just a conjuring trick with bones"...

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Monday, 8 February 2010 at 8:21pm GMT

Thank you Elias. I think a basic search will tell you that AP (perhaps deliberately) misquoted the then Bishop of Durham. Not that this has made a huge difference to the mythology.

As someone pointed out at the time (in response to a 'harrumphing' letter by Maurice Wood, quondam bishop of Norwich and prin. of Oak Hill playgroup), what +Dunelm was saying was what the theological colleges should have been teaching all along....

Posted by: Mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) on Monday, 8 February 2010 at 8:32pm GMT

Very good article in today's New York Times, of course those who should see it won't and if they did it wouldn't matter...

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/08/opinion/08lax.html

Posted by: choirboyfromhell on Monday, 8 February 2010 at 11:08pm GMT

Pat O'Neill, a slight correction. The canons define

1) "member" as one whose baptism is recorded in the parish (I.17.1.a)

2) "communicants" are "members" who have rec'd communion at least three times / year. (I.17.2.a)

3) "communicants in good standing" are those "communicants" who have also done as you cite, being faithful in attendance, working, praying, giving, etc. (I.17.3)

In addition to all of this canonical stuff, the church asks (on the parochial report) to list "active" baptized members -- which would include communicants and communicants in good standing. This gives the 2 million or thereabouts figure; which omits many of those mere "members" who may never darken the door of a church once baptized. As I noted above, the attendance figures reflect about a third of that number of "active" members, fairly consistently.

My own parish is a good example. We have about 700 "members" (people on the baptismal roll) but only 350 "active members" (people who actually come to church) -- of whom between 100 and 150 will be in attendance on any given Sunday.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Monday, 8 February 2010 at 11:14pm GMT

Ah yes, the quote from the Bishop of Durham. I stand mistaken, but as an earlier commenter posted, it makes no difference to the mythology. Worse things have been said about the resurrection.

The point is, Elias, we ought to operate on the (very charitable) presumption that people who call themselves Christian do believe in what the Creeds say, but more importantly that they put their trust ultimately in God. If that confidence in God is lacking, that is the first step toward heresy.

Posted by: Ren Aguila on Monday, 8 February 2010 at 11:47pm GMT

"TEC does not need Canterbury's approval to exist. It can exist quite well without it. Its only real reason for the relationship is true bonds of affection. -
"By contrast, ACNA now needs the CofE, just as it needed Nigeria and Uganda and Rwanda and Kenya to provide it "cover" while it implemented its strategy, it now needs the CofE to validate it and establish its credibility. One wonders if the CofE and Canterbury is truly held with bonds of
affection or, I assert, like disposable Nigeria, simply a means to an end." - EmilyH, on Monday -

I personally think, Emily, that you have just about the right interpretation of what really is the truth about Bobbie Duncan and the ACNA lot. It reminds me of the old country dance known in England as the 'Hokey Kokey', wherein one puts the left leg in, the left leg out, in out, in out, and shake it all about. You do the Hokey Kokey and you turn around - that's what it'as all about!" I suppose in duncan's case, it might be called the Hocus Pocus - where one exits as a bishop and turns into an archbishop by osmosis. Linked with Nigeria - that seems about right.

It may well be that his links with African Churches may turn around to bite Bobbie on the buttocks. Certainly, his quest for reinstatement in the Anglican Communion could never now be seen as based on any sort of 'Bonds of Affection'.
I just hope General Synod sends him on his way.
- His way - neither my way, your way, nor Yahweh!

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Tuesday, 9 February 2010 at 1:15am GMT

PeterB:

Duncan announced he was joining the Province of the Southern Cone; by so doing, he was effectively abandoning the worship and discipline of the Episcopal Church. The Church confirmed that by deposing him.

Tobias:

Thanks for the clarification; however, the material I quoted comes straight from TEC's webpage, as the answer to the FAQ "what constitutes being a member of the Episcopal Church?" See this link:

http://www.episcopalchurch.org/87702_ENG_HTM.htm

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Tuesday, 9 February 2010 at 2:28am GMT

Ren:

Or does it simply mean that the bishops of the Episcopal Church are not going to treat all theological inquiry and controversy the way the Vatican does?

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Tuesday, 9 February 2010 at 2:32am GMT

PeterB,
1) the branch of Anglicanism in the USA has undergone a doctrinal shift over the last x number of years.
Actually, not so much. The Creeds are still the Creeds. We did add the Creed of Athanasius in the last revision of the Book of Common Prayer. Biblical scholarship has kept pace. The Church was adjusting to Modernism before I was born and I'm just now trying to adjust to Post Modernism. During the 60's and 70's we saw Pentecostalism and fundamentalism creep into some parts of our Church. Along the way we've had to adjust to the common cultural changes: instead of joining the altar guild most women are working full time; divorce is common now; the Church has to compete for its members attention with a host of other possible activities, etc.. I imagine it is much the same in England.
2) Some of the members of the church didn't subscribe to the change in doctrine and couldn't/wouldn't cope with it any longer.
Actually, not so much. A significant portion of Archbishop Duncan's folks are members of congregations that left the Episcopal Church in the 19th Century. Others never were Episcopalians. In the 20's people left us when we modernized our Book of Common Prayer. (Don't know who was leaving in the 30's, 40's, and 50's, but I'm sure someone was unhappy about something.) People left in the 60's when we made it easier to remarry after divorce. In the 70's people left when we welcomed blacks and women into leadership roles. That was a busy decade because another wave left when we again modernized our Book of Prayer. Welcoming homosexuals has been a gradual process, starting in those exiting 70's, but not really gaining steam until this decade. Duncan seems to have gathered some of all of these and cobbled together his archdiocese.
These people dress their unhappiness in accusations of doctrinal change, but I think it has more to do with common cussedness and simple unwillingness to share. It’s important to remember that all of these represent just a tiny portion of our losses since the highs of the 50’s. Like the rest of the churches in North America the vast majority of our losses came when people no longer felt church was a necessary part of their lives. I understand it is much the same in the Church of England.

Posted by: Tom Downs on Tuesday, 9 February 2010 at 3:27am GMT

"This made as much sense as saying that [...] because all the apostles were Jews, only Jews could be ordained." -- Eric Lax
Anyone who uses my favorite argument is OK by me, LOL
choirboyfromhell, thank you. That's a wonderful article. And Jesus' saying about the two great commandments parallels a story told of Rabbi Hillel. Roman soldiers were fond of harassing Jews. A soldier stopped Rabbi Hillel, deciding to have some fun with the old man, and demanded he recite all the fundamental tenets of Judaism while standing on one foot. The wise rabbi stood on one foot, recited the Sh'ma and said "That which is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. Everything else is commentary." He then put his foot down in front of the stunned soldier and walked away.

Posted by: peterpi on Tuesday, 9 February 2010 at 3:30am GMT

"I hate to say this, but it is a serious concern that much of what people think is the Episcopal Church's theology would be represented by the likes of Jack Spong. To this day, his brethren have not made any effort to collectively criticize some (if not all) of Spong's theological positions in their capacity as bishops of the Church (especially, I must note, his controversial 12 Theses).
On the contrary, by letting them stand, it gives the impression that they not only tolerate the kind of views that Spong represents, but also hold them as well."

How to respond?
TEC, unlike the RCs, does not have an outfit like Ratzinger headed before he was elevated to the papacy, nor do I think the C of E does.

We don't run an Index of Banned Bad Books. We think people are capable of reading and evaluating theologocal writings themselves.

Many of the very "wild" things Jack has written were abticpated by C of E bishop Robinson's "Honest to God" - written I think about 40 years ago.

Next you will be decrying poor old dead Bishop Pike's evil influence.

Give us a break.

PS: Why is it you think only his "brethren"
should go after him? You mean his brother and sister bishops? That would be I guess brethren and sistren?

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Tuesday, 9 February 2010 at 4:17am GMT

"2) "communicants" are "members" who have rec'd communion at least three times / year. (I.17.2.a)"
This is interesting. In Sweden, where Pietist "pastors" once refused Parish members the "Supper" (which, incidentally under the State church was the key to exams, marriage, and so on), there used to be places where the Holy Eucharist was served up only once every three years, so I'm told. The average still being once a month, in areas where State sponsored Calvinism once was powerful.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Tuesday, 9 February 2010 at 4:34am GMT

Oh my, here comes the old Jack Spong canard again: Blah Blah Blah Spong Blah Blah Spong, etc.

I always find it remarkable that one single retired bishop could play such a large role in the dark Manichean world of the right wing imagination. It is amazing to ponder the imagined spectacle of thousands of quarrelsome Americans who've probably never read a single book or essay by Spong (or who have probably never even heard of him) marching in lockstep behind him like Red Guards behind Mao, and leading recalcitrant conservatives in dunce caps off to re-education camps.

Bishop Spong, who has a persecution complex the size of +Robert Duncan's, must be pleased to see so much power and influence attributed to him, a power and influence over the Episcopal Church (even the liberal wing of it) that he never really had.

Posted by: Counterlight on Tuesday, 9 February 2010 at 12:54pm GMT

Tom Downs,
When I talk about a doctrinal shift I'm talking about teaching that something is sin (and thus requiring repentance) at one stage in history and then teaching that the same thing is not sin.

Maybe I'm using the wrong terminology, if I am I apologise for confusing things.

I assume that, to use the obvious example, sexual activity outside of what people would traditionally describe as marriage (hetrosexual and monogamous) has, in the past, been considered a sin, to which the suitable response is confession (to God) and repentance.

Since such things are now being blessed, there must either have been a change in what's taught, or some doublethink going on.

Posted by: PeterB on Tuesday, 9 February 2010 at 1:12pm GMT

It's the HOKEY POKEY here in the States Fr. Smith! Funny how things get turned around in slight ways...just like some people's interpretation of Scripture....

Posted by: choirboyfromhell on Tuesday, 9 February 2010 at 1:15pm GMT

"These people dress their unhappiness in accusations of doctrinal change, but I think it has more to do with common cussedness and simple unwillingness to share. It’s important to remember that all of these represent just a tiny portion of our losses since the highs of the 50’s. Like the rest of the churches in North America the vast majority of our losses came when people no longer felt church was a necessary part of their lives. I understand it is much the same in the Church of England."-Tom Downs

Absolutely bang on, and the more we pander to the former, the more we are going to lose the latter. --Duncan and the rest of his fools just don't get it, the ship's slowly sinking and they're whining about were to steer it (into the storm, making matters worse I might add) while ignoring the fact the ballast pumps are shot.

Thank you for your kind words peterpi, I stole it from somebody else in Facebook and couldn't resist, it's that good and needs to be spread around.

Posted by: choirboyfromhell on Tuesday, 9 February 2010 at 1:23pm GMT

Uh Goran, there are still Episcopal (USA) Churches that say communion every other week...I sing in one of them!

Posted by: choirboyfromhell on Tuesday, 9 February 2010 at 1:44pm GMT

Cynthia and Pat:

Let me make myself clear: part of the role of bishops is to set boundaries. If that means having to say that a particular person's opinion, however pious, is not what the Church holds, then they can say that. And they should. There is a sense in which bishops have to be adventurous, but at the same time when it comes to what the Creeds say, for instance, they have to say that this is not how we are to understand them. Let me clarify then that what I do not mean is the kind of Inquisition that Rome still has, though under another acronym (CDF). Paradoxically, David Jenkins' remark on the resurrection, striking though it is, is one example of such a manner of dealing with potential misreadings of key beliefs of our faith.

Now what I find uncharitable about your responses are that you are unable to see things from the other person's point of view. Take Pope Benedict XVI, for example, the former Cardinal Ratzinger. If you were confronted by the specter of people heckling you as you were lecturing at university in Regensburg, and finding that what you have cherished has moved on too fast for your comfort, how would you respond?

Now I understand that there were theologically adventurous bishops in the past as there are now, and I don't see any problem with that. I would have related to these sorts of things as late as a few years back. I would like to be generous with those who are asking questions, but even without a magisterium, I must be able to say, with my sisters and brothers, that this is not what the Church teaches.

Posted by: Ren Aguila on Tuesday, 9 February 2010 at 2:46pm GMT

Thanks, Pat. Sad to see the folks in charge don't know the canons better! When I worked in the Communication office at '815' almost decades ago now, I wrote up a handy answer to this question, which was printed in the [then] _Episcopalian_ (now _Episcopal Life_). This was before the WWW.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Tuesday, 9 February 2010 at 2:59pm GMT

And here's another good hyperlink, a service where reflection in the best Anglican tradition pondered 'thought', along with listening to The Best Choir in the World.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00qg0qw/Sunday_Worship_Wisdom_From_Above/

Posted by: choirboyfromhell on Tuesday, 9 February 2010 at 4:11pm GMT

"When I talk about a doctrinal shift I'm talking about teaching that something is sin (and thus requiring repentance) at one stage in history and then teaching that the same thing is not sin."

Oh, you mean, like, say, usury? Or divorce?

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Tuesday, 9 February 2010 at 10:43pm GMT

"When I talk about a doctrinal shift I'm talking about teaching that something is sin (and thus requiring repentance) at one stage in history and then teaching that the same thing is not sin."
- PeterB, on Tuesday -

Now c'mon Peter. You never heard of dietary and Sabbath laws being broken by Jesus himself? If anyone could be accused of changing 'church' doctrine, then Jesus surely could. The categories of sin have changed over the centuries. So has the understanding of the Gospel. For instance, at one time in Church history it was not only lawful but also practicable for bishops and clergy in the Church to be married. However, Rome changed that doctrine (which it is pleased to call it) at the whim of one of its own councils - without reference to anyone else. Is that, too, sinful?

There is a new hermeneutical process coming up for consideration within the Anglican Family of Churches soon, wherein customs and doctrines can contained in the scriptures can be assessed as to their true relevance to people in the 21st century Church, Would you be willing to give it a try? Or are you wedded to the King James version of the Bible? The Holy Spirit is still working in the Church today - especially those Churches which are open to new revelation from God.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Wednesday, 10 February 2010 at 3:18am GMT

Pat,

I also mean things like gossip, slander, idolatry, speeding, theft, lying, fare-dodging, greed, and a whole lot of other things.

I'm not suggesting that Christians never sin, but when we become aware of sin in our lives we need to humble ourselves before God and repent.

I'm also not suggesting that our sin can invalidate our salvation, Jesus bore all our sin on the cross, but our response to that ought to be a life marked by repentance.

Posted by: PeterB on Wednesday, 10 February 2010 at 9:12am GMT

PeterB
Well, yes, some things are re-evaluated in the light of new understanding or a changed society, others remain sins. Goes without saying, doesn't it? Or are you suggesting that no doctrinal shift is ever appropriate, that we're not allowed to learn and to change? That we must continue to live within the moral parameters of people in a much different society thousands of years ago?

I'm quite pleased to live in a society where it's no longer acceptable to treat women as chattels and to beat your kids and I consider these to be genuine changes in moral values demanded by the same bible that was previously used to support the opposite views.

Women priests and equal rights for gay people are just the latest item in this list.
Get over it.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Wednesday, 10 February 2010 at 11:18am GMT

PeterB:

Then why is it that only the sexual "sins" seem to drive people to exclusion?

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Wednesday, 10 February 2010 at 11:36am GMT

"I'm also not suggesting that our sin can invalidate our salvation, Jesus bore all our sin on the cross, but our response to that ought to be a life marked by repentance."

'Once saved, always saved'? I grew up in Southern Baptist territory, and OSAS (or "eternal security") is a favorite doctrine of theirs. This is the first time I've read of an Anglican affirming it. It always seemed to me to be a negation of free will.

Posted by: BillyD on Wednesday, 10 February 2010 at 12:41pm GMT

Except PeterB, most of us on this blogsite don't consider being in loving committed long-term adult relationship a "sin" anymore than shoveling the snow off of our walks.

It ain't doublespeak and it ain't rocket science.

Again, (and I've said this over and over...) if we deny a greater part of God's creation the encouragement to live a stable loving and monogamous life, then the leadership of the church is guilty of abandonment of these souls to living out their lives in highway rest areas and bars, with their well known sins. Telling people to live a celibate life that most straight people have the luxury of not having to follow is hypocrisy in the highest order and you know that.

Posted by: choirboyfromhell on Wednesday, 10 February 2010 at 1:27pm GMT

Ron,

Re: dietary laws, I'm not sure what you're referring to, but am happy to be corrected if I'm missing something.

As it happens I don't think that Jesus broke the Sabbath. The Pharisees thought he did.... because he healed people. When challenged he didn't say 'Oh that was an old rule which doesn't matter any more'. On the two occasions I can think of (off the top of my head) when he was challenged he pointed out that a) God doesn't down tools on the sabbath, and b) the Sabbath is made for us, not the other way around, because the legalistic approach of the Pharisees was going beyond both the letter and the spirit of the commandment.

The Pharisees became trapped by their tradition, in exactly the same way that the Roman Catholic church has become by saying 'priests' cannot get married. Even when the Bible says they should!

I am not wedded to the KJV, but I believe that the bible is to be our authority. Whoever said the Holy Spirit was not still working in the church today? My question is, has He changed his mind about what is right and wrong? Is God's new revelation saying that what used to be bad is now good?

If 'new revelation' contradicts old revelation how do we know who to believe? Joseph Smith and Mohammed both had 'new revelation, but I'm not going to join them. I'll tell you what... let's be 'wedded' to Christ. That is, after all, the purpose of the church.

Posted by: PeterB on Wednesday, 10 February 2010 at 4:17pm GMT

"Is God's new revelation saying that what used to be bad is now good?"

God's new revelation is a new understanding of both our natural world...and of what he has told us in the past. We see only "though a glass, darkly"--and as we learn more of our world, as God gives us new abilities to understand it and ourselves, that glass clears...and we gain not a new revelation, but a new understanding of existing ones.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Wednesday, 10 February 2010 at 7:01pm GMT

"My question is, has He changed his mind about what is right and wrong? Is God's new revelation saying that what used to be bad is now good? If 'new revelation' contradicts old revelation how do we know who to believe? Joseph Smith and Mohammed both had 'new revelation, but I'm not going to join them. I'll tell you what... let's be 'wedded' to Christ. That is, after all, the purpose of the church."

That's what we need to discern. But we will not be able to discern if the subject is not allowed on the table so long as any foreign prelate objects.

The Church has "changed her mind" on a range of issues over the years, from dietary laws and the application of the laws of Moses to gentile converts (Acts) to the reconsideration of usury in the 16th century and slavery in the 17th, to the ordination of women in our own time.

The fact that the Church has "changed her mind" in the past does not necessarily mean that she should on this issue at this time. But it does mean that examining it, discerning it and living with it is consistent with authentic Christianity.

Perhaps we should adapt the methodology of Gamaliel rather than the methodology of the pre-conversion Saul.

Posted by: Malcolm+ on Wednesday, 10 February 2010 at 9:36pm GMT

"Re: dietary laws, I'm not sure what you're referring to, but am happy to be corrected if I'm missing something."

According to Mark, Jesus specifically abrogates the laws of kashrut in chapter 7.

Posted by: BillyD on Wednesday, 10 February 2010 at 9:42pm GMT

It's clear that this thread is going well off topic, and this forum is not a great place for exploring where we stand differently on these things.

How we look at these issues clearly hinges on an underlying understanding of more issues than it is possible to get through here.

My reason for posting and getting involved is to try and understand where our understanding diverges and why. Is there a more appropriate forum for this sort of discussion?

Posted by: peterB on Thursday, 11 February 2010 at 1:04am GMT

The separation between ACNA and the Episcopal church runs far deeper than feelings. It's about where we as error prone humans have ended up in our relationship with God over the centuries since the Reformation. I am an ex cradle Catholic who became an Episcopalian and finally a member of ACNA. I am not a politically leaning conservative but I do believe beyond anything else that it is Christ alone who is our Salvation. I no longer felt that the Episcopal church supported and defended this belief.

Posted by: Todd on Saturday, 24 November 2012 at 3:46am GMT

My impression is that a large minority of Episcopal clergy don't believe in God, and that the majority don't believe in post-mortem survival. Because I'm a philosophy professor, priests would "come out" to me, assuming that, being an educated person, I of course didn't believe such stuff. And that I'd approve of them for their enlightened views.

I and other educated upper middle class people who live in worlds where religion is socially unacceptable could use some moral support. Instead what we get from clergy just echoes our culture.

Of course I support the ordination of women to the priesthood, and to the episcopate. Of course I support the full acceptance of gay people and the recognition of same-sex unions. But I think I can understand the opposition's gut level objections.The Church has unreflectively bought into the ethos of the urban-coastal secular elite. Clergy I've met regard themselves as community organizers, corporate CEOs running neighborhood social facilities or quasi-therapists. They don't believe that religion in the ordinary sense--belief in the supernatural and rituals aimed at getting in touch with it--is important or even interesting.

I dropped out of the church in 1999. I don't see any place for myself, between conservatives who hold views about sexual conduct and sex roles with which I have no sympathy and liberals who don't believe in God.

Posted by: H. E. Baber on Saturday, 24 November 2012 at 11:01pm GMT
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