Monday, 28 June 2010

CofE proposes a new Faith and Order Commission

GS 1782 (PDF) contains the detailed proposals for this. A webpage version of the entire document is now available here. As the press release about the forthcoming meeting of General Synod explains:

Synod will be asked to agree the setting up of the new Faith and Order Commission, in succession to three bodies: the Doctrine Commission, the Faith and Order Advisory Group and the House of Bishops’ Theological Group. This represents a streamlining and concentration of the Church of England’s theological resources at national level.

Here are the web pages of the Faith and Order Advisory Group.

The paper explains the current situation and proposed changes this way:

1. This paper sets out a proposal that the current theological resources of the Church of England at the national level should be brought together to form a new Faith and Order Commission of the General Synod (‘the Commission’). As well as consolidating the present arrangements, the proposal offers scope for a more focused and streamlined handling of work in this area in the future.

2. The proposal has been prepared in discussion with the chairs of the Council for Christian Unity, the Faith and Order Advisory Group (‘FOAG’) and the House of Bishops’ Theological Group. The idea has also been considered by FOAG, the House of Bishops Theological Group, the Standing Committee of the House of Bishops and the House itself, and has been supported, with minor amendment, at each stage. The Archbishops’ Council has been kept informed and we endorse the proposal.

3. Theological resourcing for the Church of England at the national level is currently provided by the Doctrine Commission, the House of Bishops’ Theological Group, and FOAG.

4. The Doctrine Commission has provided extensive theological resources in the past, normally in the form of major set piece reports, published every five years or so, but has been in abeyance for several years.

5. The Theological Group advises the House of Bishops and its Standing Committee on theological issues that arise within the work of the House or the College, offering reflection on all theological aspects of the House’s agenda. This provision would continue under the new arrangements.

6. FOAG provides theological resources and reflection for the House or College of Bishops and the Council for Christian Unity and through them for the Synod. Over the years, FOAG has produced a number of reports and other documents which have been adopted by the House of Bishops and made available to the wider Church. FOAG’s main strength is in ecclesiology and ecumenical theology, though it currently also contains expertise in biblical studies, liturgy and ethics, and this sort of expertise will be needed in the new Commission. FOAG normally has several bishops among its membership. It scrutinises draft ecumenical agreements and other ecumenical and ecclesiological texts involving the Church of England. The members and the episcopal chair of FOAG are appointed by the Archbishops. It receives commissions of work from either the House of Bishops or the CCU.

7. The current proposal is for the establishment of the Commission, which will incorporate FOAG, the House of Bishops’ Theological Group and the Doctrine Commission. The Commission will therefore have a special relationship to the House of Bishops and to the Council for Christian Unity (as FOAG has now)

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 28 June 2010 at 5:11pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England | General Synod
Comments

Hmm sounds like an equivalent to Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith .... formerly known as, Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition? (B-16 must be laughing himself silly.) Also most likely, will function as a major institutional global arm of policing/punishment in the New Improved Covenant Anglicanism. Auto-da fe, please? Turn the clocks back to Paris, 1242. Our lovely fellowship of global churches will now be a special sort of Way Back Machine, absent Mr. Peadbody and his loyal boy Sherman.

Posted by: drdanfee on Monday, 28 June 2010 at 6:13pm BST

Lexicon

'the proposal offers scope for a more focused and streamlined handling of work in this area in the future.'

Meaning :

Easier for Williams, the bishops and his successors to control and manipulate.

No more difficult Reports on Christology and all that !

Williams is now about to (try) to out-do Carey.

It will not work.

But does risk draining the C of E at that level of all creativity and credibility.

Posted by: Pantycelyn on Monday, 28 June 2010 at 8:57pm BST

"Bishops...Bishops...Bishops...Bishops...Archbishops...Bishops...Bishops...bishops...Archbishops...Bishops...Bishops...Bishops..."

Just counting. Anybody see any problem with this picture? I'm just saying.

Posted by: karen macqueen+ on Monday, 28 June 2010 at 10:13pm BST

Ah, yes: time to reconfigure the CofE's F&O commission . . . at the same time the CofE's boss is firing Yanks from the AC's F&O... O_o

Posted by: JCF on Monday, 28 June 2010 at 10:44pm BST

"Hmm sounds like an equivalent to Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith..."

Another move to make us more recognizable by and palatable to Rome in the ecumenical talks. Oh so long ago it was reported that ABC Rowan's plaint was that he had such trouble explaining Anglicanism, as it has been, to Rome and the Eastern Churches. The covenant and the concentrating of power in the hands of the bishops and archbishops, and now this move, is just part of making us look more like what Rome et al are used to seeing and dealing with. None of those messy democratic processes.

Why was it so hard to say, "You are right. We are not like you, except in that we worship Christ Jesus as you do and we confess the creeds as you do. This is who we are - a loose federation in love, of a whole passel of provinces, each responding to local conditions and bound together by common prayer and love. What part of that don't you understand? This is who we are. Deal with it."

No, instead, ABC R comes to TEC's house of bishops and berates them for not exercising the domineering "charism" of bishop over us lowly priests and laity. Oh I don't know why I bother. Rant over.

Posted by: Lois Keen on Tuesday, 29 June 2010 at 1:35am BST

"Hmm sounds like an equivalent to Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith...."

drdanfee, my thought exactly - the Anglican Inquisition. One hopes the penalty for wrong faith and order will not be burning.

Posted by: Grandmère Mimi on Tuesday, 29 June 2010 at 3:05am BST

"In 2008 FOAG combined with the C of E's House of Bishops Theological Group to produce Women in the Episcopate? An Anglican - Roman Catholic Dialogue which includes reflections on Cardinal Walter Kasper's address to the Bishops of the Church of England." - New Faith & Order Commission -

If Cardinal Kasper has anything to do with this new F.& O. Commission, is it not likely to become heavily weighted with current Roman Catholic Dogma? It is already well-known that the Pope is never going to approve of women priests, so how possibly could Cardinal Kasper help the Church of England to better understand the basic inclusive theology of such a move?

Surely, the Pope's movement on the raising up of Anglican Ordinariates in England ought to be enough to tell the English Bishops that there will never be any convergence on the understanding of sacerdotal ministry, so why bother asking Roman Catholics to be on a Faith & Order Commission that cannot agree on what constitutes valid ministry?
(Roman Catholics do not believe we have a valid male priesthood - never mind female clergy).

Or is there some esoteric movement in the offing which will unite the Church of England & Rome - but without the other Provinces of the Communion?

If this is indeed the case, then perhaps it is time for the rest of us to make a joint approach to the Porvoo Churches, and other Churches which are open to ALL people - regardless of gender, race, nationality, or sexual orientation. They would already have a 'Faith & Order Commission' - given by Jesus Christ himself in the Gospels.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Tuesday, 29 June 2010 at 4:03am BST

Anything which means there is more rather than less theology being explored will be a good thing. A single, focussed forum which brings together the breadth of theological positions in the Church, with a brief to make our discussions more theologically grounded and more sensitive to the range of understandings, might well be fruitful and helpful.

Posted by: Philip Hobday on Tuesday, 29 June 2010 at 9:14am BST

Theology is becoming ever more diverse, from a variety of liberal and conserving postmodernisms through to all kinds of Christological, theological, spiritual led forms, interfaith emphases - it is just all choice.

Against this the Church of England is deluding itself into a more centralised, more Anglican Covenant friendly, hierarchy.

The world of business realises that hierarchy is checked by devolved specialists. The Church of England has theological resources due to its privileged past and its hang-over in the universities, and yet it is going in precisely the opposite direction in its new top-down imposition of purple.

Posted by: Pluralist on Tuesday, 29 June 2010 at 12:29pm BST

Regarding the Inquisition and the Church of England:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DFyuhTwi_OE

Posted by: Malcolm+ on Wednesday, 30 June 2010 at 6:25am BST

Maybe I'm naive, but this sounds a bit like the Faith, Worship, and Ministry Committee of the Anglican Church of Canada, which (though at times a bit frustrating to belong to, as I remember from my days as a member 1998-2001) is not particularly sinister. Surely most provinces of the Anglican Communion have something similar?

Posted by: Tim Chesterton on Wednesday, 30 June 2010 at 8:32am BST

Tim, re the "Faith Worship Ministry Committee" (Canada) not being sinister. You are absolutely correct. They are not.I'm sure they have good intentions. However, the committee seems to be somewhat dysfunctional and out of its depth. It isn't just members like your good self, past and present, who are frustrated with them. Hopefully budget restraint will reduce their impact.

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Wednesday, 30 June 2010 at 1:10pm BST

One of the most sinister and very unsatisfactory aspects of this, is that, The Doctrine Commission is to be absorbed into the new body; and in practice, that effectively means disbanded. It won't be there to think creatively, reflect and challenge.

It just won't be anywhere.

Posted by: Pantycelyn on Wednesday, 30 June 2010 at 9:06pm BST

One of the very first things the new 'Faith & Order Commission' will need to deal with - if only for the sake of its own integrity - is this one question:

"Is the Ordination of Women a matter of Faith & Order"?

If it is, and women are considered eligible for ordination to priesthood (which has already taken place in the C.of E.) and episcope, then integrity demands that the Church of England get on with it, and not dally!

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Thursday, 1 July 2010 at 12:12am BST

Re: Father Ron Smith on Tuesday, 29 June 2010 at 4:03am BST

Oh Fr. Smith, Cardinal Kasper is now so much yesterday's man:

http://wdtprs.com/blog/2010/07/the-retiring-card-kasper/#comments

and now we papists will have a real "Benedictine" ecumenist, and so no more pussyfooting around, I hope.

Posted by: William Tighe on Thursday, 1 July 2010 at 4:14pm BST

Sorry; on my last posting I meant to include this link as well on recent and forthcoming papal appointments (all of which are as sweet music to my ears), but I suffered a lapsus digitorum:

http://ncronline.org/blogs/ncr-today/triumph-theologians-over-diplomats-vatican

Posted by: William Tighe on Thursday, 1 July 2010 at 4:29pm BST

Regarding FOAG, and theory versus practice, I am reminded of the line from the venerable Monty Python, "nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition."

Posted by: Jerry Hannon on Thursday, 1 July 2010 at 5:25pm BST
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