Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Anglican Covenant - Ten Reasons Why Not

From the No Anglican Covenant Blog:

Ten Reasons Why the Proposed Anglican Covenant Is a Bad Idea

  1. The proposed Anglican Covenant would transform a vibrant, cooperative, fellowship of churches into a contentious, centralized aggregation of churches designed to reduce diversity and initiative. The Covenant would institutionalize the “Instruments of Unity” as never before and would give extraordinary power to the newly enhanced Standing Committee.
  2. Under the Covenant, churches will be inhibited from undertaking new evangelical or mission initiatives for fear of offending other Communion churches and becoming embroiled in the disciplinary mechanisms set up by the Covenant.
  3. The centralization of authority envisioned by the proposed Covenant is cumbersome, costly, and undemocratic. In an era in which power and authority are being distributed in many organizations in order to achieve greater efficiency, responsiveness, and accountability, what has been proposed for the Communion seems out of step with current thinking regarding large organizations.
  4. Although the proposed Covenant is offered as a mechanism to achieve unity, its immediate effect is to create divisions. Churches that cannot or will not adopt the Covenant automatically become second-class members of the Communion. The inevitable application of the disciplinary provisions of Section 4 will likely further distinguish between “full” members of the Communion and less-than-full members.
  5. The proposed Covenant is dangerously vague. Sections 1–3 of the Covenant, which are seen by many as innocuous, leave much room for divergent interpretations. Section 4 makes it all too easy for any church to “ask questions” about the actions of another, which may then be subjected to unspecified “relational consequences.” There is no sure measure of what behaviour is likely to be acceptable, no checks provided against unreasonable complaints, and no guarantee that “consequences” (i.e., punishments) meted out will be commensurate with the alleged offence.
  6. The proposed Covenant runs counter to the gospel imperative of not judging others. It is all too easy for Communion churches to complain about the sins of their sister churches while ignoring or diverting attention from their own failures to live out the Gospel.
  7. The proposed Covenant encourages premature ending of debate. Rather than taking the advice of Gamaliel (Acts 5:38–39) and seeing how controversial matters play out, the Covenant evidences an eagerness to “settle” them. This is an unfortunate temptation to which the Communion seems subject. It has too quickly concluded that “homosexual practice” is “incompatible with Scripture” and that adopting the Covenant is “the only way forward,” neither of which is either intuitively obvious or universally agreed upon.
  8. The notion that we need to make “forceful” the “bonds of affection” is fundamentally flawed. If we need force and coercion to maintain relationships between Communion churches, there is no true affection, and the very foundation of the proposed Covenant is fraudulent.
  9. The proposed “Covenant” seems more like a treaty, contract, or instrument of surrender than a covenant. In the ecclesiastical context, a covenant is usually thought of as an agreement undertaken in joy and in an atmosphere of trust—baptismal and marriage covenants come to mind. The proposed Anglican Covenant, on the other hand, is advanced in an atmosphere of anger, fear, and distrust, and with the threat of dire consequences if it is not adopted.
  10. The proposed Covenant is not the only way forward; there are better options. The Anglican Communion would be better served by remaining a single-tier fellowship of churches, allowing disaffected members to leave if they must, while keeping the door open for their return. Any alternative position cedes too much power to those willing to intimidate by threatening to walk away.
Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 15 December 2010 at 11:09pm GMT | TrackBack
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Comments

Something wrong with your numbering Simon, ten or nine reasons?

That apart, the Covenant as currently proposed will seal permanent schism between three factions:

First, those who will sign out of weariness, lack of real knowledge of what is being proposed or simple loyalty to Rowan Williams. This would include the General Synod of the C of E.

Secondly, those who can't sign up as the Covenant is designed to punish or ostracise them. This includes the North Americans and perhaps Provinces like Brazil.

Thirdly, those who won't sign up either because they don't think the Covenant is 'strong' enough or because their bluff has been called. This includes the Equatorial African Provinces and the schismatic Americans such as ANCA together with some GAFCON Provinces most of whom have already declared that they will not sign.

Far better to leave things as they are and let the Covenant be as Bishop John Saxbee said in his speech to the General Synod simply an ever ongoing process of discussion.

That's what Anglicanism is. We are not and have never been a 'confessional' Church of the permanently divided kind that the Covenant would make us.

Posted by: penwatch on Thursday, 16 December 2010 at 12:04am GMT

Simon, thank you. Those ten reasons are sound, solid, and right on!
No Covenant! No how, no way!

Posted by: peterpi on Thursday, 16 December 2010 at 12:43am GMT

"Ten Reason Why Not" is an example of truly excellent journalism. I commend Thinking Anglicans for publishing this insightful piece. It is all the more disturbing that the Archbishop of Canterbury would try to promote the Covenant after reading this. It is profoundly disturbing in that it appears to follow the Roman Catholic model of top down authority that stems from a central Teaching Office. The Roman Catholic model has failed and the Latin Rite Churches are in deep crisis as a result of this way of being Church. The Covenant as described in these paragraphs, if in-acted, would try to achieve the same goals that Roman Catholicism has attempted but failed to achieve. Control. This imperial model of Church would be alien to Jesus and all that Jesus tried to teach those who would listen. The flaws of this "Covenant" are glaring!

Posted by: Chris Smith on Thursday, 16 December 2010 at 2:42am GMT

You've neglected to include #10.

Posted by: Malcolm French+ on Thursday, 16 December 2010 at 4:27am GMT

Amen and Amen!

Posted by: JCF on Thursday, 16 December 2010 at 5:36am GMT

How can this site continue to call itself 'thinking' if it's willing to repost without comment utterly baseless accusations regarding the covenant. These ten 'reasons' demonstrate as much logic as those found on creationist websites.

Posted by: Tom on Thursday, 16 December 2010 at 6:12am GMT

Numbering now fixed.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 16 December 2010 at 8:36am GMT

Yes, many of the claims here are ..... well, shall we say a little above fanciful!

But 1,5,8,and 10 have (without the exaggerations) my head nodding.

For me, a Covenant enthusiast, this awful document is a creature of its time a veritable Treaty of Versailles (criticised as both too harsh and not harsh enough, yet leading to a deeper disaster) - and what I object to most strongly is the great and lasting Covenant it robs us of.

That Covenant I hope for may be a generation or two away - but with the passing of this mean thing the possibility of framing those "bonds of affection" in a way that fuses us in our love for God and each other and the pursuit of his kingdom - passes away.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Thursday, 16 December 2010 at 9:00am GMT

Tom,

The logic was sound. You just don't like the realities highlighted. Think before you post about others' thinking.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Thursday, 16 December 2010 at 9:03am GMT

Would Tom like to expand on his assertion? I think we must be reading very different documents. The Ten Reasons don't make baseless accusations, they draw inferences from the text of the covenant - and to my mind, very reasonable ones.

Posted by: Jeremy Pemberton on Thursday, 16 December 2010 at 10:09am GMT

Tom
maybe you can thinkingly engage with the reasons then and explain why they're wrong instead of just dismissing them? Because to unthinking, uncritical me they look quite compelling.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 16 December 2010 at 10:09am GMT

To penwatch: I hope you are not suggesting that ACNA is legitimate by saying that they would not agree to sign. They are not being asked to sign. They have no standing nor reason to sign and they are schismatic. It's bad enough that Duncan hangs around at the Gafcon meetings and calls himself an archbishop, but this doesn't automatically entitle him and his crew to anything.

Posted by: Adam Armstrong on Thursday, 16 December 2010 at 1:27pm GMT

'How can this site continue to call itself 'thinking' if it's willing to repost without comment utterly baseless accusations regarding the covenant'.

Firstly surely it is the purpose of this site to post exactly this sort of information so that those of us who wish can make our own comments.

Secondly, it is exactly this sort of dogmatic non-argument which alarms those of us who actually are thinking about what the Covenant could mean. Tom clearly wishes to see no argument or discusion about the need for the Covenant itself and one can only infer that he would also wish the Covenant to be used to close down any discussion of the GLTB issue within the church, which, of course, is what the whole things in about.

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Thursday, 16 December 2010 at 2:00pm GMT

A vibrant, co-operative fellowship? That's not the Anglican church I recognise from reading TA.

ref: 6, it's easy to pick and choose the 'gospel imperative' which most suits our argument. There's another 'gospel imperative', which crops up regularly in the New Testament, of not tolerating false teaching and divisive leadership.

Posted by: David Keen on Thursday, 16 December 2010 at 3:18pm GMT

So Tom, what exactly are your objections aside from invective?

Posted by: Counterlight on Thursday, 16 December 2010 at 4:33pm GMT

This is what I call inspired. Thank you.

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Thursday, 16 December 2010 at 4:54pm GMT

Amen and well done

It doesn't take rocket science to know that when someone is designing a hammer, they intend to use it as a hammer. The covenant is about giving some souls a hammer because they haven't got mechanisms to control that which they don't like or under stand.

How many times did we hear Lambeth 1.10 being touted as a disciplinary tool against the US Episcsopal Church, even though they weren't present and never participated in the document's development or endorsement? The same thing will happen with this document. Some will sign, and then state that others are obliged to its rulings. No. Only those that sign will be obliged.

Tyrants should also recall that when they foist draconian measures upon the masses, the masses eventually tell them to sod off. Plus the tyrants and their sycophants are discredited for even contemplating or using such strategies in the first place.

It's a pyrrhic victory to "win" when one has used deceipt or duress. Satan learnt that the hard way. The soul that overthrew Satan and resurrected Jesus doesn't have a problem reminding Jesus that he was resurrected, and the terms of his covenant were not set by himself. Jesus should contemplate that if he plays by Satan's rules, then he will suffer the same fate as Satan. No problem having two disinherited planetary guardians, and no problem replacing either this planet or its occupants and leaving both Jesus and Satan with no legitimate dwelling at this level of Creation. Heaven can be cut off, just like Hell.

Posted by: Cheryl Va. on Thursday, 16 December 2010 at 5:12pm GMT

This is the problem, and it predicates the following points in a false way: "The proposed Anglican Covenant would transform a vibrant, cooperative, fellowship of churches into..." But we do not at present have such a thing, whose tranformation by an evil covenant would do this or that. We have a broken communion in which a major percentage of provinces are out of communion with TEC. If there is a vibrant, numerically sizeable fellowship, it is presumably the vast bloc represented by the Global South. What is the "vibrant, cooperative, fellowship of churches" that this statement refers to? I agree with Tom that this is not a 'thinking' statement at all. It is at best 'wishful thinking,' and at worst, misleading and falsely predicated.

Posted by: cseitz on Thursday, 16 December 2010 at 6:24pm GMT

"We are not and have never been a 'confessional' Church"

... apart, of course, from the creeds, the Prayer Book and the Thirty-Nine Articles, all of which are C of E doctrine (Canon A5), to which all clergy give assent. Now read the preface to the articles: they are to be taken only in their "literal and grammatical sense" !

It seems to me that we have two / three completely separate churches in the C of E (reformed catholic (ie Anglican); liberal catholic (eg Bp Saxbee); and would-be-Roman catholic (flying-bishops-R-us)). Similarly, there are three communions all calling themselves Anglican / Episcopal, drifting further away from each other.

I wonder if it would it be better to formalise the arrangement, with a liberal catholic communion based around TEC, a reformed one based around Canterbury (or possibly Kampala!) and a Roman one based around, well, Rome.

Still thinking...
Your servant
Cornelius

Posted by: Cornelius on Thursday, 16 December 2010 at 6:30pm GMT

I wish the contrivers of this anti-covenant list hadn't started off on a false note: "The proposed Anglican Covenant would transform a vibrant, cooperative, fellowship of churches into a contentious, centralized aggregation of churches." No, the transformation has already occurred, and defeating the covenant won't put the communion together again. (The centralization isn't formal as yet, but the Archbishop and some Primates act as though it were.) "The historic church" is as much a fiction as "the Anglican Communion," both reflections of Empire. The Roman Empire, which evolved into The West, and the American Empire, which supplanted the British one, are breaking down. Whatever follows must start from NOW. Rogue bishops and papal-like (lite?) pretenders are wreckage of an imperial past.

Posted by: murdoch on Thursday, 16 December 2010 at 6:47pm GMT

Just to correct any misapprehensions that may arise from my participation in another thread running at the moment, let me say I wholeheartedly agree with this set of 10 reasons, and especially with penwatch's discussion of them.

Edward Prebble

Posted by: Edward Prebble on Thursday, 16 December 2010 at 7:09pm GMT

cseitz "...a vibrant, cooperative, fellowship of churches into... But we do not at present have such a thing."

Well, I don't know about that. I come across many Europeans in the course of travels across the continent, and they are often well-educated young professionals, and often (ex-)Roman Catholics too, who long for the sort of vibrant lead the Episcopal Church in particular has taken to be followed by the traditional churches in Europe, which are dying fast at the moment for lack of engagement with the realities of European society and thought.

Posted by: Fr Mark on Thursday, 16 December 2010 at 8:16pm GMT

"The proposed Anglican Covenant would transform a vibrant, cooperative, fellowship of churches into..." But we do not at present have such a thing"

I think the model, cseitz, is Lambeth '08, and its Indaba (seemed reasonably "vibrant, cooperative" to me!)

If some wish to exclude themselves---as they did then---that's not the fault of those who DO choose to fellowship!

Posted by: JCF on Thursday, 16 December 2010 at 9:28pm GMT

Cornelius - the Declaration of Assent and the Preface to it in the Church of England is a fairly layered document - and it was constructed that way so that clergy of all colours can make it without it only being interpretable in one way. And even with this Preface which is very open to a number of different interpretations I think it is true to say that the Church of England is not a confessional church as the phrase has generally been understood - there is no particular Credo that is peculiar to the C of E that we have developed and held to be the expression of our understanding ofthe faith. Evangelical bodies inside the c of E have them - like the CEEC. But the church as a whole doesn't.

Posted by: Jeremy Pemberton on Thursday, 16 December 2010 at 10:31pm GMT

I am trying to be factual, not antagonistic. The Communion is only at present a broken reality, with the main lines of Anglicanism globally out of communion with TEC and others. Of course a whole lot of anglicans like each other and that is very nice. But it is not the 80Mil member Communion but instead represents something like 20% of that. That is fine. But to speak of something vibrant and cooperative that is at the same time an Anglican Communion under threat by a covenant is simply false. Others note this above. The 'vibrant and cooperative fellowship' is TEC and her allies, on the one side; and a Communion along the lines such as existed prior to 2003. These have now come apart. The covenant has nothing to do with that. Instead, it is an effort to see what could be salvaged. If it is the Communion as before, then this is not something the 'TEC and allies' want. Again, that is fine. But we are not losing a vibrant and cooperative Communion of churches globally. That is already lost.

Posted by: cseitz on Friday, 17 December 2010 at 12:14am GMT

JCF and Fr Mark -- if fourteen provinces do not attend the Dublin meeting, then the 'indaba' idea will have shown itself unsustainable. Don't complain about the messenger. These are now facts on the ground. My concern is that the 'Ten Against' idea only fantasizes about what are actual realities in the world-wide communion. The Lambeth Conference is now in the rear-view mirrot. Of course there can be a 'vibrant fellowship of cooperation' amongst liberals. But they will be small in number vis-a-vis the wider Communion, and to speak of them as the status quo is misleading at best. The vast majority of the Communion will not 'exclude itself.' It will simply carry on as before.

Posted by: cseitz on Friday, 17 December 2010 at 12:58am GMT

It has been said that there is no such thing as unique Anglican doctrine or teaching. There is only Catholic teaching that Anglicans maintain in its Creeds.

Posted by: Richard Grand on Friday, 17 December 2010 at 1:34am GMT

"... vibrant, cooperative, fellowship(s)" do exist in the Anglican Communion from diocese to diocese, even between and amongst dioceses which disagree. The members still work together in mission.

Posted by: Grandmère Mimi on Friday, 17 December 2010 at 1:55am GMT

I would have thought that the issue is not as such what needs fixing, but that the Covenant is the means to create a greater problem than exists at present. The Anglican Communion is balkanising, but all the Covenant will do is make that formal. If the thing is spinning apart, the notion of banging in a few formal nails at the centre to hold it together just leads to it flying apart with more force. The Covenant will make no difference to the groupings or the exclusive confessing element at one end and the socially inclusive and a little more relaxed theological element at the other.

One of the main effects of the Covenant will be to freeze the Church of England and other signatories into a kind of moribund institutionalism from which it is afraid to move, while others continue in their movements regardless.

Posted by: Pluralist on Friday, 17 December 2010 at 5:38am GMT

It's vibrant and cooperative APART from the parts that want to be in absolute control - those parts being self-styled as "orthodox." APART from those politically-motivated, dirty-trick "orthodox" who premeditated a covenant to silence all opposition, we were just fine. That being the case, perhaps the problem isn't those who change their views, but those who can't. That's atrophy, and it's unhealthy. In some cases, it becomes septic and needs to be removed.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Friday, 17 December 2010 at 5:55am GMT

Mr Seitz:

"The Communion is only at present a broken reality, with the main lines of Anglicanism globally out of communion with TEC and others."

So we're back to numbers again. I can only presume that is why you consider the Global South to be "the main lines of Anglicanism." Funny, I would have thought the main line of Anglicanism must, perforce, run through Canterbury...which is still in full communion with TEC.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Friday, 17 December 2010 at 11:31am GMT

cseitz: if some people won't go to meetings or receive communion from others, then they're just a few grown men exercising their right to be a bit childish from time to time. That's one of the freedoms people have, and even that is a better sign of vibrancy than a forced conformism, isn't it?

Posted by: Fr Mark on Friday, 17 December 2010 at 12:44pm GMT

"if fourteen provinces do not attend the Dublin meeting"

cseitz, it's not 14 provinces that won't be in Dublin, it's 14 angry primates who are threatening not to come. Frankly, I don't understand their posturing and naked hostility. It seems to get them nothing.

They should know that "les absents ont toujours tort."

Posted by: Nom de Plume on Friday, 17 December 2010 at 2:28pm GMT

Yes there is a lot of anger and mistrust in the relationship now but that is part of being dynamic and vibrant. What is not dynamic or vibrant is a church ruled by a central authority that dictates thought and eliminates conflict (cf. Rome.)

As to cooperative, consider the many ministries of TEC in Sudan. Do we agree with the Sudanese? Not always and some of the disagreements are sharp edged. But(!) we do cooperate and we do ministry together.

I think those of you who object to the first point are making Dr. Williams' and Rome's fundamental error -- thinking that answering to Jesus's wish that we all be one requires that we have one view of everything.

What we are arguing for in opposing the mind control inherent in the judicial covenant is a one-ness that permits varied views. Call it, "Anglicanism."

FWIW
jimB
(Member of the NACC group)

Posted by: Jim Beyer on Friday, 17 December 2010 at 2:35pm GMT

So we have those who have not changed their views on Christian marriage, and those who moved forward with a new revelation. This is uncontroversial. If the former wish to covenant and remain a Communion, and the latter do not, what is the problem with that? No one is being coerced. The name calling could cease. The vibrant and cooperative could be that, each in their own realms. Those who dissent from the Communion and its teaching would be honest dissenters (see Turner's recent essay). But to say that the covenant will destroy a vibrant fellowship is nonsense. At most, it could clarify what the character of that is, as two different views on the matter see it.

Posted by: cseitz on Friday, 17 December 2010 at 2:59pm GMT

cseitz "...a vibrant, cooperative, fellowship of churches into... But we do not at present have such a thing."

A lot of us do have such a thing (yes, even, and especially, in TEC!). Dr. Seitz evidently does not, and it would seem that he is intent to keep it that way. Perhaps his definition of "a vibrant, cooperative, fellowship of churches" is "churches that agree with me."

Posted by: Bill Moorhead on Friday, 17 December 2010 at 3:02pm GMT

"Of course there can be a 'vibrant fellowship of cooperation' amongst liberals."

As opposed to those who believe that it is their God-given right to rule.

Posted by: Counterlight on Friday, 17 December 2010 at 3:13pm GMT

"We are not and have never been a 'confessional' Church" ... apart, of course, from the creeds, the Prayer Book and the Thirty-Nine Articles, all of which are C of E doctrine (Canon A5), to which all clergy give assent. Now read the preface to the articles: they are to be taken only in their ‘literal and grammatical sense’" !—Cornelius

The Articles of Religion have never been very popular in the American Church. In the Proposed Prayer Book of 1785, the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England were dissected and cut down to twenty. In the first authorized Prayer Book of 1789 they were left out altogether. The question of their reinstatement proved to be a subject of considerable debate within the American Church.

Eventually, a modified set of 38 Articles were included in the Prayer Book of 1801. No bishop, priest, deacon or lay person in TEC has ever had to “affirm” or “assent to” the Articles. Never. Today, the Articles have been removed to the “historical documents” section at the end of the Prayer Book of 1979, where they belong!

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY

Posted by: Kurt Hill on Friday, 17 December 2010 at 4:04pm GMT

Indeed Amen.

Was the synod so deaf to these reasons, or simply afraid to offend Rowan.

Wghat is the new synod, a bunch of yes persons. God forbid!!!

Posted by: Fr John on Friday, 17 December 2010 at 4:06pm GMT

Mr Seitz:

"The vibrant and cooperative could be that, each in their own realms. Those who dissent from the Communion and its teaching would be honest dissenters (see Turner's recent essay)."

IOW, we can all agree to cooperate with those we already cooperate with. In some areas, this is called "preaching to the choir." Cooperation starts from disagreement, not agreement...if we're all in agreement, there's nothing to cooperate about, is there?

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Friday, 17 December 2010 at 7:52pm GMT

cseitz: "So we have those who have not changed their views on Christian marriage, and those who moved forward with a new revelation. This is uncontroversial."

But, with respect, this happened (in the 60s/70s?) when mainline Protestant America accepted remarriage after divorce, and European Christians still held to the traditional teaching... yet here we are decades later, and they managed not to break communion over the issue, in fact, the Europeans even, by and large, came round to the American innovation.

Posted by: Fr Mark on Friday, 17 December 2010 at 8:56pm GMT

"with the main lines of Anglicanism globally out of communion with TEC"

I thought we were having a conversation, cseitz? It seems you---representing the "main line"?---have instead set yourself up to TALK DOWN at those of us in the (infernal?) depths of TEC.

"The Lambeth Conference is now in the rear-view mirro[r]. Of course there can be a 'vibrant fellowship of cooperation' amongst liberals."

You're saying there were only "liberals" at Lambeth? I wish! [Also recall, one bishop---whom you'd probably term a "liberal", though he wouldn't---was *forcibly excluded*] Maybe then we would have, once and for all, gotten rid of those moratoria: y'know, the ones that "changed...views on Christian marriage" by the INNOVATION of ***marriage as church-defining/-dividing article of faith***???

Nevertheless, I'm glad (looking "in the rear-view mirror") that ALL who came to Lambeth '08, did come (despite the illiberality of so many). As a Communion, we're stronger from the DIALOGUE of so many diverse view points (via Indaba). Well at least that's my POV, from outside "the main lines of Anglicanism." :-/

Posted by: JCF on Friday, 17 December 2010 at 11:28pm GMT

"The Communion is only at present a broken reality, with the main lines of Anglicanism globally out of communion with TEC and others."

- cseitz -

It all depends on what you call 'the main lines of Anglicanism' really, doesn't it, Mr Seitz?

I think you really refer here to this entity:

"Those in the network of Anglican Mainstream are committed to the traditional biblical teaching on marriage, the family and human sexuality. Anglican Mainstream International is a coalition"

To give one's own organisation a fine-sounding title such as 'Anglican Mainstream' does not, per se, mean that the title truly reflects the breadth of understanding that would be needed in order to convey the true reality.

For instance, your own organisation in North America, which you, and three other people, are pleased to call 'A.C.I., (the 'Anglican Communion Institute'), does not entitle you to pretend to represent the whole of the Anglican Communion! You represent 3 people and a web-site - that is all.

For you to assert that the conservatives of the Communion represent true Anglicanism is no more valid than to assert that we liberals represent the whole of the Anglican spectrum. Let's get a sense of proportion here.

And to seriously contend that the likes of the Ugandan, Rwandan and Nigerian Prelates of the Communion - with their overt homophobic theology giving rise to intentional schism in the Church - could ever represent the traditional Anglican ethos of Unity in Diversity is a travesty.

We are indeed a 'broken Communion' of Churches, but the activity of intentional schism does nothing to help that reality.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Friday, 17 December 2010 at 11:43pm GMT

You've forgotten Point #11, the most important of all: Nobody cares.

Posted by: Nixon is Lord on Saturday, 18 December 2010 at 1:55am GMT

"Main lines of Anglicanism" -- would those be scripture, tradition, and reason?

Posted by: JeremyB on Saturday, 18 December 2010 at 4:15am GMT

"But, with respect, this happened (in the 60s/70s?) when mainline Protestant America accepted remarriage after divorce..."

Back up at least a century and a half. It all began when Western societies began changing the traditional understanding of marriage and replaced it with the love match. The notion that the partners in marriage choose each other, rather than having the choice made for them, is the beginning of all the other changes in marriage, including divorce and remarriage.

Now, if we can just go back to the good old days when marriage had nothing to do with love, and everything to do with property....

(And procreation of legitimate offspring was all about the proper and orderly intergenerational transfer of property, not about continuing the species, which would happen anyway.)

Posted by: Nom de Plume on Saturday, 18 December 2010 at 4:20am GMT

Why would anyone wish to be in communion with GAFCON or ACNA or Uganda or Nigeria?

Sorry, but numbers don't make up for bad teaching, violence, degradation and hatred. It's time to cut them off cleanly. We have nothing to gain from continuing with them, and isolating the violence forces it to turn back on and consume itself.

Have nothing to do with these people - let them, including those who come here to pretend reasoned argument, be as tax collectors and sinners to you. Call them to repentance, share food with them if you wish, but don't treat them as part of the faithful.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Saturday, 18 December 2010 at 5:15am GMT

Or, the eleventh reason might be that the power of clergy(men) will increase while laymen and clergy and lay women will be on the margins of decision-making, as I mentioned in another thread. The comment comes from WATCH:

Posted by: Sara MacVane on Saturday, 18 December 2010 at 11:58am GMT

Is this 'Thinking Anglicans' or something else? An echo chamber of liberal outrage? The point was very basic. Let the Communion remain as before, and those who wish to dissent and move forward with a New Truth do so unencumbered by association with the vast bulk of the Communion. Many of us do not want a surrogate called 'Lutheran World Federation' of national churches for anglicans. 'Mr Seitz'

Posted by: cseitz on Saturday, 18 December 2010 at 4:51pm GMT

cseitz: "Let the Communion remain as before, and those who wish to dissent and move forward with a New Truth do so unencumbered by association with the vast bulk of the Communion"

Tush and pish, cseitz: remember that "new truth" could have been the phrase to denominate any of the many steps forward in recent centuries which you no doubt accept. Caricature can be far more unthinking than "liberal outrage" (if only there were in fact some of that in the C of E!).

Posted by: Fr Mark on Saturday, 18 December 2010 at 9:54pm GMT

"the vast bulk of the Communion"

Meaning, the "vast bulk" so evident in some of its bishops!

But seriously: so it all comes down to the numbers game doesn't it, 'Mr Seitz' (Nevermind that there's no Communion-wide means to DEMOCRATICALLY discern its intent).

We *get* that "The point was very basic": GAFCON/FOCA/ACNA (et al acronyms)-style SPIN.

We're just not buying it---your "New Truth".

Posted by: JCF on Sunday, 19 December 2010 at 3:27am GMT

Dr. Seitz, I'm so very sorry that this little community has not managed to come up with a title soe profoundly presumptuous as the Anglican Communion Institute, but your refusal to have any honest intellectual engagement hardly gives you any room to judge who may or may not be a "Thinking Anglican."

The reality, Christopher, is that despite the ravings of the far right, there has never been a central authority in international Anglicanism. From the consecration of Scottish bishops in 1610 to the consecration of American bishops in the late 1700s, the Church of England treated their coreligionists in Scotland and the United States with benign neglect. When the Lambeth Conferences first came to be, it was expressly stated that they should have no juridical authority - and that has been repeatedly reasserted despite several attempts at centralization. The Anglican Consultative Council (as it's name makes clear) is about consultation. The Primates meeting was clearly never intended to act the Curia.

Yet here we are, with a proposed Covenant that proposes to impose "relational consequences" should any national church exercise its autonomy in a manner that someone may not like. Canon Perry (among others) has done an excellent job of setting forth the canonical fraud at the centre of the Covenant process, as well as the procedural star chamber that will be the inevitable result.

Yet, along with the rest of the Anglican right and the Lambeth establishment, all you can offer is an unsubstantiated denial larded over with a large dose of insult and invective.

Rumour has it, Christopher, that you are half-assed bright. I'd really like to see that set forth.

Posted by: Malcolm French+ on Sunday, 19 December 2010 at 3:42am GMT

I too found many of Mr. Seitz comments disingenuous. The facts "on the ground" regarding the implications of this truly bad idea of a "Covenant" glaring as it means the disenfranchisement of women and the glbt community, as well as the potential for violence against these two groups should such a misogynistic and homophobic mindsets become "official" within the Anglican Communion. This is NOT the way forward. It is the way BACKWARD. Lord Carey's comments must be seen for what they are. There is a mean bone at play here and it is dangerous. Real people are hurt by this proposed "Covenant" and Mr Seitz seems to want to own a franchise on the word "honest" and that is unacceptable if we are to communicate with each other on such important issues such as the role of women and the glbt community within the framework of the Church. By Church, I mean all Christian communities, regardless of particular affiliation. Intelligent discussion requires opening minds and hearts and leaving the "snarky" comments in the dust bin.

Posted by: Chris Smith on Sunday, 19 December 2010 at 5:09pm GMT

Would it be OK for 'thinking Anglicans' if the percentage of the Communion that wishes to move ahead with a 'New Truth' 1) refuse to adopt a covenant (that seems to be the majority view, as I read it)? 2) that this same percentage can seek to argue for an understanding of Communion (even historically, as in some recent comments) that make it a federation/loose fellowship of some sort? 3) that others who wish to covenant be free to do so? I'd need an interpreter to tell me what 'half-assed bright' means, but let's assume that people here are bright enough to decide on these simple points.
I doubt the covenant will get very far on the conservative side (the Standing Committee looks unrepresentative). But what I cannot understand is why so-called progressives care at all. Just leave it alone and it will not be encumbering; it need not be adopted, and probably won't be, by TEC. Is there an objection to the adoption of a covenant by others, and why? grace and peace, 'Mr Seitz'

Posted by: cseitz on Sunday, 19 December 2010 at 6:23pm GMT

You just don't get it, do you Mr Seitz.

Here in TEC, we profess NO "New Truth" (that you keep trying to impose upon us---one way or another!)

This (proposed) "Anglican Covenant" IS a New "Truth".

We're defending *traditional Anglicanism*, when we reject it.

THAT is our *self-understanding*. You're free to disagree w/ it. But please keep you other-ing definitions of TEC away from THIS Episcopalian!

"Is there an objection to the adoption of a covenant by others, and why?"

Um, because THIS covenant's principal architect is the Father-of-Lies (his stench is all OVER Sec. 4!), designed to drag its adopters Below? That clear enough for ya?

Posted by: JCF on Sunday, 19 December 2010 at 10:34pm GMT

"Is there an objection to the adoption of a covenant by others, and why? grace and peace", - 'CSeitz' -

Were you not There (Christopher)? Have you not heard? - of the 'Jerusalem Declaration'. I would have thought that this particular piece of work issuing from a GAFCON Meeting was already some sort of immutable 'Covenant' document already. At least is gave that sort of impression to all of us who were not 'in the know' about what actually went on at that epic gathering of dissident Primates, clergy and people in the *Global South* afficionados not too long ago.

It has been thought that the actual authorship might have emanated from the embryonic forces of ACNA at the time - perhaps even ACI might have had something to do with it?. Were you not aware of its divisive intentionality at the time? There is certainly no need of any other clarification as to the true intentions of GAFCON & ACNA - to go it alone as a quasi 'Anglican Communion' in diaspora.

Have a Happy Christmas.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Sunday, 19 December 2010 at 11:36pm GMT

"I doubt the covenant will get very far on the conservative side (the Standing Committee looks unrepresentative). But what I cannot understand is why so-called progressives care at all. Just leave it alone and it will not be encumbering; it need not be adopted, and probably won't be, by TEC. Is there an objection to the adoption of a covenant by others, and why?"

There are those of us in TEC who value our connections with our brothers and sisters in other Anglican churches in other lands. We do not wish to see those connections broken or rendered "second-class" by a covenant which is totally unnecessary to maintain the same connections we have now.

That is the problem, sir. The covenant seeks to take a loose affiliation born of mutual love and respect and turn it into a disciplinary movement, born of control and disrespect. (If TEC were respected by those seeking a covenant, then so too would its decisions that affect only its own people and no one else's.)

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Monday, 20 December 2010 at 12:31am GMT

"Half-assed" does seem to overstate the case if we take that vacuous response as an indication.

I am intrigued, however, by this curious mythology regarding "communion" vs "federation / loose fellowship." This all seems to be based on an historical contrivance which falsely claims that there was always some sort of juridical authority at the centre of international Anglicanism. This, of course, is manifestly false.

The Church of England took no interest in the internal affairs of either the Scottish Episcopal Church or the Episcopal Church in the newly independent United States beyond agreeing to provide episcopal consecration. Indeed, the revisions to the UK legislation allowing for the consecration of American bishops expressly asserted the canonical independence of the CofE and their coreligionists in the US.

Despite the dishonest revisionism of Radner, Seitz and all the usual suspects, international Anglicanism wasn't even a loose federation prior to the first Lambeth Conference. In calling the first conference, Archbishop Longley expressly rejected the idea that Lambeth should or could function in a synodical way.

The usual suspects want to create a central authority in the Communion because they believe that they will be able to drive the Communion in a reactionary conservative direction. As the Chapman memo indicates, this is part and parcel of a plan to sieze the property of the Episcopal Church in the US. In turn, this will advance the cause of their far right financiers of the so-called Institute for Religion and Democracy, whose sole aim is to marginalize (either by takeover or by random destruction) mainstream religious institutions that do not endorse the agenda of the norotious Christian right.

Of course, Dr. Seitz refuses to deal with any of this, content with spreading his historical revisionism around as though it even vaguely resembled facts.

Here's the hard reality, Chris, the idea of a coordinated international Anglicanism is a myth, and the distinction between a Communion and a Federation is exaggerated to the point of being a fabrication.

Posted by: Malcolm French+ on Monday, 20 December 2010 at 7:41am GMT

Another reason why "so called progressives" object to the Covenant is that an institutionalised split is less likely to heal than an informal one.

However we all pray for Christian unity, it is very very rare that formal divisions are ever given up later.

I see absolutely no reason why we need to impose consequences on every aspect of cooperation because of a disagreement on one aspect, when we could keep all our existing local and international links and just see how individual relationships develop on the ground.

Either that, or local projects won't be affected, in which case, why on earth bother with the whole time wasting process in the first place?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Monday, 20 December 2010 at 9:52am GMT

The Covenant seems unlikely to solve anything...some will sign, some wont and in any case there are very different perceptions about what it can or should try to do.We seem destined to become a looser federation/family of Churches it would seem with differing groupings, some closer to each other than others..After all the Anglican Communion is a curious ecclesiological animal in any case, as is the Commonwealth in political terms.The Church of England by law established fits into it rather oddly in any case and I have never thought members of the C of E have much sense of being an active part of it.Church life in England is very parochial as it is elsewhere,I guess. Our present discontents have never exercised many folk in the parishes Ive served. Attempts to centralise from the Primates meetings onwards have hardly been a success. I always thought ( Lambeth 1948)it was meant to be provisional and its vocation to disappear.

Posted by: Perry Butler on Monday, 20 December 2010 at 10:04am GMT

Pat: you will continue to value them. The covenant cannot prevent that. (You do tend to ignore the hard reality that the communion is broken by TEC's actions, and so the status quo is hardly one of broad affection).
Ron: you do go off on tangents. Gafcon/Jerusalem Declaration and Covenant are different. Several Gafcon leaders are opposed to the covenant. Gafcon is represented by a small number of GS primates.
JCF: you need to read the accounts of your own party. "We are being led into new truth" is the mantra. "We're defending *traditional Anglicanism*, when we reject it" -- OK.....
Perry: Many things evolve and change. It was the Communion's instruments which asked for 'enhanced responsibility' for the Primates, not themselves. So too, the covenant was not the creation of those asserting their vision, but was requested of the ABC and agreed to as a way forward, prior to its design (and final form).
I can see why those who wish to move ahead with a new teaching on human sexuality, and remain in association with those who agree with that, might see a covenant as unattractive -- and argue against it for manifold reasons. But those who see it as a way to continue a life in communion (recall hom many provinces are formally out of communion with TEC), and so to be recognisable to ecumenical bodies -- for that is its intent -- ought to be able to exercise their Christian conscience. Indeed, they can do that. Others can dissent, for reasons of conscience as well. That is the honorable ethical tradition.
I am trying to understand the position represented by the "ten arguments against" thinking. Is it something like 'we don't want the covenant for these reasons and we furthermore don't want anyone else to want it or be free to associate in this way?' That is what it sounds like.
'Mr Seitz'

Posted by: 'Mr Seitz' on Monday, 20 December 2010 at 3:41pm GMT

"Pat: you will continue to value them. The covenant cannot prevent that. (You do tend to ignore the hard reality that the communion is broken by TEC's actions, and so the status quo is hardly one of broad affection)."

I think, rather, that the communion was broken by the reaction of some to TEC's actions. Since TEC's actions had and have no effect outside its own borders, they cannot truly break anything.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Monday, 20 December 2010 at 11:48pm GMT

cseitz; after reading again your various contributions on this thread, I wonder if you would mind answering one simple question? It is this:

What is your own mind on the Covenant? If you are in favour, would you be willing for ACI to join with TEC's membership - should TEC decide to join?

I suppose what i am asking for from you is some sort of lead as to whether your (ACI's) membership of TEC is unconditonal? Or is it dependent on some sort of 'act of repentance' on TEC's part on the issue of gays and same-sex blessings? This is a far more important issue than merely voicing an isolated opinion from within TEC.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Tuesday, 21 December 2010 at 2:57am GMT

I don't have "my own party", Mr Seitz. I hope, God willing (Must.Clean.Up.Wedding.Garment!), to attend *God's*.

Love to see you---everyone---there! :-)

Posted by: JCF on Tuesday, 21 December 2010 at 7:28am GMT

Ron: ACI is an institute whose contributing members are from Canada, Britain, Africa, and not just the USA. We work in consulting roles with communion leaders all over the world. I was Chair of a department in the University of St Andrews (UK), and am now in a similar post in Toronto (the Scottish Episcopal Church and Anglican Church of Canada, respectively). Professor Radner was a missionary and teacher in Burundi before he was expelled by the government for writing about the genocide there. Dean Turner was a missionary in Uganda. Our chief concern is the life of the Communion. What do we hope for TEC? The same thing that the Communion Partner Bishops and Dioceses in TEC hope for: that TEC will remain a 'constituent member of the Anglican Communion'. Will TEC sign a covenant that entails accountability? Your guess is as good as mine, but I doubt it. Where will that leave Dioceses and individuals that would wish to see the catholic witness of anglicanism maintained, as this has been a reality? We shall see. So far it appears that the efforts to create a new denomination inside the US and call it a hierarchical are meeting with mixed success. Sadly, this is playing out in the courts. But the money is not limitless and signs of strain are apparent, esp as we now hear that revision of Title IV is under review.
Thank you for your question.

Posted by: 'Mr Seitz' on Tuesday, 21 December 2010 at 2:28pm GMT

Dear JCP. You said that TEC does not speak of doing a new thing. It most assuredly does. See Fr Harris at his blog Preludium. He is representative of a broad consensus that TEC is mounting a revolution. It is being led into New Truth. The Bishop of New Hampshire has made this his refrain. Do you wish to have a genuine discussion of realities, or to play at it and change the subject?

Posted by: 'Mr Seitz' on Tuesday, 21 December 2010 at 10:33pm GMT

"Where will that leave Dioceses and individuals that would wish to see the catholic witness of anglicanism maintained, as this has been a reality?"

Please explain what you mean by "catholic witness of Anglicanism" and how you think it is affected (negatively, I assume) by TEC failing to sign on to the covenant?

My personal view is that what bothers these dioceses and individuals is not catholicity (in the usual sense of universality), but "orthodoxy"--as THEY define it--in regards to sex and gender roles.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Tuesday, 21 December 2010 at 11:28pm GMT

I can agree with Dr. S. that the Communion as it was is no more. The issue here, and surely the topic of the post, is that the Covenant will not fix it. The very people it was designed to please -- that large majority to which he keeps alluding (whether it is as large as it is loud remains to be seen) -- has no taste for the Covenant, and less than gusto for remaining in communion with much of the rest of the "old Communion." So the Covenant will neither restore the past (that "mainstream" to which reference is made) nor bring about a new future -- then what precisely is the point?

The real problem with the Covenant is not that it is a bad idea -- it is bad because it doesn't rise to the level of an idea. It will not accomplish Dr. Seitz's suggested parting of the ways because the asserted "mainstream" is not on board, and the remaining 2/3rds of the Communion (not in numbers of members but numbers of provinces) are in fact getting along with sufficient vibrancy and indaba -- and it is the "mainstream" that is in danger of becoming a backwater.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Tuesday, 21 December 2010 at 11:40pm GMT

Or, to put it another way, ACI is a handfull of individuals with a website and an axe to grind.

It's actually quite easy to start an organization, assign it a grandiose name and to pretend that it's much more than it really is.

BTW, Dr. Seitz, would you care to explain the relationship between the so-called Anglican Communion Institute and the former priest at Grace and St. Stephen Church in Colorado? And is there any possibility of whatever assets the ACI may have being garnished as part of the restitution required by the Colorado courts from said former priest?

Posted by: Malcolm French+ on Wednesday, 22 December 2010 at 6:56am GMT

French+ -- please contact the Bishop of the Diocese of Colorado or the Prosecutor in the case. ACI did not figure in any of the charges. This is old ground at TA.
As for grandiosity, I'd say changing the name of the former Anglican Institute to the Anglican Communion Institute was rather prosaic, and having several international Bishops and leading published authors involved in our work is simply the way these things emerge. But you are free to start your own institute, raise the money, find church leaders and scholars, and get the not-for-profit status. As for name-calling, it seems a bit adolescent.
Pat: the concern of the Communion Partners and ACI is not with 'orthodoxy/confessionalism,' but with conciliarity. See any of our publications. We value the communion as the missionary expression of the Gospel, and do not wish to see it collapse. That is the catholic concern.
Haller: you have different facts than I have. Some of the Gafcon spokespeople have been resistant to the covenant. It remains to be seen if the vast majority to which reference has been made decide to say No to the covenant as a means for preserving a communion. If they don't, then it will be something else.

Posted by: 'Mr Seitz' on Wednesday, 22 December 2010 at 3:55pm GMT

Seitz: I don't think the "facts" are at issue. When a body that calls itself the Primates' Council of the group that calls itself GAFCON declares the Covenant to be "fatally flawed" -- and when the ACI itself declares, in one of its electronic publications that the Covenant should be adopted so that those who adopt it can amend it to improve its acceptability (to the Global South), I think it fair to say that enthusiasm for the Covenant _as it actually reads_ is less than high. Right now few Provinces or National Churches are on record definitively one way or the other, as you well know; so there is a great deal of brinkmanship going on.

And yes, Covenant or no, the Anglican Communion will take a new form in coming years. As people who value communion highly, and are each of us working in our own ways to foster it, the question should be "will the Covenant foster the highest level of Communion?" And that ought to be determined, to my mind, not by number of church members, but by number of relationships and interconnections. As several of the "points" in the above statement suggest, the Covenant will not be successful in fostering such relationships, as it sees consequences to those relationships as a means to preserve unity. Suggesting trial separations or divorces are the solution to marriage difficulties seems altogether too Pyrrhic to my way of thinking.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Wednesday, 22 December 2010 at 5:42pm GMT

Haller: for the avoidance of doubt. My comment was directed at this sentence: "The very people it was designed to please -- that large majority to which he keeps alluding (whether it is as large as it is loud remains to be seen) -- has no taste for the Covenant, and less than gusto for remaining in communion with much of the rest of the "old Communion." No, this is factually in error. A portion of the GS does not want to covenant, though even if the entirety of Gafcon is opposed is genuinely hard to say. The 'large majority' to which I refer is the GS in total, and those in general who have stated their unwillingness to go where TEC is going. Do they have no taste for the covenant? That remains to be seen.
You are factually correct that it remains possible for the covenant to be adopted by a majority of the communion, and also for them to find a way to rectify the obviously biased SC, which the covenant arguably did not have in view. Yes, that is ACI's public view. Thank you for the opportunity to clear up the confusion introduced here.

Posted by: 'Mr Seitz' on Wednesday, 22 December 2010 at 10:55pm GMT

"Pat: the concern of the Communion Partners and ACI is not with 'orthodoxy/confessionalism,' but with conciliarity. See any of our publications. We value the communion as the missionary expression of the Gospel, and do not wish to see it collapse. That is the catholic concern."

Then why insist on a covenant, when the only possible result is the very collapse you claim to want to avoid? Why not let things continue as they have been, with each province dealing with its own issues?

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Thursday, 23 December 2010 at 12:31am GMT

"The 'large majority' to which I refer is the GS in total, and those in general who have stated their unwillingness to go where TEC is going. "

And who, exactly, is saying they have to? Certainly not TEC, which has never even suggested that other provinces should follow its lead until they have reached the same conclusions TEC has about human sexuality and the church's handling of it.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Thursday, 23 December 2010 at 12:34am GMT

Dr. Seitz, I don't see how "we changed one grandiose name for another" really changes the facts on the ground. Your little web community presents itself as though it had some official standing in the Communion when it does not.

Of course, the No Anglican Covenant Coalition doesn't have any official standing in the Communion either. But then, we never tried to imply that we did.

Posted by: Malcolm French+ on Thursday, 23 December 2010 at 5:17am GMT

"We value the communion as the missionary expression of the Gospel, and do not wish to see it collapse. That is the catholic concern."

Translation:

"Nice communion you got here! Be a shame if something happened to it, so be sure to pay up your orthodoxy insurance."

Talk about the parricide claiming clemency as an orphan! Outrageous from one of those who's worked so hard to exclude, shut-down and alienate entire provinces who don't agree with a particular socio-political agenda. M. Scott Peck, you've been proven right.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Thursday, 23 December 2010 at 8:27am GMT

Christopher (Seitz)), in response to your suggestion that TEC 'broke communion' with the Communion by its action on gays and same-sex blessings, this is not even debatable. The act of breaking communion was made by the prelates who decided to invade the territory of existing Provinces of the Communion (TEC and the A.C.of C.), by ordaining and sending their own quasi-missionary 'bishops' to usurp the ecclesial role of bishops in the local Church.

This then was followed by a refusal by certain G.S. bishops to share the Eucharist with TEC & A.C.of C. bishops at Lambeth - followed by a 2008 later alternative meeting to Lambeth of Global South bishops who brought out their own Document which was then trumpeted as their 'Jerusalem Statement' of their version of Anglican mission.

All that TEC and the A.C.of C. have done is to make their own legal decisions about whom they would ordain and bless within their own ecclesial boundaries - with no compulsion laid upon other Communion members to do the same.

Further to your reference to those who have 'formed their own denomination within the US' the only sodality to have done this is ACNA - not TEC.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Thursday, 23 December 2010 at 10:12am GMT

Dr. Seitz: I will once more challenge your "facts" in response to my assertion that the Global South as a whole has no taste for the Covenant as it now stands. As you appear to admit, whether they will sign on or not remains to be seen. So upon what do you base your "fact" that a majority favor the Covenant? If they favor it, why would they not sign it? In short, could you point me to statements by GS primates or churches indicating the favorable view? And do you acknowledge, if you hold to your view, that the Primates Council of GAFCON is not as representative of the overall Global South view as they appear to think they are? I would appreciate having my error corrected if it can be demonstrated that it is an error, as I am only interested in Truth, and believe that false information, or opinion cloaked as fact, is destructive of good order.

As to the covenant not having the SC "in view"; I think you must be referring to earlier drafts, or the devices and desires of [some of] the drafters, including the one who is part of ACI. The actual Covenant Process has given rise to a very different conclusion: The final draft of the Covenant assigns tasks to what you call an "obviously biased" body -- a phrase which indicates your own less than sanguine support for the Covenant as it actually reads.

Thank you for your clarification, and may the Feast of the Incarnation bring to all of us the grace and wisdom from on high, and the willingness to work together for the good of the church and the world.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Thursday, 23 December 2010 at 1:36pm GMT

I'm not exactly convinced that the Global South Primates enjoy "monolithic solidarity" from their flocks. "80% of the Communion does not want to go where TEC has gone" I hear over and over again. Fine, let's hear from 80% of the Communion. I suspect that if their people really were solidly behind them, then certain central Africa bishops would not be advocating legal penalties and supporting government intimidation aimed against certain portions of their populations.

Posted by: Counterlight on Thursday, 23 December 2010 at 2:02pm GMT

French: I believe what you are saying is that you *mistook* ACI for having some official standing. I can assure you that the various Bishops and scholars who do the work of ACI (as with SEAD before it) never considered themselves as having 'official standing' (whatever that might mean; we did prepare several booklets for the Primates Meetings on behalf of +West Indies, in the Carey era). I suppose you could have believed this because the work seemed so official and professional, but that is not for me to conclude! We apologise for your confusion.
Smith: Before the consecration of +VGR, the Primates requested that this not happen or it would 'tear the fabric of the Communion.' +RDW made a similar statement before +Glasspool. The provocation has been TEC's, and the response are as you outline them. But we are apparently talking parallel universes at this juncture.
Brunson: Scott Peck, the wise authority in these matters, and an advocate of SSBs?
Pat: what concern would it be if the majority of the communion adopted a covenant and TEC did not? Let those who wish to avail themselves of a means of identification and recognisability do so, and those who do not, not do so. I remain puzzled as to why this is objectionable.

Posted by: 'Mr Seitz' on Thursday, 23 December 2010 at 3:05pm GMT

“The Church of England took no interest in the internal affairs of either the Scottish Episcopal Church or the Episcopal Church in the newly independent United States beyond agreeing to provide episcopal consecration. Indeed, the revisions to the UK legislation allowing for the consecration of American bishops expressly asserted the canonical independence of the CofE and their coreligionists in the US.”

Father French hits the nail on the head. For further information on the real history of the formation of the Anglican Communion I suggest folks read: “The American Church and the Formation of the Anglican Communion, 1823-1853", By the Reverend Robert Semple Bosher, Ph.D. Evanston, Illinois: Seabury-Western Theological Seminary, 1962:

http://anglicanhistory.org/academic/bosher1962.pdf

Wishing folks a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY

Posted by: Kurt Hill on Thursday, 23 December 2010 at 3:35pm GMT

Smith: I am not sure how much you know about the polity of TEC. My remarks had nothing to do with ACNA.
In the latest developments, the judge in Ft Worth has thrown out the 'trademark' suit brought by TEC and it has signs even of being considered a frivalous misuse of the court's time.
TEC is not a denomination in the classical sense, at least as the BCP puts it. TEC is a church body, a catholic expression of anglicanism world-wide, and it subsists in a diocesan structure with a General Convention. My remarks had to do with the effort to change that, and to create a hierarchical structure with a CEO in the office of the PB (a denomination with courts and legal order, instead of a voluntary association).
The South Carolina courts ruled in favor of the diocese and one can suspect the same will happen in Texas, when the final decisions are reached or the money runs out. I have no idea what the goals of ACNA are or how they are organised internally. My remarks were in response to your question about ACI's role in TEC. It is seamless with that of the Communion Partner dioceses of TEC. See my remarks previously, which were given as an answer to your query. You will know how complicated to an outsider the adminstration of the anglican church is in Australia. This may also be the source of your confusion as you look into a church in the US that is unfamiliar to you. Having served in Scotland, Canada, the CofE Diocese in Europe, and the TEC convocation in Europe, one becomes aware of how differently adminstered are the various provinces.

Posted by: 'Mr Seitz' on Thursday, 23 December 2010 at 4:19pm GMT

So the agreement by the Episcopal Church re: descent clause and other Common Prayer matters was unnecessary? The equality of Deputies and Bishops in convention was left untouched? Of course the CofE raised concerns about these several matters and the new church rectified them. Could they have said 'take a hike'? Well, they didn't. We had to wait for Methodism for that.

Posted by: 'Mr Seitz' on Thursday, 23 December 2010 at 6:58pm GMT

Dr. Seitz, I was never fooled by ACI's dissembling. That does not, however, change the fact that a name was chosen (or perhaps we should say a series of names) which implied official standing. Now, it could be that none of the people involved were bright enough to realize that the name - and especially the descriptor "Institute" would leave any such impression, but I really suspect you were all brighter than that.

You then go on to confuse open consultation with direction and submission - much as you did with your misleading claim here previously that Seabury always intended that the American church be subordinate to the Church of England. No one here has argued that churches may not or should not consult with each other, merely that there is no inherent obligation of any particular church to submit itself to the will of another particular church. One might then be moved to make a comparison to the assertion that the Church of England was not obliged to submit to the Church of Rome.

Posted by: Malcolm French+ on Thursday, 23 December 2010 at 10:21pm GMT

Let me repeat. We are sorry you were confused that the Bishops and scholars associated with ACI intended to claim what you call 'official Communion standing,' though --to repeat-- perhaps the seriousness of our work and the range of our influence convinced you otherwise! We have always been what our site and advisors have publicly stated. We hope that your confusion is now cleared up. Grace and peace.

Posted by: 'Mr Seitz' on Friday, 24 December 2010 at 1:36am GMT

So the decision to abide by the requirements of the C of E by the new church was 'consultation'? Wouldn't consultation take the form of, 'we think this is an appropriate creed without the descent clause, what do you think?' or 'we like the idea of a house of Bishops with no more authority than the Deputies, and we'd like to consult about that?'
Can you show that such a consultation actually took place?

Posted by: cseitz on Friday, 24 December 2010 at 1:55am GMT

Two facts present themselves in light of some of the assertions on this thread:

1) The House of Bishops, at the beginning of the Episcopal Church, was not of equal authority with the Deputies, but considerably less so. The bishops only gained full veto power over acts of the Deputies ("the Convention") in 1808 (prior to that time the Deputies could out-vote the Bishops by a 4/5 majority). All this was well after the negotiations to obtain the episcopate.

2) Any notion of an Anglican "Communion" at the early stages does not well jibe with the requirement of the 1786 Act of Parliament granting Canterbury (or York) the authority to consecrate bishops for the US. That Act specified that neither those bishops nor their successors, nor anyone ordained by them, would be allowed to minister in the King's dominions.

The issue at the time was obtaining and bestowing the episcopate, and the establishment of an autonomous church on American soil, not the creation of a "communion." That friendly fellowship would exist is no doubt true; but the early nineteenth century attitude of England to the American church was primarily one of benign neglect and disinterest.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Friday, 24 December 2010 at 6:12pm GMT

No, the functional equivalent of requiring an upper house of Bishops and the retention of the descent clause is, in our day, warning that the fabric of the communion will be torn. And it has been. The Church of England would not recognise as a fellow body a church that made deputies and bishops on the same level, or removed the descent clause. And so today as well, the vast majority of the anglican communion cannot recognise as anglicanism the New Truth and the claims on the Holy Spirit to be inspiring it, such as we see it being claimed in TEC. This is not in doubt.
Of course a 'Communion' could not have been envisioned on the terms we, praise God, have it today. The issue at the time was rather recognisability. As then, so now.

Posted by: 'Mr Seitz' on Friday, 24 December 2010 at 8:11pm GMT

"And so today as well, the vast majority of the anglican communion cannot recognise as anglicanism the New Truth and the claims on the Holy Spirit to be inspiring it, such as we see it being claimed in TEC. "

And again we boil it down to numbers. In your view, sir, is righteousness defined by a majority?

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Friday, 24 December 2010 at 9:16pm GMT

I tire of Dr. Seitz's dissembling.

It is clear to all but the wilfully blind (or wilfully deceptive) that the successive names of his little cabal were intended to suggest official standing. That many of us were not fooled is irrelevant.

Similarly, the Orwellian revisionism of Dr. Seitz notwithstanding, at no point did the American Church or the Scottish Church consider themselves subordinate to the Church of England and neither did the Church of England consider that these other two particular churches were or should be.

Posted by: Malcolm+ on Friday, 24 December 2010 at 11:40pm GMT

In Communion. Recognisible. You are the first to use the language 'subordinate.' That would be a strange state of affairs. The C of E stated what would creat recognisibility and what would not. The episcopal church complied. Thank God. That is called 'mutual submission in Christ' -- and what the season of Christmas is all about. Merry Christmas.

Posted by: 'Mr Seitz' on Saturday, 25 December 2010 at 2:53pm GMT

I am not confident you know what the term 'dissembling' means. The Anglican Institute was founded by +Michael Marshall, Ed Salmon and others. Its existence predates the present crisis by many many years. I ws once asked to speak at a conference they held in NYC -- which got cancelled due to 9/11. Other than that, ACI (which did not exist at the time) had nothing whatsoever to do with it. These are simple facts.
Again, we can only apologise that you did not study things closely enough, or bother to inform yourself about AI or ACI, and so were confused. Fortunately, those who we have worked closely with were not similarly confused. Perhaps it has to do with your isolation? You are welcome to attend our conferences and become better informed. Merry Christmas.

Posted by: cseitz on Saturday, 25 December 2010 at 4:13pm GMT

Dr. Seitz's shorthand historical sketch leaves out some significant details. To speak simply in terms of compliance and recognition is far too broad, and there was much compromise and back-and forth in the process. The nascent Episcopal Church only partially "complied" with Canterbury's recommendations -- choosing not to include the Athanasian Creed in the BCP, and also in 1789 adopting a proviso that allowed continued omission of or substitution for the descent clause. Moreover, the junior position of the House of Bishops, as noted above, was only a half-way response to the Canterbury requests; and was driven as much by Seabury of _New_ England: at whose suggestion the Bishops were granted the power to introduce legislation and have a partial veto -- in 1789, _after_ the extension of the episcopate to America. But full and equal parity with the Deputies was not achieved until 1901 -- and had nothing to do with compliance with England's wishes, but resulted from desuetude of the "three day use [the veto] or lose it" rule.

I commend to all the Memoirs of William White, available at Google Books at no cost.

Blessed Christmastide to all...

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Saturday, 25 December 2010 at 6:11pm GMT

Thanks, Haller, for establishing that--in contrast to our present season--matters so central as the standard Christian teaching on marriage were never parts of negotiating between the C of E and the fledgling church, as this was assumed by all parts of the Christian body as unassailably central. The athanasian creed? Of course this could not be regarded as central (I never referred to it, btw).
It is good to be reminded by even a revisionist like Haller that the degree of compliance on matters of catholic anglicanism was never treated as TEC now treats it. The idea that SSBs was a free zone, as against the descent clause or the athanasian creed, would have appeared nonsensical in previous centuries.
Merry Christmas to all.

Posted by: cseitz on Sunday, 26 December 2010 at 1:30am GMT

Actually, Dr. Seitz, I know full well the meaning of "dissembling," and I find it sad that you continue to do so. It is a well established practice to name organizations in such a way as to imply both influence and authority that does not actually exist. While it does happen on the left, it is a far more common tactic of the right.

Whether it is the Liberty Forum, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation or the Anglican Communion Institute, the practice allows people to imply things about themselves that are not actually true.

Perhaps I should move to Toronto and establish an "organization" called the Wycliffe College Institute. I wonder how your present employer would respond to that.

Posted by: Malcolm French+ on Sunday, 26 December 2010 at 7:24am GMT

"The idea that SSBs was a free zone, as against the descent clause or the athanasian creed, would have appeared nonsensical in previous centuries."

Of course, it would...because they're understanding of human sexuality was limited. One of the things I do not understand is the way the right wing of Anglicanism consistently ignores the third leg of our "stool"--reason. God gave us minds and curiousity and the ability to look into and understand ourselves for a purpose. If "reason" does not include the ability, indeed the necessity, of changing our interpretation and understanding of scripture in the light of new scientific knowledge, then what does it include?

We stopped insisting on a geocentric universe, we stopped insisting on a 6000-year-old Earth created in six days (at least most of us have), why do you persist in an unscientific view of human sexuality?

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Sunday, 26 December 2010 at 11:33am GMT

An 'unscientific worldview of human sexuality'? It is hard to imagine Hooker hearing that the Christian understanding of one-man-one-woman vow making in Christ was based upon 'reason.' BTW, Pat, pick up any standard account of appeal to Reason in the days of Hooker and you will see it has almost nothing to do with 'scientific worldview' -- quite apart from the fact hat Hooker never uses it as a means of 'improving' or 'updating' biblical revelation. Never.

Malcolm, I believe we have at last put to bed the idea that ACI sought to claim official standing. No, it was so-named because it reflected our central concern. Your clamouring otherwise is now tedious. Merry Christmas.

Posted by: cseitz on Sunday, 26 December 2010 at 2:42pm GMT

Again, of course, Hooker didn't. He had no idea that people whose sexuality was based on attraction to their own gender was anything other than a demonic temptation. We know better. We know better because God has given us the wherewithal to do so. Would God give us the ability, nay the desire, to investigate and understand ourselves through science if he didn't intend us to use that knowledge and understanding?

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Sunday, 26 December 2010 at 5:56pm GMT

Pat: so Hooker was appealing to Reason in a manner he had no clue about? That makes no sense.
Again, Hooker did not view 'reason' as a way to correct an uninformed scriptural witness. 'Reason' for Hooker was the divine endowment that enabled Christians to hear scripture's word, without the appeal to a magisterium.But leaving that aside, Is science unequivocal on GLBT etiology? That is a finding I was unaware of. I think what you intend to say is, some scientists claim that a very strong predilection exists, on a very wide range, for some kind of same-sex attraction. But does that translate into 'Gay, here; straight, there; proceed ahead'? No, science does not claim that, and Christian belief has never spoken of natural states as definitive. Rather, it claims, 'your life is hid with God in Christ.'

Posted by: cseitz on Sunday, 26 December 2010 at 7:58pm GMT

Odd, really. When the No Anglican Covenant Coalition was sorting out its name, it managed to reflect its central concern (No Anglican Covenant) while presenting an honest description of what it was (a ccoalition).

"Institute," of course, implies an entirely different sort of organization - an organization with official standing and recognized expertise.

Despite the grandiose name (however derived), we have established - and Dr. Seitz has admitted - that the Anglican Communion Institute has no official standing in the Communion. It is merely another collection of individuals with a particular agenda. The descriptor previously applied ("six guys with a website") is essentially accurate. Dr. Seitz and I are agreed on what the Anglican Communion Institute IS. We apparently disagree on what its name was intended to imply.

While I would like to believe Dr. Seitz's repeated assertion that no such implication was intended (and that therefore any interpretation to the contrary was erroneously inferred), I simply don't think that the learned men of the ACI are stupid enough to miss the implications of the word "institute."

The name of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation implies that the organization speaks on behalf of Canadian taxpayers. At most, the organization can be said to speak on behalf of its members - but since membership in the CTF does not include any say in the CTF's direction, it really can only be said to speak for the self-selecting Board of Directors. Despite its attempts to imly broader support and greater credibility, it is nothing more than a small cadre of people with an axe to grind. The National Citizen's Coalition is much the same Potemkin institution. Similarly the Anglican Communion Institute.

The gloss of "Institute" is just smoke and mirrors and nowt else.

Posted by: Malcolm French+ on Sunday, 26 December 2010 at 8:05pm GMT

I do hope that is the final sputtering of a pointless declamation. Merry Christmas

Posted by: cseitz on Sunday, 26 December 2010 at 9:05pm GMT

Dr. Seitz's changing the subject to declare that the "central" quality of Christian marriage was not on issue in the Revolutionary period is irrelevant to this present discussion, as well as mistaken: see the very significant alterations in the rite in the 1785/6 BCP, for example, and even the 1793/1892 version. ("Instituted of God" didn't make it back in until 1928, for instance.) The American Anglican Christians of the late 18th century did not by any means regard marriage as "central" to the Christian witness -- and deliberately removed the fulsome prologue to the rite that had attempted to provide a theological niche for marriage since the Reformation -- and in some tension with the Article that declared it to be "an estate allowed" and found reference to it in the Catechism to be unnecessary. The 1979 BCP is far more "traditional" in this regard, restoring much of 1662.

In my opinion Dr S.'s surmises drawn from the colonial/independence transition are irrelevant to the present situation and discussion, even were they entirely accurate. Again, I direct those interested to the Memoirs of Dr. White of Philadelphia, which includes transcripts of the correspondence with Canterbury and extracts from the sessions of General Convention.

If there is anything to learn from the days of TEC's emerging independence, it is that playing along for a bit and obtaining what one desires (the episcopate), and then going ahead and doing as one pleases (continuing to allow the omission of the "descent clause" and not granting bishops a "senior" role) and thus establishing "facts on the ground" worked as well in 1786-1789 as it appears to be working today. Complaints aside, TEC is still in Communion with Canterbury, and there is no reason to believe it will not continue in that status, covenant or no covenant (and, as the text of the present attenuated covenant, unlike earlier drafts, makes it quite clear that membership in the communion is not at issue, nor dependent upon signing this or any other covenant).

Blessed Christmastide to all.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Sunday, 26 December 2010 at 10:18pm GMT

"No, science does not claim that, and Christian belief has never spoken of natural states as definitive. Rather, it claims, 'your life is hid with God in Christ.' "

But if same-sex attraction is a "natural state" for some people, then it means God created them that way. Does God create mistakes? Does God deliberately create people in such a way that to pursue their "natural state" is an "abomination"?

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Monday, 27 December 2010 at 12:48am GMT

"If there is anything to learn from the days of TEC's emerging independence, it is that playing along for a bit and obtaining what one desires (the episcopate), and then going ahead and doing as one pleases (continuing to allow the omission of the "descent clause" and not granting bishops a "senior" role) and thus establishing "facts on the ground" worked as well in 1786-1789 as it appears to be working today."
So that is the accurate account of the bishops and presbyters and laity at the time of the formation of the episcopal church (including Seabury). 'Playing along' and 'then going ahead and doing as one pleases.' Then 'establishing facts on the ground.'
Isn't it amazing how well this tracks with what TEC is doing today, creating a situation almost totally without analogy at this colonial period or now. No wonder the wider Communion cannot see 'playing along' and 'establishing facts on the ground' as the way Christians in communion then or now relate to one another.
May this be a blessed Christmas Season for you as well Fr Haller, and may the Communion in Christ season our lives and others throughout the world, in spirit and in truth.

Posted by: cseitz on Monday, 27 December 2010 at 12:55am GMT

"In the latest developments, the judge in Ft Worth has thrown out the 'trademark' suit brought by TEC and it has signs even of being considered a frivolous misuse of the court's time."

Without wishing to take this thread off-topic, I must point out that this is not accurate. The Court hasn't thrown out the trademark suit. It has simply stayed all proceedings in the suit until it has had an opportunity to rule on a motion to intervene filed by certain parties with an interest in the lawsuit. There has been no substantive ruling yet.

Those who are interested can see what the two "dioceses" have to say about this and the other pending lawsuits on their respective websites.

http://fwepiscopal.org (Southern Cone/ACNA)

http://episcopaldiocesefortworth.org (Episcopal Church)

Posted by: Paul Powers on Monday, 27 December 2010 at 2:42am GMT

Fr Haller -- 'Playing along' and 'then going ahead and doing as one pleases.' Then 'establishing facts on the ground.'

The date is 27 September to 7 October 1785. The context is ‘A Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the States of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylanvia, Delware, Maryland, Virginia, and South Carolina’ held at Christ Church, Philadelphia. The business is request for episcopal consecration from the Archbishops of York and Canterbury and the Bishops of the Church of England: ‘it became the most important concern of the members of our Communion to provide for its (the PEC in the States) continuance.’ Reference is made to the Bishops of London who had care of the church for so many years, and the central role of the SPGFP, ‘a Society to whom, under God, the prosperity of our church is in an eminent degree to be ascribed.’ The civil separation notwithstanding, the care of the SPGFP is recalled: ‘it is far from their thoughts to alienate their affection from their brethren now under another government’ and concluding in this way: ‘Our hearts are penetrated by the most lively gratitude by these generous sentiments; the long succession of former benefits passes in review before us; we pray that our Church may be a lasting monument to the usefulness of so worthy a body, and that her sons may never cease to be kindly affectioned to the members of that Church, the Fathers of which have so tenderly watched over her infancy.’ These Fathers referred to in closing ‘with all the respect which is due to your exalted and venerable characters and stations’ and signed by the clerical and lay deputies gathered in Philadelphia, 5 October 1785.

Posted by: cseitz on Monday, 27 December 2010 at 4:26pm GMT

More 'playing along' and/or founding an autonomous national church.

The date is 20 to 26 June 1786. The context is a second convention, again held in Philadelphia’s Christ Church. The Archbishops of York and Canterbury have responded positively, and the letter is signed by 19 Bishops total. The letter makes reference, however, to certain ‘alterations’ made in the liturgy, or intended, which have come to their knowledge, and about which they’cannot help being afraid.’ In consequence, they write, ‘we wait for an explanation.’ The relevant paragraph therefore concludes: ‘For while we are anxious to give every proof, not only of our brotherly affection, but of our facility in forwarding your wishes, we cannot but be extremely cautious, lest we should be the instruments of establishing an Ecclesiastical system which will be called a branch of the Church of England, but which afterwards may possibly appear to have departed from it essentially, either in doctrine or discipline” (emphasis added). A constitution is then drawn up for the PECUSA. A letter of response to Cantebury and York is agreed. The concern is for gratitude, and assurance of compliance. ‘We are unanimous and explicit in assuring your Lordships, that we neither have departed, nor propose to depart, from the doctrines of your Church.’ Further reference to their letter runs this way, ‘We repose full confidence in the assurance it gives, and that confidence, together with the liberality and catholicism of your venerable body, leads us to flatter ourselves, that you will not disclaim a branch of your Church, merely for having been, in your Lordships’ opinion, if that should be the case, pruned rather more closely than its separation made absolutely necessary.’
The occasion for the next meeting, 10 and 11 October of the same year, is receipt of a response from Cantaur and Ebor. It is agreed therefore that the meeting be a continuation of an adjourned June Convention. The Archbishops, together with 15 Bishops available for a meeting in London, have reviewed the submissions and petitions of PECUSA, and remain concerned: ‘less respect, however was paid to our own Liturgy than its own excellence, and your declared attachment to it, had led us to expect.’ Mentioned are ‘verbal alterations, the necessity or propriety of which we are by no means satisfied.’

Posted by: cseitz on Monday, 27 December 2010 at 4:35pm GMT

They saw ‘with grief’ the complete omission of The Nicene Creed and an Apostle’s Creed without the descent clause. But they have determined to move forward with the consecration and the legal means for that, ‘trusting that the communications which we shall make to you, on the subject of these and some other alterations, will have their desired effect…’. The requirements for ordination and consecration in the Church of England are then set forth in solemn terms as a reminder of the care the new church is to take in the matter. In respect of subscription to the Articles, this relevant portion of the sentence reads: ‘…after the disposition we have shown to comply with the prayer of your request, we think it now incumbent upon you to use your uttermost exertions also for the removal of any stumbling block of offense which may possibly prove an obstacle to the success of it.’ Here is the language: ‘We therefore most earnestly exhort you, that previously to the time of your making such subscription, you restore to its integrity the Apostles’ Creed, in which you have omitted an article, merely, as it seems, from misapprehension of the sense in which it is understood in our Church.’ The Creeds of antiquity are to be restored, with allowance that they need not be read aloud on every occasion of worship. The Archbishops state on behalf of their fellow Bishops that the proposed constitution ‘appears to be a degradation of the Clerical, and still more of the Episcopal character.’ ‘We persuade ourselves, that in your ensuing Convention some alteration will be thought necessary in this article, before this reaches you; or, if not, that due attention will be given to it in consequence of our representation.’ As to what is referred to as ‘purity of manners’ respecting public notice of the consecrations of the proposed Bishops, of concern is ‘the reputation of the church, both in England and in America, in the interests of our common Christianity.’ A list of requisite testimonials is then laid out as the letter concludes.

Posted by: cseitz on Monday, 27 December 2010 at 4:38pm GMT

Conclusion:
In the statement that follows, drawn up on the evening of 10 October, in response to the letter as received, an Act of the General Convention is presented. It declares the convention ‘sincerely desirous to give every assurance to their Lordships’ in the matters urgently exhorted by them. It wishes thereby ‘to maintain the same essential Articles of Faith and Discipline with the Church of England.’ The descent clause is restored. The Nicene Creed is placed after the Apostles.

In these documents we see the Church of England and the new church sincerely seeking to respond in faith and good will. Haller's take on the behaviour then and later would have dismayed and indeed affronted Wm White and his colleagues. The language is of 'Communion,' 'Our Church' and a common faith *and* discipline, the 'apostolical faith' and even 'branch of the Church of England.' The descent clause in included everywhere at present in our worship. The Nicene Creed as well. The Athanasian has been printed in books in the Communion but never required for recitation. The House of Bishops reflects at present what was requested at the time.

Posted by: cseitz on Monday, 27 December 2010 at 4:44pm GMT

As usual, Dr. Seitz uses up a bandwidth to make a case that doesn't make his case. He wishes to use this incident to prove that the autonomous member churches of the Anglican Communion have always been obliged to submit to the central authorities of the Communion.

In fact, Dr. Seitz merely proves that, on one occasion and after significant consultation, one member church of the incipient Communion chose to take the advice of another member church of the incipient Communion. Fr. Haller is correct in pointing out that, particularly on the matter of the role and status of bishops, the matter required a great deal of Anglican fudge.

Posted by: Malcolm French+ on Tuesday, 28 December 2010 at 1:43am GMT

"I do hope that is the final sputtering of a pointless declamation. Merry Christmas"

Followed on the 27th by four volume-length Seitzian posts on nothing of substance.

Apparently, it wasn't.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Tuesday, 28 December 2010 at 6:47am GMT

French: you have tremendous difficulty reading. The case speaks for itself. The new church accepted that continuity in faith and discipline was something they desired, so as to be recognized as reformed catholic Christians in communion with that church body that had for the previous 100 years supported and encouraged them -- in spite of the obvious civil strife and war. They weren't submitting to central authorities; they were seeking a common mind in Christ, with charity and understanding. They weren't 'autonomous church members' but an organic extension of the Church of England in the new world, which they never tire of insisting, and which is how they are viewed. You will further note that Seabury is not included in this material, as CT was not present. His position on these matters is yet more robust. On the role and status of Bishops, as they do not have any yet, it would take time for compliance, which in time is undertaken. Have a look at the sources and the Constitution pertaining to the House of Bishops. In all essential points, and given the diversity in practice in the colonial states, remarkable is the way in which 'the protestant episcopal church in the states of...' emerged intact and in communion with the Church of England. (I am grateful for S Sarmiento for allowing the source material to be quoted at length, given its pertinence in view of the serious charges of a Convention's 'playing along' and 'going ahead as one wishes' and 'putting facts on the ground').

Posted by: cseitz on Tuesday, 28 December 2010 at 2:43pm GMT

I would, in turn, be grateful if the source that is being quoted was actually named, or even a URL provided.

Also I have to say that I am having great difficulty understanding the case that Dr Seitz is apparently trying to make. And I am not even an American!

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 28 December 2010 at 4:17pm GMT

Mr Sarmiento, Gladly.
When Fr Haller made the charges he did, one would presume he was referring to the actual letters and discussions that were exchanged over the matter. These can easily be checked. They are included in the records of the first 'PEC in the United States' Conventions as cited (1785, 1786). They comprise the actual letters written by the Archbishops of York and Canterbury, on behalf of their colleagues, and the responses from the delegates in Convention, usually with Wm White in the Chair. Indeed, the cause of the convention in one instance was the receipt of a letter (as cited) from the Archbishops indicating the willingness of the Church of England to proceed (procuring an Act of Parliament) when certain conditions were satisfied, or they felt that time would allow for this (see the texts as cited). Consult Journals of the General Conventions of the Protestant Episcopal Church, in the United States (1785-1835), W.S. Perry, ed.; (Clarement, NH: Clarement Manufacturing Company). The letters of Seabury on 'The Church of England in America' can also be useful, where he defends his consecration in 'the Old Scots Church'.

Posted by: cseitz on Tuesday, 28 December 2010 at 4:50pm GMT

Dr. Seitz, in your excerpted account above, you have erred in neglecting the import of the Athanasian Creed as part of this "period of negotiation" (not, as you asserted above, compliance.) There certainly was considerable warm fellow-feeling between England and the emergent Episcopal Church, but the dialogue did not lead to a full "acceptance" by TEC of the proposals made by England, but a very delicate back and forth of negotiation and compromise.

The passage concerning the expression of "grief" to which you refer above actually refers to all three creeds and runs as follows:

"We saw with grief that two of the Confessions of our Christian faith, respectable for their antiquity, have been entirely laid aside ; and that even in that called the Apostles' Creed, an article is omitted which was thought necessary to be inserted, with a view to a particular heresy, in a very early age of the Church, and has ever since had the venerable sanction of universal reception."

In addition, you are mistaken that the Athanasian Creed has never been required for use in Anglican Liturgy. It is required for use at Mattins on certain major feasts in the 1662 BCP (as in the Edwardian and Elizabethan versions).

I leave it to others to conclude what might lead you to these omissions and errors, and to judge whether your account or mine is the more accurate.

In addition to Dr. White's Memoirs, I commend Perry's "Handbook of the General Convention" which offers even more in the way of transcripts and records.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Tuesday, 28 December 2010 at 4:57pm GMT

Fr Haller: you will know that the concerns after 1786/7 shifted to matters internal to the churches in the north (more conservative) and to south (more numerous). It was held by the former that the three creeds represented a desire to be fully eastern and western, typical of anglicanism in the Church of England (and the Scottish Episcopalians). By the end of 1789, through the good offices of the rector of Trinity Church, Boston and by the clergyman Jeremiah Leaming of CT, peace is achieved (Provoost being the obstacle, as he disapproved of the scottish line -- and said for a time he would continue do so even IF the Archbishops again appealed to offered an 'absolution.'). But the consecration of Bass would take place; the 1789 convention invited +Seabury, without lay delegates; the concerns with houses of bishops and deputies ironed out. Even at this date, Bishop White is writing the Archbishop of Canterbury personally, alongside the formal communications from convention to Lambeth, assuring him that in nothing is the new church departing from the faith and discipline of the Church of England. In all essentials, the requests made by the Church of England were complied with, and the chief manifestation one sees in the letters is reverence, respect, concern for continuity, the healing of tensions, and the preservation of the divine worship of the Church of England in the US, "to which we have always been accustomed to look as children to a parent" (Samuel Parker, Rector of Trinity Church, Boston). The status of the Athanasian Creed, measured against all this, was a negligible matter. The entire original concern of the Archbishops and Bishops was the spirit of innovation, alteration, and removal -- that concern was of course shared by the northern churches. The satisfactory healing of that inside the US had its counterpart in the nihil obstat of the Archbishops appealed to by the convention of 1789. To call all this 'playing along' and 'moving ahead' and 'putting facts on the ground' is factually wrong, misunderstands the tensions inside the new church itself, and reads the present political activity of TEC--as described rather unguardedly by yourself--into a period where it does not belong. Moreover, the entire idea of an autonomous church 'submitting to this or that' or 'playing along' both, misunderstands the character of continuity and the ardent desire for it -- measured against puritanism and other rivals, including methodism and presbyterianism.

Posted by: cseitz on Tuesday, 28 December 2010 at 7:10pm GMT

PS--the citations I used and the text I mention in the notes above *is* Perry's, not White's memoirs. See the note to S Sarmiento.

Posted by: cseitz on Tuesday, 28 December 2010 at 7:39pm GMT

One last thought: a handy chart of the English concerns and American responses in the relevant period

English Concern / American Response
Missing Nicene Creed /restored
Missing Athanasian Creed / not restored; optional use not provided for
Missing clause in Apostles Creed / restored but with option to alter or omit
Trial of Clergy and Bishops in Art. VIII / clarified as a misunderstanding

In short, while there was a strong will to retain the practice and worship of the Church of England, the American Church reserved the right to make alterations, and did make alterations above and beyond those required by national independence, departing from the English “only so far as local circumstances” suggested to be wise. See the Preface to the 1789 BCP, page 11 of the current edition.

My thesis is that this tracks well with the present attitude in TEC with regard to matters which some in the communion have found to be offensive. We maintain cordial relations with the C of E, and with many other member churches of the Communion. We have maintained that our innovations are not matters of core doctrine, and that they need not create impediments to communion. Others feel differently, have severed communion; but the facts are on the ground, and as time goes on it appears that the general motion is towards accepting the American view that these innovations need not be communion-breaking, even though disagreement may continue as to their substance.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Tuesday, 28 December 2010 at 8:47pm GMT

"The Anglican Institute was founded by +Michael Marshall, Ed Salmon and others. Its existence predates the present crisis by many many years"

- cseitz, on Christmas Day 2010 -

On trawling through these comments today, I noticed this little pericope, which was included in one of Cseitz's posts - ralating to the original provenance of what is now called the 'Anglican Communion Institute'.

Having met and known of Fr. Michael Marshall, as Vicar of All Saints, Margaret Street in London - before he went to the USA to join the 'Trinity Institute' at Trinity, Wall Street; I would be most surprised to think that he would have thought that he was helping to found the guiding pricipals of what is now called the 'Anglican Communion Institute', of which Dr C. Seitz is one of it's 3 spokespersons.

Knowing something of the eirenic influence of the English 'Institute of Christian Studies' in the UK, from which Fr. Michael went to the 'Trinity Insititute' in New York - to extend the idea of equipping the laity of the Church with a basic theological capability - I would be genuinely surprised if either he, or the then director of Trinity Institute, would ever have envisaged the fundamentalist antigay attitude which would later be taken on board by the successor (as ACI) of the original 'Trinity Institute'

The antigay agenda of ACI's present constituency would certain never have fitted into the breadth of theological education be3ing provided by the English 'Institute of Christian Studies'. Nor, I suspect, would it have ever found resonance with the theology of Bishop Michael Marsahll, by which episcopal title it's co-Founder is now known.

So, the very business of a simple 'name-change' can alter the whole character of an organisation - not always for the betterment of either it's basic ministry, or the integrity of it's orginal founding group.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Wednesday, 29 December 2010 at 12:17am GMT

Here is the chief difference in the alleged analogy. 1 TEC is not requesting anything from the CofE or the Communion, as in the colonial period. It manifestly does not believe this is necessary. This is vastly different to the situation in the late 1700s, both in substance and in manner. 2 An assertion that this or that oughtn't to cause offense or is not 'core doctrine' (an idea foreign to the discussions in question) bears no relationship to being exhorted to maintain continuity with the C o E. 3 The parties in question--both in the north and the south--urgently desired to maintain continuity, especially in the northern states and in Seabury's view; this was their cheif desire; in the south, this was expressed differently, but by 1789 the peace was achieved; today, TEC either does not care or says it belongs to their 'right' to do what they wish. 4 And finally, we do not yet know what will happen in consequence of TEC's self assertion, in respect of Communion life, including relations with the C of E.
The idea that the Conventions of the late 18th century were 'playing along' or 'moving ahead without much regard' or even putting facts on the ground is false and shows immediately where the disanalogy can be found.

Posted by: cseitz on Wednesday, 29 December 2010 at 12:17am GMT

Dr. Seitz: "They weren't submitting to central authorities; they were seeking a common mind in Christ, with charity and understanding."

I'm glad to see you've come around, Christopher. That's not the way you've been presenting it to date.


"They weren't 'autonomous church members' but an organic extension of the Church of England in the new world, which they never tire of insisting, and which is how they are viewed."

Here you go off the rails again, Christopher. The American and Scottish churches, while having organic relationship with and historical continuity from the Church of England were not in any way a part of the Church of England nor subject to the authority of the Church of England.

This thread has now fallen off the links list to the side. It has been my general practice to stop following threads after that point, and I intend to conform to that past practise going forward. Christopher, if you want me to keep feeding your trollish ego, you'll need to start making your same tedious revisionist recitations (one can hardly call them arguments) on a higher thread.

Posted by: Malcolm French+ on Wednesday, 29 December 2010 at 4:10am GMT

Thank you, Malcolm. My sentiments exactly. Once again, I invite anyone interested in the actual facts to read the *full* record either in Perry or White, and judge for yourselves whether my analogy bears up. Dr. Seitz's efforts to the contrary, I remain unconvinced by his inductive reasoning, and his rosy portrayal of what was in fact a highly contentious and politically active period in our history, polite and fulsome correspondence notwithstanding!

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Wednesday, 29 December 2010 at 2:51pm GMT

You make the point exactly right, Fr Ron. SEAD used the shutting down of AI as an occasion to become ACI and work with communion leaders. AI and ACI are unrelated as working enterprises. Ed Salmon is one of our contributors and I believe was/is a close friend of Michael Marshall. The rest of your screed is boilerplate, of the kind you sometimes indulge.
French: you do need a course in basic reading comprehension. The C of E Archbishops and Bishops indicated the matters needing compliance before the consecrations could proceed. The texts above are clear on this point, and were shared so you could learn something of the character of the communications. The point was that this is not 'submitting to authorities' because the church is not the politburo.

Posted by: cseitz on Wednesday, 29 December 2010 at 2:54pm GMT

What I fail to grasp about this debate is this: what is the relevance to today's disputes of the 18th century discussions between the Americans and the English? Whether it was a negotiation of the kind that Dr Seitz suggests or of the kind that Fr Haller suggests, so what? How does this bear upon today?

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 29 December 2010 at 3:12pm GMT

Mr Sarmiento: I was responding to the entry of Fr Haller. He said there was an analogy. He claimed that the 18th century discussion showed that then, as now, TEC was 'playing along' and moving forward on its own terms, and 'putting facts on the ground.' The convention papers in Perry show clearly otherwise, as the reveal the character of the communications. I leave it to Fr Haller whether his description of TEC's actions today are accurate; they are certainly not flattering characterisations. The view provided by the communications is not of an 'autonomous church' which 'plays along' with a member church. It is rather of concern for organic continuity in faith and discipline, which by 1789 is for all intents secured. Bishop Wm White is writing personal letters to the then ABC assuring him of this. To call this 'playing along' is nonsensical. The relevance to today is minimally that Haller's characterisation of the way TEC conducts itself is a sad commentary, and bears no resemblence to what has been the manner of TEC in respect of its own identity as 'a constituent member of the Anglican Communion and in communion with the See of Canterbury.' Having lived in Scotland for 10 years, the conflation of the SEC and TEC also strikes me as historically false and terribly misleading. The history of the Old Scots Episcopal Church -- as it was referred to by americans at this period --has its own integrity and complexity. If you will examine my last note, you will see why I do not see the relevance on the terms Haller stipulated.
"If there is anything to learn from the days of TEC's emerging independence, it is that playing along for a bit and obtaining what one desires (the episcopate), and then going ahead and doing as one pleases (continuing to allow the omission of the "descent clause" and not granting bishops a "senior" role) and thus establishing "facts on the ground" worked as well in 1786-1789 as it appears to be working today."

Posted by: cseitz on Wednesday, 29 December 2010 at 3:34pm GMT

Simon, the only application, as I see it, is to show that contrary to Dr. Seitz's view of things, what is going on in the church today is not all that different from what went on at the colonial / independence juncture. It was Dr. S. who raised the issue by way of contrast, and I have simply been seeking to apply a corrective. A sound understanding of history is always marginally helpful, I think.

I do this by applying the same cynical lens to "then" as Dr. Seitz applies to "now." He finds this "unguarded" where I think it merely honest. Unlike Dr. S., I am happy to apply the same hermeneutic of suspicion to both -- hence my comments about "facts on the ground" and "going along" (while in fact not complying with most of the requests.) I believe the facts, especially those Dr. S. omits in his selective summary, speak for themselves -- even regarding Seabury, who in spite of his Anglophilia was primarily interested in the episcopate, and when England would not serve, turned to Scotland's non-jurors, which introduced a cascade of difficulties that were eventually worked through.

At present, TEC is just as desirous of "communion with the C of E" as it was in the 18th century, if not more so. We have said as much. We are also desirous, now as then, in preserving our own integrity and doing what we think best. The fact that there are internal divisions in TEC is well mirrored by the internal divisions of the late 18th century.

I share your feeling that this has slight bearing on current controversy; but I believe a truthful and sober look at history can be instructive, and that a romanticized view of the past, as of some Golden Age from which we have fallen to an era of iron mixed with clay, is distinctly *un*helpful.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Wednesday, 29 December 2010 at 3:58pm GMT

"while in fact not complying with most of the requests" -- the historical record shows exactly the opposite, (and it is no golden era and was never claimed as such). Nicene Creed -- corrected. Descent clause -- corrected. A HOB with integrity -- in place by 1789. Bishops able to be tried by laity -- gone by 1789.
If there is a romanticised view of history, it is surely one that simply makes it look like oneself: 'playing along' 'moving forward without regard' and 'putting facts on the ground' -- this latter being literally what Fr Haller does with the communications as assembled in Perry.

Posted by: cseitz on Wednesday, 29 December 2010 at 4:17pm GMT

The nice thing about the character of historical records such as we have in this case – I write as a professional historian who must work in far more obscure terrain – is their incorrigibility. Not so with reading motivations and secret inner thoughts, which is the domain of psychologists. If William White and his confreres were in actual fact 'playing along,' and 'moving ahead without sincere regard,' and 'putting facts on the ground' I might accept the diagnosis if we had records of it, which we don't, and if it didn’t so nicely marry up with the view held by Fr Haller that this is now how TEC conducts business – and indeed as a kind of warrant for so operating. In this case, I prefer to let history declare its own specific and discrete story, and to avoid projecting the present unpleasant breakdown in the communion onto the 18th century desire of the church in the new world to continue in the faith and worship and discipline of what the rector of Trinity Church, Boston, affectionately called the Parent church. And so it was, thanks be to God, even finding room to accommodate the epiclesis the SEC had sought to bring to prominence, for good measure! Grace and peace. Professor C R Seitz.

Posted by: seitz on Wednesday, 29 December 2010 at 4:46pm GMT

I think this thread has wandered quite far enough from the original material, which was a critique of the Anglican Covenant. Time to close it.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 30 December 2010 at 9:56am GMT