Thinking Anglicans

Lake Malawi: confirmation of election postponed

Updated Monday and Wednesday

A letter from Archbishop Bernard Malango to his provincial bishops about the election of Nicholas Henderson has been published. A copy is below the fold. (The confusing second headline was in the copy as received.)

Updated again The Living Church has published a report on this, Archbishop Malango Postpones Consecration of English Bishop-Elect which contains details of other correspondence between the archbishop and the bishop-elect. This other letter includes the following passage:

The documents such as the Nicene Creed and the Thirty-Nine Articles are not simply theological photographs snapped at a moment in history; they are foundation stones which must be affirmed. Are you willing to state clearly and without equivocation that you fully accept, believe and practice the faith described in the classic Anglican formularies including the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament, the Thirty-Nine Articles, the Creeds, and the Ordinal? To be clear, I am not asking if you affirm that they are part of our history. You should know that they represent a standard of ministry and theology which is the practice and the norm of this province. If you were to come here with a different faith, it would be not only difficult; it would be the cause of disastrous conflict in the diocese and the Province. Are you able to affirm and commit to the faith as described in them without exception?

Interestingly, although this other letter also contains detailed questions relating to human sexuality, it does not even mention Lambeth I.10 despite the reference to it in the text below.

Further update In addition to the earlier news reports of this matter I can now link to last week’s Church Times report by Pat Ashworth Malawi’s ‘modern churchman’ bishop. (This week’s Church Times report is available only to subscribers.)

Updated Monday
Ruth Gledhill in The Times had Questions about lodger confront a new bishop. In this, Bishop Pete Broadbent says:

“There is no witch to be hunted here. It is unfair for someone to be vilified in this way. As Nicholas’s bishop I understand he has given assurances on all the issues raised by Archbishop Malango. He has given assurances on the primary authority of Scripture, the Creeds and on the matter of his own life being consonant with the Gospel. It is a matter for Dr Malango as the consecrating Archbishop what he does about that.”

Updated Wednesday
Reuters has a report from Blantyre Malawians oppose bishop in Anglican gay split.
The references here to “Presbyterian” suggest the writer is not quite on top of his subject.

CENTRAL AFRICA: Archbishop Malango Postpones Court of Confirmation

ELECTION OF BISHOP OF LAKE MALAWI TO WAIT

24th August 2005

Dear my Brothers,

Mercy, Love and Peace from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord be yours in abundance.

I should have written to you long before this about the Election of Bishop of Lake Malawi. The delay has been because of receiving letters of protest from local and oversees people.

The Reverend Nicholas Henderson is said to be or was the Chairman of Modern Church people’s Union. The Liberalism of the MCU is well known and although often vigorously contested in debates fall within the broad limits of theological diversity of the Church of England. The appointment of a leading MCU member as bishop of an English diocese would be controversial and possibly opposed in some parishes.

I have just written to Nicholas that as the Archbishop who will be performing the consecration I will need, as for any candidate assurance on three points:

1. That the Bishop Elect accepts the controlling Authority of Holy Scriptures i.e. that it is the Authority, not just an ‘authority’ among others.

2. That the Bishop Elect accepts and will preach and teach wholesome on doctrine which consonant with the Holy Scriptures, and in particular with regard to marriage and family life, Resolution 1:10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference.

3. That the Bishop Elect fashions his own life and of his household according to the doctrine of Christ. (This is contained in the ordination charge).

Because of the complexity of the matter I am postponing the Court of Confirmation which was scheduled on the 3rd September and the Consecration which was scheduled on 9th October 2005. This will help to avoid further misunderstandings and litigations in the Province.

I think you have already received the correspondence that I have sent to Nicholas Henderson and to his Bishop in London.

Please continue praying for your Archbishop and the Diocese of Lake Malawi.

Yours sincerely,

Dr Bernard Amos Malango
ARCHBISHOP & PRIMATE

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ruidh
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Interesting bit about Scripture being *the* Authority. And I had thought that Hooker and the Restoration had driven Sola Scriptura out of Anglicanism.

Mark Beaton
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Mark Beaton

Ruidh, the Archbishop didn’t say ‘Sola Scriptura’, he said ‘the controlling Authority of Holy Scriptures i.e. that it is the Authority, not just an ‘authority’ among others’. This is exactly what Hooker taught and it agrees with Article 20 of the 39 Articles. What happened in the Caroline Restoration that changed this in any way?

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

Mark, is your reading of Hooker different from this one:
http://www.thinkinganglicans.org.uk/archives/001181.html

J. C. Fisher
Guest

“The delay has been because of receiving letters of protest from local and oversees people.”

“oversees” people?

Sounds like Archbishop Malango is the “oversees” person up in arms here!

(However, I’ve no doubt that about 90% of the “letters of protest” ARE from *overseas* people—the same ol’/same ol’ on the Network mailing list . . . )

“in particular with regard to marriage and family life, Resolution 1:10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference.”

{sigh}

The great commandment of the new religion.

Mark Beaton
Guest
Mark Beaton

Simon, I’m no Elizabethan scholar but I was thinking of the discredited ‘three-legged stool’ idea falsely attributed to Hooker, who actually said the following: “What Scripture doth plainly deliver, to that first place both of credit and obedience is due; the next whereunto is whatsoever any man can necessarily conclude by force of reason; after these the voice of the Church succeedeth. That which the Church by her ecclesiastical authority shall probably think and define to be true or good, must in congruity of reason over-rule all other inferior judgments whatsoever” ( Laws, Book V, 8:2). So it’s: 1. Scripture;… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

Mark, so are you and Mike Russell in agreement then? Quoting Mike from the TA article linked above: “The classic Anglican position, found in Hooker’s “Laws” is that scripture is the primary source of revelation for “all things necessary for salvation” not all things simply. The WR and the Neo-Puritans are attempting to make it necessary for all things simply. Books II and III of the Laws are quite clear on the boundaries set on Scripture’s “prima” authority having already rejected it as having “sola” authority. So while Scripture is perfect for the purpose for which it was created, it… Read more »

Mark Beaton
Guest
Mark Beaton

Simon, I think I would agree with the first sentence (‘scripture is the primary source of revelation for “all things necessary for salvation”’) and probably go beyond it by saying it’s the *only source (finally speaking) that we have for teaching what we need for salvation. I take this to mean what we should believe and how we should live in a way that pleases God. (I don’t think there’s a ‘second source’ of revelation as in Tridentine teaching about ‘Sacred Tradition’.) Isn’t this a classical, central Anglican teaching? I have Catholic friends who think contraception is a sin but… Read more »

pj
Guest
pj

That the Scriptures have primary authority in “all things necessary for salvation” doesn’t relegate them to some small, separated area of human life. Since God is over all and through all and in all, and since His Kingdom is established and growing and, when fulfilled, will be the new heavens and the new earth, our salvation, for which the Scriptures are indispensable, begins to fit us in this age for the age to come. Arguments about nature and range of the authority of Scripture assume a sacred/secular distinction that is inconsistent with a biblical view of the Kingdom, which asserts… Read more »

MIchael Russell
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MIchael Russell

The problem with calling Scripture “the controlling authority” is that those who use it always seem to mean controlling authority in everything, not as Mr. Hooker intended with “all things necessary for salvation”. Our tradition has been that any Rule of Faith must derive from scripture or be grounded in scripture, but again that is with respect to what a person must believe to be saved. To take the “what scripture doth plainly deliver” without placing it in the lengthy refutation of puritan attempts to make scripture plainly deliver whatever they thought God must have wanted is to do violence… Read more »

Mark Beaton
Guest
Mark Beaton

Mike, you write: ‘Whether you use a three legged stool or not, Scripture is not always the first place to look for ALL answers.’ First, let’s put the stool away; it was never part of Hooker’s furniture, and a lot of confusing mischief has been done by this ill-attributed metaphor. It is clear, isn’t it, that Hooker gave primacy to Scripture, and what Hooker thought it ‘plainly delivered’ was its teaching about God and essential Christian living. Hooker wouldn’t have countenanced contradiction in Scripture, nor contradiction between Scripture and ‘Reason’ or ‘the voice of the Church’. This is implicit in… Read more »

anglicanhopeful
Guest
anglicanhopeful

Great theological discussion, but the point is that if the bishop elect is living in an actively homosexual relationship outside of Christian marriage, or advocating the acceptability of such, he is not in adherence with historical Christian teaching, the higher standards we call bishops to, nor with plain interpretation of scriptural admonishment against such a lifestyle. I don’t see how you can argue otherwise.

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

I think this is just further evidence that liberals and conservatives simply cannot co-exist successfully any longer.

Charlotte
Guest
Charlotte

Mark, something in your comment strikes me as a bit of historical revisionism, namely: “Protestants, including Anglicans, have as a rule never claimed that the precise form of church polity or worship was a matter of salvation, and it was really on these secondary questions that Hooker conducted his dispute with the Elizabethan Puritans.” That church polity or government and forms of worship are “secondary” and not “matters of salvation” may be true at present (the Current Crisis being over Other Things). That such matters have always been secondary in Protestant churches, however, does not square with what I think… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

David

Here’s another comment on the interpretation of Hooker from the Texan lawyer Dale Rye:
http://titusonenine.classicalanglican.net/?p=8490#comment-302755

Charlotte
Guest
Charlotte

Perhaps back on topic: it does seem to me as though a fairly standard smear campaign is being orchestrated against the Rev. Nicholas Henderson. It’s worth getting a look at some of the “reasserter” sites (TitusOneNine, for example) to see how this is done. Archbishop Malango is depriving himself of the services of a priest who has shown himself, over many years, to be committed to the welfare of the people of Malawi.

Mark Beaton
Guest
Mark Beaton

Charlotte, you raise some fair points, and it’s important not to over-generalise. The signing with the cross in baptism is a case in point. However, to this non-historian it seems fair to say: 1. in the 16th C. Anglicans could accept non-episcopal orders into their own ranks, so the precise from of ministry (or ordination) was not seen as a salvation-issue; 2. there was intense suspicion of ‘popishness’ and ‘superstition’, so worship practices that seemed to support transubstantiation engendered hostility; 3. I’m not aware that Reservation was ever a part of Anglican practice until the Oxford Movement (do you have… Read more »

Vincent Coles
Guest
Vincent Coles

It is impossible to say to what extent the bishop-elect subscribes to everything the MCU holds as its foundation principles, but some of these are stated on the MCU website, in an article by Paul Badham: “Anglican Modernism is identified with the ‘Modern Churchmen’s Union’ founded in 1898 to stimulate and defend liberal thought within the Church of England… Anglican Modernism also developed out of the ‘Broad Church Movement’ of the nineteenth century. The starting point for them was their acceptance of Biblical criticism and the theory of evolution and their insistence that Christianity must be adapted to accept these.… Read more »

Charlotte
Guest
Charlotte

Mark Beaton, you’re quite right on point 3. I was thinking of a later group of debates when I wrote that paragraph, but did not make that clear. On point 5: Yes, there was a good bit of debate about church furnishings, if one counts the iconoclastic riots, the smashing of rood screens, statuary, funeral brasses and monuments, the defacing of paintings and desecration of relics (etc etc) as “debates.” These acts were not always legal and were sometimes carried out under cover of night; at other times, they were led by the more zealous Reforming clergy, perhaps supported by… Read more »

Mark Beaton
Guest
Mark Beaton

Charlotte, thanks for your comments, which have taken me beyond the limited shores of my knowledge. Besides Peter Martyr Vermigli, I had in mind Martin Bucer, who served as Regius professor of divinity; Lutheran and Reformed ministers from the continent who were translated to the ministry of the CofE; and Scottish Presbyterians who came to England after 1613 and wer appointed to vacant parishes. Of course, things were different after the ejections of 1662, the enforcement of uniformity, the Five Mile Act etc; but prior to this, it seems a fairly fluid attitude prevailed. The political and social fallout from… Read more »

Dave
Guest
Dave

Fascinating discussion about Hooker’s views on the Authority of the Bible! Personally, since my more liberal phase, I’ve always taken the Bible to have authority for Salvation and for Christian living too (morality and spirituality).

I don’t really see how we could say it had authority for salvation only… Salvation, as I understand it, is only necessary because of our immorality…

Simeon
Guest

anglicanhopeful wrote: “Great theological discussion, but…”

Apologies if I’ve misinterpreted, but this sounds rather dismissive. After all, theology is the whole POINT here 🙂 It is, after all, the study of the nature of God and religious truth.

“…he is not in adherence with…with plain interpretation of scriptural admonishment against such a lifestyle.”

This is also up for, well…”theological” debate. There are faithful Christians to have a much different interpretation of those (*very* few) parts of Scripture which even seem to address the issues you mention. You may disagree, but not all of us see this in the “plain” sense you do.