Thinking Anglicans

reactions to the Central Florida letter

Updated Monday evening

The letter from Rowan Williams to John Howe of Central Florida (full text here) has already caused quite a stir in the blogosphere. Here are some of the early reactions:

Covenant Ephraim Radner with Chris Seitz and Philip Turner: A Statement Regarding Upholding the Ministry of Faithful Bishops (also on the ACI site)

The Anglican Scotist A Glimpse into Williams’ Ecclesiology

Fr Jake More Confusion From Canterbury

Episcopal Café Think before you leap

Ruth Gledhill Rowan tells Orthodox: ‘Stay loyal to sacramental communion’

Dan Martins A Sudden Burst of Fresh Air

Adrian Worsfold National Anglican Churches Demolished…

Nigel Taber-Hamilton The Great Betrayal – Rowan Williams and the end of the Anglican Communion as we know it

Living Church Archbishop of Canterbury Discourages Separatist Solution

Updates

Covenant Doug LeBlanc Interpreting the First Epistle to Central Floridians

The Anglican Centrist The Letter from Canterbury to Orlando

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ettu
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ettu

One way to think about the ABC’s letter is to imagine it as an oblique attempt to reconstitute the old British Empire – at least in the religious realm. Are we to look directly to the “mother country” for everything religious or will we colonials still be allowed the privilege of a “national church”? Most non-Brits are under the assumption that we gained our independence in all arenas a long time ago. I fear he treds where he is not aware of the depths of the emotional and historical waters. Basically, he needs a good talking to by a plain… Read more »

Pluralist
Guest

I think Nigel J. Taber-Hamilton summarises it well (one of the links) in his bullet points.

A further point that Rowan Williams seems to forget here is that the Church of England is also Reformed, and that makes the national Church very important. In any case he has elevated the Anglican Communion to the status of a Church. I’m almost agreeing with Alister McGrath now.

By the way, my broadband computer is back already so life continues as normal.

Viriato da Silva
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Viriato da Silva

‘One way to think about the ABC’s letter is to imagine it as an oblique attempt to reconstitute the old British Empire – at least in the religious realm. Are we to look directly to the “mother country” for everything religious or will we colonials still be allowed the privilege of a “national church”?’ The irony in all of this is, of course, that the CoE itself insisted, at the time of the break with Rome, on its own independence from foreign prelates. Indeed, this “national church” principle is arguably the very foundation upon which was predicated the very ability… Read more »

Pluralist
Guest

An implication of Rowan Williams’ made public email letter is that he is showing a Roman Catholic ecclesiology, as a comment on my blog rightly points out.

http://pluralistspeaks.blogspot.com/2007/10/is-rowan-roman-again.html

drdanfee
Guest
drdanfee

What a revoltin’ development this is – Moe, The Three Stooges movie series. A flurry of surprise questions flits: Did RW think this through? Does the CoE no longer matter so long as diocese/bishop stays intact? (What will the Queen think? What will Parliament think? What will the conservative extreme dissident CoE groups do next, given this chink in the theological-mystical walls of multiple global relationships?) How it is, that big tent traditional Anglican notions of relationship get oppositionally juxtaposed with this high-minded but idealized either/or notion of unity in church life? Would not RW have been better advised to… Read more »

Kurt
Guest
Kurt

Look, the man is going to have to make up his mind: he is either in communion with us Episcopalians, or he is in communion with the schismatics. I can assure folks on the other side of the pond that sentiment here is that he cannot be in communion with both.

Marshall Scott
Guest

I wait with some concern to hear with what joy Reform greets this explanation, or the Common Cause Partnership bishops in North America. We have long taught indeed that the diocese was the basic unit of the Church, without disregarding provincial structures as the context within which dioceses function. I’m an American and an Episcopalian; but I’d certainly like to hear how this is consonant with, for example, resolution of recent events in Southwark. How does this support Central Africa in resolving matters in Harare? Perhaps it distorts Williams’ perception that his dioceses function within the Church by law established.… Read more »

revkarenm
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revkarenm

“I should feel a great deal happier, I must say, if those who are most eloquent for a traditionalist view in the United States showed a fuller understanding of the need to regard the Bishop and the Diocese as the primary locus of ecclesial identity rather than the abstract reality of the ‘national church’.” RW. One is at a loss for words (almost) to respond to Rowan’s utter refusal to acknowledge and respect the nature of the Episcopal Church. He spent a day listening to the American HOB and now comes out with this statement which is little short of… Read more »

revkarenm
Guest
revkarenm

Now, will come the repercussions! I think I know my church well. I expect that many progressive bishops will feel betrayed by RW’s statement. They strained the patience and good will of most of the people in their dioceses in order to demonstrate their deep desire to remain in communion with RW and the majority of the other provinces in the AC. Now, RW has given them the back of his hand. I expect that the following will ensue in due time: 1. There will be little support in TEC for RW’s Roman Catholic/Eastern Orthodox ecclesiology and concept of the… Read more »

Joe
Guest
Joe

“either in communion with us Episcopalians, or he is in communion with the schismatics”

…wait, the Episcopalians ARE the schismatics!

Andrew
Guest
Andrew

Presently will come a clarification from Lambeth Palace. There is too much confusion among the faithful about this letter. Anglicanism may not need a curia, but we do need more precise vetting of statements from high officials, including I regret to say in this case, ABC himself, who may have forgotten that he IS Canterbury and almost any “private” letter will soon be public.

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

Well said, Karen.

What we need is a new global movement, proudly and openly liberal, and yes, revisionist – accepting that Christianity badly needs revision.

And lets have someone to lead it with backbone and courage, who doesn’t abandon their supposed friends, and who has no truck with conservative religion.

Stuff unity, stuff the so-called ‘body of Christ’. Liberals and conservatives believe totally different religions and its about time liberals got tough and said so.

choirboyfromhell
Guest
choirboyfromhell

I’m sorry, but I just don’t interpret this letter as being all bad and a finger shaking at TEC. The ++ABC does indeed claim that separatist movements by individual priests are irresponsible, and that the basic unit in the Communion is the Bishop and his/her diocese. If anything that is implicit prohibitively, is the idea of extra provincial relationship developing across diocesan (and thereby including provincial) lines. If anything he’s telling +Howe’s rebels to cool it.

Now as for what’s happening in the Diocese of California, there’s a mushroom cloud going off somewhere.

John Henry
Guest
John Henry

I’m sorry, but I just don’t interpret this letter as being all bad and a finger shaking at TEC. The “++ABC does indeed claim that separatist movements by individual priests are irresponsible, and that the basic unit in the Communion is the Bishop and his/her diocese. If anything that is implicit prohibitively, is the idea of extra provincial relationship developing across diocesan (and thereby including provincial) lines. If anything he’s telling +Howe’s rebels to cool it.” – choirboyfromhell You may be right. Someone mentioned elsewhere that ++Rowan Cantuar’s ecclesiology may bear a great resemblance to Papa Ratzi’s, while the latter… Read more »

Richard Lyon
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Richard Lyon

Rowan seems to be having an attack of plititudo potestatis. If he’s planning on applying these sweeping visions to the CofE, I suspect he’ll find that his potestatis is constrained by the authority of parliament.

Dennis
Guest

The Episcopal church isn’t that abstract when the rest of the communion needs some bills paid.

Robert Ian Williams
Guest
Robert Ian Williams

So if its the diocese…why is he not inviting Bishop Robinson to Lambeth, who is 99 per cent accepted by his diocese….more so than Bishop Duncan?

You need to watch that RW does not create a diocese for the opponents of women bishops, whether they be Reform or FIF. Thank goodness he is constrained by parliament and General Synod.

Jeremy Pemberton
Guest
Jeremy Pemberton

I think some posters are missing ++R’s central point, that the “The organ of union with the wider Church is the Bishop and the Diocese” is a “basic conviction of Catholic theology”. This is not under any form an attempt to revive the British Empire. It may however be an attempt to focus on that first understanding of what makes for episcopal churches – and which even an evangelically trained person like me knows from what i learnt half a lifetime ago.

Cheryl Va. Clough
Guest

It’s a pity that Rowan decided to hide from electronic communications for so long, he would have gotten feedback a lot earlier about how he was going off the rails. Jesus was a schismatic, he advocated salvation irregardless of circumcision and mitzvot, even to those who had never attended a temple and were dying on a cross as a sinner. Ettu and Viratio do a great job of highlighting the cultural blindspots. Pluralist, your article was great, good to see Simon linked it here although I had already read and concurred in your own posting link on another thread earlier.… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
Guest

The publication of this letter will, I fear, prove a major turning point.

As others say, it was quite clearly intended as a “lifeline” to a desperate bishop doing all he can to avert the schismatic activities of several of his clerics.

But now we have something of a new playing field.

In my view this makes it imperative for TEC to depose and defrock their dissident bishops as soon as they can.

I thought this unnecessary and brutal when it happened in Recife, but it now seems the clear (and only) way forward

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

Williams’ betrayal of Jeffrey John should have told you that whatever he is, its an untrustworthy, duplicitous coward with no backbone.

MJ
Guest
MJ

It’s surprising that so many feel +Williams is somehow expressing something ‘un-Anglican’. It is fundamental Catholic ecclesiology that the bishop and diocese constitute the basic ‘unit’, forming together into provinces or ‘national churches’ as a convenient means of administration for a particular people. Previous Lambeth Resolutions make this clear: Resolution 49, 1930: “The Anglican Communion is a fellowship, within the one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, of those duly constituted dioceses, provinces or regional Churches in communion with the See of Canterbury” It is thus possible for individual dioceses in communion with Canterbury to be members of the Anglican Communion,… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
Guest

Ah! Jonathan Jennings Press Officer to the ABC tells me that Lambeth Palace are now working up a statement on the Howe letter ……..

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“1. There will be little support in TEC for RW’s Roman Catholic/Eastern Orthodox ecclesiology and concept of the nature of the episcopacy.” As opposed to what? I find defences of the “national Church” model confusing. I have previously been, I guess, more or less liberal, with misgivings. But I at least thought I was on the same page as far as ecclesiology was concerned. I thought the idea of a national church was simply a matter of administration. It makes sense to run things on a local level. But this “religious nationalism”, for want of a better phrase, is disturbing.… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

Trifle turgid there, Mike! Might it be, not that +Rowan is a spineless coward, but that Jeffrey behaved in a manner far more Christian than many of those on either side? Read a life of St. Chad. There’s definite parallels. Then consider which of the characters in that story got to sainthood and which didn’t. Sorry, but your hattred of the Church diminishes your credibility as a critic.

Pluralist
Guest

The answer as to why he would bring Bishop Robinson only under special circumstances is because “the Communion” – the basis of the bishop-dicocese relationship, has not in general approved him. Even with a Pope who is not a pope and and Cardinals who are not cardinals, this is still a Roman Catholic view. It’s not Orthodox, where the Metropolitan has real teeth and the patriarch is at one remove. Anglicans though aren’t even as Orthodox – this has its own model because it is also Reformed. Being Reformed is why many are in the Anglican Church – it is… Read more »

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

Well, Ford, I think Jeffrey should have refused to withdraw.

The problem is that some think the Church is more important than people.

Hugh of Lincoln
Guest
Hugh of Lincoln

“the status of The Episcopal Church” He’ll come under pressure to adopt a divide and conquer strategy: only invite Windsor-compliant TEC bishops to Lambeth. But this would undermine the delicate truce so painstakingly forged in New Orleans, he probably wouldn’t dare do it. He is very wise not to call a Primates’ Meeting, which would be prone to manipulation, but instead to elicit individual replies from the 38 Primates. His only option after collating them, which will express a diverse range of views, is to say: “On the one hand, several Provinces say this, on the other hand…but ultimately it… Read more »

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

“Having one’s relationship ignored is annoying, being shut out of the life of your congregation, as has happened to others, may be maddening and hurtful, but a ‘sacrifice’? What have gay people in the US sacrificed? Our Church in Canada has been more circumspect than yours on this, but I still can’t say I’ve been asked to sacrifice much.” Not in comparison to Nigerian and other lgbt people whose very lives are at risk, no. Depending on your diocese and status – lay or ordained – you may or may not be able to be open about your sexuality, you… Read more »

NP
Guest
NP

Pluralist – you’re a very talented painter!
Maybe you have understated the eyebrows but very impressed with your painting.

Richard Lyon
Guest
Richard Lyon

TEC was founded as a separate and distinct national church by the same people who led the separation of the US from the UK. It did not understand itself to be simply an administrative unit of a broader church. When it joined the initial formation of the Anglican Communion it did not fundamentally alter this understanding of its structure. The acid test of reality will be how the civil courts of the United States recognize its power to control church property. The leaders of TEC have a legal fiduciary responsibility for the protection of the church’s assets. Were they to… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Ford, “Davis Mac Iyalla, yes, people in jails in Nigeria, yes, me, in comfortable North America, no. Can you explain?” First, let me stress that I know this is not how you feel…. but your comment smacks a little of “I’m alright, Jack”. And there’s also the question of how far you have tried to do the same things heterosexual people are naturally allowed to do in the church. I know you don’t want your relationship blessed – just as well, because you couldn’t. I know you don’t want to be a priest – just as well, because you couldn’t.… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“Anglicans though aren’t even as Orthodox – this has its own model because it is also Reformed.”

Isn’t the main difference between an Anglican Primate and an Eastern metropolitan, at least for this discussion, in how many teeth the Church gives them? Anglicans are generally toothless, Eastern Mets perhaps a bit less so. I don’t see there to be that great a difference between Anglicans and Orthodox on that score. God knows there’s enough everywhere else, all the same!

Clive Sweeting
Guest
Clive Sweeting

Williams’ position here seems consistent with that held in much of the Church in Wales in the half-century or so following Disestablishment but goes back doubtless as far as S.Cyprian. One is reminded of Newman’s assurances to Bishop Ullathorne on his reception in 1845 that he would obey him as his Pope

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“If we are quiet simply because our own oppression isn’t too bad” I’m not being clear. I am asserting that the choice is not between fighting for our/someone else’s rights or doing nothing. I’m saying there is, must be, another way. What is going on now is each side is claiming to be valiant soldiers in the cause of truth and this has led us to revile one another, demonize one another, draw further and further into our own respective camps, even consider one another not to be Christians. Whoever doesn’t get their own way calls Rowan Williams a traitor.… Read more »

Pluralist
Guest

Thank you NP.

Best wishes with your marriage, Erika. There are ordained and even consecrated people who would carry out a marriage service in Britain, it’s just that they are not Anglican, or if they have such a line they will have a few others.

“ultimately it is for each Province to determine their intra-Communion relationship with TEC bishops. I cannot decide this.” Hugh of Lincoln

This would bring Rowan Williams back to espousing a more central position for national Churches!

revkarenm
Guest
revkarenm

“great sacrifices from LGBT persons” “I’m an LGBT person. Maybe it’s because I’m Canadian, but I really don’t think I’ve been asked to sacrifice all that much. Davis Mac Iyalla, yes, people in jails in Nigeria, yes, me, in comfortable North America, no. Can you explain?” I am pleased that your life as an LGBT person in Canada is relatively comfortable. That is not the case for many LGBT persons. Those in jails, for instance, are most often subject to rape and brutal beatings. In our parish church we have a picture of Matthew Shepard on a side altar, dedicated… Read more »

Cheryl Va. Clough
Guest

Earlier revkarenm wrote “Historically, the founding members of TEC, after the American Revolution, argued about whether they would have bishops at all, so fed up were they with the autocratic ways of the English bishops. Not enough has changed in the meanwhile… “ That is one of the reasons TEC has become so controversial. You see, when they were setting it up, they’d had a gutful of autocratic bishops and put in place steps to make sure they were accountable to more than just each other. Now we know why some bishops in other dioceses are so nervous, their parishioners… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

Part one: “I am fairly comfortable. What is all the hysteria about?” This is not what I’m saying! I am well aware of the sufferings of gay people in other parts of the world. That is precisely why making ourselves here in North America out to be some sort of victims is so infuriating. To suggest that I am somehow being oppressed because the Church won’t marry me, or because it won’t ordain me because I WANT to be ordained is frankly disrespectful of the sufferings of those who are oppressed because if they are found out they will have… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

Part two: “we are sacrifcing our witness to a world dying from its hatreds” And creating others. That’s the point. We are not called to be Crusaders, whether it be to free Jerusalem from the Infidel or to free gay people from +Akinola. We are called to stand with the oppressed. My point is HOW we stand for the oppressed. Step back from the crusader mentality with its “I will fight for the rights of the downtrodden” attitude. Might there be another way to follow Christ? Might it be that we have for so long considered it the only way… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

Part three (sorry Simon, I’m done now). the fragmentation is being caused by those who refuse to come to the table with the rest of us” No. The Gospel isn’t about blaming someone else who is just as much made in the image and likeness of God as we are. I fall into it. Everybody does. But it’s still wrong. It is NOT THEIR fault, it is OUR fault, collectively. WE, all of us, are causing the fragmentation by our rigid adherence to the idea that we are the true defenders of the faith and those others just don’t get… Read more »

Ren Aguila
Guest
Ren Aguila

Ford,

What you have just said made sense. I’ve had enough of liberal crusaders who are not helping the cause of Christianity, as much as I’ve had enough of conservative crusaders waxing triumphalistic at the collapse of liberalism.

That’s what we get with theologies that promote a sense of “victimhood” rather than a sense of responsibility.

choirboyfromhell
Guest
choirboyfromhell

Ford, I think that many of us on the blogsite are just appalled at people portraying themselves as ‘true’ Christians are working so hard to alienate, and refuse those who are in need of Christ’s love. Abuse is a relative world. You may not have death threats at your head as may be the case in in parts of Africa, but the spectre of being abandoned by your family at a tender age of which you are ill-equipped to fend for yourself due to your sexuality and the family’s seriously misguided following of hateful Christian teaching is nothing to dismiss.… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Ford, I’m not sure whether we have a fundamental misunderstanding about language, or whether we really disagree in principle. I don’t use the words fighting, rights and justice in a purely secular sense, but in the way I understand God’s will. If I say someone “wants to be a priest” I am clear that he/she is following a calling from God. I just cannot bring myself to say “God wants this or that”, because that’s just what, to my mind, is so wrong with the language of those who are never plagued by any doubt about God’s will. But we… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Ford, “Your parish has isolated you, deeming you not fit read the Scriptures in public” Actually, my parish has not isolated me, although some individuals have. If my parish had said they felt betrayed because I suddenly appeared to them like a different person, I would gladly have asked them for their support again. They never withdrew it. It is our bishop’s policy never to license people living in open same gender partnerships. The bishop does not know me. He has a blanket policy that excludes a category of people without any individual discernment whether they might be called by… Read more »

Cheryl Va. Clough
Guest

Ford You might do well to realise that some of those you criticize are those who actually comfort and shelter those such as Davis M from Nigeria.’ Personally, I have been thanked for providing support where it appeared that souls “didn’t care” for people such as him, and that it has given him comfort in some very dark times. If you can testify to the same level of gratitude from someone suffering on the front line, fine. If not, then maybe you should go back and ask why some are recognised as being of help and others of being complacently… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

“It is NOT THEIR fault, it is OUR fault, collectively” That’s another one of those statements like “we’re all sinners”. Absolutely 100% true in a deeply theological sense, but not necessarily meaningful in a particular practical context. What, in practice, does it mean to say it’s OUR fault, when one side is absolutely adamant that they will not talk to you? Yes, the fragmentation is caused by each of us interpreting God’s will differently. To that extent, we are all “at fault”. But if one side is absolutely adamant that they will not talk to you or worship with you… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

I am saying that we need, indeed have been provided with, a different model for action than the one we are now using. How to we deal with one side that adamantly will not talk to us? Their self-righteousness is on their souls. Our response to it is on ours. What are we doing to encourage their sin? Might it not be better to not have SSBs in one’s diocese till this is straightened out than to say you don’t approve but allow it anyway? Why is that an impossibility? I believe TEC has done what has been asked of… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Ford, Of course my “suffering” is not the same as that of other people. I don’t think I ever said that. In fact, I am quite happy to accept my own “suffering”, although I will at the same time challenge those who caused it. What I’m not willing to do is to accept the suffering of others. And I’m not willing to say that because A suffers more than B, B’s suffering can be safely ignored. But I don’t think you’re saying that either. The practical issue is more complex. Of course it is possible not to have ssbs in… Read more »

NP
Guest
NP

Erika – firstly, you do realise it was evangelicals who fought slavery, believing it was wrong from the bible? It certainly was not the liberal establishment of the CofE which fought against slavery. Secondly, you realise that there is no command in the bible to say we must keep slaves or that is good? Rather we see Onesimus and a radical attitude to slaves. Being against slavery did not involve anyone ignoring certain verses to justify abolishing it. Erika – please be clear: the evangelicals who fought for the abolition of slavery were not asking the church to accept anything… Read more »