Thinking Anglicans

further reactions to the Sydney report

Dale Rye has written at Covenant under the title What’s Up Down Under?

The recent decision of the Diocesan Synod of Sydney, in the Anglican Church of Australia, to allow the administration of Holy Communion—i.e., the celebration of the Eucharist—by deacons and eventually laity seems outlandish to many overseas Anglicans. It makes considerably more sense within the context of Australian Anglicanism, which has a very different history than The Episcopal Church (TEC) and its various offshoots (I will get to that later). Australian Anglicanism is exceptionally diverse as a result of that history, and its diversity has led the Anglican Church of Australia to adopt a unique pattern of organization.

Just as some Episcopalians are frustrated when other Anglicans cannot understand TEC’s particular form of synodical governance, so I expect Australians feel when outsiders try to apply their own context to matters Down Under. I write the following as an American outsider, but one who has long been fascinated enough by the local variations on the common Anglican theme to make a study of them. (I hope that any Australians who read this will take the trouble to correct my inevitable mistakes by commenting below…)

Note: Dale Rye has added a substantial update to his original article.

Andrew McGowan who is Warden of Trinity College, the University of Melbourne, has written Power and Presiding: The Reality of “Lay Administration”.

The Diocese of Sydney’s reaffirmation, at its recent Synod, of lay presidency (or as many of its leaders prefer, “lay administration”) at the Holy Communion has had Anglicans around the world again wondering what we are putting in the (increasingly scarce!) water down here.

Sydney’s motives are quite unlike the occasional stirrings in this direction voiced on the liberal edge of US or British churches. The original theological engine driving this is the theology of Church and sacraments taught by former Moore College principal Broughton Knox, and now pursued by his students including key figures in the Sydney episcopal leadership and the present staff of Moore. Some of these, like their “Reform” counterparts in the UK, see the Reformation as an incomplete work and the Elizabethan settlement as a bit of a Laodicean compromise. The real interest in “lay administration” lies, for them, in carrying through a principled protestant disposal of catholic accretions upon a supposed New Testament model of ministry and worship.

There are links to other comments here.

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BillyDJPMPrior AelredGeoff McLarneyRobert Ian Williams Recent comment authors
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JCF
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JCF

“the Reformation as an incomplete work and the Elizabethan settlement as a bit of a Laodicean compromise. The real interest in “lay administration” lies, for them, in carrying through a principled protestant disposal of catholic accretions upon a supposed New Testament model of ministry and worship.” And others believed this way HUNDREDS OF YEARS ago, and LEFT to become Baptists (and other Free Church-ers). For God’s sake, why can’t these Aussie Prots travel that same well-worn path, instead of trying reinvent the wheel (from the same material, so to speak, as we Anglicans are currently using for our altars)? Or… Read more »

Robert Ian williams
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Robert Ian williams

An interesting discussion of lay presidency is taking place on te Sydney Anglican Forum..go to Sydney media and then to the forum.

If you genuinely want to ” listen ” and see
where Sydney comes from..this is well worth a visit.

Simon Sarmiento
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the thread at the Sydney site starts here

http://www.sydneyanglicans.net/forums/viewthread/3674/

Alcibiades Caliban
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The short answer as to why the Sydney hard-liners don’t leave the Communion is quite simple: Sydney is very, very wealthy, and the National Constitution prevents them taking the assets with them.

Beneath this lays the additional fact that they honestly do see their Reformed quasi-gnosticism as being the “real” Anglicanism, and as such by seeking to stamp out all other manifestations they are fulfilling both their ordination vows and the Great Commission itself.

Father Ron Smith
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Father Ron Smith

“The real interest in ‘lay administration’ lies, for them (Moore College, Sydney, and ther Sydney Diocese), in carrying through a principled protestant disposal of catholic accretions upon a supposed New Testament model of ministry and worship.” – Andrew McGowan, Trinity College, Meb. Andrew’s take on the Sydney abberation concerning Anglican Church tradition, polity and Eucharistic doctrine is, I believe – and in the belief of so many Australian Anglicans, as well as others of us around the Communion – almost entirely due to the recessionist teaching of the early lecturers at Moore College, Sydney. Moore is the mecca of many… Read more »

kieran crichton
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kieran crichton

JCF, it might be worth reminding you that the Diocese of Sydney has a dedicated trading room in the Sydney Stock Exchange. Leaving the current upheavals on the market to one side for a moment, doesn’t this suggest something to you about their fervent desire to stay within the fold while simultaneously *tearing at the fabric* as much as possible?

kieran crichton
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kieran crichton

Andrew McGowan puts things in a very neat nutshell. People should read him very closely.

Jim Pratt
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Jim Pratt

Andrew does have a very insightful analysis. Before I went to seminary, my parish had a priest-in-charge who was an advocate of lay presidency (and on Sundays when he was on vacation pushed the limits by allowing lay readers to officiate at a “deacon’s mass”). His rationale was that presiding required no great training, while preaching was the function for which seminary education was required. In that, he was not far from the Sydney position. The disturbing aspect of this reasoning, if Andrew is correct, is the power dynamic of placing the authority to preach and interpret Scripture in the… Read more »

Robert Ian Williams
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Robert Ian Williams

Jim Pratt please remember Elizabeth the first only allowed a tiny number of preachers and the rest of the clergy had to read from the Book of Homilies! Read these homilies, and there you will see the unequivocal Protestantism of the Elizabethan settlement.

drdanfee
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drdanfee

Using lay presidency to purge diversities of existing believers inside the big tent – even the Australian version – is just another typical example of the weaponizing of doctrines and of the necessary targeting such weaponizing involves. Is any iteration of conservative realignment we can observe so far not innately involved with weaponizing, targeting, diminishing, and happenstance power grabs? The surprise is that non-Jensenist-Prot believers (inside or outside of Oz) are surprised, at all. More or less the same means of preachments and power moves, justified by the same ethically dodgy ends, that have been used to target and diminish,… Read more »

Nick Thompson
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Nick Thompson

I had a bit of a read of the discussion on the Sydney Anglicans website and was struck by two things: 1. how little nuance there is in the discussion of what “ordination” might mean. It seems that there’s no room for anything between (a) the kind of RC/AC ontologically turbo-boosted “priest forever in the line of Melchizedek” version of ordination, and (b) a kind of flattened-out Plymouth Brethren version of the priesthood of believers. 2. They don’t really seem to have read anything that Luther, Calvin, Bucer, Zwingli or Bullinger have to say about the importance of order and… Read more »

BillyD
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“Even Luther’s famous thought-experiment about Christians stranded on a desert island without a priest still involves the baptised delegating ministerial office to one of their number.”

I do remember asking the former chaplain at the University of Texas, the Rev. Chris Hines, what Christians stranded on a desert island would do for the Sacraments, if they didn’t have a priest.

“Are there rocks on the desert island, Billy?”

“Um, yes.”

“Then I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up priests.”

Ford Elms
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Ford Elms

“The idea that the linkage of ordination and sacraments was some kind of Elizabethan fudge or filthie relique of cursèd papistry bears no historical scrutiny.” Since when has historical accuracy meant a row of beans to conservative Evangelicals? Remember, these are people who sincerely believe that the radical innovations of the Reformation are somehow “traditional” Christianity, that this “biblical Christianity” is somehow more pure, despite its recent invention, than that preached by those who heard the Gospel from God literally in the flesh, and that Penal Substitutionary Atonement is a core doctrine of the faith! If they can convince themselves… Read more »

Cheryl Va.
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“The idea that the linkage of ordination and sacraments was some kind of Elizabethan fudge or filthie relique of cursèd papistry bears no historical scrutiny.” Could be paraphrased to “We won’t explore the idea that the linkage of ordination and sacraments was some kind of Elizabethan fudge or filthie relique of cursèd papistry.” Because, to do so would be to acknowledge that ordination and sacraments are rituals and offices designed to bring peace and order, and that they can be moulded to suit the needs of the people at that time. To do so is to acknowledge that Christianity did… Read more »

JPM
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JPM

Interesting article about what passes for orthodoxy among the Jensenites:

http://www.melbourne.anglican.com.au/main.php?pg=news&news_id=4052

Is it Gnosticism yet, or does it need to simmer a bit more?

BillyD
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JPM, the teachings of Sydney Anglicanism concerning the Bible, as presented in the article you link to, remind me a lot of those of the (mostly American) Protestant group called the Church of Christ.

http://church-of-christ.org/

Robert Ian Williams
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Robert Ian Williams

I disagree, Sydney is rooted in Reformation Anglicanism..for them it is Administration of the Lords supper..the words presidency, celebration and eucharist are not BCP 1662 language.

Geoff McLarney
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Geoff McLarney

Enough already, RIW. We get it: you have no idea what the magisterial Reformers actually believed.

Prior Aelred
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“the words presidency, celebration and eucharist are not BCP 1662 language.”

Quite true — 1662 was not 2008 — but the 1662 ordinal requires that the person presiding at the Holy Communion service be ordained to the priesthood by a bishop.

JPM
Guest
JPM

BillyD, I have friends and family who are members of the Church of Christ, and they are good people.

As for the Jensenites, I’m sure they are also good people, but they have not been Anglican in any meaningful way in a very long time.

Their attitude toward the Holy Eucharist seems to be, “Well, this doesn’t really mean anything, of course, but He said we’re supposed to do it now and then, so let’s just get it over with and get back to the PowerPoint.”

Doesn’t sound very Anglican to me.

BillyD
Guest

“BillyD, I have friends and family who are members of the Church of Christ, and they are good people.”

I’m sure they are. My mother’s people all belonged to the Disciples of Christ, which either left the CofC or the CofC left it, depending on who you talk to. The only thing that strikes me as a similarity between them is the extremely rational approach to Scripture (and, I suspect, worship – except that the CofC has weekly communion and Sydney doesn’t).