Thinking Anglicans

Archbishop writes to the Communion

Archbishop Robert Duncan of the Anglican Church in North America has written An Open Letter to the Anglican Communion (PDF).

The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh (Anglican) has issued a press release: Archbishop Duncan Writes Open Letter to Anglican Communion.

The letter is also to be found on the site of the Anglican Church in North America.

Or, see below the fold.

22nd July, A.D. 2009
Feast of St. Mary Magdalene

Two Cities: One Choice
An Open Letter to the Anglican Communion

Dearest Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

There are times in the history of God’s people when the prevailing values and behaviors of those then in control of rival cities symbolizes a choice to be made by all of God’s people. For Anglicans such a moment has certainly arrived. The cities symbolizing the present choice are Bedford, Texas, and Anaheim, California. In the last month, the contrasting behaviors and values of the religious leaders who met in these two small cities made each a symbol of Anglicanism’s inescapable choice.

Jerusalem and Babylon come to mind as the Scriptural cities which are enduring symbols of choices to be made by God’s people, and of what can happen when God’s people make a choice for something other than God’s Way, God’s Truth, God’s Life, as set out in God’s Covenant, whether Old or New.

Charles Dickens contrasts London and Paris in the last quarter of the 18th Century in his Tale of Two Cities. Both cities are in crisis, but one operates from received values and behaviors, while the other attempts to re-make the world to its own revolutionary tastes.

St. Augustine of Hippo in his De Civitate Dei contrasts the City of God and the City of the World, explaining the fate of Rome in terms of the favor that comes from conforming to the behaviors and values of the Heavenly City as over against the Earthly City.

The Anglican Church in North America, whose leaders met at Bedford, Texas, from June 20th to June 25th, embraced the values and behaviors familiar to Christians in every age: daily repenting of human sin in disobeying the one Lord, embracing the need (both personal and corporate) of a divine Savior, and recommitting to the proclamation in word and deed of the gospel of transforming love. The unity at Bedford, despite very real differences, was palpable.

The Episcopal Church, whose leaders met at Anaheim, California, from July 8th to 17th, blessed the values and behaviors of a re-defined Christianity: enabling a revisionist anthropology, budgeting litigation rather than evangelism, and confusing received understandings of Scriptural truth, not least concerning the necessity of individual salvation in Christ Jesus. At Anaheim, there were those who valiantly stood against the revolutionary majority, and their pain and grief at what was happening was heartbreaking for all who saw it, not least for their brothers and sisters in the Anglican Church in North America.

The North American poet, Robert Frost, once wrote: “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the road less traveled by. That has made all the difference.” For Anglican Christians, for the Instruments of Unity (Communion), for interdependent Provinces, for ordinary believers, there is a choice to be made. The choice is between two religions, two roads, two cities, two sets of conflicting values and behaviors. In Deuteronomy, chapter 30, Moses sets the choice as between blessing and curse, life and death. For contemporary Anglicanism the present choice is this stark.

I write this humbly and as a sinner. I also write it as one whose hope is in Christ alone, and with deepest love for all for whom He died and rose again.

Faithfully and Obediently,

The Most Reverend Robert William Duncan, D.D.
Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America
Anglican Bishop of Pittsburgh

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Spirit of Vatican II
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Spirit of Vatican II

correction:

Come back, Tom Wright, all is forgiven! Bp Duncan is far worse. He sends an inflammatory, dualistic, demogagic manifesto to his groupies, firming up their apocalyptic righteousness, and leaving the subtext (the war against gays) to their binarized imagination.

John Fitzhugh DeLancey
Guest

Archbishop Duncan speaks of TEC as having “revolutionary tastes,” and I believe this is a misconception – there is nothing revolutionary in re-evaluating the system of beliefs that has developed for two millennia. Rather, we are taking the opportunity to say, “Perhaps we made a mistake; let’s correct it.” He also speaks of Frost’s “road less traveled by” as if it is the Anglican Church who represents it, but I ask him this: is it the Episcopal Church, which by moving to accept and ordain any sinful man or woman who is called to ministry, that is walking the road… Read more »

Neel Smith
Guest
Neel Smith

Very odd headline. While formerly a bishop in the Episcopal Church, Duncan was deposed last year at the end of the long process that deposition requires, including an 88-35 vote in the House of Bishops to remove him from office.

By what strange process has Thinking Anglicans elevated him to the title of “Archbishop”? I could have a few friends name me Archbishop of Cloudcuckooland, but I wouldn’t expect Thinking Anglicans to consider me a peer of Rowan WIlliams.

Cynthia Gilliatt
Guest
Cynthia Gilliatt

In the first sentence, one subject/verb agreement error and the use of “behaviors,” a barbaric usage borrowed from edu-speak [the language of US schools of education]; why read further?

What will Dunkin’s next self-aggrandizing title be?

Metropolitan of All North America?

Pope of the Whole Flat Earth?

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

Once again, Duncan reveals the true nature of his “faith”…it relies on calling that of all others inadequate. It is not enough to simply say “we disagree” with TEC; it must be said that TEC represents Babylon as opposed to Jerusalem.

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

Once again, Duncan reveals the true nature of his “faith”…it relies on calling that of all others inadequate. It is not enough to simply say “we disagree” with TEC; it must be said that TEC represents Babylon as opposed to Jerusalem.

BillyD
Guest

“…and confusing received understandings of Scriptural truth, not least concerning the necessity of individual salvation in Christ Jesus.”

Any clue as to whether he’s referring to something at GC here, or is this simply the same old “ECUSA is no longer a Christian Church” boilerplate?

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

Former bishop Bobby Duncan has surely demonstrated the depths of his contempt for the world-wide Anglican Communion in his latest diatribe addressed to the Communion at large. To rate meetings of The Episcopal Church at Anaheim and the schismatic maunderings of the pretend new province of ACNA in Bedford Texas as comparable, respectively to meetings in the cities of Babylon and Jerusalem, is to completely misconstrue the real situation. In choosing Babylon aa one of the cities representing one of the locations of unholy dialogue, he surely mistook the gathering as representative of TEC instead of ACNA (although, with Bobby… Read more »

ettu
Guest
ettu

Terrible concepts but powerful writing.. He may have a future as a political speechwriter. Obama watch out!

Michael Harley
Guest
Michael Harley

I do not understand what relevance Mr. Robert Duncan, a defrocked (former) TEC bishop (ironically and pathetically promoting himself as “archbishop”) has to “Thinking Anglicans” or to the General Convention of the Church and Communion he abandoned. Since the 1960s (in the USA) there have been scores of small, continuing Anglican groups headed by episcopi vagantes and deposed, disaffected, former TEC clergy. And there appears to be a laughable relationship between the loftiness of their clerical titles and the small numerical size of the schismatic groups they claim to represent. I don’t believe Thinking Anglicans is the appropriate forum for… Read more »

Geoffrey Hoare
Guest

This si the first timeI have noticed our sin being ‘revisionist anthropology’ and think that is really the heart of the matter. I believe that what we have done is akin to revising our anthropology to suggest that black people are full human beings and women are not chattels. So GLBT people are not perversions of God’s intention. Acknowledging that the issue is anthropological gets us beyond accusations of our being unfalthful to scripture and tradition.

Allan
Guest
Allan

BillyD

I think the reference to personal salvation in Christ relates to the Presiding Bishop’s opening news conference in which she referred to such as the “great western heresy”.

Edward Craig
Guest
Edward Craig

Michael, I’m not trying to be provocative, but please remember that Duncan and the Anglican Church in North America have the unwavering support of the largest and fastest growing provinces in the Anglican Communion (Nigeria,Uganda,Rwanda, etc…) He also is in league with several former Episcopal Bishops and their dioceses- Iker, Akerman & Schofield and has the “ear” of many individuals in the TEC as well. I would not be depending on a replay of those earlier groups experience with dissent. Those groups had limited support in the TEC (no Bishops)and no international support at all. I hate to say this,… Read more »

John Floyd
Guest
John Floyd

Oh my. Is that angry torrent of hatred towards a fellow Christian the special gift of the city of Anaheim. TEC has exchanged “turn the other cheek” for “see you in court sucker”. By theIr fruits . . .?

Lapinbizarre
Guest
Lapinbizarre

Not exactly bubbling with originality and imagination when it comes to metaphor, is he? Duncan, like Frost (has he even read the whole of this short poem?) has taken the road “less traveled”.

Aaron Orear
Guest

ettu – I find his writing rather poor, actually. He really ought to have flogged his historic/literary cities first, THEN brought out the punch by claiming equal symbolic status for Bedford and Anaheim (two cities with names that do not exactly ring with deep power). That’s how you carry a reader/audience along – grab them with things they already know and believe in, and then tell them that what you’re selling is of the same ilk. As for his self-claimed status as an archbishop, didn’t you read his sign-off? He’s writing humbly. He says so himself, and self-assertion is always… Read more »

Pluralist
Guest

The title: ‘Archbishop writes to the Communion’ and I thought, and I bet many thought, Ooh Rowan Williams has decided to respond. Aha, but no, it’s not Mr Beard but Mr Eyebrows.

Charlotte
Guest
Charlotte

There is a movement afoot in the Church of England, supported by leading Evangelicals, including +Tom Wright, +Pete Broadbent, and +Graham Kings, to recognize an additional North American province of the Anglican Communion. If this movement succeeds, ACNA and its archbishop (who would be Robert Duncan) would be invited to Lambeth along with TEC and ACoC. I am wondering whether this letter makes it more or less probable that ACNA will be so recognized. Perhaps the letter should be read out to the Church of England Synod next year, when it meets to consider the motion to recognize ACNA. In… Read more »

jnwall
Guest
jnwall

Bob Duncan claims to write “humbly and as a sinner,” but his tone is obsequious; his attitude, condescending; his argument, fallacious; and his stance, judgmental. Precious little humility here!

No wonder the House of Bishops was glad to see the last of him.

Tim
Guest

Apparently Duncan thinks Christianity started with Luther and Calvin. Hint: the clue’s in its name. There’s nothing in catholic theology, as espoused in a publicized statement by +KJS, that denies individual salvation – just some of us think the nature of salvation is far larger than this self-centred short-sighted “reformed” approach!

Perhaps he would care to say why his crowd of dissenters have provoked litigation, since one of the few things I think I’d agree with him on is that Paul slags off recourse to law-of-the-land.

James Edgeworth
Guest
James Edgeworth

Folks, even though ++Robert Duncan was deposed from the TEC House of Bishops, that does not make him a lay person. Deposition deprives the right of an individual to exercise their gifts within the jurisdiction of the church body. However, it does not invalidate their consecration as a bishop. Given that some of the churches in the Anglican Communion have broken relationship with TEC, those churches are not constrained to recongize TEC’s deposition of Duncan. As a matter of church polity, once a bishop, always a bishop. Duncan has been elevated as an Archbishop in ANCA. It is a matter… Read more »

BillyD
Guest

“I think the reference to personal salvation in Christ relates to the Presiding Bishop’s opening news conference in which she referred to such as the “great western heresy”.”

Except that’s not really what she said. What she said was well within the orthodox view that we are saved as members of the Church. it’s not just “Jesus and me.”

Rev L Roberts
Guest
Rev L Roberts

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the road less traveled by. That has made all the difference.” For Anglican Christians, for the Instruments of Unity (Communion), for interdependent Provinces, for ordinary believers, there is a choice to be made.’ Bob Duncan. I can’t believe my eyes ! Seeing bob Duncan commend the Road less Travelled to the Anglican Communion is amazing — I never thought he would ever commend same-sex relationships (the road definitely less travelled) to the AC. But I was wrong and am delighted ! I don’t really think people need to choose though –DO… Read more »

Pamela Grenfell Smith
Guest

Abp. Duncan quotes Robert Frost as follows: “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the road less traveled by. That has made all the difference.” This is all caterwhompus. The poem actually begins: Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both And be one traveler, long I stood And looked down one as far as I could To where it bent in the undergrowth… “The Road Not Taken” may be found in its entirety at: http://www.americanpoems.com/poets/robertfrost/12074 Why bring this up? First, I admit, I write in defense of a fine poem that… Read more »

Rev L Roberts
Guest
Rev L Roberts

ACNA is not a Church so how can it have an archbishop ?

Old Father William
Guest
Old Father William

Comparing Bedford, Texas to Jerusalem and Anaheim, California to Babylon? References to Dickens and Frost? These might work well enough in a sermon preached in a little church like mine, but not in an epistle sent by a mighty “archbishop” to the entire Anglican Communion. The document is most definitely lacking in gravitas.
OFW+

Ed Tomlinson
Guest

I have met Bob Duncan and the one thing I promise you is that he is a gentle, caring and very decent man. He is one of those rare people who exude ‘niceness’. And that is from somebody who does not share his theology or views.

I think most of the posts on here do him a grave misjustice and show a rather unpleasant desire to project onto him the negative views they feel about Evangelical Christianity.

JPM
Guest
JPM

I think it is safe to say that Bp. Duncan has a very well-worn copy of Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations close by.

WilliamK
Guest
WilliamK

John Floyd asks: “Is that angry torrent of hatred towards a fellow Christian the special gift of the city of Anaheim”? No, rather, it appears to be a special gift of the town of Bedford, Texas. See “Archbishop” Duncan’s letter likening TEC to Babylon (see, Whore of) and identifying it as a religion other than Christianity. It certainly looks like a “torrent of hatred” to me. Yes, some of us in TEC may respond intemperately to Duncan’s denunciations. But, we actually DO regard him as “a fellow Christian,” which is why his deunciations hurt so much, whereas Duncan has decided… Read more »

pam
Guest
pam

I begin to see the wisdom in the mad priest’s solution that the TEC should suggest to the AC that ACNA should be allowed provincial status with its own primate. They could no longer claim the banner of victimhood and we (TEC) might be able to get on with our mission and stop focusing on these folks. If in the long run, the AC felt more kinship with ACNA – well, then why would we want to stay?

jnwall
Guest
jnwall

Bob Duncan claims to write “humbly and as a sinner,” but his tone is obsequious; his attitude, condescending; his argument, fallacious; and his stance, judgmental. Precious little humility here!

No wonder the House of Bishops was glad to see the last of him.

Jeremy Pemberton
Guest
Jeremy Pemberton

Can I query the oft-quoted assumption about the “largest and fastest growing Provinces in the Anglican Communion” on two fronts. First, having worked in Africa, I have to say that Anglican membership there was hard to ascertain in some parts, and tended to be grossly over- or under-estimated. ACNA/FCA types also like to count the African Anglican numbers as if they are all “real Christians” unlike the Anglicans of England. This is also a gross over-simplification of the significance of religious allegiance as shown by church-going, for instance. Secondly, I want to question the generalisation about fast-going Anglican churches uniformly… Read more »

toby forward
Guest

I’m sorry to have to correct Pamela Grenfell Smith, but she is wrong to accuse Duncan of misquoting. He gets his quote more or less right; it’s just that he’s quoting the last lines of the poem, not the first, so I’m rather afraid that she’s guilty of exactly that of which she accuses him. The other bad thing is that he’s innocent of her charge. Pity.
For the rest of it, I agree with her last paragraph, and have no time for the oleaginous Duncan at all.

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“I think most of the posts on here do him a.” I confess to significant issues with Evangelical Christianity. But can you really read this piece and claim that responses to it from the very people he insults constitutes “grave misjustice and show a rather unpleasant desire to project onto him the negative views they feel about Evangelical Christianity”? Seriously? I have always been fascinated by the ability of the conservatives to paint themselves out as martyrs valiantly standing against the World for the Truth. If any conservatives can actually read this piece by +Duncan and then think that angry… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

“…Duncan and the Anglican Church in North America have the unwavering support of the largest and fastest growing provinces in the Anglican Communion (Nigeria,Uganda,Rwanda, etc…)”

As it seems I must always continue to point out:

ACNA has the “unwavering support” of the leaders–appointed, not elected–of those provinces. We have absolutely no idea what the majority of the congregants of those provinces support or do not support. I suspect most of them haven’t a clue as to what this is all about, being far more concerned with local issues such as feeding the poor, caring for the sick, etc.

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

“…Duncan and the Anglican Church in North America have the unwavering support of the largest and fastest growing provinces in the Anglican Communion (Nigeria,Uganda,Rwanda, etc…)”

As it seems I must always continue to point out:

ACNA has the “unwavering support” of the leaders–appointed, not elected–of those provinces. We have absolutely no idea what the majority of the congregants of those provinces support or do not support. I suspect most of them haven’t a clue as to what this is all about, being far more concerned with local issues such as feeding the poor, caring for the sick, etc.

Robert Ian Williams
Guest
Robert Ian Williams

Ever so humble, Mr Nickleby…Uriah Heep a la Robert Duncan.

Andrew
Guest
Andrew

He can call himself Archbishop or whatever he wants. There are all kinds of bishops and archbishops, not to mention deacons and elders, among the hundreds of Protestant denominations here in the US. Even the Mormons use the term Bishop. The question is whether he really is an Anglican and whether his small group will survive. As many have said, there is no lack of evangelical churches, anti-women, anti-gay in America, and whether he can win adherents from them remains to be seen. He is going into a very competitive market, which includes the mega-churches with an “entertainment” syle of… Read more »

Tobias Haller
Guest

Surely, in keeping with the similarly ill-tempered and eventually off-the-rails and sure-of-his-own-mind as mind-of-God Tertullian, it should have been Jerusalem and Athens, not Babylon, if one wishes to contrast faith and secular humanism. Babylon is a city too far, even for the heated rhetoric of Duncan.

Edward Craig
Guest
Edward Craig

Jeremy & Pat,

Those poor primitive Africans – can’t count, do not appreciate the real issues, and should sit quietly on the sidelines while we determine the future of the communion. Colonialism is over. Both of you should re-read your post. Everything in my post are facts, not speculation. I’m not trying to win an argument. I was responding to Michael’s attempt to equate Duncan with earlier schismatic episcopal groups – which I pointed out the limitations of that argument.

Pax,
Edward

Sarah J
Guest
Sarah J

Who is Rowan listening to? Tom & Bob… or Gene & Katie?

EmilyH
Guest
EmilyH

What amazes me here is that Duncan refuses to even acknowledge those who signed the Anaheim letter is asking that they be written off with the rest. Is this the kind of tolerance ACNA offers? How do the Communion Partners view this and has ACNA simply decided that they too are not orthodox enough for the Communion and the choice to be made?

BobinSWPA
Guest
BobinSWPA

Ed T I too have met Bob Duncan and he’s nice if he thinks you love him! I am a vestry member at one of the parishes who stayed with the legitimate diocese of Pittsburgh. We had a meeting with dear Bob when we were in the process of searching for a new rector. He was well aware of where we stood and that we pulled our endowment funds from the diocesan pool and placed with our own investors. When we met with him he wasn’t so nice, kind and loving. He was a mean, nasty, pompous egomaniac. He even… Read more »

Pamela Grenfell Smith
Guest

Toby Forward writes:
“I’m sorry to have to correct Pamela Grenfell Smith…”
Feel free! Everyone else does!
Although I did indeed read the whole poem through before commenting, I didn’t perceive that Abp. Duncan was quoting the last few lines.

Why didn’t I perceive that? Perhaps John Floyd is right and I was just plain feeling spiteful this morning. I believe that I usually manage to be more irenic, but sometimes even I – saintly litterateur that I am – get fed up with ACNA.

Oriscus
Guest
Oriscus

re: Bedford, TX It has long been a sore point with me that the Cathedral of the Episcopal Diocese of Ft Worth should ever have been built not in the titular city of Ft Worth but in the suburb of Bedford. As an aside, I would add I’ve got family and friends from the area (mostly from Arlington). Bedford is one of the suburbs nearest Dallas/Ft Worth airport, and the three suburbs of Euless, Hurst and Bedford are often combined in street maps and phone directories. The old joke used to run that the maps should actually bear the legend… Read more »

JCF
Guest
JCF

“Those poor primitive Africans – can’t count, do not appreciate the real issues, and should sit quietly on the sidelines while we determine the future of the communion. Colonialism is over. Both of you should re-read your post. Everything in my post are facts, not speculation.”

EdwardC, I call *BS*.

What Jeremy & Pat are suggesting is that we DO LISTEN to African Anglicans—in their *entirety* (and including LGBT Africans). Not merely their unelected Prince Bishops. (Speaking of colonialism.)

[And playing the Race Card is sooooo 90s. Fail.]

Jeremy Pemberton
Guest
Jeremy Pemberton

Edward , Your response is pathetic. I am not assuming a neo-colonial attitude – or a racist one about African congregation counting – but frankly, no one, not me, or you or anyone in DR Congo has too much of a clue about exactly how many Anglicans there are in, say, The Kasais or Upper Shaba, for the simple reason that it is well nigh impossible to travel there and find out. So the numbers are just guesses. Add to that the fact that I have met more congreations than that in the Anglican church there that only possess a… Read more »

Edward Craig
Guest
Edward Craig

JEREMY & jcf Was Michael’s original point reexamined? That is all I was responding to. The facts used might not be verifiable (how many proposed facts are), but they were used to respond to one comment- not to provoke, but to respond to a dismissive attitude about Duncan – that in the end most certainly will not serve the Communion. Again whether you support the FCA/ACNA (Duncan)or not, the point being made was that I don’t think this is going to be some repeat of an earlier schism. I “fear” that we are going to witness a radical realignment of… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

Edward:

What JCF and Jeremy said. I am always amazed that those in the West who support Akinola et al take at face value their statements as to the numbers in their parishes and dioceses, and the idea that all those African Anglicans are of one mind about an issue that, frankly, is probably far from the forefront of their thoughts.

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

Edward:

What JCF and Jeremy said. I am always amazed that those in the West who support Akinola et al take at face value their statements as to the numbers in their parishes and dioceses, and the idea that all those African Anglicans are of one mind about an issue that, frankly, is probably far from the forefront of their thoughts.