Thinking Anglicans

more on the Australian tribunal

The comment article by Muriel Porter in last week’s Church Times is now available to non-subscribers.
Sydney thwarted on lay presidency

THE DECISION of the Appellate Tri­bunal rejecting lay and diaconal presidency at the eucharist is the latest setback for the diocese of Sydney in its quest to find a means of allowing lay people and deacons to fulfil this function.

Since the 1990s, numerous at­tempts have failed, but this decision is the most serious, because the dio­cese’s current ordination policy is based on the premise that deacons can (in Sydney’s preferred termin­ology) administer the Lord’s Supper.

Under the policy that has been introduced in recent years, ordination as priests (or presbyters, as Sydney calls them) is restricted only to rec­tors of parishes. At least one newly appointed rector has been ordained priest in the same service in which he was inducted into his first parish.

Under this policy, all curates, senior assistant clergy, and chaplains are expected to remain deacons. Par­ticularly in chaplaincy situations, the celebration of holy communion will, in time, become dependent almost entirely on diaconal presidency…

The accompanying news report, linked previously, is here.

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Brian
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Despite a high view of the Eucharist and Baptism as sacramental, and a general sceptism about Sydney’s role in the Australian church, I’m with them on this one. I’m am at a loss to see why the conduct of the sacraments should be confined to a priestly class. There is not the least warrant in scripture for it. As Sydney suggests, the category of presbyter is one of leadership. Contra Sydney, this is a reason why there should as multiple presbyters in larger congregations. It devalues the distinctive role of the diaconate to make deacons some kind of assistant elder.… Read more »

Joan_of_Quark
Guest

Does anyone here know why Sydney has this unusual policy of leaving people as deacons? Does it come from some unusual interpretation of the terms deacon/presbyter/elder in the NT? Are deacons paid less than priests or excluded from certain governing structures?

ettu
Guest
ettu

A serious question – why have “presbyters” at all if they serve merely as uber-administrators of a parish? I suppose Bishops would be necessary to continue the Apostolic Succession – but why priests (according to Sydney)? Why not just “jump” deacons right up to bishops as necessary? How and why did Sydney decide to be wiser than others and thereby box themselves into such a corner?

EmilyH
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EmilyH

I would appreciate some enlightenment here on the theological questions at hand and their likely impact on Sydney’s relationship with the GAFCON group. It would seem to me that Sydney’s posture is based on a theological position regarding orders and the priesthood of all believers. Such priesthood would certainly imply that all diaconal and lay leaders are fit to preside (or “administer” if you prefer Sydney’s word) at the service of the Lord’s Table (Eucharist). By reserving “priesthood” for rectors,however, is priesthood something other than sacramental in its meaning? If so, exactly what? Does it have more to do with… Read more »

Geoff
Guest

I’m not sure what Joan means by “leaving people as deacons.” If it is a reference to the distinctive diaconate, which is shared with Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Lutheran and Protestant traditions, there is certainly nothing idiosyncratic about it.

Bill Dilworth
Guest

“Sacraments do not require a priest, which is a category that simply does not exist in the New Testament church.” Quite right. The Eucharist doesn’t a priest. It needs a bishop, who stands as the successor of the Apostles. And Apostles do appear in the New Testament Church. When the number of faithful was too high to allow for just one regular Sunday Eucharist, the presbyters (who had served as the bishop’s advisors and co-administrators) took over as, and still serve, the bishop’s representative when the Church gathers for the Eucharist. (Nobody, I think, either in Constantinople, Rome, Canterbury, or… Read more »

Chip
Guest
Chip

Geoff,

Joan’s comments refer to Muriel Porter’s article describing the peculiar Sydney practice of only rectors being in priestly orders Sydney deacons are not like Roman, Orthodox or Anglican permanent deacons.

Bill Dilworth
Guest

Someone said on another thread that Sydney only ordains men priests when they are called to be rector of a parish.

Tobias Haller
Guest

I’ve not seen the rationales for this position, but it may be a partial revolt against the “three orders of ministry” model, and a return to the NT model of “overseer” / “worker” — with the added fillip that a local church should only have one “boss” (whether called bishop or presbyter) but any number of “workers.” Prior to Vatican II the RCC saw the bishop as a “high priest” and not in a separate order — and this all goes back to a Christianization of the Priests and Levites.

Is there a strand of presbyterianism in the Sydney mix?

Martin Reynolds
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Martin Reynolds

“Is there a STRAND of presbyterianism in the Sydney mix?” (my emphasis)

ROFLOL!

Jim Pratt
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Jim Pratt

EmilyH, I’m going to take a stab at answering your question. Sydney’s first rationale is very low-church Calvinist (maybe even beyond Calvin) — sacraments are nothing special or magical, and don’t require special powers conferred by ordination. Essentially, they reject any view of a sacramental priesthood. Hence ordination is no a prerequisite to officiating. The trouble is, if they really took this argument seriously, there is really no need for ordination at all. Everyone is equally qualified. But that’s a little too democratic for some people. So in the Sydney scheme, the three-fold orders become an administrative hierarchy. The bishop… Read more »

Robert Ian Williams
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Robert Ian Williams

Sydney Anglicanism was shaped by TC Hammond, an Irish evangelical theologian who after 20 years as a missionary to Catholics in Dublin, became Principal of Moore College in 1936.

Hammond was grounded in the Anglican Reformers and all his life fought Anglo-Catholicism, which he believed was a cancer within Anglicanism. He helped draw up the constitution of the Church of England in Australia and made sure Sydney was self governing.

Interestingly one of his sons became an Anglo-catholic vicar.

His own step brother was a Catholic and Christian brother

Tobias Haller
Guest

@Martin, 😉

Bill Dilworth
Guest

“Far from holding up the priesthood of all believers, Sydney is pushing more top-down control.”

We’ve always had a problem with that – “reformers” who want to reform all the power and authority into clerical hands. The Puritans were the same way – the laity’s role was to sit and listen.

JPM
Guest
JPM

>>>Is there a strand of presbyterianism in the Sydney mix?

More to the point, is there a strand of Anglicanism in Sydney Anglicanism?

Nom de Plume
Guest
Nom de Plume

“Is there a strand of presbyterianism in the Sydney mix?”

I think the question is whether there is even a strand of Anglicanism in Sydney.

MarkBrunson
Guest

There were apostles in the early church, yeah, but the idea that there was a “priesthood” that was somehow given extra-special powers because they followed right along behind them and got a whack to the head is pretty much an invention, a derivation, an extrapolation, even, without even much logic behind it. It’s fine, don’t misunderstand me, but I don’t see the need to weave self-justifications. Just say, “I like priests to be priests and be the only ones allowed to consecrate/confect/whip-up/confabulate/sedimentarize/inculcate/insert-fancy-word-meaning-to-bless-here the elements of the eucharist.” The argument for apostolic succession just don’t hold water unless you want them… Read more »

Jeremy
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Jeremy

Isn’t the historical case the fact that you don’t need a rabbi to preside at a Passover Seder?

Bill Dilworth
Guest

“was somehow given extra-special powers”

Mark, I don’t think that it’s necessary to ascribe “extra-special powers” to priests in order to adhere to the idea of apostolic succession. You could look at it as a matter of who the Church authorizes to preside at an action in which God is the principal actor. Most adherents don’t put it this way, but you could look at it not as a matter of sacramental validity, but one of licitness.

Pat O'Neill
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Pat O'Neill

Jeremy:

In Jesus’ time, a rabbi was merely a teacher, the leader of a local synagogue, not a cleric. The better analogy is that you don’t need a Temple Priest to preside at a seder.

But–you did need a Temple Priest to preside at a sacrifice.

Perry Butler
Guest
Perry Butler

I think Sydney theology today is more influenced by Canon D Broughton Knox than T. C. Hammond. Hammond was an old fashioned conservative evangelical but solidly BCP type of churchman with a strongly felt anti-catholicism which derived from his experiences of Irish roman catholicism in the early 20th c. A friend of mine who was a fellow curate of mine at St Stephen’s Gloucester Rd and who studied at Moore under Hammond told me that he was deeply anglican in his own way,citing a sermon class when H castigated an ordinand because he had dared not to preach on the… Read more »

Bill Dilworth
Guest

I acknowledge that from a practical point of view, it doesn’t not make a difference for the communicant who believes s/he’s receiving the Eucharist, even if there’s an irregularity with the action itself (no validly ordained priest, blackberry cordial instead of wine, or what not). That would seem to be an implication of the practice of making a “Spiritual Communion.”

http://tinyurl.com/SpiritualCommunion

Bill Dilworth
Guest

I acknowledge that from a practical point of view, it doesn’t make a difference for the communicant who believes s/he’s receiving the Eucharist, even if there’s an irregularity with the action itself (no validly ordained priest, blackberry cordial instead of wine, or what not). That would seem to be an implication of the practice of making a “Spiritual Communion.”

http://tinyurl.com/SpiritualCommunion

Robert Ian Williams
Guest
Robert Ian Williams

Perry, I disagree with you on this. Doctor Broughton Knox was very much the son of T.C.Hammond.

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

Pat — Agree that Temple sacrifice was a priestly duty.

But that sacrifice would have taken place at the Temple — not in an upper room.

Which is why, after considering that analogy, I abandoned it.

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

Jeremy:

My point is that the Eucharist is often referred to as a “sacrifice”…hence, the need for a priest.

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

Pat, what you’re really saying is that the Last Supper was a sacrifice, not a Passover meal. But that argument does not make sense on its own terms. To the extent that Jesus was setting up a new sacrificial practice, then he was asking people who were NOT priests to make the sacrifices. He was going very much outside the Temple-sacrifice system. Now you may say, in effect, that the Last Supper was a new priest-creating act. Which Jesus, being God, was free to undertake. I don’t necessarily disagree. But this begs the question, to whom was that act directed?… Read more »

Bill Dilworth
Guest

“Pat, what you’re really saying is that the Last Supper was a sacrifice, not a Passover meal. But that argument does not make sense on its own terms.” The Last Supper was not, in spite of popular notions to the contrary, a Seder. The Seder only fully developed after the destruction of the Temple by the Romans, and is a substitution for the Passover feast, which could no longer be offered. What the Last Supper was was the ritual consumption of the Passover sacrifice. So, in fact, the Last Supper (like all the other meals that night in Jerusalem) is… Read more »

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

Bill, which way does this view of the Last Supper cut? If we emphasize that it was the culmination of the Passover sacrifice, then the Eucharist-making priest is linked more closely to the Temple-sacrifice system. Which is to say that we need priests because someone has to hold the slaughtering knife. Perhaps this is not the best reason to justify the existence of a priesthood. And to your last point: Of course, but that begs yet another question: If a great high priest has already made the “one Sacrifice” of himself for all, then why do we need re-sacrificers? It… Read more »

Bill Dilworth
Guest

“If a great high priest has already made the “one Sacrifice” of himself for all, then why do we need re-sacrificers?” You misunderstand what I wrote. We (meaning the People of God, at the hands of the celebrant) absolutely, positively do not re-sacrifice Christ in the Eucharist. As far as I know, no orthodox Christian body holds to such a view. As you note, it would not make sense. Here’s what the Catechism in the American BCP has to say on the subject: “Q: Why is the Eucharist called a sacrifice? A: Because the Eucharist, the Church’s sacrifice of praise… Read more »

Bill Dilworth
Guest

“Bill, which way does this view of the Last Supper cut? If we emphasize that it was the culmination of the Passover sacrifice…” Sorry, I should have addressed this in my last comment. I don’t think it’s a matter of emphasizing anything. I’m simply pointing to the meaning of the Passover Meal for 1st century Jews. As the Jewish Encyclopedia puts it, “The paschal sacrifice belongs to the “shelamim,” thus forming one of the sacrifices in which the meal is the principal part and indicates the community between God and man.” http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=99&letter=P&search=passover%20lamb#422 Of course, according to the Eastern Churches, the… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

“And AFTER SUPPER, he took the cup”. So, the Eucharist, then, is not part of the LAST SUPPER. but the Institution of the New Covenant – “In My Blood” – said Jesus. Dont let’s confuse the two.

MarkBrunson
Guest

I’m still having problems with the dubious claim of Apostolic Succession, as it still ascribes some untoward importance to the mere preservation of the line – something of a feudal leftover. If it’s a matter of “licitness” just say that you’ll only license those established as priests without piddling around with ecclesial family trees or “God’s True Will” – for all any of us know, an infant babbling over it’s apple juice could make it just as much the blood of Christ as any priest – or moreso. The “licitness” is entirely a concern of human institutions, not any revealed… Read more »

MarkBrunson
Guest

“Of course, according to the Eastern Churches, the Last Supper wasn’t a Passover meal at all.”

Yes. They got some wacky beliefs, allright.

Maybe it was a Rotarian dinner?

The more I see of “Eastern Orthodoxy” the more I’m inclined to laugh out loud.

Bill Dilworth
Guest

@Father Ron – But as you probably know, that cup was probably the ordinary cup of wine over which Birkat haMazon – the grace after meals – is said on festive occasions. While it’s not part of the meal, it’s attached to it. @Mark – the EOs point to the Gospel of John for the basis of their belief, I think. John (unlike the synoptics) presents the Last Supper as happening *before* the Passover. Since the calendar wasn’t standardized at the time, different groups calculated the beginning of the feast according to different schedules. Incidentally, it’s not being a Passover… Read more »

Bill Dilworth
Guest

“If it’s a matter of “licitness” just say that you’ll only license those established as priests without piddling around with ecclesial family trees or “God’s True Will” – for all any of us know, an infant babbling over it’s apple juice could make it just as much the blood of Christ as any priest – or moreso. “

I think you’re conflating the concepts of “validity” and “licitness.” Licitness does not address the result of an action, but merely its legality.

MarkBrunson
Guest

*You’re* the one who brought up licitness. I draw a clear distinction between results and mere licitness, between licitness and odd claims of Apostolic “Succession.”

I don’t care. Just pass the wine and bread, so I can get on with it.

As to the other, I don’t care what the EO’s do. I’m not EO. All the convoluted, self-congratulatory “logic” in place around bread and wine is really rather sinful and idolatrous, and not just in the EO denomination.

Bill Dilworth
Guest

Yes, Mark, I brought up the question of licitness. What I meant about conflating lictiness and validity is because of what you wrote in the quote I cited at 12:06. Licitness doesn’t have anything to do with whether “an infant babbling over it’s apple juice could make it just as much the blood of Christ as any priest – or moreso.” That is a question of validity, not licitness.

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

Ah, 1 Corinthians 12.

As usual, the appeal to text only gets us so far. That verse mentions apostles, prophets, teachers, and healers, but not priests.

If your point is that one should be careful about saying that one has no need of a group, my own church seems to have said to speakers in tongues, “we have no need of thee.” Thank goodness.

As I mentioned on another thread, I do not deny that parishes and churches need leaders. What I am questioning is some of the bizarre ways in which church leadership has been justified.

Bill Dilworth
Guest

“As usual, the appeal to text only gets us so far. That verse mentions apostles, prophets, teachers, and healers, but not priests.” I wasn’t providing you with a proof text, Jeremy. As I said, I don’t know why we have priests. In the post I was replying to, you seemed to be objecting to the very idea of different functions for different members of the Church (I haven’t seen the post on the other thread where you acknowledge the need for leaders in the Church). I was pointing to a model for different functions, not trying to prove the existence… Read more »

MarkBrunson
Guest

Well, clearly Bill, I’m not the right kind of crazy to get why that tangent’s important.

What is important is the end of the argument, which for me, is that the bread and wine aren’t important, God is. The priest isn’t important, God is. The liturgy isn’t important, God is. All the mystical abba-gabba about how many angels can bake bread and ferment wine for a pinhead to consecrate.

The only conflation I see, is all of that legalistic/philosophical mumbo-jumbo with God, including concerns of licit vs. valid.

It’s just silly. But, then, I’m a loony.

Bill Dilworth
Guest

“Well, clearly Bill, I’m not the right kind of crazy to get why that tangent’s important.”

Really? Because it’s pretty straightforward. And I would think that understanding why others believe what they do would be pretty important.