Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The "Inside Strategy"

Apparently bishop Howe is celebrating the existence and work of the ACI's CPP (or "Communion Partners Plan") -- the approach to which he now seems to be giving allegiance, having bailed on +Duncan and the CCP (or "Common Cause Plan"). I swear, is it a rule of Anglican organization creation that you have to pick a name that generates the most confusing possible acronyms?

Anyway, Baby Blue is blogging, feeling greatly encouraged by it, that Howe reports:
It was very clearly recognized that these two approaches are complimentary, CP is an "inside" strategy, and CC an "outside" strategy to attempt to maintain and further an orthodox witness and ministry in North America.
Um... excuse me?!! And just how is this, I mean CPP... going to be an "inside" strategy to "further an orthodox witness and ministry in North America?!

First off, the CPP is all about catering to those "within our dioceses and in congregations in other dioceses [who] seek to be assured of their connection to the Anglican Communion". In other words, it is inherently INSTITUTIONALIST. The only "way forward" that may be considered, for them, is one remaining inside PEcUSA. Not just the Anglican Communion, but PEcUSA.

Even other alternative Anglican Communion solutions, like CANA or the AMiA (which are - unless you measure it by Lambeth invitations -- still fully constituent parts of national Anglican jurisdictions), are rejected... indeed, that's precisely why Howe bailed on the CCP -- er, sorry, CPP -- to switch to the CCP. No, hang on, wait, I mean the other way around. Anyway... as their own members say:
We are also firmly committed to remain in the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion, respecting and honoring the proper authority of our Bishops and working in concert with them to strengthen our voice within the Church.
This, of course, assumes that it is even possible to "maintain an orthodox witness and ministry" while remaining in communion and jurisdictional union with heretics and apostates. Anyone who uses the word "orthodox" in a theologically and historically meaningful way, rather than as just a catchy buzz-word, realizes how absurd that claim is.

Indeed, I would argue that the very fact of remaining so unwaveringly in full communion and jurisdictional union within an organization which has committed itself to heresy and apostasy is, de facto, "capitulat[ion] to [an] agenda that runs contrary to the authority and traditional interpretation of Holy Scripture", despite what the ACIers would have you believe. Not to mention that it sets itself solidly against the CCP... -- er, CPP... er, the other one -- by insisting upon remaining members of the very organizations which even GAFCon has rejected as apostate and without authority (never mind the genuinely orthodox Anglicans of the Continuum).

But leaving that issue of institutionalism and orthodoxy aside for now (on which I'm sure to say more eventually in some other post), lets take a look at just how this proposed plan will help ensure "orthodox witness and ministry". First, in itself it does nothing to change the apostate direction or official teachings of PEcUSA. Rather, it's just another DEPO (Delegated Pastoral Oversight) plan. It tries to work around that "oversight" issue by arguing that there's no oversight to be replaced:
in contrast to the Episcopal Visitors notion mooted after New Orleans, the Partners idea required nothing from the ‘national church’ and did not envision requests for visitations as needing to pass through the Presiding Bishop. Indeed, it might have considered such an idea inappropriate. Similarly, ‘oversight’ was never envisaged in this plan as it is not something the Presiding Bishop has at present, and so is not something for which an ‘alternative’ could be granted. In recent times it has appeared that new understandings of the office of the Presiding Bishop are being (formally or informally) contemplated, including suggestions of metropolitan powers (archiepiscopal crosses and insignia; cathedral consecrations; dismissals of Standing Committees, and such like). This would be to introduce notions into the self-governing life of the Episcopal Church that are inappropriate and untrue to the self-understanding of this church.
But other than objecting to Shori's new aping of "primatial" powers, the CPP does nothing to address those problems. And, in fact, the objection above is merely a position paper written by one of the ACI members, not an official statement of the CPP (CPP? yeah, that's right, CPP) signatories. (Indeed, I don't think all the signatories have even bothered to object to the illegal depositions and dismissals of Schoria Law alluded to above.)

Instead, as far as I can tell, the CPP seems to be about nothing except merely inviting certain other Anglican bishops to come visit particular parishes from time to time. Presumably, this is how it intends to advance "orthodox witness and ministry"... it doesn't do anything about the heretics or apostates, it doesn't even cease to be in communion and fellowship with them, it just gives an alternative (or addition) to having the more notorious among them show up at your parish. That seems to be it: nothing but the already existing practice of inviting an extra-diocesean bishop to come make a visit.

Nor does this visiting bishop have any power or authority to protect you from your diocesan bishop. He has no jurisdictional authority, and you still have to check with your diocesan before inviting the visitor. Indeed, since the CPP expressly doesn't challenge the authority of PEcUSA bishops, the local bishop still has all the rights and powers to say what "legitimate" Anglicans may or may not minister in his diocese, and to exercise his authority over his parishes to prevent them from receiving those of whom he does not approve. Oh, and of course this is all only at the sufferance of Donnette Schorlione, whose ringing endorsement of the plan consists in not having forbidden it yet.
The Partners idea received a ‘no objection’ from the Presiding Bishop and in this sense, the appropriate limits of the office of Presiding Bishop were acknowledged.
Oh, and it's still just a proposal.

Williams has been consulted about this proposal, and apparently will endorse it, at least in principle, if Schori confirms that she's going to permit it. Or at least not expressly forbid it. Actually, I can't imagine she would forbid it -- after all, this whole CCP CPP arrangement accomplishes absolutely nothing except to make an organization with a confusing acronym devoted to implementing already existing policy. I mean, come on, how useless is that?

Should it come as any surprise, then, that not much seems to divide these CPP bishops from the rest of the Episcopal mob? Fr. Hart on the AnglicanContinuum blog reports that:
Bishop Howe voted in favor of same sex blessings in the Book of Occasional Services at the General Convention in 2000, and consented to the consecration of Gene Robinson at the 2003 General Convention. Stanton voted in favor of same sex blessings in the Book of Occasional Services in 2000, but he was very much against Robinson’s consecration in 2003. Jacobus voted in favor of same sex blessings in the Book of Occasional Services in 2000, and consented to Gene Robinson’s consecration in 2003. Little voted for both same sex blessings and Robinson’s consecration. Wolf also voted in favor of both. Adams also consented to Gene Robinson’s consecration. MacPherson also voted in favor of same sex blessings in the Book of Occasional Services, and consented to Robinson’s consecration.
In other words, even if we ignore all the other issues of theology, communion, jurisdiction, etc, and look ONLY at the cause celebre of the homosexualist heresy, the CPP bishops have STILL failed to uphold an "orthodox" witness and ministry.

What it comes down to, then, is that the ACI and the CPP propose nothing more than an empty sign which
allows Episcopalians—Bishops, Dioceses, Parishes—a means of identification, a way of foregrounding Communion membership and wider Anglican belonging.
Nothing to do with upholding standards of orthodox belief, nor of following the advice of the majority of the Anglican Communion, nor even of resisting the homosexualist heresies and other apostasies in PEcUSA. This is nothing but a gesture to "foreground Communion membership." It is, quite simply, a pat on the head for slightly-uncomfortable institutionalists so that they will remain in PEcUSA. And this is supposed to make any difference?

Rev. Levenson -- defending the policy of staying in PEcUSA come hell or... well, more hell -- writes:
what if -- what if those who have left in the last decade had stayed...continued to fight the tide of revisionism?
Rev, I can tell you EXACTLY what would have happened... they would have made just as much difference as they did for the preceding two decades in which they didn't leave (and criticized the Continuuers who did) and attempted the inside strategy... absolutely no difference whatseover. And they, at least, were offering and attempting more than your mere novel acronym for confirming existing power structures and policies.

Now, you probably thought, from this image I started with, that I was going to say that the "inside strategy" makes about as much sense as people in prison for life without parole claiming that they are staying in there as part of a pro-active campaign to assert their freedom and innocence. And that's true enough... and a good description of the "inside strategy" of the last two decades.

But in the case of the CPP, we have something even more absurd. For what we have is a claim to be standing up for "orthodox witness and ministry" while doing absolutely nothing, save to re-affirm the continuing existence of some sort of affiliation with some sort of Anglican Communion. Those who are truly imprisoned by this CPP are any laity or clergy who will be fooled into thinking that their involvement with it will protect them from PEcUSA, stop the apostasy, or do anything to advance orthodoxy.

Because, you see, the CPP is not an "inside alternative" to the same project being attempted "outside" by the CCP. These are not "moderate conservatives" (as Ruth Gledhill of the Times characterizes them). Rather, the CPP is an alternative to the radical revisionists who don't mind breaking from the Anglican Communion as they pursue their apostasies and heresies. The CPP are the "moderate revisionists". They (or at least many of them) don't object to the homosexualist or other heresies in PEcUSA...
...they just don't want to officially break with the Anglican Communion in the course of tolerating and implementing (and even advocating) those heresies.

Well, bishop Howe may think this is a wonderful and exciting and praiseworthy goal and organization. And various observers may think so as well. Me? I think its worse than nothing, for it has the potential to deceive the unobservant into wasting time, effort and resources on yet more futile and ineffective gestures.

It is, in short, just more of the same.


Anonymous said...

yep. you nailed it.

Allen Lewis said...

It is, in short, just more of the same.

Precisely, LP! It is just a way for the ACI institutionalist types to justify not doing anything while they waid for the Anglican Communion to rescue them via the much-vaunted and over-rated Covenant process.

'Tis all a crock of Moonshine and Moonbeams!