Saturday, August 2, 2008

Autonomy does not excuse apostasy

Over and over and over again at this Lambeth, we've heard the constant protestations of jurisdictional autonomy. From the very first day, in which ++Williams reminded everyone that Lambeth has no jurisdictional authority, through all the indaba discussions and press converence, throughout the discussion of the Covenant... over and over and over the "autonomy bongos" have been banged. Talk all you want, but don't tell anyone what to do, because everyone can do whatever they want. Anything else would be un-Anglican.

One little problem: THAT'S WRONG.

Yes, provinces have autonomy in their governance -- organization, representation, and so forth. Fine and proper. But they do NOT have autonomy over the faith. That was never an Anglican belief... at least, not until the last few decades when PEcUSA started pretending it was.

You see, provincial autonomy was never intended to extend to matters of belief, for that belief is in something greater than each province and beyond its capacity or authority to legislate. Until recent years, that's been universally understood because it is so blazingly obvious and common-sensical.

If you want to abandon basic Christian faith and order for some other "Christianity lite" or non-Christianity -- if you want to deny the divinity of Christ or have gaia-worshiping masses or have practicing Druids or Muslims among your clergy -- fine. But don't go pretending that it is an acceptable exercise of your "autonomy" to do so. That's apostasy, not autonomy. That's not independently organizing your jurisdictional life within a Christian denomination; that's abandoning Christianity altogether.... And, dude, there's a difference.

Appropriate and independent adaption of the organization of a church is one thing; ceasing to be a Church is another. Adjustments in the administration of a body which guards the faith is one thing; adjustments to the fundamentals of that faith is another. Judicious alterations in the form of worship is one thing -- abandoning belief in the essentials of WHOM you are worshiping is another.

Yet PEcUSA and its apostate allies are constantly citing the "independence" and "autonomy" of jurisdictional organization and administration to justify independence and autonomy from Christian faith and order. They are like the stewards of the parable who, left with the responsibility to guard the vineyard (and the autonomy of administration to do so) have rejected the authority of the owner and announced that they own the vineyard themselves, beating the Owner's messengers and daily killing his Son by their apostasy. Heck, they're pulling up the metaphorical grapes and replacing them with briers.

That's not autonomy; that's mutiny.

Here's how the Chicago-Lambeth quadrilateral puts it:
the principles of unity exemplified by the undivided Catholic Church during the first ages of its existence; which principles we believe to be the substantial deposit of Christian Faith and Order committed by Christ and his Apostles to the Church unto the end of the world, and therefore incapable of compromise or surrender by those who have been ordained to be its stewards and trustees for the common and equal benefit of all men.
Even today, despite decades of revisionism and apostasy, the Constitution of PEcUSA still reads:
a constituent member of the Anglican Communion, a Fellowship within the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, of those duly constituted Dioceses, Provinces, and regional Churches in communion with the See of Canterbury, upholding and propagating the historic Faith and Order as set forth in the Book of Common Prayer.
And the much-revised Episcopal '79 BCP (or, perhaps more accurately, Book of Alternate Services, given how much it has abandoned the Prayer Book tradition) still reflects this fact in that it contains the initial justification and description of the first American BCP:
It is a most invaluable part of that blessed "liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free," that in his worship different forms and usages may without offense be allowed, provided the substance of the Faith be kept entire.
(Give PEcUSA another revision or two, and all vestiges of such fidelity will be expunged, as they already have been expunged from the BCP's services for baptism, confirmation, ordination, etc.)

And this theological underpinning doesn't operate in a vacuum -- it underlies everything a Church is supposed to do and be. The "mission" of a Church cannot be independent of this theology and identity; it must be grounded in it... or you have nothing except (as I said before) "Greenpeace with bishops." And the most recent word from the Anglican Communion (back in 1998, since no new Lambeth resolutions are being offered this decade) said just this, resolving that
all our mission springs from the action and self-revelation of God in Jesus Christ and that without this foundation, we can give no form or content to our proclamation and can expect no transforming effect from it. [We] reaffirm our faith in the doctrines of the Nicene Creed as the basis of what is to be believed, lived and proclaimed by the churches of the Anglican Communion; [we] accept the imperative character of our call to mission and evangelism as grounded in the very nature of the God who is revealed to us.
And it is not un-Anglican for member provinces to require of each other obedience to that faith which they have all received, and to which they are all, under God, accountable.

But the liberal bishops engineering the Lambeth Conference would have you believe otherwise; that Anglican "mission" is independent of ministry or identity or theology; that it doesn't matter if Anglicans don't share a Christian faith, as long as they're happily indaba-ing each other and focusing on the MDGs.

And a liberal and theologically ignorant press -- hardly surprising, when so many liberal Anglican bishops are also theologically ignorant -- buys it. And thus it portrays ++Williams' studied failure to address the true issues or to preserve the Christian identity of Anglicanism -- focusing instead on a mission without theological grounding exercised by a church without a commitment to Christ -- not as a betrayal (as archbishop Orombi rightly characterized it) on the most fundamental level of his spiritual and pastoral responsibilities (one which has all but guaranteed the continued disintegration of the Anglican Communion)... but as a diplomatic triumph:
By focusing on the Anglican Communion as a Christian community and not as a political organisation, he has ensured that the bulk of the discussion has been on those issues where Christians believe their message to be vital: poverty, global harmony, faith, prayer and charity.
No matter that there is no longer one faith within the Anglican communion (so that it is no longer a Christian community, but just a community which happens to include some Christians); or that the god to which some are praying (if they're praying at all) is the not the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; or that the "charity" being offered by some leaders is the "charity" of leading their flocks into spiritual damnation. Of course not! Far better such incoherence and spiritual death than that anyone's jurisdictional independence might be infringed in any way... or that Lambeth might possibly suggest that anyone's theological views, no matter how widely they deviate from the unchanging deposit of faith, are wrong.

The simple and obvious fact -- that while each province has autonomy in jurisdictional organization it is supposed to obediently guard, as "stewards and trustees", the unchanging faith committed to its care -- seems to have gotten completely lost in the politically-correct nicey-nice can't-we-just-be-friends indaba rumba going on right now at Lambeth.

A classic example of liberal Anglican HUTA syndrome... filling your head with the products of your own internal navel-gazing.


Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Shouldn't you remove your trousers first before using the toilet paper?