Showing posts with label THEOLOGY. Show all posts
Showing posts with label THEOLOGY. Show all posts

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Death to St. Vincent -- the Naitnecniv Canon

Many readers are probably familiar with the "Vincentian Canon" -- the statement of the fifth-century bishop Vincent of Lerins of the Church's responsibility to hold fast to the apostolic Tradition:
Now in the Catholic Church itself we take the greatest care to hold that which has been believed everywhere, always and by all. That is truly and properly 'Catholic,' as is shown by the very force and meaning of the word, which comprehends everything almost universally. We shall hold to this rule if we follow universality [i.e. oecumenicity], antiquity, and consent. We shall follow universality if we acknowledge that one Faith to be true which the whole Church throughout the world confesses; antiquity if we in no wise depart from those interpretations which it is clear that our ancestors and fathers proclaimed; consent, if in antiquity itself we keep following the definitions and opinions of all, or certainly nearly all, bishops and doctors alike.
By this, St. Vincent did not mean that truth is decided by majority vote, though some have tried to cast it that way. Rather, truth was given in revelation by Christ and the Holy Spirit to the apostles, who in turn - through both their written statements recorded in Scripture and their teaching and practices preserved in Tradition - passed on that deposit of faith to their own disciples and the Church throughout the ages.

Accordingly, from the beginning, the Church received revelation from God. Subsequently, errors arose not by God's act but by man's. Yet because they were subsequent and particular, these errors were not "universal" as the initial deposit of faith was. Suppose, for example, a heresy were to arise in fifth century Germania, and two differing theological teachings or Biblical interpretations of some issue were to be found there. But suppose only one of those interpretations appeared in Spain and Thrace and Egypt, and that that same interpretation was that perseved by the Fathers from the previous century, whereas the other one were localized to just fifth century Germania... well, then it's a fair bet that it is that more "universal" or "catholic" interpretation, not the Germanic novelty, which represents the original teaching of the Church. This is the reasoning behind St. Vincent's statement -- that that which has been universally received, taught and preached in Scripture and Tradition is normative, whereas the heresies peculiar to a particular time or place are deviant.

Thus, when various heresies arise (Gnosticism, denying that the one God is creator of heaven and earth; Arianism, denying that Christ was truly God; Nestorianism, denying that Christ was truly one Person; Monophysitism, denying that Christ was truly Man; etc) -- heresies which are contrary to the established interpretation of Scripture and to the Traditions of the Church -- the "Vincentian Canon" alerts us to the fact that these novelties are, in all likelihood, erroneous. Thus the condemnation of these errors -- and so too the condemnation of iconclasm, of the denial of the Real Presence, etc.


Now, this is not to say that new articulations - or new applications - of the fundamental truths do not arise. Of course they do. For example, the New Testament teaches that marriage is between one man and one woman. At one time and place, a particular culture might advocate polygamy. The Church, encountering this practice, would see that it violated that Scriptural norm and condemn it. At a different time and place, a culture might advocate homosexuality, or bestiality, or marriage to kitchen appliances. In all these cases, the Church would turn to the same teaching of Scripture to evaluate the cultural practice and condemn it. Sure, the situations might be new -- none of the apostles wrote about carnal relations with electric mixers -- but the faith, the norms of belief and morality, by which the new situations are evaluated remain those eternal truths of revelation.

This means, also, that what is true and established remains true and established. The fact that new issues or occasions or clarifications arise in the life of the Church does not mean that the faith, that Scripture and Tradition, have changed, or been abrogated, or been replaced by some new Third Covenant. It simply means that a new articulation is required. If the Church says, in first century Palestine, "Jesus Christ is Lord" in Aramaic, then in 7th century Rome the Church says in Latin "Jesus Christ is Lord", not "Jesus Christ is Merely a Philosopher". The language and cultural context have changed -- the message remains the same. And this is true of both theology and morality. And if murder is a sin in 4th century Milan, then murder is a sin in 21st century Dehli. The circumstances may change -- but the truth? The truth endures.


Yet various modern churchmen and academics would have you forget all this. Of course, it has been trendy in academic circles for some decades now to deny that there is any objective truth. And one can play very entertaining intellectual games - and have some remarkable discussions - playing around with these ideas. Yet I guarantee you that the most adamant advocate or such relativism will stop at the street corner to let the cars go by... he may claim in the seminar room that "there is no objective truth", but he still believes it to be objectively true that those cars exist, and that they will hit him if he jumps in front of them, and that it will hurt! Unfortunately for theologians and churchmen, the equal spiritual dangers of denying the truth of the faith are not quite so apparent in this life.

And so, day after day, we encounter people throwing out rationality, objectivity and faith. To pick just one recent example (found simply by a quick google search) we get an episcopal candidate in PEcUSA saying:
I am committed to work toward the reconciliation of our church [there's that "reconciliation" buzzword -ed]... I believe the Episcopal Church is called to bear witness that God is doing a new thing among us, to share our experience of God’s blessing through the gifted ministries—both lay and ordained—of our gay and lesbian members. And yet, both scripture and history teach us that whenever God does new things, we mortals are slow to learn.
Slow to learn, is that it? Seems to me that people are awfully slow to learn that while God may do new things, he doesn't do contradictory things. And yet this is what PEcUSA leaders would have you believe -- homosexual activity is explicitly condemned by Scripture and Tradition and the practice of the Church for centuries... but now it's suddenly okay. Out with the Vincentian Canon... God is doing a NEW THING! Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life, and no one comes to the Father except through Him? Hey-hey! Not any more! God is doing a NEW THING!!!


This same kind of thinking infects academia as well -- the notion that there is no objective (or obtainable) historical truth; that because truth is unknowable or non-existent, there's no point in treating historical evidence as objective starting-points for an investigation into fact; that history merely provides the raw material for rhetorical constructions advocating your own opinions, preferences and policies; that a historian's job is to re-create the past to support their image of the future... rather than (as St. Vincent believed) obediently to discern the truths preserved in the past to safeguard them for the future. Of course, academics are not charged with defending the truths of revelation and the faith of the Church. Nor are they required, by their offices, to believe them. (Unlike the case with clergy... well, unlike what is supposed to be the case with clergy, not that you'd know it from PEcUSA's leaders!) But this doesn't stop them from advancing revisionist history about the Church.

Ruth Glendhill gives us a preview of an upcoming article, claiming it is Christian tradition to ordain women. Now, the article isn't published yet, so it's a bit irregular of her to blog about and quote from it. And, of course, a proper evaluation of the article would require seeing the whole thing and checking its sources... who knows, perhaps this author has uncovered a radical and huge cache of evidence which will overturn the clear historical facts and precedents.

But, judging from what Gledhill quotes, I don't think so.

Here is an excerpt from the article (at least, so Gledhill presents it) which gives a preview of how this radical claim is to be defended:
The Council of NĂ“mes, held in 394, noting that “women seemed to have been assumed into levitical service,” ordered that “such ordination should be undone when it is effected contrary to reason. It should be seen that no one so presume in the future.” It is quite likely that the ministry of women to the Eucharist was being discussed here, although some scholars have argued that it was the diaconate rather than the presbyterate that the Council intended to forbid. Ninety years later, in 494, Pope Gelasius in a letter to the bishops of southern Italy and Sicily also spoke out against bishops who were allowing women to serve at the altar. Gelasius had heard that “women are confirmed to minister at the sacred altars and to perform all matters imputed only to the service of the male sex and for which women are not competent.
This is supposed to convince us that it's okay to ordain women... because this evidence of condemnation shows it was done before.


Hang on there just a sec, buddy. We're not asking if it was done before. Lots of things have been believed and done before. The divinity of Christ has been denied before, as has the Virgin Birth, the resurrection, the Real Presence, and all those other teachings which Spong and his Episcopal buddies regularly deny. Nothing new there. And just about any behavior you care to think up, no matter how deviant, has got its own historical precedents as well. Whoop-de-doo.

But not only have these things been believed or done before... they have been consistently condemned by the Church as heretical, apostate, and damnable. Sure, people - even churchmen - have done or said things contrary to Scripture and Tradition in the past. And, because they are contrary, the Church has condemned them (as in the fourth and fifth century examples above). Condemned them because, since such teachings and practices "depart from those interpretations which it is clear that our ancestors and fathers proclaimed," these beliefs, interpretations and policies are WRONG. They were wrong then; they are wrong now. The medium might change (English rather than Aramaic; internet rather than papyrus; 21st century culture rather than 2nd century culture)... but the message, the truth, remains the same. THAT's what the Vincentian Canon has to say about these revisionist innovations and recycled heresies.


Of course, you can guess what the modernist liberal/heretic/apostate response will be:
Oh, but that was the real truth which was viciously oppressed by all those misogynistic homophobic fundamentalist bigots (like St. Paul) who wrenched control of the Church away from Christ and the Holy Spirit within the first months of its existence and have rigorously suppressed the truth in their vast right-wing conspiracy (burning documents, hiding evidence, and crushing dissenters and freedom fighters) until, finally, in our day, the real truth has been rediscovered [be it by a new examination of well-known documents or the prophetic voice of homosexual activists or the pseudo-scientific babbling of retired clergy] and restored to the world! The fact that there is so little evidence of these practices, and that when they do show up they are consistently condemned, just PROVES that these are the true, original teachings and practices of Jesus which those demonic right-wing patriarchs have been suppressing since day one!
Or something like that.

In other words, what we have being preached by PEcUSA and its allies today is the exact inverse of the Vincentian canon... the Naitnecniv canon!

I.e. if something has ever been done or preached by somebody in (or claiming to be in) the Church, and especially if that practice or belief was criticized and condemned -- and even more so if it's a behavior or teaching which only appears rarely in a few isolated, out-of-the way spots -- then those isolated examples justify our mimicry of them... for their very rarity and historical rejection proves that they MUST be the truth!

And so there's nothing to do for it now but impose these "new things" on the rest of the world and to persecute all those who disagree... those who uphold traditional Christian teaching and practice. It is, after all, their turn now, those evil repressive bigots!


Long live Saint Naitnecniv!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Wreck-on-silly-ation

If there's one thing worse than bad theology, it's bad theology over and over and over again.

Which makes me think yet again, not surprisingly, of Dr. Schori, Presiding Apostate.

In a recent emission about "What we're here to do and be as part of the Anglican Communion", Schori once again riffs on her theme of "reconciliation", telling us all about
the ways in which you and I live out our baptismal covenant and engage in God's mission of reconciling the world (Book of Common Prayer, page 855)
Of course, she needs to check her BCP (no doubt she's already working off the martini-stained pages of a draft of the more eco-friendly BCP we've been promised), which actually says "The ministry of lay persons is... to carry on Christ's work of reconciliation in the world". (Of course, the BCP itself rather selectively reports the Bible's own words, which speaks of reconciliation to God... but we don't want to talk about God, but focus on "in the world." But the perversions of the Episcopal 1979 BCP are too many and varied to examine here.)

Anyway, does Schori on "reconciliation" sound familiar? It should. This has been a pet theme of Schoria Law for years now. It showed up in her comments upon her election as Presiding Apostate, as she described what the mission of the Episcopal church is:
Having the experience of sitting down face to face with a broad spectrum of viewpoints in the Episcopal Church over numerous days gave us the opportunity to build relationships with people who on the surface we might not choose to have relationships with. That kind of relational work, of reconciling work, is what this church is about.
And the theme has come up over and over again... it's the mantra she chanted when some Virginia parishes fled PEcUSA for a Christian jurisdiction:
Our mission as a Church is the reconciliation of the world. We will continue to feed the hungry, house the homeless, educate children, heal the sick, minister to those in prison, and speak good news to those who have only heard the world's bad news. That is the work to which Jesus calls us, and that is the work we shall continue - with a priority of peace and justice work framed by the Millennium Development Goals.
Do a google search and you'll come up many more examples.


Skim a few, and you'll see (as from the above) that for her, this mission of "reconciliation" apparently equates caring for the "least" and the "left out" -- i.e. the poor, the oppressed, the minority (but loudest) deviant sexual practices, etc. In other words, it appears to mean, in the world, the Millenium Development Goals of which she's so fond... and, in the church, supporting the pro-lesbigay-activity lobby. This is her "reconciliation of the world."

Now, caring for the poor; healing the sick; &c all these are good things. Make no mistake. But are they the "ministry of reconciliation"? Is gay marriage, and adultery, and toleration of heresy & apostasy what Scripture really means by this "ministry of reconciliation"? Can it even support this interpretation?

I realize that what Scripture actually says is of very little interest to Episcopal bishops... but if you're one of those antiquated knuckle-dragging brain-dead oddball (like myself) who actually is interested in Scripture, perhaps we should take a quick look at it to appreciate just how far from divine truth and revelation this Episcopal goodspeak has fallen.


Presumably, Dr. Schori and the BCP are referring to 2 Cor 5 when they talks about a "ministry of reconciliation".
Therefore, if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to Himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.

So, what is Scripture's view of this "ministry of reconciliation"? Well, first it is fundamentally the ministry of Christ - reconciling us to God. We needed reconciliation with the Father because we were separated from him by our sin, and the death which is its wages. Christ reconciled us to the Father when He "made Him to be sin who knew no sin" -- i.e. to take our sins upon Himself and suffer for them, paying their price (archetype of the OT's "scapegoat")... our sins, which prevented the reconciliation, being thereby removed.

This is why the passage describes us, having been reconciled, as being "a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come." In other words, this ministry by Christ results in the destruction of sin and our transformation into the likeness of Christ by the law of Grace. (A process described throughout the NT; if the Presiding Apostate isn't familiar with this it's time for some remedial Bible study. Instruction by a child with a fifth-grade reading level who hasn't ever been corrupted in an Episcopal Sunday School class might be a good place to start.)

The Father, in turn, has given Christ's "ministry of reconciliation" to us: "All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to Himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation".

In fact, this "ministry of reconciliation" isn't, strictly speaking, something we do -- rather, it's something God does and to which we invite people: "So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God." It is Christ who performs the ministry of reconciliation... we are ambassadors, urging others to be reconciled to Him.


Now, is this "ministry of reconciliation" to celebrate homosexual marriages and ordain active homosexuals, so they don't feel left out? No. Is it to reduce bovine methane emissions or use more sporks? No. Is it even to address the urgent needs of third-world poverty? No. Is it, in short, any of the things that Schori describes as the church's "ministry of reconciliation"? Not a one.

Rather, this ministry of reconciliation is to reconcile man to God through Christ by abandonment of sin, by God's forgiveness, and by a life of righteousness. And the destruction and abandonment (not the celebration) of sinful activity is at the heart of this "reconciliation" -- it is what Christ accomplished for us as the prerequisite for our reconciliation to the Father.

The Church's "ministry of reconciliation", in short, is to beseech the sinful world to repent and be reconciled to God through Christ. Which is the opposite of PEcUSA's self-appointed ministry, which is to reconcile the laity to the sinful practices of the world, thus alienating them from God.


Let's quickly look at a few other instances in which the New Testament speaks of "reconciliation" (both 'katallasso' and 'apokatallasso') to make sure that this reading of 2 Cor 5 hasn't been taken out of context.
For in him all [Christ] the fulness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. And you, who once were estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him, provided that you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel. (Col 1:19-23)
I.e. we are "reconciled" by removing, through His body and death, the "evil deeds" of our sin, that we might be "holy and blameless" before the Father... provided, of course, that we continue in the faith!
But God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we are now justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.... so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Rom 5:8-10,21)
Once again, that which separated us from the Father -- our sin -- is removed by Christ that we might be reconciled to Him.


In summary, then, what the Presiding Layperson has done is to bandy about the Scriptural notion of "ministry of reconciliation"... but using the vague reference to pervert and invert its meaning. For when she says that the "ministry of reconciliation" means advocating social justice in this world, particularly in promoting the homosexualist heresy and persecuting Scriptural Christians, she reveals she doesn't have the first clue about what the Scriptural meaning of "ministry of reconciliation" actually is.

And, in fact, she uses it advocate the exact opposite of its Scriptural meaning: i.e. the alienation of man from God's righteousness -- the rejection or abandonment of the reconciliation which Christ offers us -- by reconciliation with sin, with the "old man", and with the world.


But, then again, as Episcopal bishops keep telling us by word and deed... we can always rewrite the Bible. I guess Schori's ignoring and perverting of the plain meaning of the passage is just part of that well-established Episcopal process.

They still don't get it

It really is hardly news, these days, when Episcopal sorts show their complete ignorance of matters Scriptural and theological. Given what sort of garbage their seminaries have been teaching for the last few decades, that's hardly surprising.

Nevertheless, I'm still amazed at their periodic attempts to defend their lunacy and apostasy by ignorant appeals to Tradition. This particular swine pearl caught my eye just now:
The Most Rev Katharine Jefferts Schori, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, has vowed to ask Dr Williams "to encourage other parts of the Communion to cease their incursions" while they are together at Lambeth.

She said: "It's totally opposed to a traditional Christian understanding of how bishops relate to each other. That's the biggest difficulty. They're setting up as something else in the same geographical territory."
That's a lovely institutionalist sentiment... but it's not "a traditional Christian understanding."

You see, the Christian understanding is not that bishops form some arbitrary corporation, each with a bailiwick in which he can do whatever he likes. (And Schori herself obviously doesn't believe this... after all, she illegally deposed +Schofield when he and his diocese did what they canonically and legally chose and imposed her own illegal and uncanonical shadow diocese which is, by any reasonable measure, even more irregular than those parishes or dioceses which have sought alternate oversight!) Rather, the Christian understanding is that the bishops represent Christ to their people, and their authority as head of the people and their relationship with their peers is grounded in that unity in Christ. A unity which involves preserving the faith that is His will and teaching. "If ye love Me, keep My commandments..." THIS is the "traditional Christian understanding" of the bishop -- take a look at what St. Ignatius of Antioch, who died less than a century after Christ's resurrection, wrote on the subject:
I have therefore hastened to exhort you to set yourselves in harmony with the mind of God. For even Jesus Christ, our inseparable Life, is the Mind of the Father, as also the bishops, established in the furthest quarters, are in the mind of Jesus Christ. Hence it is fitting for you to set yourselves in harmony with the mind of the bishop, as indeed you do. For your noble presbytery, worthy of God, is fitted to the bishop, as the strings to a harp. And thus by means of your accord and harmonious love Jesus Christ is sung. Form yourselves one and all into a choir, that blending in concord, taking the key-note of God, you may sing in unison with one voice through Jesus Christ to the Father, that He may hear you and recognize by means of your well-doing that you are members of His Son. Therefore it is profitable for you to live in unblameable unity, that you may be also partakers of God continually.
Sure, there is a tradition that established diocesean boundaries should be preserved. You can point to canon 15 of the Council of Nicaea for example. But the more fundamental issue, indeed the context, for understanding "bishop" and "diocese" and "jurisdiction" is that this is among the "communion" of bishops who share, preach, and defend that same catholic faith. And the same Ecumenical Councils which condemn certain persons for boundary-crossings are exactly those which excommunicate heretical bishops and replace them with orthodox ones.

Those who now come as missionary bishops, or extend their jurisdictions into, Shori's "territory" are not crossing diocesean boundaries... not "setting up shop" in someone else's jurisdiction. They are, rather, extending their authority into territories which no longer have valid bishops. This is precisely what GAFCon said:
We reject the authority of those churches and leaders who have denied the orthodox faith in word or deed. We pray for them and call on them to repent and return to the Lord.... We recognize the desirability of territorial jurisdiction for provinces and dioceses of the Anglican Communion, except in those areas where churches and leaders are denying the orthodox faith or are preventing its spread, and in a few areas for which overlapping jurisdictions are beneficial for historical or cultural reasons.
Which is, in fact, similar to what the Continuing Church movement said (rather more strongly and expressly) decades earlier:
We affirm that the Anglican Church of Canada and the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, by their unlawful attempts to alter Faith, Order and Morality (especially in their General Synod of 1975 and General Convention of 1976), have departed from Christ's One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church... We affirm that all former ecclesiastical governments, being fundamentally impaired by the schismatic acts of lawless Councils, are of no effect among us, and that we must now reorder such godly discipline as we strengthen us in the continuation of our common life and witness... We affirm that the claim of any such schismatic person or body to act against any Church member, clerical or lay, for his witness to the whole Faith is with no authority of Christ's true Church, and any such inhibition, deposition or discipline is without effect and is absolutely null and void.
THESE are the sentiments which reflect "traditional Christian understanding" of bishops, their responsibilities and their inter-relations.


Because, you see, it is not that these alternate non-Lambeth jurisdictions are coming in to "set up as something else in the same geographical territory."

It is, rather, that they are coming in to preserve in that territory the faith and order which Shori and her cronies are replacing with SOMETHING ELSE.

It is these missionary actions (those condemned by ++Williams and Schori) which truly represent fidelity to "traditional Christian understanding." As Williams himself, scholar of the Arian crisis, knows full well.

Monday, July 14, 2008

GAFCon predictions from June

Back in the first week of June, before GAFCon met, a thread on the MCJ digressed into exchanges between people wondering what that (then still upcoming) meeting would bring. In light of what emerged at that meeting and reactions in the subsequent weeks, I'm going to copy/paste some of my posts from that thread over here, as the issues raised therein have actually become more, not less, relevant since they were first posted. I've color-highlighted some pertinent phrases.


Submitted by LP at 6/7/2008 11:35:19 AM
Technically, they'll be in communion with Canterbury. In functional and practical terms, they won't be. They'll have nothing to say to Rowan or his successor until such time as CoE repents and brings itself back to the Gospel.
Given that the Anglican Communion isn't actually a "communion" in any meaningful theological or spiritual sense of the term, the GS primates actually have an opening.

They can affirm that their "membership" in the "Anglican Communion" will continue to mean all it ever did mean -- i.e. a fraternal non-binding fellowship of independent churches with a common origin but no mutual accountability or overarching standards or authority. They can continue to be "friendly" to ++Williams but pay him and pointless Lambeth resolutions precisely as little heed as PEcUSA now pays them. They'll still be "in" the "Anglican Communion" just as much as ever; just as much as PEcUSA and AciC are.

As a "sub group", on the other hand, they can form their own genuine communion, with standards of theology and ethics, of ecclesiastical practice, sacramental recognition, clergy interchange, and of mutual accountability. They can create and enter into this actual communion independently of the Angloapostates and focus their energy and attention there, where it will be of some use.

In essence, therefor, they can implement the "two tiered" solution -- but rather than a system in which Canturbury is in tier one and groups which are even more un-Christian and un-Anglican in tier 2, the would view the CoE itself as a "tier 2" member -- i.e. "tier 2" = the "Anglican Communion" as it's currently constituted: i.e. just a friendly fellowship of historically related independent jurisdictions, not a real "communion" at all -- while "tier 1" members would be those who actually maintain genuine Anglican Christianity and which actually have real intercommunion, one based on a common faith, shared sacraments, and mutual accountability based on a clear and express Covenant.


Submitted by LP at 6/8/2008 6:15:51 PM
a collection of all the speeches from the opening convocation of the Episcopal Synod of America twenty years ago.
I believe that several of the big churches in that group -- i.e. the ones with the funds and the clout to be able to survive for a decade or so while the smaller or less solid parishes in their midst were suborned or their people and clergy driven off -- formed a big part of the nucleus of the AMiA.

It's interesting to note that the largest and most organized "fight from within" group of the 80s and 90s managed to accomplish less than nothing (i.e. fight just to survive with many of their parishes lost in the process) until they broke from PEcUSA.

The die-hard institutionalists have learned nothing from history -- the "fight from within" mindset has been tried and has failed utterly. And things are even more stacked against "traditionalists" now than they were in the 1980s.

Frankly, the institutionalist "fight from within" mindset is merely a variation on the "head in the sand" mindset... the latter pretends there's not a problem; the former pretends the problem isn't nearly as seriously as it so obviously is.



Submitted by LP at 6/9/2008 7:49:41 AM
LP: "They can continue to be "friendly" to ++Williams but pay him and pointless Lambeth resolutions precisely as little heed as PEcUSA now pays them."
Honestly, that really seems to lack integrity from the "orthodox" GS/GAFCON just as much as the lack of integrity from revisionist TEc when it ignores Lambeth (especially 1.10).
Perhaps... but perhaps not if they publicly announce that, given the history of the past 40 years, this is what they understand the "Canturbury Anglican Communion" officially to mean, as this is all it has, in practice, ever meant. Which would be far more honest than PEcUSA's typical double-talk.
Two, suppose GAFCON forms this "subgroup" as you call it without formal announcement and proclaiming that it is still in full formal communion with the See of Canterbury... In your theological opinion, does this possess full ecclesiastical, biblical, and God-honoring integrity?
As Antique pointed out, GAFCON may not be the place where this could happen. It might be, however, the place where a number of people get together and decide it will happen. But this would require substantially more backbone and cahones than even the G.S. has shown in past years. Which isn't to say that they won't or can't... just that it would represent an "escalation".

As for your question, if the "Genuine Anglican Communion" were to have any meaning, it would have to make clear its difference and division from the "Canturbury Anglican Communion"... the latter a mere fellowship, the former genuine sacramental communion. It would, thus, be pointless to form such a formal subgroup without it having a clear sacramental identity -- i.e. that the members are in full communion with each other but not with non-members; that membership in it requires breaking off any sacramental communion with PEcUSA or anyone in communion with PEcUSA; etc. (Otherwise, it's just another more or less sacramentally meaningless "sub group", which the Canturbury Anglican Communion already has plenty of... e.g. the Global South subgroup itself.)

This is, I fear, unlikely to happen -- for two reasons. First, the waffling of various dioceses within PEcUSA. There's an understandable desire to make "common cause" with those "traditionalists" still within PEcUSA... but when this includes full sacramental communion, it is effectively cutting their own case off at the knees. (Or higher).

For such a "real communion" to have any meaning, it has to make a clean and full break with the apostates. The proper response to those -- like +Duncan -- who share their principles but are still in communion with (and members of) apostate jurisdictions is to say "we'll welcome you with open arms, once you are no longer a member of an apostate jurisdiction and have broken off all sacramental ties with it. Until then, we cannot count you as a full member." This also means saying to the CoE (and ++Williams) "while we certainly continue to share a friendly regard for you because of our common heritage, and while we'll certainly be willing to continue in various Anglican-tradition meetings and consultations, like Lambeth, nevertheless, because you are in sacramental commuion with apostates, and because you yourself do not measure up to the "mere Anglicanism" of our Covenant, we are not in full sacramental communion with you -- even though we remain in the 'Canturbury Anglican Communion' (which isn't - and never has been - a "real communion" anyway) with you."

This would be a break from how the G.S. has operated to date -- since, for all its occasional strict messages to PEcUSA and the AciC, has continued to try to straddle two ultimately incompatible positions.

Secondly, all this talk of "sacramental communion" and its implications -- although it reflects the implicit ideals of Scripture as well as the practice and teaching of the undivided Church for a millennium, as well as the Western catholic and Eastern orthodox traditions since then, not to mention the Anglican teaching and understanding at least until the last century -- is, to greater or lesser extent, alien to modern Protestants.

In a stereotypical "Protestant" view, there's little or no difference between "fellowship" and "communion", and the Eucharist is just a symbol and acting out of an existing "fellowship", rather than the sacramental bond which creates the spiritual reality of "full sacramental communion" that is more intimate and substantive than the mere Christian "fellowship".

Accordingly, insofar as parts of the G.S. are more "Protestant" on this score, they may lack the theological and ecclesiastical understanding to make such a distinction -- friendly (or even not-so-friendly) "fellowship" with the CoE and others VS full sacramental communion with the genuine Anglican Christians -- in the first place. Now, that's making it black and white -- there are "intermediate" positions (of varying degrees of coherence) between those poles, and it may be that many of the relevant G.S. jurisdictions are "catholic" enough to make the distinctions.

But whether the G.S. jurisdicitons share enough common ground on (and respect for) catholic (and traditional Anglican) sacramental theology & its implications so as to support the two-tiered approach... I don't know.

Submitted by LP at 6/9/2008 12:33:54 PM
Also keep in mind there are several layers of Communion in the AC. Most of the GS are, right this moment, either in "impaired communion" or "broken communion" (the latter being Episcobabble for "not in communon") with the heretical Provinces.
This is symptomatic of the problem. Any theological understanding of "communion" which is based in Scripture and Tradition -- rather than being used as just a synonym for a Protestant ideal of "fellowship" -- recognizes that it is a "yes or no" situation. You cannot be "partly" in communion with someone. You either are, or you are not. And it is a transitive property: if A is in communion with B, and B is in communion with C, then A is in communion with C.

The mistake made by the "Protestant" mindset is that "being in communion" basically means "sharing some basic beliefs with" or "sharing Christian fellowship and history" with. That is wrong.

Sharing beliefs and fellowship are a good thing - don't get me wrong - and the closer the beliefs, the greater the possible fellowship. But "being in communion", in the Biblical and patristic sense, means, essentially, being one church. It doesn't just mean that you agree with some of each other's theology, it means that you share the fundamentals of belief and that you recognize each other's sacraments and clergy.

Accordingly, this whole idea of "impaired communion" is, ultimately, incoherent. It is -- in my view -- nothing more than a timid palliative; a way of saying "we don't have the guts to break off institutional affiliation with Canturbury but we want to express our distaste with your theology." It's sound and fury, signifying nothing.

If the CoE is formally "in communion" with PEcUSA, then that means not just that the CoE recognizes that everything PEcUSA teaches and practices is acceptable -- that it's theology is viewed as orthodox and its practices viewed as unobjectionable -- but also that the CoE views all of PEcUSA's clergy as valid and all its sacraments as assured. That's what "being in communion" means -- the teaching is accepted, the practices are appropriate, the clergy and sacraments are valid. Practices may vary, of course -- matters of liturgy, discipline, local customs, etc. "Being in communion" doesn't require being identical. But it does require agreement in theological and ecclesiastical basics.

This means that anyone who is "in communion" with PEcUSA has, by that very fact, stated that they believe nothing that PEcUSA teaches errs on fundamentals and that PEcUSA's ecclesial acts (sacraments, ordinations, etc) are all valid. Anyone "in communion" with PEcUSA thus, by that fact, states that they believe women can be ordained, that homosexual activity is not sinful, and that ordination and marriage of the homosexually active is acceptable... even if their own jurisdiction doesn't share these practices. It also, by the by, means accepting PEcUSA's institutional support of abortion and various "positive" heretical statements.

Now, in practice, I don't think most of the Global South accepts any of this. In which case, the only coherent reaction is to anathematize PEcUSA -- to be "out of communion" with it, at least until it repents and reforms. (yeah, right.) However, the CoE and other bodies which have refused to break communion with PEcUSA have ipso facto stated that all of PEcUSA's official teaching and practices are acceptable. They may not share those teachings and practices, but by not breaking off communion they say, in effect, that those differing practices do not matter -- that PEcUSA has, by them, not abandoned anything essentially Anglican or Christian. The only response to such affiliated jurisdictions -- those which are, as it were, accomplices to the murder of Christianity -- is also to break communion with them. Because the "Christianity" they teach is one which has also abandoned the fundaments -- because it says compromise on these funamentals is acceptable. Acceptable because communion is maintained with those who have abandoned the fundamentals. Meaning these affiliated jurisdiction don't think those things are, actually, fundamental after all.

To date, the Global South hasn't had the cahones to do this. And the reason, as far as I can tell, is not wanting to "leave the Anglican Communion"... even when staying in that Canturbury Club means abandoning an insistance upon the fundamentals of Anglican Christianity.

(Which is, by the by, why the position of people like +Beckwith and +Ackerman, even though they claim to be "catholics", is fundamentally incoherent and non catholic... regardless of how laudable their teaching of Trinitarian theology or sexual ethics might be.)


This is where I was coming from in my earlier post about the fact that "the Anglican Communion isn't actually a communion" gives the G.S. an opening they ought to -- but, to date have been too timid to -- take. What, frankly, they ought to have done from the get-go rather than perpetrating this nonsense about "impaired communion"

I.e. for them formally to state the de facto reality that the Anglican Communion isn't a "communion" in the theological or spiritual sense of the word, but merely a fellowship of losely affiliated but completely independent jurisdictions. And to state that, while they're prepared to remain in a lose "fellowship" or "affiliation" with these other jurisdictions, they do not believe that such a fellowship means "being in communion" -- since being "in communion" requires shared theological and ecclesiastical beliefs and practices which the "Canturbury Anglican Communion" does not require.

In short, they can be out of communion with the apostates -- and with those who continue "in communion" with the apostates -- and still be "in the Anglican Communion" with them (and with the apostate-enabling CoE) in every sense that "being in the Anglican Communion" now has. No need to throw around incoherent ideas like "impared communion" or illogical suppositions of non-transitive communion relationships.


Submitted by Truth Unites... and Divides at 6/12/2008 4:03:51 PM
[Crossposting LP's Excellent Comment. Maybe someone will look at all the blogosphere discussion on SPREAD. And LP's comment is completely relevant.]

lol... take it easy guys. :-)

The "catholic" (and, historically, Anglican... and of course Roman and Eastern) understanding of schism and unity is this:

The ideal is to be one in the faith. One faith; one Church; one baptism. But this unity is in the faith. It is, ultimately, an expression of unity in Christ. If that oneness in Christ isn't there, then the unity is as meaningless as membership in the Audubon Society... it is an "institutional" unity of a sort, but because it's not based on oneness in Christ it is, therefore, not the "spiritual unity" which is the sort the Church is charged to seek out.

Thus the Biblical and Traditional reason for schism -- such as when Simon Magus was ejected by the apostles; when the patristic fathers broke communion with the Arians, etc -- is the necessary response when someone has broken off that unity. If someone says "I reject Christ" and you say "I'll remain in spiritual communion with you" you have, thereby, said that that "communion" is not based on unity in Christ. The proper response, by contrast, is to say "you have, by abandoning Christ, abandoned the ground of our union and communion."

That apostate has, in effect, performed the schism. The orthodox response, separating himself from the apostate, is not creating schism but recognizing that the apostate has already created that schism. To stay "in communion" with the apostate is not avoiding schism -- it is participating in it. Confronted with apostasy, the choice of the orthodox is not "schism or no schism" -- the choice is whether to participate in that schism, or to avoid it by separating from - and anathematizing - the apostate.

In this sense, the "Anglican Communion" is schismatic. It is schismatic in so far as it has -- in refusing to separate itself from the apostates -- joined their schism from Christ. Refusing to separate doesn't avoid schism... it participates in it. "Unity in Christ's Church is all important" -- fair enough. But when you include apostates in your "church" you have ipso facto broken away from "Christ's Church" and joined the schism.

Of course, it is ONLY those actions which genuinely separate one's self from Christ -- genuine apostasy and heresy -- which require this remedy. Differences of pious practice, of interpretations within acceptable norms, etc... in all these, believers have freedom. Those difference which are not theological & ecclesiastical do not merit such separation. Right there, you probably have removed the reasons for 50% of the more-or-less undifferentiated "vanilla Protestant" denominations to be separate. (And, truth be told, for many of the Continuing Church jurisdictions' separations as well.)

Further, it's when a jurisdiction has embraced heresy and apostasy -- as PEcUSA has -- not when this or that individual in it has that communion between jurisdictions must be broken. Every group has its wackos... the issue is not what the wackos say (wackos who, hopefully, will be properly disciplined within their own jurisdiction) but what the jurisdiction as a whole officially teaches and practices. Thus the reason to break from PEcUSA is not because of Pike or Spong or Vicky Gene -- but because of the institutional teaching and practice as a whole. (The flip side of which is that the presence of more traditional bishops -- such as Ackerman or Duncan -- isn't adequate reason to stay. The institution is still schismatic, heretical and apostate.)

Nevertheless, the fundamental point is this: the Anglican Communion is, as a whole, schismatic because -- in refusing to separate itself from apostates -- it has abandoned its foundational unity in Christ and, thus, joined the schism. It has placed "jurisdictional affiliation" over preserving the faith -- and that is heterodox.

There are different possible remedies -- getting the group, as currently constituted, to eject its apostate members (which seems unlikely); forming a separate jurisdiction requiring and preserving that unity in Christ (and consecrating new bishops & forming new jurisdictions where needed -- e.g. a new CoE with a new bishop of the see of Canturbury); etc. No doubt there are others. But the current "status quo" is not among them -- for, right now, the Anglican Communion has abandoned its unity in Christ (and, thus, abandoned any spiritually meaningful "communion" and "unity") because it has ceased to make unity in the faith a requisite for membership.

Just remember: separation and anathematization are not, per se, misguided or improper. When confronted with apostasy, they are the only way to avoid joining the schism. The only way to preserve the unity in Christ which is the whole point in the first place.