Experts on the church across the theological spectrum agreed that most splinter Christian groups withered over time. But they said that the Common Cause statement could not be easily dismissed, given how tense relations were in the Anglican Communion, the world’s third-largest Christian body.
“They’ve set up a timetable that means that they are moving forward,” said the Rev. Ephraim Radner, a leading Episcopal conservative and professor of historical theology at Wycliffe College in Toronto. “They will ask for recognition as an alternative to the Episcopal Church even before there’s been a resolution to the actual status of Episcopal Church in the Communion.”
In February, the archbishops of the communion’s provinces, or regional churches, issued the directive on gay bishops and on same-sex unions to which the Episcopal bishops responded earlier this week. The archbishops, various Anglican bodies and the archbishop of Canterbury, the spiritual leader of the communion, must now weigh that response and their next steps.
“Seeking recognition by these provinces looks to be part of an effort to replace the Episcopal Church with their new and improved province,” said the Rev. Mark Harris, a member of the Executive Council, which governs the Episcopal Church between the conventions it holds every three years. Common Cause is “hoping to use the argument that a majority of the provinces recognize them and not us.”
1. William Witt wrote:
“Every one of them has splintered into competing factions within a short time,” Ms. Nunley said in an e-mail message. “Based on that history, there’s no reason to think this will play out any differently.”
This would also be true of Anglicanism itself, from whose loins have sprung Congregationalists, Unitarians (yes! King’s Chapel, Boston) Baptists, and Methodists, and, ultimately, every variation of free church, holiness church, and Pentecostal that has sprung from them.
What Nunley ignores (deliberately?) is that Common Cause is a group that is rather bringing the splinter groups back together, and is seeking recognition from international Primates. It is rather a concentric partnership than a fissiparous splintering.
I am reminded of the beginnings of the Church of South India.
September 30, 8:23 am | [comment link]
2. William Witt wrote:
And, btw, whatever the extent of their disapproval, both Ephraim Radner and Mark Harris “get it.” Jan Nunley does not.
September 30, 8:25 am | [comment link]
3. Harvey wrote:
Assuming Ms Nunley Is physically able to see it would appear that she will doesn’t wish to acknowledge that the TEC is the one splintering from the AC. Those “splintering” from the TEC (currently 600 parishes or more - some quite large) are just wanting to “go home”
September 30, 8:35 am | [comment link]
4. Anonymous Layperson wrote:
ACN + AMiA + REC + APA + CANA + ANiC + FIF/NA = CCP
September 30, 8:45 am | [comment link]
Don’t see too much splintering here. From watching the press conference it appears that all parties are quite intent on making this work. If they do, maybe other “splinters” will join as well.
5. Sarah1 wrote:
RE: “. . . even before there’s been a resolution to the actual status of Episcopal Church in the Communion.”
My problem with the quote from Dr. Radner is that it appears—after four years of the “Windsor Process” that the resolution to the actual status of the Episcopal church has been made.
September 30, 9:01 am | [comment link]
6. Kevin Montgomery wrote:
Well, I have no idea if this new Church of the Common Cause Partnership will get off the ground and flourish or eventually splinter, but I wish you well in continuing your mission. All the best to you in the new CCCP.
Do svedonya, comrade.
September 30, 9:23 am | [comment link]
7. Craig Stephans wrote:
It continues to baffle me that TEC’s spokespeople attempt to deny reality. The fact that they do not take these events seriously is indicative of how they do not take individual members of TEC seriously. They ignore whatever does not line up with their revisionist doctrine and put it off…that includes the beliefs of many faithful to TEC. Their condescension has no limits.
September 30, 9:27 am | [comment link]
8. Mick wrote:
Membership of the Anglican Communion involves recognition by the focus of unity (ABC) and the instruments communion (Lambeth Conference, Primates Meeting, and the ACC). There cannot be two simultaneous US members of the AC. For this to play out as Common Cause wishes it would involve:
1. The ABC declaring himself out of communion with TEC.
2. As such, the ABC declaring his intention not to issue invitations to any TEC bishops to Lambeth Conferences.
3. The Primates as a body declaring themselves out of communion with TEC.
4. The removal of TEC from membership of the ACC (either by a two-thirds majority of ACC members, or by a two thirds majority of Primates acting on a decision of their respective Provinces [General Convention / Synod vote].
Only when the above is accomplished could ‘CC’ be considered for full membership of the AC as the ‘official’ national member, which would involve:
1. The ABC declaring himself in full communion with ‘CC’.
2. As such, the ABC declare his intention to issue Lambeth Conference invitations to all ‘CC’ bishops.
3. The Primates as a body declaring themselves to be in full communion with ‘CC’.
4. The ACC admitting ‘CC’ to full membership by a two thirds majority.
Not only would the above take years, but the possibility of it happening is pretty slim. ‘CC’ may seek approval from individual Primates, but it’s doubtful if they could gain two-thirds of them. Individual churches may regard themselves as being in full communion with ‘CC’ (as Nigeria recognises the REC) but that will not make them full AC members. And I have serious doubts as to whether, when push comes to shove, too many AC churches (in their entirety) will follow them out of the Communion.
September 30, 12:08 pm | [comment link]
9. CharlesB wrote:
Mick, maybe it is time for a miracle? What if Lambeth 2008 were cancelled, giving time for the events you listed to transpire? I think it is time to call TEC’s bluff. Repent, seriously repent, no more meetings, or walk apart from the rest of the world’s Anglicans.
September 30, 12:26 pm | [comment link]
10. Mick wrote:
Lambeth 2008 will not be cancelled, and anyone putting their hopes on that will be seriously disappointed. I think we can safely assume the ABC and the Primates’ Standing Committee were satisfied with the HoB statement. Individual Primates may reject it, but it will most likely get a two-thirds majority acceptance by the Primates’ Meeting. TEC invitations will stand and Lambeth 2008 will go ahead. And +++Williams will call the bluff of those Global South primates who VOWED their bishops would not attend if TEC did.
September 30, 12:53 pm | [comment link]
11. Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) wrote:
Or, Mick (#8) ABC will find himself titular head of an increasingly moribund group of overwhelmingly white, wealthy, highly-educated people in a handful of nations, while Christ’s church goes on about His business without them.
The Common Cause and all reasserters would do well to meditate deeply on Revelation 2:2-6. It is both a commendation—for testing “those who claim to be apostles and are not” and “hat[ing] the practices of the Nicolatians, (false teachers who compromised with the idolatry and immorality of saecular society) which I also hate.”
Yet it is also a stark warning. “Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come and remove your lampstand from its place.”
Stewardship of the faith is already being transferred from a wealthy, complacent, and self-absorbed west, and is being handed to the global south. This is not unique to the Anglican tradition, but also Rome and some others.
The call to all of us is: lead, follow, or get out of the way.
September 30, 1:12 pm | [comment link]
12. BCP28 wrote:
I am skeptical of CC, but I would warn those at ENS and 815 that these people do seem to understand the shortcomings of their history and probably do not intend to repeat them.
September 30, 2:06 pm | [comment link]
13. Mick wrote:
ABC will find himself titular head of an increasingly moribund group of overwhelmingly white, wealthy, highly-educated people in a handful of nations, while Christ’s church goes on about His business without them.
Some have convinced themselves of this ‘Euro-centric’ future for the AC but they may be in for a shock. Igreja Episcopal Anglicana do Brasil, La Iglesia Anglicana de Mexico, Iglesia Anglicana de la Region Central de America, The Nippon Sei Ko Kai, The Episcopal Church in the Philippines, Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui, The Anglican Church of Southern Africa, The Anglican Church of Burundi, The Church of the Province of Melanesia, and The Anglican Church of Korea may be just the obvious ones to buck the caricature. And when the chips are down, my guess is a lot of the ‘sure bets’ will ultimately choose the global AC over fragile obscurity.
September 30, 2:45 pm | [comment link]
Worth having a look at the provincial reports to the Listening Process. Not as much fire and brimstone as some might expect.
14. Jeffersonian wrote:
Lambeth 2008 will not be cancelled, and anyone putting their hopes on that will be seriously disappointed.
This is likely the case. It is also likely that the proceedings will be moved to the servants’ quarters.
September 30, 3:20 pm | [comment link]
15. Mick wrote:
This is likely the case. It is also likely that the proceedings will be moved to the servants’ quarters.
It may be the case that individual bishops may choose not to attend, but out of interest, if (as seems likely) the Primates’ Meeting by majority accepts the TEC HoB statement and TEC invitations stand, would you care to definitively state which provinces in their entirety you believe will NOT attend Lambeth 2008?
September 30, 3:27 pm | [comment link]
16. William Witt wrote:
I have already addressed the question of whether it is necessary to be in communion with Canterbury to be Anglican here.
September 30, 3:39 pm | [comment link]
17. Mick wrote:
[I have already addressed the question of whether it is necessary to be in communion with Canterbury to be Anglican here./]
But I thought ‘CC’ wants to replace TEC in the AC? Sounds like they want to be in Communion with Canterbury to me. Resolution 49 of the 1930 Lambeth Conference defines the Anglican Communion as
September 30, 3:58 pm | [comment link]
The Anglican Communion is a fellowship, within the one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, of those duly constituted dioceses, provinces or regional Churches in communion with the See of Canterbury...
Taking the name and yet refusing to recognise the See of Canterbury is basically saying ‘We’re more Anglican than the Church of England’. It sounds so much like those miniscule tridentine sects in the US with names like ‘The Old Roman Catholic Church’ who aren’t actually in Communion with the See of Rome. You may be in the ‘Anglican tradition’, but unless you’re in the Communion, you’re not Anglicans.
18. Br. Michael wrote:
17, Mick if, as as seems likely, the AC proves to be as corrupt as TEC, we will bid it fairwell gladly. We are now realizing to our great cost that we don’t need the ABC or the AC to get to Jesus.
September 30, 4:12 pm | [comment link]
19. William Witt wrote:
But I thought ‘CC’ wants to replace TEC in the AC?
Mick, Thank you for responding to me, but not addressing a single word of what I wrote. Whether ‘CC’ replaces TEC in the AC will almost entirely depend on the actions of one man. It has been rather clear for the past several years that the AC is headed toward a split. Whether that split will leave the communion largely intact, with TEC and likely Canada, Wales, and much of Australia on the outs, or whether that split will be messier, with Canterbury, TEC, and Canada in communion, and CC and much of the Global South no longer in communion with Canterbury, depends almost entirely on whether RW continues (as he tried to do at DES) to give TEC a passing grade for abysmal performance.
As I stated clearly in what I wrote (and you ignored), Anglicanism from its beginnings has been identified by a collection of doctrines and practices. TEC has abandoned the identity, yet continues to insist on holding the brand name. Should RW persist in enabling TEC’s charade, the majority of those in the AC will break with the franchise in order to preserve the identity. Canterbury, TEC, and Canada may well then continue to own the brand name. But one will know where to find the genuine article.
The dissolution of the communion is, of course, a tragedy. It could have been prevented. But given such dissolution, it is sheer positivism to reduce identity to having the proper franchise license.
September 30, 4:35 pm | [comment link]
20. Br. Michael wrote:
Of course if the ABC continues his present course of saying yes to everyone, then we can wind up with the situation of TEC and the Primates bienng in communion with the ABC but not not each other. So for example, if the REC is in communion with an Anglican Bishop who is in communion with the ABC are they not back in the AC? How can a duly consecrated Bishop of Nigeria not be in communion with the ABC, unless the ABC wishes to break communion with the provence of Nigeria. It is absurd unless you recognize that being in communion does not really mean very much or the communion is already split and we are trying to figure out the rules.
This is all fun and academic, but the laity will not wait while you clergy sort this out. We want to remain Anglican, but we will walk, and not necessarily into Anglican style churches. If the CC churches fight to finest point of doctrine then fine, but your laity may not be there.
September 30, 5:28 pm | [comment link]
21. Mick wrote:
Anglicanism from its beginnings has been identified by a collection of doctrines and practices
You show a serious misunderstanding of Anglicanism if you think it is only defined by a specific narrow collection of ‘Anglican’ doctrine and practices divorced from the See of Canterbury. Which doctrines and practices might those be? The fact that both Anglo-Papalists and Extreme Calvinists, exist together in one Communion should disabuse you of that idea.
And that is the genius of Anglicanism - it is a WAY of being Church, a WAY of doing theology, a WAY of being in communion, a WAY of holding things in tension, a WAY of groping together toward truth and understanding. It is messy and confused at times, yes, because it’s made up of human beings.
It is not, nor has it ever been, a ‘confessional’ Church, much as many would wish it were. And the See of Canterbury is one of the primary ways in which the Communion has identified itself and holds all things in balance, while struggling to move forward as Church in its understanding of God. Of course it will make mistakes. Of course it will fail. Of course elements will push the boundaries. But show me one Church that hasn’t!
The history of those who have attempted to practice a ‘pure’ ‘confessional’ Anglicanism outside of the Communion is not a happy one. They may practice the outward forms, but the dynamic essence of what defines Anglicanism is simply not there; they become a club of the like-minded practicing their ‘brand’ of ‘Anglicanism’ in an ever-diminishing search for purity, splitting from those who don’t hold or practice the ‘truth’.
The fact that some who leave Anglicanism have found new homes in the Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Reformed, Baptist, Pentecostal, etc. churches just shows the miracle of what Anglicanism holds together under one roof. Sure, some may wish to leave for the quiet certainties of the like-minded, but I’d rather stay in the midst of the mess and the struggle, where I’m challenged in my narrow understandings of the Divine rather than having them reinforced. Because that is where I believe God wants us to be, and that is what I believe Anglicanism’s unique gift to the wider Church is.
The Anglican Communion under the See of Canterbury, for all its faults, manages to hold together in dynamic and constructive tension a more diverse group of Christians than any other Church. Which is why it is tragic that some feel they can no longer bring their gifts to this creative struggle of what it means to be a human and to be a Christian.
September 30, 6:37 pm | [comment link]
22. Mathematicus wrote:
It is not, nor has it ever been, a ‘confessional’ church, much as many would wish it were.
I am afraid I must disagree. I have had this argument before with others on other threads. The evidence I adduce to support my contention that the Church of England did at least once consider itself to be a confessional church consists of two easy to find references:1) Archbishop Michael Ramsey says as much on page 7 of his little book, The Anglican Spirit and 2) Bishop J. C. Ryle says on page 67 of his book, Knots Untied, “It proves that the Thirty-nine Articles are intended to be ‘the Church of England’s Confession of Faith.’”
I would agree that those who do not want the CoE and the AC to have a Confession of Faith and in particular do not want the Thirty-nine articles of 1571 to be that confession will continue to disagree with the thesis that the CoE is (or at least was) a confessional church. I just wonder how one can disagree an Archbishop of Canterbury when he says that the CoE is Confessional.
September 30, 9:40 pm | [comment link]
23. Larry Morse wrote:
If Lambeth is not postponed or cancelled, what can the ABC say? How can he respond to anyone iin such a way that there is broad agreement that he is performing well under difficult circumstances. He seems not to be performing at all. What are his choices? What can he NOW do at Lambeth? LM
September 30, 10:57 pm | [comment link]
24. libraryjim wrote:
What is the chance that the primates could ‘hijack’ Lambeth ‘08 and force the agenda thorugh that calls for a decision?
October 1, 3:41 pm | [comment link]