Bishop Michael Ingham Writes his Clergy

Posted by Kendall Harmon

From all sorts of sources, especially email, but also the blogosphere, as for example there--KSH.

To: All Diocesan Clergy
From: Bishop Michael Ingham
Date: November 23, 2007
Subject: Individuals and Groups Leaving the Anglican Church of Canada

Dear Friends in Christ:

By now you will have heard the announcement from Burlington, Ontario, by the Essentials Network of a formal separation from the Canadian Church. You may well be asked about it this on Sunday and for some time to come, so I thought I would offer you my own preliminary reflections on what should be our principal responses.

First, this development, while not unexpected (the signs have been there for several years, see below) is both unwelcome and unnecessary. Unwelcome because it violates both the ancient traditions of our church and also the consistent urgings of Scripture for unity among Christians. Unnecessary because no Canadian Anglican is being compelled to act against their conscience in matters of doctrine or ethics, and so there is no need for ‘safety’ from ecclesiastical oppression.

Second, Anglicans in this country do not want to see their church at war with itself. The prospect of costly and bitter litigation will rightly be regarded as a waste of the church’s precious resources given for mission. Further, our efforts at evangelism and outreach will be hampered by the media’s coverage of our organization in conflict. People searching for a spiritual home will be wary of involving themselves in a place of turmoil. Sadly, these consequences will be increased by the Network’s announcement.

Third, it has been the cry of every breakaway group that “we haven’t left them – they’ve left us.” Apart from the tiredness of the cliché, it is an attempt to avoid responsibility for personal choices. Every effort has been made, both in New Westminster and across the Anglican Church of Canada, to provide space for genuine differences of conviction on non-essential matters of faith. We have recognized the difficult place in which those of minority opinion find themselves (and there are several minorities, not just one) and have sought to foster mutual respect and mutual support. The vast majority of conservative and traditional Anglicans in Canada understand and accept this, and will stay with their church. This is not, therefore, a conservative breakaway. It is a decision to leave by those who feel uncomfortable with reasonable accommodation within the Body of Christ.

Fourth, the Network blames the church for its own decisions. Let us remember a brief chronology. It was ten years ago in 1997 that we first heard the term ‘global south.’ This was from the Kuala Lumpur meeting of certain bishops prior to the Lambeth Conference the following year. They issued the “Second Trumpet From the South” stating their intention to be in communion only with those who held their view of human sexuality. At the 1998 Lambeth Conference a well financed and organized lobby succeeded in raising this position to the level of Resolution 1:10, effectively marginalizing a careful statement prepared during the Conference by a broad spectrum of bishops.

We saw the development in North America of groups called the ‘Anglican Mission in America” and the “American Anglican Council” and the irregular and provocative consecrations, in Singapore in 2000 and Denver in 2001, of ‘missionary’ bishops to serve in the United States against the wishes of the Episcopal Church. During this time, congregations in the US and Canada were being urged by these groups to withhold financial contributions from the church.

Thus the seeds of this breakaway movement were laid long before same-sex blessings were authorized in New Westminster or a partnered gay bishop was elected in New Hampshire. The attempt now to lay blame for this development on events that took place in our diocese in 2002 and in the US in 2003 is in my view both a denial of history and an avoidance of responsibility.

Lastly, I think we need to respond to the Network’s announcement in several ways.

1. Pray for the unity of Christians, for a spirit of charity towards those with whom we may disagree, and for God’s forgiveness of our mutual failure to honour the prayer of Christ in St. John’s Gospel “that they may be one.”

2. Give particular support to those conservative and traditional Christians who remain with their church and grieve the departure of friends.

3. Teach our members about the genius of Anglicanism and its balance of Scripture, reason and tradition within the boundaries of common prayer.

4. Emphasize in our preaching and leadership the centrality of mission and its priority over ecclesiastical politics.

5. Challenge the false stereotypes that foster polarization – e.g. the ‘heartless conservative’ or the ‘unbiblical liberal.’

6. Give thanks that our church, for all its messiness, is honestly and openly facing issues some other bodies cannot.

7. Press forward in ministry and evangelism at the local level.

8. Deepen our study and immersion in Scripture. Place ourselves under the authority of the Christ it reveals. Avoid both an empty relativism and a harsh literalism.

9. Encourage both local media and the non-churchgoing public to understand the deeper roots of this development.

10. Take the ‘long view’ – i.e. remember the consistent triumph of the Gospel over the historic fragmentation of the church, and the persistence of faith through the failures of human discipleship.

Please remember our diocesan and national leaders in your prayers too. And above all, let’s get on with the normal work of being the church.

Kindest regards,
The Right Reverend Michael Ingham
Bishop



Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of CanadaSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings

23 Comments
Posted November 26, 2007 at 5:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Br_er Rabbit wrote:

Here south of the Parallel those of us inside the church have been able to see the rot that well preceded the signal events of 2002 and 2003. In my case it was an encounter with clergy in 1960 (!) who felt no obligation to believe the actual words of the Nicene Creed in spite of the fact that they were required to mouth them at least weekly.

By 2000 it was becoming apparent that disbelief in miracles and disavowal of the authority of Scripture had grown into discard for the centrality of Christ, and indeed dismissal of the necessity of the Gospel entirely. “All roads lead to God” was where we were headed, if we were not already there. Episcopalianism had taken tolerance and turned it into Unitarianism.

I have no such feel for the Church north of the parallel. From outside I cannot tell whether the same rot is occurring there. Since the same outward signs are appearing in Canadian Anglicanism as is occuring here, I (and perhaps many more of us) have been assuming that the same root causes are responsible for the rot.

Is Michael Ingham telling us that there is no such rot in his ekklesia? Is Christ still the central and essential message? Does his ekklesia still actually believe the words of the Creeds? Here in our own ekklesia the clergy has been quite skilled at dissembling on these topics.

Someone who knows from the inside of the Canadian church will have to answer these questions, unless their clergy has been so inattentive as to reveal the answers in print. Careful analysis of our Presiding Bishop’s remarks can clearly show that she is Unitarian in outlook if not in fact. Is there such evidence from Canada? Or are they able to defend in truth the evident motto in the USA:

All is well™.

November 26, 6:52 am | [comment link]
2. Sir Highmoor wrote:

The problem as the bishop sees it: “It is a decision to leave by those who feel uncomfortable with reasonable accommodation within the Body of Christ.” I thought Windsor said what this diocese was doing was unreasonable, but with the ABC’s Lambeth list that included this bishop what was once was unreasonable has been made reasonable. Too bad so many now find themselves uncomfortable with the reasonable accommodation of Anglican leadership. Words are meaningless in Anglicanism. Actions speak louder than words. Perhaps, some actions have been seen as unreasonable and that is the real problem. No?

November 26, 7:36 am | [comment link]
3. robroy wrote:

Again (and again), someone who blesses homosexual unions appealing to ancient traditions. Does he not think we can’t see the hypocrisy? Hypocrisy in religious leaders is something to be avoided in general.

November 26, 7:49 am | [comment link]
4. carl wrote:

Unnecessary because no Canadian Anglican is being compelled to act against their conscience in matters of doctrine or ethics, and so there is no need for ‘safety’ from ecclesiastical oppression.

Even if this statement was true, it would be irrelevant.  Being able to “opt out” does not satisfy the sum total of Christian responsibility.  Herod did not compel John the Baptist to act against conscience.  Herod did not force John to commit adultery.  Yet John called Herod out anyways. 

Christians have a responsibility to testify to the Truth.  Concomitant with that responsibility is the requirement to clearly define the difference between Truth and falsehood.  We can’t just look the other way and by implication legitimize sin through inaction.  To remain in Christian fellowship with falsehood
is to cover that falsehood with our tacit approval.
  We cannot “live into the tension.”  Like John, we must say “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.”

Bad example, I know. Liberals still (generally) uphold the idea that adultery is wrong.  They have just forgotten why.

carl

November 26, 9:05 am | [comment link]
5. Larry Morse wrote:

Once again, I call you attention to the sound of desperationo in Ingham’s voice. The pleading tone, mixed with the threat, is an additional sign of desperation. He’s losing blood, he doesn’t know how to stanch it, and he is secretly aware that the wound is self-inflicted.
Hence the desperation. LM

November 26, 10:14 am | [comment link]
6. Brian from T19 wrote:

carl

John the Baptist didn’t renounce his citizenship and try to annex the Jordan River

November 26, 10:16 am | [comment link]
7. Dee in Iowa wrote:

# 6 - Yes, he rendered unto Caesar that which was Caesar’s, but he always rendered unto God, that which was God’s….....

November 26, 10:35 am | [comment link]
8. dwstroudmd+ wrote:

Ingham on tradition is like Antiochus Epiphanes on proper Temple procedures.  Does he not truly have a clue as to how utterly devoid of rationality his appeal to tradition manifests itself in view of his actions?

November 26, 10:51 am | [comment link]
9. Ross Gill wrote:

Ingham says one of the ways we need to respond to the Network’s announcement is to “Press forward in ministry and evangelism at the local level.”  It’s a good point although we must ask him why he would expect the risen Lord to go with representatives of churches that favour what is clearly a sign of a disordered creation.  If the kingdom of God is about creation restored then how can anyone from such congregations really proclaim the good news of God in Christ through word and deed?

But if his suggestion is followed it may have unforseen consequences.  Orthodox congregations that concentrate on their mission at the local level may well find themselves prospering often at the expense of the so-called progressive congregations.  And the diocese will continue to recede all around them until there is very little of it left.  This will require courage and fortitude on our part - and godly patience too which, unfortunately, seems too often in short supply.

November 26, 11:11 am | [comment link]
10. Stuart Smith wrote:

#4:  Yes.  The bishop appears to be offering reassurance that Canadians who believe their church is in apostasy can take comfort from the fact that they (who refuse the apostasy) will not be required to believe and practice it!  Is this the level of mutual accountability which Jesus asks of His followers?  This seems more like Enlightenment morality (“do what you like, so long as it does not touch my person!”) than Christian morality (“If your brother sin…go to him…”)  Which will it be, ACC, Enlightenment or Christianity?

November 26, 11:19 am | [comment link]
11. Toral1 wrote:

Br-er Rabbit noted: By 2000 it was becoming apparent that disbelief in miracles and disavowal of the authority of Scripture had grown into discard for the centrality of Christ, and indeed dismissal of the necessity of the Gospel entirely. “All roads lead to God” was where we were headed, if we were not already there. Episcopalianism had taken tolerance and turned it into Unitarianism., wondering whether the same was happening in Canada.

The central theme of Michael Ingham’s teaching for decades has been the denial of the uniqueness of God’s revelation in Christ.

To quote Bishop Ingham, from just one source googled at random:

Both fundamentalism and mainstream conservatism see a common enemy in religious pluralism. Pluralism is an emerging school of thought in Western universities and seminaries which is trying to build theological bridges across which people of different faiths can travel. It wants to create a framework in which people can embrace each other in good conscience, without sacrificing their own religious identity and without denying the identity of one another. It seeks to overcome both religious exclusivism, by which one tradition claims to possess all the truth to the denial of others, and inclusivism by which one tradition allows a measure of truth to others, but only insofar as they reflect the truth of that tradition itself. For pluralists, neither of these provides a very firm basis for dialogue or cooperation.

Pluralism is a theological effort not to negate the differences between religions but to hold them together. Pluralists are searching for a way both to respect the distinctives, the uniqueness, of religions while at the same time going beyond them. It is based on the conviction that simple tolerance and mutual respect are not enough, and that the faith traditions need to affirm each other within a larger theocentric framework….Pluralism holds that all the great religions of the world represent authentic pathways to God. It places God at the centre of the world’s religions, not our own or any other tradition. It invites us to see all the great religions as the work of God refracted through the culture and thought-forms of the world’s different peoples. It does not deny God’s self-revelation in Christ, nor in the Koran, nor in the Torah, nor in other sacred symbols. It asks us to hold them together, despite their obvious discrepancies, in the greater mystery of faith.
Source: http://www.olst.ca/ingham.htm

Bishop Ingham’s book on the subject, explaining how he came to believe that believers of other religions had as much to teach him
as he had to teach them: http://www.amazon.com/Mansions-Spirit-Gospel-Multi-faith-World/dp/1551261855/ref=sr_1_10?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1196090788&sr=8-10

November 26, 11:32 am | [comment link]
12. Stuart Smith wrote:

#11:  And…this is re-tread John Spong.  The new TEC PB was obviously weaned on the same tired unitarianism.  When Anglicans rightly reject this old, tired theology, their reappraiser bishops get the rip-roaring joy of playing the victim, and calling those Anglicans “fundamentalists” or “exclusivists”.  Bishops are to guard the Faith and promote its expansion.  The saving message of God’s forgiveness and grace through Jesus Christ is too precious to lay aside in favor of utopian “one world religion” messages.  A lay person holding heretical views can be instructed.  Bishops who hold such views can become a plague to the Body of Christ!  Small wonder that some brave Christians in Ingham’s diocese have decided to come out from under that plague!

November 26, 11:45 am | [comment link]
13. Br_er Rabbit wrote:

There it is: Ingham speaks well of pluralism:

Pluralism holds that all the great religions of the world represent authentic pathways to God.

thereby demonstrating that he is no Christian and has no moral standing to speak for Christians, let alone lead them.

November 26, 11:53 am | [comment link]
14. KAR wrote:

Does anyone see the whole irony in the bishops ten points? If we take them at face value than innovations would be repented and done away with because of Scripture and Tradition or merely out of love for the whole Body a segment would forbade. At it’s surface I say Amen, let it be! However, there is something inside of me which doubts I understand these words the same way the bishop does.

November 26, 12:03 pm | [comment link]
15. Toral1 wrote:

Niagara’s bishops (bishop and bishop-elect) now endorse +Ingham’s memorandum and append it to their official response to the actions of ANiC:http://www.niagara.anglican.ca/bishopStaff/bishop-bird-network.cfm

November 26, 12:11 pm | [comment link]
16. robroy wrote:

Mr. Ingham has done great evil to the church. He has done it unrepentantly. He is the one that has sewn dissension. It is ridiculous to say otherwise.

However, saying this, one is struck by the difference by this letter and those of the reprehensible Katherine Jefferts Schori to Bps Duncan and Iker.

November 26, 1:31 pm | [comment link]
17. Toral1 wrote:

Bishop Ingham was writing his own clergy. I suspect his tone is different when he writes in situations like this :

Sunday, notes The Province of Vancouver, “the rift within the Anglican church over same-sex unions escalated.” New Westminster bishop Michael Ingham sent a diocesan employee and an archdeacon to services at the orthodox St. Martin’s Anglican Church, where they announced that the diocese was removing the two elected parish trustees, three wardens, and church committee members.

One day earlier, while orthodox clergy and laity met in Vancouver with orthodox Anglican leaders from around the world, diocesan officials sent an employee and a locksmith over to change the locks on the church doors and offices.

Source: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2003/septemberweb-only/9-8-21.0.html

November 26, 2:02 pm | [comment link]
18. Br_er Rabbit wrote:

...and lawsuits to follow, no doubt.

November 26, 4:51 pm | [comment link]
19. Ross Gill wrote:

A colleague of mine calls Michael Ingham ‘Spong lite’.

November 26, 6:03 pm | [comment link]
20. R S Bunker wrote:

Behold the new Frank Griswald:

One day earlier, while orthodox clergy and laity met in Vancouver with orthodox Anglican leaders from around the world, diocesan officials sent an employee and a locksmith over to change the locks on the church doors and offices. 

1. Pray for the unity of Christians, for a spirit of charity towards those with whom we may disagree, and for God’s forgiveness of our mutual failure to honour the prayer of Christ in St. John’s Gospel “that they may be one.”

2. Give particular support to those conservative and traditional Christians who remain with their church and grieve the departure of friends.

3. Teach our members about the genius of Anglicanism and its balance of Scripture, reason and tradition within the boundaries of common prayer.

4. Emphasize in our preaching and leadership the centrality of mission and its priority over ecclesiastical politics.

5. Challenge the false stereotypes that foster polarization – e.g. the ‘heartless conservative’ or the ‘unbiblical liberal.’

6. Give thanks that our church, for all its messiness, is honestly and openly facing issues some other bodies cannot.

November 26, 7:01 pm | [comment link]
21. Scott Gilbreath wrote:

Re comment #19 from Ross52, A colleague of mine calls Michael Ingham ‘Spong lite’.

At the time of Ingham’s selection as Bishop of New Westminster in 1993, a friend from St John’s Shaughnessy described him as “to the left of Bishop Spong”.

November 27, 1:12 pm | [comment link]
22. dwstroudmd+ wrote:

Yes, but by Michael’s lites that would be anciently to the left of Spong, wot? or canonically to the left of Spong? or *gasp* “traditionally” to the left of Spong?

November 27, 1:14 pm | [comment link]
23. Toral1 wrote:

Bishop Ingham *is* more polite than Bishop Spong.

Bishop Ingham would never have written an article like the following upon the occasion of the respected evangelical leader John Stott (I will never get over my amazement that a bishop, any bishop, would write this article): http://jmm.aaa.net.au/articles/4704.htm

November 27, 2:52 pm | [comment link]
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