Michael Poon asks Archbishop Peter Jensen for clarification on several crucial points

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I read with interest your 27 December 2007 Statement on the proposed Global Anglican Future Conference. Thank you for unpacking the background, and for your reassurance to your faithful in Sydney that the Conference “is not designed to take the place of Lambeth”. I appreciate your conviction in upholding orthodoxy. I also share you passion in standing together with those Anglicans in North America who are courageously contending for the faith that was once delivered to the saints. I hope we can work together for the good of the Communion in the time to come, to the glory of God.

Your Statement at the same time leaves me, and perhaps others in the Southern Hemisphere, unclear on several crucial points. I look to you, as an archbishop charged with huge responsibility under God, for your further clarification, that your actions can lead to the strengthening of the faithful across the worldwide Communion at this time of deep crisis and uncertainty.

1. What is the particular nature of the crisis before the Communion today? You mentioned several times in your Statement that the issue is over “biblical standards”, especially “in the biblical view of sexual ethics”. I wonder if that depiction adequately reflects the crux of the matter. After all, some other churches and congregations from different traditions have also departed from the “biblical views”. I wonder if the issue before the Anglican Communion is rather this: How do we see ourselves keeping the faith and witnessing together as part of the “one, holy, catholic and apostolic church” across the ages and across the oceans? Perhaps at the heart is an ecclesiological issue. So the contention has never been simply on biblical view of sex, but on the particular issues of episcopal election of a candidate living in a committed same-sex relationship, and on the rites of blessing for same-sex unions. The process of discerning the Word and on keeping faith to what is revealed as a community go hand in hand. I suggest this interpretation may perhaps be fundamental, and determines how we respond and map the way forward.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal- Anglican: AnalysisGlobal South Churches & Primates* International News & CommentaryAsia

70 Comments
Posted December 30, 2007 at 2:59 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Graham Kings wrote:

There is a very important editorial note by Terry Wong, editor of the Global South Anglican site and vicar of St James’s Church, Singapore, on Michael Poon’s article concerning questions to Archbishop Peter Jensen.

It is easy to miss, because it is on the Global South Anglican home page index and not on the article itself. It is very significant indeed.

Editorial note:

Both Dr Michael Poon and Archbishop Jensen have articles featured on this site regularly. It will be in the interest of our readers and Anglican faithful that we continue some open conversations on the nature and direction that our Communion is taking. This is a critical time for our Communion and churches. If we are just fighting for biblical orthodoxy and nothing else, we might as well splinter into independent churches. Even ‘mission’ is not a good enough reason to be together - for we are working quite well across denominational boundaries. If it is both biblical orthodoxy AND the catholic order of our Church with our identity/mission as an ecclesial family, then it calls for careful, deeper reflection, longterm vision and clarity in our strategy - that the 2003 crisis and our subsequent responses may not tear the fabric of our Communion even further.

http://www.globalsouthanglican.org/index.php

December 30, 5:19 pm | [comment link]
2. Mick wrote:

Comment edited by elf. Sends the reader to another site.

December 30, 6:35 pm | [comment link]
3. Mick wrote:

My deleted post concerned a report, that is out there on the web grin, that +Anis has written to +Akinola asking him to reconsider the timing and venue of GAFCON. Akinola has said no.

December 30, 7:39 pm | [comment link]
4. Graham Kings wrote:

If this report turns out to be accurate that:

Mouneer Anis, the Presiding Bishop of Jerusalem and the Middle East, and Treasurer of the Global South Anglican movement,

has written to

Peter Akinola, the Primate of Nigeria, and first Primate mentioned on the Leadership Team of GAFCON, and President of the Global South Anglican movement,

asking him to reconsider the timing and venue of GAFCON and

Peter Akinola has said no to Mouneer Anis,

then this is very significant development indeed.

If the reported texts are accurate, then it is clear that GAFCON is indeed planning for a structured network for orthodox Anglicans with statements of faith, constitution and organisational structure.

December 30, 7:55 pm | [comment link]
5. wildfire wrote:

IF this report is accurate, what +Mouneer really wants is a conference after Lambeth in November where they will agree on “organizational structures” and actually sign a covenant.  It is then +Akinola who suggests that might be moving too fast without a prior conference.  Interestingly, +Akinola refers to the “current composition” of Lambeth.  Might there be a different composition in the future?

December 30, 8:00 pm | [comment link]
6. Mick wrote:

If the report is accurate, it shows that while +Anis knew the meeting in Nairobi was happening and had sent his thoughts, it appears he did not know or agree to the Conference being held in the Holy Land, nor it appears was the Bishop of Jerusalem ever consulted.

December 30, 8:01 pm | [comment link]
7. MJD_NV wrote:

Can anyone cite a reference for such speculation other than VOL?

December 30, 8:30 pm | [comment link]
8. Graham Kings wrote:

Could we return to discussing the crucial questions that Michael Poon has asked of Peter Jensen? It is worth re-reading his whole article and discussing that.

December 30, 9:57 pm | [comment link]
9. Bob from Boone wrote:

I am glad that Michael Poon has raised these very important questions relating to the meaning and scope of “biblical orthodoxy,” which takes on into hermeneutics; and the questions relating to ecclesiology. I sense that he is genuinely concerned that the responses so far to 2003 on the parti of some GS primates and their NA supporters are leading to divisions within the GS itself and have also the potential to harm the AC.

December 30, 11:32 pm | [comment link]
10. Unsubscribe wrote:

I offer here a condensed version of the points I think Poon is making. I don’t intend a travesty thereby, but if that is the effective result, I offer my apologies to all misled thereby; but perhaps, if I am significantly wrong, the fool’s error will nevertheless be instructive to the wise.

Q1: Is this about biblical standards? Or is it rather that different parts of the AC have different, incompatible views of what biblical standards are?

Q2: Are the historically agreed standards of biblical faithfulness inadequate?

Q3: Does the Global South stand by the agreed Covenant Process (due, one hopes, to be revisited at Lambeth 2008)?

Q4: Can a regional conference address global Anglican issues? Or is the very aim of addressing such issues prejudging the question of what constitutes “true” global Anglicanism?

Q5: Why are (apparently) no theologians involved? What theological contribution is the Global South going to make to the global debate?

Q6: The primacy of Canterbury is deep in the Anglican tradition. Can we ask the people to choose between Canterbury and orthodoxy?

I offer the following propositions. Some of them may seem controversial. I offer them only as a stimulus to reflection; they may be false but if so, I hope that they are interestingly false, and that the exposure of their falsehood may lead to greater clarity.

P1: all these questions indicate an authority vacuum. Specifically, the issues underlying Q2 (the place of the creeds and the scriptures as authorities) are belied by the fact (underlying Q1) that there is no agreed interpretation of the scriptures or creeds.

P2: Without a shared hermeneutic, there is no prospect of agreement as to what constitutes orthodoxy. Either there is a shared hermeneutic, or the goal of orthodoxy must be abandoned.

P3: In Q6, Poon suggests that if the chips are down, people will rally round the person of Canterbury rather than round the slippery notion of orthodoxy.

P4: A schism becomes formal when it is received by the community. The process of reception does not bring the schism into being.

P5: Other Christian denominations offer various versions of orthodoxy. The peculiar genius of Anglicanism is that it is the principled rejection of orthodoxy.

P6: Those Anglicans who grasp at orthodoxy are, paradoxically, attacking the core of the Anglican system.

P6: Within the Anglican system, orthodoxy is heresy. The peculiar failing of Anglicanism is that it cannot stomach the acceptance of heresy as orthodoxy.

Christi sit lectoribus pax.

December 31, 12:03 am | [comment link]
11. New Reformation Advocate wrote:

#8, Graham Kings,

I second your call to return to the initial topic, i.e., the many important questions that Dr. Poon has helpfully raised.  And I especially thank you for posting the highly significant note by another leader from Singapore, namely Terry Wong, the editor of the Global South Anglican (GSA) website.  Both Poon and Wong are calling attention to how this whole bitter, prolonged conflict is NOT just about reasserting biblical orthodoxy within Anglicanism, but also about doing so in a way that preserves catholic order within Anglicanism as well.  That is a crucial point, and easily forgotten in the heat of battle.

My first thought on reflecting on that particular point (taking care to uphold biblical truth AND catholic order simultaneously) was that it brought back to mind a very profound and moving speech that +Bob Duncan “the Lion-Hearted” made at the large Hope and a Future Conference held in Pittsburgh over a year ago.  Many of you will recall that +Duncan spoke of three great questions on which all else depends.

The first great decisive question was whether we would choose to uphold biblical truth (orthodoxy) or succomb to cultural accommodation.  He called this “the evangelical choice.”  Clear enough, I think.

But his second question regarded catholic order, in a way similar to the concerns I see Michael Poon and Terry Wong voicing with regard to GAFCON.  That is, +Duncan said the second momentous choice we face is the choice between accountability and autonomy.  And he went on to insist that our western (or human) love of autonomy was so strong that it posed just as much danger to the Church as the temptation to go along with the prevailing cultural pressures to throw out biblical standards on sexual ethics (and other matters).  And he termed this fateful choice between accountability and autonomy “the catholic choice.”

And just to complete the set, +Duncan went on to say that the third and last of these all important decisions had to do with the choice between mission and “sullen inaction.”  That is, between doing something constructive to advance the mission of the Church, or giving in to the temptation to merely indulge in criticism and complaints.  And he called that “the charismatic choice.”

Now the terminology is perhaps debatable, but I wholeheartedly agree with the brave bishop’s analysis.  All three questions are incredibly important and will play a decisive role in how this conflict plays itself out.  But for right now, I myself take heart and draw encouragement from the fact that +Duncan is one of those at the very heart of planning this conference.

Of course, the skeptics among us may well doubt whether the Moderator of the Network and the CCP is still committed to choosing accountability over autonomy, as he was when he gave that stirring speech.  But I myself do not share those doubts.  I would not agree with those who interpret the formation of the CCP (and the proto province it clearly represents) as a failure to give due regard to upholding catholic order.  In fact, I’d turn that table upside down and argue the vey opposite.  That is, I celebrate the formation of the CCP as representing a bold and courageous attempt to gather the orthodox Anglican diaspora and unite it into a single “new ecclesiastical sturcture” (even if a rather loose and unruly one), and so I perceive it precisely as a daring move to RESTORE catholic order, rather than a catastrophic breakdown in that precious order.

But there remains the crucial question of which essential aspect of the Church takes priority.  That is, which is the dominant and pre-eminent concern, defending and upholding evangelical and catholic truth (call it Doctrine), or defending and maintaining catholic order (call it Discipline)?  Or is there no permanent hierarchy here, so that in some contexts one is the dominant concern, and in other historical contexts the other one becomes dominant and the overriding factor?

And here, I would argue strongly that Doctrine trumps Discipline, not vice versa.  There is a good reason why Doctrine comes before Discipline in the classic Anglican triad, “the Doctrine, Discipline, and Worship” of TEC or the AC etc.  If we HAVE to choose between them, I’d choose Doctrine over Discipline every time.

But I’m not convinced that this is what is happening right now, or that such a wrenching decision will ever become necessary.  For I continue to hope that we can put BOTH the Doctrine and the Discipline of classical Anglicanism back where they belong, at the very heart of our common life as Anglicans.

For let there be no mistake.  Both have already been lost in vast sections of western Anglicanism.  And both now have to be restored.  And I trust that they will be, by God’s grace.

In the end, I think it comes down to a matter of trust.  Do you trust the leaders putting together this unprecedented conference or not?  Do you trust that whatever they come up with is more likely to be wise and helpful than whatever Lambeth 2008 is likely to come up with, or not? 

To me, that’s a no-brainer.  I trust these guys.  I don’t trust ++Rowan Williams or the ACO.  I do trust that the planners of GAFCON will take seriously the concerns about catholic order that Michael Poon and Terry Wong have rightly raised. 

That’s the bottom line.  I trust them.  Do we really have a choice??

David Handy+
Advocate of High Commitment, Post-Christendom style Anglicanism
More optimistic than ever about the New Reformation

December 31, 12:15 am | [comment link]
12. bluenarrative wrote:

Just for the record, there is more to “the Holy Land” than just +Anis’ turf. Not that this matters all that much. Look, I love Archbishop Peter Akinola. And I would love to see him play a huge role in reshaping the Anglican Communion—either during Lambeth or immediately after Lambeth. But is there really ANYBODY out there who doesn’t honestly think that +Akinola has not reached the limits of his patience—that he is now GENUINELY ANGRY and is, in a sense, giving vent to his anger and frustration? Some of the people on this site know him quite well. Is ANYBODY going to seriously contend that he is somehow immune from rash and foolish behavior when pushed to his limits? Please understand, I don’t blame the guy for being angry. He’s had some people—some fairly prosperous, white, liberal, self-righteous, and arrogant people—showing him (and, by extension, the entire Church in the Global South) some major disrespect. To say the very least. It is understandable if he is now genuinely angry and, seemingly, taking steps to express his anger. But to say that this may be understandable is NOT the same thing as to say that these actions are necessarily wise. We ALL need to exercise discernment.

Yesterday or the day before, somebody over on SF said that in Las Vegas, when the stakes are HIGH, they play conservatively. These stakes are VERY HIGH. We should ALL be playing conservatively.

December 31, 12:28 am | [comment link]
13. ls from oz wrote:

I don’t know Archbishop Akinola well at all. But I do know Peter Jensen. I have watched and listened to him for twenty years and had the privilege of sitting under his teaching on many occasions. He is not a rash or reckless man. He may be prepared to be radical as far as traditional Anglican hierarchical structures are concerned, and he may be too low church for some trad Angs. But he is committed heart and soul to the Lord Jesus and to upholding the authority of God’s Word.
As far as we are able to trust any fallen human being, PJ is worthy of trust. He has mine - and my respect and admiration as well.

December 31, 3:15 am | [comment link]
14. azusa wrote:

Robin Jordan asks some pertinent questions about the ‘Chicago Consultation’ in December (essentially a liberal pre-Lambeth caucus) and why this was not condemned by critics of Gafcon:
http://www.anglican-mainstream.net/index.php/2007/12/30/as-every-good-scout-knows-he-should-always-be-prepared/#more-2634

December 31, 4:05 am | [comment link]
15. rob k wrote:

What do commenters here mean by adoption of an official hermeneutic of Scripture and Creed.  Does even the RC Church, with its strong sinews of authority, have an “official” one?                                                                                     

How can Reformed and Catholic ecclesiologies officially exist in the same church?  We can’t continue to say that each one is true, unless we believe in relativiteness of truths.  NRA - I wouldn’t trust Jensen or some of the others.

December 31, 5:23 am | [comment link]
16. Adam 12 wrote:

The debate is cast by Poon in terms of ideas but I maintain that it is actions - particularly actions and ceremonies involving the radical re-definition of sacraments, that are driving this wedge. The conference is intended to answer just such questions as Dr. Poon poses by gathering the Biblically Orthodox together. There is nothing particularly alarming about the conference - there was one in Pittsburgh a few years ago that had the Orthodox from all over the world there too.

December 31, 7:19 am | [comment link]
17. Charley wrote:

I wonder if Jesus, in preaching conveying his relatively simple and easy to understand message to his contemporaries, ever used the equivalent of the terms “hermeneutics” and “ecclesiology?”

I sometimes wonder if every Ph.D in Theology isn’t doomed to eternity in Hell, or is it just the ones who pretend to be….

December 31, 8:51 am | [comment link]
18. New Reformation Advocate wrote:

#15, rob k,

Well, you’ve raised an extemely important question.  But it seems that you and I would give different amswers to that vital question.  Namely, are evangelical and catholic ecclesiologies mutually exclusive and incompatible, so that the only way to hold them together is by relativizing them both?  Or is there some other way to reconcile them?

That is a very large and complicated topic, much too complex to deal with adequately in a venue like this in one short post.  But in essence, my answer would be that the best way to handle that clash of theological perspectives is through the concept of “paradox.”  That is, that both are simultaneously true, or basically true anyway, even though they SEEM to contradict each other.  In a fashion similar to the mystery of how God can be three and yet one at the same time, or Christ both fully divine and fully human at the same time.  Or light apparently made up of particles and waves at the same time (I’m no scientist, but the last I knew, physicists still held to both being true).

That is precisely why I like to call myself a “3-D” Christian.  Because I see the evangelical or Protestant element, the catholic element, and the charismatic or Pentecostal element, as constituting three DIMENSIONS of the Christian faith and life.  And as dimensions, they operate on different planes (you know, height vs. depth vs. width).  And as a result they don’t directly contradict each other (like A vs. non-A or anti-A).  Sure they intersect at points and point in different directions.  But I see them as COMPLEMENTING each other, not as CONTRADICTING each other.

For example, evangelical or Protestant ecclesiology sees the Church primarily as a fellowship of believers, brought into being by a common faith in the Gospel, and it thus has a strong orientation toward seeing the individual’s relationship with God in Christ as primary, with corporate fellowship strengthening that “personal relationship” with God.

On the other hand, “catholic” ecclesiology (and not just Roman Catholic, but high church Anglican or Lutheran eccelesiology too) does the reverse.  It chooses to focus on the corporate dimension, i.e., seeing the Church PRIMARILY as the Body of Christ, and thus our relationship with God is dependent on being a part of that Body (just as an arm or leg can’t live by itself).  And thus the “personal relationship” with God is dependent on the corporate relationship, because someone has to lead us to faith in Christ etc.

Obviously, the individual and the corporate relationships with God aren’t mutually exclusive.  Instead, they are both vital, and both need and are strengthened by the other.

That’s my response in a nutshell.

David Handy+
Passionate advocate of “3-D Christianity,”
as well as the Nre Reformation

December 31, 9:02 am | [comment link]
19. New Reformation Advocate wrote:

#17, Charley,

I’m sorry.  I’m probably as guilty as anyone here of throwing around those intimidating poly-syllabic technical terms without translating them for all of you without the benefit (or curse!) of a Ph.D. in one of the theological disciplines.  Hmmm.  Maybe T19 needs an online glossary of theological terms…

Meanwhile, let me define the two bits of scholarly jargon you mentioned, “hermeneutics” and “ecclesiology,” in simple layman’s terms.  Hermeneutics is the art of interpreting texts.  But it is often used in a more restricted sense as well, i.e., hermeneutics can also mean the specific art of applying texts to new situations or contexts.  So, to study or do hermeneutics is to study or do interpretation, and often application as well.  And it’s a generic term, used in many scholarly fields, not just religious ones.  For example, in the world of the fine arts, it’s used with regard to the interpretation of poetry, or paintings, or films etc.

Ecclesiology, on the other hand, is a specifically theological term, related to the Greek word for church, “ecclesia” (which literally means “assembly”).  Thus, like any other word ending in -ology, it means “the study of the church,” or more precisely, “the doctrine of the church.”  Thus to speak of a Reformed or Catholic ecclesiology is to talk about the specific Calvinist or Roman Catholic understanding of the Church, its purpose, structure etc.

I’ll try to be more careful in the future to define such scholarly jargon when I use it.  It’s convenient shorthand language for those who know the lingo, but it easily turns off those who don’t.

David Handy+

December 31, 10:04 am | [comment link]
20. Dale Rye wrote:

Re #17: Whoever wrote “When ignorance is bliss, ‘tis folly to be wise,” was certainly not a leader within Anglicanism (or, indeed, mainstream Christianity).

Jesus did not have a “relatively simple and easy to understand message.” If he had, we wouldn’t still be arguing over how to interpret it. He expected us to think about his message and apply it to our own particular circumstances. Whether you call that process “hermeneutics” or something else, it is an essential part of the reception of any message, even The Message. Every group that calls itself Christian—-whether Greek Orthodox or Mormon, Church of Christ or Unitarian—-is constantly engaged in that process.

We cannot avoid the task of interpretation, no matter how hard we try. We can disguise it, of course, by asserting that there is only one “plain sense” of the message that (curiously enough) just happens to correspond exactly to how we read it, but not to how thousands of other people have read it. (Similarly, we can disguise the way we do science by looking only at appearances and denying that those appearances are affected by our prior theoretical commitments. Presumably, heavy objects have been falling at the same rate as light objects for a very long time, but nobody noticed it until the sixteenth century.)

The classic Christian response to claims about “the plain meaning” is that private readings of Scripture are not binding, but the official reading taught by the Church is authoritative. That inescapably raises questions such as “How should the Church arrive at its reading?” “Who is the final authority for determining what the Church’s reading is?” “Who within the Church can teach that reading authoritatively?” and “How should the Church handle those who do not accept that reading?” Whether you call the consideration of those questions about the Church “ecclesiology” or something else, it is inextricably tied to the way a church group resolves questions of interpretation.

These are not side issues relevant only to Ph.D. candidates. They critically affect the way that every one of us responds to what Jesus said and did. By raising his questions, Dr. Poon is doing what the Church does, not engaging in an academic exercise.

December 31, 11:00 am | [comment link]
21. Tom Roberts wrote:

Dale makes some great points, and I’d recall that most of the 12 didn’t ‘get it’ until He shows up unannounced in the upper room and asked for something to eat. The only thing I’d stretch Dale’s #20 in is to say that just as it is the Church’s job to ask these questions, it is also the whole Church’s mission to attempt to answer them.
Not some cloistered and select few.

December 31, 11:12 am | [comment link]
22. episcoanglican wrote:

bluenarrative seems to think Akinola is angry or acting out of anger. I have listened to Akinola in a large conference environment once and in a more initimate and extended setting once. And I have read his several written statements, quotes and interviews. He is clearly a man of action. He is clearly fearless. He is clearly joyful. He is clearly respectful of “our brother Rowan.” And he is clearly about spreading the gospel and defending the church. Nothing I have seen would make me characterize him or his actions as based or provoked by anger. But then people like myself are continually referred to in the media as “angry dissidents.” That mis-perception is easy to take in, but unless I am missing something, it is something that is constantly said about him not emmanating from him.

From all that I can see, GAFCON is not an anger response but a gospel action.

December 31, 10:29 pm | [comment link]
23. robroy wrote:

My knowledge of Michael Poon is limited. He had some online debate with Ephraim a while back and now this.

Now, over at David Virtue or Thinking Anglicans, he releases the text of a private email that asked him to not participate in Jefferts-Schorian tactics of “open letter” communications at the get go, at least. The mere fact that he then chose to publish that private email certainly shows further lack of charity on his part. I checked out the liberal blogs and a couple have picked up this public airing of laundry. I am certainly disappointed in Michael Poon.

January 1, 12:43 am | [comment link]
24. rob k wrote:

No. 18 - NRA - And you make an interesting and thoughtful reply.  It’s very late night now, and I’m going to be gone for a wek, and there is a lot to address in your reply.  Just let me say right now that I’m not in agreement of some of what you write.  But I’d like to observe that one can have a personal relationship with Christ, ponder the scriptures, etc., within the catholic structure (ontology) of the Church.  The obverse, though, does not pertain.  Catholic sacramental realities and devotional practice cannot take place in a Protestant setup.  I admit that this statement requires modification.  Hope the subject is still alive when I’m back next Tues. 1/8.

January 1, 7:24 am | [comment link]
25. Observing wrote:

It has become clear that the conservatives have split into 2 camps. Half are getting out of the AC asap and are setting up their own communion “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them”, and the other half are desperately trying to keep them on board, because once they leave, those remaining will become a distinct minority, and the whole AC will sink into an ‘anything goes’ mess which self destructs in the same way as TEC.

If the history of TEC is anything to go by, many conservatives will leave, which will push the power base firmly into liberal hands, and more and more conservatives will leave as the church becomes less and less Christian.

If the ‘we want to remain’ camp really wants to save the AC, throwing stones at those wanting to leave is not going to achieve anything. They need to actually come up with a workable plan that will really can turn around the AC, and start getting people united around that and start to show some real results. Give people something to do, something that works. To date, all efforts at reform in the AC have failed miserably. Too many people standing on the sidelines and not prepared to really make a stand. “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So because thou art lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spew thee out of my mouth”

Last chance to save the AC. It looks like 2008 will deliver the fatal blow if things continue on this path.

January 1, 10:20 am | [comment link]
26. New Reformation Advocate wrote:

#25, Observing,

The concern you raise is a very real danger.  As many others have noted, the stakes are VERY, VERY HIGH for all who love the Anglican tradition.  Two thoughts will have to suffice for now.

First, I think that unfortunately we on the conservative side are even more divided than the simple division into just two camps suggests, i.e., the dichotomy of those favoring the inside (Canterbury-linked) AC and the outside strategy, if you will, is oversimplistic.  The AC could well fracture in more ways than one, as Protestantism has perpetually fragmented since the Reformation.

Of course, I hope this doesn’t happen and would deplore such an outcome.  But the danger is very real.  We must constantly strive to recover ALL FOUR classic marks of the Christian Church according to the Nicene Creed, i.e., that the true and universal Church of Jesus Christ is “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic.”  And I do mean “recover,” for there is sadly no doubt that we have lost several of those marks already, and they will have to be restored.

Second, there is grave danger that we will snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.  That is why I myself continue to hope that the giant provinces in Africa will reconsider and attend Lambeth after all, and deal a death blow to liberal Anglicanism there.  As I’ve said over at SF (and only partly in jest), I think the overwhelming orthodox majority of bishops in the AC should go to Lambeth 2008, and hijack the event, trash the agenda of the liberal ACO, and FORCE a very clear and powerful Covenant on the western provinces, as well as creating a whole new 5th Instrument of Unity, the equivalent of an Anglican Supreme Court that can nullify the legislative actions of wayward provinces like TEC or ACoC (or Scotland or Wales in the future etc.). 

And if the liberals don’t like it, so what?  Tough.  Ram it down their throats anyway!  And those who refuse to go along, just kick them out the door and send them home early, after properly tarring and feathering them as the heretics they are!  And while the liberal scum are at Lambeth, SHUN them, refuse to shake hands with them, or give them the peace or anything of the sort, besides not sharing eucharist with them.

I have NOTHING in common with the PB!  Nothing that matters anyway.  I openly despise her and her revisionist ilk.

And Elves, that is not really anything personal.  It’s not about ++KJS.  It’s about her theology and political agenda.  Oil and water simply don’t mix.  Never have.  Never will.  So let’s stop pretending to be one big (un)happy family when we in fact aren’t brothers and sisters in Christ anymore, since the liberals are NOT in Christ!

But we shouldn’t cede the AC to the liberals, just when we are on the verge of victory at long last.  ++Canterbury has openly recognized (at least by clear implication) in his Advent Letter that he thinks Lambeth should be the place the show down occurs.  So let’s take him up on that and make it the ecclesiastical equivalent of the OK Corral.  Let’s attend, pull out our guns and mow the liberals down.  In love, of course, and in the name of the Prince of Peace.

Who says that the era of the Crusades is over??  It’s time to march on Jerusalem and retake it in the name of Christ.

How’s that for a bold resolution to start off the New Year?

David Handy+
Lover of Luther (much more so than Hooker), Wesley, and Newman
Advocate of High Commitment, Post-Christendom style Anglicanism
Fierce Proponent of an aggressive New Reformation

January 1, 11:21 am | [comment link]
27. seitz wrote:

#25. This may not be the best place to reiterate what ACI understands as its vocation in Christ, and perhaps you have others in mind. But for avoidance of doubt in the matter as we begin a new year 2008, I would respond in this way. Thank you for raising the issue and perhaps this will clarify at least where ACI is coming from.

Speculations happen in the nature of the thing, of course. I can assure you ACI does not worry that it will be left in some minority and that is what motivates us. Nothing could be further from the truth. ACI assumes—given our season of judgment and crisis—that many want a federal kind of Anglicanism, perhaps like the many varieties of Reformed Churches worldwide (with which I am very familiar, having worked in these contexts), and this on principle. This is not an understanding of Anglicanism that we can embrace, equally on principle. Toon has his own version of heartfelt concern here, as do Poon and others. It is an observable fact that a measure of excitement exists about building a ‘new thing’ amongst many who share this view (even of course as this ‘new thing’ is not new but exists in several ecclesial entities already). If speculation of the kind you are indulging was my instinct, I’d guess that less than 25% of Anglicanism in the African context, on the ground, was interested in a federal experiment detached from Canterbury and a history of missionary linkage (expediency or principle will affect this percentage in different ways, given missionary history, catholic versus evangelical instinct, E vs W Africa, etc). In Australia and NZ, on right and left both, it could be higher, for different reasons of culture, global/historic location, and habit. In a region like that of +Mouneer, not very high at all. In SE Asia, distinctive cultural factors also kick in and sometimes perplex those who are already trying to understand what a term like GS is meant to embrace; so in part Poon’s concern, as I understand it. In Canada, it depends on lots of cultural factors (Vancouver being a specific place with specific challenges, etc). No, I think the thing that may differentiate ACI is that its perspective is not specifically American: given the missionary background of our colleagues, Church of England connections, history of work in highly conflicted contexts inside and outside the US, and ability to be engaged practically and concretely in ways that keep us more hopeful than those we can sympathetically see struggling in more restricted contexts. Here the options have devolved into sad and misshapen form: stay and ‘grin and bear it’ in some passive and unhappy compromise, or ‘leave.’ Bluenarrative is absolutely correct that there is much at stake here and much to fight for. Our consistent worry has been that a restricted sense of the options, and a restricted description of the solution, are conspiring to drive a level of spiritual anxiety and extra-American mobilization of effort that gets out ahead of affairs. So, no, ACI is not ‘worried’ about being part of a minority – after all, ACI is in Canada, the US, England/Scotland, the West Indies, and other regions where we consult and have close friends. ACI is a Communion reality, and it is our very strong conviction that the vast majority of the Communion is not interested in options like ‘leaving’, or forming new ecclesial entities, nor for that matter embracing the adventures of TEC. Our concern is that this vast fellowship be not shipwrecked or held hostage to problem-solving in a narrow context and so trying to ‘win’ some form of pyrrhic victory and then losing the Communion as God’s gift of evangelical and catholic missionary accomplishment.

January 1, 11:22 am | [comment link]
28. Br_er Rabbit wrote:

Wow, NRA. Why don’t you tell us how you really feel?
Relax and have a sip of chamomile tea.
Myself, I am much too prone to thinking (or wishing) that I were in charge.
God is in charge. He will prevail. The Gates of Hell will not stand.
If God wants to decimate the Anglican Communion, he will.
If God wants to raise up a new and Faithful Anglican Communion, he will.
If God wants to send us to Babylon (figuratively) for 70 years, he will.
Proclaim the Gospel. Make Disciples.
God will defend his Church.

January 1, 11:47 am | [comment link]
29. New Reformation Advocate wrote:

#26, Dr. Seitz,

We seem to have posted our responses to #25 at virtually the same time (I at 9:21 am, you at 9:22).  And our reponses could hardly be more different, could they?  You ever so moderate and restrained, as always; and I so typcially hotheaded and impetuous (as usual as well).  I imagine you will soon post some kind of strong response to my rather extreme and indeed inflammatory remarks, protesting how such rhetoriacl vehemence only aggravates an already dangerously polarizied situation (sort of like throwing a Malatov Cocktail through a stained glass windown into a church where gasoline is already spilled all over the floor).

All right, I admit that I was indulging in a bit of exuberant hyperbole.  But I repeat, I was only partly joking.

But we may not actually be as far apart as we initially seem.  Like you and the other leaders of ACI, I fret at the imminent prospect of the rich and precious tapestry of the AC unravelling completely before this new year is over.  It is still all too possible for the “Anglican Experiment” to fail at last, after a distinguished run of almost 500 years.  But even the longest running Broadway shows do close eventually.  Still, I hope that the Anglican show will go on.

What is absolutely clear however, is that it can’t go on the way it is.  “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”  Whatever else happens in AD 2008, Anglicanism will never be the same.

So, let me add a little fuel to the fire (instead of calming things down prematurely) by explaining what I meant by my rather peculiar way of signing that highly provocative post of mine that just crossed yours in cyberspace.  I invoked three great church reformers: Luther, Wesley, and Newman.

I have been going back and reading a lot by those three theological giants who each reshaped the Christian Church in profound ways.  And I would go so far as to say that, when it comes to great church reformers, “these three abide, Luther, Wesley, and Newman, and the greatest of these is…
Newman!”

Surprised?  I’ll bet many thought I was going to say Luther.  Well, he’d come second in my “trinity” of all time greats.  And Wesley last, but by no means unimportant.  And I value all three of them above Thomas Cranmer, or Richard Hooker, or Joseph Butler, or Lancelot Andrewes, or John Keble…

In other words, I LOVE radicals.  I find their radicalism entralling and captivating, not off-putting and dangerous.  In other words, I am an “enthusiast” at heart (in the derogatory British sense, i.e., a “fanatic”).  I freely admit that.

Now normally, Luther and Wesley and Newman have enough contrary tendencies that their various most extreme views tend to cancel each other out.  But when it comes to the kind of blatant, obscene heresy that we are witnessing today in the West, I tend to go on the attack with the fury of Luther, Wesley, and Newman COMBINED!  And woe to my theological opponents.  I will pull out the sword of my scholarship and use it for very different purposes than you would, my esteemed partner in the defense of orthodoxy.  I have no qualms whatsoever in waging all out theological warfare in the name of the Prince of Peace.  No matter how much blood gets shed in the process.

David Handy+
Given to occasional burst of hyperbole (so take that into account)

January 1, 11:57 am | [comment link]
30. New Reformation Advocate wrote:

#28, Br_er Rabbit,

You’re right.  Just fixed myself some tea and sat down in a comfy chair to relax.  I feel better now.  Every once and a while I just have to get all that repressed rage at liberalism out of my system.  Sorry to subject the whole readership to such “unpleasantness.”

Now do you all see the value of the NRAFC?  Sometimes the Fan Club helps keep the founder in line (even if it’s too late).

Thanks to the Rabbit Patch.

David Handy+

January 1, 12:02 pm | [comment link]
31. bluenarrative wrote:

The overall tone of this conversation is much more pleasant and substantive than the analogous thread over on SF. Frankly, I am a bit appalled at how many people on SF seem to have no idea at all who Dr. Michael Poon is, and what he has done for the orthodox cause.

For me, personally, it is interesting to realize how so much of the debate that has raged about Dr. Poon’s questions has clarified my own sense of commitment to maintaining catholic order. I basically agree with Father Handy and others that no could can come from boycotting Lambeth, but there is the potential for a great deal of good to derive from a unified orthodox presence at Lambeth.

I suppose that after years and years of being around Anglicans, I should no longer be astonished to discover that so many of them believe extraordinary things. Certainly, the revisionists are adhere to some genuinely remarable beliefs—remarkably inconsistent with the most basic and foundational reading of the Gospel, that is…

But, in some ways, I am much more surprised and shocked to see some of the underlying beliefs that have shaped the “boycott Lambeth” wing of the orthodox coalition. I do not quite understand why these people do not just go off and join some conservative faction the Presbyterian Church.

I have tried to defend the substance of Dr, Michael Poon’s “questions.” But, in doing so, I have had dozens and dozens of people rip into me for my “defence of catholic order over and/or above a defence of the Gospel.” My private mailbox is FULL of venomous missives accusing me of “embracing the same theological positions that the revisionists use against us.” I have dozens of letters from people who are livid that I could equate “catholic order” with “Gospel truth.”

Am I the only one who was taught in his confirmation class as a small boy that, for Anglicans, these two things are seen as being largely one and the same?

I do not revere and participate in the sacramental life of my church because they are pretty ceremonies that suggest deep symbolic meanings. I do not adhere to and revere catholic order because “this is the way we have always done it” or because it seems to be an historically quaint way of organizing a church. I have always thought that these things were inexorably connected to our most fundamental understanding of the Gospel—that, in fact, it is impossible to have the true Gospel apart from these things.

I participate in and revere the sacramental life of our Church because THAT is the most concrete and incarnational expression of the Gospel; you cannot have efficacious and spiritually nurturing sacraments apart from a proper understanding of the Gospel. Catholic order is the most concrete and incarnational expression of the Gospel; you cannot have an efficacious and spiritually nurturing church apart from a proper understanding of the Gospel. For us, as Anglicans, sacraments and catholic order and theology are all connected—inexorably linked together. I have always sort of assumed that this was pretty basic stuff.

Over the past few days I have been forced to realize how naive I must be, in some regards—or, at least, as regards those who are part of the broad orthodox coalition who consider themselves to be “Anglicans.”

I have always assumed, for instance, that, at the very least, it should be perfectly obvious to anybody who is an Anglican that the Church PRECEDED the Bible. I sort of thought that if you didn’t grasp THIS, then you would naturally affiliate with anabaptists or some other dissenting sect. Apparently, however, I was dead-wrong about this—there seem to be a LOT of people (over on SF, if not here on T19 also) who really and truly believe that the Bible gave shape to the Church, and not the other way around…

I consider myself to be VERY Protestant. I am most assuredly NOT an “Anglo-Catholic,” though I can fully appreciate and respect their particular emphasis. And I am very well aware that the very word “catholic” spooks some people. Certainly, I know lots of “non-denominational” and anabaptistic Christians who cringe at the word.

But I always took it for granted that to be an Anglican was to embrace catholicity, even if one felt that it was important to be on guard against subtle forms of idolatry, verious kinds of superstition, and/or fetishistic predelictions.

I am relatively new to the orthodox Anglican blogosphere, and since coming on board, I have had a difficult time understand why so many people seem to loathe and despise the ACI.

But, I am now beginning to see that there are many people on “our side” who should probably go back to their confirmation classes. Because they seem to have missed a lot of very basic and important stuff about WHY one would become confirmed as an Anglican, as opposed to, say, as a Presbyterian.

Somebody needs to explain to these people what the expression “throw the baby out with the bathwater” means.

Thank you for noticing the tone. Sometimes we make people angry with our edits, but we try very hard to keep the tone upbeat and civil per Kendall’s request.

—Elf Lady

January 1, 1:52 pm | [comment link]
32. Br. Michael wrote:

31, you state:  “I am relatively new to the orthodox Anglican blogosphere, and since coming on board, I have had a difficult time understand why so many people seem to loathe and despise the ACI.”  I can only speak for myself.
I am a cradle Episcopalian.  Up until the out playing of the Windsor process I hope for a solution that the ACI has advocated.  As I watched that play out I came to realize that the TEC would only stop doing what they were doing if they were made to.
The AC had only weak weapons, but, who knows they might have worked.  TEC could have been place on probation, the ABC could have said that they would not be invited to Lambeth etc.

But at every point where an action could have been taken the point of decision was shifted.  The best example was Dar es Salaam.  The ABC could have acted to discipline TEC using what authority he had.  Had he done so there would be no talk of the Global South not attending.  But he did not act and in fact he trashed all the process that had gone before and nullified it.  That puts us back at square one.

It was at that point that I realized this was typical and was in fact his stratagy, a stratagy of endless process, never arriving at a decision.  He would only arrive at a decision if he were forced to and, that which everway he decided, would split the AC.  Either the Global South would go or TEC would go.  The only way to keep the AC together is in an endless loop of perpetual process without ever arriving at a meaningfull decision.
If the Primates, who have pleaged not to attend Lambeth, do in fact go, are to retain any credability, after breaking their word and attending, as you suggest, then they must hijack the agenda and, in spite of the ABC’s opposition, force a decision.  Maybe they will do that, but they will have to be highly organized to match the incomperable organization and determination of Integrity and the liberals.

As far as the ACI goes, because you have no plan or stratagy to force the ABC or the AC to ever reach a decision, you play into the hands of the TEC, which like the ABC, benefits from a stratagy of non-decision and constantly calling for one more meeting, or study etc.  on and on and on.  In the meantime they are not disciplined and in a de facto way the AC approves their inovations.  In its determination to have a Communion wide solution, when the ABC and most of the instruments are determined that the AC only survives in the absence of decision, the ACI, ABC etc, in fact stand shoulder to shoulder with the TEC.

In the meantime the laity and clergy in revisionsist areas are told to hang on to some indeterminate date in the future.  We are told to continue to fund TEC etc.  Yet the ACI, the ABC and the AC not only offer no hope, but they seem to actively sabatoge what ever scheme of hope arises.  Only the Primates have offered hope and that was dashed when Dar es Salaam was scuttled.  Is it any wonder that we may not care about your precious “cathlicity”?  Why should we care about a Covenant, which by design is sufficiently down the road as to support the ABC’s stratagy of endless loop, which, given TEC’s past ability to avoid being pinned down to anything, will not ultimately accomplish anything.  Are we to wait to Lambeth 2018 and beyond?  Particularly when TEC ignores Lambeth 1.10 and the ABC and the AC have shown themselves both unwilling and unable to enforce it?

At the bottom line both the ACI and TEC benefit from the endless loop of non-decision making because that holds the AC together.  And that I suggest accounts for, but does not excuse, the harsh words of those who needed a decision a year ago.

January 1, 2:38 pm | [comment link]
33. bluenarrative wrote:

Br. Michael,  I have to run some errands, so I cannot answer you now at length. Let me say a few things, however. I am largely in agreement with you. I am not affiliated with the ACI, nor do I necessarily agree with all of their implict or explicit strategic postures. Just for the record, I am a member of an AMiA parish, and, as such, I have already found my own personal non-Canterbury solution to the pressure that I was under in a revisionist diocese.

“Catholicity” does NOT inherently mean a “Canterbury-centered” Communion. Nor does it necessarily mean that one must take necessarily follow an “inside” trajectory while addressing the hideous and sub-christian abuses of 815. What it DOES mean, however, is that there is a proper (a “catholic,” if you will) way to eventually attain a non-Canterbury centered Communion.

I am well aware of the history that you rehearse above. I am as impatient and as fed-up as anybody. All that I mean to imply with my comment above is that we should not sacrifice our foundational identity as Anglicans—as catholics, as far as that goes—in order to address the onslaught of sub-christian pansexual gnostic ideas that are being promoted by 815 and/or which are been enabled by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s endlessly waffling and indecisive “process.”

January 1, 2:53 pm | [comment link]
34. seitz wrote:

This is an exaggerated account which can only confuse. Who is telling you to ‘fund TEC’? Who is saying wait until 2018? Did the conservative Primates all say they would unequivocally NOT attend Lambeth (I suspect they would not like words being attributed to them, so you can make a point on a blog)? Is Dar/Primates scuttled in the manner you imply? I also judge the authority and real danger of things like Integrity vastly overstated—no one has taken such a sustained series of rejections as had the Integrity position. You speak of ‘we’ but I wonder how many share a view you here articulate. No progress whatsoever can be made if one simply prefers to doomsay, exaggerate and mis-inform.

January 1, 2:57 pm | [comment link]
35. New Reformation Advocate wrote:

#31, bluenarrative (and Elf Lady too at the bottom),

I’m glad if all my rather rude and crude venting in a post above (my notorious #26) was deemed not to have totally upset the respectful and civil discussion on this thread.  I too appreciate the milder tone than the corresponding thread over on SF. 

And doubters should take a look at my post earlier today on the thread about my friend Doug LeBlanc retiring from GetReligion.com.  There I praised Doug to high heaven for contributing to the often raucous world of religious blogging in a highly responsible and professional manner.  And I really mean it (BTW, we both live in the Richmond, VA area).

Maybe it’s a case of the old cliche, “opposites attract” (not meant in a sexual way of course here).  I freely admit that Doug is nicer, kinder, and more courteous than I often am.  That’s one reason why I like him so much.  I’m not so sure why he likes me, but I’m glad he does.  Hey, Doug, now that you’ve retired from blogging, maybe we can have lunch more often now.  What do you say?

Perhaps the Elves have read enough of my posts now to know that I shouldn’t always be taken literally (especially about things like tarring and feathering liberal bishops).  Anyway, I thank them for being willing to overlook my occasional lapses in judgment.

David Handy+
Still given to occasional bouts of verbal hyperbole,
but appreciative of civil discourse as well.

January 1, 3:03 pm | [comment link]
36. New Reformation Advocate wrote:

#34, Dr. Seitz,

I’m glad to see you keep coming back and participating in this rough and tumble forum, despite all the (often unfair) flak the ACI gets.  Now as my infamously extreme and polarizing comment #26 above shows, I’m quite prone to making very radical statements myself, but I would not do so in anything like the way Br. Michael has done (#32).  Despite our differences on matters of strategy and tactics, I happily reaffirm that I have the utmost respect for you, Dr. Turner, Dr. Radner and the rest of the noble ACI team.  You are champions of orthodoxy, and so worthy of great honor and respect.

But may I make one practical suggestion?  Given how quickly posts can be submitted even while we are composing one ourselves, it would help us all follow you, Dr. Seitz, if you’d learn to begin your post by referring by name or number to the post you are responding to.  In this last case, I had to go back and check to be sure that you were responding to Br. Michael (#32) and not #33 (bluenarrative) in your post #34.

Cordially,
David Handy+

January 1, 3:17 pm | [comment link]
37. Observing wrote:

#25 In principle, I agree with your aims which seem to be
1) keep the communion together
2) reject the TEC (and other provinces’) innovations.

But sorry, the methods of public press releases timed to follow each major announcement from the conservative groups seem to be just alienating any allies you may have once had in the ‘leaving’ camp.

What will be the outcome? Yes, fewer in the ‘remain’ camp will attend the ‘Jerusalem Lambeth’. But those who do attend will now be majority in the ‘leaving’ camp, which means they are far more likely to actually formally leave. If you had just played it ‘behind the scenes’, downplayed the meeting as ‘not really a new Lambeth, just a meeting of like minded Anglicans’, and ensured good attendance from the ‘lets stay’ camp to dilute the ‘lets go’ camp voice, you may have achieved both of your aims:
1. Got the rest of the communion worried enough that a huge majority was really going to leave, which would have given support to efforts to halt the innovations
2. Ensured the ‘leaving camp’ stayed, by a divide and conquer approach.

Instead, it seems to date the ‘remain’ wing are more focused on splitting the conservative wing, which will probably mean less people attend the ‘Jerusalem Lambeth’, but those that go will probably not be coming back. Which means you will fail to achieve both of your aims. People will leave, and when they do, your voice will no longer be big enough to be heard in any way that influences direction.

You have said you don’t mind becoming a minority in the AC, which strikes me as short sighted, given the efforts of TEC liberal bishops to ensure no more orthodox priests in their churches, and the huge number of laity who are departing.

“Without vision, the people perish.”

January 1, 3:25 pm | [comment link]
38. Br_er Rabbit wrote:

I have always assumed, for instance, that, at the very least, it should be perfectly obvious to anybody who is an Anglican that the Church PRECEDED the Bible. I sort of thought that if you didn’t grasp THIS, then you would naturally affiliate with anabaptists or some other dissenting sect.

Hmmm. It is perfectly obvious to me that the Church preceded the New Testament (not the Bible), in the sense that Christ founded the Church against which the Gates of Hell should not prevail. He also ordained its first pastor (not priest) when he commanded Peter to “Feed my sheep.”

But we would be quite impoverished if all we had of the New Testament was that written by Peter. Instead, we have in addition the writings of two of Jesus’ brothers, two other apostles (of the Twelve) plus a late apostle (Paul) plus two of his traveling companion and an anonymous associate.

I have always assumed, for instance, that, at the very least, it should be perfectly obvious to anybody who is a Christian that the Bible was written by inspired men as a founding deposit of revealed truth to guide the formation of the Church, which began with a quite primitive kerygma and did not develop a sophisticated theology prior to the 4th century.

Thus, I set the claim that Scripture supercedes (at least in authority) the Church. I set this up against a claim I have heard from some Romans who say that the Church wrote the Bible and the Church can reinterpret it at will.

And thank you very much, bluenarrative, but I don’t think I’ll return to my confirmation classes, which were taught by an Episcopal priest who thought that miracles were the stuff of nonsense and that the virgin birth was a pretty fable. (Note that this was in 1960!)

I learned more about Christ and what He expects from reading the Bible, starting at the age of eight, than I ever learned from the pulpit or from Sunday classes. According to Jesus, God wants our entire beings, every part of us. According to human teaching, there is too often a temporizing of that exclusive claim.

Catholic Order is a creation of the Church. It is a creation of the Bible only in the sense that Jesus gave the Church all the authority it needs to establish Catholic Order. The Catholic Order we have today took many centuries to establish. The New Testament was written in the space of a very few decades. It and its foundation, the Old Testament, is our controlling document. It can only serve as such because of the gift of the Holy Spirit to Christ’s Church.

I am an Anglican for two reasons. First, I am an Anglican (rather than a Lutheran) because when my ancestral church (the Catholic Apostolic Church) ceased to exist my grandfather stopped attending church; when my great-grandmother discovered this she shook her finger at him and said, “Go to the Episcopal Church! They’re the closest!” I identified myself as Episcopalian for 40 years. Second, I am an Anglican, even after the Episcopal church failed me, because I discovered that one can be both Evangelical and Anglican at the same time. If there had been no evangelical anglicans, I would probably be attending something like Four-Square now.

Anglicanism is the via media. It is the via media because it has the capability to meld the catholic and evangelical streams of Christianity. And it is larger than that. Anglicanism is larger because it has the capability to meld within it the third stream of ancient Christianity, the Charismatic. Nowhere else (at least in any strength) does one find this kind of capability. And it is for this reason that the Church will be impoverished should the “Anglican Experiment” fail.

January 1, 3:27 pm | [comment link]
39. Br. Michael wrote:

36, I thought what I said was quite reasonable and was an accurate description of what is actually going on.

Dr. Seitz likewise.

You write:  This is an exaggerated account which can only confuse. Who is telling you to ‘fund TEC’? Who is saying wait until 2018? Did the conservative Primates all say they would unequivocally NOT attend Lambeth (I suspect they would not like words being attributed to them, so you can make a point on a blog)? Is Dar/Primates scuttled in the manner you imply? I also judge the authority and real danger of things like Integrity vastly overstated—no one has taken such a sustained series of rejections as had the Integrity position. You speak of ‘we’ but I wonder how many share a view you here articulate. No progress whatsoever can be made if one simply prefers to doomsay, exaggerate and mis-inform.

One, if you give to a TEC church, unless that money is somehow impounded, it goes through the diocese to TEC.
Two, you and others offer no termination date.  When does process end?  Many have speculated that any so called Covenant will have to be approve at Lambeth 2018.  History supports a continuation of no decision.
Three, a number of Primates, don’t know the number, have indicated that they would not go to Lambeth if those who consecrated VGR were invited.  If this is not the case then I stand corrected.
Four, Integrity is good and well organized.  If the Primates go to Lambeth they can’t just wing it.
Five, you still offer no plan to advance to decision and I am basing my comments on what I have seen actually happen.  If Dar se Sallam is still alive in what way is it alive?
Six, if you don’t like my perceptions and conclusions, which I think are sollidly based on facts on the ground then point out my errors.

January 1, 4:00 pm | [comment link]
40. seitz wrote:

#36 ‘You have said you don’t mind becoming a minority in the AC’ is PRECISELY what I did not say. I won’t repeat, please reread. The majority is where ACI is, quite frankly, when our gets out of the narrow politics on right and left…

January 1, 4:20 pm | [comment link]
41. paulo uk wrote:

With this second article Mr Poon is showing who he is “a man of the centre”.

January 1, 4:24 pm | [comment link]
42. wildfire wrote:

A propos the analysis in #37, Bp. Gregory Venables just posted this comment at Stand Firm:

If you really believe it crucial that key orthodox primates attend Lambeth please pray seriously because there is pretty well no possibility at present

January 1, 4:25 pm | [comment link]
43. seitz wrote:

OK, #38. 1. Do not give money to TEC. Fitz Allison ‘stay, don’t pay, pray, etc’. 2. I am not God. 2018 is however absurd. 3. That is a better statement and not exaggerated—we have it on good authority that bishops in Uganda, Nigeria etc are NOT necessarily convinced that staying away is a good idea at all, and that does not touch on the vast number of African Bishops who have never said anything like ‘I will not go’ (I am unpersuaded +Akinola has been that categorical, but now we are in the footnote dept). 4. I think Integrity is a joke and not winning anything. 5. Dar=Primates=alive. 6. see above.

David Handy—I am not ignoring you; I just don’t have any major argument with your view, with which I disagree in part, but not to the point of #39—I am not sure whose views he is meant to be representing, other of course than his own. I think they are faulty, exaggerated, and confuse matters. A counsel of despair not in accordance with facts.

January 1, 4:27 pm | [comment link]
44. Tom Roberts wrote:

42- Mark, are you referring to the one ‘signed’

[114] Posted by Gregory on 01-01-2008 at 01:54 PM

?
If so, why are you sure it is ++Venables?

January 1, 4:29 pm | [comment link]
45. seitz wrote:

#42—‘key orthodox primates’—perhaps we could get a specific list. What are we supposed to be praying for, moreover, if they are unequivocally not attending? I am also loathe to glue +Gregory’s comment from SF into Br Michael’s blog summary, on grounds of basic coherence. Do I believe that the majority of Bishops in Africa are inclined NOT to attend Lambeth, have said that, mean to live into that? Not from any sources I have discussed this with.

January 1, 4:34 pm | [comment link]
46. wildfire wrote:

Tom,

He has posted several times before using that name and his identity has been confirmed by the elves.

January 1, 4:35 pm | [comment link]
47. Observing wrote:

#40, Seitz Apologies, I misread this in #27

So, no, ACI is not ‘worried’ about being part of a minority – after all, ACI is in Canada, the US, England/Scotland, the West Indies

as reading you were the minority in all of those provinces, but on re-reading, I agree that is not what you were saying.

So the majority of the communion:
- rejects the TEC innovations
- wants to stay together

Yes, you are probably correct on both points individually, but once the minority that rejects the TEC innovations, and is prepared to break communion over that leaves, I think you may find that switches to:

The majority of the communion:
- accepts the TEC innovations
- wants to stay together

Which is why it is critical that you keep that minority in communion. History repeats itself. We have seen it happen in TEC. I think you will have more success trying to unite with that minority, and finding common ground around rejecting the innovations, than breaking what fragile unity remains with that group with these press releases designed to undermine them. Give them a reason to stay, not a reason to leave.

January 1, 4:38 pm | [comment link]
48. wildfire wrote:

Prof. Seitz,

I made no reference to Br. Michael.  I thought Bp. Venables’ comment was relevant to the point made in #37.

January 1, 4:40 pm | [comment link]
49. seitz wrote:

Mark McCall—D’accord. I think we need to remember the sheer scale of bishops in the GS; that was my only point. Do I think that at present the majority of these have it in mind to ‘boycott’ Lambeth? Not at all. Do I think that several Primates have explicitly threatened this? Yes. Have the likes of +Chew, +Gomez, +Mouneer, +Mtetemela intimated that they are inclined not to attend? Not in the least, indeed the opposite. What about +Burundi, +W Africa, +Congo, et al? Not that I have heard. +Indian Ocean, the new head of CAPA? Not that I have seen.

January 1, 4:50 pm | [comment link]
50. New Reformation Advocate wrote:

#43, Dr. Seitz,

Don’t worry, Sir.  I wasn’t feeling ignored.  I don’t think you are under some sort of obligation to respond to every person who invokes your name on a blog anywhere in the world.

Actually, however, I’m relieved if you have no major argument with what I stated so categorically and provocatively in my admittedly extremist post #26 above.  But as the master exegete that you are, I’d guess that you knew enough to read between the lines and knew that I was partly speaking tongue in cheek (but only partly).

In fact, I’m frankly amazed that you choose to spend as much time on blogs like this as you do (and Dr. Radner too; after all, Philip Turner doesn’t).  I know it’s not a congenial medium for you (though I confess that I rather like the verbal swordplay, probably too much in fact).  For the life of me, I can’t imagine how you manage to get as much done as you do. 

But you are incredibly productive.  I see you not just as one of those given five “talents” in the parable (whereas the rest of us might be happy with 2 o3), rather you are someone who was given those five talents to invest, and who has made TEN (yes, 10!) talents to return to the Master.  And for that I heartily salute you and hold you in high esteem (and even envy).

David Handy+
(If there is such a thing as the CSEFC, I’d like to request permission to join.  That is, of course, the Christopher Seitz the Exegete Fan Club).

January 1, 4:54 pm | [comment link]
51. wildfire wrote:

Prof. Seitz,

I know nothing except what I read online.  But if it were “only” Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda, we are talking about half of the communion.  Does anyone in the communion (other than those liberals who will say “good riddance”) find that acceptable?

January 1, 5:04 pm | [comment link]
52. seitz wrote:

David—I am finishing an essay on Covenant for a new Anglican journal and it is a way to take a ‘breather.’ I accept that for many of us the investment is strange…at times I sense I am in eastern europe during the cold war: Often I can’t find what I am looking for, and what is on offer takes too much out of my pocket given the bizarre exchange rate. I suspect if my work did not utilize the same computer as the ‘breather’ time, I’d get more work done…God bless you.

January 1, 5:07 pm | [comment link]
53. wildfire wrote:

On the question of numbers, +Venables just added the following:

It’s not just about figures, it’s about who is prepared to speak up and who knows how to in that kind of meeting.

January 1, 5:09 pm | [comment link]
54. seitz wrote:

Mark McCall: Do I believe that all bishops in the regions you mention will meet, take counsel, and decide as a body to stay away from Lambeth Conference? No. Could I be wrong? Of course. Would I wager that all of these bishops will not be present at Lambeth 2008? No I would not. I believe I have heard threats, and I understand their logic: sometimes decisions get made with ramifications that later pinch. But one must be careful in this kind of a matter, and I believe gafcon might be a way to hedge bets in stakes as important as this, giving people room to move and if necessary ‘save face.’ I could be wrong of course. But leaving all this aside: No, I do not believe that all of the Bishops of the regions you mention will be absent from Lambeth. I think to accomplish this would be very hard going, and might end up splintering things in the GS in ways that Poon only intimates, making ‘GS’ a cipher for several Primates. But speculation is in many ways unChristian business. As +Gregory apparently said, prayer is important in matters like this. (Just observe how many so-called fedcoms get quite exercised over Lambeth attendance as an issue of principle—leaving for a moment ACI out of it). Grace and peace.

January 1, 5:16 pm | [comment link]
55. seitz wrote:

Mark McCall—does this mean that your appeal to numbers is now not as crucial, or that you disagree with +S Cone?

January 1, 5:18 pm | [comment link]
56. wildfire wrote:

Neither, really.  +Venables is addressing Lambeth and I was posting his comment here because it is worth noting given his stature.

I was really addressing the issue of losing those four provinces from the communion, not Lambeth per se, and that in my view would be devastating even if they were the only four.

January 1, 5:35 pm | [comment link]
57. seitz wrote:

#56—without putting too fine a point on it, an AB does not a Province make, and we can thank God the same principle applies in TEC! (Indeed, ACI and Bishops like Stanton and Howe have always insisted that the PB of TEC ought not be taken more seriously than the strict limitations of the office allow. We shall see the flavour of some of that in the SC consecration I suspect: we do not have an Archbishop and indeed until the last century, and well into it, there was practically no ‘815’ at all).  No. I do not think 4 provinces will be lost. It may look like it at a great distance, but in matters like this, an AB does not equal a province. We should pause and think why that is a superbly good thing, in whatever other ways it might bespeak a good counterforce in our season of judgment.

January 1, 5:45 pm | [comment link]
58. Br. Michael wrote:

43, One,  I am still in a TEC church in a revisionsist diocese.  It still pays it’s diocesan minimum.  Are you telling me that I should not give to my church?
Two, you have no idea when any decision might be reahed.
Three, 2018 is an exageration.  So what is a reasonable date to expect a decision?  Lambeth 2008?  TEC GC 2009?  When?  After all so many deadlines have come and gone.  Or were none of them deadlines?
Four, Integrity, is powerful and well organized.  It is not a joke is is slowly wining its agenda in the TEC and in Canada.  And so far TEC has escaped meaningful sanctions, at least not such as to stay its course.
Five, you didn’t answer.
Six, see above what?

Look, I want you to be right, but I just don’t see it.

January 1, 5:57 pm | [comment link]
59. bluenarrative wrote:

Br_er Rabbit,  With all due respect, I have never heard, read, or seen anything to suggest that Roman Catholics believe that they can “reinterpret” the Bible “at will.” That is a preposterous statement. If you heard such a thing from a man who claimed to speak for the Roman Catholic Church, then you heard something foolish from a man who has no idea at all what he is talking about. Whether you like it or not; whether you agree with all of their doctrines or not; whether you completely discount their claims to any sort of authority at all, the simple fact of the matter is that the Roman Catholic Church is an orthodox Church. And this means that they NEVER “reinterpret” the Bible. They only interpret the Bible. There is a difference, you know. You may not, personally, like how they interpret the Bible. But that is really all they are doing.

Gnostics, heretics, and pansexual unitarians—like Bennison in Philadelphia, or Spong in Newark—reinterpret the Bible. Intentionally. Please, do not elevate such people to the status of being on a par with such people as Fr. Richard Neuhaus, Cardinal Very Dulles, the late John Paul ll, or the current Bishop of Rome.

As to your more germane comments about the relationship between the Church and the Bible, let me say this: I certainly understand the emphasis that you are placing on Scripture in the life of the Church. I am pretty sure that I know what you are trying to say, and I am pretty sure that I am immensely sypathetic to your reasons for placing emphasis as you did in your comment above. In these hideous times in which we live, such an emphasis is commendable and, in a sense, necessary. But I do not think that you are stating your case in terms that are consistent with an Anglican perspective; nor is your case stated in terms that are consistent with any sort of “catholic” systematic theology that I am aware of.

I am NOT a theologian. And I am NOT even a priest. So, I may have some of this wrong. And, if this is the case, I invite others who may be more well-schooled in theology to step forward and correct me.

Catholic order was firmly in place, even as (what we now receive as) the Bible was still being written. You should take a look at the Epistles of St. Clement, if you doubt me on this score.

There were numerous “councils” of the ancient Church long BEFORE NIcea—and each of these councils simply clarified and codified certain aspects of doctrine and ecclesiology that had ALWAYS and EVERYWHERE been accepted and taught by the Church. “Orthodoxy,” per se, did spring up—sui generis—out of thin air in the 5th century.

The PRIMARY grounds upon which the early Church determined the canon of Scripture was the degree to which any particular writings CONFORMED WITH THE EXISTING DOCTRINES OF THE CHURCH.

Please note that the ancient world was littered with religious writings. The early Church possessed numerous writings that were, undoubtedly the work of the first Apostles. Yes, authenticity of authorship was ONE test that the Church applied when determining the canon of Scripture. But they REJECTED all of those writings—even those produced by some of the first Apostles—when they DID NOT CONFORM TO THE DOCTRINES OF THE CHURCH.

As for those Hebrew Scriptures (I know, Theron Walker dislikes this term!) that you term the Old Testament, are only a FRAGMENT of what was accepted by the Jewish community as being “Scriptural.” The Jews did not even BEGIN the process of establishing a “canon of Scripture” until 90 years or so AFTER the final destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. There was no codified or official “Hebrew Scriptures” in the earliest days of the Church—or for many, many, many decades after the establishment of the Church. So, in a very real sense, it was the Church that gave shape to Old testament, and not the other way around.

I am probably saying this all wrong, but I hope you can understand what I am trying to say here. I am not asserting the PRIMACY of the Church OVER Scripture. Rather, I am saying that the two things are inexorably bound together and linked… THIS is what orthodox catholic Christians have always held, at least.

January 1, 6:02 pm | [comment link]
60. bluenarrative wrote:

correction: Cardinal Avery Dulles… My typos are so awful. I really should edit what I write more carefully!

January 1, 6:04 pm | [comment link]
61. seitz wrote:

58—1. I would not give a tithe to a revisionist diocese. I would redirect it (The SEC makes a revisionist diocese look tame). 2. I am confident Lambeth, Primates Meetings and Covenant meetings are crucial and will determine things. 3. 2018 was a slogan meant to exaggerate and so emphasize your exasperation; see 2. 4. Baloney. It has peaked and is hopelessly on its back feet. Soon it will look like reruns of Lawrence Welk. 5. Off to a Hogmany dinner. God is in charge, things are not going remotely in a direction kindly to TEC revisionism, the Global Communion is a whopping success story and God loves it. If there is any place I would not want to be placing hopes, it is in the tiny TEC revisionistic sect. It has nothing to give and is shrinking into total inconsequence.

January 1, 6:09 pm | [comment link]
62. seitz wrote:

#59—Ah, the beauty of those ungainly ‘Hebrew Scriptures’—read by Our Lord, commended by Him, cited as authoritative, and making awkward forever the idea that the church is antecedent to God’s promises. I doubt the instability or the lack of scope for the scriptures (OT), and it is an undoubted fact that the Church’s relationship to the NT canon process is asymmetrical to the OT, however minimally one might wish to restrict its scope and character (a core canon is still a canon, and I doubt mightily if it was a ‘core’ since Moses and the Prophets is hardly just a few fragments). Leaving aside the matters that belong in textbooks, in general terms the idea that church and scripture belong together is correct and uncontraversial—just no need to forget the awkwardly providential reminder that God elected and called Israel, raised up a material testimony through her, which preached Christ in its own idiom—thank you St Augustine…). Happy New Year.

January 1, 6:17 pm | [comment link]
63. New Reformation Advocate wrote:

#51, Mark McCall etc.,

I agree with you that if just Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, and Rwanda were to boycott Lambeth 2008, it would be catastrophic for the AC, even though it would still leave LOTS (hundreds) of GS bishops attending and able to contend for orthodoxy there.  And that is especially because I wholeheartedly agree with you that those four provinces alone make up over half of the world’s Anglicans.

So let’s consider again how and what we count in matters like this.  For too long, the tendency has been to count the wrong things, e.g., to count provinces (i.e., how many of the 38 prmates voted this way or that at this or that meeting?).  I think that is a BIG mistake.  A HUGE mistake.  Yet it’s common (e.g., Cantaur did it in his recent Advent Letter, when he counted provincial responses to the HoB meeting in New Orleans).  That way of counting implicitly treats all 38 provinces as virtual equals in a worldwide fellowship, whether they are teeny tiny provinces like Scotland, Wales, Myanmar, Pakistan, or Korea on the one hand, or whether they are giant provinces like Nigeria and Uganda on the other hand.  It’s like comparing California and Texas with Rhode Island and Delaware.

Now granted, in the U.S.Senate, Florida and Vermont have equal representation, despite the huge disparity in their sizes.  And the current Instruments of Unity in the AC are structured like the Senate, instead of like the U.S. Congress, where representation is based on population (and thus my home state of SD has just ONE congressman, or actually congresswoman, Ms. Stephanie Herseth).

Likewise, we shouldn’t be simply counting dioceses and bishops (as at the Lambeth Conference where some 880 bishops are invited from around the world).  That’s much better than counting provinces, but still leaves the small, weak provinces drastically over-reprewsented, or more accurately, the giant provinces unjustly under-represented.

Instead, what we SHOULD be counting are individual Anglican believers.  That’s why I agree with Mark McCall that if Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, and Rwanda do in fact stay away in droves (as ++Venables strongly suggests they are still likely at this point to do), over HALF the AC won’t be represented at Lambeth 2008.  Because if you accept a figure like 55 million practicing Anglicans worldwide (i.e., discounting, rightly, the huge number of purely nominal baptized members in the C of E, and so reducing the size of the AC from the often quoted 77 million to a much more realistic 55 million or so), well, if you do that, and if Nigeria (with its 8 to 10 million worshippers), Uganda (with its 9 to 10 million) and Kenya (with its 3 to 6 million) stay away next summer, then you do indeed end up with over half the actual membership of the AC not being represented there.  And that makes the Lambeth Conference seem like a farce to me.  An absolute farce!

That is one of the key reasons why I have been arguing that the current four Instruments of Unity or Communion in the AC are absolutely and hopelessly inadequate.  They are totally incapable of handling a dispute this deep and severe.  That is completely understandable, for the fact is that they were never intended to do so.  The current Instruments are designed to facilitate communication, cooperation, and to renew and maintain our famous “bonds of affection” etc.  That is, the corporate Instruments (apart from the ABoC): namely, the Lambeth Conference, the Anglican CONSULTATIVE Council, and the Primates’ Meeting are simply consultative bodies, with no juridical power, as we all know so well.  Hence the TEC freedom to flout Lambeth 1998’s Res. 1:10.

Alas, while that gives us a lot of flexibility, avoids Roman-style “tryanny,” and promotes the freedom to “contextualize” our mission in various cultural regions (three very valuable things), it also has the severe drawback of leaving us totally ill-prepared and unequipped to handle this kind of bitter, unresolvable dispute, where the rest of the Anglican Communion lacks any real way to bring a rebellious, wayward province like TEC to heel and compel it to step back and abandon its foolish and communion-destructive ways.

As I’ve argued elsewhere, that means that we simply HAVE TO come up with some new Instruments of Unity.  And I’ve been arguing at every opportunity that what we need most of all is some kind of Anglican equivalent of an international Supreme Court, with binding juridical powers that can COMPEL wayward provinces to cease and desist when in serious error (like TEC and the ACoC).  Nothing less will do.  Now I personally don’t like to call that a “Federal” system of polity.  I prefer to speak of it in less secular and more historical terms as a “patristic” style conciliarism.  That is, I contend earnestly that we have no real choice but to continue to evolve our Instruments of Unity in a more and more patristic direction (in keeping with our love for the three-fold ordering of ministry).  And as we all know, the early councils of the patristic era were NOT merely for consultation.  They issued binding decisions on doctrine and canon law etc.  And yes, that is exactly what I crave and long for.  Nothing less.  That is not creeping (or galloping) Romanism.  It’s just another step in the direction of recovering our whole ancient patristic inheritance.

In any case, my basic point was a simple one.  We need to stop counting provinces or bishops, and start counting Anglicans.  Of course, the liberal western provinces will resist that fiercely, for it will further dilute their power and influence.  Well, frankly, so what?  Who cares?  Let’s all go to Lambeth and totally rewrite the whole constitution of Anglicanism, institute that new Anglican Supreme Court, and impose a much strengthened new Covenant.

And if the liberals dont’ like it, so what?  Frankly, who gives a damn?  I don’t.  Let them go to hell!

David Handy+
Back in a feisty Martin Luther mood again.
OK, Br_er Rabbit, you don’t have to remind me.
I’ll go put on another pot of tea and calm down.
When I call for a New Reformation, I do mean exactly that!

January 1, 6:18 pm | [comment link]
64. bluenarrative wrote:

Dr. Seitz,  Thank you for confirming that I got it largely correct. Your view of the Old Testament is, undoubtedly the proper one—but am I wrong in thinking that, beyond the “core” that you make reference to, there was considerable controversy among the Jews as to what constituted Scripture?

January 1, 6:23 pm | [comment link]
65. New Reformation Advocate wrote:

Oops, a numer of typos in that post.  The most glaring perhaps is when I give the number of Anglicans in Nigeria as a mere 8 to 10 million instead of 18 to 20 million as I’d intended to say.

Yikes.  My only excuse?  I was in a Galatians mood, for some reason, where my white hot anger was erupting again.  If I’d only taken Br_er Rabbit’s advice and taken some tea and colmed down first, I might have written something more in the style of Romans instead of Galatians.  Oh well, too late now.

David Handy+
Luther did the same thing (quite a lot in fact)

January 1, 6:29 pm | [comment link]
66. Br_er Rabbit wrote:

bluenarrative, thank you for your reply. And thank you for breaking up your reply into spaced paragraphs. I find many of your longer comments hard to wade through, especially when presented in a page or two of unbroken text.

Actually, the quote that I had in mind was even worse. And I must apologize to my Roman friends, because the quote I had in mind came from (guess who) an Episcopal bishop: “We wrote the Bible, and we can rewrite it.” And yes, I have heard similar sentiment from Roman sources, although I am well aware that official doctrine and the great theologians say otherwise.

RE: Anglican perspective: In 40 years with the Episcopal church, the only theological thing I heard that made any sense was “The Episcopal Church is the most Protestant of all the Catholic Churches, and the most Catholic of all the Protestant churches.” I kind of liked that. From simple observation over those years, it appeared to me that an Episcopalian could hold any theology they darned well pleased, as long as they could say the Creed. I was not so sure that was a good idea. In fact, it was a horrible idea and a large contributor to the current mess. From an Episcopal perspective, I never heard theology preached from the pulpit. It simply wasn’t done, and I attended quite a variety of parishes.

I do not consider myself a theologian either, although everyone, at some level, is a theologian. I am a deacon, with an M.A. in Biblical Studies. I aspire to be considered a bible scholar.

If you mean Clement of Rome, by the time 1 Clement was written, all the works that have been collected together into the Bible as we know it had already been written. 2 Clement was not written by Clement. Clement of Alexandria came even later, and his stature does not measure up to the great theologians of the 4th and 5th centuries. For the development of Catholic Order, look at the letters of Ignatius, e.g. to the Smyrnaens. It is clear that the Church of his time was struggling to define what Catholic Order should rightly be, durng a time when the agape meal had not been separated from the Eucharist. It was not before the second and third centuries that the trifold order of Bishop/Presbyter/Deacon became firmly fixed; I commend to you “Elders in Every City” by Roger Beckwith.

Although liberal scholars have held (incorrectly) that the Gospels and many of the epistle were a product of the later church (late first and early second centuries) rather than the traditional authors, that view is inexorably being refuted. That view began with German scholars in the 18th century. I follow (for the most part) the chronology of J.A.T. Robinson, who dates the entire NT corpus between 48 and 68 A.D.

As to the criteria for acceptance into the NT canon, the teachings of the apostles (handed down orally) was indeed a factor. Eyewitness testimony was the major factor in the credibility of the Gospels: see the latest book from Richard Baukham, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses. And yes, the later writers that described the limits of the canon were recognizing well established practice, although some writings were on the periphery, i.e., 1 Clement was bound as if part of the Bible but finally rejected, and Jude was doubted but finally accepted.

As for the OT (the Christian title for the Hebrew Scriptures), the canon acceptance was similar. The Pentateuch was always in the canon (The Samaritans had their own copy in Aramaic, and rejected everything else). When Jesus refers to “The Law and the Prophets” he is specifically referring to two-thirds of the list of canonical books accepted by all Jews. The final third is the “Writings” which includes, for example, the Psalms, and Jesus clearly quotes from Psalms as authorative. The council at Jamnia (AD 90, not 90 years after the fall of the temple) did not define the OT canon de novo, they simply recognized what had always been in place, and dealt with a few peripheral books, such as 1 Enoch, which was rejected. And it was Jews that gave shape to the OT, not Christians. Jerome went to Palestine to learn Hebrew, and he took the shape of what he translated from the Jews.

It is true that the Scriptures are “what orthodox catholic Christians have always held,” but you must understand that not all early Christians were orthodox. Gnostics were particularly prevalent in Egypt, and may even have outnumbered the “catholics.” I believe (some day I hope to write a paper on this) that the very word “catholic” was lifted out of the Greek vernacular to combat the Gnostics, i.e., for the Gnostics only certain “spiritual” people could achieve salvation, and their opponents called themselves “catholic” meaning that salvation was available to all who would believe. Later, the word “catholic” was used as a broader term to combat the several heresies that arose in the ensuing centuries.

You are right, the Church and the Scriptures are inexorably linked. They grew up together, although when the Scriptures had all been written and collected, the Church was still growing in its maturity.

This has been quite a long post for me, perhaps even up in the bluenarrative class. I hope it doesn’t become a habit. I try to be very careful and check my sources, so these things take a long time. I started this post after your 5:23 post, and it’s now 7:11 here.

Peace in the Lord,

January 1, 8:21 pm | [comment link]
67. Br. Michael wrote:

61, Happy Hogmany.  I will tell my Rector that we not pay anything to the Diocese.

January 1, 8:45 pm | [comment link]
68. seitz wrote:

‘Law and Prophets’—there is a scholarly debate as to whether this includes what would be a third division ‘writings’. When the Gospel speaks of Able to Zechariah, some believe that this means Genesis to Chronicles (the Zechariah martyred in Chron). I have just finished a series of lectures on this technical discussion. I am inclined to think that ‘prophets’ can imply Nebiim and Ketubim on occasion (hence the reference/convention to David as prophesying the Psalms, etc).

Samaritan Pentateuch is in Hebrew.
Jamnia—not likely a ‘council’—otherwise your statement is correct in general. Books discussed were however Song of Songs etc.,  Debate was not whether ‘canonical’ but why, etc.

January 2, 11:14 am | [comment link]
69. Br_er Rabbit wrote:

Thank you, Dr. Seitz!
Is there a link to your lecture content or a bibliography?
I have heard it surmised that ‘Zechariah’ referred to the father of John the Baptist, but I have not seen any backup for that.
I should have known better re: Samaritan Pentateuch.
I am aware that ‘council’ is a Christian invention. Dr. Flüsser and others correct that misapprehension from a Jewish perspective—I’m reading Judaism of the Second Temple Period (vol. 1) just released in English.

January 2, 11:57 am | [comment link]
70. seitz wrote:

If you email me off-line I can help. The Sanders/MacDonald collection had an essay from the man who first poked a hole in the ‘Council’ notion…it was his sole scholarly effort—I think he just stumbled into the field…sometimes this happens.

As you may know, the bibliography on canon is enormous, due to Qumran…

January 2, 12:05 pm | [comment link]
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