Sydney has rejected the Anglican Covenant. The 11 October vote by the 49th meeting of the Diocese of Sydney Synod likely spells the death knell for Dr Rowan Williams’ plan for a global agreement to set the parameters of doctrine and discipline for the Anglican Communion.
Support for the Covenant peaked in the run-up to the 2009 meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council in Kingston, however, Dr Williams’ untimely intervention into the Covenant debate and changes made to the document have alienated both left and right.
Liberal dioceses in New Zealand, Australia and the US have rejected the plan as un-Anglican, while the Global South Primates last year stated that “while we acknowledge that the efforts to heal our brokenness through the introduction of an Anglican Covenant were well intentioned, we have come to the conclusion the current text is fatally flawed and so support for this initiative is no longer appropriate.”
2. New Reformation Advocate wrote:
Well, just what constituted the “death knell” for the Covenant may be debatable, perhaps. But that it is virtually dead is really beyond serious dispute. Even the ACI team can’t muster up enthusiasm for it anymore.
Was the real death knell sounded in Singapore (the Global South Encounter which George Conger aptly quotes)? Or was it when even the Philippine Episcopal Church rejected the Covenant? Or was it the recent decision of TEC’s Executive Council to propose that General Convention openly reject the Covenant next year? Or did the bell toll back in Jamaica when that ACC meeting scuttled the Covenant in its Ridley form?
Who cares now? It’s all a matter of post-mortem analysis of what went wrong.
The real question is: So what’s Plan B?
October 27, 9:45 am | [comment link]
3. C. Wingate wrote:
Keep in mind that Sydney has a lot of the same kind of “do our own thing” issues as ECUSA; being morally conservative doesn’t imply being conservative about other issues.
October 27, 10:10 am | [comment link]
4. c.r.seitz wrote:
October 27, 10:15 am | [comment link]
No surprise here.
5. robroy wrote:
Keep in mind that Sydney has a lot of the same kind of “do our own thing” issues as ECUSA; being morally conservative doesn’t imply being conservative about other issues.
Sydney is trying to be Biblically faithful. In contrast, the TEO is saying that parts of the Bible are not relevant to the present age and may be ignored. Big difference.
Do not yoke yourself to unbelievers. See Matt+ Kennedy’s categorization of Anglicans here, in particular regarding the “cooperating” conservatives.
Non serviri, sed servire.
October 27, 10:21 am | [comment link]
6. Sarah wrote:
RE: “Sydney is trying to be Biblically faithful.”
Hey RobRoy—I believe that C Wingate was referring to the current leadership of Sidney’s actions regarding lay administration of the Eucharist, their beliefs about the nature of clergy and bishops, and other various parts of their theology.
And the “do not yoke yourself to unbelievers” is irrelevant as Sidney has not left the Anglican Communion yet.
October 27, 10:42 am | [comment link]
7. evan miller wrote:
October 27, 11:25 am | [comment link]
Quite true. Sydney may be orthodox Christian, but they wear their Anglicanism rather too lightly.
8. C. Wingate wrote:
Sydney may or may not be trying to be “biblically faithful”; there’s plenty more in Paul besides shunning. The point, as Sarah says, is that they don’t want the Communion telling them that they can’t step outside the norms for ordination and ministry either. When it comes to the effect on the ecclesiology of the whole, their deviations are more disruptive than those of ECUSA, at least so far. If you’re willing to tolerate what Sydney keeps proposing simply because you find them allies in moral orthodoxy, then you’re thinking along the same lines as the problem people in ECUSA, at least when it comes to political expediency.
October 27, 11:26 am | [comment link]
9. Bookworm(God keep Snarkster) wrote:
#8 and others have some fair points—speaking personally, I disagree with putting a Christian blessing on homosex via “marriage” or anything else, but I would raise the same objection to Communion of the unbaptized, laity presiding over the Eucharist, “Jesus as just a guru with good ideas”, bi-religious Christian/Muslim priests, “coming to our relationship with God through the holiness we experience in other human beings” or any other similar New Age tripe.
It’s bizarre how alleged Anglicans reject Anglicanism’s attempts to define itself. And there’s a reason why the Articles are no more, to some, than a “historical document” in the rear of the ‘79 Prayer Book.
Well, as long as we can make up whatever we like, I’ll have to start contemplating what would suit me and see if the denomination will come ‘round to my way of thinking. Time for a church plant—“Our Lady of Validate Me”...
October 27, 12:07 pm | [comment link]
10. wvparson wrote:
Sydney isn’t an autonomous Province. It is a diocese. What the Australian Church decides remains to be seen.
October 27, 1:36 pm | [comment link]
12. Sarah wrote:
RE: “But that it is virtually dead is really beyond serious dispute.”
I think I disagree. And I’m no supporter of the Covenant—I think it a fruitless waste of time that gives some people happy thoughts that something might be accomplished for ordering the Communion long-term.
But the premise has always been that the “fringes” don’t sign on to the Covenant, and the “middle” does.
The “middle” looks increasingly smaller and smaller at this juncture. But still . . . I expect that Rowan and the other Covenant supporters will count it a “win” if they can get a couple of African provinces to sign on [other than South Africa which is a given], some of the Asian provinces, some of the South American provinces, and some other clusters [Ireland/COE?] for a total of maybe . . . 16—24 or so. That basically cuts out TEC/Canada, and then a good chunk of 12 or so other provinces.
And there you are.
But then . . . those divisions have been existent for the past 7 years.
October 27, 2:05 pm | [comment link]
13. New Reformation Advocate wrote:
Lest my comment (#2 above) be misunderstood, let me state for the record that I utterly deplore Sydney’s attempt to promote the unAnglican novelty of lay “administration” or celebration of the Eucharist, including by what they call “deacons.” I recognize that the ultra Protestant, even Puritan, archdiocese of Sydney has more than one reason to reject the Covenant. However, it should be noted in their defense that so far the archbishops in Sydney have refused to go along with the repeated requests of their own regional synod to authorize such an uncatholic innovation. TEC and the ACoC have shown no such restraint. That’s a major difference.
But now that Dr. Seitz has put in an appearance on this thread, I’ll repose the question I asked at the end of my earlier comment. Now that the Covenant is as good as dead, what’s Plan B?
The blue-chip Lambeth Commission on Communion that gave us the justly famous Windsor Report seven years ago never even hinted at an alternative plan to save the institutional wineskins of the Anglican Communion (AC). Rather, they darkly hinted that if the North American provinces continued to flout the wishes of the rest of the AC, still flagrantly defying the requests of all the Instruments of Unity/Communion, then we’d all have to learn to “walk apart.”
Well, that time has clearly come. It’s abundantly clear that TEC’s deluded leaders won’t repent or desist. They are utterly stubborn and “stiff-necked,” to use an OT expression.
So, given that grim reality, where do we go from here??
I hope the ACI team will join in exploring our options, in concert with orthodox leaders from the Global South and North. Some people may still be in the mourning stage, and that’s perfectly understandable. Let them grieve the wanton destruction of the AC. That is entirely appropriate. “How are the mighty fallen!”
But then let us all start to recognize that the death of the inherited international polity structures of the AC does NOT mean the death of Anglicanism, as a religious system. The fact is that the former wineskins were fatally flawed anyway, as the vaunted Instruments were not truly conciliar in nature, but rather the Lambeth Conference, the ACC, and the Primates’ Meeting merely consultative groups, with no power to impose discipline across provincial boundaries. Plus, of course, they were thoroughly CoE-centered and pervasively colonial in operation.
For Anglicanism, as an ism, to be saved, we simply MUST find a way to put the classic Doctrine, Discipline, and Worship back in Anglicanism worldwide. And that requires coming up with NEW Instruments that can IMPOSE discipline on wayward provinces, and make the decision stick.
FWIW, I again propose that central to any such plan must be a NEW Anglican confession that explicitly rules out the great heresy of our time in the Global North, i.e., theological and moral relativism. On that score, even the famous Lambeth Quadrilateral of 1888 is plainly no longer adequate, for it is now beyond dispute that the Nicene and Apostles’ Creeds are manifestly NOT sufficient doctrinal standards today for ruling out that deadly relativism, and the unbiblical universalism and moral antinomianism that usually goes with it. It’s high time to bite the bullet and draw clear and firm doctrinal boundaries.
But along with restoring the historic Doctrine of Anglicanism, we must also restore the ability to exercise firm Discipline. And I continue to think that the best place to start is by creating, for the first time, an international judicial branch that can adjudicate serious disputes among provinces, and whose decision would be BINDING on all provinces. We can simply no longer afford the luxury of abstaining from creating the equivalent of an Anglican Supreme Court that can issue authoritative rulings and declare unbiblical actions of provinces null and void. We simply MUST have the ability to overrule the kind of disastrous provincial actions taken by TEC and the ACoC.
As I’ve often said here at T19, the real danger we face in Anglicanism these days isn’t that we’ll create some kind of pale imitation of the Roman Curia and drift into a papal style tyranny. No, quite the opposite. The clear and present danger is that we’ll continue allowing Protestant anarchy to reign unchecked.
We MUST develop the capacity to clip the wings of provinces and limit their authonomy. But such a new centralized authority structure need not be vested in one man, as in the papal system. There are various possibilities that should be seriously explored, including something like the ancient system of patriarchates (as in the Eastern Church) and the American secular model of three branches of government, with mutual checks and balances.
Yes, I know that’s very radical stuff, and it would take a long time to reach some sort of global agreement on how to remake Anglicanism’s system of Discipline above the provincial level. But a journey of 1000 miles begins with taking some initial steps in the right direction.
Personally, I remain optimistic that the best days of Anglicanism still lie ahead. The old wineskins have failed us. Badly, and they are beyond repair. But a powerful new wine is fermenting withing global Anglicanism and I trust it will eventually produce new forms of Doctrine, Discipline, and Worship, in organic continuity with our past and equal to the severe challenges we face in a post-Christendom world that previous generations of Anglican leaders simply couldn’t have anticipated.
I believe it will amount to nothing less than a New Reformation. I have no doubt that it will prove just as bitterly divisive as the first Reformation. And there may well be some martyrs along the way, as there were in the 16th century (on both sides too). But I remain confident that whatever the cost may end up being, the outcome will be worth it.
These are but the birthpangs of the Second Reformation. Our best days as Anglicans are still to come. From the fiery demise of the AC may yet emerge, like the Phoenix, or better like the Risen Christ, a whole new kind of Anglicanism that is truly global and not centered in the dwindling Global North, and certainly not in the pathetically weak and feeble CoE.
In 1 Clement, chapter 25, we see Clement of Rome endorsing the ancient myth of the Phoenix as an image of Resurrection. In that ancient legend, the firebird was reborn every 500 years. Well, the kind of major Reformation I’m talking about probably also comes along only once every 500 years or so.
That time has come upon us, whether we like it or not. But as Christians, we believe in a God who raised his only Son to a new and eternal state far superior to his earthly one. Let us believe, as Anglicans, that Christ, the first-born from the dead, will raise Anglicanism similarly from its current death to a whole new post-Christendom state far superior than the old form of Prayer Book religion that we rightly loved.
Yes, the Covenant is dead. And all hope of repairing the old wineskins of classical Anglicanism is gone too. Let us grieve the loss of that precious heritage. But let us not grieve “as those who have no hope.”
October 27, 2:24 pm | [comment link]
Eternal Optimist (because of Christ’s resurrection)
14. New Reformation Advocate wrote:
Thanks, Sarah, for interacting with me in your #12.
I’ll respond very briefly (for a change). I stand by what I wrote. All hopes of salvaging the old wineskins of Anglicanism, as we have known it heretofore, are absolutely doomed. Futile attempts to patch those rigid and outdated wineskins will only lead to catastrophic results, when the attempted patch fails too, as the Master warned us (Mark 2:22). No, genuinely NEW wineskins are necessary, or not just the AC but Anglicanism itself, as an ism, as a distinctive religious system, will also perish.
Mind you, Sarah, I’m not disputing your take on ++RW’s likely hopes. I’m just spurning them in disdain as hopelessly inadequate.
Before Anglicanism can rise again, it must first die. But then, by God’s inifinite and ever surprising grace, we just may see an even more glorious form of Anglicanism take its place. That is my firm conviction and earnest hope.
October 27, 2:33 pm | [comment link]
15. Sarah wrote:
RE: “I stand by what I wrote. All hopes of salvaging the old wineskins of Anglicanism, as we have known it heretofore, are absolutely doomed.”
Hi NRA—I was not responding to your old wineskins comments but to this comment: “But that it [the Covenant] is virtually dead is really beyond serious dispute.”
October 27, 2:39 pm | [comment link]
16. c.r.seitz wrote:
# 14. I’d encourage you to read Poon, as well as the work of SE Asia in relation to the Covenant. I agree with # 12.
I find it hard to predict the Covenant in precise terms. It certainly was not moving forward if TEC was to have adopted it. Now it might get a wider middle support. Much will depend on the kind of proposal SE Asia made and that the GS also referred to.
Sydney does not strike me as very predictive of anything.
October 27, 3:03 pm | [comment link]
17. New Reformation Advocate wrote:
Thanks again, to both Sarah and Dr. Seitz, for the interaction. And thanks especially to the latter for calling attention to the essay/analysis by Dr. Poon, and for providing the link. I have come to respect Michael Poon’s careful, judicious assessments of Anglican matters, just as I do the wise judgments of ++John Chew, who invested so much of his time and effort in the (futile) effort to make the Covenant work. But if ++Chew has given up on the current Instruments of Unity/Communion, as have such “moderates” as ++Mouneer Anis and ++Ian Earnest, can there really be any serious hope of salvaging the old wineskins of Anglican polity at the international level? I think not.
But this gives me an opening to elaborate on why I remian so hopeful, and not dismayed, by the demise of the Covenant and the inherited institutional wineskins that we’ve known heretofore.
Dr. Seitz, do you remember when Dr. Eugene Fairweather came to Yale and spoke at a fall Convocation for Berkeley Div. School in the early 1980s (when we were both there)? He presented a very insightful and stimulating lecture (or maybe it was a short series of lectures), providing a very original take on the tumultuous history of Anglicanism over the last several hundred years since the Reformation.
Now for other readers, I’ll add that Eugene Fairweather was a prominent church historian, and was widely considered “the dean of Canadian theologians” at that time. He taught at “the other” Anglican school in Toronto, the one that prides itself on being both “Catholic and Liberal,” although Dr. Fairweather himself was no Affirming Catholic, but an orthodox Anglo-Catholic.
Anyway, Fairweather’s survey of Anglican history concentrated on three great reform movements that sought to unsettle the famous Elizabethan Settlement, in order to remake the CoE drastically in a new mold. Rather provocatively, and perhaps confusingly, he termed them “the Three Anglican Counter Reformations.” I think in the case of the first two such movements, that’s rather misleading.
So what were those three great attempts at radical reform in Anglican history? Well, it’s quite simple and obvious.
1. The Puritan movement of the 16th-17th centuries, led by such hardcore Protestants as Thomas Cartwright, John Owen, ++Grindal, and later Richard Baxter, etc.
2. The Evangelical Revival or movement of the 18th-19th centuries, led by the Wesley brothers, George Whitefield, and later men like Charles Simeon, etc.
3. Finally, the Catholic Revival of the 19th-20th centuries, led by the Oxford trio of Keble, Pusey, and above all Newman, and later by bishops like Charles Gore and Walter Frere, etc.
Please bear with me. The relevance of this detour into Anglican history should become clear soon.
Dr. Fairweather noted that all three of these radical attempts to remake Anglicanism ultimately failed, although they all left a deep and lasting impact on Anglicanism. As the old adage goes, Anglicanism (or the CoE in particular) is an anvil that has worn out the hammers of many would-be reformers. When the seeminly irressitible force comes up against the immoveable mountain, the mountain tends to win.
But that was then. This is now. Something has changed the whole context of Anglicanism in our time, the demise of the Christendom marriage of Christianity and western culture, the move past the separation of Church and State to the point of their actual divorce (de facto, if not yet de jure). That is why the old Elizabethan Settlement is obsolete at last, and will have to be replaced, very soon.
Recall the timing of those three prior “Counter Reformations.” The Puritan one starting in the 16th century, the Evangelical one starting in the 18th, and the Anglo-Catholic one starting in the 19th.
Doesn’t it strike anyone else here that we seem to be overdue for yet a FOURTH such attempt to unsettle the Elizabethan Settlement, in order to remake Anglicanism drastically? I think we are indeed overdue for it. And I think it’s already begun, for those with the eyes to see it.
The temporary focus for that new reform movement is the FCA or GAFCON movement, although I’m sure it will broaden significantly in the months and years to come, as more and more of the Global South jumps on the bandwagon.
I’ll stop here, and perhaps amplify and clarify what I mean shortly.
But thanks again to Dr. Seitz. I will soon read, and ponder, Dr. Poon’s piece.
October 27, 3:50 pm | [comment link]
18. New Reformation Advocate wrote:
Follow up to my #17.
Personally, I’m convinced that the most far-sighted and visionary leader of this “Fourth Anglican Counter Reformation” (if you’ll allow the term) is none other than…
++Robert Duncan the Lionhearted.
In several major sermons or speeches, he’s laid out a breath-takingly bold vision for the future of orthodox Anglicanism. I’m in hearty agreement with him, only I’d go further yet.
A few years ago, at the fall Convocation at Nashotah House, when he was given an honorary degree, ++Duncan spoke glowingly of Anglicanism as having “come of age” in our time. And he framed the change in terms of the demise of the old Elizabethan Settlement, and its eventual replacement by what he called a “Global, Post-Colonial Settlement.” Right on. Amen. So be it.
But something even more profound is going on, I believe, under the surface, although most people haven’t caught on to it yet. Besides the radical shift away from a CoE-centered Anglicanism that was undeniably Erastian in nature, the New Anglicanism being born in our time is going to be not only Global and Post-Colonial, but more importantly, it’s sure to be POST-CHRISTENDOM in its warp and woof, i.e., Post-Constantinian and perhaps even downright ANTI-Erastian.
That is the all-important point. That is the crucial way that this Fourth attempt to unsettle the obsolete Elizabethan Settlement differs from the previous three that failed, because the clock hadn’t yet run out on the CoE as an Established Church. But now it has.
And those days aren’t coming back.
We face truly unprecedent challenges, with the grave dangers being manifestly obvious. But this profound Anglican crisis also presents us with a great and glorious opportunity, the most promising opportunity for reshaping Anglicanism that we’ve had since the original Reformation over 450 years ago. Today, we have a real chance to recover, for the first time in about 1500 years in western civilization, the vitality and authenticity of the pre-Christendom Church. The Church of the Martyrs.
I (for one) find that incredibly exciting.
So again, I say, let those grieve who are deeply grieving the demise of hopes based on the Covenant, and the apparent demise of the Communion as we’ve known it heretofore. That is entirely natural and valid. But let us not grieve “as those who have no hope.” Let the husk of the AC go. The kernel of Anglicanism, as an ism, as a distinctive religious hybrid of evangelical and catholic elements, can yet bring forth much fruit. But only if it seems to die first (ala John 12).
I continue to believe, fervently, that the best days for orthodox Anglicanism are yet to come.
May it be so! Amen.
October 27, 4:07 pm | [comment link]
19. c.r.seitz wrote:
With respect, Reformations (your term) don’t get cooked up as Grand Ideas on a blog. They amble along according to the Holy Spirit’s work. One watches and prays as much as one plots or grandly fashions. So it always is, as the Spirit blows where He wills.
October 27, 4:35 pm | [comment link]
20. New Reformation Advocate wrote:
Thanks, Dr. Seitz (#19),
I agree that Reformations are the Spirit’s work and he blows where he wills, in ways that are often even more unpredictable than the weather. And I accept your gentle rebuke that real Reformations “don’t get cooked up as Grand Ideas on a blog.” True enough. What you didn’t add, but I will, is that they aren’t cooked up by nobodies with no influence.
I certainly don’t claim to be a Luther myself, or even a Melancthon or Bucer. But it is worth remembering, especially so close to October 31st, that no one could’ve predicted in 1517 that the avalanche that become the German Reformation would get started by a fairly obscure monk and university professor posting 95 theses for public debate, in Latin, on a church door. Posting theological assertions and arguments on a blog isn’t all that different, is it?
Now let me respond to Dr. Michael Poon’s essay in TLC, as you kindly provided the link in #11. I welcome his irenic and perceptive contribution to the ongoing debate. He has helpfully brought to the surface three of the numerous submerged factors in play that needed to be brought out of the shadows and into the light.
1. I agree with Michael Poon that there are probably some significant psychological and political factors at work among African church leaders who find it useful to solidify their leadership roles and help unify their own fractious, tribally-torn provinces by uniting against a common, external enemy. And yes, as the African churches continue to emerge from their colonial past, there is no doubt but that an element of “identity crisis” is involved, just as teenagers and yooung adults struggle to assert their own identity as they leave home to make their own way in the world.
But while I would agree with Poon that the African churches “need to develop a more coherent understanding of their ecclesiology,” I would add, as a friendly amendment, that the need for coming up with such a coherent ecclesiology isn’t limited to the younger churches of the Global South. Rather, that is a challenge facing the entire Anglican world, given our hybrid Protestant and Catholic heritage. A major reason why the present conflict is so “intractable” (Poon’s term, and I agree) is precisely because the inherited system of Anglican polity beyond the provincial level is so “haphazard” (his term) and incoherent. There is indeed a huge “eccesial deficit” in our inherited Anglican patterns of how the provinces relate to each other, and that deficit is killing us.
More to common…
October 28, 9:51 am | [comment link]
21. cseitz wrote:
I am not endorsing Poon’s analysis or conclusions. I merely find it best to hear from the principals in these matters.
October 28, 10:34 am | [comment link]
22. New Reformation Advocate wrote:
Continuing my #20, about the Poon piece,
2. I also welcome Dr. Poon calling attention to the important groundwork laid for the GAFCON movement by the manifold legacy of the late John Stott. He is surely right that the FCA leaders were able to build on the foundations laid by EFAC, the Langham Trust, etc.
But surely Stott doesn’t get all the credit, great as he was. Others have also contributed to building up Anglican evangelicalism around the world. However, I find his objection to GAFCON seeming to monopolize the Stott heritage a bit confusing and misleading. While Poons’ objection is legitimate, my counter point is that GAFCON wasn’t limited to low church evangelicals in the Stott mold.
Some of us involved in the ACNA and the wider FCA movement lean more to the catholic than the evangelical pole in Anglicanism (myself included). Indeed, one of my own worries about this still young movement is precisely the danger that it will be overly dominated by the giant low-church provinces like Nigeria, Uganda, and Kenya, evangelized by the CMS, while the younger churches more indebted to the missionary work of the SPG (as in southern Tanzania or some places in South India, etc.) end up having little role.
3. Perhaps most important of all, Dr. Poon rightly complains that we Americans, from all along the theological spectrum, have a tendency to harbor “imperialist ambitions” and want to “offer solutions” to this whole mess when we’re largely responsible to creating the mess in the first place. That’s where Dr. Seitz’ gentle jibe about my Grand Ideas comes in. That’s where North American theologians (especially perhaps like myself, since I represent no constituency except a few blog fans) have to throttle back our grandiose dreams of guiding the future course of how Anglicanism evolves in the 21st century. Fair enough. There are some very capable orthodox leaders in the Global South who can rise to the challenge, like Dr. Pon himself, and I hope they increasingly find a voice and exercise the decisive leadership role they should. We in the North must decrease, they in the South must increase.
Finally, I concur with Michael Poon’s conclusion that, “To lead the Anglican faithful in a continuing internal conflict that promises no resolution is a grevous sin.” Absolutely right.
But that brings us back full circle to the rejection of the Covenant by Sydney and now by TEC’s Executive Council (a UNANIMOUS decision, it should be noted).
For in the end, one reason why many of us think that the whole Covenant idea was fatally flawed from the start is precisely that it condemns Anglicanism to enduring such a “continuing internal conflict that promises no resolution.” IOW, the whole plan concocted by ++RW of seeking to keep the wayward, rebellious Global North provinces so determined to “walk apart” still within the Anglican Communion, albeit while being demoted to a “second tier,” is hopelessly inadequate.
Can anyone imagine St. Paul wanting to keep the Judaizers within the churches of Galatia, but as honored members on a “second tier?” Does anyone here think Irenaeus wanted to maintain good relations with the Gnostic folowers of Valentinus or Basilides, and accord them “the highest degree of communion possible?” Would it have ever occurred to St. Athanasius or the Cappadocians to extend an olive branch to the Arians, by offering to allow them to remain with the Catholic Church, but at a secondary level?
Such an idea is patently ridiculous. Of course, the leaders of the early church wouldn’t have done anything like that. Discipline, to be meaningful, has to be IMPOSED, using whatever force is necessary, i.e., taking the drastic step of booting people out in the name of Christ through excommunication and the deposing of heretical clergy.
Next year we will celebrate the 350th anniversary of the 1662 BCP. But it is also the 350th anniversary of what is called “the Great Ejection,” when over 2,000 Puritan ministers were fired and expelled from the CoE. I’ve never seen any credible analysis of how high a proportion of the CoE’s parish clergy that might have been, but it could easily have been around 20%. A very substantial minority.
Now our brothers and sisters in Sydney identify strongly with the Puritan heritage. The teachers at Moore Theological College certainly extoll the Puritans as exemplary heroes, as does the great J. I. Packer. Personally, I’m downright ANTI-Puritan, though more in the style of Richard Hooker than of William Laud (although my theology is closer to Laud’s, I would shun his ultra-violent tactics). But I will publicly admit that I think that the Great Ejection of 2,000 Puritan ministers from the CoE was a good and proper thing to do. A “tragic necessity” to use Jaroslav Pelikan’s famous phrase about the Reformation.
And personally, I don’t hesitate at all to suggest that there are no problems in worldwide Anglicanism today that couldn’t be solved by a repetition of the Great Ejection. Namely, we could solve our problems by EJECTING thousands of “progressive” clergy from the Global North provinces. Kick them off the Anglican island once and for all! And not just down to a “second tier.”
It’s high time to fight fire with fire. Match the uncanonical banishment of orthodox bishops like Cox, MacBurney, and not least Duncan, Iker, Ackerman, etc. by the wider Communion banishing the heretical PB and her faithless ilk to the outer darkness, in the name of Jesus Christ.
And I mean that literally. Let those successors of Judas Iscariot be thrown out of Anglicanism once and for all. Until they repent, if they ever do.
October 28, 10:35 am | [comment link]
23. cseitz wrote:
I believe it should be received as good news that the Executive Council rejected the Covenant and have said so repeatedly prior to this vote. TEC wants to be a special denomination in the US (though in reality it is very close to the UCC or UU in its leadership and theology). So now it has declared that. Prior to this we have had lots of obfuscation and temporizing. Now in its special denominational identity it is also having to deal with a good bit of in-fighting (Bonnie Anderson v. Sauls), admissions that the loss of membership is dramatic (30% of dioceses are not viable long-term), major financial problems (50% of budget goes to fund the PB’s office and related 815 costs).
October 28, 10:52 am | [comment link]
This kind of reality-check was not prominent, or was denied as reality, even 3 years ago.
And now we have round 2 of the Bede Parry case.
If in these days individual dioceses can continue to preach the Gospel and grow and form strong Christians, and hold off the assaults of polity innovations, the reality-check will have an opportunity to do its work. And that work includes ‘handing over’ as Romans 1 puts it.
As for the covenant, perhaps TEC’s rejection of it will lead to its acceptance and its proper deployment, as SE Asia sketches. But that work is the Holy Spirit’s. It obviously would make no sense to covenant with a TEC which did not share its vision of communion and mutual submission in Christ. And God alone knows that the fate of the Instruments will be. Poon has his own view. I simply cannot see that far. But God can.
24. wvparson wrote:
Ironically Sydney and the TEC Executive Council rejected the Covenant for the same reason. They both hold to eccentric visions of what Anglicanism is and fear, and I stress that word, that some Communion-wide structure will crimp their style.
In the end, the Global South Provinces need to get on board. Their influence would be considerable in shaping the life of the Communion into the future. I’m not entirely happy that their predominantly evangelical complexion will make that shape a balanced one. At the moment the relatively tiny Provinces of Ireland and Scotland may have more influence than a disengaged Global South.
October 28, 11:03 am | [comment link]
25. evan miller wrote:
Your #22 is absolute first rate. Your third paragraph echos my own concerns with the GAFCON and ACNA, that they will become completely dominated by low church evangelicals to the exclusion of Anglo-Catholics like me. Hopefully the excellent +Iker and others can help ACNA be more balanced. Send more seminarians to Nashotah House!
October 28, 11:12 am | [comment link]
26. New Reformation Advocate wrote:
I appreciate the encouragement. I often feel a little like John the Baptist, i.e., a lonely voice crying in the wilderness, “Repent…”
As for the future of Anglo-Catholicism, I’d suggest that we are going through a time of severe pruning. Much as grapevines or rose bushes are sometimes cut back almost to the stump, so that you’d think they’d never grow back, and yet they do. But if the divine Gardener is pruning us, it’s always so that we might bear more fruit (John 15).
Between, on the one hand, the departure of many traditionalist Anglo-Catholics for the various small Continuing Churches since WO in the 1970s, or into the Ordinariate now, and OTOH, the drifting of many liberal catholic types into the errors and follies of “Affirming Catholicism” (alas, including ++RW or +Frank Griswold), the heirs of the Catholic Revival are greatly diminished in our time. We may well seem like a small remnant with little promise. But I continue to trust that “a shoot shall come forth from the stump…”
We’ve been through similar prunings before. The catholic movement within Anglicanism has fractured along multiple fault lines in the past: in the late 1800s over the acceptance of biblical criticism and then over the theology of confirmation, in the 1920s and 30s over “modernism” and birth control, and then in the 1970s and afterward over WO and new prayerbooks, etc. And of course, there was always the division between “Prayer Book Catholics” (like me) and “Missal Catholics” (Anglo-Papalists, like say Gregory Dix).
The fact is, we’ve never been very unified as a movement, ever since Newman split from Keble and Pusey. Nonetheless, the movement has never run out of gas yet or totally lost momentum.
As for Nashotah, I’m glad you gave it a plug here. ++Michael Ramsay sure loved the place, and it deserves all the support it can get. It’s notable that 4 out of the 5 leading seminaries for training orthodox Anglican clergy in North America are associated with the evangelical or Protestant end of the Anglican spectrum: i.e., TSM in Ambridge and Cranmer House (REC) in Houston, plus Wycliffe College in Toronto and Regent in Vancouver.
But what do you expect? Anglicanism has always been a predominantly Protestant movement, and likely will always be so. Those of us who think of ourselves as being more like “biblical catholics” than “liturgical Protestants” will always be in the minority. What else is new?
However, ultimately the reason why I remain an Anglican is because it’s the place where the “3-D” Christianity I favor so passionately has the best chance to flourish:, i.e., evangelical, catholic, and charismatic. Such a unique, distinctive, hybrid form of religion can survive the collapse of the Elizabethan Settlement, or the discrediting of the current Instruments of Communion, or the rending of the AC into two bitterly hostile camps. For as I’ve tried to argue above, the shedding of the husks of Anglicanism international institutions really doesn’t damage the kernel of that hybrid form of Christianity.
October 28, 2:11 pm | [comment link]
27. robroy wrote:
C. Wingate: “When it comes to the effect on the ecclesiology of the whole, their deviations are more disruptive than those of ECUSA, at least so far.”
Yep. It is the diocese of Sydney (that put lay administration on hold out of respect for the AC) that tore the fabric of the Communion. Yep. The Windsor report was all about the diocese of Sydney. The ecclesiology of the Anglican communion, the “instruments of unity”, are in shambles…because of the diocese of Sydney.
Non serviri, sed servire.
October 28, 8:50 pm | [comment link]
28. New Reformation Advocate wrote:
I’m glad you chimed in with your delightfully sarcastic comment. I was afraid that perhaps I’d killed off this thread with my verbose, rambling attempts to engage Dr. Seitz in dialogue. I’m glad to see the thread isn’t dead yet (ala Monte Python).
I’ll only add here that I was trying to follow the lead of Dr. Poon and bring to the surface some key underlying issues that show some of the fault-lines running through the orthodox side of Anglicanism (the vast majority of us worldwide). It’s quite obvious that both the catholic and the evangelical wings of Anglicanism are fractured, both theologically and strategically (i.e., in terms of how to handle this crisis).
The archdiocese of Sydney reveals very clearly that the low-church evangelical majority of the world’s orthodox Anglicans is subdivided between the hardcore Puritans in Sydney and the evangelicals in other places (like Uganda, say), who are also very low church, but aren’t Puritan in spirit or intention. Or at least not nearly as stridently so as the faculty at Moore Theological College.
Similarly, as my last post tried to show, the catholic (minority) wing of orthodox Anglicanism is also subdivided and fractured, e.g., over WO.
Together, those unpoleasant realities inhibit our ability to present a united front against our “progessive” foes. But they also demonstrate why the whole Covenant approach is a sad case of “too little, too late.”
In the end, my basic gripe is that the Covenant, and the whole ACI approach, amounts to a desperate attempt to patch up the old institutional wineskins of the AC. Dr. Seitz and I have so much trouble even communicating, much less in reaching consensus, because we operate out of such different overall paradigms.
But George Conger+ gets it. Even if others don’t yet. The Covenant is indeed as good as dead. Even though I agree with Sarah that ++RW is very unlikely to admit it or to abandon his sly game of dithering and delaying under the guise of salvaging some remnant of the old Communion in a much diminished group of provinces willing to sign onto this worthless Covenant.
October 29, 9:39 am | [comment link]
29. c.r.seitz wrote:
Trying to engage in dialogue? having trouble communicating?
October 29, 10:04 am | [comment link]
You must be joking.
30. New Reformation Advocate wrote:
Hmmm. Methinks thou art the one jesting. I assure you that I was quite sincere.
Please don’t misunderstand me. I assume that I’m the one who bears the brunt of the responsibility for the failure to communicate in a way that would entice you into serious interaction.
I know I have a tendency to “pontificate” and lecture here, and it’s not even my blog. So whether it was my prolix style, or my dogmatism, or my caustic dismissal of the value of the Covenant in which you have invested so much time and effort, or all the above that may have put you off, I’m sorry. I meant no disrespect to you personally.
October 29, 11:28 am | [comment link]
31. c.r.seitz wrote:
“I was afraid that perhaps I’d killed off this thread with my verbose, rambling attempts”—yes, it is an odd form of communication and certainly not a effort at dialogue. But I believe it is your trademark, so to say, and you seem to enjoy it. I certainly did not perceive it as disrespectful. It is what you do.
October 29, 11:35 am | [comment link]
32. New Reformation Advocate wrote:
Touche, Dr. Seitz.
Guilty as charged. As Sarah can attest from Stand Firm, it is indeed my trademark style, at least on some topics and some threads that I care passionately about.
Perhaps you can be charitable enough to attribute that to the frustrations of a guy who doesn’t have a regular pulpit anymore in which to preach, and who is therefore tempted to twist the blogs into an opportunity to mount a digital soap box. At least I have a few fans, like evan, who enjoy at least some of my rantings and ravings.
And on that irenic note,, I think I’ll bow out of this thread at last. I’ve certainly said more than my fair share here.
October 29, 11:47 am | [comment link]
33. cseitz wrote:
You misread me. I am not trying to be uncharitable. I am just commenting on how you characterise your own efforts.
I don’t have much further to say that I haven’t already communicated.
I think the Gospel asks us patiently to identify what is good and true, and seek to build that up. After all, that is how God works with us, new born in Him.
October 29, 12:08 pm | [comment link]
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