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Letter to Archbishop of Canterbury Defends D025 Adoption
Posted: 20 July 2009 10:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 46 ]  
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Hudson Barton - 18 July 2009 07:54 AM

The 29 signatories to the “Anaheim Declaration”, or most of them, are just blowing smoke.  Now they are returning home where they will do nothing to remove either themselves or their flocks from TEC.  They label themselves as “communion minded” merely to deflect criticism coming from their orthodox remnant.  Now they wait contentedly for the time when they can retire in comfort, knowing that they have once again appeased both the left and the right.

Hudson, I haven’t read the rest of this thread yet, so maybe there has been further discussion about this comment, but I have to say you are way, way off base. I just spent a lot of time during the last two weeks with my CP bishop who signed the Anaheim statement and I can tell you with absolute certainty he is not “blowing smoke.”

No, he will do nothing to remove himself or his flock from TEC. I wouldn’t want him to. But believe me, he is not trying to avoid criticism or waiting to retire in comfort—for one thing, his retirement is a good 25 years away. I suggest you talk to these bishops before you start judging their motives.

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Posted: 20 July 2009 10:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 47 ]  
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Hi Bob, David, and Other Defenders of D025,

If D025 did nothing (merely “descriptive not prescriptive”), then why did the PB write in her joint letter to ABC the following: ““Some within our Church may understand Resolution D025 to give Standing Committees (made up of elected clergy and laity) and Bishops with jurisdiction with more latitude in consenting to episcopal elections?” If B033’s call for restraint is still the “fact on the ground,” how can D025 provide “more latitude?”  Are we now going to argue over different levels of restraint?

What frustrates me is that in the PB’s own letter, she buys into the “descriptive, not prescriptive” nonsense (side note—what does that really mean?) while explicitly stating that D025 provides greater latitude vis-a-vis consents from what existed under B033.  Humpty Dumpty anyone?  Why can’t we just be honest and say “Look folks, we’ve read Windsor and we’ve read the Covenant, and we really tried for a couple of years to do what you wanted, but we’re not going to stop what we perceive to be God’s special call on TEC just because the rest of you don’t get it yet.  Love you, bye.”

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Posted: 20 July 2009 11:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 48 ]  
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But Charlie, what if heretics won’t leave? And if there is either nobody with the authority to expel them, or those with the authority don’t use it? Is one obliged to stay in a heretical body whose teachings one does not believe? Is this Kobayashi Maru, the no-win scenario, where no matter what one does, it’s wrong?

As a ST fan, I really like the ref to Kobayashi Maru!

The major problem I face is the fact we don’t live in the 4th century! During the Arian crisis, Athanasius did not leave the Church, but fought to reform it. He died (373) before he witnessed the re-establishment (381) of the orthodox position.

But we live post-Reformation, where the standard way of dealing with heresy in a church is to leave. It is argued that Luther had no intention of starting a new church, that he wanted to reform the Catholic church. But the situation of the time made that impossible. Maybe it is impossible for us as well.

Plus we have lived with the strain of thought I call “pure church” ever since the Reformation (although Augustine wrestled with it). Most of the arguments I have seen against staying in TEC have a pure church look and feel. The “come out from among them” camp. The arguments goes that you should only be in a church that is pure in doctrine and practice. It is obvious that this idea only has traction in a post-Reformation world.

Maybe the sharpest edge of your comment is that there is no authority to expel. Like in Athanasius’ time, it is the heretical that has the power, and they can expel us (Athanasius lost his diocese, and part of his fight was to get it back).

Bottom line: I know what would be the easy thing to do: to leave. It is hard to stay. As I have said, my parish has been torn apart by this fight. Why not just go to the AMIA church in town where there are no problems (!)? Or start the process of joining the RCC? But I am committed to my parish, and when commitment is easy, there is no problem. It is when being committed is hard that it then reveals character. If we as a parish decide to leave TEC, then I’ll go. But until that is the clear discernment of the parish, I stay.

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Posted: 20 July 2009 12:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 49 ]  
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I once had a friend who talked about pew-hoppers, people who seemed to let any disagreement be a reason to move on. I don’t want to trivialize the disagreements within TEC, but I am thankful that there are TEC members who have decided to stay in spite of their disagreements with the PB, the GC, and folks like me. I think there is great wisdom in what has been called the Benedictine promise, those three promises that are traditional in Benecictine communities: stability, obedience and conversion of life. Stability, staying in community in good times and bad, provides the context for the listening, the attention to God that is at the heart of obedience and which leads to the conversion of life, our transformation. God may call us to leave a community - TEC? - but it should be God’s call and not simply our own unwillingness to deal with disagreements and conflict. It is a reflection of this wisdom that we find in the canon that requires that their be mutual discerment when a priest to serve as rector and when the priest leaves. Unless the Vestry agrees, the rector’s resignation does not take effect and the priest cannot leave.

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Posted: 20 July 2009 12:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 50 ]  
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Dear Charlie,

the problem is deeper the moral life or lack thereof. It has to do with hermenuetic and how primary standards are interpreted or non-existant. It’s a very deep crisis, and the hermenuetic puts everything at risk, including the Trinity and Episcopacy itself. I think as you peel the layers of onion back, you see something perhaps worst than the Arian controversy ?

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Posted: 20 July 2009 12:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 51 ]  
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Well, either way, with neither an emperor nor a king, the Church has no hard legal means of attaining unity and enforcing orthodoxy - and this is exacerbated by the sad lack of inter-provincial canon law within the Anglican Communion at present.

Hermeneutics is indeed a slippery slope, not least because “interpretation” and “application” are rather unhelpfully collapsed into one another under the broad banner of “hermeneutics”.  This is what both the left and the right seem to miss; hammering out rules of interpretation, as GAFCON has done, doesn’t really get to the issue of application, and flaky liberal claims about differences of interpretation fail in precisely the same regard.  You can only interpret a text so many ways; the question is, all too often, not “what does it mean?” but “what do we do with it?”  Yet, here is where a lack of training in philosophical hermeneutics sounds a death knell, for Heidegger rightly recognized that we are “always already” conditioned by being-in-the-world, yet what passes for discussions of hermeneutics today - in the church, at least - has no respect for “being-in-the-church” and thus approaches interpretation as if it were done in a historical vacuum.  Thus, the reason that discussions of interpretation can never go anywhere is because they conflate meaning with action, and because they then approach the question of interpretation from a hyper-individualistic standpoint, where neither tradition nor community has any epistemic worth (and, therefore, is assumed to not be worthy of taking into account).  The philosophical naivete of the present is nothing short of maddening, as both the left and the right have the rather bizarre assumption that they are fundamentally in the right - as if the conclusions might be always already justified by the premises!

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Posted: 20 July 2009 02:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 52 ]  
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Charlie: ACNA does want to be a new church. It wants to be the Anglican province in North America. Problem is, there already is one.

Response: No, Charlie, the founders of the ACNA have been clear from the start.  They never intended to be a new church.  They have organized an alternative province in North American under the auspices of other Anglican primates.  pecusa isn’t even a church let alone a province according to the Anglican norms set out in the 39 Articles.

Charlie
The point to bring up Ep 2:11-22 was to show that ecclesiology is deeply embedded in the Gospel, a point you denied, but that this passage clearly shows.

Response: I didn’t deny that ecclesiology is part of the Gospel; I said that ecclesiology is in service to the Gospel.  I stand by that statement.  The Gospel creates the New Covenant community.

Charlie: An aside: You don’t really want to make an argument listing the sins of TEC as a sign that they are not expressing the love of Christ, do you?

Response: Not exactly.  I want to argue that the sins of TEC are in violation of communion norms that are based on NT ethics.

  How you can use Ephesians as your justification for oneness with heretics is beyond me.

Charlie: I don’t claim oneness with heretics (although the term heretic is ambiguous these days - more of a pejorative than a technical term - the discussion here bears attention. I claim that the oneness of the Church is foundational,

Response: But you are one with heretics.  Heretic is not ambiguous.  You can find a fine article on heresy by Thomas Oden on my blog DCNY as well as links for a rebuttal and a response to the rebuttal.

Charlie: You did a typical rhetorical thing here by ignoring my main point so as to rail on TEC. I can rail on TEC too (fishing by gunpowder in an enclosed, cylindrical space has is limited, pleasant charms). If you’d like to talk about the relationship of ecclesiology to the Gospel, and why those of us staying believe it central that be great.

Reponse: my railing on pecusa was in the context of interpreting Ephesians in terms of ecclesiology.  I thought that was the exercise you laid out.

Charlie: The question still remains: Why do I have to leave? I am not
the heretic (IMHO). I submit we have so marinated in Protestant water that we can hardly consider a different alternative than “come out from among them.”

I agree that TEC has blown through all that not just Ephesisans, but most other scripture, warns against. But let *them* leave then. I’m staying.

Response: I wasn’t aware that anyone was trying to force you to leave.  If you believe that your call is to remain in a heretical and apostate organization, go ahead.  If you believe that your financial stewardship should support apostasy, stay and contribute.  I
don’t think they’re leaving, and I expect that they will continue to make it more difficult for you to stay.

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Posted: 20 July 2009 02:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 53 ]  
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I think part of the problem here, Tony, is the confusion between “province” and “church”.  The organization of the Anglican Communion is fundamentally episcopal and diocesan, not provincial.  Ergo, although parts of the Episcopal Church may fail on certain matters of life and doctrine, this does not mean that every diocese so fails.  I encourage reading Ephraim Radner’s The Organizational Basis of the Anglican Communion.  To paint every lay person, every deacon, priest, and bishop with one and the same brush smacks of the same excessive provincialism that infects a significant portion of the liberal left in the Episcopal Church.

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Posted: 20 July 2009 04:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 54 ]  
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Okay, Benjamin, so dioceses are free to leave pecusa.  At least we have this common ground.  Those dioceses who remain with pecusa are united with heresy and apostasy according to communion standards (WR, DeS).  I won’t paint every person in pecusa with the same brush; I will say that all in pecusa are united with heresy and apostasy while not everyone in pecusa actually participates in the sins of pecusa.  I will say again that the CP bishops were not only totally ineffective (which is no surprise given the overwhelming numbers of liberals in GC09) but they were also timid in the extreme.  What good is a minority statement that is signed by bishops who voted for the offensive resolutions?

I still would like to hear from you on how the 18th century high churchmen would have responded to the flagrant autonomy, heresy and apostasy of present-day pecusa.  I have a hard time picturing these great men in league with the CP.

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Posted: 20 July 2009 04:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 55 ]  
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Tony -

First, in terms of what anyone from the past would have said about the present, that is a matter of pointless speculation that no one can answer.  They lived then; we live now.  We do know, of course, that some of them protested against heresy in their own day.  However, I know of none of them who advocated for dividing the church when a heretical bishop (Hoadley) went unremoved from his diocese.  Perhaps that partially answers the question about autonomy: they rejected it on all counts, as far as we can tell, although it should be kept in mind that they never lived with a situation analogous to our own.  (This, of course, is rather different than the option propounded by the Non-Jurors vis-a-vis the monarchy and the episcopate after the Glorious Revolution.)  If you have evidence - not to be confused with mere assertion - to the contrary, I do welcome it. 

Second, how do you approach church history?  More specifically, in the early church when heresy entered various dioceses, does that mean that every bishop back then was “united with heresy and apostasy”?  Removing particular bishops was a possibility in the early Church, but is not a canonical possibility in the strictures of the Anglican Communion at present (which, for the record, I think is part of the problem).  Sadly, asking bishops on both extreme sides to operate within the canon law and customs of the Anglican Communion thus far has been rebuffed in favor of a tit-for-tat strategy that continues to bring about considerable destruction to the whole.

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Posted: 20 July 2009 04:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 56 ]  
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Benjamin, I am surprised at your response about the 18th century high churchmen since you are the one who brought them into the conversation when you took a swipe at contemporary evangelicals. 

re: church history, certainly Athanasius and other bishops did all that they could to distance themselves from heresy.  Certainly Ireneaus and others did all they could to speak against heresy.  When heresy entered particular dioceses the orthodox did all they could to combat it.  Today in pecusa we see that niceness reigns where once bishops with backbone fought back against heresy. 

Individual bishops is not even close to getting at the problem; it goes much deeper than that, as I would guess you realize.

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Posted: 20 July 2009 05:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 57 ]  
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Michael Russell - 18 July 2009 07:28 PM

I just do not remember liberals in the 60s and 70s abandoning TEC as the ultraconservatives have done.

Well, what reason would they have had to leave? They were winning!

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Posted: 20 July 2009 07:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 58 ]  
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Response: Not exactly.  I want to argue that the sins of TEC are in violation of communion norms that are based on NT ethics.

We agree.

Response: But you are one with heretics.  Heretic is not ambiguous.  You can find a fine article on heresy by Thomas Oden on my blog DCNY as well as links for a rebuttal and a response to the rebuttal.

I reject the “pure church” assumption.

Reponse: my railing on pecusa was in the context of interpreting Ephesians in terms of ecclesiology.  I thought that was the exercise you laid out.

Response: I wasn’t aware that anyone was trying to force you to leave.  If you believe that your call is to remain in a heretical and apostate organization, go ahead.  If you believe that your financial stewardship should support apostasy, stay and contribute.  I
don’t think they’re leaving, and I expect that they will continue to make it more difficult for you to stay.

I was trying to figure out why your response made me mad. I first realized I was hungry, so eating dinner helped.

But ultimately you give the impression of being more interested in argument than understanding. I know I am guilty of this all the time, but now you’ll have to show you understand what I’m trying to say before I’ll be interested in your rebuttal.

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Posted: 20 July 2009 07:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 59 ]  
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Tony,

On a point we might agree on, I am mad that the WWAC has (mostly) left us high and dry. Michael will disagree, but the ABC, the ACC, the Primates, and Lambeth could have stepped in to provide resolution to this mess. They have not. People in TEC have claimed that the ABC doesn’t understand the polity of TEC (I think he understands): what he doesn’t understand is the stress orthodox Episcopalians are under.

My ecclesiastical conscience will be clear if ACNA is granted official status in Communion, something that I think has been made more likely by the actions of GC.

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Posted: 21 July 2009 06:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 60 ]  
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Charlie, I’m not at all convinced that the ABC cares what stress orthodox Episcopalians are feeling.  The only resolution I see ever coming from the Instruments of Communion/Unity is discipline for pecusa.  The WR set this up and DeS gave further impetus to this, but the follow through has fallen short. 

As a CANA priest, I hope for official recognition, but I think it is more likely that we will receive province by province approval before we have recognition from the ABC or the primates as a group.  The ACC will likely be the last to recognize the ACNA given the political and financial ties in that group.

btw, I don’t operate from a pure church assumption.  How could I?  I am a cradle Episcopalian and before 2007 I was a pecusa priest.  I do believe that heresy needs to be exposed, refuted and disciplined.

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