September 14, 2014

Advertise with Stand Firm

August 24, 2010


Australian Church Tribunal Opinion on Diaconal Administration: An Inconsistent Ruling?

 

We've already reported on the recent Tribunal ruling on this matter. The 2008 Sydney Synod motion which recognises that there is no legal barrier to diaconal or lay administration of the Lord's Supper was ruled as illegal by the Tribunal. Well, technically, they gave their opinion.

The detailed ruling is interesting reading. Available now online [pdf] it is well worth working through. Not least because the Tribunal appears to have switched their reasoning when compared to another recent high-profile case.

First, the opinion sets out the main argument:

28. The submission is that it is legal for deacons to administer the Holy Communion within the Anglican Church of Australia where they have been made deacon under the 1985 Canon which authorises deacons to assist the priest in administering both sacraments.

 

29. Dr Davies fleshes out that submission by saying:-

(1) This Tribunal has ruled that diaconal administration of the Holy Communion is consistent with the Constitution;

(2) This Tribunal has ruled that a General Synod Canon authorising such practice would be required before any diocese could make provision for diaconal administration of Holy Communion;

(3) The 1985 Canon contained a new service for the Ordination of Deacons, which was a radical revision of the Ordinal of the Book of Common Prayer (BCP), alternative to the conservative revision that was published in An Australian Prayer Book (AAPB) in 1978.

(4) The 1985 service departed from the text of both AAPB and BCP with expanded functions for the deacon, notably with respect to preaching and the administration of baptism and Holy Communion.

(5) Unlike the Ordinal of BCP, the deacon's responsibilities were not delineated separately with respect to each sacrament (baptise infants in the absence of the priest; help the priest in the distribution of the Holy Communion), but were coupled together in the expression "to assist in the administration of his holy sacraments", without any further qualification concerning the presence or absence of the priest.

(6) The function of the deacon was thereby expanded to allow the deacon to baptise not only infants, but candidates of any age (regardless of the absence of the priest), although such baptisms would only be conducted under the aegis of the priest, whom the deacon was to assist.

(7) The function of the deacon was also expanded to allow the deacon to administer Holy Communion with the same authority the deacon had to administer baptism, likewise in an assisting capacity under delegation from the priest.

(8) There are occasions when canons have valid legal effects which are not recognised until some time later, as was the case with the change in definition of canonical fitness for bishops in the Constitution. The fact that

the 1985 Canon was not previously recognised as authorising deacons to assist the priest in administering Holy Communion does not override the plain reading of the text of the service, in accordance with the principles of statutory interpretation.

(9) The 1985 Canon satisfies the conditions of the Appellate Tribunal to permit diaconal administration in any diocese which ordains deacons in accordance with the service in the 1985 Canon.

(10) Therefore the Ordination Service for Deacons Canon 1985 of General Synod constitutes an alteration in the ritual or ceremonial of this Church for the purposes of s71(1) of the Constitution of the Anglican Church of Australia in conformity with which a synod of a diocese may make an alteration in the ritual or ceremonial of the Church so as to permit, authorise or make provision for a deacon to preside at, administer or celebrate the Holy Communion.

Trust all that makes sense. The ordination service says that the deacon is the assist in the administration of the sacraments. That has always been understood to include baptism, so why not the Lord's Supper? There is, the argument goes, no distinction made in the canons.

 

Now, this is how the opposing argument is described by the Tribunal's ruling:

36. ...the Supporting Parties put that, not only are there no words in the new service expressly authorising a deacon to preside at the Eucharist, what there is suggests that the new deacon is to take his or her place in the service of Holy Communion. The Supporting Parties suggest that that means the traditional place of the deacon. We agree.

37. The Applicants also do not agree that the 1985 Canon should be construed as expanding the liturgical function of deacons in a radical way as contended by Dr Davies.

The logic is that, the argument from Sydney notwithstanding, the understanding in the Church always was that only a priest would administer Communion. To suggest otherwise would be a "radical expansion".

 

Further, the Tribunal gets really picky about the meanings of words…

57. The Supporting Parties say that it is significant that the words used are “assist in”. Whilst it may be that one can assist X by doing Y when X is not present, this cannot be the case where what is required is that Z assist X in what X is doing. This submission is logically correct.

58. In their reply, the Supporting Parties make the further valid point that there is a real difference between “assist by” and “assist in”. They note that a child may assist his or her father in washing the car, but it is a different matter to say the child assisted by washing the car. In the present context the deacon is to assist in the administration.

59. The Applicants say that one sees the proper sense of the word when one compares the wording of the service for making deacons with the wording of the service for ordaining priests. They say that the clear distinction is made between the priest who is to administer the sacrament in the sense of presiding, consecrating and celebrating and the deacon who is to play a subsidiary role.

60. We cannot see any answer to this submission.

Again, note the argument being made here. As the Tribunal picks through the various legislation and liturgies they are concerning themselves with what they think was originally intended, not with what the legislation might be generously allowed to include, even if not the original intention.

 

And "fair enough" we might say. They must, after all, have a consistent and sustainable way of working this issue through.

 

But here comes the rub. In September of 2007 the Tribunal issued an opinion on whether women could be consecrated as Bishops. The full report may be read here [pdf]. Again, it is fascinating reading, especially given the argument we have seen from the Tribunal above.

 

First, it is noted that previously there was a clear gender requirement…

33. Phillimore deals with the ordination of priests and deacons in a separate chapter from his discussion about bishops. It is here that he states the wellknown propositions about the incapacity of unbaptized persons and women to be ordained. It is pertinent to set out the first two paragraphs of a lengthy passage (p93):

There are only two classes of persons absolutely incapable of ordination; namely, unbaptized persons and women. Ordination of such persons is wholly inoperative. The former, because baptism is the condition of belonging to the church at all. The latter, because by nature, Holy Scripture and catholic usage they are disqualified.

Though an absolute incapacity be confined to these two classes, yet the canon law, having regard to the great importance of the subject, has been careful to prescribe the qualifications, and to set forth the disqualifications of candidates for holy orders. The law enjoins that the candidate be of sufficient age and learning, and of good reputation. That he be not afflicted by any corporal infirmity which would impede the exercise of his spiritual functions, and tend to repel and alienate the laity. That he be born in lawful wedlock. That he be not engaged in secular occupations inconsistent with devotion to the spiritual calling. Disqualifications of this kind constitute what, since the twelfth century, have been canonically termed irregularitates, and may upon sufficient grounds be removed by the dispensation of the bishop. There are irregularitates ex defectu and ex delicto.

34. The context and language of this passage and of the two pages of text that follow show that the author was addressing ordination to the diaconate or priesthood. But, in so observing, I am not suggesting that the various personal disqualifications were inapplicable to the episcopate as a matter of canon law. The contrary is the case because (as Cripps noted) “every bishop prior to his ordination is already an ecclesiastical person” (see also Phillimore p22). I observe below that a gender restriction was an aspect of canonical fitness and that the majority of the Tribunal held in 1991 that the inherited canon law of the Australian dioceses as at 1962 included a prohibition upon a woman being consecrated. (my emphasis)

However, there were subsequent canons (just as there were with respect to the ordination of Deacons). Here is how the opinion takes up these "changes"...

50. The Canon and Bill [of 1995] explicitly altered the Constitution as regards canonical fitness: see their long and short titles and compare the terms of the old and new definitions. Like its predecessor, the current definition purports to be exclusive in its effect (“Canonical fitness means” etc). The language chosen is gender-neutral (“as regards a person”). It is used with reference to a bishop-elect who will doubtless be in priest’s orders. The terms “bishop” and “priest” in the Constitution do not convey any implicit gender tag (see below).

Again, note the flow of the argument. Previously, it was assumed by everyone that bishops could only be male and the canons backed it up. But, now the canons are non-gender-specific.

 

But hang on, isn't this exactly the argument put forward by Bishops Davies above? That the new canons opened up the possibility of a different understanding of Deacons "administering" Communion? On that occasion the Tribunal knocked him back because, remember, even though the language was now looser the original intent was never that Deacons would administer Communion.

 

So, surely, in this prior ruling the Tribunal will go the same way? Granted, the canonical language is looser, but the original intent in this matter was always that bishops should be men and only men. Sure bet, you would think. Well, put your wallet away - you don't want to waste your money.

64. Those who prepare or promote legislation (or any other formal instrument) have the opportunity to frame it in their own terms, but they have no additional control over its interpretation. After all, they are not the lawmakers.

...

69. The Tribunal has also held that the words bishops, priests and deacons in s3 of the Constitution do not import the masculine gender so as to engage some implied prohibition deriving from s74(6) (see Reports of 1980 and 1981; Opinion and Reasons relating to the Ordination of Women (1985); Report and Opinion of the Tribunal on eleven questions (1991)).

...

101. ...

Question 1: Is there anything in the Constitution which would now prevent the consecration of a woman in priests’ orders as a bishop in this Church in a diocese which by ordinance has adopted the Law of the Church of England Clarification Canon 1992?

Answer: As regards diocesan bishops: No, provided that the woman has been duly elected as the diocesan bishop and has had her election duly confirmed in accordance with the criteria for canonical fitness set out in s74(1) of the Constitution.

As regards assistant bishops: There is nothing in the Constitution itself that would preclude the consecration of a woman appointed in accordance with the law applicable in the diocese concerned.

However, such consecration could not take place in a diocese in which the Assistant Bishops’ Canon 1966 is in force so long as it remains in force in that diocese in its present form.

And there you have it. In the matter of Diaconal administration the Tribunal argues original intent against the new looser canons. In Consecration of Women it argued against original intent since the new canons were looser.

 

But, of course, on each occasion it took the position proposed by the more theologically-liberal side of the Australian Anglican Church against the Biblically-conservative Sydney Diocese.

 

General Synod is coming up in September and I will be attending. Sydney Diocesan Synod follows in October. Should be a lot of fun. Watch this space.

 

 


Share this story:


Recent Related Posts

Comments

Facebook comments are closed.

148 comments

err cough cough… as I said 12 days ago

Bishop Glenn Davies (from Sydney) who appeared before the tribunal to argue for diaconal administration has said that the tribunal’s earlier ruling on Women Bishops was based on what the words in churches legislation said, rather than the intent of the authors at the time. (That ruling, rather than a general synod vote, lead to women bishops in Australia.)
In this ruling the tribunal has accepted argument about the intent of the legislation on deacons, in particular that since the church has not allowed deacons since the council of Nicea to administer communion it was unlikely that that was what the General Synod had intended with its legislation. IMHO it is odd that the tribunal did not accept that argument with respect to women bishops.

[1] Posted by obadiahslope on 8-24-2010 at 07:16 AM · [top]

In the matter of Diaconal administration the Tribunal argues original intent against the new looser canons. In Consecration of Women it argued against original intent since the new canons were looser.

A hierarchical church that has emptied itself of doctrinal content (as liberal churches are wont to do) must rigidly defend its liturgical practices and rituals, for what else remains to give coherence to the whole.  “We may not believe the same things (or anything in particular for that matter), but we do the same things week after week.”  Form over content.  Symbol over substance. 

The subject of women bishops is a matter of doctrine, and doctrine is assumed to progress with progressive enlightenment of man.  Doctrine cannot be bound by original intent or it will never be able to evolve as man evolves.  The subject of who may distribute communion is a matter of the form (who may say and do what, and when they may say and do it) of the church over time and space.  Form must be bound by original intent lest the church be changed outside of formal structures, and lose its coherence. 

It’s not coincidence that Kevin Thew-Forrester got rejected as bishop after he re-wrote liturgy on his own.

carl

[2] Posted by carl on 8-24-2010 at 07:26 AM · [top]

Hi David+,

I agree with the logic of your post and the illogic of the court ruling…

I agree that biblically speaking there is no impediment to deaconal celebrations

All that being said, for the life of me I cannot understand why on earth Sydney thinks this is a good issue to press?

We know that many in the communion will find this utterly unacceptable.

So why do it? Certainly you have (or should have) the freedom…but if exercising your freedom harms your brother’s conscience why go forward? It’s like insisting on serving wine when my teetotaling baptist friends come over to dinner?

I truly do not understand.

[3] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 8-24-2010 at 07:30 AM · [top]

Because for many in Sydney it’s not like serving wine to teetotallers.  It’s like eating a sausage during Lent, or marrying when an ordained clergy, or offering the emblems in both kinds and not just the wine, when the Church has arrogated to itself the right to restrict a freedom that the Scripture allows and then makes the keeping of that restriction an important aspect of Christian practice.

I don’t surport the move, but if you really don’t understand where it’s coming from Matt+, you have to think more Reformation than differences over adiaphora among Evangelicals.

[4] Posted by Badders on 8-24-2010 at 07:46 AM · [top]

The other point Sydney makes is that the nature of the Australian Anglican church has changed. Since their consciences were trampled upon in the women priests and bishops debates - matters of doctrine, not just church practice - the bonds that held it together are now looser. If other dioceses are free to undertake women’s ordination and consecration, which Sydney and a few other Australian dioceses object to doctrinally, then Sydney should be free to engage in a practice it regards as doctrinally sound and not prohibited by current canons - although the Appellate Tribunal now disagrees with that assertion.

I’m with Matt in that I think they are picking the wrong battle, but like David says, you have to see it in the context of the women’s ordination and consecration debates.
Andrew Reid

[5] Posted by spicksandspecks on 8-24-2010 at 09:37 AM · [top]

err cough cough… as I said 12 days ago

Yes, indeed you did wink

Can’t really add much more to (Mark) Badders’ reply. There is something particularly warped going on when something that Scripture (ISTM) clearly prohibits is being promoted, while at the same time something on which Scripture makes no proscription is being actively opposed.

[6] Posted by David Ould on 8-24-2010 at 04:58 PM · [top]

Well here’s another naughty thought for you David: an An interesting unintended consequence of the tribunal’s ruling would be if Sydney was to say “very well we will do as you ask”.
Then Sydney might make presbyters of all full time male staff in churches who preach, and make lay preachers “local presbyters”.
(this would mean that sacrament and word would be given equal place for all but women preachers in Sydney).
The unintended consequence would be to increase Sydney’s numbers on General Synod - by doing what the wider church has asked.
(I don’t expect this would happen - Sydney is restricting ordaining presbyters to those who will be in charge of a parish - but it would be amusing to see the reaction).

[7] Posted by obadiahslope on 8-24-2010 at 05:16 PM · [top]

#17 That’s the amusing thing about this whole stupidity.  The other dioceses are, as far as I can see, terrified at Sydney’s numerical voting clout at General Synod.

General Synod in Australia, each synod sends representatives based on how many clergy are in the Diocese.  Sydney has, I understand, by far the youngest average age of clergy and the lowest clergy to laity ratio.  Yet it fields the most representatives and it’s proportion is growing (because the other Dioceses are shrinking while Sydney is just holding it’s own as it’s Anglo-Saxon members leave Sydney to go to Brisbane, part of a more general ‘white flight’ that’s occurring.  It is evangelising enough new members to replace the ones who migrate out.)

If Syndey went the route I think it should go - not tamper with how the so-called three fold order functions traditionally in Anglicanism, and ordain every male staffperson whose role is fundamentally about proclaiming the Word of God then it really would be the 800 lb gorilla in the room at General Synod.

But that would have a different set of ‘unintended consequences’ - almost all the youth workers in the Diocese were not trained at Moore College.  And part of the Diocese’s strategy for remaining orthodox has been to try and make sure the overwhelming majority of ordained clergy were trained there - and so by training and relationships are formed as a particular kind of Reformed evangelical Anglican.  Youth workers will one day become rectors more likely than not, if they are ordained.  And in a single generation Sydney would lose the strategy that has ‘worked’ for about a century and got it to where it is, as a significant slab of rectors had no such formation.

My preference would only work if you could win over the hearts and minds of most rectors that they must only take on staff who came through Moore College.  And that is politically so untennable that Sydney people who just read that will now be looking away from the computer screen embarassed for me that I even floated it.

It’s a far more complex issue than it looks from outside.

[8] Posted by Badders on 8-25-2010 at 03:49 AM · [top]

Here’s one more Sydney-ite putting in his tuppence worth:

I agree with the responses of Badders and Spicksandspecks to Father Matt’s question in #3. However, I think Sydney can be brought around to seeing it Father Matt’s way. It requires a change in the isolationist attitude of Sydney - we are too used to thinking of ourselves as an island of orthodoxy in a sea of liberalism (the rest of Australia). And, because of our history, when we look beyond our shores, the first place we look is England, and then the USA, where we just see more of the same liberalism that infects most of the Australian church.

So our general attitude is something like this: “Q. Who cares if we permit diaconal celebration? A. No-one whose opinion we respect. Conclusion: May as well go ahead and do it”.

Sydney laity and clergy are only very slowly becoming aware that there are a host of Anglicans outside of Australia and CofE and TEC whose opinions *do* deserve our respect. I think if that reality can sink in, among laity and clergy in Sydney, then they would be happy to abandon something like diaconal celebration if it would cause grief to orthodox Anglican brothers and sisters.

Whether that will happen in time, however, remains to be seen.

[9] Posted by MichaelA on 8-26-2010 at 12:02 AM · [top]

MichaelA,
A very, very perceptive response there at #9.  May God help us find ways of bringing Sidney Anglicans closer to Anglicans of other provinces whom they will respect, and to aid our fellowship and corporate worship in general.

[10] Posted by Wilf on 8-26-2010 at 08:36 AM · [top]

MichaelA,
I would like to send you a private message, but your inbox here at SF is full.  Please delete a few messages so I can send you a PM.

[11] Posted by Wilf on 8-26-2010 at 08:53 AM · [top]

Wilf,

Re my private message box, I can’t log in to it! Its been this way for months. I can’t get PMs and I can’t send them.

I’ve tried to notify the problem to Greg Griffith (via the elves at TitusOneNine) but its still there.

If Greg or someone is reading this, I would really value your assistance - I know other people try to PM me and can’t get through.

In the meantime, Wilf, if you log in to TitusOneNine using your same handle and password as on Stand Firm, you will be able to send me a PM there.

My apologies, this keeps happening and I don’t know why!

[12] Posted by MichaelA on 8-26-2010 at 08:56 PM · [top]

Thanks, MichaelA. Go check T19.

[13] Posted by Wilf on 8-27-2010 at 09:27 AM · [top]

Some interesting and perceptive insights offered above. I also contribute as a Sydney trained person and with a formative period in ordained ministry in Sydney Diocese, and now ministering further afield (while maintaining my appreciation for Syd. Dio). As others have noted, understanding where Sydney Dio is coming from is complex. In addition to the above, there is also a powerful Sydney evangelical culture that tends to distance it from other evangelicals throughout Australia, exacerbated by Sydney’s inclination to view other non-Sydney trained evangelicals with suspicion. There is a palpable air of superiority about Moore College training, which will only be worsened if a ‘Moore College trained only’ type of pressure is introduced against other evangelicals. Honesty, to talk in such terms is indicative of a telling insecurity. The calculated collegial fellowship noted by Badders has a dark side - a cliquish culture and at times appalling ineptitude in relating more broadly.

However, you need to add to this another theological complication which in part explains Sydney’s lack of concern for opinion beyond its own sphere of influence: Sydney has a quite idiosyncratic ecclesiology that denies any global dimension to the Church’s existence. There are local churches, and there is the heavenly church, but none other. There is no ‘Church militant throughout the world’ (in Sydney’s view, derived largely from DB Knox and DWB Robinson). The result is that any notion of mutual inter-dependance or accountability is strongly diminished. Sydney has no theological conviction that it is accountable to anyone in earthly terms other than the local church. Wider accountability is just an organisational responsibility. General Synod or wider networks or associations are a matter of strategic opportunity or expediency, and dispensed with if inconvenient.

While I have no theological problem with lay or diaconal administration (presidency to those outside Sydney), I think they are failing one key biblical test: they need to establish that pushing this issue is something that will lead to the edification of the church (but remember, that is only understood as the local church).

[14] Posted by Tim Harris on 8-27-2010 at 11:03 PM · [top]

Tim, I’m afraid you don’t quite describe the “Knox-Robinson” view of the Church correctly. Yes, there is a strong emphasis on the local congregation as one expression of the church, but the flip-side is that the universal church is also recognised. According to Knox the word εκκλησια is only ever used in the Scriptures when speaking of the church in these 2 ways - the local congregation and the whole universal church.
To argue that there is a denial of “any global dimension to the Church’s existence” is simply incorrect.
Only this past week I was at a clergy conference with all those who were ordained in the last 3 years (incidentally the number there would dwarf the entire roll of clergy in many other dioceses in Australia, let alone the world). During that conference there was a repeated affirmation of the global church and our place within it.

So yes, there may be some suspicion at times - perhaps this may be overdone although it does appear to me that evangelicals, let alone “Anglicans” worldwide have compromised on the Christianity of the Prayer Book. But to represent that as dismissing the global church is hardly fair. It is, rather, inaccurate.

[15] Posted by David Ould on 8-27-2010 at 11:11 PM · [top]

Hmm. It sounds as though the ‘classic’ Knox-Robinson view may have modified, and if so, I am encouraged. I heard Knox on many occasions (esp. first year Doctrine class) deny any global dimension to the church (he was very suspicious of any ecumenical endeavours), and other than the local gathering would only consider the universal church in heavenly terms, with reference to Hebrews 12:22-23, as a present reality.

The problem Knox and Robinson had with any notion of a global church is that εκκλησια (in their view - and I think still maintained by Peter O’Brien) is limited semantically to a ‘gathered’ people, and because the global church is not gathered, it cannot be ‘church’ - whatever else it is. (This view has been convincingly challenged by Kevin Giles in one of his better books, ‘What on earth is the church?’). The church throughout the world is only church to the extent it participates with the church throughout the ages caught up in the present reality of the church gathered around Christ in heaven. Knox argued that all references to ‘church’ in Ephesians (other than those with local reference) were to be understood in this ‘heavenly’ sense. But then you lose the ‘in heaven-on earth’ distinction that distinguishes the church triumphant from the ‘church’ militant. As I say, the defining characteristic of ‘church’ for Knox and Robinson is that it necessarily needs to be ‘gathered’.

Graham Cole also challenged this by pointing out that the notion of church is bigger than the semantic range of εκκλησια, and needs to be viewed in terms of the whole people of God, dispersed and gathered.

So I am indeed encouraged to hear that ecclesiology in Sydney may have changed in this way - although I dispute that I have misrepresented the ‘classic’ Knox-Robinson position.

[16] Posted by Tim Harris on 8-27-2010 at 11:54 PM · [top]

Thanks Tim. I still suggest that you have misread the subtlety of what is being argued. When Knox argues for the heavenly “gathering” he is describing what some would call the “church invisible”. This is, of course, distinct from the “church” which may or may not be a subset of that true “invisible” church. You will, I am sure, agree that not all who call themselves part of the church are, in reality, part of it.
That is not to suggest, of course, that there is no “visible church”. Indeed, as the Articles affirm (XIX)

The visible Church of Christ is a congregation of faithful men, in the which the pure Word of God is preached, and the Sacraments be duly ministered according to Christ’s ordinance in all those things that of necessity are requisite to the same.

ISTM that “Sydney” (whatever that term actually means) may have taken a different view to you on what it means to be faithful or preach a pure Word of God (let alone minister the sacraments in due manner!). But none of that is a denial of this essential truth - I get no sense here in Sydney of a denial that the visible Church of Christ exists in no other place. On the contrary, there is regular affirmation of Christian Anglicans all over the globe, not to mention those from other denominations. Like true evangelicals they actually tend to be genuinely ecumenical.

[17] Posted by David Ould on 8-28-2010 at 12:02 AM · [top]

David, I don’t disagree with what you say, and of course there are many more subtleties to this than can be reflected in blog comments! The distinctive side of Sydney’s ecclesiology (acknowledging what you rightly note in terms of the universal church) is that its global manifestation is limited to (multitudinous) local gatherings - each legitimate as defined by Article 19 - but falls short of any global dimension other than the church gathered with Christ in heaven as a present reality, in which local expressions of church throughout the world participate. The church invisible (if you like) is the church gathered as per Hebrews 12. However, Don Robinson went on to argue that the ‘church’ of Article 20 was no more than a human institution with the capacity to organise itself like any other organisation, but not to be equated with the church of Article 19 - not a church in theological terms. Likewise, any other ‘earthly’ or ‘global’ expression of church beyond the local is not in their thinking ‘church’ in spiritual terms.

ISTM that “Sydney” (whatever that term actually means) may have taken a different view to you on what it means to be faithful or preach a pure Word of God

Not sure I understand you at this point… I still regard myself as very much ‘Sydney’ when it comes to the centrality of the ministry of the Word as central to gospel proclamation and ecclesial identity. Perhaps you are making allowances for (inevitable) differences in interpretation and resultant praxis (as also true within Sydney Diocese and Moore College for that matter).

I am glad to hear of the Sydney Diocesan ordinations. Part of the vision of DBK was that Moore College would bear fruit in gospel ministry further afield, and I like to think that in some measure our fledgling college in NZ, while counting our first graduates and ordinands on one hand, is no less an exercise of faithfulness and sowing of seeds.

[18] Posted by Tim Harris on 8-28-2010 at 01:05 AM · [top]

Thanks Tim. you raise the conundrum that we must all deal with - that body which calls itself the Church so often is no such thing. I think the tension is implied in the Articles and, as you note, probably is spoken of by “Sydney” more often and more loudly than in other places.

Perhaps you are making allowances for (inevitable) differences in interpretation and resultant praxis (as also true within Sydney Diocese and Moore College for that matter).

Yes, exactly that. We will all differ slightly on our interpretation and praxis whilst still holding to the same principle. This is, amongst other things, one of the reasons that we have denominational differences between equally “orthodox” Christians.

[19] Posted by David Ould on 8-28-2010 at 01:34 AM · [top]

Ould Man,
I think Matt’s post echoes my concern.

I agree with the logic of your post and the illogic of the court ruling…I agree that biblically speaking there is no impediment to deaconal celebrations
All that being said, for the life of me I cannot understand why on earth Sydney thinks this is a good issue to press?
We know that many in the communion will find this utterly unacceptable.
So why do it? Certainly you have (or should have) the freedom…but if exercising your freedom harms your brother’s conscience why go forward? It’s like insisting on serving wine when my teetotaling baptist friends come over to dinner?

I believe that there are bigger hills to die on than this one and my concern is that Sydney pushing this may jeopardise and hinder future relationships with Anglicans outwith the Sydney diocese and will feed the perception that Sydney does not care about the wider Anglican church. For those who don’t know me, I am from the diocese right next door to the Sydney Diocese (Newcastle Diocese).

[20] Posted by Josh Bovis on 8-28-2010 at 04:43 AM · [top]

Sigh, I kind of knew this was going to happen.

In addition to the above, there is also a powerful Sydney evangelical culture that tends to distance it from other evangelicals throughout Australia, exacerbated by Sydney’s inclination to view other non-Sydney trained evangelicals with suspicion.
As a wild olive branch grafted in to the Diocese, I think that’s half-true.  To get the whole story, you need to put the other side of the equation:

There is a diffuse evangelical culture among evangelicals outside of Sydney that tend to distance them from their brothers and sisters in that city.

That is, there’s two (or more) cultures among evangelicals - Sydney would generally be considered something like ‘conservative evangelical’, a lot of other evangelicals outside Sydney in Anglicanism in Oz would be considered more ‘moderate evangelical’ or even ‘progressive evangelical’.  That difference in culture does tend to cut people off from each other.  And who is to blame for that usually depends on which culture identifies with.  I’ve never known a conservative evangelical to accuse his ‘side’.  Nor a moderate evangelical his.  It’s all beams and motes all around.

I don’t think Sydney’s suspicion, to the degree that it’s there, is a priori.  My impression is that it came about primarily through the women’s ordination debates and feeling that other evangelicals tend to join with liberals against them.  My impression that most of the actual activity on this front has been done by evangelicals outside of Sydney:

Just how many books has Kevin Giles written now that more or less could be entitled “And Yet Another Area Where Sydney Is Wrong”?  How many times have people like Charles Sherlock launched books by strong liberals like Muriel Porter attacking Sydney?  Is there really anything in comparison that has been done by anyone inside the Sydney Diocese against evangelicals outside?

Sydney is quick to pull to its heart evangelicals whose hearts beat like its does.  African Anglican, American Baptist, Scottish Presbyterian, even the conservative Anglicans of Stand Firm who seem to constantly be semi-aghast at what they hear about Sydney - all tend to be ‘owned’ by Sydney as fellow travellers and valued bretheren.  If that’s not also the case (and I’d questioned that as a full statement) between evangelicals in Sydney and out in the rest of Oz it’s worth pursing the question a bit further given Sydney’s general evangelical ecumenicism.

There is a palpable air of superiority about Moore College training,
Sort of true.  We tend to think we’ve got a good product and we think we can point to good results that it’s had over time.  We intend to back it until we find something better than ‘the Knox model’.  My impression is that most theological educators I’ve met have a view like that.  Few say something like, “We’re doing something daft here, and another way is better, but, you know, we’re going to keep doing this anyway.”  Everyone knows the best way to skin the cat. Just ask them.

which will only be worsened if a ‘Moore College trained only’ type of pressure is introduced against other evangelicals. Honesty, to talk in such terms is indicative of a telling insecurity.
Anyone who has had any time with me could probably tell you that that play of the man was a bit of an own goal.  I’m not even remotely insecure about such things. 

It’s just I’m not an idealist, I’m a realist.  Open the door to graduates from colleges less conservative than Moore and, wow! what a surprise! you get a less Reformed and conservative evangelical diocese.  It’s not rocket science.  It’s not insecurity.  It’s just a view that people really are formed by their theological training.  Now, you can think that’s a good outcome - that’s fine.  But it’s not insecurity to say that theological training forms pastors and wanting pastors to hire with that bigger picture in mind.  (And seriously, if you knew the modern Diocese, the fact that I’m saying this is almost guaranteed to ensure that it would be treated with bemusement at best.)

The calculated collegial fellowship noted by Badders has a dark side - a cliquish culture and at times appalling ineptitude in relating more broadly.
Not the way I’d put it, but we’re roughly in agreement.  You don’t get to only have strengths and no weaknesses with the model you choose.  Every model is a choice for certain strengths and a (at times grudging) accepting of the mirror-image weaknesses.  Sydney has chosen to be a close knit Diocese where strong partnerships are possible between rectors and churches and between them and the hierarchy and where the Diocese isn’t constantly fighting with itself, or benignly sitting back while everyone does church on their own. 

There’s a cost with that, sure.  But it’s not a choice for cliqueshness.  That’s just an unfortunate price tag that you then ameliorate as best as you can. 

But everything comes with a price tag.  Take what you want, and pay for it.  That’s life.

[21] Posted by Badders on 8-28-2010 at 09:53 AM · [top]

Hi David,

Having upset Tim Harris, let me now open up a second front against you in that irenic way I have.

Thanks Tim. I still suggest that you have misread the subtlety of what is being argued. When Knox argues for the heavenly “gathering” he is describing what some would call the “church invisible”. This is, of course, distinct from the “church” which may or may not be a subset of that true “invisible” church. You will, I am sure, agree that not all who call themselves part of the church are, in reality, part of it.
That is not to suggest, of course, that there is no “visible church”. Indeed, as the Articles affirm (XIX)

I think I tend to agree with Tim Harris’ take on “the Knox-Robinson model”. 

My impression is that the heavenly gathering was a substitute for the universal/invisible church.  I think I remember reading Knox saying that there can’t be a universal church because all Christians on the earth can’t gather. The heavenly church is quite different from the universal in a key area - the heavenly church is eschatological, and so is therefore made up of all Christians throughout time - both dead and those yet to exist.  The local church is not a ‘part’ of that gathering as in the old Reformed universal church idea, but a ‘manifestation’ of it. 

So I think Tim Harris is right, the effect (and the intent) is to reduce the ability of other churches to say, “You have to keep in step with us.  You’re just one part of a great whole and your ability to call yourself a church comes from being part of the universal church.”  And to encourage something more like, “The only question is, what is the best expression of the heavenly reality.  All our identity comes to us directly from heaven, and not at all from our connections to other localised manifestations of that heavenly reality.”

I think it is a modification of the ecclessiology of the Magisterial Reformation.  I don’t think the Reformers would recognise it as theirs.  They might have made room for it too, they might not have (I’m still trying to work out how compatible I think it is with Reformation ecclessiology), but I don’t think they’d say, “Yeah, that’s what I’m trying to say.”

[22] Posted by Badders on 8-28-2010 at 10:11 AM · [top]

#21 - LOL! Typical overstated Sydney response, replete with caricature and labels to match. Just as well I take such protestations as half tongue in cheek. I’m heading back to Sydney next year for my MTC 30 yr reunion - should be fun. Maybe we can meet up. The culture issue is as much Sydney as the brash city that it is, as much as it is theological. There are many more conservative evangelicals outside Sydney who view Sydney as too British and weak on inerrancy and the like. I recall a visit to MTC from Norman Geisler who had a real go at the College for not being conservative enough, so perceptions of being ‘solidly evangelical’ are subjective.

One thing you did misunderstand, and that was my suggestion about ‘insecurity’. That wasn’t addressed to you personally - we’ve never met, but your comments don’t tend to suggest ‘insecure’ in the least wink

My thoughts are more along the lines that Sydney Diocese has an insecure side, especially in recent times WRT the younger generation who seem to have less respect for Moore. My observations are from a distance, but I still hear from many contemporaries within the diocese. The diocese was rattled at the public letter of concern from a previous MTC lecturer; similarly, Mark Driscoll’s visit stirred things up as to whether Sydney had its act together, and the public statement from John Woodhouse last year expressing concern over falling enrolment numbers all point to some reconsideration, if not some measure ‘insecurity’.

In any event, we are straying a little off topic, but I have appreciated the discussion about Sydney’s distinctive ecclesiology in particular, and I do think it contributes to explaining Sydney’s approach to lay/diaconal administration. Put bluntly, Sydney wouldn’t recognise its own Diocese as a ‘church’ as such, let alone the Anglican Church of Australia. That does make them somewhat idiosyncratic alongside other Anglicans (although as it happens the Diocese of Nelson where I am located shares much the same view..)

[23] Posted by Tim Harris on 8-28-2010 at 10:57 AM · [top]

Hi Tim,

Possibly an overstated ‘Sydney’ response, replete with caricature and labels to match.  But look back over the bits of your comment that I quoted and the descriptive language used to draw a picture of Sydney.  Take ‘Sydney’ out and put something you value in there.  And ask whether that over-the-top caricature hat might fit more than one head.  It was a fairly ‘deepest darkest Sydney’ kind of thing you put out there, I’d suggest.  I tend to return those balls with about the same amount of spin that they had coming over the net.

I am glad you didn’t think I was insecure. As you say, my comments don’t suggest ‘insecure’ in the least!  It’s a great relief to me personally to hear that. wink

I concur that there is some questioning of certainties once most assuredly believed especially in the younger generation and it seems to be linked to things you mention among others.  But my suggestion wasn’t coming from there, and so can hardly be an indicator of that insecurity.

And I wasn’t really using the labels ‘conservative’ and ‘moderate’ to say ‘Sydney is the only real evangelicals.  I’ve got to use some kind of labeling system that’s going to work for a mostly American audience.  One of the features of Sydney is that many conservative evangelicals esp. from the States don’t find it conservative enough, as you observe.  It’s complex.

Meeting up in Sydney sounds nice, you seem like the kind of guy I’d like to meet.  But I’m in deepest darkest England for a while yet.  Hope the reunion is a blast.

[24] Posted by Levor on 8-28-2010 at 12:12 PM · [top]

Eep, other computer, and so another Stand Firm identity.  Levor and Badders are the same.  I just can never sync passwords and such for any length of time.

[25] Posted by Levor on 8-28-2010 at 12:13 PM · [top]

Badders, (Is that you AB?) comments are quite telling, if not interesing. He writes:

Sydney would generally be considered something like ‘conservative evangelical’, a lot of other evangelicals outside Sydney in Anglicanism in Oz would be considered more ‘moderate evangelical’ or even ‘progressive evangelical’.

Badders forgets to mention that the ones who are doing the considering are conservative Evangelicals who are from Sydney.

In Sydney Anglican circles being labelled moderate evangelical’ or even ‘progressive evangelical’is something that is very undesirable in the Sydney Diocese. In Syd-ang terms it is an insult.

Although Badders qualifies by saying

And I wasn’t really using the labels ‘conservative’ and ‘moderate’ to say ‘Sydney is the only real evangelicals.

Really?

[26] Posted by Josh Bovis on 8-28-2010 at 03:26 PM · [top]

Hi Josh,

I don’t think I’m AB.  I’m not sure who AB is.  I suppose I could be him if you’d like.

I get your point here, but I wasn’t really trying to smuggle something in there. 

I’m a conservative evangelical (more or less) because when someone looks at my various views they tend to go “you’re right of Genghis Khan” (if they’re Anglican and from the First World), or they go “You’re not the full deal” (if they’re an American evangelical, possibly).  But it’s just a flag of convenience - I’m that because ‘conservative evangelicalism’ and me tend to overlap a fair bit.  But I don’t hold these views because I want to be a conservative evangelical.  I’m fairly indifferent to that.

And I don’t think I’m right because I’m a conservative evangelical - I think the issue of who is right has to be fought on its own terms by looking at Scripture.

Now I agree that I’m unusual in all that, so fair call if you thought I was coming from there.  But I’m not.

I disagree with moderate evangelicals because they’re wrong.  Not because they’re moderate evangelicals.  And I’ll often break ranks from my own ‘party’ because they’re wrong - just ask people who know me.

So ‘conservative’ and ‘moderate’ et al really were value free descriptors for me.  ‘Catholic’ is too.  Every time I say, “The Pope is Catholic” I’m not having a go as though ‘Catholic’ is a priori wrong.  Seriously, how could I argue that Sydney is ‘moderate’ and the other evangelicals are ‘conservative evangelicals’ by comparison?  Is that really going to help non-Aussies get any sense of the culture difference going on that Tim was raising? 

I agree they’re often insults in Sydney, and I possibly could have kept that in mind better.  But I find that kind of thinking-through-labels thing dumb, and I usually just ignore things I find dumb.  Apologies for not tweaking things better in light of that.  But really, no value judgement was implied at that point.  Conservatives aren’t right because they’re conservative.

I think though, if Matt+ and others are wondering why Sydney sometimes feels just a leetle isolated at times, the fact that’s it’s evangelicals parsing my words and seeing such negative things behind them might help put this ‘go it alone’ thing in a bigger context.

[27] Posted by Levor on 8-28-2010 at 05:07 PM · [top]

Postscript to my comments on Badders/Levor #21:

Sydney would generally be considered something like ‘conservative evangelical’, a lot of other evangelicals outside Sydney in Anglicanism in Oz would be considered more ‘moderate evangelical’ or even ‘progressive evangelical’.

It is a not uncommon experience that conservative evangelicals (which I also own as a fair description of my own views, and regarded as such within NZ) who move and choose to stay outside Sydney, without changing their views, find themselves labelled by default as most likely ‘moderate’ or ‘progressive’ simply on the grounds they are friends with the theological enemy. If one is bothered (which I am not), you have to work hard at maintaining your bona fides back at one’s former home.

It is made more difficult when from time to time views are expressed by those associated Sydney - views in which I am often in full agreement - but expressed in a manner some of us now out of Sydney find quite cringe-worthy, and in our own contexts find ourselves needing to distance ourselves not from the view, but the manner in which it has been expressed.

Bringing my comments back on topic, something like this explains responses and questions from fellow-travellers such as expressed by Matt+ above (#3): why this, and why now? In my view, Sydney needs to take more seriously the biblical mandate to address just why the push for lay/diaconal presidency at this time and in this manner will be edifying for the church, given that it is troubling to the ecclesial order of many fellow travellers in the gospel. Sydney’s initial response is to diminish their accountability to any sense of the wider ‘church’ (which they don’t recognise as such) - but (IMHO) their theological and biblical weakness is adopting a fairly arbitrary sense of koinonia in the gospel and mutual accountability within that relational context. I think Matt has asked very fair and important questions.

[28] Posted by Tim Harris on 8-28-2010 at 09:13 PM · [top]

I don’t think I’m AB.  I’m not sure who AB is.  I suppose I could be him if you’d like.

Didn’t know Allan Border was a lurker on StandFirm wink

(probably showing my age here…)

[29] Posted by Tim Harris on 8-28-2010 at 09:17 PM · [top]

Tim,

It is a not uncommon experience that conservative evangelicals (which I also own as a fair description of my own views, and regarded as such within NZ) who move and choose to stay outside Sydney, without changing their views, find themselves labelled by default as most likely ‘moderate’ or ‘progressive’

This is what I was trying to say.

As for Sydney pushing this stance on the Eucharist, though I can agree with the principle, I don’t believe it is worth the damage it will cause. As I said earlier, I think there a far bigger hills to die on.

[30] Posted by Josh Bovis on 8-28-2010 at 10:28 PM · [top]

I guess I’m one of those American Evangelicals who doubt Sydney’s ‘bona fides’ as ‘conservatives’....


When even Baptists (more anti-hierarchy is hard to find) won’t hear of a deacon leading in the Lord’s Supper, it seems, to this fellow, that the push for it isn’t (and can not be) from ‘conservatives’.  Conservatives conserve, they do not innovate!  Revolutionaries (reformers?) is what Sydney would be (or so it seems to me) if they push this innovation through. 

A real question:  What would it do to the use of the Ordinals mentioned in the GAFCON statement?  (Can the ordinals referenced support a lord’s Supper leading Deacon????)

[31] Posted by Bo on 8-28-2010 at 11:02 PM · [top]

#27 Levor/Badders:

I think though, if Matt+ and others are wondering why Sydney sometimes feels just a leetle isolated at times, the fact that’s it’s evangelicals parsing my words and seeing such negative things behind them might help put this ‘go it alone’ thing in a bigger context.

To be quite honest (and to clarify, with no reference to Badders/Levor, whether or not he is an AB - he’d need to know the haka to qualify for that in NZ) - I believe the isolationism experienced by Sydney Anglicans is largely self-imposed. With one or two notable exceptions, MTC faculty rarely participate in wider academic forums in A-NZ (eg. the regional SBL in Auckland, ANZATS, AA-CC in Brisbane etc), and speaking personally, those of us CE’s who have needed to establish academic respect in the wider academic world would appreciate the support and encouragement (or at least recognition) that the MTC faculty could bring - but I continue to find them generally aloof.

The impression I get is that Syd. Anglicans prefer to speak and criticise from a distance, from platforms of their own making.

The most ‘cringe-worthy’ and ‘inept’ examples I alluded to above would be the way Sydney Anglicans attempt to persuade the wider audience in General Synod, where the relational distance and lack of personal engagement with the church outside Sydney is glaring. It is not so much that Sydney struggles to gain support from more aggressive opponents, it is their ability to put offside moderates and fellow travellers. I am all too aware of the caricaturing of SA’s more broadly, but I have to say they are renowned for an inability to hear what others are saying.

With Josh Bovis above, I would urge those who have a voice within Sydney to weigh the cost of such moves very prayerfully. Do not underestimate the extent this will further isolate Sydney (much further), and in many cases burn bridges that would otherwise be significant avenues of gospel partnership in the company of fellow-travellers. Recognising the ‘push-back’ motivation in Australia against the backdrop of the process by which women bishops came to be introduced, the cost of this move will be on a far wider scale and seriously damage the relationship with fellow workers in the harvest fields.

[32] Posted by Tim Harris on 8-28-2010 at 11:26 PM · [top]

As a “nose-bleed high” Anglo-Catholic who has visited Sydney once—(Navy chaplains get around), I’m not going to try to comment on any of the theology here: it’s hard enough to type while taking deep breaths in a paper sack to keep from hyperventilating.

A linguistic point, though… when I was still in the US and in TEC, for as long as I could remember all deacons routinely administered Communion, as did licensed layreaders. The priest celebrated and administered the Body from the paten, while the deacon or Layreader administered the Christ’s Blood from the chalice,

Hence my inital confusing at the original posting: the word “administered” means one thing in American English and another in Australian English. (And before someone adds it, yes, I know the Churchill quotation about two nations divided by a common tongue…)

[33] Posted by Conego on 8-29-2010 at 12:05 AM · [top]

#33 In the TEC 1928 BCP the eucharist was titled, “The Order for The Administration of the Lord’s Supper or Holy Communion”. Even if we have now forgotten the usage it was present in TEC liturgy until not so long ago.

[34] Posted by driver8 on 8-29-2010 at 01:50 AM · [top]

Let’s see:

#33, Conego. 

As a “nose-bleed high” Anglo-Catholic…I’m not going to try to comment on any of the theology here: it’s hard enough to type while taking deep breaths in a paper sack to keep from hyperventilating.

LOL.  That was a much needed breath of lightheartedness, while making a substantial point.  Nicely played.


#31, Bo.

guess I’m one of those American Evangelicals who doubt Sydney’s ‘bona fides’ as ‘conservatives’....

Well, ‘conservative evangelicals’ aren’t always ‘conservative’, sometimes the whole ad fontes thing combined with a certain kind of concern to reach the lost and a tendency to see doctrine and not form as the sinews binding the Church together through the ages can lead to radical changes in practice.

Were Luther and Calvin conservatives or radicals?  Is setting aside hundreds of years of medieval development in an attempt to recover something that better reflected the best of ancient practice in modern garb, conservative? Was the Tractarian movement? Is an attempt to undo the legal position of the CoE from the Elizabethan Settlement to recover a more ancient and medieval form of church for the Victorian era, conservative? 

I think both sides could be argued for both movements, depending on what someone means by the terms and which features of the movements they agree with/disagree with.

A real question:  What would it do to the use of the Ordinals mentioned in the GAFCON statement?  (Can the ordinals referenced support a lord’s Supper leading Deacon????)

A real answer, but by no means uncontroverted, it’s my take on the matter.  It would significantly loosen the ties that bind current practice and the Ordinal, but it wouldn’t completely overturn the theology behind the Ordinal.

Apparently Cranmer was okay with midwives baptising infants in cases where the child might die before the priest could get there.  I think he might have even been okay with the idea that in dire times a layperson could induct a bishop - can’t remember on that one. 

That means that, at least at that point, I think, he was more Luther than Calvin. 

Calvin, I think, disagreed with Cranmer on both issues above.  A minister can do things because they’re attached to his office and he’s been called to that office.  If he’s not available, they can’t be done.  Full Stop.  Ministry flows from office and office is given by God.

But Luther worked a bit more from the priesthood of all believers - anyone can be a priest in their relationship with others - teach, conduct sacraments, the whole box and dice.  Now that can’t happen in practice - that’d be chaos.  So God’s word establishes who functions as a priest on behalf of all in the interests of order.  But they aren’t doing anything that any lay person couldn’t do.  Ministry flows from our common inheritence as Christians and office regulates it.

Now, when you are in crisis situations - no priest available, there’s only women around (like a convent), and the like.  The ‘Luther’ position says, “Women can step up and do what they normally can’t, laypeople can baptise, preach, set up bishops et al.”  Because if order is lost then you’re off the map anyway and have to take steps to reinstitute order, and those steps aren’t what you’d do when you had order.

So, it’s likely that the Ordinal is based on a theology that says - laypeople really can do everything a priest can do, because they’re a priest too (whichever way you take ‘priest’ there) deep down.

And that’s Sydney’s big argument it seems to me - liberal Catholic and Anglo-Catholic practice and teaching have obscured this fundamental view of the priesthood of all believers that is the Anglicanism of the BCP.  So the practice needs to change to set forth the theology more clearly in light of post-16th C developments.

I disagree, as I’ve made it clear.  I think that the argument misses entirely the fact that laypeople functioning as priests only applies when we’re off the map!  It’s what you do when you’re in emergency situation and martial law is declared.  You don’t do it when everything is in order.  Are we going to turn around and start priesting women too and have them as rectors of churches just to prove to everyone of the glory of the priesthood of all believers?  The guys pushing this are friends and smart guys.  But I think they’re being dumb here, and it will so come back to bite us.

But if you want a real answer Bo, that’s my take on it.

[35] Posted by Levor on 8-29-2010 at 03:59 AM · [top]

#28, and #32 Tim Harris,

Okay I think we can rule out that I’m AB then, at least in New Zealand.  (Hee, if that’s your idea of ‘clarifying’ you’d love it here in England.  The English like ‘clarifying’ things in such a way as to leave me more muddled than before too. Heh.)

Okay, that’s a bit clearer.  I can see why you and Josh got so prickly at my classification system.  You guys are conservative evangelicals.  I can see it looked like I was saying that Sydney is ‘conservative evangelical’ and non-Sydney is ‘non-conservative evangelical’.  Mea Culpa.  Let me restate it a bit:

The dominant culture in Sydney is an exotic strain of ‘conservative evangelical’ that only flourishes where koalas sit and kangaroos room as they watch over the beauty of the Sydney Harbor.  The dominant culture outside of Sydney is a more typical kind of ‘moderate evangelical’ which supports women’s ordination (which over here in England certainly seems to be a key indicator of whether people think you’re conservative or moderate evangelical - on both sides of the fence).

Moderate evangelicals, progressive evangelicals, Anglo-Catholics and liberals can all be found in Sydney, and there’s people outside Sydney whose conservative evangelical credentials leave anyone in Sydney’s for dead, and who also think that Sydney makes their life unnecessarily harder by not supporting them/saying things the wrong way/being too exotic in its strain of conservative evangelicalism et al.

Seriously, have I left anything out there, or are both you and Josh happy with that as a reasonably fair and appropriately nuanced description of the theological cultures involved?

It is a not uncommon experience that conservative evangelicals (which I also own as a fair description of my own views, and regarded as such within NZ) who move and choose to stay outside Sydney, without changing their views, find themselves labelled by default as most likely ‘moderate’ or ‘progressive’ simply on the grounds they are friends with the theological enemy. If one is bothered (which I am not), you have to work hard at maintaining your bona fides back at one’s former home.

That’s your experience, and you know of others no doubt.  Okay, that’s what you’ve experienced.  But I’d like to offer three things for consideration to add into that experience.

Barry Webb.  If you’ve been around Moore, you’ll know what I mean there.

Peter Jensen launched the biography of the Catholic Archbishop.  No-one in Sydney, as far as I can see, even blinked.

I don’t follow party lines.  I don’t pay any attention to conservative evangelical shibboleths and heed them if I disagree with them.  ‘Sydney’ has opened door after door to me.  My experience is that they’re pretty good at working out who’s a friend with some strange habits and who isn’t.

Tim, you come across as a very sane and reasonable guy, so this isn’t having a go.  But look back over your first paragraph in #14.  No-one in the thread from Sydney had been saying, “We’re amazing and everyone else in Oz has bowed the knee to Baal.”  You joined a thread and your first contribution was to paint Sydney as proud, insecure, contemptuous of other evangelicals, cliquish and unable to function in polite society.  And, in good Yes Minister fashion you got behind Sydney first to stick them in the back - by showing your credentials of having been there in the Diocese in a substantial way. Everything you said there might be true (or not) but even if it is the gospel truth, given that you yourself recognise that ‘Sydney’ tends to equate relational collegiality with theological compatibility, do you think there might just be another reason why people in Sydney question your credentials then the fact you have some friends with different theologies? 

It’s not shot across your bow.  I’ve heard your experience many times, I’m sure there’s reality to it.  But look at what you said and where, and look at how that looks to people in Sydney.  Was it really something that was likely to move relational things in another direction?  What you did there is what I was talking about when I said ‘it’s moats and beams all around’.  Everyone has an experience to tell of how they were hurt by the other ‘side’.  And they’re never part of the problem.

Multiple it more broadly, and I think the disconnect in General Synod has more going on than just the city of Sydney having a culture quite different from the rest of Oz, even though I agree that’s an important factor.

This is the key analysis:

I believe the isolationism experienced by Sydney Anglicans is largely self-imposed.

Because it puts all the weight of the problem on one side.  In your experience of relationships, where one party complains that all the blame for the breakdown is with the other side, and there’s no clear moral wrong involved (like adultery), what is normally your first suspicion?

I know I’m ‘Sydney’, and threads are conducive to flame wars, but as someone who tries to be reasonable to someone who shows all the hallmarks of being so, I’m not trying to flame you here, however politely.  Just transcend your experience a bit, the way you want the guys in Sydney too.

[36] Posted by Levor on 8-29-2010 at 05:13 AM · [top]

Levor - thanks for taking the time to elaborate on your comments, and I actually agree with much you say. For differing reasons our responses in both directions have been overly reactive and read more negativity into comments than was actually there. Believe it or not, I am actually very appreciative of Sydney, and hold ++PFJ as one of the most mature and sane leaders in world Christianity today. His support and encouragement to me at significant moments in my own journey is something I will never forget.

A number of years ago my wife and I made a conscious decision not to buy into the ‘Sydney bagging’ culture that prevails outside Sydney, almost invariably characterised by shallow point-scoring and cheap shots. If my comments came over in such a way, I apologise - I do actually try to be reasonable. By the same token, I do wish Sydney would take time to listen to some points of critique more carefully. Even Kevin Giles, despite his particular mode of expressing things, has on occasion some important things to say that are dismissed a little too readily along with his other more contentious criticisms (yes, I know, that is an understatement, and Kevin doesn’t help the cause in his rhetorical style). As noted above, I believe his ‘What on earth is the church?’ is one of his better books and merits more serious engagement.

Having said that, I do believe Sydney Anglicans need friends who can speak honestly and openly. I recall Don Carson setting aside his notes at a Katoomba convention and speaking in similar terms, but that of course came out of an established relationship and respect for the strengths of SA’s - which I share, but you weren’t to know that.

My point in all this -and the reason I have continued posting - is that I personally believe a ‘Moore College trained only’ approach would be very damaging within Sydney and amongst evangelicals further afield. I wonder how our Ridley College friends hear that? Or SMBC for that matter?

Similarly, I have serious concerns about the damage that will be done to SA’s relationships abroad if they press ahead with the lay/diaconal administration cause - and I have appreciated your clarity in stating similar concerns, if I have heard you correctly. Abp Harry Goodhew refused to assent to it for that very reason, and ++PFJ has some creative ways to approach it as well, without pushing the whole legislative thing. At the very least, Sydney owes it to the likes of Matt+ and others (especially GS and Gafcon friends) to make a better case for why this, and why now…

Also appreciated your take on the Knox/Robinson ecclesiology line, which I do believe continues to influence the SA outlook on wider ‘ecclesial’ relationships. Haven’t heard back from David O on that, but no doubt he has been more productively occupied ministry-wise these past days.

Enjoy your sojourn in the UK…
Grace and peace,
Tim

[37] Posted by Tim Harris on 8-29-2010 at 06:22 AM · [top]

Levor,

Seriously, have I left anything out there, or are both you and Josh happy with that as a reasonably fair and appropriately nuanced description of the theological cultures involved?

No worries!

[38] Posted by Josh Bovis on 8-29-2010 at 06:38 AM · [top]

RE: “The dominant culture outside of Sydney is a more typical kind of ‘moderate evangelical’ which supports women’s ordination (which over here in England certainly seems to be a key indicator of whether people think you’re conservative or moderate evangelical - on both sides of the fence).”

Yes—you *have* left something out [she squeaked]!  ; > )

I am a conservative evangelical, and I oppose WO based on Biblical grounds, and I thoroughly oppose lay administration on traditional grounds.

I see no place for “if it’s not literally forbidden in the Bible we can do it” in Anglicanism any more than I see a place for “if it’s not literally approved of in the Bible we can’t do it.”

It seems to me that the issues with lay administration have to do with the chasm of understanding and difference between Sydney’s views of “what a priest is” [apparently a guy who has had a lot of nice training and education and is now the corporate CEO of a local organization called a “parish”—a lay person with a great education and parish leadership] and every other Anglican’s view of what a priest is [which is on a continuum, from the word “ordain” actually does have a particular meaning solely for clergy and clergy are distinctive from laity in more ways than that they have a nice education and are in charge of the parish, all the way to the AC’s belief that the priest stands in the place of Christ]. 

The only reason I’m opining is that I just want to make certain that the views of people like me—certainly not Fulcrumites and not “open evo” and certainly not Sydney—are communicated.

Thus I agree with Tim Harris:

“the cost of this move will be on a far wider scale and seriously damage the relationship with fellow workers in the harvest fields.”

[39] Posted by Sarah on 8-29-2010 at 07:24 AM · [top]

[39] Sarah wrote: 

It seems to me that the issues with lay administration have to do with the chasm of understanding and difference between Sydney’s views of “what a priest is”

The intensity of the reaction to Sydney does continue to surprise me.  From the outside looking in, it appears to be an argument over mint and cumin even as weightier matters are neglected without thought.  How strange that Lay Presidency should create such furor even as the practice of Alter Christus proceeds daily without thought.  One is left with the conclusion that the errors of Rome can be safely accommodated even as Christian freedom remains bound by the traditions of men.  The errors of Rome involve questions that are orders of magnitude more serious than who gets to preside at Communion.

The difference between Priest and laity is not found in the man but in the office.  Those who hold the office exercise the authority of the office.  It is not intrinsic to the Priest, and it certainly isn’t ontological.  The difference between the President and every other man is that the President has the authority to exercise the powers of the office.  So with the priest, and all for the good order and function of the local church.  If good order and function can be maintained, then why should Lay Presidency be a problem?  What cost is incurred by those who object that should require this expected level of damage in the Communion?  Given that you have already compromised on the greater issue of Alter Christus, why do you now demand fidelity on this lesser issue?

carl

[40] Posted by carl on 8-29-2010 at 08:56 AM · [top]

Re: [40]  Submitted, of course, with all the standard Reformed qualifications of the use of the word ‘priest.’

[41] Posted by carl on 8-29-2010 at 09:17 AM · [top]

RE: “How strange that Lay Presidency should create such furor even as the practice of Alter Christus proceeds daily without thought.”

The latter is not true—it is a conflict and troubling to evangelical Anglicans.

RE: “One is left with the conclusion that the errors of Rome can be safely accommodated even as Christian freedom remains bound by the traditions of men.”

No, one is left with the conclusion that *some* of the errors of Rome can be accommodated [no surprise there for Anglicanism] just as *some* of the errors of Protestantism can be accomodated.  But not all of either of those groups. 

And yes—much of “Christian freedom” [sic, since this is left undefined] is often bound by “the traditions of men,” thank God.  I shudder if it were not.  That is certainly true within Anglicanism as we have given a quite prominent place to Church tradition in our accepted practices—again, thank God. [Of course, one man’s “Christian freedom” often means “liturgical dance.”]

RE: “Given that you have already compromised on the greater issue of Alter Christus, why do you now demand fidelity on this lesser issue?”

They are both errors.  Why should we now compromise on the latter error even though we have compromised on the former?  Now Carl sounds like TEC and thedivorce.  Carl just doesn’t believe that the latter error is in fact an error and thus he is just fine with “compromise” on it.  ; > )

But think of it, if you like, as *solely pragmatic*.  Within the Anglican Communion there is *one diocese* that is fevered for “lay administration.”

One.

There are many—including many conservative evangelicals—who are appalled, incensed, and wish to have *nothing to do with such a practice in any way.*

That’s reality.

One can claim—from the outside looking in—that this *should not be* according to one’s own theology and values. 

But there it is.

[42] Posted by Sarah on 8-29-2010 at 09:38 AM · [top]

[42] Sarah

Now Carl sounds like TEC and thedivorce.

Me?  Sound like TEC?  May it never be!  How do I sound like TEC, btw?  I don’t understand what ‘thedivorce’ means. 

Carl just doesn’t believe that the latter error is in fact an error and thus he is just fine with “compromise” on it.  ; > )

Well, that’s a little over-stated.  The Sacraments were given to the church, and it is the responsibility of the church to guard them from mis-use.  So long as they can be properly guarded within the authority structure of the church, I see no Scriptural impediment to Lay Presidency.  Traditional impediments maybe, by they have no authority to bind the conscience.  Liturgical dance may be idiotic, but it is not fundamentally unscriptural.  A fine distinction, I grant. 

But my opinion really doesn’t matter.  I was first and foremost reacting to the chasm you postulated between Sydney and everyone else. 

It seems to me that the issues with lay administration have to do with the chasm of understanding and difference between Sydney’s views of “what a priest is” ... and every other Anglican’s view of what a priest is

This emphasizes the lesser issue of organization over the greater issue of the role of the priest in justification.  Surely the chasm between an AC view of the priesthood and the Protestant view of the priesthood makes any gap between Matt Kennedy and David Ould look like a crack in the highway.  And yet this whole thread has emphasized the latter.  You said: 

There are many—including many conservative evangelicals—who are appalled, incensed, and wish to have *nothing to do with such a practice in any way.*

And yet I do not see people saying “I want nothing to do with those Anglicans who practice Alter Christus.”  It is this inconsistency that intrigues me, and suggests that defending hierarchical organization is a greater imperative in the Anglican Communion than defending right doctrine.

carl

[43] Posted by carl on 8-29-2010 at 10:34 AM · [top]

RE: “How do I sound like TEC, btw?”

As in “you caved on divorce, why not cave on SSUs” or “it proves you are hypocrites since you have accepted [xyz] but not [abc, which I like].

RE: “So long as they can be properly guarded within the authority structure of the church, I see no Scriptural impediment to Lay Presidency.”

I do not believe that the sacraments can be “properly guarded” with lay presidency.  I understand that you do—but I think it intrinsically impossible.  And again—we’re not talking about “Scriptural impediment” since recall, Anglicans don’t make decisions about what they will or will not practice based solely on Scripture.  We have an additional and very strong criterium of Church tradition.

RE: “Traditional impediments maybe, by they have no authority to bind the conscience.”

Sure—but the AC has the right and has claimed the right throughout its history of binding *actions and structures* based on Church tradition. 

I agree that liturgical dance is not fundamentally unscriptural.  In fact, one could find scriptural warrant for naked or barely clothed liturgical dance.  But thankfully, Anglicans have determined—as I mentioned above—that we do not determine our practices based solely on what is not literally forbidden in the Bible or what is not literally approved of in the Bible.  That is probably one of my top ten favorite things about Anglicanism.

RE: “This emphasizes the lesser issue of organization over the greater issue of the role of the priest in justification.”

You call it an issue of “organization”—Anglicans call it a theological chasm between Sydney notions of the identity and nature “clergy” and the rest of Anglicanism’s notions of the identity and nature of “clergy.”  That is a deep theological division—and the demonstration of that is not only the antipathy of Anglicans in general towards lay administration but Sydney itself’s fever for it.  Sydney knows that this is a very important theological issue—and their fervor for is a nice demonstration of that.

It’s a bit like—again—revisionist TECans saying “how could you be willing to divide the church over opposition to SSUs”—when they try to obscure the fact that they themselves are willing to divide the church over their desperate desire for SSUs.  Why is this?  Because it is a deep and very important theological chasm over which neither side can surrender.

RE: “And yet I do not see people saying “I want nothing to do with those Anglicans who practice Alter Christus.”

Indeed—nor do you hear me saying “I want nothing to do with those Anglicans who practice lay administration.”  ; > )  There is a difference between the practice and the people.  The vast vast majority of even conservative evangelical Anglicans within the Anglican Communion want nothing to do with lay administration.

RE: “It is this inconsistency that intrigues me, and suggests that defending hierarchical organization is a greater imperative in the Anglican Communion than defending right doctrine.”

No Carl—again, this is not about “organization” it is about theology for both sides—both the one diocese that wishes to do Lay Administration and those who do not wish it at all.

The fact that we as conservative evangelical Anglicans within the Anglican Communion have accepted one theological error does not mean that we must accept the other.

[44] Posted by Sarah on 8-29-2010 at 10:51 AM · [top]

Hi Tim,

Very gracious of you to apologise, thank you.  Likewise if I came across as judgmental and contemptuous, I apologise.

hold ++PFJ as one of the most mature and sane leaders in world Christianity today

I’ve been trying to work out how I’d describe Sydney leaders at their best (like Peter Jensen).  If the African Bishops are lions, and TEC leadership is like an incompetent “Type B” legacy kid running a baseball club (thank you for that image Sarah - I ended up reading it out loud to my wife), then I think you’ve captured Peter and guys like him here.  Thanks, I’ll be using that in future.

I resonate with a lot of what you’re saying in #37.  Here’s my reflections on two things where I’d want to add something extra into the mix.

By the same token, I do wish Sydney would take time to listen to some points of critique more carefully. Even Kevin Giles, despite his particular mode of expressing things, has on occasion some important things to say that are dismissed a little too readily along with his other more contentious criticisms (yes, I know, that is an understatement, and Kevin doesn’t help the cause in his rhetorical style). As noted above, I believe his ‘What on earth is the church?’ is one of his better books and merits more serious engagement.

1. It is hard to pick out the criticisms worth hearing when the culture is, as you say, to make cheap shots at Sydney’s expense.  The sheer amount, and the contradictions between them all, makes it hard to work out which ones are worth hearing.  No defence there, just an observation.

2. Giles’ door with Sydney is closed.  It’s nailed shut, it’s barred, there’s sharks with laser beams attached to their heads guarding it.  You don’t spend much of your writing career criticising a place as the subtext of each new theological and practical topic you move onto in each new book and culminate by accusing it of being Arian and then have any chance of being heard as a constructive critic.  That mightn’t be fair, and it’s not what I’d do, but that’s the way it is.  If he’s had anything worth saying, then someone else will have to present it fresh under their own name. 

I personally believe a ‘Moore College trained only’ approach would be very damaging within Sydney and amongst evangelicals further afield. I wonder how our Ridley College friends hear that? Or SMBC for that matter?

As always, if I’m going to say something provocative I probably need to just bite the bullet and swamp the thread with all the nuances and qualifications needed to.  As briefly as I can, and trusting you to draw the dots together in the arguments I don’t make:
+Sydney’s strategy, that has worked until now, has involved the possibility for reasonably easily forged close working relationships due to shared language, experience, and convictions.  It’s not a criticism of any other college to say that that strategy ends once the ministerial pool is ‘diluted’ by too many from other colleges.
+Calvin ran a tight ship at home and was among the most flexible and actively ecumenical forces within Protestantism.  That’s not an accident or a contradiction.  Part of Sydney’s desire to ‘stay Moore’ at least in the past, involves a recognition that a Diocese battling within itself, or just going in slightly different directions can’t project whatever ‘power’ it has outside its borders.  It’s China, no matter how big it is.
+I don’t want Melbourne taking on lots of Moore graduates for the same reason, I want them to take mostly Ridley.  Some Moore yes, and some of theirs in Sydney - that helps keep things being too ingrown.  But, take everything you said about Sydney’s culture - is it going to help having a large % of Moore graduates in a place like Melbourne?  I want movement between Dioceses, but I want rectors to partner with their diocesan college.
+You can’t spend what you don’t have.  We’ve had a recent reminder of that.  Sydney has to make sure it has growth in the sphere God’s given it.  After all the agony it’s gone through in PFJ’s archbishopric to reform itself in light of the 10% mission, it’s now finally evangelising just enough new people to replace all those leaving.  It still hasn’t escaped its Anglo racial ghetto yet.  It’s strong now, but if it doesn’t make some good moves, and if God doesn’t then bless them.  It’s ability to help others will decline precipitously. 

I don’t expect to convince anyone with that, but consider it something to mull over a bit.

I’ve enjoyed the interaction Tim, sorry we’re unlikely to meet up.  Maybe another time.

[45] Posted by Levor on 8-29-2010 at 02:06 PM · [top]

May I jump in tentatively?
(Jumps in tentatively)
This is why IMHO I think that the Syd Ang push for lay presidency is not a good idea. If it causes division and concern among Anglicans (even those who are conservative Evangelicals), then I don’t believe it is worth it.
For argument’s sake - just say that those in Sydney who are wanting this think that those who don’t are the weaker brother or sister, would not Romans 15:1 apply?
By the way I am not suggesting that those are against lay presidency (including myself) are weak, but all of God’s people are obligated to strengthen, encourage and build up each other.

[46] Posted by Josh Bovis on 8-29-2010 at 02:14 PM · [top]

[44] Sarah

[T]his is not about “organization” it is about theology for both sides

So what we have here is a disagreement about “theology” that is not fundamentally rooted in a different understanding of Scripture, but is instead rooted in “binding *actions and structures* based on Church tradition.”  Maybe we are getting close to the source of the problem.  smile

I don’t understand how a disagreement that traces its origins to tradition can truly be called theological, unless of course tradition is being imposed upon Scripture.  I do not see that as the case here.  Sydney is not demanding anything of anyone.  It simply wants the freedom to act within the confines of Scripture.  The response comes back “You must not violate the binding *actions and structures* based on Church tradition.”  Alter Christus does not violate actions and structures of church tradition.  It simply acts as yet one more Romanesque denial of the Gospel. Yet people are quite willing to co-exist with it.  Why can you not co-exist with Sydney on the same terms?  What theological cost accrues to you that is not already exceeded by the tolerance of Alter Christus?  Why draw the line here, when the line has not been drawn over other more important issues?  The obvious answer is that the issue isn’t theology, but rather the integrity of the organization.  “There is a straight line from Lay Presidency to chaos and ruin! The masses will run amuck!”  That I fear is the unstated concern.

This argument is all about extra-biblical definitions of church structure and hierarchy and the function of clergy - none of which is laid out in Scripture.  Alter Christus does impose upon Scripture in horrendous ways, and yet I do not see it generating the level of offense that Sydney incurs by daring to suggest Lay Presidency.  Whether Sydney is right or wrong, the magnitude of the issue of Lay Presidency is simply not comparable to the Sacramental priest standing in as another Christ.  The latter is an offense to God, and an abomination.  The former is a challenge to “binding *actions and structures* based on Church tradition.”  In the grand scheme of things, Lay Presidency is quite simply trivial compared to the Doctrine of Justification.  The Gospel turns upon on one of those issues, and it isn’t Lay Presidency.

carl

[47] Posted by carl on 8-29-2010 at 03:39 PM · [top]

Josh Bovis #46 - I totally agree with you, and think that passage in particular is one Syd Anglicans need to take more seriously in this context. I once submitted a piece to Southern Cross along those lines, but never heard back…

Levor #45 - I have likewise appreciated this exchange, and it has prompted me to touch base with my friends at MTC when I am passing through Sydney in November on business (theological education in Anglican contexts, no less…)

Your comments in justification of a ‘Moore trained only’ policy (which I quite understand) brought a wry smile to my face. I do battle in arguing against just this policy on a daily basis here in NZ. In our context (for similarly pragmatic strategies of control of influence), the argument is run along ‘St John’s College trained only’ lines, backed up with similarly impressive resources that match Moore’s (financial and facilities). It has been to the enormous detriment to ministry throughout NZ and Pacifika - but that is not to challenge the strategy, just the theological education that is fed into the strategy. So as I say - a wry smile on my part… We have just had a few breakthroughs as a (initially maligned) new rival minnow on the block - one of our first graduates will be placed in another diocese, with the encouragement of that Bishop (that is massive in NZ ecclesial politics), and another bishop has ‘quietly’ inquired who we have coming through our system because they really appreciate the missional focus of our training. There are some cracks in the ‘St John’s College only’ strategy!

While I do not underestimate the missional challenge in the cultural melting pot of greater Sydney (been there and battled away myself), I do want to underscore the strategic importance of Sydney as the ‘Syrian Antioch’ of our day -and the importance of taking care in the relationships that go with that. Nelson Diocese is the bastion of evangelical Anglicanism in NZ, and hopefully through our college the process of planting seeds for pioneering gospel ministry locally and further afield will continue. Both Ridley College (through Bp’s Sadlier and Stephenson) and Sydney (through Bp’s Hilliard, Hume-Moir - and also Stephenson) have been very significant to that story.

Make no mistake that our ‘worthy opponents’ have identified theological education as THE most significant strategy in coming decades. This is where the hearts and minds of many within the GS will be shaped - and I know that Sydney/MTC is making significant efforts to establish strategic partnerships in this area (Alexandria in particular, amongst others). My point is that Sydney is running the risk of putting much of this at risk through its (in my view, reckless) running with ‘lay/diaconal administration’ as the big issue of the day.

One of the streams at Gafcon (so I understand through the Nelson rep) identified the importance of establishing a Gafcon network of colleges of theological education, marked by mutual respect, co-operation and strategic considerations. While recognising the pragmatic arguments for a ‘Moore trained only’ approach within Sydney, care needs to be taken in Sydney’s own immediate regional neighbourhood, and especially greater commitment to nurture a more strategic alliance of Gafcon aligned colleges in Oceania. And it probably starts by not only a willingness to listen to friends with the occasional word of critique (I promise you, those who know me know that I am no Kevin Giles), but more proactively being a little more outward looking in fostering relationships its own regional neighbourhood.

I have a sense that the way Sydney chooses to progress in this lay/diaconal administration area will be hugely significant (one way or another) to its potential leadership within the Gafcon network in particular. It was quite striking at the GS South2South Encounter in Singapore how different the Gafcon circle is from the GS, and the extent to which the Gafcon/FCA leadership need to repair some seriously damaged relationships if they are to gain any voice in wider circles (GS and otherwise - think UK, North America and Australasia).

Now I really do need to get on to preparing for a class in ‘salvation in the gospel of Luke’ grin

[48] Posted by Tim Harris on 8-29-2010 at 04:59 PM · [top]

Tim Harris wrote at #14:

“Sydney has a quite idiosyncratic ecclesiology that denies any global dimension to the Church’s existence. There are local churches, and there is the heavenly church, but none other.”

This is completely untrue. I been a Sydney Anglican all my life, I know the culture and the history, and this is just wrong. Sydney has been a very strong proponent of the need for the Anglican Church to move in step, both with the Anglican Church in Australia and with the wider Anglican Communion. In particular, it was Sydney and a small number of Anglo-Catholic groups that argued in the 1980s and the early 1990s that women should not be ordained as priests because of the effect this would have on the unity of the Australian church, and of the wider communion.

However, Sydney has also made it clear that if the rest of the Anglican Church reverts to liberalism, Sydney will not follow. That is not idiosyncratic, it is pure orthodoxy – “Athanasius contra mundum”. However, I think that Sydney is only now discovering how many orthodox Anglicans there are in the world, and that therefore it needs to reach out to them – for many years it has felt utterly alone. It is that isolation that has encouraged a relatively small group who argue for measures like lay administration.

Tim Harris also wrote:

“Sydney has no theological conviction that it is accountable to anyone in earthly terms other than the local church. Wider accountability is just an organisational responsibility. General Synod or wider networks or associations are a matter of strategic opportunity or expediency, and dispensed with if inconvenient.”

Again, this is completely at odds with recent church history. Sydney has been the strongest proponent for Synodical accountability. It was, rather, Sydney’s opponents who bypassed Synodical government and procedures in their desperate attempts to suborn the Australian church.

However, Sydney has made it clear that it will NOT submit to any synod that embraces open apostasy. Nor should it. Measures to permit the ordination of women as priests or bishops will not be obeyed by Sydney, nor will measures to permit the ordination of openly practicing homosexuals. That is not being schismatic, it is being orthodox.

[49] Posted by MichaelA on 8-29-2010 at 08:00 PM · [top]

Josh Bovis wrote at #20,

“I believe that there are bigger hills to die on than this one and my concern is that Sydney pushing this may jeopardise and hinder future relationships with Anglicans outwith the Sydney diocese and will feed the perception that Sydney does not care about the wider Anglican church. For those who don’t know me, I am from the diocese right next door to the Sydney Diocese (Newcastle Diocese).”

I also don’t believe that Sydney should enact lay administration. However, what Josh forgot to mention is that his diocese has been in the vanguard of liberal apostasy in Australia. In particular, it was the bishop of Newcastle in 1991 who declaimed:

“I believe a bishop has the authority and power to ordain canonically fit candidates, and that power and authority is not sourced from either General or diocesan synods … but as a result of his consecration into the order of bishop”.

The context was +Holland’s insistence that individual dioceses within the Australian Anglican church should be permitted to ordain women as priests.

In order for Dio. Sydney to work with Dio. Newcastle, there has to be recognition by the latter of the terrible damage that its bishops have done to the fabric of Australian Anglican life in past years. Obviously this comment is not directed at Josh personally, but at Diocese of Newcastle.

[50] Posted by MichaelA on 8-29-2010 at 08:03 PM · [top]

Sarah wrote at #42,

“But think of it, if you like, as *solely pragmatic*.  Within the Anglican Communion there is *one diocese* that is fevered for “lay administration.” One.
There are many—including many conservative evangelicals—who are appalled, incensed, and wish to have *nothing to do with such a practice in any way.*”

And that is why it may well happen, Sarah. Because of people like you.

Too many Anglicans sit back and turn up their pretty noses instead of engaging with Sydney and persuading it that there are good reasons why it shouldn’t go this way.

Their drawing back could very well make the difference – the decision on lay administration will be made by Sydney laity and clergy. If enough of them can appreciate the way in which the broader Communion want to be in fellowship with them, then lay administration is not going to get through Sydney synod. Whereas if Sydney is isolated, then lay administration will probably get through.

That will be a tragedy, because Sydney is an 800 pound gorilla, so to speak. Its presence will continue to be felt throughout the wider Communion, even if considers itself isolated. So better that it does not go down the path of lay administration. Let’s keep the orthodox united on as many things as we can.

[51] Posted by MichaelA on 8-29-2010 at 08:07 PM · [top]

With respect, MichaelA (#49) , I think you have quite misunderstood the point I was making. It is a very specific debate relating to the “the Knox-Robinson model” of understanding what constitutes ‘church’. My comments regarding the theological distinctiveness of this view are hardly controversial and widely recognised (although the subtleties and nuances of this view are complex). It is not so much Sydney’s attitude to the wider Anglican world (which varies enormously within the Diocese), but more specifically as to what constitutes ‘church’ in terms of Article 19.

Perhaps re-read Badders comment at #22.

[52] Posted by Tim Harris on 8-29-2010 at 08:45 PM · [top]

[35] Posted by Levor
Thanks!
I’d say both were revolutionary reformers, (They started out trying to be ‘just reformers’, but the conservatives would have none of it).  Yet they both left in place much of the tradition that wasn’t counter to scripture, so in a way were more conservative than Sydney. 

It seems to me that Sydney is off on its own reformation, and like you, I think it contains the seeds of total destruction of order.

[53] Posted by Bo on 8-29-2010 at 08:47 PM · [top]

RE: “So what we have here is a disagreement about “theology” that is not fundamentally rooted in a different understanding of Scripture, but is instead rooted in “binding *actions and structures* based on Church tradition.” 

No—the disagreement about theology was detailed above in my comments—I won’t bother repeating it.  But again—Anglicans don’t make decisions solely based on whether something “is” or “is not” mentioned by Scripture.  So *your* assertion that somehow if something is not mentioned negatively in Scripture it therefore must be allowed does not have bearing for Anglicans.

RE: “Sydney is not demanding anything of anyone.”

Yes—neither are our Dear TEC Leaders.  ; > )

RE: “Yet people are quite willing to co-exist with it.  Why can you not co-exist with Sydney on the same terms?”

See above comments—already answered.

RE: “The obvious answer is that the issue isn’t theology, but rather the integrity of the organization. “

Well if that’s what you’d like to think—not really my place to try to convince you differently.  Of course . . . it doesn’t explain Sydney’s desperation.  ; > )  Face it—it’s theologically important to Sydney—very very important.  And it’s theologically important to the rest of us—very very important.

RE: “I do not see it generating the level of offense that Sydney incurs by daring to suggest Lay Presidency.”

You keep repeating yourself.  See above comments for answers.

I understand that Carl, himself, believes that Anglicans should allow lay administration of the Eucharist.

RE: “In the grand scheme of things, Lay Presidency is quite simply trivial compared to the Doctrine of Justification.”

Yes, according to Carl.  But the Anglican Communion does not think about allowing things based on “whether nearly naked liturgical dance is really all that important compared to the Doctrine of Justification.”  Again—I don’t try to convince Carl of things that Anglicans believe.  I merely point out why the discord.  Carl can claim that there should be no discord.  But then . . . there you are.

RE: “And that is why it may well happen, Sarah. Because of people like you.”

Hi MichaelA, I don’t think Sydney that immature and insecure—that would be an incredibly childish way to make decisions.  I’m sure they’ll make their decisions based on reasoned theological beliefs and pragmatic ecclesiology.  I’m confident in their maturity—though I have no idea how they’ll decide and I certainly do not support the theology behind the zeal for lay administration.

RE: “Too many Anglicans sit back and turn up their pretty noses instead of engaging with Sydney and persuading it that there are good reasons why it shouldn’t go this way.”

This is an odd comment.  I do not know how my pointing out the reality that there are many conservative evangelicals in the Anglican Communion “who are appalled, incensed, and wish to have *nothing to do with such a practice in any way*” has to do with turning up pretty noses.  Reality is reality.  It does not need to be anything but hard cold reality.  Also I do not personally have a pretty nose—I have a straight longish nose. 

RE: “So better that it does not go down the path of lay administration.”

That would be great—we’ll see what Sydney’s decisions are over the coming years.

[54] Posted by Sarah on 8-29-2010 at 08:53 PM · [top]

  Haven’t heard back from David O on that, but no doubt he has been more productively occupied ministry-wise these past days.

Somewhat wink Weekends tend to be busy…

Mark’s clarification is helpful. I guess there’s always a danger that we read the best (or, of course, worst) in a stated position or subconciously work to see if it will fit in with our framework.
My personal experience here in Sydney was hearing the Knox-Robinson model and understanding it to make sense of a lot of the Biblical data. Of course, it’s not the only Biblical language but its certainly helpful. If others are hearing a more polarised message coming out of Sydney then its either because the message is polarised or, as Mark points out, we do tend to jump to conclusions.

Also, I’m appreciative of Carl’s input. He is entirely right - we don’t jump up and down screaming about an unbiblical practice but now, it appears, we are right to protest something not proscribed in the Scriptures. Notwithstanding the plea about causing others to stumble, it is worth considering.

[55] Posted by David Ould on 8-29-2010 at 11:01 PM · [top]

Sarah unaccountably rejected my attempt to make her personally responsible for the actions of a diocese 10,000 miles from where she is located! Hopefully I haven’t put anyone’s nose out of joint…

Re your comment:

I’m sure they’ll make their decisions based on reasoned theological beliefs and pragmatic ecclesiology.

No doubt… But seriously, no human group is ever entirely rational, and I think it would be fair to say that most clergy and laity in Sydney would start from a position that Scripture doesn’t express a clear view about Presidency during Holy Communion. That wouldn’t normally matter, but in a situation where most of the rest of the Anglican Church in Australia seems to have abandoned reliance on 500 years of Reformed Anglican tradition and 2,000 years of general Christian tradition (i.e. by embracing the ordination of women to the priesthood and the episcopacy), there are a lot of Anglicans in Sydney who think “Well why should we be bothered with the tradition thing, then, if most other Anglicans don’t seem to care about it?”.

I am not saying this is a correct attitude let alone reasoned or theological sound, but its understandable (to me anyway).

On the other hand, I note that the (anglo-catholic) Diocese of the Murray down in South Australia seems to be holding firm against WO these days, so maybe that will help to form a wider base for resistance to liberal encroachment in the Australian church. That in turn may give Sydney-siders a better sense of orthodox Anglican identity, which has taken a harsh battering in Australia over the past two or three decades.

[56] Posted by MichaelA on 8-29-2010 at 11:04 PM · [top]

[54] Sarah

Yes—neither are our Dear TEC Leaders.  ; > )

TEC is consciously repudiating both Scripture and its authority.  Sydney on the other hand is questioning ... (duh duh duuuuh) ... “binding *actions and structures* based on Church tradition.”  I shall pause dramatically and let those who are feint of heart recover from the shock.  In the meantime, I will mention only that the difference between Scripture and church tradition is all the difference in the world.

No—the disagreement about theology was detailed above in my comments—I won’t bother repeating it.

Technically, you asserted a theological problem without ever justifying that there was a theological problem.  You said there were different understandings of the identity and nature of clergy without ever detailing what those different understandings were, or stating the origin of those different understandings.  You never specified the theological problems that would occur other than an inability to secure the Sacraments.  That is a practical issue attached to the office, and doesn’t have anything to do with different understandings of the priesthood.  Will the Sacraments become invalid?  Does a priest add something fundamental to the Sacrament?  If you say “Yes” you will need a better source of authority than church tradition.  If you say “No” then what is the theological issue at stake?  Finally, you have never explained why the radically different understanding of the priesthood held by ACs does not motivate you to assert similar theological concerns about the relationship of AC dioceses with the rest of the Communion - other than the assertion that Sydney is alone.  Is this the argument at its most basic essence?  Sydney must be stopped, because it is one.  All those ACs can proceed on just as before, because they are many. 

You keep repeating yourself.  See above comments for answers.

Perhaps because I don’t think the questions I have raised have been adequately answered.  If I had seen answers, I would have responded to them.  So I keep hoping.

I’m appreciative of Carl’s input. He is entirely right

See?  See?  What David Ould said.  Of course, now he has no choice but to admit that it’s called ‘soccer’ and not ‘football.’

carl

[57] Posted by carl on 8-30-2010 at 12:01 AM · [top]

[54] Sarah

I meant to respond to this as well but forgot.

I understand that Carl, himself, believes that Anglicans should allow lay administration of the Eucharist.

That overstates the case.  I said I find no biblical impediment to it.  Whether Syndey does this or not is up to them.  I would not be distressed if they said “We can’t do this because the Sacraments could not be properly secured from mis-use.”  What I do not understand is the hostility this idea generates.  It is not seen as just a bad idea.  It is seen as a threat.  Why?  Will the sky fall?  Will lightening strike?  Will the Earth be rent asunder?  What is the disaster that will befall Anglicanism if Syndey proceeds with this idea?  Many have said that Communion between Sydney and others will be impaired.  But that doesn’t answer my question.  Why should Lay Presidency impel them to sever relationships in the first place?  The only answer I have ever seen is “Tradition must be maintained for the sake of church order and discipline.”  Is that the whole of the answer?

carl

[58] Posted by carl on 8-30-2010 at 12:29 AM · [top]

Here is a little bit of fun for our American friends.

To put it in context, the liberal push for the Anglican Church in Australia to accept the ordination of women priests really got going in the late 1980s. For example, in 1988 the Archbishop of Melbourne and the Bishop of Canberra/Goulburn separately declared in public their intention to ordain women as priests, regardless of what General Synod decided, and regardless of the Canons.

Another step towards forcing the Australian church to accept ordination of women took place at the end of 1988 when an Australian woman was ordained by one Bishop John Shelby Spong in Newark, NJ. According to the web-site of the Movement for Ordination of Women (“MOW”), when asked why he was doing this, +Spong replied:

“I am quite prepared to meddle in the affairs of another country if it is to break the yoke of oppression by which 50 per cent of the people in the world are not permitted participation in the church”.

MOW these days likes to accuse Sydney of “boundary-crossing” and “going it alone”. Go figure…

A further little anecdote: by 1989 MOW thought they had won and it only remained to mop up the resistance. Thus they made the big mistake of letting their mask fall: At the MOW General Conference (held just before General Synod in 1989) the theme was: “Towards a Feminist Theology”. That let the cat out of the bag - any pretence that MOW was an organisation embracing evangelical or traditionalist Anglican values was gone.

Whilst MOW eventually got their legislation through (some years later), they found that opposition among the orthodox in all dioceses had hardened significantly. It was never to be a complete victory in Australia. God-willing, they will eventually lose everything they gained.

[59] Posted by MichaelA on 8-30-2010 at 12:34 AM · [top]

Another day, another Stand Firm identity.  I feel like I’m suffering MPD here.  This is Levor/Badders for whoever is following this and feeling whiplash.

#45 Tim,

I concur with what you’re saying very much in that comment.  As always, I’d want to observe that Moore is accountable to the Diocese, and in the Diocese Moore is the football for people’s fights about the nature of ministry and Diocesan priorities.  Sometimes what you see Moore doing is more to do with it’s core constituency - a “world city” that can see a point in partnering in, say, Alexandria, but not so much in its own region, because the whole region is just Sydney and some footnotes anyway.  (And I say that as a Brisbaner smile ).

Also, having been there and done that, being a Moore College lecturer is about triage.  You have more opportunities than you can possibly take up, so your “No to Yes ratio” to those opportunities is out of whack by one or two orders of magnitude, and most of you are there because you want to be good at your discipline - and that is a bottomless pit of time all on its own.  Often it’s not lack of care, it’s a battle against burnout.

But if you’ve got personal contacts with guys currently at Moore, yeah, going and hanging out with them will be good for you and good for them.  You might even get something more tangible out of it.  I think that’s a goer.

And I get that our historical strategy makes your task harder.  I’m genuinely sorry about that, for all the good that does, and for all I have any say in it anyway.  All I can offer is that I genuinely want some genuine movement between Dioceses, and if that was also adopted (as it sounds like it is in your part of the world in a couple of instances) then that should be enough for where your College is currently at.  When you’re starting small, you only need Bishops to say ‘we want some people not from our own College’ for the door to accommodate pretty well everyone you can offer.

#55 David,

My personal experience here in Sydney was hearing the Knox-Robinson model and understanding it to make sense of a lot of the Biblical data. Of course, it’s not the only Biblical language but its certainly helpful. If others are hearing a more polarised message coming out of Sydney then its either because the message is polarised or, as Mark points out, we do tend to jump to conclusions.

My take on things is a definite minority.  The rest of the faculty pretty well held convulsions when I mentioned over morning tea that I thought that some of N.T. Wright’s criticisms of the ‘Knox-Robinson’ model of ecclessiology were in the right ballpark.  (The world would end if I ever gave Wright an unqualified pass.)

But I think Peter O’Brien has modified the model, whether he’s aware of that or not.  In one of those books drawing on evangelical scholars from across the world that Carson edited, he contributes an essay on “church”.  And it looks like the classic model - careful look at the texts, looks at just the semantic range of the word ecclessia, the whole box and dice.  And the same conclusion - a church is a gathering.  No gathering, no church.

But what he then says is, “there’s a whole lot of other words and concepts the NT uses to describe the ‘corporate dimension of being Christian’ - such as body of Christ, temple of God, people of God etc.  And these are not descriptions of the gathering, they are descriptions of the corporate dimension of being Christian whether or not you are gathered.

And I think, with that, the whole classic Knox-Robinson model is brought screaming back to something like classic Reformed ecclesiology. 

The problem (and I think the same thing happens with David Peterson’s book on ‘sanctification’ where he shows that that word group is about position and status, not moral transformation) is that the Bible has a whole range of concepts and words to describe something - like life as a Christian, or the corporate dimension of being Christian.  At particular times and places Christians choose one word to head up the whole category, “Doctrine of church, Doctrine of sanctification” and the like.  And everything the Bible says about that category is talked about as being the “Doctrine of church”. 

Then some very clever Moore biblical studes boffin comes along (and that’s meant with genuine affection) and says, “but that’s got nothing to do with how ecclessia/sanctification is functioning in the texts”.  The word actually is getting at this….

And then comes the error.  What should happen is that we then go, “Okay, let’s pick a different word to head up the category, because ‘Church’ or ‘Sanctification’ isn’t broad enough to do the work (and when we talk to everyone else we’ll have to translate).” Or “We’ll keep using the same word, but keep in mind that it’s just a flag of convenience when used in theology to head up the category.”

But what tends to happen, is that because the word has changed, people think the whole category has been changed (because the category was tied to the word).  And so ‘temple’, ‘people’, ‘body’ all become descriptions of the gathering, when they’re not just that.  They’re descriptions of the fact that you and I are united, not by our gathering eschatologically in heaven, but by our union with Christ.

Amazing skills at reading texts combined at times with an inability to think our way out of a wet paper bag.  In my more mischevious moments I think that’s our great gift to the rest of the world smile.

But on the meaning of ‘ecclessia’ as what that word means in the texts, I think the Knox-Robinson is on the money.  O’Brien mentioned to me in passing that when he presented the paper to the group writing the book with Carson.  Everyone more-or-less slapped their heads and went, “Aha! That finally makes sense of what I’ve been seeing.”  Except, of course, the Presbyterians, who fought it tooth and nail.  My take on that, given my experience of evangelicalism.  The rest of the panel were biblical scholars primarily.  But presbyterians usually work from their systematics back to the text.  And they weren’t prepared to have ‘The Doctrine of the Church’ changed just because ecclessia means something different.

So, at the moment, I think both your experience and Tim’s can be a fair reading of what is going on.  For some it’s just strengthening a sense of the local congregation, but for others as they look out over the world they do not see a single people of God joined together by their union with Christ.  They see multiple manifestations of the eschatological gathering that then try and relate to each other.

That’s long winded, even for me, but since it’s come up, I’d rather try and shed some light on the issue than the continual ships passing in the night that I think is going on.

[60] Posted by Badders on 8-30-2010 at 05:08 AM · [top]

RE: “TEC is consciously repudiating both Scripture and its authority.”

You’re mixing analogies.  The answer to “we only want to do this thing in our diocese” is the same for Sydney as it is for TEC.  Important enough actions taken in one Province of the Anglican Communion affect all.  So it’s—again—a meaningless qualification to say “we won’t make others do it” when it’s about something important enough in the Anglican church.

RE: “Technically, you asserted a theological problem without ever justifying that there was a theological problem.”

Ah—I see that you “found” the theological difference that I described.  And you’re right—remember who you are talking with here.  Recall that I do not engage in theological argument [which would involve “**justifying** for Carl that there is a theological problem”] when 1) I myself have been thoroughly and thoughtfully convinced and 2) when someone else has been thoroughly and thoughtfully convinced otherwise and both’s foundational principles with regards to the potential debate have been demonstrated to be deeply opposed.  I’ve engaged in all the debates on this before in my youth—and they’re like turning the Buddhist prayer wheel. Given that neither you nor I will say anything new about Scripture or tradition, I don’t get involved in trying to convince others of changing their long-cherished and carefully thought through and maintained beliefs.  That applies to revisionists, Calvinists, socialists, evolution adorers, Anglican papists, and global warming afficionados.  As I’ve said before, in order for such *informed* thoughtful committed-to-a-belief people to change their opinions they’d need to experience conversion.  Argument is well beneath what is needed, and is just an enjoyable rhetorical bauble for some.  So recall that when I enter threads like this, I do so in order to clearly assert the differences where they exist.

RE: “In the meantime, I will mention only that the difference between Scripture and church tradition is all the difference in the world.”

Sure—except that Anglicans openly and happily believe that Church tradition is quite important and that *furthermore* theology is based on a nice combination of Scripture, tradition and reason, all three of which impact one another.

RE: “That overstates the case.  I said I find no biblical impediment to it.”

Right—and in Carl’s world that means “okay.”  But again, Anglicans do not determine our practices based solely on what is not literally forbidden in the Bible or what is not literally approved of in the Bible. 

While many Anglicans could find Scriptural support for the vast vast majority of members of the Anglican Communions vision of the priesthood [that is, as something more than seminary-educated CEO of a gathering of Christians] it is enough to point out to those who claim otherwise [that Scripture has nothing to say about this matter] that we value the overwhelming testimony of Church tradition to choose to run the Anglican Communion in this fashion.  That neatly gets us out of the debate from Scripture which is a rabbit trail.

[61] Posted by Sarah on 8-30-2010 at 07:06 AM · [top]

[61] Sarah

Awwwwwww.  You’re no fun.

That applies to revisionists, Calvinists, socialists, evolution adorers, Anglican papists, and global warming afficionados.

And don’t for one second think I failed to notice this list. 

carl

[62] Posted by carl on 8-30-2010 at 08:07 AM · [top]

First the fun bit:

Spake Levor at #36:

Seriously, have I left anything out there…you [Tim Harris] and Josh [Bovis]

Notice the italicised bit there everyone, they’re going to be important.  For at #39 Sarah Hey spake and answered the question:

Yes

And so now we’re in some kind of scene from Harry Potter and The Firm Stand (forthcoming):

Teacher: Now this question is for you, Tim Harris or Josh Bovis of House Ravenclaw.

Sarah Hey/Hermoine Granger:  Ooh!  Ooh! Miss!  Pick Me!  The right answer is…

Teacher: Was that question aimed at you?  Fifty points off Stand Firm/House Griffindor!

And I’ll give those points to the Diocese of Sydney/House Slytherin!

But wait! there’s more!

Sarah Hey at #39 again:

[she squeaked]

And now we’re in 1 Samuel 15 kind of territory (sort of, if you look at with your eyes screwed up in a pitch black room):

“You say you squeaked?  What then is this roaring of a lion in my ears?”

Sarah Hey squeak?  Pull the other one.

And then, my favourite, a The Princess Bride moment:

you *have* left something out

Levor/Vizzinni: I left something out?  Inconceivable!

Some person on Stand Firm who goes around being a killjoy by pointing out the completely obvious, probably, who would it be?  Ah yes…

Carl/Inigo Montoya:  That word you keep using Levor/Vizzinni, I do not think it means what you think it means…

A trifecta in a single sentence.  That really was fun.

[63] Posted by Badders on 8-30-2010 at 08:48 AM · [top]

Onto the actually important issues.  This is really long, two long connected comments I think.

Sarah:

I see no place for “if it’s not literally forbidden in the Bible we can do it” in Anglicanism

I think a lot of this question is going to hang on what sense of ‘in Anglicanism’ carries there.  Can I ask you to give me a substantial expansion of that phrase, Sarah?  Not a debating point statement, something a bit more reflective. 

In what sense do you mean ‘in Anglicanism’ in what sense of those words would you reject, and what senses might require more thought?

It seems to me that the issues with lay administration have to do with the chasm of understanding and difference between Sydney’s views of “what a priest is” [apparently a guy who has had a lot of nice training and education and is now the corporate CEO of a local organization called a “parish”—a lay person with a great education and parish leadership] and every other Anglican’s view of what a priest is

Okay.  If we assume that I reasonably fairly reflected a fair chunk of Luther’s view of ‘what a priest is’ in my #35, then I think Sydney’s view at this point is arguably Luther’s.  Do you think:

apparently a guy who has had a lot of nice training and education and is now the corporate CEO of a local organization called a “parish”-a lay person with a great education and parish leadership

Is that how you would describe Luther’s view of ministry to someone?  And do you think Luther’s view of ministry is completely unAnglican – which seems to be the argument?  Either seeing ministry as coming from office, or seeing it as coming from an ontological change in the person is Anglican.  But a view that bases it on the priesthood of all believers is absolutely antithetical to Anglicanism? 

At the moment, I think your responses to Carl can only work if that’s your position.  If that’s not your position, I need more information, because I can’t connect the dots yet.

The only reason I’m opining is that I just want to make certain that the views of people like me—certainly not Fulcrumites and not “open evo” and certainly not Sydney—are communicated.

Words are tricky things.  If you really meant ‘communicated’ in that sentence, then your behaviour doesn’t really make sense.  Neither here or your response to MichaelA in #54 where you blew off his concerns with a breezy expression of confidence in Sydney’s maturity.

If you want to ‘communicate’ a view – make sure that the other person really gets it - you don’t describe their view of ministry in a fairly provocative fashion that they wouldn’t really recognise as a fair description of what their view is.  You don’t just go ‘they’re mature adults and they’ll make a decision maturely’ and so don’t bend over backwards to make the medicine you’re offering as easy as possible to swallow.  Not when you have the kind of common sense you display every day on Stand Firm.  You know sinners need every possible bit of help to hear the truth and repent, and that other sinners can make that easier or harder by how they say things.

So I think what you meant there is not, ‘are communicated’ but ‘are forcibly expressed.’  And in that case, you have certainly expressed them.

But I don’t want Sydney to go ahead with lay presidency (so I don’t think there’s a chasm between you and me that requires me to convert before you and I can talk), and I still can’t quite get your objections such that I think I could do justice to them if I explained them to a third party.  I think Carl is right – you haven’t made it as clear as you think you have, ‘clear’ there meaning – some of us, who are not completely unreasonable, still don’t get what you’re saying and why. 

Now since I started writing this you’ve said,

So recall that when I enter threads like this, I do so in order to clearly assert the differences where they exist.

With a declaration that that’s because fundamental differences require conversion, and (I think implicitly) conversion doesn’t occur through reasoned argument.  It’s one of those fun positions.  I can’t see how anyone could pull you out of that view if it was wrong.  The very act of disagreeing with you there would mean that debate was pointless.  That doesn’t make it wrong, I just hope you’re right and conversions do regularly just happen.

However, given that is your approach, I’m not wanting to argue against your position.  I want information.  I think you’ve asserted that the differences exist.  You haven’t communicated to me what those differences are such that I’m confident I grasp them yet.  That’s what I’m chasing with what follows – I need more information.

I think Carl’s done some sterling heavy lifting in trying to flush that out, in the crossing swords way you two are so good at, let me try and less polemical approach and see if, one way or the other, your concern can be communicated.  Because I want to hear it.  I’ll take anything that might help persuade people not to go down this path.

So I’ll interact with some stuff you’ve said, but I’m not looking for a fight, and I’m not trying to push you off your view.  I’m hoping for some expansions in the areas I throw up concerns.

And yes—much of “Christian freedom” [sic, since this is left undefined] is often bound by “the traditions of men,” thank God.  I shudder if it were not.  That is certainly true within Anglicanism as we have given a quite prominent place to Church tradition in our accepted practices—again, thank God. [Of course, one man’s “Christian freedom” often means “liturgical dance.”]

When I read this, I’m not sure how you square it with a Reformational idea of the sufficiency of Scripture.  It reads as though you’re saying, “Yes the Bible doesn’t, in any sense, lead us to think that we shouldn’t do that.  But it’s a terrible thing to do!  Thank God we have something more than the Bible, so when the Bible doesn’t forbid something that needs to be forbidden, we can turn to that second source to make up for what the Bible omits.”

Now, that’s not an attack.  I don’t want a defence in return because I’m not accusing you of denying of the sufficiency of Scripture.  I hear you saying “I’m a conservative evangelical and an Anglican” and I read that, and what I’ve written is the question I then have.  Would you take the time to try and explain it to me?  Why doesn’t what you wrote have implications for the sufficiency of Scripture?

RE: “Given that you have already compromised on the greater issue of Alter Christus, why do you now demand fidelity on this lesser issue?”

They are both errors.  Why should we now compromise on the latter error even though we have compromised on the former?  Now Carl sounds like TEC and thedivorce.

This one is an eye of the beholder thing.  I can see your criticism of Carl.  But your argument seems also to resonate with the tendency of English Bishops to selectively enforce the rules on the books, not paying attention to the relative nature of the issues involved – cracking down on misdemeanours, and overlooking felonies. 

Carl’s basic point is, “Catholicism denies the gospel, Lay presidency makes good order harder.  Those two issues aren’t even remotely in the same ballpark for a conservative evangelical.”  I’m not sure I’ve gotten your answer for that yet.  I can see you think you’ve answered it.  But I haven’t gotten it.  Is it that, on this issue, you think that it’s not really about being conservative evangelical, but about being an Anglican? If so, in what way do you think that is relevant? That’s not trying to set you up, my suspicion at the moment is that that might the issue at stake here, at least in part.

These two quotes together worry me, in light of the one above, and I think Carl has put his finger on them too:

Sure—but the AC has the right and has claimed the right throughout its history of binding *actions and structures* based on Church tradition.

No substantial disagreement, but I don’t think the Elizabethan settlement was quite so bullish for binding practice on Church tradition like you’re saying.  I’m no expert, but I taught the Reformation for a couple of years, and this feels a bit anachronistic – Cranmer seems to have picked and chosen which bits he wanted a fair bit in light of the situation in England at the time and what he thought best expressed Scripture (that last clause is going to be important as well I think).  “Compatible with” tradition, and even “preserving the best of tradition,” I think is closer.  And only when tradition wasn’t obscuring the word of God and still worked in a contemporary context.  Even Hooker seems to have thought that Scripture+reason could nix, if you like, Scripture+tradition on a case by case situation.  (Scripture seems to have always been in play for Hooker, from commentaries I’ve seen on him, so it’d never be a straight ‘tradition vs reason’ fight).

Nonetheless, I think what you’ve said here is pretty important for this whole debate.  Tradition can fix actions and structures.  But look at what you’ve said later in the same comment:

to be continued…

[64] Posted by Badders on 8-30-2010 at 09:11 AM · [top]

concluding

You call it an issue of “organization”—Anglicans call it a theological chasm between Sydney notions of the identity and nature “clergy” and the rest of Anglicanism’s notions of the identity and nature of “clergy.”  That is a deep theological division—and the demonstration of that is not only the antipathy of Anglicans in general towards lay administration but Sydney itself’s fever for it.  Sydney knows that this is a very important theological issue—and their fervor for is a nice demonstration of that.

and

No Carl—again, this is not about “organization” it is about theology for both sides—both the one diocese that wishes to do Lay Administration and those who do not wish it at all.
The fact that we as conservative evangelical Anglicans within the Anglican Communion have accepted one theological error does not mean that we must accept the other.

Now, if these two sets of quotes – that the AC has the right of binding actions and structures based on tradition, and this one above – go together in a fairly direct way, then I think Carl is asking you a question I also want to ask.

It looks like you’re saying, “Anglicanism has a theology – a knowledge of God and its application to the life of the people of God that comes from somewhere other than the word of God.  That’s why we’re fighting this, because it’s theologically wrong.”  If that’s what you’re saying, I’m not sure I can map that onto either the English Reformation (in fact, I think the English Reformers would start muttering about ‘popery’ at that point) or contemporary conservative evangelicalism.

Even if you say, “Scripture plus tradition” as together being the single source of theology I think all the Reformers would have said “popery”. 

Have you just misspoken, is that what you’re saying and you think the Reformers shared your view, are the two sets of quotes addressing different issues or some fourth answer?

Is it your view that authentic Anglicanism or conservative evangelicalism has two sources for theology (working alongside each other or together)– the word of God and tradition?  And if you do, then was that not part of the Reformation’s quarrel with Catholicism?

So when we get here it feels like a perfect storm of either miscommunication or of Sydney actually being right about what’s going on:

Well if that’s what you’d like to think—not really my place to try to convince you differently.  Of course . . . it doesn’t explain Sydney’s desperation.  ; > )  Face it—it’s theologically important to Sydney—very very important.  And it’s theologically important to the rest of us—very very important.

I read this as either you’re saying:

1. The Lutheran view of basing ministry on the priesthood of all believers has no ground in Scripture, and that’s very, very important to us non-Sydney conservative evangelicals.

2. What Sydney is saying is “The Church must allow anything that Scripture does not explicitly (by text or implication from doctrine) forbid.”  And that’s non-Anglican and must be fought tenaciously.

3. What Sydney is saying is that in the Church only the Word of God is sceptre by which Christ rules his Church – only Scripture can be a source of theology and so bind conscience.  And while that is a ‘Protestant error’ it is one that cannot be tolerated within Anglicanism.

If it’s 1, I need some evidence – point me to something that shows me that Anglicanism has been a self-conscious rejection of Lutheranism at this point and that that’s part of the esse of Anglicanism.

If it’s 3, then I might have to support Sydney even though I think lay presidency isn’t a good move.  A bad move would be better than submitting to that view of Scripture.  I’d have to stop thinking of myself as following the Reformer’s lead if I went that way.

If it’s 2, I think you haven’t understood Sydney’s argument at all.  And I say that as someone who disagrees with it.

I’ll try and put their case again, because I’d like your (and Matt’s if he’s still around) take on the actual argument:

a) The theology and practice of the BCP and the Ordinal was an attempt to express in 16th Century England the gospel and the law in the concrete structures of the Church in light of the circumstances at the time, and drawing on the rich heritage of wisdom about how to do that that had gone before, and, as much as possible, preserving what was good in that tradition and still worked.  (I’d agree with all that as a statement of what Cranmer was doing).

b) Systems don’t stand still, they’re in dynamic equilibrium.  The introduction into Anglicanism of Anglo-Catholicism, which makes a Catholic understanding of priesthood the heart of Anglicanism’s effectiveness, and liberal-Catholicism, which acts as though any doctrine and moral teaching can be changed as long as the three-fold order is preserved untouched, changes how a priest only administering of Communion functions in its expression of an underlying theology.  Whereas in Cranmer’s day that restriction was able to function as an expression of an evangelical theology of ministry, now it doesn’t, because Anglicanism tolerated Anglo-Catholicism and liberalism and they now cease on something that was just a matter of order and make it again a matter of esse

The practice has to change to make the same point it used to make, that this is a Protestant and Reformed (maybe Lutheran a little bit smile ) communion. 

Yes, the Church can decide to say ‘only single priests, only give the cup to the laity, don’t eat meat in Lent.’ – on the basis of tradition it can bind practice and action, which all of those things were, none of them were doctrine.

But sometimes when it binds practice and action that practice and action functions to obscure the nature of how we relate to God.  And when that happens, no matter how hallowed the tradition, it must give way to the clear setting forth of what the Word of God says.  And so the Reformers did what you’re saying Sydney shouldn’t do, and, I think, did it for the same reasons that Sydney is arguing here.  And that reason is not “the Bible doesn’t forbid it so therefore we can do it.”

c) Scope was also given for different national churches to arrange their practice and order differently as more specific needs arose.  Where it is just a matter of form and not doctrine, the intention was to allow some freedom on a nation by nation basis.  And Sydney is saying, “This doesn’t overturn the theology of the BCP and Ordinal” (and I’ve indicated why I think this is right), and we are genuinely are facing a tricky problem here (and that’s also true, as different parts of the thread have canvassed).

I probably haven’t captured all of what needs to be said, it’s a comment in a thread.  But what you’re saying Sydney is arguing, I just don’t recognise it.  And that means I can’t really use your response either.

Does that change your response at all?  If so, what is it now and why?  If not, why not?

[65] Posted by Badders on 8-30-2010 at 09:20 AM · [top]

RE: “And don’t for one second think I failed to notice this list.”

Keep in mind that *I* also am in that list!  You also will not say anything new that will cause me to smite my forehead and say “my goodness, who knew that passage of scripture was there! Your argument has raised issues that I have never even conceived of before.”  So were my firmly held thoughtfully investigated opinions to change—it would also be through conversion, not through the chanted, Buddhist prayer wheel, rhetorical baubles.  ; > )

Hi Badders—I’m not interested in trying to convince anyone of the “lowest common denominator” theology of most of the Anglican Communion regarding the priesthood.  So I’m not going to debate it—I’ll just reassert with clarity what I’ve already asserted.  And I’m quite confident that you “get it”—you just don’t necessarily like it or agree with it, which is fine by me.

—“In Anglicanism” as I used it means “within the vast majority of doctrine held by informed leaders or laypeople in the Anglican Communion today.”

— If we assume that I reasonably fairly reflected a fair chunk of Luther’s view of ‘what a priest is’ in my #35 . . . “

I do not so assume.

RE: “. . . , then I think Sydney’s view at this point is arguably Luther’s.”

I’m sure that you do—I don’t.

RE: “Is that how you would describe Luther’s view of ministry to someone?”

Nope.

[rest of Luther rabbit trail remains unanswered—see above.]

RE: “I need more information, because I can’t connect the dots yet.”

I think you can connect the dots just fine.

RE: “If you really meant ‘communicated’ in that sentence, then your behaviour doesn’t really make sense.”

I’m satisfied that I’ve communicated exactly what I wished and nothing more.  While what I have communicated may inspire *further questions* what I have chosen to articulate is clear about what I’ve chosen to articulate.  There are conservative evangelical members of the Anglican Communion—me, for instance—who are conservative enough to not believe in WO and are appalled by the prospect of Lay Administration and believe it to be a dreadful idea.  I’m satisfied that that’s clear. 

RE: “The very act of disagreeing with you there would mean that debate was pointless.”

Yes—I rarely ever debate informed, thoughtful people who have made serious decisions based on foundational principles with which I do not agree.  Debate is pointless and interestingly enough I have commented and blogged for seven long years based on that assumption.  Very very rarely in those 7 years have I bothered to debate informed, thoughtful revisionists, for instance, other than to occasionally point out where they are not consistent.  Those sorts of debates [again, among informed, thoughtful people who have come to firm committed decisions] always come down to the foundations—at which point the ones who have a lot to do shrug and move on, and those who want to engage in the rhetorical bauble carry on. 

RE: “Carl’s basic point is, “Catholicism denies the gospel, Lay presidency makes good order harder.  Those two issues aren’t even remotely in the same ballpark for a conservative evangelical.”

That’s fine—there are plenty of things that “deny the gospel” which are not the topic of this thread.  Dragging in various things that deny the gospel into a thread about lay administration of the Eucharist is a pretty obvious tactic.  But it’s not one I’ll participate in.  I—and others—happily oppose lay administration without having to raise our hands and enter into battle about various other issues that have long been settled, either rightly or wrongly.  There are plenty of things I disagree with in *every church* some more gospel oriented than others.  My recognizing that doesn’t then make me say “well goodness, let’s give the Sydney obsession a pass!”

Regarding Sydney’s viewpoint being a deeply important theological viewpoint—that’s a pretty obvious assertion, since if it were merely a “minor issue of church order” Sydney wouldn’t be willing to rend the Communion over it.  Not even Sydney!

Thus it’s no use people saying “this is a trivial issue, let’s let Sydney do what it wants, since it’s not that important anyway.”  It’s important to Sydney—and it’s important to non-Sydneyites.  And it reveals the theological chasm between Sydney and the rest of the Communion regarding the nature of the clergy, the nature of the sacraments, and whether things should necessarily be allowed within the Anglican Communion if not forbidden by Scripture.  That doesn’t mean either side of the chasm are “bad” or “not Christians”—it’s just that the chasm exists, it’s important, and it has had and will have consequences.

Finally, I get the sense that you want to debate about various aspects of Anglican church history, or the Reformation, or anything else technical that can be grasped to work one’s way into a real argument, rather than an exchange of assertions of belief.  As most people know by now—it’s just not going to happen with me.  I don’t have any desire to convince you of my point of view, or to change your mind.  It does not bother me if you think me wrong or even think me unclear.

I’m confident that I’ve communicated what I believe—at least regarding this particular issue and the *assertions of others that I’ve decided to address*.  They are nicely summarized in Comment #39.  Though some might desire me to explain further why or flesh out the theology further, I just don’t feel the need for that, unless I wanted for some reason to try to convince others of the truth of my [or that of most of the AC’s] beliefs. 

At the end of the day, if Sydney does what its theology directs it to do, then the Communion will divide further, amongst the “conservatives” and amongst evangelicals.  I don’t know who in the Anglican Communion will support such a decision—*maybe maybe* Rwanda?  I don’t know other than that.

I’m not nearly as distressed over that possibility as I was—I think the Communion will be slowly shattering now over the coming decades into multiple sects, and there is not much that can be done, at this point, to stop it.  Perhaps Sydney will be able to align fully with the Gafcon entity.  Although I’m not confident that, given Sydney’s theology, the Gafcon entity won’t divide either.

[66] Posted by Sarah on 8-30-2010 at 12:13 PM · [top]

[66] Sarah

Keep in mind that *I* also am in that list!

  ... big surprise ...

[stunned silence]

...

Well then, let’s examine this rogue’s list.

Revisionists, Calvinists, socialists, evolution adorers, Anglican papists, and global warming afficionados

What position could Sarah possibly occupy?  She has on this very thread rejected Catholic views of the Sacrament, so we know she isn’t a Anglican papist.  We also know that one of the proudest moments in her life was being quoted by WFB, so that rules out socialist, and global warming afficionado.  Certainly no one would ever accuse her of being a revisionist, as the paper trail on SFIF will amply substantiate.  An evolutionist?  I don’t think so.  Which leaves only one possibility.  ONLY ONE POSSIBLE EXPLANATION.  The TRANSFORMATION is COMPLETE!  Sarah has FOUND her DESTINY!  Smaug has won the war of attrition, and Sarah has joined the Dark Side.  Please everyone.  Send her tulips in celebration.

carl

[67] Posted by carl on 8-30-2010 at 12:40 PM · [top]

Heh.

I meant the list of “those who will need to be converted” . . . the specific examples were just some ideas.

But it’s more likely that I am a revisionist, if I must be among the group of examples. 
; > )

After all I’ve proudly proclaimed my “moderation” on numerous occasions.  It is but one small step to “ranting heretic” from there!

[68] Posted by Sarah on 8-30-2010 at 12:43 PM · [top]

Okay Sarah, that’s fine.  It wasn’t an attempt to try and get you to argue something with me. 

I think David Ould knows me well enough to testify on my behalf, if he’s inclined to, that I don’t say things like “I can’t connect the dots” when I actually can.  I say what I think, I don’t play those kinds of games.  I take a fair bit of umbrage that you’ve implied that I’ve been disingenuous in how I’ve presented myself. 

You shed just a little bit of light for me by saying that you think I’ve fundamentally misunderstood Luther’s theology of ministry, and that’s helpful.  If you disagree with me at that point, and you think Luther’s view of ministry is like Calvin’s, then it’s no wonder you think what Sydney is saying is crazy talk.  So thank you for that.  That really was a valuable piece of the puzzle.

As for the rest of what you said? 

I had no interest in arguing with you.  I threw things in because that’s what I do and when it comes time to convince others those issues are all going to be in play.  I’m probably going to argue against Lay Presidency in a blog elsewhere that’ll likely be read by people in Sydney.  I was genuinely trying to see what your response to the view was.

It looks like you’re saying that you have no interest in trying to convince Sydney of doing something that you think is wrong.  All you want to do is to assert that this matters to you and people like you. Fine, you said it.  I agree with you that I heard that.

[69] Posted by Levor on 8-30-2010 at 12:52 PM · [top]

[64] Badders

Thank you for your kind words.  I appreciated your posts, and wish that Sarah had chosen to respond.  I did not and still do not understand the position she is implicitly defending.  There was some (infintesimally small, barely noticable, finite) probability that perhaps maybe I was hoping she would expose her position, so that I might ... examine it carefully.  But she would have none of it.  I was even prepared to stay completely out of the exchange just to learn her position.  Such is life.

But really now.  Me?  A polemicist?  Me?  Inconceivable!

carl

[70] Posted by carl on 8-30-2010 at 01:01 PM · [top]

Carl,

Thank you.  That means a lot.  I’m torn - I care about what’s happening to the orthodox (both evangelical and Catholic - ‘orthodox’ has a broad meaning for me) in the U.S.  But I’ve been increasingly uncomfortable about what I see on Stand Firm and trying to use that to get a glimpse into what it’s style of Christianity is like.

Sarah’s comment was really the last straw.  Anyone who treated someone else like that to the kind of comment that I thought wrote would be treated like a pariah in Sydney.  I’ll continue to pray that God shines his grace on you all, but I cannot commend you or your cause to others the way I once could.  I doubt I’ll be back.

[71] Posted by Levor on 8-30-2010 at 01:19 PM · [top]

RE: “It looks like you’re saying that you have no interest in trying to convince Sydney of doing something that you think is wrong.”

I do not flatter myself that that is possible—again, we don’t share some important foundational principles regarding clergy, sacraments, and more, and unless one or the other side *changes* those important foundational principles then it looks like the choice will be clear.

The only thing I could imagine someone doing might be to appeal to Sydney solely for pragmatic reasons—ie, “you will divide yourself from your conservative evangelical allies from other parts of the Communion”—but I am dubious of that possibility.

RE: “I cannot commend you or your cause to others the way I once could.”

That’s fine—many cannot, we know.  Certainly all of us have different goals—that is yet another sign of the real division within the Communion.

RE: “I doubt I’ll be back.”“

God’s peace to you then and enjoy your blogging adventures!  And thanks for the time you spent here.

[72] Posted by Sarah on 8-30-2010 at 03:43 PM · [top]

Levor/Badders,

Stick around. I’ll have a few things to write about this later on.

Blogging on Stand Firm is robust, but it can be very rewarding - don’t just walk out on it. Sarah and Carl and Bo need us to bring some vegemite perspective into their oh-so-quiet lives.

As I say, it is 9am in Sydney now, I have to go to a conference but I will respond in a couple of hours’ time. I hope you are still around.

[73] Posted by MichaelA on 8-30-2010 at 05:55 PM · [top]

Levor

I sent you a PM.  Just so you would know to watch for it.

carl

[74] Posted by carl on 8-30-2010 at 06:30 PM · [top]

Badders,

As I wrote above, I hope you stay on Stand Firm and contribute.

I wouldn’t get too worried about Sarah’s comments – you need to spot the subtleties. I was intrigued by her claim that her views are representative of “the vast vast majority of members of the Anglican Communions visions of the priesthood” – well, yes, *some* of her views are; but equally, some aren’t! Spotting the subtle change from one to the other is the fun bit.

I appreciate your academic skills, but I would (very respectfully) suggest that small bite-sized arguments are better on a blog.

“But I’ve been increasingly uncomfortable about what I see on Stand Firm and trying to use that to get a glimpse into what it’s style of Christianity is like.”

I don’t think “Stand Firm” has a style of Christianity, as such. It’s a blog with five moderators from different backgrounds. One well-known liberal blog refers to it as “the hive mind”, which is apt in a way.

Like you, my definition of “orthodox Anglican” is pretty broad – basically anyone who accepts scripture and the formularies as objective documents with an objective meaning, even if their interpretation differs from mine on some aspects. From that point of view, I classify each of the moderators on Stand Firm as firmly in the “orthodox Anglican” category.

If you can cope with the different views in Sydney synod, I am sure you can cope with the differing views on Stand Firm!

[75] Posted by MichaelA on 8-30-2010 at 08:24 PM · [top]

Sarah wrote at #66,

At the end of the day, if Sydney does what its theology directs it to do, then the Communion will divide further, amongst the “conservatives” and amongst evangelicals.  I don’t know who in the Anglican Communion will support such a decision—*maybe maybe* Rwanda?  I don’t know other than that.

Firstly, as one Sydney Anglican, I will reiterate that I don’t think that Sydney’s theology “directs it” towards Lay Administration. Most Sydney-ites (like a very large number of Anglicans in the Third World) would hold that the identity of the president of the Holy Communion service is not laid down in Scripture, therefore it’s a matter of tradition. But most Sydney Anglicans think the church should follow tradition unless there is a pressing need to change it – otherwise we would long ago have become petnecostal or even… *shudder* Baptists (hi, Bo)

However what is a “pressing need”? That is the $64 question.

30 years ago, I think the vast majority of Sydney Anglicans would never have considered changing to Lay Administration. However since a majority of Archbishops and Bishops in the Australian church have emphasised that church tradition is not important when considering women’s ordination, that has caused a slow but profound change in thinking within Sydney diocese. It is a sense that the Anglican church as a whole has abandoned its hold on tradition and therefore we must make our own way. Time for some scripture:

When all Israel saw that the king refused to listen to them, they answered the king:
    “What share do we have in David,
    what part in Jesse’s son?
    To your tents, O Israel!
    Look after your own house, O David!”
    So the Israelites went home. But as for the Israelites who were living in the towns of Judah, Rehoboam still ruled over them.
[1 Kings 12:16-17]

Secondly, I think you are kidding yourself if you think only Rwanda “maybe maybe” would support such a decision if Sydney made it. Most of the provinces in the developing world were founded by evangelical missionaries, similar to Sydney. Their fundamental premises tend to be the same. If Sydney changes, it is likely to have a profound effect on many provinces.

But this just reinforces my earlier point: It is important for the future of the Anglican Communion that Sydney does NOT choose lay administration. The potential is there to see a truly unified orthodox Communion embracing evangelicals, anglo-catholics, traditionalists, whatever. May the Lord do it.

[76] Posted by MichaelA on 8-30-2010 at 08:27 PM · [top]

Badders at #60,

“The rest of the panel were biblical scholars primarily.  But presbyterians usually work from their systematics back to the text.”

Hilarious, very apt. I could make the same comment about some of my fellow “calvinists” although of course not referring to ANYONE here on Stand Firm…

[77] Posted by MichaelA on 8-30-2010 at 08:28 PM · [top]

RE: “well, yes, *some* of her views are; but equally, some aren’t!  . . . “

Yes—and I obviously asserted in this particular thread that every single one of my views are “representative of the vast vast majority of members of the Anglican Communions’ . . . ”

Very subtly of course—in invisible ink—but it was clearly what I meant when I said “The vast vast majority of even conservative evangelical Anglicans within the Anglican Communion want nothing to do with lay administration”—those words “lay administration” obviously included all of my views, including the ones on liturgical dance, Roger Federer, expository preaching, Anglican choral music, and Shaker furniture . . .

As the discerning reader can well see.

[sniff, toss head]

[78] Posted by Sarah on 8-30-2010 at 08:31 PM · [top]

RE: “Secondly, I think you are kidding yourself if you think only Rwanda “maybe maybe” would support such a decision if Sydney made it.”

I do think you’re mistaken—the Sydney stance on lay administration was a discussion and concern with the Gafcon organization.

[79] Posted by Sarah on 8-30-2010 at 08:34 PM · [top]

Feeling suitably chastised, I will proceed with another post drafted earlier this morning…

To illuminate some of the thinking within Sydney, here are some quotes from ++Goodhew’s address to Sydney Synod in 1996:

1. ++Goodhew quoted with approval from ++Robinson’s ad clerum letter in 1992:

Archbishop Robinson asserted that should the Canon [permitting dioceses to use their own judgment on whether to ordain women to the priesthood] pass - and it did -

“The ACA will no longer be a credible “witness and keeper of holy writ” (Article 20), no longer unequivocally apostolic, catholic and reformed. Dioceses which do not conform will be islands of traditional Anglican order within a broader association. There will be much in common, but the capacity of the ACA to be the authentic representative of apostolic, catholic and reformed Christianity in this country will have ceased; it will have lost its vocation.”

2. ++Goodhew then said further in regard to lay administration:

I must confess that I am not greatly moved by the arguments advanced thus far under the headings of the “parity of Word and Sacrament”. As to the “priesthood of all believers”, it is my understanding, that while proclaiming this truth, Reformed Theology also asserted that it was proper to recognise distinctions in function and responsibility within the life of the church. As an ordained clergyman in this church for nearly 40 years, I have never thought that our church taught that any intrinsic superiority or sacerdotal capacity attached to those commissioned to be presbyters. If others teach it, or the uninstructed infer it, refutation and sound teaching appear to me to be the best way forward. My personal commitment to the notion of the “parity of Word and Sacrament” has never seemed to me to preclude the multiplication of those able and gifted to preach, beyond the number of those who may administer the sacraments. One is much more the result of God-given gifts and abilities, and blessed we are when their number is increased. The other has more to do with function and position. It was from Geneva rather than Rome that I learnt that Pastors teach, administer the sacraments and exercise church discipline, while Teachers teach but do not perform the other functions. Whether Calvin was correct in dividing the office of Pastor and Teacher in Ephesians 4 is a matter of debate. That he did so distinguish is beyond doubt. In Book 4 of the Institutes he wrote:

Next come pastors and teachers, whom the church can never go without. There is, I believe, this difference between them: teachers are not put in charge of discipline, or administering the sacraments, or warnings or exhortations, but only of Scriptural interpretation - to keep doctrine whole and pure among believers. But the pastoral office includes all these functions within itself.(6)

Diaconal “presidency” would solve problems for our women deacons functioning in situations like hospitals and institutions such as Deaconess House. It would also make them more employable in parishes I am told. Such a move would, I think, make the diaconate something different from what is envisaged in the Ordinal associated with the Book of Common Prayer. If women deacons preach and celebrate the Lord’s Supper, what strong arguments exist to preclude them from being ordained to the presbyterate? It might be argued that ‘priesting’ is with a view to the charge and care of a congregation, something which may not be appropriate for a woman. But that is not always the case. Could it with reason be asserted that since not all men who are ordained as priests are appointed to such a charge, women could be priests too, able to administer the sacraments and preach, but not be placed in charge of a parochial district? Further, since we are prepared to adjust our concept of ‘deaconing’ to allow those thus ordained to conduct the Lord’s Supper (a provision hardly contemplated in the Ordinal), is it not possible to envisage priests who are not appointed as Rectors of parishes but serve as members of parish teams? The issues are complex.

I apologise for the long post, but I think it is very apt to the subject raised by David Ould and it illustrates some of the breadth of opinion within Sydney Diocese on this issue.

Note ++Goodhew’s concerns about diaconal administration arise from a desire to keep out WO - he fears that permitting diaconal administration will in fact allow ordination of women to the priesthood “by the back door”. That is a concern I share.

It can also be seen that ++Goodhew based his opposition to diaconal administration firmly in reformed theology. Many in Sydney share that view.

[80] Posted by MichaelA on 8-30-2010 at 08:52 PM · [top]

I’m somewhat saddened by some of this thread. I get the sense that some would want to give the following to Sydney…

http://human3rror.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/courtesycard.jpg

That strikes me, as carl has noted, to be a big mistake.

Sydney, surely, is a friend of so many evangelicals across the Communion. Like all good friends sometimes they will make decisions that we don’t agree with but the friendship, hopefully, is grounded in something much deeper.

Allow me to put a flag in the ground: Sydney is one of the good guys. But I wonder if others actually see it that way? I have a number of good friends whom I disagree with on various issues but I’m not prepared to dismiss them on that basis since I know their hearts. I know the good place from which their (to my mind) mistakes come from. I know what they’re keen to protect.

Are people really ready to reject them without first asking themselves “what motivates them? Do I like that?” Without over-egging the pudding, I’d suggest we need to stop and look again and ask “what’s going on here?”

It’s fine to disagree and even criticise our friends. But to cast them off? And to do so when we’ll tolerate far worse errors elsewhere? Something has, surely, gone wrong when we do that.

[81] Posted by David Ould on 8-30-2010 at 10:06 PM · [top]

[Whisper Mode on]
[Tentative Mode on]
Romans 15:1 everyone.
[Whisper Mode off]
[Tentative Mode off]
Joshua+

[82] Posted by Josh Bovis on 8-30-2010 at 10:11 PM · [top]

[81] Posted by David Ould,
I’m not talking of casting anyone off the train - just questioning if they are changing cars. (Radical Reformers remain Christians wink )

Baptists dumped bishops (and found the conventions work as a means of holding larger areas together, for the most part, on ‘core issues, but that it is tough going), Sydney seems ready to dump Presbyters, going baptists one better (What means are present in the plan to protect order in distribution?).

If I understand it aright, they’ll not be needed for preaching, baptising, or administration of the Lord’s supper.  Is confirmation left to bishops still? (if so you’d need presbyters to ‘grow up’ into bishops….)

[83] Posted by Bo on 8-30-2010 at 10:36 PM · [top]

No Bo, I don’t think you understand it aright. Presbyters, in the Sydney model, are needed more than ever. They are distinguished from deacons (who can do all those things that you mention) in that they are “elders” and thus capable of oversight of a whole parish with all the extra complexities that brings.

One might even argue it is possibly a more Biblically-grounded understanding of the role. What it is actually doing is raising the bar for both deacons and presbyters and, of course, the whole concept of feeding people with the word of God.

[84] Posted by David Ould on 8-30-2010 at 10:42 PM · [top]

Maybe I’m off base, but it strikes me as as though Sydney may be trying to start some kind of new trend by toying with the idea of lay presidency.  I hope not.

[85] Posted by cennydd13 on 8-30-2010 at 11:08 PM · [top]

I’m reading the ‘new role’ of deacon as much like that of an old style elder (what you call raising the bar).  ‘Old style’ deacons free elders to do the teaching and leading of services (while deacons do one-on-one and table ministries), ‘new style’ the deacons can teach and lead services.  Does Sydney not intend to have deacons able to lead services (they’ll be able to do everything in a service save confirmation, right?).  The ‘new style’ presbyter (if the deacons lead in ‘small groups’ overseen by the presbyter) seems much like the very old style (Apostolic) presbyter/bishop - overseeing and confirming what these ‘worship leaders’ do in a area.  (the various house churches under a urban bishop)

It might be a more biblical model (except the names) than what is currently in use anywhere.  (I think a proper presbyter for these small groups would be better - call him pastor, priest, or elder.)

Where am I getting it wrong?

[86] Posted by Bo on 8-30-2010 at 11:14 PM · [top]

hi Bo,

Yes, that’s far closer to the reality. To all intents and purposes I do the same job as my boss - I teach the word of God in various formats, I tend to people, I administer the sacraments.
However, in all these things I am assisting him in his role to do them. He remains the presbyter/elder in charge and no-one is in any doubt as to the distinction between the two.

[87] Posted by David Ould on 8-30-2010 at 11:17 PM · [top]

Bo’s post contains a series of assumptions about Dio. Sydney. What irks me is that, as a Sydney lay person, I am not sure whether they are correct or not!

Could David, Badders and/or others clarify what our official position is in Sydney? I understand it to be as follows:

* Sydney Diocese does not practice or advocate lay administration of Holy Communion;

* Sydney recognises diaconal administration of Holy Communion;

* Diaconal administration of Holy Communion is only practiced in a few places within the diocese, and only when a priest is not available;

* The canon authorising diaconal administration of Holy Communion is currently before the Appellate Tribunal of the ACA. When and if it knocks it back, Sydney can decide what it wants to do (The Appellate Tribunal being generally regarded as a bunch of one-eye liberals anyway - whatever basis they decide the case on, it WON’T be on what scripture or tradition teaches).

* Baptism - I’m not sure where deacons stand on this, in Sydney. Like everyone else, we recognise that anyone can baptise in an emergency, but who is permitted to baptise when its not an emergency?

* Preaching - I’m not sure where Bo got this one from: so far as I am aware, preaching has never been restricted to priests in Anglican tradition. However, a priest is charged with the discipline of his congregation, so it is up to him who is *permitted* to preach.

Can someone confirm the official position?

[88] Posted by MichaelA on 8-30-2010 at 11:20 PM · [top]

Arrrgghhh, by “diaconal administration” above, I meant “diaconal presidency”. I.e. not assisting a priest to deliver communion, about which I believe there is no conflict.

Also, re “leading services”. As I understand it, in Sydney a Deacon or a member of the order of Readers can lead a non-communion service (e.g. morning or evening prayer) in the absence of a priest.

As always, it is the priest who must permit any such arrangement within the Parish.

[89] Posted by MichaelA on 8-30-2010 at 11:24 PM · [top]

I didn’t mean to imply that I thought ‘preaching’ was an expanded role for deacons - though I’ve never thought of it as the ‘usual practice’, I’ve actually been in SBC churches where a deacon preached while the ‘pastoral search committee’ was doing their thing, so preaching ‘in emergencies’ is not something I see as innovative.

It is my understanding that a separate ‘license’ is required for deacons to preach in the Anglican Community.  I did presume that the ‘new deacons’ wouldn’t need a license to preach if they didn’t need one to preside over communion, and would be a possible ‘normal condition’.  My bad.  I should have asked. 

Will deacons need a license to preach, and not need one to lead communion, or will a license be required for both, or neither?

[90] Posted by Bo on 8-30-2010 at 11:30 PM · [top]

[87] Posted by David Ould

This question is not one of jest:
Why not just be priested?  That way you’re ordained to the ministry you perform, the rector remains ‘priest in charge’, and you remain under his authority…..

[91] Posted by Bo on 8-30-2010 at 11:41 PM · [top]

RE: “Why not just be priested?”

Well that would ruin the whole point, Bo.  Being “priested” would imply somehow that “priests” can actually do different things from “laity” other than be the CEO of the parish.  Why would Sydney want to do that?

[92] Posted by Sarah on 8-30-2010 at 11:49 PM · [top]

To me it wouldn’t imply that priests ‘can’ do what others can’t - it would imply that priests ‘should do’ what others ‘should not’.  Well, to me it seems they ‘should not’.  The things ordination recognizes and regularizes their call to do…

Is that your understanding, that Sydney doesn’t wish to recognize that there are things one ‘can’ but ‘should not’ do in communal worship?

[93] Posted by Bo on 8-30-2010 at 11:57 PM · [top]

[92] Sarah wrote:

other than be the CEO of the parish.

Gosh, but I would love to respond to this.  Every cell in my body screams ‘strawman’ but who can tell?  As it stands, this phrase is little more than an ephemeral stream of words whose meaning is tantalizingly close and yet always just beyond the grasp - because their author refuses to provide any kind of detailed explanation for the concept they are intended to represent.  Poor me.  I am most miserable of all commenters.

And, no, I don’t just get it. 

poor miserable carl

[94] Posted by carl on 8-31-2010 at 12:13 AM · [top]

Bo,

Why on earth would you ask Sarah’s opinion about what occurs in Sydney? She only lives 10,000 miles away…

In her #92 she is of course being mischievous. Priests are distinctly different from laity in Sydney, as everywhere else.

Firstly, the point about a priest being “CEO of a parish” is fundamental to Anglican tradition and of course derives from pre-Reformation times. Have a look at my extract from Harry Goodhew’s speech above, where he talks about “parochial district”. As “parochus”, the parish priest is responsible for the good order and discipline of all ecclesiastical matters within his parish. 

Secondly, the Priest is responsible for the administration of the sacraments within his parish. Again, see Harry Goodhew’s speech extracted above. Even where sole diaconal administration is permitted for particular reasons within a parish (a practice which so far as I am aware has only been authorised on a few occasions in Sydney and also occurs elsewhere), the parochus remains responsible for it.

Thirdly, (subject to better legal knowledge from David, Badders, Obadiahslope or others), any priest is authorised to preside and administer Holy Communion. So far as I am aware, sole diaconal administration (as opposed to assisting a priest) remains an unusual exception in Sydney.

Fourthly, a priest as parochus has a preaching ministry and is expected to preach, but as noted above, this ministry has never been recognised in Anglicanism as restricted to the parochus. He can delegate it to his parochial vicars (who might be priests or deacons) or indeed to lay readers who have been licensed by the Bishop.

[95] Posted by MichaelA on 8-31-2010 at 12:19 AM · [top]

Could David, Badders and/or others clarify what our official position is in Sydney?

Sure, I’ll have a go. As others have pointed out - asking those who are here is going to give a more accurate picture.

I understand it to be as follows:

* Sydney Diocese does not practice or advocate lay administration of Holy Communion;

The Synod has recognised that there is no legal nor doctrinal impediment to lay administration but the ArchBishop has signalled clearly he will not grant a license to anyone to do the same.

* Sydney recognises diaconal administration of Holy Communion;

* Diaconal administration of Holy Communion is only practiced in a few places within the diocese, and only when a priest is not available;

No. It is increasingly widespread, and often when a presbyter (the term we prefer) is present. So, for example, I have regularly administered/presided over Communion in our parish, both in the presence and absence of the presbyter.

* The canon authorising diaconal administration of Holy Communion is currently before the Appellate Tribunal of the ACA. When and if it knocks it back, Sydney can decide what it wants to do (The Appellate Tribunal being generally regarded as a bunch of one-eye liberals anyway - whatever basis they decide the case on, it WON’T be on what scripture or tradition teaches).

No, all that has happened is that the Tribunal has been asked for an opinion (which is the extent of their “powers” anyway). They have issued the opinion which is the subject of the OP.

* Baptism - I’m not sure where deacons stand on this, in Sydney. Like everyone else, we recognise that anyone can baptise in an emergency, but who is permitted to baptise when its not an emergency?

Across Australia Deacons are permitted to baptise. Indeed, the fact that this is now permitted and is described as “assisting the priest in the administration of the sacraments” is part of the argument for diaconal administration of Communion - ie, if one is ok, why not the other?

* Preaching - I’m not sure where Bo got this one from: so far as I am aware, preaching has never been restricted to priests in Anglican tradition. However, a priest is charged with the discipline of his congregation, so it is up to him who is *permitted* to preach.

Yes. Technically a license from the bishop is also required but not always sought. You are correct, however, that this is very much up to the presbyter.

Hope that helps.

Now onto a few of the other comments…

Why not just be priested?  That way you’re ordained to the ministry you perform, the rector remains ‘priest in charge’, and you remain under his authority…..

Because by maintaining the distinction we are noting the difference between a “generalist” (for want of a better term) who teaches the word of God and administers the sacraments and the “elder” who has even greater responsibilities.

Ultimately, this is going to reflect slightly different views on the role of Deacon/Presbyter and, more importantly, what any ordained minister of the gospel is actually doing when they minister. Here in Sydney there is an extraordinarily high view of the role of the teacher of Scripture and the place of Scripture in the life of the church (which seems to me to be entirely consistent with the BCP). For others they will place the sacraments at different relative “positions” (again, for want of a better term).

Some of those who oppose Sydney’s position do so, I suggest, by themselves insisting on a high view of sacraments that is, in itself, not an originally Anglican position (or at least not the Anglicanism of the Elizabethan Settlement).

[96] Posted by David Ould on 8-31-2010 at 12:30 AM · [top]

Thanks David!

Mine ‘beef’ is that deacons don’t lead except in emergencies, if they lead as a matter of course, they should be presbyters.  Deacons were established to ‘take the minutia’ off the leaders, not as ‘generalist priests in all but nameand commission’.  My thought is “If Sydney wants ‘small group leaders’ they should develop them, and commission them as presbyters.”  Need more priests?  Ordain more qualified men to the role.

Perhaps my ‘baptist roots’ are showing, but goodness, rather than redefine deacon to include more than it has for lo these many centuries, why not just become pastors/elders/presbyters/priests and barrow from the presbyterians and have ‘general elders/presbyters’ and ‘specialist presbyters/elders’?  Seriously.

[97] Posted by Bo on 8-31-2010 at 12:40 AM · [top]

rather than redefine deacon to include more than it has for lo these many centuries, why not just become pastors/elders/presbyters/priests and barrow from the presbyterians and have ‘general elders/presbyters’ and ‘specialist presbyters/elders’? 

Point taken.

Let me point out one other issue that feeds into this.

Sydney does not ordain women to the presbyterate. As things stand currently, we have a large number of women who are (just as I am) permanent deacons. They all have fine ministries, teaching the word of God in ways that they believe are appropriate (and there is some breadth of opinion amongst them and the in the diocese over what appropriateness looks like).

So the current system highly values these women and the work that they do while also maintaining the integrity of the “no ordination” position wrt priesthood of women.

[98] Posted by David Ould on 8-31-2010 at 12:45 AM · [top]

So the current system highly values these women and the work that they do while also maintaining the integrity of the “no ordination” position wrt priesthood of women.

Not if deacons are really priests in deacon’s clothing they don’t.  They’re hiding behind titles. 

Does Sydney have women deacons who would be leading in communion, preaching, teaching, baptising as a matter of course should this pass?  How then could they claim ‘WO free’ except by reference to the titles?

[99] Posted by Bo on 8-31-2010 at 12:56 AM · [top]

David wrote:

No. It is increasingly widespread, and often when a presbyter (the term we prefer) is present. So, for example, I have regularly administered/presided over Communion in our parish, both in the presence and absence of the presbyter.

Okay, although I think only the latter is relevant to my question (i.e. a deacon presiding in the absence of a priest).

But obviously I was wrong about usage in my own diocese. Mind you, I’ve probably visited less than a dozen churches in it. I have to get out more…

The Synod has recognised that there is no legal nor doctrinal impediment to lay administration but the ArchBishop has signalled clearly he will not grant a license to anyone to do the same.

Fair enough, although I note a recent press release by Anglican Media Sydney which says bluntly:

“Lay administration is neither authorised nor sanctioned in the Diocese of Sydney”

http://www.sydneyanglicans.net/news/stories/tribunal_disagrees_with_diaconal_administration/

[100] Posted by MichaelA on 8-31-2010 at 01:02 AM · [top]

Not if deacons are really priests in deacon’s clothing they don’t.  They’re hiding behind titles. 

Like I said, it might stem from a different view of what it means to be “Priest”.

Sydney has women deacons. They may very well do a number of things, depending on the mind of the presbyter they are working under.
The “freedom” is from women being ordained presbyter - ie having leadership of a parish.

[101] Posted by David Ould on 8-31-2010 at 01:03 AM · [top]

<blockquote> The Synod has recognised that there is no legal nor doctrinal
impediment to lay administration but the ArchBishop has signalled clearly
he will not grant a license to anyone to do the same.

Fair enough, although I note a recent press release by Anglican Media
Sydney which says bluntly:

“Lay administration is neither authorised nor sanctioned in
the Diocese of Sydney”

http://www.sydneyanglicans.net/news/stories/tribunal_disagrees_with_diaconal_administration/
</blockquote>
yes. I think that’s consistent with what I’ve been saying.

We need to understand that both the Tribunal and Sydney Synod itself only issued “opinions” on this matter. No legislation has happened on either count.

[102] Posted by David Ould on 8-31-2010 at 01:05 AM · [top]

What would y’all do with someone like me who can not sit under a woman preaching, nor take communion from one? 

Would it not just as rightly meet the ‘no women leaders of parhishes’ requirement to admit to WO, and bar them from being rectors?

To this simple mind, if you’ve women ordained to lead in communion, preach, teach, and baptise, you’ve got WO.

[103] Posted by Bo on 8-31-2010 at 01:17 AM · [top]

RE: “Not if deacons are really priests in deacon’s clothing they don’t.”

But according—again—to Sydney’s definitions administering the sacraments and preaching don’t make people “priests in deacon’s clothing”—they have *utterly different definitions of all of these words* which serves a nice obscuring purpose anyway for their beliefs about the nature of clergy and laity.

David helpfully illustrates my point.

RE: “No. It is increasingly widespread, and often when a presbyter (the term we prefer) is present. So, for example, I have regularly administered/presided over Communion in our parish, both in the presence and absence of the presbyter.”

Yup.

RE: “Because by maintaining the distinction we are noting the difference between a “generalist” (for want of a better term) who teaches the word of God and administers the sacraments and the “elder” who has even greater responsibilities.”

Right—the “generalist” does not need to be ordained in order to preach and administer the sacraments, in Sydney’s world.  And the ordained guy has “even greater responsibilities”—like CEO of the parish.  Which is what distinguishes “clergy” from lay.

It’s good to see the same fleshed out description of what we’ve all discussed long long ago on other threads.

—In October 2008:
http://www.standfirminfaith.com/index.php/sf/page/17283/
—In November 2008:
http://www.standfirminfaith.com/index.php/sf/page/17991/
—And in November 2008:
http://www.standfirminfaith.com/index.php/sf/page/18014/
—And [surprise] in November 2008:
http://www.standfirminfaith.com/index.php/sf/page/18107/
—And in December 2008:
http://www.standfirminfaith.com/index.php/sf/page/18437/

And—quite stunningly—the comments all follow the same conversational course in those threads as this thread.  It’s helpful to go back and just review the end results of what people have already articulated previously, just as a refresher.

[104] Posted by Sarah on 8-31-2010 at 01:17 AM · [top]

It should be pointed out that-quite apart from Sydney-there is a significant rethink going on regarding the distinctive nature of the diaconate. Largely on biblical grounds, the diaconate is being re-established in a number of (largely Anglican) quarters as the public face of the church’s ordained ministry out in the community. This is especially true in the mode of ‘fresh expressions’ and church planting contexts. Diaconal ministry is the pioneering mode of ministry - ‘boundary riders of the church’, as one writer puts it.

Another way of expressing it is that deacons take the lead in the ‘church scattered’, with ministries out in the community at large, while presbyters are the pastor-leaders responsible for the ‘church gathered’. I’m too long out of Sydney to know whether there is any reflection of this in that quarter, but it is certainly featuring elsewhere in Australia, as well as the CoE and elsewhere. FWIW.

[105] Posted by Tim Harris on 8-31-2010 at 01:20 AM · [top]

What would y’all do with someone like me who can not sit under a woman
preaching, nor take communion from one?

I’d tell you that you would probably be happy in the majority of Sydney parishes where they would agree with you and you would find the practice in accordance.

Right—the “generalist” does not need to be ordained in order to preach
and administer the sacraments, in Sydney’s world.

On the contrary. Unless they are ordained they cannot administer the sacraments. Furthermore, most of the preaching is done by ordained clergy.

It would many of us to pay attention to the actual arguments being laid out - not simply the stereotypes nor our narrow reading of them.

[106] Posted by David Ould on 8-31-2010 at 01:28 AM · [top]

[106] Posted by David Ould,
I confess to a narrow reading of Scripture, I’m not sure what a narrow reading of arguments is.  From my narrow reading of scripture, men lead in communion, men preach, and men have authority in church.  Seems to me that Sydney is trying to hold the line on the last of those three, has already surrendered on the second, and is working towards surrender on the former, using ‘diaconal presidency’ as the means to surrender the first while keeping the third.

While at first I thought this was about a shortage of presbyters, I’m now thinking it is about word games to let women do everything except be rectors (by refusing to call them presbyters, and keeping rector as ‘presbyters only’).  I hope those ‘majority of parishes’ who would refuse women preachers and leaders of communion sees through the word game before it is too late, and Sydney turns out ‘assisting priests who are called deacons’ that do just those things.

[107] Posted by Bo on 8-31-2010 at 01:42 AM · [top]

RE: “Unless they are ordained they cannot administer the sacraments. Furthermore, most of the preaching is done by ordained clergy.”

Except that “ordination” is yet another word that means different things. . . yet another word that Sydney has redefined in order to play their game without the world seeing as clearly.  Now in Sydney terms “ordination” of a deacon means “he can do the sacraments and preach but he’s not a priest.”

It would be helpful if, rather than working so hard at obscuring reality, people would actually define their words so that those not “in the know” won’t be deceived.

No, a “Sydney Deacon” does not receive the priestly ordination that the rest of the Anglican Communion offers in order for that person to administer the sacraments.  The “Sydney Deacon” receives the “Sydney ordination” such that the “Deacon” is not a “priest” or “presbyter” but can still administer the sacraments.

All of which demonstrates—once more—just the thing I said back in 08:

It’s not about “convenience”—it’s about Sydney believing that the entire concept of “ordination/consecration/sacraments” as believed by most Anglicans around the world is WRONG and must be publicly repudiated.

[108] Posted by Sarah on 8-31-2010 at 01:46 AM · [top]

David (or Badders if he has forgiven us all yet) or anyone else from St Andrews (I seem to recall Obadiahslope is with the Anglican Media Service of Sydney):

Bo at #103 and #107 puts a pretty good question, methinks.

What’s the response from Moore/St Andrews? Is this going to just result in Womens Ordination by the backdoor (precisely the result that ++Goodhew feared)?

[109] Posted by MichaelA on 8-31-2010 at 02:03 AM · [top]

[105] Posted by Tim Harris,
As leaders in the charity work, and one-on-one assistance, that is a grand expression of a deacon’s role.  We are all called to be witnessess, and the witness of one who is ‘doing good’ and recognized as a servant in his local church is all the more effective - for the Lord and the local church.

[110] Posted by Bo on 8-31-2010 at 02:04 AM · [top]

Preaching - I’m not sure where Bo got this one from: so far as I am aware, preaching has never been restricted to priests in Anglican tradition

I think this is right though Archbishop Whitgift restricted preaching to priests and deacons in 1583 (see http://www.luminarium.org/encyclopedia/articles1583.htm). However the concern was not “catholic order” but rather upholding the 39 Articles, enforcing the use of the BCP and accepting the authority of bishops (and so the supremacy of the Monarch). In other words the focus was jurisdictional (the role of Bishops in licensing preachers) and doctrinal (attempting to promote the Reformation settlement and limit dissension).

The 1604 Canons don’t repeat this injunction. Nevertheless as far as I can see lay preaching in England was extremely uncommon (excepting perhaps some Oxford and Cambridge Colleges) until the twentieth century though the principal concerns were jurisdictional, doctrinal and educational - as one sees in the Methodist controversy - rather than sacramental.

Something like this seems intended by Article XXIII of the Thirty Nine Articles, though it could and has been read like Archbishop Whitgift’s instruction to limit such ministry to those ordained:

It is not lawful for any man to take upon him the office of public preaching, or ministering the Sacraments in the Congregation, before he be lawfully called, and sent to execute the same. And those we ought to judge lawfully called and sent, which be chosen and called to this work by men who have public authority given unto them in the Congregation, to call and send Ministers into the Lord’s vineyard.

This may all seem irrelevant but I think, disregarding the prudence of proposing diaconal administration, the appropriate reformation question then for the Sydney folks is: who has appropriate jurisdiction to decide on the proposal?

[111] Posted by driver8 on 8-31-2010 at 02:06 AM · [top]

Driver8,
Preaching is one of the things priests do as a function of the office .  Any man can by license , but priests are ‘licensed by ordination’.  You might wish to read my mea culpa, ‘clarification’, and additional question at 90 above.

[112] Posted by Bo on 8-31-2010 at 02:23 AM · [top]

At #110 I asked whether anyone from Moore or St Andrews can explain why the current Sydney policy towards deacons is not really “WO by stealth”?

I would also ask: How precisely does a deacon get the authority to administer Holy Communion? As far as I can see, the 2008 Motion before Sydney Synod did not have any legislative clout (nor did its promoters allege that it did). So that Motion, despite the publicity given to it by Sarah and others, didn’t actually do anything.

So how is that any deacon in Synod currently has power to celebrate Holy Communion?

This is not a rhetorical question. I suspect that whatever has enabled this to happen is not anything to do with Sydney at all, but rather that it stems from changes made in the past by the Australian Synod (cutting ties with certain CofE legislation). I would like to get to the bottom of this.

[113] Posted by MichaelA on 8-31-2010 at 02:26 AM · [top]

Thus Sydney’s patten of ministry is one that, in fact, differs from that in effect in the Reformation Church of England. Men were ordained as priests who did not have the cure of souls (e.g. curates) and outside of Oxford and Cambridge universities there were almost none who ministered as permanent deacons.

This isn’t to say that the Reforming generation would have an objection in principle to such a pattern. (Though a good few later Anglicans would).

Nevertheless the question of who has the jurisdiction to take such a decision is a real one from a reformed point of view. Here the English reformation will not provide a ready answer since they agreed it was a power that theologically belongs to the godly Monarch in Parliament. In the absence of such (!), ought it to be a congregational matter, an episcopal matter, a Provincial matter, a matter for the entire Communion (if Sydney sees the Communion as a church) etc.

[114] Posted by driver8 on 8-31-2010 at 02:33 AM · [top]

Australia still has a Godly Monarch.
Getting past her ministers would be the hurdle. ;-\

[115] Posted by Bo on 8-31-2010 at 02:48 AM · [top]

#112 In the COE currently priests and deacons are licensed (and can have their licenses removed) in the same way. That is, one is ordained and licensed by a bishop. So there are priests who lack episcopal license for one reason or another.

In the past, there were priests with the cure of souls (that is, in charge of parishes) who were not licensed by their Bishop to preach (presumably because of their lack of ability). The Canons instructed them to read “plainly and aptly (without glossing or adding)” from the Homilies (Canon 49, 1604 Canons) and to procure, at least once a month, if he could afford it, a sermon from a licensed preacher (Canon 46, 1604 Canons).

[116] Posted by driver8 on 8-31-2010 at 02:49 AM · [top]

#115 There’s your answer. Petition the Governor-General.

[117] Posted by driver8 on 8-31-2010 at 02:52 AM · [top]

Well,
I guess I sit corrected.  I’d never heard of a priest needing a license to preach, but then, my ignorance knows few bounds….

[118] Posted by Bo on 8-31-2010 at 02:57 AM · [top]

I hope a Sydney “insider” (i.e. more inside than me) can respond to my queries at #113. I’m signing off for the evening but will check again in the morning.

[119] Posted by MichaelA on 8-31-2010 at 03:17 AM · [top]

They normally do go together because it is the responsibility of the bishop to check that you are fit for ordination before ordaining you. So, it’s his job in theory to make sure you can preach (a job he normally delegates to the seminary). But they are in principle separable at least in the COE. When you move dioceses in England your license from your old bishop is cancelled and you receive a new one from your new bishop. Occasionally, removing the license to preach, has been used in the past as a kind of disciplinary measure for particularly troublesome and/or inept parish priests.

I would guess, though I don’t know, that this was simply inherited from the pre-Reformation church. So that the implicit theology - that ordination confers something enduring but that exercise of ordained ministry requires episcopal permission - is perhaps slightly in tension with a functionalist account of ordained ministry. Neverthless, bishops are never hugely keen to give up jurisdiction and it suited the reformed COE bishops to continue to exercise authority over who preached and officiated.

[120] Posted by driver8 on 8-31-2010 at 03:20 AM · [top]

  From my narrow reading of scripture, men lead in communion, men preach, and men have authority in church.  Seems to me that Sydney is trying to hold the line on the last of those three, has already surrendered on the second, and is working towards surrender on the former, using ‘diaconal presidency’ as the means to surrender the first while keeping the third.

Well, I think I want to make a number of observations.

1. there is no instruction in Scripture about who should lead in communion.
2. there are plenty of places where it would be perfectly appropriate for a woman to preach. In particular it would be quite right for her to preach to a group of women.

Almost immediately, then, it becomes clear that (at least according to how we have ordered things in Sydney) it is fine for a woman to be made a deacon, but not a presbyter.

MichaelA

So how is that any deacon in Synod currently has power to celebrate Holy Communion?

Michael, this is laid out in the OP (see section 29 in the quotes). Sydney Synod expressed the opinion that, under current legislation, there was no impediment to deacons presiding.

[121] Posted by David Ould on 8-31-2010 at 03:51 AM · [top]

Again, thanks.

Reading the homilies would be, to me, so nearly the same as preaching as to make no real difference (though I see the technical difference: the words aren’t the readers ...)

[122] Posted by Bo on 8-31-2010 at 03:55 AM · [top]

Mr. Ould,

...
1. there is no instruction in Scripture about who should lead in communion.
2. there are plenty of places where it would be perfectly appropriate for a woman to preach. In particular it would be quite right for her to preach to a group of women.
...

1) Really, you can do a ‘silent communion’? (if not, men are to lead, well, if any men are present men are to lead)
2) I’d be fine with a woman licensed to preach to women (that’d be an interesting license, but would cause no doctrinal issues).  One could use St. Paul’s instruction to ‘elder women’ as text in support!

It immediately becomes clear that what y’all are pressing for is an innovation.  One not closely tied to the content of the text of scripture, and rather loosely tied to the silence of that text.

[123] Posted by Bo on 8-31-2010 at 04:03 AM · [top]

Mr. Ould,
If the troubles are women’s prisons and the like, a deaconess can bring the elements to the faithful, a woman could read the homilies (or one licensed to preach to women could preach, I suppose), all with no redefinitions required.  Anyone can baptise (in a pinch).


Seems to me that a solution to all the problems that ‘deacons leading communion’ solves (except how to make it possible for women to function as priests without calling them that) are already solved. 

What problem is Sydney actually trying to solve with this innovative solution?

[124] Posted by Bo on 8-31-2010 at 04:39 AM · [top]

Mr. Ould,
...
1. there is no instruction in Scripture about who should lead in communion.
2. there are plenty of places where it would be perfectly appropriate for a woman to preach. In particular it would be quite right for her to preach to a group of women.
...

1) Really, you can do a ‘silent communion’? (if not, men are to lead, well, if any men are present men are to lead)

With the greatest respect, that’s not the point that I made. No Communion is silent and yes, if women are present then I agree that a man should lead - but what if only women are present? So leading at Communion is not, in and of itself, a male-only thing.

2) I’d be fine with a woman licensed to preach to women (that’d be an interesting license, but would cause no doctrinal issues).  One could use St. Paul’s instruction to ‘elder women’ as text in support!

Quite. As I understand it the ArchBishop here has taken that view that while he himself does not think women should preach to men, he is not going to block the practice. As it happens I don’t think it is widespread here. It doesn’t happen because of conviction, not because it is enforced.

It immediately becomes clear that what y’all are pressing for is an innovation.  One not closely tied to the content of the text of scripture, and rather loosely tied to the silence of that text.

Well, with the greatest respect I still don’t see the Scriptural argument and I hope my brief answer is helpful in this regard. FWIW I think you’ll find that the innovation in Anglican circles is the more sacerdotal view of the presbyterate.

[125] Posted by David Ould on 8-31-2010 at 04:42 AM · [top]

Anyone can baptise (in a pinch)

I agree with you (if I understand you correctly), but I’m intrigued why you then make such a distinction in administration of sacraments. Again, I don’t see any Scriptural reason why you are elevating the Communion in one way .

[126] Posted by David Ould on 8-31-2010 at 04:45 AM · [top]

What problem is Sydney actually trying to solve with this innovative solution?

Again, I question that it is innovative. The problem being addressed, amongst others, is the overly sacerdotal (and unBiblical) view that only a “priest” can administer Communion but both the deacon and priest/presbyter can preach. It raises sacrament above word in a way never intended by Cranmer.

[127] Posted by David Ould on 8-31-2010 at 04:47 AM · [top]

Mr. Ould, No one dies from improperly being baptised, but they do from taking the Lord’s Supper unworthily.  The precautions should be higher on something that brings death than on something just gets one wet. 

To deny the communion to those one knows to be unrepentant is the duty of the church and the one leading communion. 

To try the preaching against scripture is the duty of the hearer.

You question that its ‘innovative’?  Seriously?  You don’t see turning deacons lose with the responsibility of leading in communion as ‘innovative’?  Where in the history of the church has such been the practise?

[128] Posted by Bo on 8-31-2010 at 04:59 AM · [top]

Mr. Ould, No one dies from improperly being baptised, but they do from taking the Lord’s Supper unworthily.  The precautions should be higher on something that brings death than on something just gets one wet.

Again, I quite agree. But Paul, in 1Cor. 11, has the unworthiness of the recipient in mind where they do not (in the words of v29) “recognise the body of the Lord”. He is not addressing who “administers” the Communion. He doesn’t actually mention that person at all (if there even is a specific person).

To deny the communion to those one knows to be unrepentant is the duty of the church and the one leading communion.

I agree. Which is why there is the exhortation in the BCP. What I don’t understand is how this is an argument about the gender of the president. It feels like you are assuming something in your argument but not communicating it. Since I apparently don’t share your assumption I am not quite getting what you’re saying.

To try the preaching against scripture is the duty of the hearer.

Quite possibly. Again, I honestly don’t get what this has to do with the argument.

You question that its ‘innovative’?  Seriously?  You don’t see turning deacons lose with the responsibility of leading in communion as ‘innovative’?  Where in the history of the church has such been the practise?

I question your description of “turning loose”. This is all in good order. As for deacons presiding, its dealt with in the detailed argument linked in the OP.

[129] Posted by David Ould on 8-31-2010 at 05:04 AM · [top]

Sydney will do what Sydney will do. 

But they’re right, though - there is no New Testament prohibition against allowing a licensed dog catcher to tie pieces of string around other people’s fingers. 

Just as there is no New Testament prohibition against blessing two or more Christian men, in a moving ceremony where they promise to have anal intercourse only with one another for as long as they love one another. 

Oh wait.  Let’s “study” it some more.  And then “dialogue” about it, while we “live into the tension.”

[130] Posted by J Eppinga on 8-31-2010 at 05:11 AM · [top]

To deny the communion to those one knows to be unrepentant is the duty of the church and the one leading communion.

I agree. Which is why there is the exhortation in the BCP. What I don’t understand is how this is an argument about the gender of the president. It feels like you are assuming something in your argument but not communicating it. Since I apparently don’t share your assumption I am not quite getting what you’re saying.

To deny communion requires an exercise of authority - something not associated with deacons.  Presbyters have authority in the local church, bishops in the larger.  Such authority is denied to women (over men).

The point of the preaching being tried by the hearer is that the duty lies with the hearer, where with the bread and cup it lies with the church.  Laymen can preach, as laymen are to try the preaching against scripture.  Denial of communion is the one means of discipline for the unrepentant layman - that is something done with the authority of the church, not something a layman does on his own.

[131] Posted by Bo on 8-31-2010 at 05:19 AM · [top]

The point of the preaching being tried by the hearer is that the duty lies with the hearer, where with the bread and cup it lies with the church.  Laymen can preach, as laymen are to try the preaching against scripture.  Denial of communion is the one means of discipline for the unrepentant layman - that is something done with the authority of the church, not something a layman does on his own.

It is done, ultimately, by the authority of Scripture. This is where you and I obviously disagree. The church is vehicle by which the discipline is executed by the authority lies in the Scripture. And I submit that the male deacon is equally able to exercise that authority.
Indeed, were a female deacon to (correctly) point out from the Scriptures to a man that he was unrepentant and therefore could not communicate, you and I would agree, surely, that she was right in doing so.

[132] Posted by David Ould on 8-31-2010 at 05:29 AM · [top]

Where is the scripture that supports deacons in authority? 

I would not agree that a women thinking to exercise authority over a man was ‘correct’ in doing so.  I would say that her duty would be to inform the one leading communion of her concerns, and for him to investigate and determine the proper course of actions.

[133] Posted by Bo on 8-31-2010 at 05:36 AM · [top]

Bo I get the sense that we’re rapidly plunging off-topic. I originally wrote this piece to point out the glaring inconsistencies in the Australian Tribunal’s opinion on this issue and the consecration of women.

I fear that the topic in general, however, always gets distracted. We debate the issue without properly addressing the underlying assumptions that lead various parties to their different conclusions. Dialogue won’t progress much further (at least, it appears from here) unless those who disagree with Sydney make a better attempt to listen to the fundamental arguments being made before they engage with the application of those arguments.

Please don’t hear this as a dismissal of what you’re saying. The more you write, the more I understand what your basic assumptions are that are driving your position. Its just that I repeatedly get the feeling here that others feel unable to go to that same level of investigation with Sydney.

The sadness of all this, at least to me, is that Sydney gets painted as a reactionary dangerous enemy. Whereas I would encourage others that she is, indeed, a real friend to the global orthodox, if only some would look past the different clothes she wears and seek to understand why.

[134] Posted by David Ould on 8-31-2010 at 07:03 AM · [top]

David Ould wrote at #125,

“FWIW I think you’ll find that the innovation in Anglican circles is the more sacerdotal view of the presbyterate.”

No doubt. However, since I am a calvinist Sydney Anglican, that is irrelevant to me.

The problem being addressed, amongst others, is the overly sacerdotal (and unBiblical) view that only a “priest” can administer Communion but both the deacon and priest/presbyter can preach. It raises sacrament above word in a way never intended by Cranmer.

Why do you accuse Cranmer and Calvin of being “overly sacerdotal (and unBiblical)”? Because that IS what you are doing. Both believed that deacons could preach (naturally enough, since the Scriptures specifically so teach). Both also believed that pastors/elders administered the sacraments and deacons did not.

If you turn to the Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book IV, Chapter III, sections 6-10 you will find it all laid out by Calvin. It is clear that he firmly believed that deacons do not administer the sacraments.

As for Cranmer, have a look at his Ordinal. The 1552 version states:

“It perteyneth to the office of a Deacon to assiste the Prieste in devine service, and speciallye when he ministreth the holye Communion, and helpe him in distribucion thereof, and to reade holye scriptures and Homelies in the congregacion, and instructe the youth in the Cathechisme, to Baptise and preache yf he be commaunded by the Bisshop. And further more, it is his office to searche for the sicke, poore, and impotente people of the parishe”

I am glad to see that “impotente people” are cared for, although I hope it is a service I never have to use.

But note the clear teaching: Deacons are to preach, and to assist a priest with Holy Communion, but no mention of them conducting it themselves.

Whereas in the Ordinal we read this admonition to a new priest:

“TAKE thou aucthoritie to preache the word of god, and to minister the holy Sacramentes in thys congregacion, where thou shalt be so appointed.”

(Note the last phrase, Sarah: CEO of his parish!)

If anyone is teaching that it is “sacerdotal” to permit deacons to preach but not administer communion, that person is accusing Calvin and Cranmer of being sacerdotal. You should tell them to go back and study their church history (I do not address this last remark at David, but at certain other people in Dio. Sydney).

[135] Posted by MichaelA on 8-31-2010 at 07:09 AM · [top]

While I have got (stolen) the floor, I should add that Calvin’s view of female deacons in the passage I cited above is well worth reading. From scripture, he concluded that their office was quite different in nature to that of male deacons.

[136] Posted by MichaelA on 8-31-2010 at 07:18 AM · [top]

Mr. Ould,
Perhaps we are going off topic, but then that happens here.  Should I not expect the scriptural support for the innovation of deacons with authority?

[137] Posted by Bo on 8-31-2010 at 07:24 AM · [top]

“Live into the tension.”  Hmm, that’s a saying first attributed to +Frank Tracy Griswold, isn’t it?  Doesn’t make sense to me, though.  A purely Griswoldian invention….just as the ‘continuing Indaba’ is a KJS smoke and mirrors thing.

[138] Posted by cennydd13 on 8-31-2010 at 10:18 AM · [top]

After reading this longish thread (always interesting to see which issues receive just a few comments here, and which end up novel-length), I find I have a question that is not so much theological as ecclesial.

Its theological content aside—difficult to manage, given the nature of TECs changes!—one of the major condemnations of TEC was that it repeatedly (chose/chooses/will- undoubtedly-continue-to-choose) to make unilateral changes without the agreement of the rest of the Anglican Communion—whether when ordaining women to the sacramental ministry or ordaining “practicing” homosexuals, or opening the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony to same-sex couples, and then TEC’s General Convention telling the rest of the Anglican Communion “The Holy Spirit has moved us to do this New Thing—we welcome you to join us. But if not, we’re going to do it anyway.” [At least once, I believe, they voted such a statement at the same Convention and possibly the same day they passed a motion condemning Pres. George W. Bush for saying that the US was going to invade Iraq because of Saddam’s WMDs, and asking the UN to join forces; ‘but if not, we’re going to do it anyway’. TEC has little humor (some of the PB’s miters notwithstanding), and has no sense of irony at all.]

[Incidentally, I can’t believe that a former US President could be the person referred to when Miss Sarah was quoted as saying “TEC leadership is like an incompetent “Type B” legacy kid running a baseball club”... one who when on to say to the UN something like, ‘I’m a foot; you’re a hand: I have no need of you’, as TEC has said to the Communion as a whole. I mean, I can think of one former US President who was a legacy kid and once owned a baseball team, but I just can’t believe Miss Sarah was going there…]

While the content of the unilateral decisions being made is far different, from a purely ecclesial point of view there seem to be some uncomfortably close parallels between TEC’s actions and those proposed by the Diocese of Sydney.  The changes in the roles of clergy, and particularly regarding the ordained diaconate, would place Sydney in a position no less at odds with the Anglican Communion than is TEC: there is no other member Church in the Communion at which a deacon may preside at/administer the Eucharist.

I am not right now arguing for or against changing who may celebrate (Cranmer’s word) the Lord’s Supper (still Cranmer’s words). But, from an ecclesiological point of view, having deacons preside at the Eucharist is not part of the Anglican tradition, nor of the pre-Reformation tradition of the Church in England—so far as I know, in all of Christendom it is unique to the Diocese of Sydney. If it is something that the rest of the Communion does not accept, is that not itself a problem for a Church which considers itself part of the Body of Christ, and not some separate thing defined by man-made boundaries?

Can one diocese change the integral meaning (I’m avoiding words like “ontological”, just for Carl) of diaconal ordination, given that a deacon is ordained to the Body of Christ, albeit with responsibility to a single diocesan?

I was ordained to the Anglican priesthood in the US and as a member of TEC: when I became a member of the Igreja Lusitana (Comunhão Anglicana) of Portugal, I was not re-ordained. When, as a Navy chaplain with the Marines in Okinawa, I was licensed by the Okinawan Diocese of the Nippon Seiko Kai because I was going to be there for three years (licensing is not mandatory for chaplains, as long as they function on base or within the military setting—I was the first Anglican military chaplain to request a license in 50 years), but I certainly wasn’t “re-ordained”.

When I was assigned to a ship, I celebrated or concelebrated the Eucharist aboard ship and at Anglican chaplaincies or churches in Hong Kong, Singapore, Dubai and Bahrain, and even in Perth without being re-ordained or even needing to be licensed, as it was a ‘one-shot, in port for a few days visit because I was a priest of the Anglican Communion—I was ‘at home’ whatever country I was in, because the Body of Christ isn’t about our human separations. As I used to tell my (few) Anglican sailors that they had more in common with a Chinese Anglican than with the agnostic shipmate he knew since Boot Camp, because what he shared with the Chinese Christian was literally ‘infinitely’ more than what he shared with the guy who spoke the same language and ate cheeseburgers and watched baseball… but didn’t really care if God was real one way or another. [I also celebrated the Mass in Sydney—probably the first time the Eucharist had been celebrated by a priest facing the altar against the wall, together with his congregation, with the priest in cassock, amice, chasuble and maniple, with the altar against the wall, in decades… but I was aboard ship, and the altar placement had nothing to do with my churchmanship—everything on board was bolted down!]

Where is all this is going? It seems, from an ecclesiological point of view, that if the Diocese of Sydney has decided that deacons can function sacramentally the same as priests, and may well decide that lay people may function sacramentally the same as priests, then there is little ecclesial difference between Sydney and New Hampshire.  I am not saying that there aren’t major theological differences—there are—but ecclesiologically it is still one diocese saying to the rest of the Communion: “We’re going to do it our way, and we don’t care whether the rest of the Communion agrees or not.”  It will divide traditionalists, evangelical and AC; it would divide conservative evangelicals one from another.

And it would give TEC the best possible arguing position from which to do whatever it pleased: “What do you mean we’re going against the rest of the Communion, that we’re going being divisive? Look at Australia- if it’s okay for Sydney to change the rules, so can we! At least we’re requiring the gays to be ordained—Sydney’s “priesthood of all believers” doesn’t even ask that!

[Note to Driver 8 (34): The 1928 (and earlier) BCP’s The Order for The Administration of the Lord’s Supper or Holy Communion includes the instructions for administering the entire service, with the words to be said by cleric and laity, all of whom have roles in “The Administration”. The ordained person is referred to as “the Priest”, as in: Then shall the Priest return to the Lord’s Table, and begin the Offertory…. During the Liturgy of the Word, the title Curate is sometimes used, but even when, as in the Decalogue, the word “Minister” appears, he has been previously referenced as “the Priest”: Then shall the Priest, turning to the people, rehearse distinctly all the TEN COMMANDMENTS; and the people still kneeling shall….  In no place do I see (in an admittedly quick reread) the word “administer” used in the sense it apparently is being used in Sydney: the priest, in his “warning” to the congregation, says to those ‘negligent in coming to the holy Communion’  Dearly beloved brethren, on——- I intend, by God’s grace, to celebrate the Lord’s Supper;  in parishes where the congregation isn’t ‘negligent’ in receiving, the priest says that on——day I propose, through God’s assistance, to administer to all such as shall be religiously and devoutly prepared the most comfortable Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ…: or in other words, when the Priest (not the minister or curate, let alone the deacon!) consecrates the Sacrament, he is “celebrating”; when he distributes it to the faithful, he’s “administering”. The same words are used in the C of E’s BCP to this day, when they aren’t using their version of Rite Heaven-help-us II. And so I will stand by my comment in (33)—the two words mean different things, and the meaning of words are important.]

[139] Posted by Conego on 9-1-2010 at 11:42 PM · [top]

#139 Not that anything hangs on it but Sydney’s usage is clearly found in the 1662 BCP (a usage repeated in the 1928 liturgy and FWIW in Rite I of the 1979 Prayer Book)

Give grace, O heavenly Father, to all Bishops and Curates, that they may both by their life and doctrine set forth thy true and lively Word, and rightly and duly administer thy holy Sacraments

and this found in both 1662 and 1928:

Dearly beloved, on——- day next I purpose, through God’s assistance, to administer to all such as shall be religiously and devoutly disposed the most comfortable Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ.

My point was not to argue in favor of diaconal presidency but to suggest, with a smile, that the language of clergy administering sacraments ought not to be utterly unfamiliar to US Anglicans.

[140] Posted by driver8 on 9-2-2010 at 12:38 AM · [top]

In other words I was responding to your “linguistic point” in #33. 1662 (followed by 1928) refers to administration as the a title for the whole service and by extension to the taking of the whole service. This obviously so in the Prayers of the Church Militant (my first quote) in which “administer” is used to describe the action of appropriately leading all of the sacraments.

The notice being given of Communion (my second quote) is not that the priest will stand at the altar rail and give out Communion but that he will, in your language, which is of course not the language of the 1662 or US 1928 BCP, “celebrate” Communion or in my even more recent language “preside”.

In other words, the common usage of “celebrant” for one leading the liturgy I guess dates from the mid twentieth century on (“celebrant” isn’t used to describe the person leading the communion liturgy in US 1928 BCP, as far as I could see) with “president” or “presider” even more recent still.

The point you are making could be put more truthfully this way. That whilst “administer” was used as a verb to describe leading sacramental services, in most of Anglicanism it’s usage has changed to mean something like “giving the body and blood of Christ to those who wish to receive”. That Sydney has retained the older usage is a sign both that the parish communion and liturgical reform movements had little effect there and that they are self consciously asserting a reformed identity.

[141] Posted by driver8 on 9-2-2010 at 01:02 AM · [top]

Conego at #139 wrote:

Its theological content aside—difficult to manage, given the nature of TECs changes!—one of the major condemnations of TEC was that it repeatedly (chose/chooses/will- undoubtedly-continue-to-choose) to make unilateral changes without the agreement of the rest of the Anglican Communion—whether when ordaining women to the sacramental ministry or ordaining “practicing” homosexuals, or opening the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony to same-sex couples, ...

I strongly disagree with your argument. It trivialises the current issue, and it invites an easy (and correct) riposte by those in Sydney who are pressing for diaconal administration. Serious as the issue of diaconal administration is, one cannot compare it with ordaining practicing homosexuals or celebrating same-sex marriages. Not even if you add the rider, “speaking from an ecclesiological point of view”.

Nor is it correct to characterise TEC’s sin as “going it alone”. TEC’s sin was adopting practices that are clearly contrary to the faith once delivered. To put it another way, TEC could have obtained the agreement of the entire Anglican Communion to its changes and that would not have added one ounce of legitimacy to the course it followed.

Is Sydney remiss for moving out of step with the rest of the communion? Certainly. But to compare (in any sense)its actions with TEC’s adoption of homosexual ordination and same-sex marriage merely invites ridicule from Sydney (and justly so). Let’s keep things in their proper perspective.

[142] Posted by MichaelA on 9-2-2010 at 01:44 AM · [top]

Apologies for correcting myself. I’ve dipped a tiny, tiny bit into the history of the word “celebrant” in English and I think my conjecture that it became common usage in the mid twentieth century is mistaken. It’s used commonly from mid nineteenth century onwards in Anglo Catholic texts. Alongside it “officiant” often appears too. Prior to this neither of the latinate nouns seem much used in English but phrases to describe the action of leading worship such as “the Presbyter that celebrateth” (Scottish 1637 liturgy) or “officiateth” are are used.

It’s worth adding that the language of “administering the sacraments” itself is, unsurprisingly, inherited from medieval usage. The Summa Theologiae has a delightful little discusison about whether angels can “administer the sacraments” (3a, 64, 7).

[143] Posted by driver8 on 9-2-2010 at 02:46 AM · [top]

Friends,

thanks for your sustained contributions to the thread. I know a lot of you are looking for replies from me. I wanted to apologise on that front - I’m currently sitting in a hotel lobby 8 hours flight from my family and will be mostly out of action for at least another 24 hours as I sleep and fly back.

[144] Posted by David Ould on 9-2-2010 at 09:23 AM · [top]

Driver8 wrote,

That Sydney has retained the older usage is a sign both that the parish communion and liturgical reform movements had little effect there and that they are self consciously asserting a reformed identity.

That is a very perceptive comment. The Oxford movement had little impact in Sydney - the controversies in England were also played out down under (there was a bit of a scandal in the 1840s when one of the priests brought over to Sydney from Oxford converted to Roman Catholicism - you can imagine how that went down in a mid-19th century British colony! Those were rip-roarin’ days…)

And you are also right on the money that Sydney has strongly asserted a reformed identity since the early 20th century.

But I hope its clear by now that there are many of us in the reformed stream who don’t think diaconal administration (let alone lay administration) is part of that reformed stream. It doesn’t arise from reformed thinking, and its causing disquiet to many who label themselves as “reformed” or “evangelical” Anglican.

[145] Posted by MichaelA on 9-2-2010 at 04:50 PM · [top]

Michael A (142)- I wasn’t adding “from an ecclesiological point of view” as a rider, but as my primary argument. I tried to make clear that I was NOT comparing differences in theology, and I agree with you regarding the actions of the Episcopal Church in the US, which has arguably not so much made major theological errors so much as abandoned Christian theology altogether… currently (so far as I can tell), there is a bi-weekly ceremony in New York, where the Presiding Bishop opens a window of her penthouse apartment atop 815 2nd Avenue, licks her finger, and sticks it up in the air, in order to see which way the cultural winds might be blowing that day.  I do not see that as being the case in Sydney, obviously.

However, it is a unilateral decision being made by one diocese of one Church in the Anglican Communion that would change the essential meaning of the three-fold ministry which we inherited from the early Church (from well before the great East-West Schism, or the Western Schism that left us with Rome on one side and literally thousands of Protestant denominations and sects on the other).

Given Christ’s prayer that ‘we all may be One, as He and the Father are One’, I am deeply concerned about seeing an evangelical, non-theologically flaky diocese opting to do something which will almost certainly further damage the fabric of the Anglican Communion and give comfort to the liberals of the US and Canada (and their fellow-travelers—- I had a long and painful discussion with Brasil’s PB about a year ago).

I agree with you when you say that the difference between Sydney’s unilateral decision and TEC’s is that Sydney’s doesn’t violate Holy Scripture, while TEC’s violate some very specific boundaries for permitted sexual behavior. However, if I appeared to limit “TEC’s sin as going it alone”, it’s only because I was writing specifically about that aspect of TEC’s sinful decision which is at the heart of the current splintering of our Communion. That’s why I emphasized that I writing only from the ecclesial, and not the theological, point of view—the theological viewpoint has been thoroughly dealt with in Stand Firm postings for a number of years, and my voice has been amongst them. 

However, with each one of TEC’s “New Things”, the Primates and bishops of the Global South have included amongst their condemnations the accusation that America, in its pride, was choosing to “go it alone”, believing that it knew better than the rest of the Communion. TEC’s unilateral decision making was an important enough issue to them that the accusation was made repeatedly by bishops from Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean… that choosing to act unilaterally on matters of faith and order, rather than as members of a global Communion, damages the Body as a whole.

Sydney decisions may not be matters of faith, but they are of order: they are proposing to change the essential meaning of both diaconal and priestly ordination from what it has been not only since the English Reformation but from a millennium before… and to do so completely unilaterally, and not even as a national Church within the Communion. While that certainly doesn’t violate Scripture in terms of sexuality, it hardly lends itself towards unity within the Communion. It’s true that there is no specific Biblical injunction against having deacons preside over the Holy Eucharist (nor any record of it ever having been done, either in Scripture or in any of the documents we have from the early Church), but there are certainly Biblical injunctions for unity, even beyond Christ’s prayer for us. Chapter 12 of St. Paul’s first letter to the Christians at Corinth, for instance, not only describes the Church as the body of Christ, but reminds us that individual parts should not act unilaterally: “As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say the hand, I have no need of you…”.

My argument was never meant to be that the changes Sydney is making in the Church’s teachings on ordination are morally equivalent to TECs changes—they aren’t. But they are divisive, and divisive at a time when the Church needs, more than in some centuries, to come together—if only to counter the travesties inflicted upon it in North America. The change of 16 or more centuries of tradition regarding Holy Orders is, as I admit, a change from the traditions of the Church, and not a direct violation of Scripture (as in TEC’s case), although it’s hardly the definition of the role of the Diaconate provided in Acts 6:1-6. But from these pages we can see that the orthodox, already under attack, are divided by it.

It’s not sinful, but is this issue truly worth further fracturing the Communion, further dividing the faithful orthodox remnant one from another?

Or, to lighten things up a bit, do we really want a Church where the Deacons get M.Divs. and the Priests get MBAs?

[146] Posted by Conego on 9-4-2010 at 11:41 PM · [top]

Conego,

I agree with most (if not all) of your points.

The question I keep putting to Sydney is why they are departing from the reformers’ teaching, because this has a special resonance in Sydney.

It comes to the same thing in the end, of course: Cranmer and Calvin based their reasoning (for allocating certain functions to presbyters and other functions to deacons) on a careful study of scripture and church history. They did not purport to lay down any rules or principles of their own devising.

But still, the question with special relevance for evangelicals in Sydney is: Why do they want to change an arrangment that Thomas Cranmer, Hugh Latimer, George Whitefield, J. C. Ryle, Frederic Barker, Howard Mowll or T. C. Hammond had no probem with?

[147] Posted by MichaelA on 9-5-2010 at 02:05 AM · [top]

Michael A- If you agreed with all my points, I’m not sure which of us I would have to worry about! 

Why do they want to change an arrangement ...

Um… because they can?

[148] Posted by Conego on 9-5-2010 at 04:16 AM · [top]

Registered members are welcome to leave comments. Log in here, or register here.

Comment Policy: We pride ourselves on having some of the most open, honest debate anywhere. However, we do have a few rules that we enforce strictly. They are: No over-the-top profanity, no racial or ethnic slurs, and no threats real or implied of physical violence. Please see this post for more explanation, and the posts here, here, and here for advice on becoming a valued commenter as opposed to an ex-commenter. Although we rarely do so, we reserve the right to remove or edit comments, as well as suspend users' accounts, solely at the discretion of site administrators. Since we try to err on the side of open debate, you may sometimes see comments which you believe strain the boundaries of our rules. Comments are the opinions of visitors, and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Stand Firm site administrators or Gri5th Media, LLC.