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“Come, Let Us Reason Together”—The Future of a Useful Covenant

Friday, May 16, 2008 • 7:44 am

The problem with that appeal is that those who have determined that the church’s blessing upon same-gender sexual activity is a core part of their gospel need a reputable host to carry their ideas forward and they cannot produce such an original or creative entity on their own.  The strategians among them are deeply conscious that they cannot “go it alone”—they must have a viable Trojan Horse to carry their ideas into culture and into Christianity.  This is, in fact, what the progressives are doing with TEC—hollowing out the core, but maintaining the facade of the church in order to move their ideas into the broader Anglican Communion and into the culture as a whole.


I appreciated this piece from the ACI about the covenant process, and I agree with its central thesis, which appears to be that the covenant committee needs to write a document that addresses the reality of two different visions of “Communion”.

I am going to trot off on a bit of a rabbit trail, however, about my one quibble and thus I am placing this in the Features section of the blog—but such a quibble does not detract from the essay’s purpose and eloquence, so please don’t read my extended rabbiting as decrying the piece.

My main small quibble with the piece is its appeal to those in TEC and Canada who value “local autonomy and cultural context” to “‘take courage in both hands’ and declare their intention to develop a form of Anglicanism stressing federal arrangements, based upon commitments to new teaching in the area of human sexuality.”  The problem with that appeal is that those who have determined that the church’s blessing upon same-gender sexual activity is a core part of their gospel need a reputable host to carry their ideas forward and they cannot produce such an original or creative entity on their own

The strategians among them are deeply conscious that they cannot “go it alone”—they must have a viable Trojan Horse to carry their ideas into culture and into Christianity.  This is, in fact, what the progressives are doing with TEC—hollowing out the core, but maintaining the facade of the church in order to move their ideas into the broader Anglican Communion and into the culture as a whole.

They certainly are not going to give up the Anglican Communion—a much broader, deeper, and more viable potential host for their ideas—in order to develop some misguided attempt at integrity or honesty or originality.  Those are not part of their “core values.”  Revolution is their core value, and revolution using the ideas and concepts and artifacts and symbols of tradition, though appropriately scooped out, of course.

So we are left with our same old problem.  The innovaters need a host.  They will not give that host up under any circumstances.  Others—some of the traditionalists—don’t want to be a part of such a “host opportunity” and are leaving.  There is only one way to save the host, given the present circumstances.  And it certainly will not be through the innovaters graciously exiting their host. 

It is the lack of ability of so many many many fellow allies and friends in the Episcopal Church to grasp the above sincerity and directness and brutality of purpose of the Progressive Activists in our church that is one of the most frustrating parts of conversations and planning with these same allies and friends.  I continue to be dumbfounded that, despite countless examples of the above basic principles that I’ve expounded above, friends and allies begin conversations with the words “oh no, they would never do/say/behave [fill in the blank] in that way.”  And then the Progressive Activists do, and friends and allies are, yet again, shocked and surprised and confused at the behavior.  We continue to mistakenly act as if those on the other side of the divide have the same foundational worldview, values, or priorities that we have.  And then we mistakenly make predictions of their future behavior based on our own foundational worldview, values, and priorities.  And then we are shocked and surprised when they behave as they do.

Let me offer one small—but typical and now unnumbered—example.  A few months ago I was speaking to a person on a major committee in a diocese out West.  He explained to me breezily that they were going to have a meeting, but that a certain issue about which he had been concerned was—thankfully—not going to come up since “it was not on the agenda.” 

“But six months ago, remember,” I said, bleatingly, “the minority on that committee mounted a surprise attack and brought up xyz at that meeting, despite the fact that it was not on the agenda, taking advantage of the fact that many of you were gone for the summer.”

“Yes,” my friend assured me, “but that was six months ago, and we expressed our dissatisfaction with that at the time.  We’ve changed and they won’t do that again.”

“But,” I continued bleating, “despite your expressing dissatisfaction with going off-agenda on that particular item, they went ahead and voted, completely over-running you.  Why would they not do that again?”

“Well, they just wouldn’t,” said my friend, somewhat less confidently.  “We’re a different committee now.”

“But it worked the last time, despite your complains and the anger of that meeting.  Consider.  They are in the minority on that particular committee.  The only time that they will enforce the rule on ‘no-off-agenda items’ will be, friend, when they are in the majority, in order to prevent topics of discussion from coming up that they do not wish to discuss.  I beg you—please understand that there is no reason not to try the same thing again, since it worked so well the last time.  Your being angry or having a heated meeting—but losing the vote—is not a big deal to them.  That’s a small price to pay for winning at the vote.”

Several weeks later, he called me back. 

Yes, they had gone off-agenda again and attempted to force another vote. 

My friend had been prepared for it that time—because of my loud and vociferous warning cries—and had grudgingly and with much complaining done his homework for that “implausible contingency.”  I won’t bore people with story after story after story like that.  But the stories would be greatly lessened if we could simply grasp the above general principle about the two sides in this war.

I have excerpted a few paragraphs below, but the entire article is a model of clarity and an enjoyable read.

One concern about the covenant process now underway is that the reality of the Communion’s present condition could be bypassed by well-intentioned efforts of a committee to hear everyone and find a common document that proves unable to address a reality.

We are in a crisis. Unless someone can offer facts to the contrary, there is only one way for an Anglican Communion to remain in place, and no real alternatives to that. Indeed this was the Archbishop of Canterbury’s own stated assumption from the very beginning as he sought to address the crisis before us.

This is for a two-tiered composition to emerge, with the largest bloc of Anglicans genuinely interested in and committed to Communion to remain as such, and a second tier to ‘take courage in both hands’ and declare their intention to develop a form of Anglicanism stressing federal arrangements, based upon commitments to new teaching in the area of human sexuality, and an emphasis on the larger theological systems that undergird these commitments.

Can anyone offer any evidence that this outcome is not foregone, when all the dust settles? (And if it is not foregone, that will only be because what was once an Anglican Communion has split into more than two groups, a process now well underway and driven by the understandably impatient from numerous places on the theological spectrum.)

But apart from this sense of where we are likely headed, there is a matter of principle to be considered. Two different understandings of the desirability of Communion, and a conciliar framework for maintaining that, are before us. One wishes to give priority to decision making about Gospel priorities within a context of Communion forbearance, in the widest network of consultation. The other wishes to give priority to local autonomy and cultural context. Rather than dividing the baby, can it not be granted that these two principled positions have their respective integrity and exist within differing frameworks of understanding?


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Comments:

“...though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as wool.”  Sheeesh, Sarah, I thought you were going to quote the whole thing.  That whole “sin” thingy is so old hat that I was afraid it might derail the entire process of conversing about this until the retrofascisthomophobicstupidos died out.  Near miss!!!!

[1] Posted by dwstroudmd+ on 05-16-2008 at 08:42 AM • top

While I completely understand what Sarah is saying and no the facts on the ground to be true in an over view of the whole “beware” concept of your fellow parishioners/friends, etc… it basically boils down to <>Trust!</b> Our trust gene is becoming dulled and that in itself is a very scary thing!

[2] Posted by TLDillon on 05-16-2008 at 09:10 AM • top

oops! the “no” should b “know”....my charm again! Sorry!:)

[3] Posted by TLDillon on 05-16-2008 at 09:11 AM • top

A homerun essay, Sarah.

So we are left with our same old problem. The innovaters need a host. They will not give that host up under any circumstances.

Just as a virus has no life in it but depends on the host cell to propagate.

The call for the innovationistas to “take courage by both hands” is blinking at reality, I am afraid.

[4] Posted by robroy on 05-16-2008 at 09:15 AM • top

There is never going to be a “two tiered” Anglican Communion for many reasons. 

There could be a “two tiered” Communion right now if the Episcopal Church in the US wanted one—obviously they’re fighting to their last dollar NOT to have any such thing.  So why even talk about it?  Why would they suddenly agree to something they are utterly opposed to?

Furthermore what would a “two tiered”
Anglican Communion be anyway?  There is only one way to be “in communion”—namely you recognize the authority of each other’s bishops and you receive communion together.  You either do or you don’t.  The Eastern Catholic churches are “in communion” with Rome.  They’re very different, have different rules, married clergy, etc. but they’re not some “second tier” communion, whatever that means.  They recognize the ultimate authority of Rome and they receive communion with others in communion with Rome. 

Are the Nigerian Archbishops going to receive communion from/with Gene Robinson and Katherine Schori?  Presumably not in this lifetime.  Therefore, they will not be in communion with them.  There could be some kind of “cooperation” like the World Council of Churches or something, but that isn’t “communion.”

Finally, how does anyone think that ANY “covenant” is going to solve the presenting problem?  Look at the U.S. Constitution.  The Constitution was written when the country was divided between slave and non-slave states. The only way to bring two such utterly separate political/legal/social entities into one structure was to simply pretend that slavery didn’t exist.  Thus the Constitution (as originally written) dances all over the question of the fundamental rights of man (and the fundamental rights of property) but never addresses the question of slavery head on, one way or the other.  That is, it doesn’t say that there is a right for Africans to be free OR a right to hold Africans as slaves.  This was an inherently unstable arrangement which led less than a hundred years later to what Lincoln called “the irrepressable conflict.”

As Lincoln also said—“A house divided against itself cannot stand…it will become all one thing or all the other.”

[5] Posted by Catholic Mom on 05-16-2008 at 09:20 AM • top

I think the “host” concept is very apt.  The only problem is that TEC not in a symbiotic relationship with the Anglican Communion, it is a parasite and parasitic relationships usually end in death for both parasite and host, except the parasite has used up the life of the host to propagate itself so it can go on to infect and destroy other hosts.

Yep, this certainly sounds like the militant LGBT lobby.  They care not who they destroy as long as they coerce celebration of their lifestyle choice from everyone.

[6] Posted by Daniel on 05-16-2008 at 10:31 AM • top

Gosh!  This is the second recent post from ACI which is based on the reality of the inevitable…thankfully!
I take issue with the plea however on the basis that it under estimates the real issue for the reappraisers:  Winning!  As you stated Sarah…the reason for hollowing out the core of TEC (trojan church) is to win.  The federated approach…argeeing to walk apart in ecumenical love, isn’t winning!  It is compromise.  I haven’t seen any evidence of that sentiment for that recently, have you?
EDS

[7] Posted by aacswfl1 on 05-16-2008 at 10:42 AM • top

For anyone who thinks that the virus-like, invasive and subversive behavior Sarah is describing is a novelty—or is not a long-term policy and plan of the homosexualists—I suggest you go find the book from the late 80s entitled _After the Ball_ by Kirk & Madsen.

It is remarkable not in that it says anything particularly insightful (it’s just PR campaigning and social manipulation applied to attempting to whitewash and normalize homosexuality), but in that it reads more or less as a playbook for the last 30 years—in terms of rhetoric, hollywood, etc.

Both PEcUSA and the Catholic Church are singled out as potential vehicles for “normalizing” homosexual relationships. It failed with the RCC, of course, because - despite the ephebophilia scandals - Rome has taken active steps (even if belatedly) to rid its clergy of homosexuals, pederasts, and the sexually deviant. PEcUSA, of course, has done the opposite—lauding such deviancy and ridding itself of those who oppose such apostasy of Christian teaching & ethics. Interestingly, Kirk (I think it was) was taken on by Griswold as an adviser to PEcUSA on how to subvert its polity and teaching to mainstream homosexuality within it.

Those who continue to be surprised at these tactics, agenda, and intentions to use PEcUSA as a vehicle for mainlining the deviancy (and sacrificing everything else - like the faith - to it, because they simply don’t care about the faith or the church save insofar as it provides such a vehicle) are as head-in-the-sand about all this as those who have refused to see (or excused or ignored or downplayed) PEcUSA’s track record of apostasy over the last 30+ years.

pax,
LP

[8] Posted by LP on 05-16-2008 at 11:20 AM • top

So the upshot of the ACI article seems to me to be:

1) the two sides are irreconcilable
2) let TEC go its way
3) if Gafcon-ers go their way so be it
4) whoever’s left will be bound together by the Covenant

Sarah’s points are:

1)  TEC has been given no real reason to go away and
2)  TEC knows it benefits from the legitimacy offered by being a part of a historic worldwide communion, therefore
3)  TEC won’t go its way, but instead will stick around and make various attempts to water down the covenant.

I would add:

1)  Gafcon-ers are unlikely to go away, but will
2)  form both formal and informal sets of structures within the Anglican Communion while they
3)  wait to see if the ACI, Fulcrum, and the ABC deal appropriately with TEC via the Covenant.
4)  If the Covenant is strong, then Gafcon-ers will continue to remain a part of a set of historical structures that embody the authority of Christ.
5)  If the Covenant is weak, then they will have to evaluate whether or not their witness to the gospel is being hindered by their affiliation with a set of historical structures that are no longer under the authority of Christ.

So, at the end of the day, the ABC, the Covenant Design Team, the ACI, Fulcrum and all who currently think of themselves as “moderates” have a lot of hard and important work to do. 

As a Gafcon-er, I for one surely hope that they are successful in re-building a communion found in Christ.

[9] Posted by Fr. Andrew Gross on 05-16-2008 at 12:38 PM • top

If the Dar Communique had been followed through to the end, we would have ended up with something resembling what Drs. Seitz and Turner are calling for, with the right folks on the inside and the others on outside. But someone overturned that agreement, hailed at the time by ACI. That person is the reason GAFCon is meeting in Israel and TEC is coming to Lambeth. Like Fr. Andrew Gross (#9), I wish them well. I do think there will be a realignment and those who hold the biblical faith will join together, but it did not have to happen this way.

[10] Posted by Stephen Noll on 05-16-2008 at 02:51 PM • top

Fr. Gross at 9.  It is rumored that the GS will be offering a new catechism out of GAFCON.  Given that between Nigeria and Uganda, there are about 170 bishops from these provinces, it would seem pretty clear that the GS Catechism will form the basis of the GAFCON document.  At this point, if the moderates have not seen the writing on the wall, they will.  The covenant that will come out of Lambeth will not be strong enough to hold the G.S.  The G.S. will make it clear that, whatever the covenant is, the measure of their members remaining at the table will be something more, much more.  The more will be the Catechism, and, I think even the moderates at that point will wish them a sad farewell.  GAFCON as a concept destroyed what trust there was left.  The boycott of Lambeth by Uganda and Nigeria I am uncertain about all of Rwanda, and Kenya, has clearly signaled that for the G.S., it’s our way or the highway.

[11] Posted by EmilyH on 05-16-2008 at 03:08 PM • top

#11 Emily, I believe VGR as a concept is what destroyed what trust there was left.

[12] Posted by billqs on 05-16-2008 at 03:48 PM • top

Dar was a masterful tactical stroke, but TEC and its allies in Canada, England, NZ and elsewhere quickly recovered. They realize that the Canterbury-led political structures of the Communion as they currently exist cannot force them into a diminished Communion role, and they will not do it voluntarily.

The ACI is pleading for them to do it voluntarilly. But as was well said above, they will not do so.

[13] Posted by Going Home on 05-16-2008 at 04:03 PM • top

This essay does not account for the liberal corruption of the CoE.  It’s fine for TEC to take courage and walk apart - not that it would ever do so.  But even if it did so, the corruption in the communion would still exist in the CoE.  And no one is going to suggest the capstone of the AC separate itself from the AC. 

To fix the problem in the communion, liberalism must be driven out root and branch.  And that task must start with the CoE.  How that happens unless the current leadership of the CoE implodes, I do not know.  But the very idea is anathema to the ACI.  So they do not account for the central problem, and proffer solutions that must fail.

carl

[14] Posted by carl on 05-16-2008 at 05:18 PM • top

There is so much unlearning to do in order for the not-consciously orthodox (and the consciously non-orthodox) of the TEC (and elsewhere, to be sure)...so much unlearning to do in order to recognize what truth is, and that unlearning requires so much effort that save for some unforeseen but entirely welcome conversion of the spirit, I do not see it happening. Among the unlearnings: blindly accepting the cult of unending progress (leading to the belief that our forbears were stupid), unthinking adherence to the appearance of being scientific (scientism, for example as practiced at the APA), shoddy academic standards yielding poorly reasoned “critiques” of the faith that don’t stand up under even the most cursory examination (e.g., the criticism of the oral transmission of the faith to the apostles and fathers as inevitably highly flawed), pragmatism, an uncritical acceptance that “modern” = good, values relativism, pluralism as defined by Fr. Matt, etc., etc. It’s not just a few issues (WO, or VGR’s consecration, or SSB’s) where they go astray, but in a whole constellation of ways that affect everything. I really don’t know what specific acts anyone can do to materially improve the mess the worldwide communion is in, but efforts made in good faith count for a lot. And our witness does, also. A lot!

[15] Posted by ears2hear on 05-16-2008 at 09:27 PM • top

LP - when I first heard of the book “After the Ball”, Kirk & Madsen, after GC2003, I checked it out at the library….Read it from cover to cover, and just kept saying in my mind….“they’ve done it”.  There are many in their community who spout the line, having never read the book….it is the manifesto, it is the rule book for playing the game…...if you haven’t read it, do yourself a favor.  It will give you better understanding…

[16] Posted by Dee in Iowa on 05-16-2008 at 09:57 PM • top

Sarah, how does this all fit together with your Tone Changes article from just after GC 2006 in which you describe how the Ideological Liberals got the upper hand over the Institutional Liberals? The Institutional Liberals, I am sure, recognize the need for a host, but do the Ideologicals? If they retain their ascendancy at GC 09 or 12 (whichever has to respond to the Covenant), ISTM it’s at least possible that they will not accept it.  While this would not be a formal leave-taking along the lines suggested in the article, wouldn’t it amount to much the same thing in the end, though not as rapidly or in as clear-cut a fashion as would be ideal?

[17] Posted by kyounge1956 on 05-17-2008 at 01:30 AM • top

Catholic Mom wrote [5]:

furthermore what would a “two tiered” Anglican Communion be anyway?  There is only one way to be “in communion”—namely you recognize the authority of each other’s bishops and you receive communion together.  You either do or you don’t.

In his letter right after GC 2006, the ABC described the two-tier arrangement:  “We could arrive at a situation where there were ‘constituent’ Churches in covenant in the Anglican Communion and other ‘churches in association’, which were still bound by historic and perhaps personal links, fed from many of the same sources, but not bound in a single and unrestricted sacramental communion, and not sharing the same constitutional structures. The relation would not be unlike that between the Church of England and the Methodist Church, for example. The ‘associated’ Churches would have no direct part in the decision making of the ‘constituent’ Churches…” (boldface added).

My understanding of this is that only the churches who covenant with one another who would be “in Communion”, and that any which did not sign on to the Covenant, whether they specifically reject it or simply fail to act on it, would become an “Associated” church. I don’t recall the exact text of the current draft Covenant, but IIRC the agreement to recognize each others’ bishops and sacraments is only between those entities that agree to the Covenant. If it does not do so, TEC may continue to claim to be “part of the Anglican Communion”, because it has never formally withdrawn. Whether this would be sufficient to meet their needs for a “host”, I don’t know. However, actions speak louder than words, and regardless of what TEC might say under those circumstances, the Covenant signatories would not be “in Communion” with TEC or other non-signatories, any more than they are with the Methodists.

[18] Posted by kyounge1956 on 05-17-2008 at 02:21 AM • top

kyounge1956, in the time since the ABC’s letter quoted above, the Archbishop has changed course. 
Typically, delays in time have worked to the advantage of the revisionists; hence, the continual call for conversation.  The fact that conciliarity requires time to be brought forth has been well exploited by their strategists.

[19] Posted by Jill Woodliff on 05-17-2008 at 06:18 AM • top

The idea that nice people don’t make waves is an idea straight out of the bowels of hell.  “What can be wrong with discussing this, like mature adults?” one thinks.  It is very appealing.
Try another metaphor.  Suppose an armed man broke into your home, and you caught him in the act of kidnapping your child.  Would it be appropriate to say, “Let’s sit down and discuss this”?  Of course not.  Some things are not negotiable.
Decades ago, the armed man broke into our church and started dismantling the faith inherited, bit by bit.  We were seduced into thinking the “Christian” response was to have conversation, and we have imperiled many souls.  What is at stake is eternal salvation.  Something very precious is being carried out the door.
Even when confronted by Spong’s rank apostasy or by Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim syncretism, the power of the lie, “Nice people don’t make waves,” is so strong, that the institutionalists typically submit in silence.  If, on the rare occasion, they do protest, it is with an extremely polite and nuanced letter, which yields no change.

[20] Posted by Jill Woodliff on 05-17-2008 at 06:58 AM • top

regardless of what TEC might say under those circumstances, the Covenant signatories would not be “in Communion” with TEC or other non-signatories, any more than they are with the Methodists.

So, it’s not a two-tiered Communion.  It’s a Communion with a bunch of people who are in it and then a bunch of people who are out, but have a few liturgical and other traditions in common with the people who are in.  Now why, on earth, would ANY present member of the Anglican Communion voluntarily agree to be the people on the outside? [Gee, I just realized that *I’M* aleady a member of the second tier of the Anglican Communion!]

As far as the covenant, is there anyone anywhere who doubts that it will be written in such a way that all can sign?  I mean, isn’t that by definition?  How could it possibly be otherwise?  Furthermore, short of saying something like “Gay people are bad and will all go to hell and we shouldn’t even let them in our churches” (that is, short of saying something that no one believes or would ever write) it doesn’t matter what it says anyway, because TEC would sign it. There’s never going to be any enforcement anyway.  So as long as its not insulting to their constituency, why not sign?

[21] Posted by Catholic Mom on 05-17-2008 at 07:22 AM • top

Even when confronted by Spong’s rank apostasy or by Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim syncretism, the power of the lie, “Nice people don’t make waves,” is so strong, that the institutionalists typically submit in silence.

Bp G. Wolfe’s inhibition of Rev Redding is a shining exception.

[22] Posted by Jill Woodliff on 05-17-2008 at 08:03 AM • top

I’m just a middle-aged church lady in a backwater parish with no great money or theological credentials.  When I survey the current sorry, fragmented state of the Anglican Communion, what do I wish for? I wish the retired moderate bishops of TEC would stand up. 
The retired orthodox bishops have provided some courageous leadership, whether you agree with them or not.  Wantland, Benitez, & Allison have called for financial transparency.  Cox and MacBurney have provided pastoral support for orthodox parishes in revisionist dioceses. 
The retired radical left has stuck to their convictions.  Spong continues to sell books.

The retired moderate bishops have been invisible.

I wish they would speak out, individually and collectively.  I long to hear just one of the moderate retired bishops say, “I had no idea that _____ would lead to _____.  I confess I was wrong, very wrong.”
I’m not saying this from a position of self-righteousness, for I was wrong, very wrong as well.  I recall many conversations and sermons when I did not challenge a statement that was contrary to Holy Scripture.  I was deceived by the lie that “Nice people don’t make waves.” 

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

May God have mercy on us all.

[23] Posted by Jill Woodliff on 05-17-2008 at 09:33 AM • top

What it all comes down to is the wording of the Covenant.  Either the wording of the Covenant contains disciplinary structures that are sufficient to deal with TEC, or it is worthless.  Essentially, TEC leadership and more than 50% of its diocesan bishops are completely out of Communion with 25% of the provinces (representing more than 50% of the ASA) of the Communion and have extremely strained relations with many more.  For any Covenant to be relevant, it must be acceptable to 50% of Anglicans worldwide.  Not 50% of bishops at Lambeth, but 50% of Anglicans worldwide.  Else it is not worth the paper it is written on.  The ABoC is certainly well aware of this.  If the Covenant is not strong enough, the AC will be left with a worldwide ASA slightly larger than TEC’s circa 1965.  And the “splinter group” (who may retain communion with Canterbury, but on terms of real equality, not the current arrangement) with a strong Covenant will be 10 times its size, and growing.  And the Roman Church in the US will be slightly larger.
  Ironically, although the strategy pursued by Canterbury to date has seemed muddled, in “church time” it makes sense.  If the Anglican Communion takes NO action whatsoever on TEC, the problem will be solved completely within most of our lifetimes.  It will disappear.  The demographics are so negative, that there is virtually no hope of its survival UNLESS it comes around.  If 3% of the membership leaves or dies every year (As whole dioceses and the largest churches leave, we know the number of “leavers” is rising. And as average age of membership increases, as it has consistently for 40 years, the mortality rate is also likely to increase), within 30 years, there will be no Episcopal Church to cause problems, whether they sign the Covenant or not.

[24] Posted by tjmcmahon on 05-17-2008 at 09:36 AM • top

How can the Godly make a covenant with the ungodly and lawless?  I do not see how.  There is no Scriptural theological basis for doing so.

[25] Posted by Floridian on 05-17-2008 at 10:50 AM • top

within 30 years, there will be no Episcopal Church to cause problems, whether they sign the Covenant or not.

So why waste years creating one?  BTW, I assume the “two tiered” idea (a non-starter if I ever heard one) means two tiers WITHIN the same geographic area, right?  I mean there would have to be a TEC1 and a TEC2 church within the U.S.  (The very idea that TEC and the Archbishop of Canterbury seem to be so resolutely opposed to.)  Seems like a lot of time, paper, ink, and electrons being wasted on an idea that has no basis in reality to begin with.

[26] Posted by Catholic Mom on 05-17-2008 at 11:23 AM • top

Jill Woodliff wrote:

kyounge1956, in the time since the ABC’s letter quoted above, the Archbishop has changed course.

What specifically did you have in mind? ISTM that unless the idea of a Covenant is completely discarded, the possibility remains that TEC will not opt in, which IMO would be a good thing. But maybe that’s not what you were thinking of?

[27] Posted by kyounge1956 on 05-17-2008 at 12:05 PM • top

Catholic Mom wrote:

Now why, on earth, would ANY present member of the Anglican Communion voluntarily agree to be the people on the outside? [Gee, I just realized that *I’M* aleady a member of the second tier of the Anglican Communion!]

As I understand it, they don’t have to say “we are the people on the outside”, they would just have to fail to say “we are the people on the inside”. If GC does not accept the Covenant, I believe that would put TEC on the “second tier” whether that’s where they intended to go or not.

As far as the covenant, is there anyone anywhere who doubts that it will be written in such a way that all can sign?  I mean, isn’t that by definition?  How could it possibly be otherwise?

I don’t know what the final draft may be, and in a way it doesn’t matter whether it “has any teeth in it” or not. Some in TEC are so extremely opposed to any form of covenant (it’s against our polity, it reduces our autonomy…) that I think it is possible that TEC will respond to the Covenant as they have to the Windsor Report, the Pastoral Scheme etc—with outright rejection, or with trying to look like they are agreeing without actually doing so, or by attempting to pass off the decision to some other group or some other time, or with an attempt at a counter-offer. However, if they do anything but pass a resolution that says in effect “TEC agrees in all respects to the Anglican Covenant as submitted for our consideration by the Covenant Design group”, I think that would put them on the second tier.

  Furthermore, short of saying something like “Gay people are bad and will all go to hell and we shouldn’t even let them in our churches” (that is, short of saying something that no one believes or would ever write) it doesn’t matter what it says anyway, because TEC would sign it.

It is certainly possible, but not certain, that TEC will sign. I think there are three possible outcomes: (1) TEC signs the Covenant and complies with its conditions; (2) TEC signs but does not comply; or (3) TEC does not sign. I think (1) is very unlikely to occur, but which of the other two is more likely I couldn’t say. If the Ideological Liberals continue in the ascendancy, (3) is perhaps more likely than it would be otherwise (I need to reread Sarah’s Tone Changes article) but whether (3) is more likely than (2) remains to be seen.

However, since it doesn’t look like the rest of the Communion will act to expel TEC, (3) is the only remaining mechanism that I can see, for the Communion to continue without TEC’s disruptions. For that reason, I prefer (3) to (2). It seems to me the only option that opens a door to renewal of the existing Communion, rather than a breakup and replacement of it by two or more new entities.

[28] Posted by kyounge1956 on 05-17-2008 at 12:13 PM • top

When Rowan sent out the invitations to the Lambeth Conference prior to the Sept 30 deadline and then proceeded to dismantle the DeS Communique, he in effect disemboweled the Windsor Report.  The crisis was precipitated by the consecration of VGR as bishop.  There are many bishops attending Lambeth who actively support VGR’s episcopate.  Because these bishops continue to participate in the councils of the church, the term ‘Windsor bishop’ no longer carries the meaning Windsor Report-compliant.  Frankly, I don’t know what the term ‘Windsor’ means anymore. 
Because the Windsor Report, despite the huge effort required to produce it, is no longer in effect, the message is that any document can be subverted without consequence.
Bp Mouneer Anis’s reflections of the Joint Standing Committee meeting add further light.

[29] Posted by Jill Woodliff on 05-17-2008 at 12:34 PM • top

As I understand it, they don’t have to say “we are the people on the outside”, they would just have to fail to say “we are the people on the inside”. If GC does not accept the Covenant, I believe that would put TEC on the “second tier” whether that’s where they intended to go or not.

I realize that.  I was assuming TEC would realize that too. smile  That’s why they would sign the covenant as long as 1) it was actually clear that people who didn’t sign would not be in with the in crowd (and I wouldn’t even bet THAT will necessarily be a consequence of not signing no matter what anybody says—I’m sure there will be a period of “discernment” that lasts at least several decades if not centuries) and 2) the covenant didn’t contain any language offensive to gay people (it won’t.)

Personally, I think we should go over to intrade and make this even more interesting than it is. smile I’m willing to give anybody 5 to 1 right now that there will never be a “two tier” Anglican Communion.  And I’ll give 10 to 1 that if there IS a formal separation in the Anglican Communion it will have nothing to do with who does or doesn’t sign a covenant.

[30] Posted by Catholic Mom on 05-17-2008 at 12:55 PM • top

I can understand the desire to save the Anglican Communion ... or, more accurately, to save a place for orthodoxy in it.  And I absolutely have great sympathy and respect for those who are theologically orthodox and are fighting this desperate battle.

However, as I read the essay and the responses, I am struck by two things:

(1) what an intelligent group of commentators and responders are on this website ... truly impressive; and

(2) yet, how unlikely the proposed solution is. 

TEC is highly institutionalized with significant resources.  That is a huge advantage for TEC as well as for the theologically “liberal” parts of the English church, the Irish church, the Canadian church, the Australian church, etc.  Will they all decide to take a secondary role as associate churches?

I very well may be missing something important.  In any case, I can certainly understand the desire to try all options.  What is there to lose by doing so?  Just know what your limits for compromise are before you engage in the battle.  Otherwise, it is easy to lose one’s way.

[31] Posted by interested observer on 05-17-2008 at 05:55 PM • top

I wrote:

As I understand it, they don’t have to say “we are the people on the outside”, they would just have to fail to say “we are the people on the inside”. If GC does not accept the Covenant, I believe that would put TEC on the “second tier” whether that’s where they intended to go or not.

and Catholic Mom responded:

I realize that.  I was assuming TEC would realize that too.  That’s why they would sign the covenant as long as 1) it was actually clear that people who didn’t sign would not be in with the in crowd (and I wouldn’t even bet THAT will necessarily be a consequence of not signing no matter what anybody says—I’m sure there will be a period of “discernment” that lasts at least several decades if not centuries) and 2) the covenant didn’t contain any language offensive to gay people (it won’t.)

I guess it really comes down to whether they will keep their wits about them or let their enthusiasm for the “New Thing” induce them to do something that undercuts their own goals. But they seem to have been doing that quite a bit recently. For example, they could have gotten Bp Schofield out of their hair by just accepting his resignation from the HOB, but they didn’t do that, and the botched attempt at deposing him and the callling of the contracanonical convention may well create headaches for them later on. Although it’s a troubling verse for me, maybe 1 Kings 22:19 is a parallel. Maybe, though I hardly dare to wish for such a thing, they will be enticed to put themselves out of the Communion.

I’m not sure I understand your 1): did you mean “if the Covenant clearly states that non-signatories are out of communion, they would tend to sign it”? As for discernment, I don’t know that it matters how long TEC takes or is allowed to “discern”. Go ahead, take as long as you want to think about it (shrinking all the while, as tjmcmahon points out)! Meanwhile, I hope, the Covenant signatories would be moving the covenanted portion of the Communion toward a uniform, orthodox witness, and TEC would have no input into additional agreements between the signatories—such as perhaps the adoption of the Catechism mentioned by EmilyH, or opening relations with another Anglican entity on the North American continent, or creating the “5th instrument of unity”, an interprovincial disciplinary body as sometimes mentioned by NRA—unless and until they sign. The longer TEC takes to “discern”, the greater opportunity the signatories have to make the Communion into something TEC cannot use as a “host” for the New Thing, a Communion with a strong enough immune system to overcome any attempt at parasitism. Maybe that opportunity would be grasped, maybe it would be lost, but I don’t think the opportunity will exist at all as long as TEC maintains its position and influence.

I agree with your 2). I don’t think the current draft of the Covenant contains any specific language about gays. To me, that’s not a problem. If the Covenant is supposed to be a framework for the future of the Communion, it doesn’t need to refer specifically to the “presenting symptom” at this time. Those provinces which sign in good faith would be binding themselves to abide by the decisions of the Instruments of Unity, which would include Lambeth 1.10. Or are there other provinces in addition to TEC which you also suspect of intending to sign and then not comply?

I won’t take you up on your Intrade offer (even if I knew how to <g>). I don’t know what will happen. The outcome you expect is certainly possible. It may even be the most likely one to happen. But the outcome I have described is also possible, and I prefer it to the other likely alternative.

[32] Posted by kyounge1956 on 05-17-2008 at 06:35 PM • top

I’m not sure I understand your 1): did you mean “if the Covenant clearly states that non-signatories are out of communion, they would tend to sign it”?

Yes, if there is any actual indication that non-signatories really and truly WILL be out of the club (and I wouldn’t necessarily bet that there will even be enough teeth in it to enforce THAT) then TEC will eventually sign.  But even then it will not be the case that “everybody who doesn’t sign by October 15 is out of the club.”  There will be some LARGE amount of time given to ponder, discern, discuss blah blah and it will be years before anybody actually has to fish or cut bait.  And then if TEC really doesn’t want to sign (and why wouldn’t they sign?) they’ll ask for some five year extension and get it.

OK, I’ll admit I’ve only been in an Episcopal Church two times in the last 20 years, but I’ve been in corporate life longer than that and there is nothing particular “Episcopal” about what’s happening here.  It’s just what happens whenever there is a power vacuum.

[33] Posted by Catholic Mom on 05-17-2008 at 06:54 PM • top

Catholic Mom wrote:

There will be some LARGE amount of time given to ponder, discern, discuss blah blah and it will be years before anybody actually has to fish or cut bait.  And then if TEC really doesn’t want to sign (and why wouldn’t they sign?) they’ll ask for some five year extension and get it.

I think I see what you’re getting at, and I think I have been making an unspoken assumption that only TEC and perhaps a few others (ACoC?), would dither and delay, while the other provinces would consider and sign rapidly when the Covenant is presented to them. I think I’ve also been assuming that TEC is the only Province considered likely to sign in bad faith, with no intention of complying. If I’m right about those two things, then the scenario I’ve described, with the early signers moving the Communion in an orthodox direction, is still possible, and in fact the longer TEC delays (in those circumstances) the better. Let the orthodox Primates get a good head start on them! This would be especially so if the GS is as influential among the signatories as they ought to be based on their numbers of communicants.

But I admit, if I am wrong about my two assumptions, things look a great deal less hopeful, even if TEC does fail to sign.

[34] Posted by kyounge1956 on 05-17-2008 at 07:21 PM • top

#32, I am afraid you are naïve about the Draft Covenant itself and the willingness of TEC revisionists to sign on.

First, you seem not to see a problem with the lack of language about homosexuality. As consultant (aka outsider) to the Drafting Group, I proposed to state in the Covenant the presenting theological principle that has led to all the recent unpleasantness.

[to] uphold the vision of humanity as male and female and our Lord’s teaching on the unchangeable standard of marriage of one man and one woman (or abstinence)

This is language right of the Bible and Lambeth 1930. In fact, the St. Andrews Draft weakened what was already a weak statement about upholding a “vison of humanity” in the first draft so that it now reads:

to uphold and proclaim a pattern of Christian theological and moral reasoning and discipline that is rooted in and answerable to the teaching of Holy Scripture and the catholic tradition and that reflects the renewal of humanity and the whole created order through the death and resurrection of Christ and the holiness that in consequence God gives to, and requires from, his people

I am sure Katherine Schori will be more than happy to sign on to this. In fact, this clause gives them the escape hatch from Lambeth 1.10. They can trot out plenty of moral theologians who will blow smoke over the strong phrases of the Lambeth Resolution.

Next we turn to language of exclusion. Again, I proposed the following language to make clear that there is an end-point to disobedience among Covenant partners.

We acknowledge that in the most extreme circumstances, where member churches choose not to fulfil the substance of the covenant as understood by the Councils of the Instruments of Communion, we will consider that such churches will have relinquished membership in the Anglican Communion.

What did the St. Andrews draft do? It took a vague paragraph in the first draft, transferred all authority over discipline to the ACC, and added an appendix with legal loopholes that would make Jarndyce v. Jarndyce look like an open-and-shut case.

Remember please, these are people who for twenty years, from the mid-70s through the mid-90s, hung in the Episcopal Church, despite official statements of disapproval of homosexuality, because they saw the end in sight, the takeover of the Episcopal Church. Do you think they will do any less to take over the whole Anglican Communion?

[35] Posted by Stephen Noll on 05-17-2008 at 11:57 PM • top

Stephen Noll wrote:

I am afraid you are naïve about the Draft Covenant itself and the willingness of TEC revisionists to sign on.

  That is possible. I don’t argue that they definitely won’t sign, I only think it is possible they won’t sign. If they sign, violate the Covenant, and are not immediately ejected, which is what most Stand Firm commenters seem to expect, I don’t see how the Communion could survive. Since I hope the Communion will survive, IMO it would be a good thing for the rest of the Communion if TEC doesn’t sign, and their recent actions suggest to me that they may be unwise enough to “shoot themselves in the foot” in just such a fashion.

First, you seem not to see a problem with the lack of language about homosexuality.

You are correct. I don’t see the lack of specific language on homosexuality as a problem. Those who sign the Covenant in good faith will not be looking for a loophole; the presence of specific language on homosexuality, or any other issue that may arise in the future, will not prevent someone who signed in bad faith from breaking their promises. Are there provinces in addition to TEC which you suspect of planning to sign in bad faith?

Next we turn to language of exclusion. Again, I proposed the following language to make clear that there is an end-point to disobedience among Covenant partners.

Well, as I mentioned above, I hope TEC never rises to the level of a “disobedient Covenant partner”, because they never become a Covenant partner in the first place. I thought the latest draft’s addition of a specific process in case of disputes and especially the fact that it contains time limits, was to that extent a step in the right direction, but I would certainly not object if the disciplinary sections of the Covenant were made clearer and stronger in the next revision. However, unless relinquishment of the Covenant was automatic, along the lines of software licenses (“by using the software you have agreed to the license”) I don’t know what language could be strong enough to prevent a Covenant partner’s violation from being the start of another long, drawn out, and likely Communion-ending (if this one doesn’t kill us) crisis.

Remember please, these are people who for twenty years, from the mid-70s through the mid-90s, hung in the Episcopal Church, despite official statements of disapproval of homosexuality, because they saw the end in sight, the takeover of the Episcopal Church. Do you think they will do any less to take over the whole Anglican Communion?

Takeover of the Communion as a whole may indeed be their goal. They have not accomplished it yet, but if we orthodox Anglicans say “It’s no use fighting them”, they are sure to succeed. I admit that I am a latecomer to the fray and was “fiddling while Rome burned” during those decades. But St Paul wrote, “faith, hope and love abide, these three” and I don’t think we should give up on the Communion as long as there is even a slight possibility remaining that it can survive and be renewed. 

There is a prophecy, I think in Isaiah, that says “A bruised reed he will not break, and a dimly burning wick he will not extinguish”, or words to that effect. IMO, the Anglican Communion is a bruised reed and a dimly burning wick, but not yet completely broken or utterly extinguished. If it is naive to point out the existence of a hope, even if only a faint one, that the bruised reed can be mended, the smoking wick blown until it is a bright flame, then I plead “guilty as charged”.

[36] Posted by kyounge1956 on 05-18-2008 at 01:10 AM • top

kyounge1956—I think you’re still thinking of a specific outcome, one way or the other.  I think what Stephen Noll and I are suggesting is that there will be NO outcome other than what there is right now.  That is, the “covenant” will be written in such a way that anybody could “in good faith” sign it, since it will be written to mean whatever anybody wants it to mean.  In the end, no matter who does/doesn’t sign or does/doesn’t “violate” the covenant (that being utterly a subjective concept), it will have to be the will of the majority that some group of Anglicans is not upholding standards of Biblical teaching and traditional morality and they (the group so pursuaded) will have to make some mighty effort to displace the offending party. 

But they could do that RIGHT NOW if they had the will and/or the power.  In fact, the “moderates” don’t have the will and the “orthodox” don’t have the power, so that’s not happening. So why would going through the whole rigamorole of drafting a covenant and having people sign it change anything?  Except, as they say, to “kick the can” down the road another 5-10 years when most of the orthodox will have left so there will be even less will and no power to do anything about anything.

They only thing that COULD change things would be a change in the balance of power.  For example, there could be a new Archbishop of Canterbury who strongly supported the orthodox and increased their ability to use the power they have. Or TEC could eventually fall apart from attrition.  But if the definition of the “Anglican Communion” is that it consists of churches in communion with each other AND the Anglican sea of Canturbury, then you can’t just look at this as a TEC problem. Even if TEC disappeared from the face of the earth, there’d be a problem as long as the Church of England was not a solidly orthodox church with orthodox leadership.  So, in the end, it’s hard to see how this will not play out as a separation in which the orthodox form their own Communion and what’s left of the present AC continues to shrink.  Either that or the global majority of orthodox have to figure out some way to leverage their power against the global minority who presently (because they are the “local” majority)  control the “prize”—namely Canturbury.

[37] Posted by Catholic Mom on 05-18-2008 at 07:02 AM • top

KYounge,

Imagine with me that a group of Frenchmen recognized the danger posed by Germany in WWII.  These Frenchmen organized, strategized, and then in May of 1941 boldly took up positions in Sedan, France in order to repel the German advance.

As they engage in combat with a force twice their size, they call back to Paris to ask for reinforcements.  To their chagrin they learn that Paris, and the rest of France has already fallen….a year ago…in 1940.

That pretty much sums up my reflections upon my own attempts to bring reform to TEC.  The battle was lost a long time ago, it’s just that many of us didn’t realize it. 

I’d love to tell you that the situation in the Anglican Communion is different.  DES was a huge victory, a bridge was retaken, and reinforcements were called for, but alas the ABC has sat on his hands and launched a “Covenant Process.” 

Unfortunately, time is not on the orthodox hands.  Time merely allows the revisionists time to make flanking manuevers.  They have been given time to work to water down the Covenant, time for Trinity Wall Street to lobby bishops at a shindig in Spain, time for Kanon Kearon to visit the Philipines, time to manipulate the JSC at New Orleans, time to reorganize the make-up of the ACC, the list goes on and on.  Stephen Noll has shown how as a consultant he offered language clear enough to bring healing through the Covenant.  That language, and the language of the first draft of the covenant, has either not been used, or has been softened to the point of irrelevance.  You have to ask yourself, “How did that happen?”

I’d like to think DES was “the moment,” but that too may be naive.  When so many revisionists hold positions of influence in key parts of the Anglican Communion, it makes one wonder if the whole thing wasn’t lost quietly a long time ago.  So many of the Generals, Colonels, and Lietenants of the Communion have already shown their revisionist colors, that every guy in a foxhole is now wondering if he can trust the guy next to him.

Maybe the ACI, Fulcrum, & others will stem the tide, and turn this thing around.  However, I would remind you that at times members of these organizations have described their position as one of principle, not pragmatism.  To answer the question, “Will this bring victory?”  They have all too often answered, “I don’t know, maybe we’ll just be a sacrificial witness to the truth.”

That kind of sentiment, for the sake of an institution, sounds deceptively noble…and has little to do with carrying out the great commission. 

As Presiding Bishop Venables has said, “While we’re in the conference room trying to work it out (the problems of discipline in the communion), there’s a world out there that is dying for the need of Jesus.” 

This is the second reason why delay in communion discipline is fatal.  Not only does it make it likely that the battle for the communion will be lost, it makes it certain that our focus in spreading the Gospel will be distracted.

[38] Posted by Fr. Andrew Gross on 05-18-2008 at 07:02 AM • top

This has been a fascinating discussion. 

Interested Observer, you asked a series of questions upstream in this thread, and I wanted to make a stab at answering them.

I’m fairly hopeless about Communion reform, personally [although not obliteratingly so].  However—this is not a new thing for me.  On this blog I was the clarion call of pessimism for quite some time and certainly the lone voice in the wilderness, since I have one of the more pessimistic views of how-humans-behave than most others.

So my actions have been taken with the view of “things look fairly bleak for a positive outcome here.”

But there are two things that have kept me within Anglicanism.  First—I can’t predict the future, and being the lover of sports that I am, you can’t watch sports for any length of time without recognizing that it really isn’t over until it’s over, and that up until it’s over—sometimes even as the winning team’s band is marching onto the football field—anything at all can happen.  Sometimes those of us who are pessimistic and analytically skilled fall in love with our own seemingly intuitive predictions of doom and imagine, like Denethor, that we can see the future—the more pessimistic the better!—when of course we cannot.

One of the best learning opportunities of my life was in watching the French Open final between Coria and Gaudio.  The former was the then reigning clay court master - utterly dominant on clay for tournament after tournament.  He had glided through the FO easily and now waited in the final to be crowned champion for the virtually unknown man, Gaston Gaudio, who had basically through a series of fortunate accidents and some gritty consistent play made it to the finals.

The first two sets went to Coria.  In the third, Gaudio fought back and Coria—had “nerves” cramps.  He began cramping from nerves.  Solely because Gaudio was able to put the ball into the big rectangle on the other side of the net, he won sets three and four.  Anything that he hit over—even with no placement or force—Coria shanked out.  I believe that I have never seen a more stunning and awful display of nerves in my life.

In the fifth set, Coria’s nerves were largely gone, since he realized that he had just thrown away the coronation, and it became a bit more of a match.  But by this time, Gaudio believed.  And improbably he won the French Open.

Neither Coria nor Gaudio have ever been the same since.  Coria is now on the low-level Challenger circuit, and since that French Open meltdown has never recovered any sort of confidence or mental belief.  Keep in mind that this is a guy who, in clay court skill was like Nadal is now, or Kuerten was a decade ago—a masterful player.  He is now known as a guy who can be waited out until the nerves set in, and then demolished.  Gaudio, of course, never played to the level of a “Grand Slam Champion” again either.  But he showed up for the presumed massacre at the final, and improbably won the French Open.

All of the above to say, you just never know in life, work, relationships, sickness, even dying.  Until you are ushered into Christ’s direct presence, you just never know.

The second reason for my actions is that to my mind—and those of many many many other conservative Episcopalians—the option that other faithful Anglicans who have surrendered the Communion [as presently defined] are building is something that I want no part of.  In this matter, I try not to say too many pessimistic things, since after all, it’s their effort and not mine.  But personally, I neither trust the theology of many of the leaders of “The Leavers” nor do I trust the competence of many of the leaders of “The Leavers” nor do I trust the character of many of the leaders of “The Leavers.” 

I do not want what they are building and I reject it.  I recognize that many others do want what they are building and I hope that they are successful in getting what they seek.

Once I’m gone from TEC, my choices will be quite limited.  I do not believe many of the central doctrines of the Roman Catholic church to be the truth.  I am the same way about Eastern Orthodoxy.  This leaves me with another branch of Protestantism.  And yet, when I survey the other branches of Protestantism I realize what I realized back in my early 20s.  I’m an Anglican.

When I leave TEC I will probably attend a large, culturally engaged, discipling and evangelizing church, probably in the EPC denomination. 

But it will be total surrender of an adequate functional expression of Anglicanism within the US as whole, although there will certainly be some large urban areas that are able to maintain a congregation or two

Do I want to offer total unconditional surrender yet? 

No, I don’t.  And there are a whole host of conservative Episcopalians like me who don’t wish to offer that total surrender yet either but who, once they leave the Episcopal Church, will do so—in fact many of my friends gave that total surrender long ago. 

And so, like Gaston Gaudio in the third set, we play on.

[39] Posted by Sarah on 05-18-2008 at 07:47 AM • top

kyounge1956, you are right to hope.  Jesus is the life and resurrection.  We put our hope in Him, for He will not disappoint.  For those of us who are called to Anglicanism, we must strive to look at the Communion with the eyes of Jesus.  Anglicanism is indeed a bruised reed.  How and when and where He will bring it back to life is the question. 
Jesus is the same today, yesterday, and forever.  Just as a plant can be transplanted to another location, He might choose to transplant Anglicanism to another locale and to another generation. 
Our call is indeed to hope, to pray, to listen to God, and to trust.

[40] Posted by Jill Woodliff on 05-18-2008 at 07:48 AM • top

It has indeed been an interesting discussion.  The question, “are we now defeated?” is usually answered by asking “Define ‘defeat’.” 

I remember when Andy+ defined it in the same manner as Sarah - before the priviledge of doing so was abruptly taken away, by his bishop. 

Andy+ is right. 

Then too, a lot of what Sarah says resonates with my thoughts and experiences.  We really -don’t- know what will happen.  We really -can’- see all the good that we are doing, in a situation where an overall positive outcome is improbable by virtue of it being humanly impossible.  Moreover, I agree that there is a lot of things I could not sign onto, as a CC’r (which is why I haven’t joined a CC parish that is relatively close to where I live). 

Sarah is right. 

So, there are valid disagreements on both sides of the debate over what constitutes ‘defeat.’ 

I take comfort that we all define ‘victory,’ the same way.  In light of our eschatological victory, defeat is so irrelevant.

[41] Posted by J Eppinga on 05-18-2008 at 08:21 AM • top

You are defeated only so long as the traditional edifice of the Anglican Communion still stands.  Bring down Canterbury, and you will surely destroy the host that carries the parasite.  A new AC may or may not emerge.  But nothing will ever change so long as Canterbury stands in the center.  The liberal corruption begins there.

But who has both the will and the power to do such a thing?  Tradition is strong.  And so the history of orthodox Anglicanism in the US may be at an end.  Whatever happens in the future will be too late for those orthodox in the US.  Eventually the western churches (TEC, CoE, ACC, et al) will burn their own support beams for fuel and collapse of their own weight.  But that event is also too far in the future to be of any help now.  Unless Canterbury is engaged now, the defeat will be total.

carl

[42] Posted by carl on 05-18-2008 at 10:01 AM • top

Sarah, I think you’ve explained your dilemma very clearly.  It is truly a terrible one.

Could you explain what would have to happen for you to remain in TEC?  What TEC would have to look like, or what the AC would have to look like, or what the situation in your local parish would have to be—in other words, what the criteria for “staying” would be?

[43] Posted by Catholic Mom on 05-18-2008 at 10:42 AM • top

Sarah,
The article was spot on as usual.  It is the solution that you suggest that I quibble with.  Vigilance against the revolutionaries is of utmost importance and in fact has biblical backing (to be watchful).  However, the watchers are a smaller number than the revolutionaries.  Maintaining a sizable group of watchful traditionalists has proved to be an imposible task in my observation.  Any solution for that?  We don’t respond well to seminars to organize BEFORE a catastrophy. 

Nette

[44] Posted by nette on 05-18-2008 at 10:48 AM • top

So far, I’m in Sarah’s court on this discussion. There is one issue no one has discussed, which is Labor’s recent political reverses in the U.K., and the possibility of further reverses. Should another party or coalition come to the fore there, the political influences affecting the choices leading to the appointment of the ABC will have changed considerably, and the whole game could change just with that one thing. It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.

[45] Posted by ears2hear on 05-18-2008 at 11:28 AM • top

ears2hear, I’m with you on the main point of your last thesis.

But the problem is that even were a new “conservative” and strong ABC to be appointed—the trust is so broken that the Global South I think would not be up for further “process” stuff.

So consider.  Let’s suppose that Bishop Wright were to be appointed [unlikely, but work with me here].  He’d basically have to immediately *issue decrees and sharp changes* for him to win back to the table the five GS provinces [and probably more by the time the current ABC resigns]. 

And I just don’t see a new—however conservative—ABC doing that. 

I see him saying “uh—now the the old ABC is gone can we all get together and discuss these issues and think about what the heck we’re going to do?”  And I think the five [probably more] GS provinces would then say “sorry new ABC—we had 10 years of discussion—show us the changes and then we’ll consider coming back.”

In the meantime various ComCons would be writing letters and essays denouncing the GS provinces for not returning and entering into conversation again, in complete denial of what has been unequivocally lost.  It’s as if the idea that there are *consequences* no longer exists—everything is “negotiable” or “do-over” or “flexible” when in fact it is not.

[46] Posted by Sarah on 05-18-2008 at 11:39 AM • top

So Sarah, if a new ABC is unlikely to solve the problem, what could?  What would a “solution” look like??

[47] Posted by Catholic Mom on 05-18-2008 at 11:44 AM • top

Oh, a new ABC could solve at least the primary presenting problem—just as the old one could—by taking some hard decisive actions. 

But something again that I don’t think that ComCons—at least some of us—are comprehending is that the farther the rock rolls, the faster it goes, and the harder the action to derail the rock the longer and farther it rolls.

So every six months that passes means that an even stronger action must be taken by leaders in order to push the rock off course, slow it down or stop it altogether.  And I’m not entirely meaning that “the rock” is the revisionists. The rock is also the conservative actions.

There are always consequences—escalating consequences—for lack of leadership in the beginning.

Just as a parent needs to discipline when the child is young—or it becomes far far far harder later on—and just as the individual must discipline himself at the initial start of sin, so the same for an organization.

The longer it goes the harder the discipline.

[48] Posted by Sarah on 05-18-2008 at 11:58 AM • top

As much as I try, I can never see the merit in these ACI papers that others do. They seem to me like people, after the invasion of Poland, indeed even as Germany marches outflanking the Maginot Line, writing papers urging strengthening of the League of Nations to deal with the possible threat Hitler might pose.

Let’s just look early in Dr Seitz’s paper:

This is for a two-tiered composition to emerge, with the largest bloc of Anglicans genuinely interested in and committed to Communion to remain as such, and a second tier to ‘take courage in both hands’ and declare their intention to develop a form of Anglicanism stressing federal arrangements, based upon commitments to new teaching in the area of human sexuality, and an emphasis on the larger theological systems that undergird these commitments.

Can anyone offer any evidence that this outcome is not foregone, when all the dust settles?

Yes. I offer the evidence that TEC has already shown that it has the power to ignore the Windsor Report, that it will not accept second class status, and that the Lambeth invitations and agenda show there is no one within the Communion to force it to do so. TEC is WINNING; it ain’t giving anything up.
More Seitz:

Two different understandings of the desirability of Communion, and a conciliar framework for maintaining that, are before us. One wishes to give priority to decision making about Gospel priorities within a context of Communion forbearance, in the widest network of consultation. The other wishes to give priority to local autonomy and cultural context. Rather than dividing the baby, can it not be granted that these two principled positions have their respective integrity and exist within differing frameworks of understanding?

Yes.  And so these two principled (and totally antagonistic) positions belong in different churches. Regarding local autonomy and cultural context, one can only rmember the words of the English General administrating in India who said, about suttee. “You say that your local custom is to throw a widow upon her husband’s funeral pyre.  Very well. Our custom is to take a man who murders a woman and to put a rope around his neck and hang him from it until he is dead.  You may follow your customs, and we will follow ours.”

Dr Seitz is capable of writing quite lucidly, as he has done on Titus 1:9. When someone who is so capable writes as opaquely as Dr Seitz, one must repair to Orwell: people write unclearly when they are trying to hide their meaning or the implications of it.

On The Covenant: in the sporting spirit of Catholic Mom, the proposition thay an agreed-to Covenant will halt the homosexualist tendencies of either TEC or the ACoC is OFF THE BOARD. The odds against it are greater than 99/1. The likelihood of TEC signing a covenant in the next 10 years are better than even, 2:3 in favour.  The interesting proposition to me is whether the Covenant will, by a straight forward honest interpretation, forbid the homosexualist things TEC has done and will continue to do. I need to think about the odds there, but they must be against it. For one thing, by the time the Covenant is formalized most of the orthodox provinces will be gone. Considering what Stephen Noll has said I think the odds against this must at least 5:1, and I would not take bets on those odds.  It may be that the true odds are 25:1 against or more. And, as I have said, even if the Covenant does forbid such things, TEC and ACoC will ignore it.

Toral1

[49] Posted by Toral1 on 05-18-2008 at 01:07 PM • top

Could I propose a little imaginative exegesis from the book of Esther, including a role reversal? Mordecai (Sarah Hey) comes to Queen Esther (the ABC) and urges her to take bold action to save her people (the Communion):

For if you keep silence at such a time as this, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another quarter, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14

Now it seems a long shot, frankly, that this particular Queen has the (ahem!) inner strength of Esther, but we shall know soon enough what comes of the Covenant at Lambeth. But consider Mordecai’s confidence that her failure does not exhaust the possibilities of Providence and that if she refuses “help will come from another quarter.” Could that quarter not be GAFCon in exile? Why is this contemporary Mordecai so sure that an authentic Anglican covenant cannot emerge outside of Canterbury? In any case, if the Queen and her house perish, this will not be the end of the church.

I suppose this just takes us back to the definitional issue of “Anglican,™” but even if one wants to put an asterisk by it, I do not see why Sarah and others would not choose an Anglican* alternative to carrying her Anglican heart into another Protestant body?

[50] Posted by Stephen Noll on 05-18-2008 at 01:47 PM • top

Once the Communion [as presently defined], Stephen Noll, fails, then I will take that as the judgement of God on Anglicanism within the US over the coming decades.  I consider the actions and decisions that give evidence to the 1) theology, 2) competence, and 3) character of many of the leaders of Common Cause to be further evidence of that judgement.  At one time, I thought that those disastrous actions were evidence of simply differing minor points of theology.  Then I moved to recognizing disastrous incompetence, despite repeated warnings and exhortations.  Then I realized that repeated incompetent actions reveal character.  I could now name scores of such decisions. 

But we all choose our leaders.  And I have no intentions of moving from one sorry set of leaders to another within Anglicanism, with shining exceptions noted, of course.

It is what it is.  And once it fails, I will see what appears to me to be the strikingly clear message of God—“a functional, healthy Anglicanism in the US is simply not to be in your lifetime, Sarah.  Move on.”

As I have pointed out now for years—people will vote with their feet, and their feet are, by and large, taking them out of Anglicanism.  It is quite clear that the thousands that have left have not anywhere close to gone to Common Cause entites.  Instead they have gone to non-Anglican alternatives by the large majority.

I expect that trend to continue.  Of the folks who leave TEC, I put at about 25% those who will end up in a CCP entity.  I think that’s happening for good reasons.

I do believe that “help will come from another quarter”—but it probably won’t be to save the Anglican Way in the US during my lifetime.  I’ve accepted that and, though I am sad at the thought of it, I am resigned to it. 

But in the meantime, I’m in the third set of the French Open, and I’m going to hang in there until the last ball is called out.  And then we’ll see.

[51] Posted by Sarah on 05-18-2008 at 02:13 PM • top

In one way or another, I think God has called each of us for such a time as this.  A prayer for the Anglican Communion can be found here and for Rowan Williams here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.  God bless you all.

[52] Posted by Jill Woodliff on 05-18-2008 at 02:23 PM • top

But there is another perhaps “Providential” outcome in the US and that is the possibility that the vast majority of gay couples will simply say “No thank you” to TEC’s offer to bless their unions. Given the history of TEC’s consistency in ministering to minorities championed at one stage or another it is also quite possible that in an era of instant responses to artificially simplified problems, boredom with the subject will set in. Of course what comes next is anyone’s guess. Yet it is often in periods when the church collectively seems to be undergoing a “dark night of the soul” revival begins, not through structural schemes, programme, cause, and least of all synodical action, but quietly at home and parish level,

[53] Posted by wvparson on 05-18-2008 at 02:42 PM • top

There seems to be a fresh vibrant new Anglican Christianity rising up despite the actions and atrocities of TEC, ACoC, Canterbury, or maybe because of them. 

The Global South leaders, +Orombi, +Akinola, +Venables, et al and their US and global colleagues are giving us much reason to hope that the past confusion, conflict, disarray and disgrace can be overcome with repentance, redemption, restoration to the glory of God. 

If TEC, ACoC, CoE repent, they should be willing to be set apart *until* they bring forth fruits meet for repentance.  If not, they should be set aside until they do so.

Any compromise or connection with the unrepentant will mean continued conflict and turmoil and possibly the eventual exhaustion of orthodox Anglicans remaining in their midst.

[54] Posted by Theodora on 05-18-2008 at 05:51 PM • top

Sarah (39+53),

Would you be more specific about the leadership within CCP with whom you object (and why)? If you’ve articulated this elsewhere, a link(s) will be sufficient. I need this to make sense of your argument. Thanks.

[55] Posted by Kevin Maney+ on 05-18-2008 at 06:15 PM • top

I think, Professor Fate, that I’m not making an argument, but rather an assertion and value statements about which others can as easily assert something just the opposite.  I’m not trying to convince people who don’t believe it but merely point out why some of others are making the decisions we are making.

To do justice to my assertion—to “offer evidence” so to speak—I’d probably need to go ahead and do with those actions the same thing that I’ve done with the actions of the TEC national leadership, which is painstakingly take example after example after example and offer each one up in a single post with my analysis of each event.  And I don’t have the heart or time for that.

Nor do I believe that it would do any good.  When I speak with fellow ComCons about this issue, we finish each other’s sentences and agree.  When I speak with FedCons, most of them end up saying “well . . . you gotta break a few eggs . . . ” or “okay, yeh, they’ve made some mistakes, but it’s the best option we’ve got.”

I think I’ve said enough to make clear my assertion.  But I haven’t said enough to provide evidence for that assertion—and I decline to do that.

If anyone wishes to have a private conversation about this, that’s another matter—feel free to PM me, and heaven knows I’ve had plenty of those.

[56] Posted by Sarah on 05-18-2008 at 06:57 PM • top

Sarah, of course I do not know which CCP leaders you have such scorn for, but I wish you had been at the commencement ceremony at Trinity yesterday.  Present were ++Akinola, ++Anis, +Duncan, +Scriven (although he was in mufti), and AMiA +John Rodgers.  We also sent out a class of wonderful, in a few cases brilliant, new Anglican leaders.  There was a great feeling of promise in the air—challenge and difficulty, to be sure, but hope also—something which has been absent in recent years.  I don’t know precisely how to account for it, but there it is.  I wish you would not give up hope quite yet and would rethink exactly what message God is sending you.

[57] Posted by Ann Castro on 05-18-2008 at 07:33 PM • top

Correction, Ann Castro.  I do not “have . . . scorn” for any CCP leaders.  I have been very particular about the fact that I disagree with numerous actions, but not with scorn for the people.

On the “ComCon” side, I think I’ve been pretty straightforward about my dire disagreement with many of Bishop Howe’s actions—but I do not have “scorn” for him as a person.

[58] Posted by Sarah on 05-18-2008 at 08:51 PM • top

Sarah,
I’ve been thinking all afternoon about your pessimism in regard to the new leaders of Anglicanism in America and am saddened.  I was saddened as well by a horribly written article about new Anglicanism in this last week’s Christian Century where the writer was saying something similar about disfunction in Chicago’s AMIA churches.

I would just like to point out that many of the New Testament churches were extremely disfunctional, hence the uncomfortable chastising letters from Paul.  ...leaders were inadaquate, people were failing and sin was still present.  But, God was doing a new thing and His work could not be stopped. 

Paul himself was a difficult leader for many of the apostles to stomach but it was his risk-taking which propelled the gospel into new lands.  In the same way, many of the early years of Anglicanism itself left much to be desired in terms of leadership (not to mention the very acts of its conception).  Many other reformations were the same: early Lutheranism and Calvinism have many horror stories written in church history but that does not mean that God cannot establish the work of our hands with us and sometimes despite us.

I find that those who have spiritual gifts which are needed during times like this often come packaged together with personalities which have other natural downfalls.  But, we still have need of them and thank God for their courage…

[59] Posted by The Rev. Summer Gross on 05-18-2008 at 08:57 PM • top

Rev. Gross,
You are quite right that any victory against the organized, entrenched and determined enemy without (and within) comes in spite of the incompetance and unfaithfulness of God’s people and His leadership. That’s why we have the Gospel. It’s good news to incompetant, sinful people like us.

In the same vein, we conservative Christians need to do a better job at moving forward on knees of confession and humility, rather than false bravado and confidence in the perfection of our doctrines and structures.

The Lord can save with few or many. However, since He commands all the heavenly hosts with His power, but seemingly has not chosen to deploy them just yet to effect an Anglican revival, we have to wonder why not.

My experience is that God generally does not rescue us until we cry out in true belief that without miraculous intervention our cause is finished. Haste the day that we realize all our efforts are as the flower that perishes, and the grass that is so soon cut down.

[60] Posted by Capn Jack Sparrow on 05-18-2008 at 09:24 PM • top

It is doubtful that Bishop Howe or any other TEC bishops than have already spoken out would leave TEC to become a part of a different Anglican entity.  What might cause another fall-out is beyond imagining.

[61] Posted by Theodora on 05-18-2008 at 09:27 PM • top

I see zero hope that TEC will be reformed from within, or that a Canterbury-led realignment will occur that will rescue the orthodox parishes still in the denomination.

On the other hand, I share Ms. Hey’s stated concerns about the GS aligned US Anglican leadership, although my particular set of grievances may not be identical.  I worry that some of our new Anglican leaders, like most of their Episcopal counterparts don’t have church building skills, and their congregants don’t have a church building mindset.  CANA, AMIA, Uganda, etc. need to coalesce soon with a game plan and message that gives Americans a reason to attend these new parishes.  It must be an outward looking plan, one designed to attract people other than disaffected Episcopalians (which will be a declining base). And it must be led by charismatic (little “c”) leaders with excellent communication skills and an appreciation for modern means of communication.

However, fighting with the new Anglican churches at least provides a possibility of success, and allows me to stay in the fight without being yoked to what has become, or is fast becoming, a post-Christian denomination.  If I am going to lose a doubles match, I at least want to do it with my choice of a partner. 

I also believe that the marketplace will tell us a lot in the next couple of years.  Which of the breakaway churches achieve membership growth, raise money, construct new facilities, and makesa difference in their communities?  Which of the churches will instead remain just a group of disaffected former Episcopalians, whose numbers dwindle over time? Which of the Bishops, Priests and Deacons exhibit the type of supernatural discernment, leadership and preaching gifts that were apparent when the Holy Spirit empowered the original disciples? 

In marketing, confusion is a killer.  Look at Federal Express; it has successfully conveyed one message—“overnight.”  That’s the type of clarity we need. What is the message being conveyed today by the orthodox US Anglican entities, either in or out of TEC?  For those of us on the outside, the CANA/Uganda/AMIA mishmash, for all of its historical rationale, is a loser in the mid to long term. In terms of growth, we would be better off as community churches than trying to explain to potential churchgoers who we are, why we are part of one of these entities, and where we are going.  We need a brand that means something to the public, and best practices that really work in terms of bringing people in the door.  Otherwise we would be better off working to advance the Kingdom in other churches.

I think the jury is still out for the new Anglican movement, and I am willing to give it my time, talents and treasure until a tipping point is reached. But time is short.

[62] Posted by Going Home on 05-18-2008 at 09:38 PM • top

There are several reasons that a new cause can fail:  1.  God doesn’t bless it.  2.  There are not enough talented leaders.  3.  There is no clear business plan, mission, research, goals.  Just wanting to start over is not enough.  4.  Except for the new young leaders, the old leaders are the same ones who got the original church into the mess it is now.  How will they not repeat the same errors.  In twenty years will you be back where you are now?  5.  Is the structure of the organization unwieldly, too cumbersom,or obsolete.  Does the structure have built in failure, even if only years down the line.  In the final analysis, what ever your eccliosology, it all gets down to the local church.  No denomination can create local churches from the top down.  It all starts with individual Christians and converts in a local geographic area. Just being unhappy with your present situation is never enough.  IMHO

[63] Posted by PROPHET MICAIAH on 05-18-2008 at 10:34 PM • top

Please, everyone, take heart from the story of Moses. Moses was unworthy to lead anyone, but God chose him and made him worthy—often despite Moses’ every effort to fail. Countless stories in the Bible speak of this. Do not count yourself unworthy or unable, if you are truly called!

[64] Posted by ears2hear on 05-18-2008 at 10:44 PM • top

ears2hear wrote [45]:

There is one issue no one has discussed, which is Labor’s recent political reverses in the U.K., and the possibility of further reverses. Should another party or coalition come to the fore there, the political influences affecting the choices leading to the appointment of the ABC will have changed considerably, and the whole game could change just with that one thing. It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.

this thread touches slightly on the possible effects of a change from Labour to Tory, and especially check out comment #31 on that thread. I found it very interesting to look up the former ABC’s on Wikipedia.

[65] Posted by kyounge1956 on 05-19-2008 at 12:23 AM • top

carl wrote [42]:

Bring down Canterbury, and you will surely destroy the host that carries the parasite.  A new AC may or may not emerge.  But nothing will ever change so long as Canterbury stands in the center.

If you are looking for Anglicanism sans Canterbury, there’s plenty of it out there already: the APA, the REC, and the entire Continuing Church to name some of the major options. I do hope you are not as much of a “dog in the manger”—willing to spoil for others what you do not want for yourself—as this comment makes you appear to be.

[66] Posted by kyounge1956 on 05-19-2008 at 12:46 AM • top

But we already have a covenant with Jesus.

Luke 22:20
19 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and gave to them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.

20 And the cup in like manner after supper, saying, This cup is the new covenant in my blood, even that which is poured out for you.

The whold chapter may be read here
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke 22;&version=8;

[67] Posted by Betty See on 05-19-2008 at 01:07 AM • top

Stephen Noll wrote:

I suppose this just takes us back to the definitional issue of “Anglican,™” but even if one wants to put an asterisk by it, I do not see why Sarah and others would not choose an Anglican* alternative to carrying her Anglican heart into another Protestant body?

Sarah has already explained herself. Like her, I will not swim the Tiber because of several required doctrines for RCs that I don’t believe in. I refuse to be some other denomination’s revisionist problem!

I don’t know enough about Othodoxy at this point to be able to say the same of them. If the Anglican Communion does not survive this crisis, I will have to go check them out, and see whether I could in good faith convert to that branch of Christianity.

As for why not another Anglican body, I haven’t ruled it out. If there are any non-revisionist Methodists around here I might end up there—my results on those “what religion are you?” quizzes often include a sizable percentage of Methodist. As for CCP, I can’t say I have specific objections to specific actions by specific people as Sarah has, but in the one service I visited that was sponsored by CCP, the “vibrations” were all wrong. Not in the sense of CCP being in the wrong but that CCP is the wrong place for me. There is nothing at all pulling me in that direction, or indeed pulling me out of TEC or out of the Anglican Communion (as it currently exists). If I am pushed out or if the Communion disintegrates, a CCP related parish may be in the end the least unsatisfactory of numerous unsatisfactory options.

[68] Posted by kyounge1956 on 05-19-2008 at 01:12 AM • top

[#66] kyounge1956

You can snarl at unpleasant truth, or you can demonstrate that it is wrong.  Why have you chosen the former, and not the later?  What did I say that was untrue?  Perhaps Instead of the dog in the manger, I am the sign that says “Warning.  Bridge Out!”.  Is your analogy really superior to mine?

carl

[69] Posted by carl on 05-19-2008 at 08:54 AM • top

Sarah:
We, you and I, have had the conversation you are sharing in this thread before personally, and I am with you.  In the dozen or so years I have been actively involved, (similar to Going Home’s testimony) I have gradually become disillusioned and have retreated to the confines of my fine orthodox parish in SW Florida, and putting all efforts there.  I do this with little hope that the parish as it now exists and has existed for decades will survive.  The environment is too toxic.  But survive as long as possible, we must.  To lead the faithful/orthodox out to a new sturcture now would kill the parish quickly. And where would we go?  Most of the new structures are infected as Sarah has indicated she perceives them to be.  From my vantage point the beginning point of the problem in the new structures is “The Color Purple”.  (Surely it must be a toxic bloom as how many effective leaders in the cause in TEC have succomed to its effect?).  I think it is sage advice to adhere to Gamaliel’s edict,  If it is of God, who can stop it?
I believe with the passing of time God’s plan for His faithful remenant will be made clear.  That time has not arrived yet, in my opinion.
Doug

[70] Posted by aacswfl1 on 05-19-2008 at 09:45 AM • top

I’ve been thinking all afternoon about your pessimism in regard to the new leaders of Anglicanism in America and am saddened.

I was bothered by that for a while, too.  After all, isn’t she being a bit like Goldilocks, looking for the “perfect” solution in an imperfect world?  Then I realized that her “Goldilocks” option would be for the AC to discipline itself, and that having to go over to the EPC is far from what she would like. 

I had to face a similar problem a few years ago:  Do I remain Presbyterian (which wouldn’t be the best for my household), join a conservative Anglican denomination that borrows the problems from conservative Presbyterianism, drive hundreds of miles back and forth to church each Sunday, or drive less than hundreds of miles to a conservative Episcopal parish? 

In the end, I opted for the latter, and the decision was an extremely painful one.  Did being in an uncomfortable situation help me to grow spiritually?  You bet.  Did my new parish benefit from acquiring a conservative Presbyterian?  Time will tell. 

Sarah’s options might be a bit more open to some things because she’s unmarried - just as they are more open to yours by virtue of her not being clergy.  But when the dust settles, she’s not being offered any choices that are worth (to her) crossing the street, all things being equal.  What she will have is something I will not have - the assurance that she won’t ever have to leave the EPC over its current set of policies.  I can think of at least two sets of circumstances in which I’d have to leave a CCP parish, and as I write this I’m leaning strongly towards the CCP as the option for my household. 

She’s a big girl.  I’d feel safer with her in the CCP, but that’s life, under judgment.  On the plus side, the EPC will be getting a heckuva layperson.

[71] Posted by J Eppinga on 05-19-2008 at 11:54 AM • top

It helps to recognize what is happening, Sarah, and reading your description helps that recognition.  It reduces the pain.  Thank you.

Across a very long period, ACI has painstakingly publicized the choice that TEC has before it, and, I believe, will have to make.  ACI talks about a 2-tiered Communion for a few reasons.  First is that the ABC has publicly proposed it.  Second, as faithful priests of TEC, Turner and Seitz recognize a division is underway, but wish it weren’t so.  Don’t most on this blog have the same wish?  Because they are priests, they do not undertake division lightly, hope that the unfaithful party will return to fidelity, and have taken ordination vows to “suffer all things” for the church they serve.  They are bound as clergy, up to some point they will have to decide for themselves, to remain faithful to the unfaithful church that ordained them.  Their dedication surpasses duty, although it certainly entails it.  They also love the church that is leaving them.

Rowan Williams shares similar ordination vows with them, not to mention other ones.  It is his and Turner’s and Seitz’ love for the Anglican Church that bind them to its dying part.  They recognize that uncounted thousands are caught in the sinking ship, unaware that they are below the water line.  So they are driven to build one or more bridge(s) to the sinking ship.  One such bridge is granting a foundering TEC ecumenical relations with a covenanted Anglican Communion.  TEC would not be in the Communion, but the bridge would be in place.  There are problems with this, notably, the formalization of degrees of communion, an oxymoron by language and fraught with vulnerabilities in practice, in my view.  On the other hand, other churches have ecumenical relations with the Communion, and ACI and the ABC want a bridge at least right after the separation.  How long the bridge might last is another question.

For these reasons, I view the two-tiered proposal with pause, but think it should be given a chance, maybe, depending on details.  I grant them some benefit of the doubt because of what they have done and are doing.

As for TEC rejecting the 2-tiered proposal, it may; but, for all the wrong reasons, it may not.  And certainly among all the wrong reasons is the opportunity to use the AC as a benign host for a strengthening and spreading of TEC’s virus, as you note.

To your question, but what of a host, the ABC and ACI would try to have the Trojan Horse towed, through time, with all of its secret members, into a corral where they all would be contained as long as they remain potentially threatening, while they would be immediately captured and disarmed, should they ever become actually threatening, ever try to break out from the horse with hostile intent.

If you remove the possibility of stealth, secrecy and lawless, arbitrary force from those in a Trojan Horse, all that remains is an inanimate idol that takes itself too seriously and its disgorged, hapless members.  This is what the priests who wrote the article you reference have in mind, it seems to me.

[72] Posted by Seen-Too-Much on 05-19-2008 at 08:15 PM • top

Seen-to-Much, the ABC may want to put a group in a corral, but its not the revisionists. Did you mean to imply that, or were you simply restating the ACI’s position? In my book, every substantive (emphasis on substantive) step the ABC has taken over the last three years has been supportive of TEC’s leadership. He is much more at home with Schori than Duncan.

aacswfl1, when you say “survive as long as possible”, I immediately want to ask “why?” or “to what end?”  If the goal is to be in the best possible position to lead members to higher ground, will it ever be easier than now? I suspect not, due to attrition and the corrosive effect of the “toxic” environment in which you church exists.  The most difficult part I faced was contemplating the impact that a split would have on elderly parish members, including those with family members whose ashes were at a church site that would likely be lost..  It pained me to see the anxiety a split caused on such older members, and I didn’t second guess any of the elderly who decided they needed to remain where they were. But I ultimately realized that there are always going to be elderly members (or weddings to be held, etc.), and if that was the primary reason to stay then there would never be a time to leave. 

Since we all want the new Anglican entities to get off on the best possible foot, why not try to influence the process? You sound like someone with a lot to offer.

[73] Posted by Going Home on 05-19-2008 at 09:16 PM • top

Carl wrote:

You can snarl at unpleasant truth, or you can demonstrate that it is wrong.  Why have you chosen the former, and not the later? What did I say that was untrue?  Perhaps Instead of the dog in the manger, I am the sign that says “Warning.  Bridge Out!”.  Is your analogy really superior to mine?

In your earlier comment you wrote:
“You are defeated only so long as the traditional edifice of the Anglican Communion still stands”
“nothing will ever change so long as Canterbury stands in the center”
” Unless Canterbury is engaged now, the defeat will be total. “

I don’t accuse you of untruths, but those are opinions, not indisputable facts. Not everyone shares your view of the Communion; some of us are not convinced that it has passed the point of no return. I’m told that 2 centuries ago, the C of E was even more thoroughly infiltrated and subverted by Deism than the Communion is today by theological revisionism. God in his mercy brought about both the Evangelical and Anglo-Catholic movements and Deism lost its hold on Anglicanism. Do you know for a fact that God will not be merciful again as he was before? Then why object if those of us who desire the reform and renewal of the existing Communion attempt to bring it to pass?

The words I’ve quoted above suggested to me that you see the destruction of “the traditional edifice” of Anglicanism as a desirable thing, so to me your comment sounded more like “I’m not planning to cross the bridge myself, but it should be torn down even though other people still want to use it” than a simple warning. If that’s what you meant, I think the dog in the manger is exactly the right metaphor. Anglicanism-without-Canterbury is available to you whether the bridge stays or goes, in one of the many other Anglican entities that already exist. If that’s what you eventually choose, or have already chosen, I say in all sincerity, “Go with God, and peace be with you.” If I mistook your meaning and you meant no more than “bridge out”, you are, as I hoped, not a dog in the manger. Thank you for your warning, I’ve heard that it’s in very bad shape—in fact it’s in danger of collapsing. Oh, and thanks for letting me know I’m on the right road. I’m here to volunteer for the repair crew.

[74] Posted by kyounge1956 on 05-19-2008 at 10:15 PM • top

Do you know for a fact that God will not be merciful again as he was before?

kyounge1956

You are right, of course.  I am no prophet.  My statements are simply judgments of what I think will happen.  But my judgments are reasonable.  And if nothing changes, I believe they are inevitable.  So the question becomes “Will something change?”
 
Last month, I buried my father.  One of the things I had to do was take my Mom to the funeral home to see the presentation of the body in the casket for the first time.  From the moment you see the body until the moment of burial, you enter a twilight world of “separation but not really.”  The body is still there, and you can still sit with it.  But there is no life.  Eventually though the body must be buried, and life must go on.  The last words my father said me were “It’s time for you to go your way, and I’ll go away.”

I see no life in the leadership of the Church of England.  How many of its priests are functional atheists?  Who calls them to account?  How many of its bishops deny the work of the cross?  How many deny the resurrection?  Who calls them to account?  How many agree with TEC in its revision of orthodoxy?  How many would welcome Gene Robinson as a bishop in good standing?  Who calls them to account?  Who will reclaim the church if the leadership is corrupted?  That very eventuality has killed TEC.  Will the CoE be spared even as it drinks from the same cup?

Now you will say to me “God can raise the dead.”  And He can.  That is the hope of every Christian.  But in the meantime, we would have to sit with the body in the funeral home day after day - hoping that God will perform a miracle.  Eventually, the body must be buried.  You can’t wait forever.  Life must go on.  But even so nothing is too hard for God.  We know that if God can raise the dead, He can do so even if the body is six feet under ground in box; even if its ashes are scattered across the dust of seven continents.  To bury the body is not to reject hope.

I would never say to you “Leave! Get out!”  In fact, I originally thought to use the metaphor of Mr Ligthholler on the Titanic pleading with passengers to get into the lifeboat, but rejected it for just that reason.  My purpose is not to convince people to flee from the wrath to come.  I only want you to recognize that you are sitting in that twilight world; sitting a funeral home with a dead body waiting for a miracle.  I fear that you will sit for many years in the presence of corruption because you can’t bear to bury the body.  As long as your eyes are open, then we are at peace.

carl

[75] Posted by carl on 05-20-2008 at 08:24 AM • top

Sarah, I know you have studied the situation for a long time, but even you may find, eventually, that CCP is the only real option.  I do think there are real problems that should be faced openly and at once.  Some of these concern the number of foreign entities that are protecting US congregations.  I would favor a rather drastic plan for unity; I realize that many objections would be raised, but I think it would be best if the churches of Nigeria, Uganda,  Bolivia, etc.—who have said that their support is “temporary”—would place their congregations under a single sponsor, perhaps the Southern Cone since it is in the Americas.  All of these provinces would probably be cooperative if their vision for the future is held in common, and the immediate issues that would arise would not be as daunting now, at this early stage, as they could be later.  I believe that the resulting unified body would look better to the Communion for a new AC province.

[76] Posted by Paula on 05-20-2008 at 06:15 PM • top

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