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The Very Rev. Dr. Robert S. Munday: A Response to Ephraim Radner

Friday, August 3, 2007 • 5:07 am


A Response to Ephraim Radner

On Stand Firm, Greg Griffith has commented on the Rev. Dr. Ephraim Radner’s resignation this week from the Anglican Communion Network. To say, as Greg does, that Ephraim Radner’s resignation was done clumsily is too generous. His “resignation” was nothing less than an unwarranted public attack on Bishop Robert Duncan. Radner acts as if the direction the Network is taking is due to Bishop Duncan alone. Bishop Duncan is not a Pied Piper leading naive children. The members of the Network Council who met this past week are bishops and elected representatives of the several dioceses that comprise the Network, along with representatives of regional convocations composed of several thousand Episcopalians and other Anglicans in parishes that are not in Network dioceses. These elected leaders are members of diocesan councils and standing committees, deputies to the Episcopal Church’s General Convention—delegates with many years of experience at all levels of the Episcopal Church. These bishops and diocesan leaders re-elected Bishop Duncan as Moderator of the Network by acclamation. Dr. Radner, on the other hand, was elected by no one and speaks for no one other than himself and possibly the other scholars of the Anglican Communion Institute.

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Further on, Dr. Munday says, “I fear that these gentlemen live in their heads so much that they cannot appreciate the anger and frustration of many grass roots Episcopalians who have grown weary of endless meetings, faithless leaders, and “dialogue” designed to keep conservatives occupied while liberals consolidate their gains.”

Precisely.  With +Lee’s actions yesterday, and all the other ratcheting-up going on, The Day is fast approaching.

[1] Posted by bigjimintx on 08-03-2007 at 06:17 AM • top

Dr. Radner seems to be following what he wrote in Hope among the Fragments in 2004:

“Here I would simply like to state, in relatively concrete and sometimes personal terms, why staying put is not and cannot be apostasy even in the face of ecclesial failure and self-deception…My main desire is to explain why theological conservatives like myself not only wish to remain working within the bounds and communion, in this case, of as confused a denomination as the Episcopal Church of the U.S.A., but also why I believe it is an evangelical imperative that we do so.” pp. 199-200

He asked and discussed: Do Conservatives Have a Valid Ecclesiology?

“Part of our reactive temptation to do otherwise springs from the models of the church within which most contemporary ministers work, especially our models of the church in crisis.  Our instincts since the sixteenth century have been well trained to sense that ecclesial error is simply something that brooks no compromise and association.” p. 204

I don’t know what path I’ll take after September 30—continuing church, starting a mission under auspices of an offshore bishop—paper work was prepared some time ago—or staying put in a “sea of apostasy” that seems to overflow its banks more and more all the time. 
I sense a consistency in Dr. Radner’s path, even after the House of Bishop’s debacle earlier this year.  Maybe now is the time to cut the ties, but has Dr. Radner ever said he’d be using the scissors?

[2] Posted by Sparky on 08-03-2007 at 06:23 AM • top

I listened to the actual interview and transcribed them more fully. The Living Church article really botched it.

Two very important points when one listens to the actual words of the interview rather than the Living Church reporting:
1) The “lost”-ness of the ABC and Lambeth is an idea of the ABp of Sydney that the good Bp Duncan is putting out for the conference to consider. See the bolded portion of Bp Duncan’s response in the transcript. Discussion of ideas is one of the main functions of conferences.
2) A critical mis-transcription: The Living Church article states that Bp Duncan said that the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Lambeth Conference has been lost as an “instrument of the Communion.” The actual words were lost as an “instrument of unity.” Father Ephraim has said himself that the ABC has made some major gaffes. Is there anybody here who doesn’t think that he hindering rather than helping unity at this point? And the early invitations to Lambeth, is there anybody who doesn’t think that this hasn’t increased polarization? Thus, Bp Duncan or the bishop of Sydney are saying the obvious, that they are lost as instruments of “unity.”

There are many that have expressed concern in regards to the anger against Ephraim. Actually, what I read is mostly strong disagreement. Father Ephraim is a big boy, and he can handle that. There are those who have questioned his timing of leaving the parish priesthood and “running off to academia”. I, as one of his parishioners, would tell you that he and his wife have poured their souls into our little orthodox bastion, and it has flourished. An incredibly, fantastic opportunity knocked last spring, and he, very understandably, decided to answer. He will do wonderfully there as he has done here. I don’t fault him a bit for this but will sorely miss him and Rev Annette.

“Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.”

[3] Posted by rob-roy on 08-03-2007 at 06:23 AM • top

So if I get a PhD do I earn the right to act childish?

Maybe I’m just too simple, but I’m watching this whole Dr. Radner resignation with horror. I really think he blew it. I read his resignation as a erudite temper tantrum of one who watch an organization move in a direction he does not like. Then I’m witnessing MANY every knowledgeable men respond with a tad more grace but certainly no that becoming and other ‘responses.’

I glad +Duncan has remained silent, if he’s wise he’ll continue to do so or speak a kind word to Dr Radner+ despite everything.

In the providence of God, the Christian radio station broadcast this Real   Familylife spot:
Handling Anger—“How do you handle your childrens’ anger? Especially your teenagers’ anger?”

Most teenagers do struggle with feelings of anger. Helping my children deal with these emotions in a positive way is one of the toughest challenges I’ve ever tackled as a father. Part of the reason is that when my children get angry, well, guess what? I do, too. I get angry with them.

It’s critical that parents of teenagers maintain self - control. According to Dr. H. Paul Gabriel, and his book “Anticipating Adolescence,” we as parents need to listen to our children without getting angry with them. He writes, “Without that feeling, they simply won’t have the necessary trust to turn to you with the serious issues of adolescence.”

One final thought. We need to remember that we are adults, not teenagers. We need to show maturity. That involves self - control when our children show anger in an immature way.

I guess it really touched me of what REALLY upsetting me about watching the Orthodox Federal Conservatives react to what I perceive as an emotional outburst of a Orthodox Communion Conservative. Yes, I think it was way out of line, but we can control how we respond to it. Maybe I such a simple man that I’m waiting for someone to be the adult in the situation.

[4] Posted by Hosea6:6 on 08-03-2007 at 06:35 AM • top

The Very Rev Dr Robert S. Manley (how about we just say VRDRSM?) writes, “They (the ACI) should not be surprised that there are those of us who think their optimism is just as unwarranted as their criticism of the Network leadership.” What I think is the ACI underestimates is how many of the core orthodox have said Sept 30th is truly the last deadline, and they are waiting to jump. This will fundamentally alter the politics. For those orthodox left in the TEC, it will be dramatically uglier. Duncan, Iker, and Ackerman are shepherds that are willing to stand up to the wolf for the sheep.

[5] Posted by rob-roy on 08-03-2007 at 06:53 AM • top

Rob-roy:

It’s not so much how you start the race, as how you finish it.  He doesn’t seem to be finishing well.

Many of these clergy simply have not been trained about what to do in extremely difficult situations, involving lots of pressure.  And that’s why there is a problem of us looking to clergy to lead us out of this.

[6] Posted by Tom Dupree, Jr. on 08-03-2007 at 06:57 AM • top

Painfully good point Tom. Who among us can easily pull the trigger on our familiar, safe circumstances? The future is uncertain. Far easier to stay in our ivory towers, tut tuting about how bad things have become. For some, pensions will be lost, others their wonderful buildings. And eventually, even some of our best friends.

[7] Posted by AngloTex on 08-03-2007 at 07:34 AM • top

I do understand that it is likely that Dr. Radner, being a member of the Covenant Design team, probably should NOT be considered a member of the Network. Its probably true that being a member, and/or being actinve might show some bias. That alone would have been reason for him to resign.

In my mind, at least, it was not the decision, but the personal and theological, public attack on +Duncan that caused a severe reaction among the orthodox, and a corresponding shout of joy from the re-appraisers. That was the mis-step on Dr. Radners part.

It would seem, at least in my mind, that since the resignation was public, that there indeed should be a public apology.  Not for resigning, but for the severe things said about a brother in Christ and the damage done to the Network’s efforts.

Just MHO
Grannie Gloria

[8] Posted by Grandmother on 08-03-2007 at 07:44 AM • top

I cannot imagine what it is like to be in academic life at so bucolic a setting as Nashotah House, and I have great respect for my friend Robert Munday. But the idea that ACI theologians have avoided academic conflict, fought no battles in University life, written no books that did not earn them derision and hurt their professional ‘advancement’ and just live in their heads is sad commentary from a fellow traveler.

“I fear that these gentlemen live in their heads so much that they cannot appreciate the anger and frustration of many grass roots Episcopalians who have grown weary of endless meetings, faithless leaders, and “dialogue” designed to keep conservatives occupied while liberals consolidate their gains.”

No, we are working full out with Windsor Bishops and with key leaders in the Communion precisely to the degree that we are aware of the anguish. This is not at issue. At issue is what kind of solution is to be sought: one that protects the legacy, in Christ, of what the missional life of Anglicanism is, globally.

May God bless the work of Dean Munday in the very important vocation of teaching ordinands to live in their heads, hearts, wills, hands and feet. For Christ’s sake.

[9] Posted by zebra on 08-03-2007 at 07:51 AM • top

I listened to the actual interview and transcribed them more fully. The Living Church article really botched it.

Just a little - I watched it as he gave it on live stream and its the difference between Bishop Duncan saying, “The ABC is struggling to pass a class” and Radner (and others) saying, “Bishop Duncan says the ABC has an F!”

Mr Seitz-ACI:

The ACI has a choice.  Is it going to continue to be allied with those who no longer recognize or believe in Jesus as THE Christ, 2000 years of historic Christianity, and the authority of Scripture OR is it going to be allied with those who do.

I can be married to a someone who I have to nag all the time to pick up his clothes and brush his teeth.  There is a small chance that he might listen (though I think it would rather harden his heart against me) OR I can be married to someone who I know from the start does these things.  Perhaps I am not into constant conflict, but I guess I choose the latter.

[10] Posted by Eclipse on 08-03-2007 at 08:26 AM • top

Eclipse transcribed the interview, which included the following comment from Duncan: “I was actually expanding on a remark that the ABp of Sydney had made two weeks ago in a breakfast we had together. “

Does anyone know what Duncan actually said? Is it posted somewhere online for folks to read.  Seems like what he said is important here but Munday’s link to context takes us only back to the Radner resignation post.  I know there was a lot of coverage about the Network meetings so I assume his words are posted somewhere.  A little help?

[11] Posted by Widening Gyre on 08-03-2007 at 08:33 AM • top

I read Dr. Radner’s resignation and statement as a very public statement of personal views of past, present and future orthodox leadership aims within TEC and AC as this pertains to the current crisis in the communion.  Publicly, most recognize the leadership of Bp. Duncan in this effort.  This has not been the case behind the scenes as over the years, there has been both overt and covert jocking for “key man” positions regarding which orthodox group and/or leader most effectly represents the broadness of the orthodox in TEC.  Knowing that what one sees publicly is not always a reflection of what transpires behind the scenes, I view Dr. Radner’s public statement as one meant not so much as to ellicit comment from the hoi polloi as we have seen but rather as a statement meant to rattle the private conscience and emotions of those working behind the scenes including Duncan and other Network bishops. 

I have read very little from key figures in the orthodox community regarding Dr. Radner’s resignation and his statement.  I doubt we will see any substantive discussion on the issues raised by Dr. Radner at this crucial point.  Certainly we can expect more “damage control” articles such as the Rev. Dr. Mundy’s piece, however, substantive analysis will only be carried out in hindsight by church historians in the coming years. 

I can not but wonder how much what Dr. Radner has stated resonnates privately with orthodox bishops and ACN clergy.  I suspect respect for him has motivated some to remain silent in the hopes of averting escalating the tension and sending out a terrible signal that there is division within orthodox ranks.  Certainly at this point in the game, the orthodox have gone too far along to bail out of the ACN boat.  Dr. Radner has certainly been brave on this issue although I am cognizant that as a theologian and academic now, he has a luxury which few bishops have - he can walk away with less onerous repercussions.  I suspect many do not like the way he has publicly carried out his resignation despite the fact that there is also quiet agreement with many of Dr. Radner’s views. 

Many support the ACN approach lead by Bp. Duncan not so much because they agree with it but rather because they truly see no other option.  Do more ACN leaders agree with Radner?  Are they merely afraid that there is no other lifeboat to board?  No one wants to be the party pooper.  Dr. Radner has become the party pooper.  I admire his integrity in resigning from the ACN for reasons which he states.  I believe there are others who have not had the fortitude to stand with him because they fear they have no other choice but to stay on the ACN boat - rightly or wrongly.  At this point, bailing out is the kiss of death.  So the real pulse of other ACN bishops will only remain known to those behind the scenes. 

Dr. Radner’s resignation has been a public notice of his departure, an airing of “dirty laundry” and a public appeal to the conscience of ACN bishops who publicly go along with the party line but privately believe they may be walking the plank (albeit praying it isn’t).  Unfortunately, there has been little reason for the orthodox to believe that Dr. Radner’s suggested waiting out the process will fair well for the orthodoxTEC has continued its assault on the orthodox and as long as that persists, there will be very few who despite their private empathy for Dr. Radner’s views, will get out of the ACN lifeboat.  Best wishes to Dr. Radner.  His voice within ACN will be a loss.

[12] Posted by richardc on 08-03-2007 at 08:35 AM • top

WG:

It was actually posted on StandFirm here -

  <a > link </a>

I’d love to tell you I transcribed it - but no, I just watched it on Anglican TV.

[13] Posted by Eclipse on 08-03-2007 at 08:41 AM • top

I propose a moratorium on public letters / responses / resignations etc Enough is enough already. Lets all take a deep breath…

[14] Posted by Anselmic on 08-03-2007 at 08:44 AM • top

I remember reading Sarah Hey’s first installment of “Little Stone Bridges” and even, with permission of course, published it in our parish news letter.  In it she wrote that those who left after GC06 were still friends, but that things would never be the same between us. 

I wonder if Dr. Radner feels the same way.  The orthodox have praised Dr. Radner as long has they could use his views to support their agenda.  When he no longer wants to sail with us, we turn on him, question his commitment and insight.  It is interesting to note that the orthodox have done the same thing with Bishop NT Wright. The attacks come when these men remain consistent to living as they are advocating others live.  If you could not see Dr. Radner’s resignation coming then you never read “The Fate of Communion.” 

Dean Munday criticises Dr. Radner for a public attack, then says that Dr. Radner lives in his head so much that he does not udnerstand our anger and frustration.  As a son of the House, I am sad to see this level of rhetoric coming from the Dean.  I would suggest another interpretation.  Perhaps it is precisely because Dr. Radner understands the anger and frustration of many that he has done and said what he has.  When our actions are based on anger and frustration, we seldom act in concert with our core values.  We sacrifice long term principle based success for short term values gains, and begin a downward spiral as we act based in the flesh.  We stop living proactively and we live reactively.  What we need is to live proactively, to stop allowing the actions of others to determine our actions.  This is what men like Turner and Radner are doing. 

Having said all this, I will acknowledge that no one has elected me to speak for them.  So, Dean Munday, you may safely ignore this comment.  It does not represent the thought of anyone other than one alumnus of the House who remembers fondly the discipline of Daily Morning Prayer and Eucharist, and continues to employ Daily Morning Prayer as a discipline.

[15] Posted by revrj on 08-03-2007 at 09:17 AM • top

In defense of Father Ephraim: To put my viewpoint in perspective, I am one of Ephraim’s parishioners, but I also disagree with the ACI on several major points and, in contrast, agree with pretty much everything Stephen Noll says. 

Rather than Ephraim being “childish”, I think that he was reading the Living Church “rag” (just kidding, but I don’t think they did a good job on this one) and he fired off a letter hastily. Again see my transcription of here of Bp Duncan’s words or see the actual interview here. I agree that the ACI and the Covenant Design Committee have different outlooks, but seeing the open debate in the ACN meeting (rather than smoked filled back rooms of 815), it is obvious that there are many sundry views represented in the ACN. Father Ephraim’s letter was melodramatic, hasty and inopportune, in my opinion. Again, he can handle disagreement. As to “not finishing well”, I would say the finish line is sadly a long way off. Tom Dupree expressed doubts about his ability to handle the pressure of crisis leadership. He is made of pretty stern stuff, having been steeled in wilds of Burundi and slogging it out as a parish priest in hostile Colorado.

Bishops Duncan, Iker, and Ackerman talked about how the present situation in the communion can be likened to a dysfunctional family and their desire to make it better. We have here a family disagreement. Tempers flare, so be it. We love each other despite of this.

[16] Posted by rob-roy on 08-03-2007 at 09:49 AM • top

I know nothing of Rev’d Radner’s motives and think it uncharitable for others to speculate. Perhaps it was a bad day and he was angry, perhaps he’d just burnt the toast for breakfast, perhaps he was being courageous. I can’t know his motives. All I can judge is his words and deeds and it seems to me, whether you agree or disagree, they are worthy of respect.

I know nothing of his motives other than what he occasionally reveals in his wiritings but I do know he said nothing in the the last few days that he has not been saying for the best part of a decade.

[17] Posted by driver8 on 08-03-2007 at 09:54 AM • top

The issue is not “waiting until September 30”.  Thats a red herring, a date that will pass without diminishing Dr. Radner’s critisism of the ACN or Duncan. Dr. Radner makes a case for “staying at the table” and attending Lambeth, regardless of what happens on Sept. 30, regardless of who is invited, regardless of whether there is a primates meeting or even if regardless of whether TEC is disciplined in our lifetime.

Bishop Duncan has been a strong force for moderation within the ACN. He has been critisized for not taking more forceful action. He was reelected because he is respected and has done a good job.

[18] Posted by Going Home on 08-03-2007 at 11:04 AM • top

I have had the good fortune to know Ephraim over the past several years.  He is intellectually brilliant, with a huge amount of integrity and the courage to go along with it.

I don’t agree with everything he does or says (although I do agree with this resignation) but I always know that his words and actions deserve respect.  Even if I disagree at the moment, I remember, and sometimes I find that after all, he was right and I was wrong.

Ephraim’s voice is vitally important in the current debate.

[19] Posted by Walkerhound on 08-03-2007 at 11:08 AM • top

revrj - some of what you’ve written echoes what’s been said on some reappraising blogs as well: namely, that Rev. Radner gets dumped as soon as crosses the conservatives.

I believe that’s untrue.

First, criticism of ACI and its accommodationist stance didn’t start with this resignation letter.  It’s received plenty of airing at SF alone, and it’s been ably countered by no less than Chris Seitz himself.

Second, in my opinion, the arguments against Radner’s stance have been largely substantive.  He isn’t above criticism, nor do I think he would claim to be.

We are in a situation where we have no good options.  Naturally, those advocating for a course of action mutually exclusive to others will receive (and give) arguments from those that feel otherwise.  This is not “turning on” each other, it’s a vigorous discussion that is healthy and necessary.

To the extent the discussion has become more emotional than necessary - and, after all, the topic is an important one, so we shouldn’t expect otherwise - I think it stems from the perceived tone of Radner’s letter, and that, too, is fair game.

[20] Posted by Phil on 08-03-2007 at 11:11 AM • top

My comment over at ToAllTheWorld:

I don’t think Dr. Radner+‘s comments were prompted by any sort of optimism, but rather by a combination of his ecclesiology (laid out in great, not to say inordinate, depth in his many books) and the realization that however we may personally feel and however desperate may be the particular situation of individuals and parishes facing ECUSA repression, it is nonetheless true that the action of the Primates after Sept. 30 will have an enormous effect on the status of orthodox Anglicanism in North America.  And it is equally true that, given the recent turnover in the Primates, the leanings of the ABC will in turn have an effect on the decisions of the Primates.

Over the last several months +++Rowan has appeared to be increasingly under the influence of the thoroughly revisionist Anglican Communion Office, which at this point appears to be running the show.  But he may yet be brought to his senses, and simply writing him off—as +Duncan appeared to, though it seems he was misquoted in TLC—is at best premature and at worst monumentally counterproductive.

I agree that Dr R+‘s statement was (uncharacteristically) rash and uncharitably worded.  But I also believe that some such action on his part was necessary—particularly given that the ACI’s audience since its inception has not been American orthodox, but rather the Primates and the ABC.

So optimism has played little part in this affair; if anything, it is perhaps more Dr R+‘s pessimism, based on his extensive study of institutional fragmentation within the Church in the past—the Nonjurors, the Jansenists, the French church, and so on and so on nearly endlessly.

[21] Posted by Craig Goodrich on 08-03-2007 at 11:21 AM • top

Robroy writes: 

o I think that he was reading the Living Church “rag” (just kidding, but I don’t think they did a good job on this one) and he fired off a letter hastily.

o Father Ephraim’s letter was melodramatic, hasty and inopportune, in my opinion.

o We have here a family disagreement. Tempers flare, so be it. We love each other despite of this.

o Again see my transcription of here of Bp Duncan’s words or see the actual interview here.

Friends, I’d like to build upon the essential groundwork laid here by RobRoy and suggest a possible way forward out of this mess:

(1)  Dr. Radner may have acted upon the Living Church article.  As RobRoy pointed out earlier, there was a “big disconnect” between the reporting in the article and the actual interview.

(2)  Therefore, I suggest Dr. Radner contacting Rev. Duncan for clarification of the remarks that Dr. Radner found “disturbing” or “objectionable”.  Remarks that lead him to send his Day 2 resignation letter out publically.

(3)  If Dr. Radner can establish for himself that he acted on a false premise, or a faulty assumption based on a mistaken understanding of what Rev. Duncan actually said, then….

(4)  Dr. Radner has the choice of publically rescinding his resignation from ACN and offering his humble mea culpas.  I sincerely hope that he chooses to rescind his resignation.

(5)  Forgiveness, healing, peace, restoration, reconciliation, and true unity brought about within the orthodox Anglicans in North America.  Wailing and gnashing by the theologically liberal revisionists.

(6)  Generate more blog threads on StandFirm and Titus 1:9.

Very Simple.

[22] Posted by Truth Unites... and Divides on 08-03-2007 at 11:27 AM • top

Truth Unites… and Divides :

I’d love to think so… however, his resignation came about before the article was done… at least I saw his resignation before I saw the LC article - but since I’m not omnipresent (sigh) I could be wrong.

Any road, you’d think he’d have the common sense to check it out with B. Duncan before going off shift…

[23] Posted by Eclipse on 08-03-2007 at 11:31 AM • top

TUD, Rob-Roy, and Eclipse,

Since y’all seem most familiar with the “texts at issue,” could you point out what you think Radner was reading when he came up with the “lost” comment.  I assumed Radner was reacting to something Duncan said at the ACN meeting, but when I read Duncan’s address (thanks E) I missed the “lost” comment (I may have overlooked it in my scan read).  As for the interview, LeBlanc asks again about the lost comment and Duncan said he was expanding on something another bishop said earlier.  Again, where did Duncan give his “expansion” comment? In his address?  Help is greatly appreciated.  Peace.

[24] Posted by Widening Gyre on 08-03-2007 at 11:35 AM • top

“I fear that these gentlemen live in their heads so much that they cannot appreciate the anger and frustration of many grass roots Episcopalians who have grown weary of endless meetings, faithless leaders, and “dialogue” designed to keep conservatives occupied while liberals consolidate their gains.”

I think that is a quite accurate assessment of the way that Radner+, the ACI, and a host of others see the situation. If we could just have one more meeting, extend one more deadline, have one more discussion, attend one more Lambeth, then everything would be sunshine and roses and maybe the revisionistas will suddenly come to their senses and we can all just get along again lah-dee-doo-dah.

I am sick and tired of all this beating around the bush. As far as I am concerned, September 30 is a hard deadline. TECusaCORP either repents & backs up or does nothing and is severely disciplined. If neither happens, stick a fork in me, I’m done. I’ve had it. I don’t have time for this as I am pushing 60 years old and desperately want a church that I would not be ashamed to be buried from.

To those who would say “These things take time. The early Councils took years to make their changes”, I say balderdash. The early Councils took place before there were airplanes, telephones, internet and email, and televisions. We have the ability to come together and settle things now. All that is lacking is the will to do it.

the snarkster

[25] Posted by the snarkster on 08-03-2007 at 11:48 AM • top

As I said, Bps Duncan, Iker, and Ackerman were very forthright in that there are some “minor speed bumps” such as WO or accession, i.e., there are disparate views on various issues. If one looks at the resolutions that were passed and not passed, they are all entirely consistent with ACI. The resignation is not inconsistent with his longheld beliefs. I do wish the circumstances are different.

Actually, I believe that the “difference of opinions” between the ACN and ACI might be helpful. ACI is seeking an inside resolution. ACN is seeking an outside/inside resolution. Though different paths, may we all end up at the same finish line.

[26] Posted by robroy on 08-03-2007 at 11:51 AM • top

Thank you Dr. Munday for a very good response to Ephriam Radner’s public resignation from the ACN and what seems to be his anger at remarks (mis-reported by The Living Church—thank you rob-roy above) by Bishop Duncan in Ft. Worth.  I have just returned from the Ft. Worth meeting and all I heard in those remarks by Bishop Duncan was frustration that the Archbishop of Canterbury has failed as an “instrument of unity” in the Communion—something that has been discussed at length on this blog.
  Who has not been frustrated by what Rowan Williams has said, left unsaid, done, left undone over the past (almost four years now)? I would think Ephriam Radner would be sharing some of this frustration, as he is seems to be devoted to the process of the Windsor Report as the hope for solving the immense problems in the Anglican Communion.  I would say that at no time have Bishop Duncan or any of the leaders of the ACN abandoned that same hope, (and endured quite a bit of criticism as someone above has pointed out, for their patience) until the strange and shocking attempt to give TEC a pass at the beginning of the DES meeting (there-by undermining the Windsor process, and all that has happened since that meeting which we do not need to discuss again.
Dr. Radner has broken fellowship and criticized, unfairly I believe, the person who is the best example of Christian leadership we could possibly have as Biblically orthodox Anglicans. I wish he could have been with us in Ft. Worth for all of the worship and prayer and praise (30% of the time we spent together) and for the Bible study from Archbishop Venables.  This was a blessed gathering where true unity in Christ prevailed and where once again we saw the leadership of bishops and priests and laity who first and foremost are following their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, led by a man, around whom the Lord has gathered faithful people some still inside, many now outside, what he describes as the “mother church who raised us.” 
I wish Dr. Radner could have been there to have shared in the resolve of those gathered to continue to move forward in Spirit in truth, trusting in God’s promises, not man’s, to chart our course.  I think he would have been blessed, just as I was.

[27] Posted by BettyLee Payne on 08-03-2007 at 11:54 AM • top

Did another of the commmentors read Dr. Radner’s followup comment on T19? Doesn’t appear so. here ‘tis:

      188. Ephraim Radner wrote:
Many of the postings here are quite angry at me, and I hope I will be forgiven for not having read every one of them.  I suppose I can understand some of the negative feelings directed towards me.  I have no desire, however, and despite my weakness in wanting to avoid this conflict, to slink away silently.  One should be willing to face criticism, and there is that aplenty.  So let me say a couple of things in response to some of the concerns raised here.
One view is that I have somehow “betrayed” the cause of orthodoxy within Anglicanism.  Obviously, I do not think so, and although there are more liberal bloggers who see all this as a matter of “Radner finally seeing some sense”, that is not the right take on this whole affair at all.  I am as adamant as anyone here that TEC has lost its way, perhaps irreparably in its present configuration, and in so doing has and continues (in its “official” Convention structures of Executive Council especially, and 815 bureaucracy) to subvert the Gospel witness we are bound to “propagate”.  And I believe this must be opposed and without dilution of effort and heart.
But my resignation from the ACN itself was a necessary move to make.  It simply made no sense – logically, theologically, and morally— for a member of the Covenant Design Group like myself to remain a member of an organization that has, through its chief leader and spokesperson, repudiated the very basis for the work I accepted and accepted willingly and under the Lord.  I vowed at my ordination before God to “take my share in the councils of the Church”, and the Covenant process is at the center of these councils within Anglicanism and its Communion at present.  There was no question in my mind, when faced with this choice, about which direction I am bound to go. I need to say very clearly, however, that it is not a choice I wanted to make, nor a choice that I wish had been forced upon me.  Yet, for all that, I did not seek it out or invent it.  Someone else did.
But the vow is not empty or merely “formal” here, nor merely personal and private.  I also believe – and I have argued this, I hope consistently for some time —that these councils, agreed-upon and worked out and followed through (however slowly), are the only means by which both to further the Gospel’s preaching and witness and (as an essential part of that Gospel) by which to act as a measure of unity in the Lord’s truth.  To say that this is all “over” and “lost” and that it is time to invent some new and better means to pursue this – in the midst of a broken church no less!, as if we have nothing to learn from the past as to what the dangers and failures are of this kind of desperate giving up on the mechanisms of our common life! – to say this is, as I said, not only a mark of uncalled-for desperation, but an arrow into the heart of the calling God has in fact given us.  Time has not “run out”, faith has not simply vanished from among us and those who labor for the Communion’s faith and witness, and the councils of the church, however unsanctified by our long-standing divisions and disdain of our gifts from the Scriptures, from the saints, from the past and from our separated brethren, are still the vessels God has given us for our repentance and renewal through His Spirit given where we find ourselves.  It is possible to feel, privately, that this is not the case; but we are not free, as servants of the Church of Christ, to pronounce upon the Church’s own viability in her structures of authority.  Even David respected Saul, and was commended for it.


Hope this helps assauge some of the criticism which has been directed at one of the finest theologians of our time and a solid friend and counselor to the orthodox.

[28] Posted by Doubting Thomas on 08-03-2007 at 12:02 PM • top

WG

The first statement by +Duncan came in answer to questions after his address.  You can watch it here

http://www.anglicantv.org/blog/index.cfm/2007/8/2/ACN-Council-Meeting-2007-Session-One

As I recall, the most interesting part came about 25-30 minutes in.

The elaboration came in the Monday press conference:

http://www.standfirminfaith.com/index.php/site/article/4760/

[29] Posted by wildfire on 08-03-2007 at 12:06 PM • top

Doubting Thomas:

Not only was +Radner’s 2nd comment read, it was posted here and received 60 comments:

http://www.standfirminfaith.com/index.php/site/article/4815/

[30] Posted by James Manley on 08-03-2007 at 12:08 PM • top

Dean Munday,
My thanks to you for joining in the fray.  Opinions of Dr. Radner’s letter aside (which is not to imply that I disagree, but I think we have all worried about it enough already), we owe you a debt for your willingness to be a voice of reason on the HoBD listserve.  Thanks to the link above, I have discovered your blog, which will doubtless provide a weekend or 2 of reading material.

Dr. Seitz,
I believe that all of us, when we set our emotions aside, have a great respect for the work that ACI has done.  I think we would be better off if we all obeyed the spirit of the SF rules- that we will not point fingers at one another over who stays in and who leaves TEC.  That said, I think that the “ivory tower charge” laid against ACI- that you do not understand the “front line” point of view, could be answered simply enough.  If we are to stay in TEC, we need to know: What would you have us do if:
As a bishop, one is presented? (as bishop Cox)
As a priest, one is inhibited?  Or, alternately, must deal with a bishop visiting the parish, preaching a false gospel, or requiring false answers to questions in confirmation?
As a layman, one must confront, on a weekly basis, false gospel preached from the pulpit, a new rector whose “lifestyle” is incompatible with the priesthood, or being barred from vestry service based on one’s orthodox beliefs?
How do parishes avoid being declared “in distress” if they refuse to accept revisionist clergy?
These are some of the reasons that have been expressed to me by friends who have left the church.  How could the people in these situations have stayed in TEC, when their mission and ministry is prohibited by that church?  Believe me, I have no desire to leave the faithful congregation of which I am now a part.  On the other hand, I don’t think the choice will be mine much longer. 

A couple of general comments:
It seems that much of the current discussion (leaving aside the apparent personal friction between ACI and some other orthodox Anglican leaders) is over when to declare TEC a failure.  Some already have, some of us are awaiting events, some never will.  Personally, I think to define and label one another based on each personal timeline is erroneous and only serves to divide us.  Perhaps it is time for a covenant among the orthodox- literally.  I wonder if we would be well served, as dioceses, parishes and individuals, to sign off on the draft covenant as it is.  In that way, those in Common Cause and those who choose to stay in TEC would have a common frame of reference as orthodox Anglicans.

A great deal hinges, it seems to me, on the immediate aftermath of the HoB meeting.  At the Network’s post-council news conference, someone in the audience suggested putting together a way for those of us willing to contribute to the funding of a primates meeting to do so (should the ACO decline to fund such a meeting due to “budget constraints).  Does anyone know if this indeed being done?  (Heck, would Dr. Munday or Dr. Radner like to host such an event at Nashotah or Toronto?)

I think it is time to set Dr. Radner’s resignation aside, and get back to work on the preservation of orthodoxy in North America.

TJ

[31] Posted by tjmcmahon on 08-03-2007 at 12:16 PM • top

Any road, you’d think he’d have the common sense to check it out with B. Duncan before going off shift…

Ahh-hemmm, aaah-hemmmm, trying to clear my raspy throat to softly whisper “Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.”

[32] Posted by Truth Unites... and Divides on 08-03-2007 at 12:45 PM • top

tjmcmahon,

Which brand of orthodoxy are we to preserve?  The crux of this issue revolves around issues with which the orthodox leadership has been quietly grappling namely, the broadness of orthodoxy and the associated difficulties keeping all together.  The covenant approach insures that both progressives and orthodox can hopefully affirm one core doctrinal position on the essentials. 

Radner and others believe this may be possible and may present the only way forward as one Anglican Communion.  The ACN believes the evidence put forth by the progressives nullifies any such possibility.  The ACN will alternatively proceed at this time to bring together orthodox Anglicans to create a more faithful representation of Anglicanism to the world.  Over the past 6 months, I have come to have serious reservations about the sustainability of such an effort.  We can not even treat our own brethen within orthodox circles with respect now, what makes us think we will behave any differently under a new province? 

Behind close doors, people grapple with the reality of what is to become of the orthodox coalition under a new realignment.  Who will lead it?  We fail to publicly address these realities because we are so distressed by the current TEC heresies that any other option is a better reality than this “TEC hell” we currently endure.  Little do we realize that once the TEC heresy is addressed by our realignment, other currently festering internal strifes loom.

Radner’s resignation irks us not because its publicity was viewed as “caustic” or sour grapes.  We can live with that as is evidenced here and other blogs where we canabalize our own.  I suggest Radner’s resignation is troubling because it unearths and makes public, divisions which currently exist within orthodoxy.  Such publicity may be viewed as detrimental to “the cause” if the orthodox masses lose hope.

We are on the horizon of the perfect storm.  I believe Radner would believe that as heretical as TEC may be, riding the storm together may have less casualty to the orthodox than they believe going at it the way currently proposed by +Duncan.  The covenant process allows all of us to survive.  The current ACN strategy will lead us to remain wholly orthodox only until such time when the fissures become evident.  Usually, that occurs when there are power plays.  Harsh as Radner may appear to be, I believe he will be vindicated in due time.

[33] Posted by richardc on 08-03-2007 at 01:11 PM • top

Mark McCall,  thanks.  So Radner’s resignation came about as a result of comments he made during these two interviews? 

richardc, nice post.

[34] Posted by Widening Gyre on 08-03-2007 at 01:42 PM • top

WG

Not sure I understand your question.  Dr. Radner clearly disagrees with the Network’s objectives, but his letter of resignation singled out these comments by +Duncan as the apparent reason for his decision:

The recent statements by the Moderator of the Network, Robert Duncan, however, so contradict my sense of calling within this part of Christ’s Body, the Anglican Communion, that I have no choice but to disassociate myself from this group, whom I had once hoped might prove an instrument of renewal, not of destruction, of building up, not of tearing down.

Bishop Duncan has now declared the See of Canterbury and the Lambeth Conference—two of the four Instruments of Communion within our tradition – to be “lost”.

[35] Posted by wildfire on 08-03-2007 at 01:55 PM • top

Mark, you’re right on track.  I’m trying to find where Duncan made those remarks singled out by Radner.

[36] Posted by Widening Gyre on 08-03-2007 at 02:04 PM • top

WG

Go to the first link I gave above (Session One) and go to minute 26 for the question by Fr. Curran.  The key quote by +Duncan is at minute 31.  The elaboration is in the press conference in response to a question by Douglas LeBlanc. (Second link above.)  It is the first question.

[37] Posted by wildfire on 08-03-2007 at 02:19 PM • top

Quite simply; Rev. Munday has hit the nail squarly on the head. Thank you for your sallient, accurate, wholly truthful report on the way things really are re: the communion today. You told some hard truths, my friend, which are going to have to be dealt with on their own terms. Either the ABC is gonna wake up-and soon-or he’s not. Either the faithful are going to jump the apostate ship [TEC, for certain-maybe Caterbury as well?], or they are going to stay in Sodom. No more dither and delay; rather, “Choose ye this day.”

[38] Posted by Bob K. on 08-03-2007 at 02:51 PM • top

One thing the revisionists must love is the fractionizing that is going on in the conservative/orthodox camp.  They know they will win their battle as long as this continues.  Satan is truly gleeful.
What do we do after September 30?  Lambeth?  How many continuing churches will there be.  At least +Duncan and his group is DOING something to try to unify the past splinter organizations.  I give him great credit for that.
I for one am stil in TEC, partly because I am not sure where to go at this point.  I do have a major problem with the institutionalists that either think TEC will change, or have the attitude that we have to stay because of all the TRADITION, buildings, etc.
Talking is the devils playground at this point, JUST DO IT.  Show me some leadership.

[39] Posted by jane4re on 08-03-2007 at 02:54 PM • top

Snarkster…..I’m so with you! And might I please add that those who continue to keep asking to have someone direct them to the Lostcomment again when it has been posted here and on other threads numerous times…....go view it several times and take notes! Go to Anglican TV and watch the opening address by Bp. Duncan, or the press releaase here on SF….it’s no harder than asking our church leaders to Get’er Done Already!Think Nike! Just Do It!

[40] Posted by TLDillon on 08-03-2007 at 02:55 PM • top

I want to express my thanks for the many responses to what began as a comment on a piece Greg Griffith had posted on Stand Firm before Matt Kennedy elevated my response to the level of an article.  I thank Matt for that as well.

To Chris Seitz, I must hasten to say that I never intended to suggest that all of you in the ACI “have avoided academic conflict, fought no battles in University life, written no books that did not earn them derision and hurt their professional ‘advancement’...”  All of you have done and continue to do great work for Christ—and at considerable cost.  Ephraim Radner’s work on the Covenant Design Group alone is something for which all conservatives owe him a great debt.  And, indeed, I would be praising him publicly, instead of criticizing him as I did, had he found a more gracious way of articulating his differences with the Network than launching a broadside against the Network’s elected Moderator.

In saying that you all live “in your heads,” I was not trying to be insulting; I was simply using the vernacular to refer to the tendency all of us in academia sometimes have of developing highly nuanced views of things.  This is both a blessing and a curse.  The blessing is that it gives you the insight and the patience to work with the Windsor Bishops and other Communion leaders.  The curse is that it distances you from those of us who feel like we have been wading through nuances until we have worn out our hip boots.

I have spent 26 years in theological education, 21 of those years in two Episcopal seminaries—not as long as some of you in the ACI, I know, but long enough.  I have been a deputy to five General Conventions, and I still serve on several Church commissions and committees.  And I am tired.  Frankly, I long for godly bishops who have truly heard from our Lord, whose “yes” means “yes,” and who don’t need Balaam’s donkey to tell them which way they ought to go.  I do not have the subtlety or patience that you and Ephraim possess, so I am glad that you are where you are and are doing what you are doing.  I pray God will richly bless your work. 

The difference between the ACI and the Network is an example of the classic tension between diplomacy and direct action.  I, along with many members of the Network and Anglicans from the Global South, believe that our present situation calls for both.  So I pray that those who are committed to both approaches can work together to produce the orthodox Anglican future for which we both long.

(The Very Rev. Dr.) Robert S. Munday

[41] Posted by ToAllTheWorld on 08-04-2007 at 03:11 AM • top

Dear Robert—God bless you in your invaluable work, and give you strength.

I often think that what sets Radner, Turner and I apart—quite apart from all the negatives people register—is that we all had to fight for every inch of theological and biblical ‘orthodoxy’ in contexts of University life, and so learned to endure in certain positive ways (as well as failing at it). I often worry that our understanding of work in Communion does not come with a clear message of why this is required, and can be a blessing. I had to learn to find God’s strength within terribly difficult situations, and did so in order to support the students that also needed us to stay at the helm. Frankly, I looked at church life as a involving a kindred set of fortitudes. But then, I had a lot of up-close experience of church life.

I remember when I left tenure at Yale, moving to a new set of challenges, running into Jon Levenson (senior Jewish scholar at Harvard Divinity School). I asked how he was able to survive at HDS (he is an orthodox Jew and a brilliant biblical scholar and fighter). He acknowledged it was very hard. But then he said something that stayed with me, and shamed me a bit. He said—‘I am Jewish, Chris.’ The point being: I have never been in the majority, or decided that success was ‘winning.’ I never will be. That is not important. I have a witness to give all the same.

I know that God gives each one of us distinct vocations, and I honor the one God has given you. I think we all need to pray for strength and fresh senses of his Holy Spirit in these times of hardship.

God bless, (The Revd Professor) Christopher R. Seitz.

[42] Posted by zebra on 08-04-2007 at 07:43 AM • top

Group hug now? smile

[43] Posted by Hosea6:6 on 08-04-2007 at 07:52 AM • top

I deeply appreciate the warm and beautiful words of mutual encouragement expressed by both Rev. Munday and Rev. Seitz.

I honestly think there is much in common between ACI and ACN, between Communion Conservatives and Federal Conservatives.  Both are attempting biblical reform in the Anglican Communion; it’s just that the means, the strategies, the tactics, and the timing are a point of contention.

Peace and blessings for all biblically orthodox Anglicans.

[44] Posted by Truth Unites... and Divides on 08-04-2007 at 08:32 AM • top

“The difference between the ACI and the Network is an example of the classic tension between diplomacy and direct action.  I, along with many members of the Network and Anglicans from the Global South, believe that our present situation calls for both.” Indeed; but “to everything, there is a season.” We’ve all seen how TEC wages reconciliation. We’ve all seen the decades of spiritual blindness, the moral decline [perhaps “decline” is too weak of a word here], the accommodating of wickedness within the church, the deaf ear turned to holy rebuke; I cant help thinking about the words of Jesus: “Leave them alone; they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into the ditch.” Conversely, He says: “But blessed are your eyes, for they see..” We who have been born of Gods’ Spirit indeed DO see, for we receive light from the Light of the world. Now, we can help those who are in the dark to find the light, and-if Gods bestows His grace and repentance-they will awake, and Christ will shine on them, as He’s shined on us. Isnt that what the great commission is all about? Yet by the same token, we simply cannot have spiritual fellowship with people who are still in their sins, who are dead spiritually; it is impossible for light and dark to fellowship. A separation is needed. You see, we cannot “fellowship with the works of darkness, but reprove them”, which reasserters have done (God bless the brave men of the GS for this-they were loving but firm; they confronted sin and rebellion in no uncertain terms, and PUT THEIR FOOT DOWN. As I’ve said before, the ABC has had much more than ample time to do this, as I believe it was his place TO do; and he has not); the leadership of ECUSA has hardened their neck, and will not hear. If they havent always been crystal clear about where they DO stand [hmmmm, which ways’ the wind blowin’ today?], its abundantly clear where they DONT stand; “...upon the foundation of the apostles and the prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone…” (Eph 2:20). Let us be grateful that we stand on such a solid foundation. Sadly, at this point, those who choose to take their stand on sand will experience great ruin. Indeed, they who harden their hearts after much reproof suffer such a fate. The time finally came when Lot HAD to leave the city; remember Lots wife? Lastly, I see something in this great debate which shouldnt be there, namely, fear; as to just what will happen to the faithful when they do leave. We should be the LAST ones to be apprehensive-we have the Good Shepherd to lead us!

[45] Posted by Bob K. on 08-05-2007 at 01:07 AM • top

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