Thursday, March 27, 2008

Reasserters and Relative Orthodoxy

Or, the problem with neo-orths

. How many Sacraments hath Christ ordained in his Church?
Answer. Two only, as generally necessary to salvation; that is to say, Baptism, and the Supper of the Lord."
From the Catechism in the Book of Common Prayer

"Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day."
-John 6: 53, 54

"There is, likewise, a reason there are no sites with comparable readership [to Stand Firm] that focus primarily on the matter of women's ordination: NOBODY GIVES A S..T "
-Greg Griffith of Stand Firm in Faith

We have a problem in the Anglican world that threatens to destroy the validity of our sacraments, and with that to overturn Catholic Faith for many. It is a salvation issue, because the validity of the Blessed Sacrament of Christ's Body and Blood may very well depend on the validity of Holy Orders (that is, we have no revelation of such validity without the sacrament of the priesthood). Furthermore, this is the only position ever taken by the Church of England and the Anglican Communion; for although we do not presume to declare the sacraments of the other Protestant churches to be "absolutely null and utterly void," neither can we affirm them.1 Despite attempts to distort Anglican history, this has been the only official position of Anglicanism throughout its history.

Since Canon Law has ruled, and the formularies of Anglicanism have consistently taught, that two of the sacraments are "generally necessary for salvation," and that only a priest can validly consecrate the bread and wine on the altar to be Christ's Body and Blood, the position we have held to, as traditional Anglicans, requires Holy Orders (and we must consider the importance placed on this by our Lord Jesus Christ in the Gospel of John). If we have women functioning outwardly in the place of priests and bishops, the sacrament of Holy Orders is not present anymore, and we have no basis for confidence in other sacraments that depend on apostolic validity. All Holy Orders depend on the Apostolic Succession 2, and so a man "ordained" by a woman "bishop" is no priest. Confirmation depends on the office of bishop also.3 Absolution and Holy Communion also depend on the validity of a priest, as does the full grace of anointing for healing.4 We may refer to these as dependent sacraments.

The urgency of this whole crisis has caused two major movements in Anglicanism, namely the Continuum and Forward in Faith. The numbers of both groups combined is counted by hundreds of thousands. It is true that the same people who care about the crisis of women's "ordination" hold to orthodox doctrine about sexual morality also, and therefore care very much about the attack on marriage in the heresy of "same sex blessings," as well as generally abominating the liberal stand on acceptance of homosexuality as a "lifestyle."


Unfortunately, a crop of modern Anglicans has emerged that has no understanding of their Anglican roots. One of our readers, Fr. Laurence Wells, put it this way: "These self styled 'Reassterters' ...know in their hearts they should not call themselves traditionalists or orthodox..." To this I replied, in full agreement:

"They are modern Fundamentalists, Charismatics and Evangelicals. Their ecclesiology and soteriology are completely in line with what the Baptists and Assemblies of God believe. I don't mind that from Baptists and AG people because it is to be expected. I do mind it from people who claim to be Anglicans, because I am tired of everybody who wants to call himself by my family name feeling free to disregard our Catechism, Offices of Instruction and the whole corpus of our formularies. As someone who can say, quite positively, from whence John received authority to baptize, I ask from where these neo-orths receive their authority."

Perhaps the term "neo-con" for new conservative comes to mind. This is not a political blog, so I will refrain from discussion about that term. But, I suggest that we can speak of "neo-orths" as people who invent a new orthodoxy. This "new orthodoxy" seems to have one and only one principle. Its adherents don't like homosexuality. They can live with every denial of the Gospel ever made, and they can tolerate women's "ordination" too. They can live in a church body that allows bishops to get away with denying the resurrection of Christ and having multiple wives (a sort of harem, but with the restriction of one at a time), but not with homosex. There they draw the line, about a hundred miles too far .

Because they live with the minimal concept of salvation by faith alone, a Baptist and Pentecostal doctrine that is now a cornerstone of neo-Evangelicalism, they throw away the Anglican doctrine quoted above from our Catechism. And, it is only due to the confusion caused by the heresies they long have tolerated, that they can imagine themselves to be, in any way, standing firm in faith. Having lost their center, they have no sense of balance.

They have decided, arbitrarily, what issues are not "salvation issues," and in doing so have demonstrated a genius for protecting their own ignorance. Because they want to proclaim, according to their new version of orthodoxy, that the latest crisis is the only issue dividing Anglicans, one of their spokesmen, also quoted above, has dismissed all of the people of the Continuum and all of the people of Forward in Faith as "nobody." We who, to use his profane expression, "give a s..." do not count, if we exist at all. To defend this ignorance against all assaults of fact and reason, they have established on their own blog a censorship policy. Any comment that draws attention to women's "ordination" will be deleted as "off topic," and the commenter, should he persist in stating the truth, is banned.

Of course, people who are simply wrong find it easier to censor the truth than to refute it. The adolescent minds that excel in copying and pasting the work of genuine reporting, in order to produce their overblown "Stand Firm" blog, make Ezekiel Bulver look like an amatuer. In the process, they are liars.

The realignment movement going on between the Episcopal Church and the Province of the Southern Cone, for example, did not begin over homosexuality. The Forward in Faith bishops set it in motion over the issue of women's "ordination," and bishop Duncan of Pittsburgh only became involved later. The Diocese of San Joaquin realigned in part over the homosexuality crisis, but had begun the process due to the issue of women's "ordination." This is something I have reported, quoting large portions of a speech given by Bishop Jack Iker of Ft. Worth, both here on The Continuum, and in the latest isue of The Christian Challenge.

This is an inconvenient fact for those who want to believe that nobody cares about women's ordination; so don't look for this fact ever to be allowed on Stand Firm. It will not be reported there, and any comment about it will be censored.

Neo-orths believe they are orthodox only because they compare their views to the latest crisis instead of the Traditional doctrine of the Church that has rightly interpreted scripture from ancient times until now. They feel ever so orthodox only because someone else is even worse. In so doing, they may pray "I thank thee God I am not like other men." They reaasert only that portion of Christian doctrine that is easy.

1. We can and do hope that in the Economy of God's grace the grace of the sacrament is present in many places beyond the visible Catholic Church of which we are a part. Just as "baptism by desire" is an approved doctrine since early times, the same desire, that is the heart of faith itself, can be present for feeding on the Living Christ and drinking his blood.

2. This is not extra-biblical doctrine. The pattern is clearly stated in the pastoral Epistles to Timothy and Titus. This will be the subject of a future post.

3. As well as a rite that conforms to the scriptures, that is, laying on hands with prayer. This must state the sacramental Intention.

4. James 5:14. "Let him call for the πρεσβύτερος."


Alice C. Linsley said...

I have concerns about this essay. Greg is correct that there is a connection between the validity of the Sacraments and Apostolic Succession, but this is not automatic. It is dependent upon recognizing the Blood of Jesus. Also, unless I am mistaken, he misrepresents the Anglican understanding of consecration. It is not something the priest does, but something done by Word and Spirit through the agency of the priest. Then there is the problem of the Apostles not being priests, at least not in the order of Aaron. So what is the nature of their priesthood? It must be the priesthood of the New Covenant of Jesus’ Blood. This is why women were never priests, nor can be priests. The most ancient sacred law forbids the mixing of bloods (blood of sacrificed animals and menstrual or birthing blood) and even forbids bloods sharing the same sacred space (why Kosher laws require separate plates, and why an Orthodox priest who cuts himself while at the altar must immediately leave).

I recommend reading the essay "Tracing the Scarlet Cord," which I hope readers will find helpful. It is here:

Fr. Robert Hart said...


Who is Greg? If you mean Mr. Griffith, he does not appear to believe in the priesthood at all.

Anonymous said...

The potty-mouthed comment "Nobody gives a ****" reveals a small mind and a small view of the Church. The vast majority of the Christian world (RC, EO, and classical Protestant) does indeed care and has firm convictions against WO.

It has an interesting double domino effect. For the modernist side, WO has led to a breakdown in matters of sexuality. On the fundamentalist side, it has led to the innovation of lay presidency. One party reasons, If it doesnt matter who stands in persona Christi at the Altar, then it doesnt matter too much who you have sex with. The other party reasons, If anybody can be a minister of the sacrament, then such a minister need not even be ordained. SFIF is starting to play with this radical Protestant notion, a thing which no respectable Protestant denomination has ever embraced in 500 years. The logical conclusion of WO is to abolish the sacraments altogether.
I distinctly recall a very liberal professor of systematic theology in the late 60's who asked his classes, "If only a validly ordained priest can celebrate Holy Communion using the Prayer Book rite, what are the requirements for celebrating Holy Communion using some other rite?" The term "lay presidency" had not been invented then, but there was the germ of the idea. Next step: are bread and wine really necessary?
Laurence K. Wells

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Fr. Wells wrote:
The logical conclusion of WO is to abolish the sacraments altogether.

Amen, amen. That is one of those profound statements that deserves to be quoted far and wide.

PTB+ said...

Having listened to Bp. Jack Ikers address to the FIF convention (via the link from this post) I have to say I remain confused about their actual understanding of Holy Orders and the nature of the Church.
FiFNA's willingness to remain in "impaired communion" with the Common Cause Partnership (CCP) and its members: the Anglican Communion Network, The AMiA, CANA and the other various recently departed TEC parishes and clergy who either "ordain" or receive previously "ordained" women clergy seems to show a continued lack of understanding of the nature of Holy Orders and the Church.
A bishop, diocese or church that "ordains" or receives "ordained" women has broken from, and therefore is not part of the Catholic and Apostolic Church. Subsequently what sort of inter-communion can a bishop, diocese or church that does not "ordain" or receive "ordained" women, and claims to be part of the Catholic and Apostolic Church have with them?
At what level can there be inter-communion? They certainly cannot celebrate or assist at mass together, or consecrate new bishops together. Where can inter-communion then exist?
In his address Bp. Iker said he hopes the inter-communion relationship with the CCP, et al will help those who do perpetuate women's "ordination" to change their thinking. Hopefully Bp. Iker is correct, and yet Bp. Robert Duncan "moderator" of the CCP has already stated emphatically that is not going to happen. He and his supporters (the Stand Firm folks) at minimum believe it is a non-issue and at maximum believe it is "orthodox."
Either Bp. Duncan has been untruthful in his previous statements or Bp. Iker is gravely miscalculating the commitment those who perpetuate the heresy of women's "ordination" have to it.
The FiFNA bishops and diocese have the opportunity to make a clean break from the heresies that exist within TEC, as well as with those who have recently left TEC and yet continue to believe all that is needed for TEC to be "orthodox" is to stop ordaining homosexuals.
If the best place for them to find refuge after that break is the Southern Cone or some other Canterbury Communion body (itself a mess of odd "inter-communion" agreements) that does not "ordain" or receive "ordained" women, then so be it.
But to continue to have one foot in and one foot out of from the Episcopalians that continue to support the very innovation, the "ordination" of women, that has lead to all the heresies which have followed it, shows a lack of understanding of the nature of Holy Orders and the Church.

Paul Beutell+

Anonymous said...

Years ago, someone (I think it was Bishop Robert Terwilliger of blessed memory) observed that the object of those forwarding women's ordination was really not the admission of women to holy orders, but the abolition of holy orders altogether - they're not for a bi-sexual priesthood, they want to destroy the priesthood altogether. As I recall, Michael Rose, in Goodbye, Good Men, made the same observation about most American RC vocations directors (many of whom were mod nuns).

The same thing is at work in the push for the recognition of same-sex marriage/ domestic partnerships. It's not about expanding the idea of marriage, but about destroying it altogether.

Fr Samuel Edwards

Anonymous said...

Fr. Hart,
I have what is a small comment. However, it seems to be profoundly related. At the so called Great Commission in Matt. 28 our Lord commissioned only 11 men. The same men he had chosen as Apostles. There were, however, other faithful disciples (men and women) around at the time- namely, The Virgin Mary, Mary Magdeline, the 2 men on the road to Emmaus, Matthias etc... It seems clear here (and elsewhere) that this is by Divine Design and Constitution. Not only are Men sent in this particular way by our Lord, but only certain men of all the disciples. If anything, and I'm not trying to be flip or irreverant, this passage could be referred to as the Great Ommission. Any thoughts?

PS- I like your site and the contributions made here. Also, I am a Roman Catholic.

William Tighe said...

I posted this a while ago today on "Midwest Conservative Journal," but it may be of some interest here, too:

This morning the penny finally dropped concerning the San Joaquin situation. This

and especially this bit from one of the "blogmaster's" comments on the comment thread:

"In your next paragraph you answer my previous question and share what or who you think “we” are. My response is that your perception of who “we” are is wrong. For instance, every one of the Standing Committee members as of December 8 who are priests (including myself) would be and are supportive of the action of a bishop in ordaining women. But then you used the word “collectively”, so now I don’t know if you are talking about Bp Schofield and the whole diocese before December, or just the Standing Committee."

shows that the Standing Committee consists of a pack of clerical (at least) women's ordinationists, whose idea of "orthodoxy" seems to go back no further than 1976. I always suspected this; and now that I see that it is the case, I should be delighted to see the Standing Committee s*r*w*d by KJS and her votaries of "Remain Episcopal." It is another, farcical, instance of the Bolsheviks doing in the Social Democrats, the Nazis the old Pussian "conservative monarchists" or the Jacobins the "constitutionalists." Yet another case of Marx's "the first time as tragedy, the second as farce."

To put it bluntly, the Standing Committee holdouts no more represent "traditional Anglicanism" or "Anglican orthodoxy" than do the Archiflaminica or the New Hampshire sodomist. They are yesterday's liberals who are flailing in vain against the events that their own darling heresies set afoot. Their situation reminds me of the Counterreformation criticism of those who supported Henry VIII in his breach with Rome, but who fought, a decade and a half later, against the imposition of Protestantism under Edward VI. As one of them wrote, they were like men who cast a fellow from the top of a tower and bade him stop when halfway down.

I hope that these old innovationists, grown cautious but not penitent with time, and their own spawn whom they now vainly strive to deter, may tumble into the pit together -- and may Bishop Schofield and his supporters salvage what they can from their common ruin!

And let all the people say, "Amen."

Alice C. Linsley said...

I've no doubt that Bishops Iker and Duncan are doctrinally sound and faithful leaders of Episcopalians. They have steadfastly opposed women's ordination in a very compromised denomination. Perhaps others are not clear on the connection between TEC's demise and women "priests", but these men are not confused on this issue. It seems to me that this conversation needs to take place at the level of Anglican Primates of all the jurisdictions. And a theological statment should be made that is conclusive. It is uncharitable to expect Protestants, and many in the Episcopal Church are Protestants, to take the catholic view of women in ministry since this is not something they have been taught. And frankly, I think that many catholics don't fully understand God's design for the Priesthood. If they did, priests would not be expected to function in parishes as CEOs. Nor do we seem to recognize what legitimate ministry of women in the Church would look like.

PTB+ said...

"I've no doubt that Bishops Iker and Duncan are doctrinally sound and faithful leaders of Episcopalians. They have steadfastly opposed women's ordination in a very compromised denomination."

I respectfully disagree with this assessment.

Bp. Duncan is a staunch defender of women's "ordination" As recently as October 2007 (and maybe again since) he defended the "ordination" of women to be orthodox.

Bp. Iker has done better than Bp. Duncan in that he has not laid his hands on any women, and yet he has allowed women from his diocese to be "ordained" outside of it and to return again and function.
I know an RC priest who was with Bp. Iker in the 1980's (Episcopal Synod days) who left the ESA / ECUSA for the RCC because of Bp. Ikers' "back door" policy.

In both cases these bishop's "orthodoxy" is rather relative to the heterodoxy of TEC. While Bp. Iker is relatively more orthodox than Bp. Duncan, I don't think either can be called "doctrinally sound" on this issue.

Paul Beutell+

Fr. Robert Hart said...

I believe that the mention of Bp. Duncan was a mistake, and that Alice Linsley meant Bp. Ackerman, or so I assume. As for Bp. Iker, I have always understood that he allows women from his diocese to get "ordained" by the neighboring diocese, but does not accept them back into his own as clergy. That is not a back door policy, but something impossible to stop really.

PTB+ said...

Fr. Hart,
You may be correct that the women clergy in the Diocese of Fort Worth did not originate from the diocese itself (though that is not what I have been told). In any case, Bp. Iker had the canonical authority to prevent it no?
In his recent address to his own diocese he stated plainly the "national Church" has no authority to dictate what goes on within any individual diocese. Here is a portion of the text of his address (this is from the Fort Worth Diocese website):

"And then just last week, the Presiding Bishop sent me an open letter, that she quickly posted on the internet, threatening disciplinary action against me if I did not prevent this Convention from acting on certain legislative proposals. I believe all of you have seen my reply. What you may not have seen is the Episcopal News Service story saying that if I did not heed her warning it would (and I quote) “force her to take action to bring the diocese and its leadership into line with the mandates of the national Church.” Now hold on there a minute. I don’t want to force her to do anything, but I must object to the claim that the Presiding Bishop has any canonical authority in this Diocese or any legitimate power over the leadership of this Diocese. She has no authority to bring Fort Worth into line with the mandates of a so-called “national Church.” There is no such thing as “the national Church.” We are a confederation of Dioceses, related to each other by our participation in General Convention. From the earliest days of the beginnings of the Episcopal Church in this country, including the formation of dioceses and eventually the creation of the General Convention itself, there has been a strong mistrust of centralized authority that is deeply rooted in our history as Episcopalians. We do not have an Archbishop in this Church, who has authority over other Bishops and their Dioceses. Instead, we have a Presiding Bishop, with very limited canonical responsibilities, mainly administrative in nature. We must object to the tendency in recent years in this Church to create some sort of central bureaucracy at the top that holds power and authority over the various Dioceses of this Church. We do not have a Curia that dictates policy and dogma in this Church. We do not have a Presiding Bishop with papal authority over us, nor do we believe in the infallibility of any Bishop or any council or, indeed, of any General Convention. If I may be so bold to speak on your behalf, dear friends: the leadership of this Diocese does not need to be brought into line with the mandates of some mythical “national Church.”

By his own words, a TEC diocese can prevent the "national Church" from imposing their standards upon any individual diocese. If that is true today, then why not all along with women clergy in his diocese?
We know that heterodox TEC bishops prohibited orthodox priests from functioning in their diocese, even when the congregation legitimately called them. And if I am not mistaken, the courts backed the bishop's right to determine who would, and who would not be licensed in their diocese.
My point then remains the same. Compared to the standard of the TEC, the FiF, NA diocesan bishops are relatively orthodox. But the word relatively must be emphasized.
For years they have allowed the heresy of women's ordination to be perpetuated within their own diocese when apparently they could have prevented it.
Add to this the heterodoxy of the 1979 so-called BCP they also use in each of those diocese (if not something worst) and I think it is hard to make a case for (true) orthodoxy for any of them.

Paul Beutell+

Alice C. Linsley said...

I actually meant Bishop Schofield, and apologize for the confusion. Bishop Duncan has numerous women priests under his jurisdiction and does ordain them. However, not everyone of the Evangelical wing has an easy conscience about this. Those who read the Bible and study Tradition know that this is an innovation, as much as same-sex blessings, divorced bishops and gay and lesbian clergy.

Anonymous said...

I understand that Bp Iker does in fact "ordain" women to the diaconate.

But I would like to see us developing some ideas for strengthening the ministry of deaconesses. It is a shame there are so few of these in the Continuing Churches. In a few instances, I have been positively impressed by the quality of the women who have been misled into going through TEC's "ordination" process. (I am thinking of women I have met in the Anglican Alliance of North Florida.) The fact that we do not tolerate women as "priests" or "deacons" does not rule out strong and valuable lay ministries for women. The model I am working from are the wonderful sisters whom I have known and admired in the RC Church.
Laurence K. Wells+

William Tighe said...

All three FIFNA bishops purport to "ordain" women to "the diaconate." I think that this is regrettable (to put it mildly) and severely compromises their "Catholic orthodoxy." I suspect that they are in much the same position that Graham Leonard was in when he was an Anglican and Bishop of London in the Church of England, when he allowed himself, as "a busy bishop with no time to investigate the matter himself," to be persuaded by "experts" that women were "ordained to the diaconate" in the Early Church, and that there was no "Catholic case" to be made against the practice.

I also suspect that, in the cases of Quincy and San Joaquin, the predecessors of the current bishops (Bishops Parsons and MacBurney for Quincy, and Bishop Rivera for SJ) also "ordained" women to the diaconate, such that the current bishops may be said to have "inherited" the practice. For all I know (but I don't know), bishop Pope may have done the same in Fort Worth as well.

Canon Tallis said...

A short note of correction about one of the main writers on "Stand Firm." Sarah Hey wrote a very strongly worded letter to "Apostasy" in which she denied believing that women could be ordaianed on the basis of Holy Scripture. So it would seem that only Greg and Matt are supporters of WO with Matt Kennedy being married to a woman supposedly ordained.

I have known Bishop Schofield for quite a number of years and I think that one would have to produce a particular woman he was alledged to have ordained to the diaconate for it is my understanding that he has not ordained any women whatsoever. On the other hand I have seen Bishop Cox pretend to ordain a woman to the diaconate for St James's Oklahoma City although it is my understanding that women are not allowed to be ordained in the diocese of Argentina or the province of the Southern Cone. That action as well as his refusal to allow a return to the use of the 1928 BCP destroyed for me any claim that Cox might have had to orthodoxy. I have since learned that the Oklahoma group currently representing themselves as being under Venebles are planning to align themselves with Attwood and the group to which he is attached.

The case with Leonard was quite different. It was not a small group of experts who persuaded him of the ordination of women to the diaconate in the early Church, but the fact that his wife and daughter were both viragos and he would have had no peace at home if he had not ordained those women. That was very well known in London and almost a standing joke.

If one counts a bishop who has 'ordained' women either to the diaconate or the priesthood as self deposed, then the males he pretends to ordain afterwards are equally lacking in valid orders. This would mean that the orders of anyone coming from the Episcopal Church and those churches whom they have persuaded to the ordination of women would have to be examined in great detail to determine if they were regular and valid. But perhaps I am mistaken in this?

PTB+ said...

--All three FIFNA bishops purport to "ordain" women to "the diaconate." I think that this is regrettable (to put it mildly) and severely compromises their "Catholic orthodoxy." --

It most certainly is "regrettable." And heterodox too.

As I believe Canon Hollister has pointed out several times on this blog, Holy Orders is one Sacrament given in three stages, with the necessary charism needed for each office given at the time of ordination or consecration.

One cannot legitimately claim it is okay to ordain women to the diaconate and then say it is illegitimate to ordain women to the priesthood or consecrate them to the episcopate. Biblically the pre-qualifications listed in 1 Timothy 3 for bishop / presbyter and deacon are the same.

The argument for ordaining women to the diaconate but not the priesthood or episcopate is no better than John Stott's old argument that a woman "priest" could be a curate but not a rector. I recall he based his argument on 1 Corinthians 11.

If Bps. Iker, Schofield and Ackerman inherited the practice of "ordaining" women to the diaconate, they certainly did not have to perpetuate it.
I do not know if they were consecrated using the 1928 BCP ordinal or the ordinal of the 1979 so-called BCP, but their duty as bishops is "to banish and drive away from the Church all erroneous and strange doctrine contrary to God's Word." In this case, they failed to adhere to their consecration vows, and in doing so has helped perpetuate a heresy.

In the "relative orthodoxy" of what I call "High Church Episcopalianism" (in contrast to orthodox Anglo-Catholicism) the FiFNA bishops are "orthodox". But according the standards of Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition they are heterodox.

One can only hope and pray that as they depart from TEC they will totally free themselves and their dioceses' from *all* erroneous and strange doctrines, and eliminate the "relativity" of their orthodoxy. I pray they will.

Paul Beutell+

Fr. Robert Hart said...

In any case, Bp. Iker had the canonical authority to prevent it no?

Not really. All it required was having another TEC bishop take them on as postulents. The normal requirements of approval by, first of all, the rector and then after that the bishop of their proper diocese, would have been brushed aside without any problem. That has happened before.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Canon Tallis:

According to Matt Kennedy (and so he has written to me personally to tell me) none of the contributors to SF believe in women's "ordination," and that this was the case back at Christmas time. How he reconciles this to his marriage I don't know. The problem is, however, that they think it is not at all important, just a minor difference of opinion to be relegated always to the back burner. Also, their reasoning is insufficient and based on the quasi-Baptist theology of Wayne Grudem (as is that of the AMiA). The real problem is, they have no proper understanding of Holy Orders at all.

Alice C. Linsley said...

Deaconesses and the order of deacons are two separate things. And while I respect women who enter Roman Catholic religious orders as nuns, this surely is not what St. Paul had in mind when he exhorted the older women to teach the younger women. There is a monastic calling for women and there is the calling of marriage, motherhood and service in one's family, and other women. If this service is not held in high respect by men in the Church, how can we expect women to recognize the honor of it? And if men are confused about the legitimate roles of women in the Church, how can we expect women to not be confused?

William Tighe said...

Sarah Hey is opposed to WO, but believes that it is and ought to be something concerning which "orthodox Anglicans" can and should agree to differ; Greg Griffith himself wrote to me around the time of my banning from SF that he was more opposed than not to WO but that he didn't consider it a big deal; and Matt Kennedy wrote to various folks (Jeff Steel of the "de cura animarum" blog amiong others) at the same time as well that he and his wife had both recented their prior support for WO, but did not consider the matter a "salvation issue."

As to Graham Leonard, the sentiments that I attributed to him is actually more or less what he replied to a friend of mine whom I requested to ask him about the matter when he spoke to the "Catholic Writers Guild" around 1996 or 7 about his leaving Anglicanism. Interestingly, when I recounted this to a venerable Anglican clergyman acquaintance of mine in 1998, he grew quite animated, and told me the story of how the late Garry Bennett organized a group of scholarly orthodox Catholic Anglicans to put together a detailed memorandum ca. 1985 or 6 in an attempt to dissuade GL from supporting the "Ordination of Women (Diaconate)" measure than before the General Synod of the Church of England. The memorandum was handed to Fr. Skeoch (? spelling), then the bishop's chaplain, but no word of thanks, or for that matter any word whatsoever, came back to the "memorandists" from the bishop.

Alice C. Linsley said...

The relativity of evangelical orthodoxy is seen in statements such as this made by Anglican "priest," Allison Barr: "Women being ordained as priests is not a salvation issue; active homosexuals flaunting and promoting their behavior and being consecrated as bishops IS." Yet all innovations create distortion of the Gospel and make it more difficult for people to find their way to the Author of Salvation.

Canon Tallis said...

Father Hart,

It is as you say; they have no proper understanding of Holy Orders with all which that implies. As for AMiA, I have friends who have made several of their Winter conferences and everything which they tell me has led me to name AMiA as Anglicanism Missing in America.

The Anglicanism in which I was raised was based on the understanding of Holy Scripture expressed in the earliest fathers of the undivided Church, the three Creeds and the theological decisions of the universally acknowledged general councils. The Greek and Russian theologians which I read only confirmed the faith which I found in an honest and complete practise of the prayer book, something which was general in the diocese in which I was confirmed. It was what I found outside that diocese and in the seminaries of the Episcopal Church that first alerted me to what has become the present crisis.

I am afraid that Mr Kennedy earned my disdain when he proved unable to accept the plain meaning of words spoken by Jesus in the Gospel according to John as the rule I was always given was that you could not interpret one passage of scripture against another.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Canon Tallis
If one counts a bishop who has 'ordained' women either to the diaconate or the priesthood as self deposed, then the males he pretends to ordain afterwards are equally lacking in valid orders.

That exceeds anything we can state from revelation given to the Church. In fact, it tends to deny the essential truth of Indelible Sacraments (baptism, confirmation and holy orders). The Catholic doctrine has always been that the intention to do what the Church does constitutes valid intention. And, because his orders are indelible, even when a bishop has been mistaken and confused he does not lose his apostolic charisms. Therefore when the form, matter and intention are valid the sacraments of his ministry are valid.

The reason we can have confidence in those sacraments is that his doctrine on such specific issues is relevant to sacraments when it has an effect on his sacramental intention. And, his intention need be no more, as I have stated, than to act in good faith to do what the Church does, even when his understanding on various issues is clouded.

The reason his intention does not help when he thinks to "ordain" women is the same reason why his intention would not help were he to try to consecrate rice cakes and apple juice. The matter of Holy Orders is not simply the laying on of hands, but also the body of a living adult male upon which those hands are laid. To reduce the Matter to the laying on of hands would be ridiculous. Can a bishop confirm a goat? No, because he is not human? Can he confirm a man who is not baptized? No, because he is not a Christian. The Matter is also the person upon whom his hands are laid.

So, whereas Intention may be minimal and still valid, it is not enough without true Form and correct Matter.

Alice C. Linsley said...

Thank you, Father Hart, for that clarification of Form, Matter and Intention, an excellent exposition of Scholastic thought (and traceable to Aristotle and Plato). However, the priesthood known to the Apostles has a different cultural context (Afro-Asiatic) and is much older. Are we to ignore the older when it foreshadows the newer?

And I promise this will be my last comment on this thread. : )

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Please! Make all the comments you want.

I do not trace this to Plato or scholasticism. It is the classic interpretation of scripture. Everything we see as a sacrament (or mystery) imparts grace in a charismatic and supernatural way and has these three elements. The Bible is old and new, because it is not simply what God once said. Through it his voice speaks now. We are throwing away nothing, but bringing out of our treasures things new and old.

Not, of course, new revelation. Rather, things new and old because it is all timeless.

Anonymous said...

Imagine a blog wherein all the management team claim to be opposed to the practice of burglary, but declare that burglary is "not a salvation issue," and one of the managers is in fact the husband of a profesional burglar, and in fact has her on his church website as the staff burglar. These people are loud in their protestations of anti-burglary, but for the most part refuse to permit a discussion of burglary on their blog. Even when a thread is devoted to crime, home-owner's rights, or public safety, any mention of burglary is condemned as "off-topic." Those who persist in pointing out that burglary is a form of criminal activity are swiftly banned, sometimes with obscene private messages along the lines of "---- yourself." No, folks, there is no such blog. I'm only imagining things.
Laurence K. Wells+

LP said...

If one counts a bishop who has 'ordained' women either to the diaconate or the priesthood as self deposed, then the males he pretends to ordain afterwards are equally lacking in valid orders.

Yeah, I find this a bit troubling too.

Certainly, the ordinations of women he attempts are invalid because of the (as the scholastics would put it) lack of the proper "matter".

Your statement would only work if the argument is made that anyone who ordains women must, ipso facto, have such a distorted view of what "orders" means that all their subsequent ordinations lack proper "intent", even if those ordinations have the proper "matter".

This raises the first question -- is a good-faith confusion over what may constitute the proper "matter" of ordination a sufficient defect to make the "intent" invalid? If a bishop fully understands the eucharistic and apostolic nature of the priesthood, but mistakenly believes that women as well as men can be ordained to the priesthood, does this mean that he so fundamentally misunderstands the sacrament that all his ordinations are of defective intent?

I think both the patristic and Anglican answer to this would be "no"... at least insofar as the "understanding" of the cleric has never been the measure of "intent", has it? After all, a priest or bishop may have a cloudy or inadequate understanding of the nuances of the Eucharist, yet if they intend to offer that Eucharist in accord with their church, and if their church's teaching on the Eucharist is sound, then that sacrament has valid "intent", regardless of the deficiencies in the particular priest's theological understanding.

Which leads me to my second question/observation -- if the ordination of women does represent such a fundamental misunderstanding of holy orders so as to invalidate intent, then doesn't that mean that not just the subsequent ordinations of a bishop who has ordained women are invalid, but that in fact every ordination in PEcUSA since 1976 (or maybe 1979?) is invalid, since, once the ordination of women was formally accepted by the institution, every bishop who remained in it had ipso facto invalid intent?


Fr. Robert Hart said...

No, folks, there is no such blog. I'm only imagining things.
Laurence K. Wells+

Yes, Father, but all that matters is that they stand firm against murder.

Alice C. Linsley said...

As the risk of getting myself banned from SF, I cite an example of this. I posted this comment there after reading a sermon by Bishop Iker (from whom I have great respect and affection):

Dear Bishop Iker, those sucessors of the Apostles were all men, and the only priesthood the Apostles knew was all male. And the priesthood as far back as can be traced (to before the time of Abraham) was all male. And the so-called priestesses of the Greco-Roman world weren’t priests, since they did not sacrifice animals, but were instead seers. Just say “no” then to women who seek the priesthood and close the back door. Posted by Alice Linsley on 03-29-2008 at 06:53 AM

To which I received these responses:

Alice, Bishop Iker does not ordain women as priests and he is a member of Forward in Faith North America. Posted by AndrewA on 03-29-2008 at 07:19 AM

This thread is not about Women’s Ordination. Please consider this a gentle, but firm, reminder not to take the thread off topic. Posted by Commenatrix on 03-29-2008 at 09:25 AM

SF has run threads dedicated to the topic, but not for a good while.

Jack said...

LP's argument reductio ad absurdem is the official position held by the Anglican Catholic Church (Original Province). It's a position the majority of the continuing church consider fringe.

Anonymous said...

Alice, do you think that SF would ban someone for comments made on Continuum? Only very childish and spiteful people would stoop to such a thing. And they do not even read Continuum anyway.
Laurence K. Wells+

John A. Hollister said...

Jack wrote that "LP's argument [about the effect of a bishop's 'ordaining' a woman on his subsequent ordinations even of men] is the official position held by the Anglican Catholic Church".

As a member of the Anglican Catholic Church, I must say that Jack's appreciation is not mine.

What I understand the ACC's policy to be is that once a church group adopts the innovation of women's "ordination", then all of its post-W.O. "ordinations" are presumed to be institutions into its new, non-sacramental ministry and not institutions into the old, Apostolic ministry that is described in, e.g., the Preface to the traditional Ordinal.

This it is not the ordaining prelate's personal but defective understanding of the Sacrament of Orders that renders his acts ineffective but, instead, the status of the ministry that his church group has adopted -- the same church group that has conferred on him the power to do what he purports to be doing and on behalf of which he is acting.

Thus it is that the ACC ordains sub conditione all clergymen who come to it who were ordained in PECUSA after 1976: there is too much doubt that when PECUSA ordained them, it ordained them to its new, unisex ministry rather than to the old, Apostolic one it had officially abandoned.

Nor is W.O. the only issue over which this loss of Apostolicity can occur. For all its good moral teaching, Biblical fidelity, and other admirable qualities, one thing that seems rather sure about the Reformed Episcopal Church is that in 1873 it deliberately and officially discarded the objective graces that the Church mediates in the Sacraments it confers, even while it carely preserved a purely tactile succession from its founder, Bp. Cummins.

Thus the ACC also ordains conditionally any clergy it receives from the REC, even though they are not in the least tainted with the problems of W.O.

So Jack's comment was just a bit too simplistic.

John A. Hollister+

Alice C. Linsley said...

Father Lawrence, I was poking fun. And some of the folks who read SF also read The Continuum. I personally know several from Kentucky.

Fr. Hart's point that the priesthood (and catholic orders generally) represent a mystery is well taken. It is a great mystery that requires our obedience to God. That being said, there is something about Humans that makes us want to pursue mysteries, to investigate more fully. The sacred commands our attention and our concentrated meditation. My concern about Mr. Griffith's essay is that it doesn't seem to approach the Sacraments and the ontology of the Priesthood as a sacred mystery, but as a closed book.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Greg Griffith wrote an essay about the priesthood? The idea of him writing about it fills me with dread-like letting a bull into a china shop

Sandra McColl said...

Father Hart, you haven't seen the Mythbusters' treatment of 'bull in a china shop'. They demonstrated that bulls are amazingly docile and surprisingly graceful when presented with shelves loaded with porcelain.

Rob A said...

Fr Hart, you wrote:

"Furthermore, this is the only position ever taken by the Church of England and the Anglican Communion; for although we do not presume to declare the sacraments of the other Protestant churches to be "absolutely null and utterly void," neither can we affirm them.1 Despite attempts to distort Anglican history, this has been the only official position of Anglicanism throughout its history."

To which I ask:

Who has attempted to distort Anglican history?

When, where, and by who has this "official" position been stated?


Fr. Robert Hart said...

Who has attempted to distort Anglican history?

People who invented stories to the effect that the Church of England simply received Protestant ministers from other bodies of the Reformation, instead of insisting on episcopal ordination. The claims are not only false, but impossible.

When, where, and by who has this "official" position been stated?

The official position of the Church of England on who may minister as a priest is stated over and over in every requirement of Canon Law, and in formularies, such as the ordinal with its preface. No exceptions have ever been permitted. Not even once.

John A. Hollister said...

Fr. Hart wrote: "The official position of the Church of England on who may minister as a priest is stated over and over in every requirement of Canon Law, and in formularies, such as the ordinal with its preface. No exceptions have ever been permitted. Not even once."

Anyone who doubts what Fr. Hart wrote should take the time to read the first three volumes of the full text of Samuel Pepys' Diary. At least weekly, throughout 1660 and 1661, and through 1662 down to the day of the final enforcement of the old policy by the ejection of the Presbyterian ministers from the Church of England pulpits they had usurped during the Interregnum, Pepys gives blow-by-blow descriptions of how the Church of England was returned to traditional Catholic principles.

This well-placed member of the English government commented regularly on the current progress of the government's uwavering plans to require ministers without episcopal ordination to regularize their situations or vacate their cures and also commented on the London populace's reactions from time to time to the unfolding of those plans.

There is no conclusion from his comments that is possible except that everyone in England knew that when Parliament called King Charles II back "from his travels", that meant the end of the irregular church governance that had arisen under the Cromwellian heretics.

Acceptance of the King -- which was necessary for national survival in the face of the utter failure of Parliamentary pretensions -- necessarily meant also acceptance of the Church's government by its Bishops. That, in turn, meant the universal requirement for episcopal ordination for its ministers.

John A. Hollister+