Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Priestesses in Plano Part II

Just when it seemed a safe bet that the Anglican Mission in America (AMiA) had made a final decision about priestesses in the Church, and one that took the right decision even if for incomplete reasons, along comes Fr. David Roseberry, Rector of Christ Church Plano, Texas, to make you hold on to your money. The message is, do not bet on that horse after all. Along with one Fr. Clint Kerley and one Toby Eisenberg, Fr. Roseberry and Christ Church have presented a position paper in favor of women “priests.” The paper is far too long to post here, but can be read in PDF format here. It is worth taking the time, however, to read some of their paper interspersed with commentary by Fr. John Hollister, Priest Associate at Christ Anglican Catholic Church, Metairie (New Orleans), Louisiana. Because of length, we will present Part II (see Part I). Also, please note that we do not hold the entire AMiA accountable for this horrible paper. But, according to facts presented in comments, we consider their polity of having grandfathered women "priests" and of "ordaining" women to the diaconate as contributing heavily to the distorted thinking in Plano; indeed as having rendered this poor thinking inevitable.

We begin with the next section of their paper, entitled:

The Mission-Oriented Approach and Its Deep Roots
Our mission-oriented approach to the issue of women’s ordination seeks to minimize obstacles to the proclamation of the gospel within our culture, while adhering to the limits of what Scripture teaches and commands.

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Comment: Apart from the fact that we have yet to be told why the traditional male ministry is an obstacle to the Gospel’s spread, one must always be extremely careful to be sure that what one perceives as an obstacle to proclaiming the Gospel is not, instead, merely something that makes one personally uncomfortable or that runs counter to one’s personal predilections.

Instead of remaining comfortable in our traditions and habitual ways of thinking, we must always be prepared to adapt our ways to the people and cultures we encounter, for the sake of the gospel and the glory of God. Of course, in seeking to promote the gospel in this way, we must never violate the gospel itself or anything taught or commanded in Scripture.

Comment: But Scripture commands that the ordained ministry be male, which is precisely what you are violating.

Within official Anglican teaching itself, we need look no further than the well-known Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral to see a close parallel to the mission-oriented approach we are taking.

Comment: Of course, we must not forget that the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral was proposed as a minimal standard for the merger of existing Christian denominations, Protestant with Catholic, not as a guide for the evangelization of non-Christians. Nor is there any possibility that those gathered in Chicago in 1886 or at Lambeth in 1888 considered it conceivable for the Church to ordain anyone other than males.
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One of the reasons for the current state of disarray within Lambeth-affiliated Anglicanism is that one may plausibly argue that nothing has ever been “officially adopted” by that movement, for the simple reason that the movement itself has no “official” institutions or teaching authority. It is nothing more and nothing less than a parachurch organization, a sort of overgrown Intervarsity Fellowship, the actual structure of which is, quite literally, nothing more than the Archbishop of Canterbury’s invitation list on his Rolodex. (Considering that he is British, perhaps it is actually a Filofax. Nowadays, it could even be digitized in Outlook.) It is precisely that lack of structure that creates the lack of accountability that permits the DFMSPECUSA (The Domestic and Foreign Mission Society of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, i.e. the full legal name of the Episcopal Church) simultaneously to lie to its partners in communion and to claim to be a faithful Anglican Province.

The articles express both the “essentials” of the Christian faith which can never be compromised as well as a willingness and commitment to give up, whenever necessary for the cause of unity, the “non-essential” teachings and practices preferred by Anglicans. One of the four “essentials” relevant here is the belief that Scripture contains all things necessary for salvation and serves as the rule and ultimate standard of the Christian faith. Additionally, the articles include as an “essential” the belief in the Historic Episcopate (i.e., succession of bishops) “locally adapted in the methods of its administration to the varying needs of the nations and peoples called of God into the Unity of His Church.” We affirm the role and leadership that bishops give to each local church within the Anglican Communion.

So, while the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral is a statement about how to pursue visible Christian unity, it is much in line with the mission-oriented approach we are taking. Each seeks a fundamental calling of the Church – visible Christian unity on the one hand and effective proclamation of the gospel on the other. And, each seeks to maintain the fundamentals of the Christian faith in full integrity while adapting the teachings and practices of the local congregation to the particular needs of those people and their surrounding culture...

The mission-oriented approach we take here to the issue of women’s ordination seeks to take part in a long-standing tradition of adapting Christian teaching and practice to local needs, cultures, and peoples.
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Comment: We are still waiting for any explanation of how (a) the fundamental rôle of the bishop can properly be carried out by delegating some of its essential functions to persons who are themselves ontologically incapable of being bishops and (b) the Church’s universal and millennial practice of ordaining only men has somehow interfered with the mission conferred on it in St. Matthew 28:18-20. And bear in mind that those to whom Our Lord was then speaking, that is, to whom He gave that Great Commission, were themselves all men.

So, when traditional Christian teaching and practice is at such odds with a culture that elements of the traditional material create barriers to the culture’s reception of the gospel.

Comment:
What barriers? None have been pointed to, let alone detailed or explained.
Christians are not only permitted but are duty-bound to reconsider whether any portion of the material offensive to the culture may be modified without compromising the fundamentals of the Christian faith. If Scripture gives us a command that clearly prevents us from affirming something in a culture, then being mission-oriented requires Christians to stand against that component of the culture.
Comment: This formulation is a subtle way of permitting secular culture to trump Christian truth. Scripture must be understood from within the Church looking out, not standing outside the Church looking in. Thus what is determinative is the Church’s consistent interpretation and application of the Scriptures that were themselves written under the care of the Church for the Church’s own internal purposes.

But the issue here is in fact something different. Scripture has given us a plain, direct, and unmistakable command about who is to be ordained to serve the Church. What is going on here is a process of special pleading, attempting to find a means of weaseling out of that plain directive, just because it affronts some social ideas that became prominent in Western Europe and North America in the 1960s and after.

And again, the “gospel” for the spreading of which so much care is being taken is, evidently, a lower-case gospel. The Gnostic so-called “Gospel of Thomas” is a “gospel” but it is not a “Gospel”. To understand just why this is important, think of the distinctions between the gods of the Canaanites and the Philistines, on the one hand, and the God of the Jews and Christians, on the other.

Given the ongoing controversy over ordaining practicing homosexuals and allowing and encouraging pastors to perform same-sex marriages, it is vitally important that we make two distinctives of our mission-oriented approach clear. First, we are not suggesting that all who are within the Anglican world must ordain women, as if the Scriptures or God’s current activity in the world demonstrated that ordaining women is required. Instead, we are taking an approach that says ordaining women as deacons and priests is permitted by Scripture. It should be considered by Christians engaged in cultures such as ours because of the scriptural mandate to eliminate unnecessary barriers to the gospel. Second, and related to the first point, we hold that equality is not a cause for us taking our position, as if there is a part of the gospel or the teachings of Scripture that would require women to be ordained. While we are not unsympathetic to this concern for women’s equality and certainly see it as having roots in Christian teaching, we see any mandate for women’s equality in the form of ordained ministry roles as stemming solely from our culture, not from Scripture or the from the gospel itself.

By contrast, some churches have been prideful in the ongoing controversy over Christian teaching on homosexuality. Instead of following Scripture or the broader Christian community, those churches presume to be “leaders” on the issue as the rest of Christianity “catches up” to what they believe God is doing. They have not been willing to listen to other voices throughout the world and instead have held themselves up as “prophets” who alone are able to see the truth that others will only come to see later. This is due to the fact that rather than Scripture, their own culturally shaped views of social justice serve as an uncompromising mandate for how they interpret (and arguably even ignore) Scripture. While social justice is certainly taught in Scripture, and certainly part of the gospel, we must live under the authority and boundaries the Bible gives us for how to conceive of such justice, not our own.

Comment: One understands why Christ Church, Plano TX might wish to make some distinction between it’s own self-perceived “prophetic” action in ordaining women and DFMSPECUSA’s San Francisco-style “prophetic” action in ordaining practicing homosexuals and lesbians. However, that distinction won’t wash. It was precisely the Episcopal Church’s 1976 decision to authorize the ordination of women that led to its later tolerance for, and then promotion of, the ordination of sexual deviates. The connection between the two phenomena should be obvious: the Scriptural and Traditional restriction of ordination to men is an ontological matter, i.e., deals with the essential nature or being of the person under consideration; the (largely unexpressed) assumption that ordinands will live a chaste life is simply a behavioral prescription and not even one that is unique to the ministry. Rather, it is simply the consistent application of the Church’s general teaching on sexual morality: if the generality of the Church’s members are expected to live chastely, then so, too, are its ministers.

Thus once the delegates to General Convention were convinced they had the power to ride roughshod over both the plain words of Scripture and the Church’s immemorial interpretation and application of those words, so as to change the ontological character of the ministry, it was then a comparatively small matter to persuade the delegates to subsequent General Conventions and diocesan Standing Committees that the behavioral prescriptions for ordinands could likewise be changed, even in the face of other express declarations of Scripture. After all, we have always had clergy who acted inappropriately on their sinful impulses and, as Article XXVI of the Articles of Religion tells us, that sinful conduct does not vitiate the efficacy of their Sacramental ministrations.

Even if there were not these theological and historical objections to the ordination of women, there would remain important prudential concerns that militate against it. Given what the DFMSPECUSA has done, and the influence its changes have had on impressionable Provinces of the Lambeth Communion, for any church group at this time to make the decision to ordain women to any grade of the ministry sends an unmistakable signal, both to its own members and to those outside of it, that its principles, just like DFMSPECUSA’s, are all up for grabs. It is rather like the Roman Catholic question over tabernacles and aumbries. If an R.C. parish in, say, 1490 A.D. had removed its tabernacle from off of its altar and had installed instead an aumbry safe in the side wall of its chancel, no one would have been likely to have drawn from that move any inference regarding its belief in the Real Presence. However, when most R.C. parishes made that same change in the late 1960s and ‘70s, in the context of that time it sent a very clear message that those parishes were downgrading the centrality of the Eucharist in their spiritual and liturgical lives. This was especially so when that particular change was accompanied by the abandonment of the altars on the East walls and their replacement by “picnic tables”, the removal of the altar rails, the use of lay “‘extraordinary’ Eucharistic ministers” in place of ordained clerics to serve communion during public liturgies, the importation of lay, street-clothed masters and mistresses of ceremonies to take central rôles in the liturgy and the consequent relegation of the clergy almost to a secondary rôle as liturgical consultants.

Finally, we must observe that female priestesses were well known in the ancient world, both during the Old Testament period and the New Testament one. Yet both the Jews of the Old Testament and the Christians of the New adhered to exclusively male priesthoods, in marked opposition to the societies and cultures around them. Indeed, the New Testament Christians did so even though it would almost certainly have facilitated the acceptance of their missionary activity in those same societies and cultures to have adapted their priesthood to those societies’ and cultures’ expectations and experiences.

It is highly probable that one of the reasons God directed His people, both of the Old Covenant and the New, so to distinguish themselves from the religions served by those priestesses, was that in those pagan cults promiscuity, fornication, and other even worse sexual irregularities were rife. Considering this, it seems less and less like pure coincidence that it has been during the precise period when the DFMSPECUSA has adopted and fostered the institution of priestesses that it has likewise developed and fostered official tolerance for, and outright promotion of, promiscuity, fornication, adultery, homosexuality, and a rich neo-pagan culture of sexual disorder.

Nevertheless, given that the concern for women’s equality is very strong in our culture, Paul’s mission-oriented approach instructs us to consider how far we can go to embrace that concern.

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Comment: What is going on here is a subtly-concealed shift in the argument, turning on the varied meanings of the word “equality”. What society is concerned about is equal employment opportunity, a concern that is misplaced in the present setting because the ordained ministry – at least the ordained ministry of the Catholic Churches – is not “employment” as society understands that to be. It is a divine calling, which is something with which the secular society is utterly unequipped to deal.

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The equality that is applicable to members of the Church is equality in the eyes of God and this most assuredly does exist. However, we are reminded in Scripture, not least in St. Paul’s Epistles, that equality of value, which does exist in the Church, is not the same thing as identity of functions, which does not.

Just ask two questions of any child: “Is your mother the same as your father? But then, if they are not the same, which one is more important to you, your mother or your father?” Children instinctively understand the equality-with-nonidentity of men and women.

So, our position is that women’s ordination is not mandated by any “liberating” trajectory of the gospel but equally that it is not prohibited by Scripture (at least not if women deacons and priests are under the headship of a male bishop).

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Comment: Where does the New Testament say that the “headship” of a bishop over his diocese is fundamentally different than the “headship” of a priest over his congregation? And while searching for that reference, please remember that, at the time the New Testament was written, there were two grades of the ordained ministry, not three. There was generally only one Christian congregation in each major city, so the “overseer” – the man whom St. Timothy or St. Titus selected and ordained at St. Paul’s behest – was, in our terms, both the bishop of the diocese and the pastor of the local congregation. Assisting him, as we see in Acts, were often deacons.

It was only when the Church grew to the point that each city might have several urban congregations, and when those in turn spread out into the suburbs and hinterland, that it became necessary to appoint delegates to celebrate on the bishop’s behalf in those satellite congregations. Here the choice fell not on the deacons, who already existed as a distinct Order, but on the bishop’s council of elders, whom we now call priests.

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Thus, historically, the original concept of “headship” applied to the bishop in both his rôles, as representative in a certain territory of the founding Apostle and as pastor of the local congregation. When the city church began to spread out, so that the presbyters became “branch managers” for the bishop, there had a theoretical dependence on the bishop combined with a practical or logistical degree of independence, meant that the same ontological standards were applied to their selection as had previously been applied to both bishops and deacons: male, married, with children. To this day, the Eastern Orthodox churches strongly prefer married priests to serve in parishes.

Instead, women’s ordination is best understood missionally, in terms of how best to proclaim the gospel to a culture that holds to the fundamental right of women to hold every position that men hold...
-->As Paul makes clear in Scripture, his primary concern was to advance this gospel in every culture by seeking to minimize those things which might inhibit the reception of the gospel. We are simply attempting to do the same in our own culture.

Comment: This is not a missional imperative, it is a failure of basic Christian teaching. One of the first lessons the Church needs to give the secular society in which it is immersed is that the clergy is not a secular profession or occupation and, therefore, is not subject to that society’s preconceptions. Thus, for example, it is vital that all members of the Church understand that a priest is not an employee of the congregation and, further, understand the implications of that fact.

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And, why do the authors reject St. Paul’s express words while trying to read into his writings implications that would seemingly authorize them to take actions that he has already rejected? Either the writings traditionally attributed to St. Paul are canonical, and therefore inspired, Scripture, or they are not. If they are, and the unbroken tradition of the Church attests that they are, then they are to be followed, not picked apart.

It is with great care and thought that we take a position that differs from the tradition of the church. However, in this case we are compelled to do so. It is not until the last 40 years that culture has broadly held such a great concern for the equality of women in the form of access to ordained ministry. Because the Church has rarely had to deal with a culture of equality such as ours, there is no real precedent in tradition to explore this issue from a mission-oriented approach.

Comment: So, again, the authors are going to let the culture dictate to the Church, rather than having the Church transform the culture?

-->It is rather prideful and self-absorbed to assume that human nature has changed so radically in our time that the Church teachings and Church structures which served and saved our grandparents will not likewise serve and save our contemporaries. And there is real empirical evidence that this assumption is false. If one looks to the areas where the Church is growing most remarkably, we see two things. First, this growth is occurring in places where Christianity is an import from outside. Second, the forms of Christianity that are being accepted in--> those places are very traditional in all ways, generally including their retention of an exclusively male ministry.

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The traditional teachings of the Church have generally (but not always) maintained that women should not be ordained as deacons, priests, or bishops.

Comment: Actually, this is incorrect. There is no evidence that the Catholic Church – the One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church of the Apostles to which we give our allegiance in the three historic Creeds – ever authorized the ordination of any female to any position that required ordination. Some people have mistaken the meaning of the ancient term “deaconess” to assume the contrary, that that is an error; those “deaconesses” were never ordained clergy and were always laywomen.

(Editorial note: The above comment by Fr. Hollister is the only honest way to interpret historical documents, including the quick and easy to find Canon 19 of the Council of Nicea in 325 AD. The simple fact is that defenders of women as Deacons rely on a Greek "Dictionary definition" alone. To know the meaning of a word within any body, in this case the Body of Christ, we need to use as our definition both the technical definition of the language and the usage within that given body, in this case the Church. Usage is part, therefore, of proper definition.)

It is our contention that those teachings were the result of deep consideration by prior Church leaders of how to best engage Biblical teaching to their local cultures, which were, with rare exception, patriarchal.

Comment: This simply assumes, without offering any evidence to support the contention, that the Church’s historic and unvarying restriction of its ordained ministry to males was a human determination rooted in mission strategy and not a divine command rooted in God’s will for the Church He instituted. Where the paper admits that it is departing from that Tradition, the onus is on the writers of it to demonstrate the need for that departure, yet they have not done so. (Editorial note: Their contention has been asserted, as Fr. Hollister has stated, without evidence. It is significant that in all that follows, right through to the end of their paper, no evidence is ever presented. Their major argument stands on nothing stronger than a mere assumption offered to back up their "contention.") All they have done is to repeat the mantra that 21st Century society – actually, although it does not admit this, only 21st Century European and North American society – has difficulty in coming
-->to an understanding what the Church is doing with its ministry. Well, if that is a problem, just wait until one tries to explain to that same society the internal œconomy of the Holy Trinity, the objective operation of the Sacraments as channels of divine Grace, the Real Presence, or the Virgin Birth. Once again, the Church cannot trim its sails to the winds of secular approval or understanding.
Even more importantly, the assumption that Our Lord chose His Apostles and disciples out of deference to the social prejudices of His day is simply the re-emergence of ancient heresies such as Ebionitism. To say that He was unable to surmount cultural mores, which are aspects of the created order, is to say that He was not the Second Person of the Trinity and God in His own Person but, instead, a mere human, even if an especially inspired one.

Indeed, traditional teachings and practices should be presumed to be true unless there is clear reason to change them. But, when culture changes so that it is at odds with tradition, the Church has a duty to re-examine its traditional teachings and practices to see if its mission of spreading the gospel would be compromised by clinging to traditional teachings. Anglicanism upholds Scripture as our primary authority and views tradition as bearing an imperfect but vitally important witness to what Scripture teaches.

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Comment: On what basis do the authors hold that? Some evidence, please, including specific facts and authorities. To this point, they have given us something closer to a political “stump speech” than a theological explanation.

(Editorial note: They offer no evidence that Scripture allows the "Ordination" of women. Anyone who believes the Scripture allows it must be trying to read through a blindfold. It is dishonest to pretend that the Scripture may be used to support their point of view, and generalizations about what they think St. Paul might do if he were here today, is not an argument.)

We even hold that Paul’s express prohibitions against women preaching, teaching, and leading in public worship (in 1 Corinthians and 1 Timothy) were intended by Paul as second category teachings applicable to his own particular culture rather than first category teachings applicable to all cultures. While Paul does not expressly state that the prohibitions were culturally conditioned, we hold that the best scholarship on those passages suggests that this was Paul’s intention.

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Comment: Well, at least this doesn’t say that Paul said he didn’t mean what he said. So that leaves us with this “best scholarship” as the paper’s fall-back position. So who determined that this is “best” and that 2,000 years of authoritative interpretation by the Apostolic Church is “worst”? Again, evidence please, including facts and an explication of the principles upon which you are making these determinations. Otherwise, it just looks as though “best” is a code word for “most congenial to our personal position” and/or “most politically correct”.

(Editorial note: It also shows their basic disrespect for the Scriptures themselves. Instead of faithful obedience, they rely on modern day skpetics to let them off the hook.)

At the very least, the scholarship shows that it is unclear whether Paul intended those prohibitions as first category or second category teachings.

Comment: Actually, this is upside down. Where Paul expressly told us the ordained ministry must be male, but did not tell us that this was a temporary accommodation to mutable circumstances, we must assume it is one of those first-order prescriptions that are valid for all times and places.
Just consider how this mode of reasoning adapts to other contexts. The arguments made here are precisely the arguments that the heterophobes make when they claim that Paul’s forthright condemnation of homosexual and lesbian activity no longer binds us. They, like this paper, appeal to “the best scholarship” in making these assertions. Once one opens the door to rejecting whichever of Paul’s commands does not fit one’s present convenience, anyone else can, with equal validity, do the same with respect to any other issue to which Paul spoke, even when, as here claimed, the first user disagrees with the second’s conclusions.
Remember, too, that the Church’s official interpretive function is vested in its hierarchy, which bears the charism of ordination, and in its Œcumenical Councils, through which the Holy Spirit acts. The activities of “the best scholars” are merely the private speculations of academics who are accountable to no one, who have received no charism of office, and are not even, in their academic capacities, an official part of the Church.

(Editorial note: First categoary? Second category? Such language is unknown to the Church, and would never have been in the mouth of any Apostle or Prophet; neither would our Lord move from his position that "not one jot or one tittle" can be removed. It either is or is not the word of God. Some errors are honestly held and taught because of a malformed but active conscience. But, this is plain rebellion vested in fancy dress. This is simply the mind of the Episcopal Church at its worst, rebelling with excuses and rationalizations-in fact, the same old excuses and rationalizations.)

It is important to note that our discussion of other churches’ teachings above (i.e., in the ongoing controversy over proper Christian teaching on homosexuality) argued essentially that they see Paul’s prohibitions as falling into the third category, as if Paul’s view was at odds with the true teachings of the gospel. We flatly reject this idea.

Comment: My, that is a difficulty. For those of us who have not been favored with the “best” scholarship, it looks remarkably as though if one person can pick and choose among Paul’s express directives, and label as second-order those that he dislikes regarding one issue (such as on the composition of the ordained ministry), then another person is equally entitled to pick through the Pauline corpus to reject other express directives as equally second-order just because he dislikes them (such as on the acceptability of homosexual activity). In fact, this is precisely what happened within the DFMSPECUSA: once the barque of women’s ordination was launched, the same shipways were greased for the acceptance of practicing perverts, sanctified sodomy, and blessed buggery.

Since, at the very least, it is unclear whether Paul’s prohibitions are transcultural or not....


Comment:
Please tell us, in detail and with supporting facts, just why the entire Church, East and West, has been wrong for 20 centuries during which it has believed that these were mandatory, “transcultural” prescriptions.

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we must use other principles to determine whether we understand his specific prohibitions as (1) binding in our own culture as specific prohibitions (i.e., the specific prohibitions themselves are transcultural) or (2) simply particular examples of how enduring principles are to be applied (i.e., the specific prohibitions are not themselves transcultural though the principles underlying them are transcultural). This is the difficult task of attempting to interpret Scripture faithfully when so many faithful Christians have come to different conclusions. How are we to proceed?
Comment: Well, one mode of proceeding would be to align oneself with what the Church has unvaryingly taught about what St. Paul wrote, viz., that he meant what he said. Of course, that would have the disadvantage of not leading to the conclusion that this paper rather clearly set out to reach.
Initially, traditionalists have the presumption because of the mere fact that the Church has taught and practiced certain things for a long time. But, the mission-oriented approach can shift the presumption in favor of women’s ordination.
Comment: No, it can’t. The traditionalists’ “presumption” is the interpretation by the Church, as Christ’s divinely-instituted means of making Himself present in this world, of what we believe to have been divinely-inspired Scripture. The “mission-oriented approach” is a human construct, and an exceedingly recent one at that, designed specifically to evade the clear and unvarying teaching of that Church. If this approach were valid, then we would be justified in disregarding any teaching of the Church on the ground that some group, somewhere would prefer that we abandon that teaching rather than submit itself, in humility, to it.

Paul’s clear teaching elsewhere in Scripture that Christians should avoid unnecessary barriers to a culture’s reception of the gospel carries more weight than any concern to preserve traditional Church teachings and practices for the sake of tradition itself. So, if the mission-oriented approach suggests ordination of women to ministry would remove a barrier to the gospel’s receptivity in a culture, then the presumption shifts from the traditionalist view to the view that favors ordaining women.
Comment: Who says that it does? This is really the crux of this argument, and this paper has not done us the courtesy of identifying its ultimate source of authority.

If maintaining the traditional teaching against ordaining women presents a significant barrier to the proclamation of the gospel, then we should shift from presuming traditional teachings to presuming a change in teachings. For, tradition serves as a testimony regarding how best to live out and proclaim the gospel.
Comment: Tradition also serves as a valuable tool for determining what it is that Scripture is telling us. However, all outside aids are to be applied only when Scripture is not clear and, on this point, Scripture is clear and unambiguous. Were it not, the authors would not have been put to these mental gymnastics to try to avoid its directives.
If traditional teachings ever come to stand in the way of proclaiming the gospel effectively, it would be a mistake to presume traditional teachings should not be changed because that would effectively be to value tradition itself more than the gospel which it seeks to proclaim. For the sake of the gospel, we must presume in those circumstances that change is appropriate and then seek to determine if there is anything in Scripture that prevents such change...These presumptions are crucial since they determine who bears the burden of proof. So, traditionalists cannot just rest on the long-standing teachings and practices of the Church and argue that proponents of women’s ordination bear the burden of proving their cause from Scripture. The mere fact that preserving the traditionalist view could stand as a significant barrier to a culture’s reception of the gospel is enough to shift the burden of proof to the traditionalists.

Comment:
All of this is the facile application of the rhetorical trick of setting up what, in this politically-correct age, we may call “persons of straw”. “If the Church’s traditional teachings should prove to be an obstacle, etc.,” but the fact is that they have not been shown to be any such barrier. Thus it is an unfruitful use of time to spend it speculating about purely hypothetical circumstances. Nor is it logical to assume that if any such obstacle were ever to be shown to exist, the cause of difficulty would be solely the composition of the Church’s ministry. Indeed, it is far more likely that the cause would be the unthinking, knee-jerk reactions of uninformed non-Christians who simply assume that whatever the Church does must be malign in intent and oppressive in origin.
It is worth noting that the Roman Catholic Church itself has officially determined that Scripture does not conclusively prohibit or allow women’s ordination. In 1977, the Pontifical Biblical Commission (the committee of the most preeminent and well-respected Biblical scholars in the Roman Catholic Church who are charged with answering Biblical questions posed to them by the highest Roman Catholic teaching authorities) issued a report regarding their examination of what the New Testament teaches regarding women’s ordination.
Comment: Of course, the Pontifical Biblical Commission is merely a group of scholars, the opinions of which may change from time to time, and which, in any case, does not formulate the official teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. That function is left to the hierarchy, which is ordained to it and which possesses the charism of the Sacrament of Orders, which includes the authority to teach consistently with the Tradition of the Church.
They concluded that the New Testament, by itself, does not allow them to settle the question whether women may be ordained.
-->They specifically mention 1 Corinthians 14 and 1 Timothy 2 and conclude that it is possible that those passages refer only to particular concrete situations and abuses...-->So, even the Roman Catholic Church, which was seeking scriptural guidance for their prohibition against women’s ordination, concluded that no such support exists.

Comment: The Roman Catholic Church concluded no such thing. One body of scholars within the Roman Catholic communion stated that on one occasion but the Roman Church’s teaching office is emphatically not confided to that body and it does not speak for the whole Church.

(Editorial note: It is instructive that the writers of this paper say a lot about studying the Scriptures, but they never draw any argument from Scripture itself. Well, of course, how could they? The best they come up with is try to explain away only two passages, as if that argument were solid-inasmuch as "husband of one wife" in I Timothy 2 [and Titus 1, by the way] is stated clearly and obviously as a universal standard- and as if this dismissal alone would answer the entire weight of Biblical evidence. That they, very Protetsant in every way, try to make their stand on the authority of the See of Rome, shows that absurdity begets surrealism.)

Instead, their whole position rests on a presumption that traditional teachings and practices should be followed if there is nothing in Scripture to the contrary.

(Editorial note: That is simply not true. If they would listen to the Traditional Catholic view, indeed, among Anglican writers, if they would read Hooker about "the Church with her ecclesiastical authority," they would know that the Traditional position is that the Church and the Bible speak as one, with one voice and one mind of Christ governing through both together as one. The "Reasserters" have never understood this.)

Specifically, they presume that they are bound by traditional understandings of sacramental theology and of what Christ and the Apostles intended in ordaining only men as apostles.

However, Anglicans have a more fluid understanding of tradition. Article 34 of the 39 Articles states that church tradition has been interpreted differently at various times in history and divergent places around the globe – and that it isn’t necessary that practices in one place match another.

(Editorial note: To use these Articles his way is an insult to our intelligence. Nothing as significant as what they propose fits any honest interpretation of them.)

What can’t change, however, is adherence to God’s word. One other crucial point comes out in this Article. A change of tradition can’t be made “through … private judgment.” Change comes through the discernment of the church, through “common authority.” Anglicans believe this authority rests in the office of the bishop. Our openness to women’s ordination at Christ Church rests not in our own “private judgment,” but in the counsel of our Bishops. Archbishop Kolini of Rwanda, of which AMiA is a missionary arm, and Archbishop Duncan of the ACNA both support the ordination of women to the priesthood.

Comment: First, Article XXXIV, like the other Articles, has never been normative in the American Church, but is only expressive of the Church of England’s position in certain 16th Century controversies. Second, that Article denounces departures from Church Tradition made only upon “private judgment” and “the best scholarship” is, assuredly, no more than that: the private judgments of irresponsible non-officials who have no teaching authority in the Church. Third, the Article expressly denounces breaches of “the common order”, which women’s ordination unquestionably is. Fourth, both Archbishops Kolini and Duncan are simply individual officers of the Church; neither is a Pope who claims the power to pronounce Church doctrine in his own person. (Archbishop Duncan, at least, has publicly admitted that his personal position on women’s ordination is a positive departure from the Church’s immemorial Tradition.) To be even arguably valid, a decision of this magnitude would have to be taken by the entire episcopate of the Church, acting collegially, i.e., assembled in an Œcumenical Council.
(To be continued in Part III)

36 comments:

Canon Tallis said...

I want to very much commend Canon Hollister and Father Hart for taking the risk of polluting their souls by reading through this paper. It is especially laughable when one realizes that in all the cultures and religions in which the Gospel was preached women occupied high religious positions. Has Roseberry never heard of the Vestal Virgins or of the priestesses in many of the largest and most influential pagan cults? Further, this period in history was one in which women had more freedom and legal equality than in most before or to follow. While I do not remember the name of the writer, I would refer all to Sex and Power in History.

One minor quibble. When Canon Hollister writes "If an R.C. parish in, say, 1490 A.D. had removed its tabernacle from off of its altar and had installed instead an aumbry safe in the side wall of its chancel, no one would have been likely to have drawn from that move any inference regarding its belief in the Real Presence." I very much doubt that there were tabernacles on the altars of churches in the West in 1490. The liturgical and ceremonial changes that we now associate with baroque and rococo Romanism appear to have begun in 1502 with Alexander VI's Master of Ceremonies and not making their way into any printed version of the Roman missal before 1570. Many of the ancient altars in the old Roman basilicas are as free standing as their modern "picnic tables." It was simply that the liturgical tradition of the West required that liturgical prayer be made facing the East. The translation mistakes made in the 1930s which led certain scholars to speculate that bishops in the earliest church celebrated facing the people were corrected within the decade but the political and cultural use of those mistakes have yet to corrected.

Will said...

Thank you for posting this. As Fr. Hollister's comments help make very clear, there truly is no divergence between Scripture and tradition on this issue of women's ordination.

poetreader said...

How can they assert the "principles" of interpretation contained in this paper and claim to be "Bible believing Christians"? How can they then oppose homosexual practice and other sexual license? How can they defend marriage as involving a man and a woman? How indeed can they defend the Trinity, the divinity of Christ, the salvific centrality of the Cross, or any other Christian doctrine? If Scripture and tradition are both amenable to being interpreted by what contemporaries wish them to say, then all these doctrines become indefensible. This statement manages to make it very clear that WO, if discussed in the terms they wish to use, is indeed at the very heart of the faith, and entirely subversive to an objective faith.

ed

Anonymous said...

I agree heartily with everything Canon Hollister writes and I agree with Ed's comment. But does one have to eat all of an egg to know that it is rotten? This series has the look of a slow news day. Preaching to the choir? Beating a dead horse? Unless something juicy turns up in the comments, I going to sit this one out.
LKW

poetreader said...

Though I have great distaste for this discussion, and personally find it acutely boring, I'm afraid it is a necessary one to pursue as ACNA has (inappropriately, but effectively nonetheless) become a contender for the title of preserver of real Anglicanism. Until those who seek the real Anglican tradition can be brought to see and consider such arguments as what they really are, they remain, whether they like it or not, under their influence and have rather little chance of holding firm over the long haul. The pressure is great. We have a duty to those who want to be right but find themselves misled. We do need to plod though these same issues until the radical difference between them is actually being perceived.

ed

John A. Hollister said...

Fr. Wells wrote, "I agree heartily with everything Canon Hollister writes and I agree with Ed's comment. But does one have to eat all of an egg to know that it is rotten?"

What started me down the long, boring, and mentally painful process of reading line by line through the Plano paper was the recollection what, just within the past few months, three bishops and several clergy and congregations transferred their allegiance from a legitimate Continuing Church to an ACNA affiliate.

These were people who certainly should have known better. That they did not act according to that better knowledge suggested to me that they had momentarily forgotten the basic principles upon which the Continuing Church movement is founded, perhaps distracted by the publicity, noise, and other razzmatazz that has surrounded the morphing of AMiA, CANA, etc., into the NeoACNA.

If I'm right about that, then it seems worthwhile, if not necessarily always pleasant or entertaining, to review for our own benefit those basic principles that got lost in the shuffle.

This would probably have been done more elegantly had it been done by a better-qualified theologian than I, but none such appeared to have stepped up to the plate and I'm always willing to stick my neck out into regions where it may not belong.

John A. Hollister+

David said...

I am grateful to Fathers Hart and Hollister for their work in proclaiming Catholic and Apostolic faith and order against this poorly justified moral relativism of the ACNA priests.

Yes, you can argue in favor of a Christianity with women priests and deacons, or homosex priests and gay marriages, but please, do not try and say that more than 2000 years of orthodoxy is wrong, or that St. Paul now had tiered teachings - core and non=core.

What is the point of this ECUSA with the label ACNA? Thirty years of Catholic orthodoxy upheld by the Anglican Catholic Church is dismissed by Episcopalians who still confuse the Catholic faith with Gnostic tinged beliefs about the relativism of the Faith in the light of contemporary social values.

The Church has the obligation to teach the truth including the truth that men and women cannot be priests, and that St. Paul's Epistles are and always were first-tier beliefs incumbent on all Christians for all time.

To the conservatives in AMIA,and the ACNA please, prayerfully consider walking outside your comfort zones and walking into Catholic and Apostolic orthodoxy in the ACC or one if it's sister churches, the UED or APCTK.

I am all in favour of courtesy and tolerance, including for those who are in favour of women priests. Ultimately the Church must however draw a line in the sand, and call heresy and schism from the Faith just that - a spiritual and moral failure, and a departure from the will of Christ for His flock.

Anonymous said...

You are right, Ed, you are quite right. Now I will see what's on Drudge.
LKW

anglirich said...

Rev. Hollister said "just within the past few months, three bishops and several clergy and congregations transferred their allegiance from a legitimate Continuing Church to an ACNA affiliate."

I wonder what these three bishops and parishes are thinking now? Oops, we made a BIG MISTAKE?????

Fr. Richard

poetreader said...

Actually I wish they would do an "Oops" -- I'm in touch with some of these men, deeply good men, doing the best they know how, and still committed to the steps they've taken -- I'm afraid they've been sold a bill of goods. With eyes open they've accepted a primate who fiercely defends WO, with the hope (a vain hope, I believe) that the issue will go away. It will take more than a paer from one parish (even the largest) to convince them that the movement is in the wrong direction. Prayer, along with the kind of rational discussion Fr. Hollister has given us, may change something. Pray, brethren ...

ed

Anonymous said...

I see your point, Canon Hollister! And yes, I am familiar with the drift you allude to. I can think of two of those bishops, but the third has not come to my attention. This phenomenon, in my view, is related to a larger problem (larger that WO itself) of segments of the CC (I will try not to be too specific) which sound conservative enough about Prayer Books and priestesses, but once you get beyond those two topics, all you have left is modernist theology decked out in fiddleback chasubles. The Continuing Churches are perfectly capable of producing their own species of modernism in another generation. For me the litmus test is Biblical infallibility and inerrancy. Do we all believe what, say, Irenaeus or Athanasius believed about the Bible?
Most of us are prepared to give lip-service to Scripture, but in this blog, for example,the quotations from Richard Hooker run about 25 to 1 against questions from Holy Scripture.
To me this is ominous and deeply troubling.
LKW

Fr. Robert Hart said...

"...but in this blog, for example,the quotations from Richard Hooker run about 25 to 1 against questions from Holy Scripture."

Are you disqualifying my sermons for purposes of this comparison?

Anonymous said...

Fr Hart: Fair enough. Your sermons would even things up. I was thinking of the commentary, of which I am a participant, so I stand under the stricture I have levied.

When your sermons are included, the balance would probably be something like 5 to 1, which helps.

Also, I should have pointed out in my last comment that the Plano document exemplifies the mushy approach to Scripture which I complain about, and Canon Hollister properly nails them for it.

But I recall sitting on the BEC in a jurisdiction other than the ACC. One promising candidate explained to us that the Bible is "not the Word of God, but a subset of the Word of God." That for me was the firebell in the night.
LKW

Anonymous said...

Like Fr Richard and LKW I know 2 of the 3 bishops who left.
One got his picture taken with the bishops of the ACNA as an REC bishop and one seems to have faded away so to speak.
If the 3rd is who I think he is he has remained faithful and has not been carried away into the current debacle.
FrRon
ps. Thank for this wonderful article.

RC Cola said...

Good analysis Canon Hollister and good editoral notes, Fr. Hart. This bit about Plano is actually getting hard to read. It's like passing a train wreck...I don't want to look, but I have to. Terrible.

I say, is anyone here really against burning at the stake? Shall I bring the lighter fluid or the marshmallows?

OK, OK-- maybe we can just burn the paper. It is trash, after all. (Could we throw in an effigy for good measure? Just to humor me?)

Nathan said...

Every year my idea of burning a heretic on our Christmas Parade float gets voted down.

Nathan

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Maybe in effigy?

Fr. Robert Hart said...

On a serious level; I understand why Fr. Wells finds this to be very tedious. I would not have had the patience to perform the labor Fr. Hollister has done, nor could I stand it very long but for his comments placed throughout. I would have simply skimmed the paper to see if there was any new argument.

This is what strikes me as very significant: Even though they have simply repeated the same old stupid, worn out arguments made since the beginning of this controversy (starting with the unproven and dangerous assumption that God's own directions through the Apostles, and example in his Son, were merely cultural), the writers of this paper obviously believe they have come up with some hitherto undiscovered wisdom. What does this indicate? It indicates that a new generation of WO defenders are blissfully unaware of the entire debate that stretches all the way back to a time when C.S. Lewis wrote his classic refutation of the whole proposal. In other words, they now defend what is, to them, the status quo, apparently ignorant of even so much as the arguments made all along in favor of the position they hold. Obviously, until recently, they were not even thinking about the subject, just accepting it all as normal. And, it is so ingrained in them to accept the heretical innovation, that their reaction is almost conservative, in that they seek to preserve the status quo. This they do in much the same weak way that Colonial Christians imagined an argument for slavery by twisting scripture, and isogeting like mad, in their time.

This indicates that the problem is now deeper and more acute than people from my generation have realized.

Anonymous said...

I continue to be puzzled by the lack of response from the neo-Anglican camp.
LKW

poetreader said...

I'm afraid I would be surprised if we had much response from that camp. They appear to have completely abandoned the world we inhabit and seem barely able to admit that we exist. There is a small congregation in my tow that originated directly after Gene Robinson became bishop. Several of their people have been invited to visit our services and have refused, giving as a principal reason that we do not recognize female priests. Any attempt to bring up the subject results in complete silence. Good, devout, and friendly people, but with no interest in Continuing Anglicanism.

ed

Anonymous said...

I can ditto Ed's story of local experience. When one of the local neo-Anglican churches was in need of a place to worship, they arranged for their late service to take place in the HS gym but asked me to use our church for their early "1928 bcp" service. I told them this would be fine, but they could not bring their priestess inside our 4 walls.
I had thought this was all set, but it never came off. Months later, I ran into their Rector in the grocery store and asked what happened. He explained they could not accept our "invitation," (I had thought is was their "request") under our terms.
These people not only accept WO, they BELIEVE in it, devoutly, fervently, intensely. They believe in WO so strongly they are willing to divide Christ's Church just to have it.

Their strong commitment to WO is probably just as well. If they were to come around suddenly to a Catholic view of Holy Orders and get rid of their female clergy, we would have to do some soul searching on whether we could come to terms with their happy-clappy, "praise choruses" flashed on a big screen, cassock-alb and tamborine worship style. Personally, I'm not ready for that and it would break my heart to see that stuff invading our churches.
LKW

Anonymous said...

I will presume to answer my own question about the absence of neo-Anglicans from this blog generally and this thread in particular.

These people think in the Willow Creek/Saddleback paradigm of the huge megachurch. This is their own self-perception. They have dismissed us from consideration, as a forlorn remnant, a 1928 BCP burial society, unworthy of their attention. They regard us as, frankly, "across the tracks."

But fear not, little flock! We have been here before. I recall when a liturgical pentecostal denomination, seemingly huge, appeared out of nowhere around 1992. Many in our circles thought we should run out with a white flag, sue for terms of peace, and be absorbed. I found myself in a donnybrook to protect my parish from infiltration. That passing phenomenon is now history, having fallen apart. And this too shall pass.
LKW

RC Cola said...

Occasionally I see in my students' eyes when they have finally grasped a simple truth, manage to connect it to their body of knowledge, and see a series of doors open before them. It's wonder.

Yet, when I read the rehashing of the arguments for WO, I get the opposite sense. Rather than the wonder and awe of someone learning a timeless truth, we see banality. Rather than doors opening to the key of truth learned by a new generation, I hear the sound of truth being locked out.

And though I joked about burning at the stake, I realize that we cannot stop error with violence. We have seen that historically the only thing a violent reaction against error has accomplished is not the eradication of error, but rather the elevation of heretics to martyrdom--thus making the error seem right, and truth seem wrong.

I'm troubled, then, about how to stop these errors from rearing their ugly little heads without creating victim-martyrs out of those who sew error into the Church? I fear that we will be so busy fighting errors, that we will never get time to speak the truth except as a reaction against error.

poetreader said...

Thanks RC,
That is a succinct and well-put observation, giving words to much of what I've thought.

I've got to say that I find nothing so unappealing as the constant effort to prove someone else wrong. Yes, this kind of thing does have to be done, but only to a limited extent. If I have conclusively disproved every error presented to me, what Have I given anyone? What do they have? If disproof is all I've offered, they have nothing left.

I spend a great deal of time with non-Christians. Rather than opposing their manifest errors, I prefer to demonstrate (in my weakness) what a Christian really is, and to speak of the wonder of God and the message of salvation in Christ. I resist temptation to get into an argument over matters that depend upon what they don't yet accept.

If the folks in Plano, for instance, do not accept the power of the continuous witness of the Catholic Tradition, they are going to see Scripture through their own minds only, and will inexorably adjust its teaching to what seems good and pleasant to them. With an anti-Catholic mindset no amount of argumentation is likely to have much effect, and the secular interpretation of equality will force the existence of female "priests". The problem here is not the specific issue, but the whole principle of interpretation involved.

ed

palaeologos said...

Ed (and all),

A few months ago I saw this post regarding a new "Anglican" church forming in the East SF Bay area : http://perpetuaofcarthage.blogspot.com/2009/07/anglican-church-forming-in-east-bay-of.html

I commented that the APCK alone had at least 4 parishes that could be considered "East Bay" : Berkeley, Concord, Oakland, and Danville. The blog-owner's response was to quiz me on whether we were affiliated with ACNA or the Anglican Communion, and whether we permitted lay eucharistic ministers. I answered negatively to all questions, and there has been no further response.

You can see how these folks think; they have bought the lie (invented by the TEC apostates) that the sole mark of Anglicanism is communion with the see of Canterbury. I suppose in the absence of any standards of doctrine, worship, or polity that's about all there is left to cling to!

poetreader said...

Hope I don't nettle anyone too much, but following that link led me right into one of the most distressing aspects of contemporary American religion.

I've just been reading in that blog. It's not an Anglican blog, or even much of a Christian one, but a platform for a particular political view. One sees a lot of talk of specific social causes and national and international politics from the viewpoint of the Religious Right. While much of the content is reasonable expression of possible views held honorably by many, I find myself distressed that there is nothing said about theology, soteriology, sacraments, or any "spiritual" matters. I've found this to be very typical of a certain type of Evangelical, whether claiming to be Anglican or not -- and I'm no more comfortable with the subversion into political activiism on the "conservative" side than on the "liberal" side. One can't even argue thorny theological issues with those who seem to think politics is more important.

ed

Fr. Robert Hart said...

RC wrote:

Rather than doors opening to the key of truth learned by a new generation, I hear the sound of truth being locked out.

First they contradict themselves, as follows:

1) Scripture does not rule out WO.
2) OK, so Scripture does rule out WO; but the "first category doctrine" (i.e. priority?) means that we should rule out portions of Scripture.

This leads to another self-contradiction

1) The Scriptures-if I may use the expression from Dominus Iesus-"have God as their Author." Every word is from the Holy Spirit, true, inerrant, infallible and necessary.
2) God's authorship not withstanding, Scripture is culturally irrelevant and must be ignored (for the higher priority of "Mission").

So, yes, they lock out truth quite deliberately, and with utterly asinine reasoning.

I fear that we will be so busy fighting errors, that we will never get time to speak the truth except as a reaction against error.

When this stuff is repeated as loudly as this paper (which was given far too much positive attention, and even too much neutral attention), labor such as that done by Fr. Hollister is necessary. But, even so, the attention we give to this does not amount to very much; we are not concentrating on this topic all year long. And, that is another reason why our independence from the Anglican Communion is necessary. Yes, we shine the light of truth on this darkness; but, we are free to concentrate on our real mission, that is to build the Church as Christ's own co-workers. If we were still in the Anglican Communion we would have to spend most of our time on these subjects, and could build nothing. But, clarifying and giving answer once in a while is not harmful, and indeed sharpens our minds.

Ed wrote:

If the folks in Plano, for instance, do not accept the power of the continuous witness of the Catholic Tradition, they are going to see Scripture through their own minds only, and will inexorably adjust its teaching to what seems good and pleasant to them.

This is how they have redefined sola scriptura. For them it has come to mean, "The Bible is subject to our-in fact to my-interpretation, with all of my sinful whims and fancy.

Palaeologos wrote:

...they have bought the lie (invented by the TEC apostates) that the sole mark of Anglicanism is communion with the see of Canterbury. I suppose in the absence of any standards of doctrine, worship, or polity that's about all there is left to cling to!

That is the same as clinging to any part of a ship driven by many opposing winds in a deadly storm. They may as well cling to a tornado.

Anonymous said...

Would it do any good for someone to mail copies of Canon Hollister's critique of the Plano document to Rev. Roseberry, Archbishop Duncan, and all the bishops of ACNA for their review? Who will volunteer to undertake this trouble and expense?

And would someone please ask Bishops Iker, Schofield, Ackerman, and all the REC bishops if they concur in the Plano document? What explains their silence?
Tacentes multum dicunt.

All of the comments here are predictable and frankly leave me yawning. Preaching to the choir is a waste of time.
LKW

Fr. Robert Hart said...

I cannot assume that all of our readers have understood, especially with so many new ones coming from various places (as I see happening in my parish). I have posted the links in the comment thread on VOL so far, and will the third time. I see the readership numbers have been up; so it may be that some of them are turning here, if only out of curiosity. So, patience please-this series is almost over.

Also, we know that some people have left Continuing Anglicanism for the ACNA, if only via the REC. So, we do need to try to get all this through a few heads, even some heads we had overestimated.

RC Cola said...

Fr. Wells, the Plano Paper authors and those (former) continuers may be operating from the assumption that they really don't need to answer us or our concerns.

After all, who are we, but a bunch of troglodytes and antediluvian throwbacks? We have no right to an answer. We are delusional...too poorly educated and so hateful that we cannot even see what is so obvious right in front of our eyes. No, we are to be pitied at best, but more likely mocked and scorned. We don't deserve answers, because we are not a real church with lots of money and buildings and social acceptability. Oh how sad it is to see us trying to re-live the 1950s! We would be laughable if not so pathetic. NO, no, no answers for us, for we are not worth answering, and our souls are not worth saving. After all, our entire faith--what we think is faith, but it's really just petty politics--is based on rejecting and excluding. If we were accepting and inclusive, well then we might be worthwhile, but our rejecting of the Plano Paper makes it obvious that we are hopeless. Oh how can they explain us away to the World that has come to accept them?

(At least this is how I was treated as a Traditional RC, so I suspect that the treatment I receive from the neo-Anglicans is the same as I received by the neo-Catholics.)

Fr. D. said...

I noted that David Virtue published a couple of stories that ought raise a few eyebrows. The Queen has invited Benedict XVI to stay at Buckingham Palace during his next visit to the U. K. because of her deep concerns regarding the drift away from tradition of Canterbury. "Moles" within the Vatican have rather gleefully, it appears, leaked this story and I think bolsters the insiders opinions that Rome is courting Canterbury and has no official interest in the ACA.

Then there is an interesting meeting at Nashotah House where the leaders of the ACNA, St. Vladimir Seminary and the OCA Metropolitan "Jonah" (appearing again?) are attempting to restart the old Anglican/Orthodox dialogue. Leaving one to wonder just how "Orthodox" is the OCA and St. Vlads?
FWIW,
Fr. D.

Anonymous said...

So then, the motive which drives us now is not to make any impact on neo-Anglicans (who are hopelessly mired in American generic megachurch religianity), but to make sure we have our own troops in good order. Have we been unnerved by the spectacle of a couple of bishops, a few priests, and a handful of parishes which tiptoed off to the REC? Is there a leak in our dyke?

At the risk of making myself even more unpopular, even more a "troubler of Israel," I will boldly raise these questions: How did we get to this state? How has this become necessary?
Have we been sufficiently vigilant?
Were we "asleep" while the Enemy sowed bad seed among us? I could ask these questions in a more pointed manner, but probably should refrain from so doing.
LKW

(RC Cola: You are correct in your assessment of both neo-Anglicans and neo-Roman Catholics. I have seen the latter group up close.)

Anonymous said...

Fr D: "Interesting meeting" is a contradiction in terms that does not rise to the level of an oxymoron.
LKW

Albion Land said...

Fr D says:

"Then there is an interesting meeting at Nashotah House where the leaders of the ACNA, St. Vladimir Seminary and the OCA Metropolitan "Jonah" (appearing again?) are attempting to restart the old Anglican/Orthodox dialogue. Leaving one to wonder just how "Orthodox" is the OCA and St. Vlads?"

I am curious as to why you put Metropolitan Jonah's name in quote marks and what you mean by (appearing again?).

Regardless, I think you will find the answer to your question in the following, rather lengthy video, which I commend to all readers of The Continuum.

http://ancientchristiandefender.blogspot.com/2009/10/metropolitan-jonahs-speach-to-acna.html

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Fr. Wells wrote:

So then, the motive which drives us now is not to make any impact on neo-Anglicans (who are hopelessly mired in American generic megachurch religianity), but to make sure we have our own troops in good order.

Well, as I said, I have directed readers of VOL to these posts in which they may read Fr. Hollister's commentary. So, my motive is two-fold.

Have we been unnerved by the spectacle of a couple of bishops, a few priests, and a handful of parishes which tiptoed off to the REC? Is there a leak in our dyke?...How did we get to this state? How has this become necessary? Have we been sufficiently vigilant?
Were we "asleep" while the Enemy sowed bad seed among us?


On this one issue of WO the REC had held its ground, until now. Their desire to be accepted by Canterbury via the ACNA makes no sense whatsoever. Who told them they were second class? Why have they accepted such a designation? Why such a foolish solution their Fathers would never have approved? Whatever our disagreements have been, I always respected their resolute and determined insistence not to give in, that is, until they started to give in.

And, yes we Continuing Anglicans have a leak ourselves, the trap door into RCism. That leak is because too many of our own people have accepted the Roman definition of the word "Catholic." The result has been an inferiority complex based on erroneous assumptions that amount to ignorance through misinformation. This is why we have lost so many people, many of whom are unhappy with their new (as in nouveau) old home.

Anonymous said...

Fr Hart wrote:
"On this one issue of WO the REC had held its ground, until now."

Well, not exactly. The REC has been sub-Anglican and sub-Catholic from the day it cranked up. Their Prayer Book was immediately amended to remove anything sacerdotal in the liturgy. (Current attempts to reinvent themselves as "classical Anglicans" are more ridiculous than Soviet attempts to rewrite world history.) They did something quite unprecedented by permitting Deacons to "serve communion."
Back when they briefly ran a seminary in Louisiana, they were inviting Bishop Kelshaw (hairspray dripping from his fingertips) to speak and receiving him as an honored prelate. They were squishy on WO becuase they really did not believe in O. Their caving into ACNA should have been no surprise; water always finds it own level.
LKW