Sunday, June 26, 2016

The Mushy Thinking of Neo-Anglicans

The Body is broken because of willfulness of its members to innovate, accommodate to culture, and set aside the Received Tradition in favor of a subjective modernist approach to truth. In another, earlier context, Archbishop Haverland spoke of the Neo-Anglicans as being in "the slow lane to modernist mush."

By Alice C. Linsley
June 26, 2016

On June 23, 2016 the College of Bishops of the Anglican Church in North America consented to the election of the Rev Jim Hobby as the next bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh. Fr. Hobby will be yet another bishop married to a woman priest. How many does that make now in the ACNA?

Such bishops are severely compromised on the question of women's ordination. The hope of many Anglicans for a catholic resolution of this issue in the ACNA is further diminished. Perhaps Anglicans who hold to catholicity have hoped for the impossible. Consider what Archbishop Foley Beach said on this issue in August 2014:

" our constitution and canons, we have left the issue of women's ordination for each diocese to decide. A lot of people came into the ACNA in good faith that their perspective -- including those who ordain women -- would be protected and guarded. And, people who believe in ordaining women hold their position by conscience and can Biblically argue it, although I disagree with them. This issue is a very important thing to them, and so I think it would create a lot of tension. A lot of the women priests in ACNA have stood side-by-side with a number of our bishops and clergy who are against women's ordination when they were in The Episcopal Church. These women argued for the right of these bishops to have the freedom to not ordain women. Women's ordination is a very complicated issue, because we've got people who have given their heart and soul on each side. And, these people are sincere; they're godly."

No doubt the Hobbys are fine, godly people, but they have set aside catholicity, an essential mark of the Church. That in itself should disqualify them from holding offices in the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.

Sometimes historical perspective is needed to see how we have strayed from the path set before the Church.

No woman ever served in the office of priest until 1944, at which time Florence Li Tim-Oi was ordained by Ronald Hall, Bishop of Victoria, Hong Kong, in response to the crisis among Anglicans in Communist China. She later stepped down from serving as a priest.

In 1976 the Episcopal Church broke the age-old tradition of the all-male priesthood by vote of General Convention. At that time the "irregular" ordinations of the "Philadelphia Eleven" and the "Washington Four" were made regular. The first woman ordained to the priesthood in the United States was Ellen Marie Barrett (January 1977). She was ordained by the Rt. Rev. Paul Moore, Jr., Bishop of New York. Ellen Barrett, a lesbian, had served as Integrity's first co-president. Other lesbians had been among the Philadelphia Eleven.

In the United States, the ordination of women and gay and lesbian "rights" were intertwined from the beginning, so that today it is difficult to treat these as separate issues. Both have been framed as equal rights issues, revealing a profound misrepresentation of the nature of the priesthood, a distortion of Christology, and an abandonment of the Received Tradition.

This misrepresentation of the priest as a "right" contributes to the Anglican identity crisis. Yet it is not the main factor. The main factor is the ease with which the ACNA has set aside catholicity. Consider this truth, spoken by Archbishop Mark Haverland: "We are not Anglicans first and Catholics second. We are members of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church first, and Anglicans second."

In an address delivered to the ACNA in July 2015, Archbishop Haverland made this statement: "The central problem of which I just spoke is a lack of theological clarity and consistency and, to be blunt, catholicity."

The Body is broken because of willfulness of its members to innovate, accommodate to culture, and set aside the Received Tradition in favor of a subjective modernist approach to truth. In another, earlier context, Archbishop Haverland spoke of the Neo-Anglicans as being in "the slow lane to modernist mush."

What is this modernist mush? Fr Jay Scott Newman once described it as follows:

"The primary category mistake of most Anglicans seems to be a refusal to accept the Principle of Non-Contradiction. For example, either sodomy is a grave sin or the foundation of a sacrament, but it can't be both. Or, either it is possible that women have the capacity to receive presbyteral and episcopal ordination or they do not, but it can't be both. Let's forget for a moment the authority of Apostolic Tradition which every Catholic must believe is an intrinsic part of the Gospel (no sola Scriptura for us), when a foundational principle of right reason like Non-Contradiction is routinely denied in practice if not in theory, then the only thing left is raw will to power. Hence the General Convention of the Episcopal Church. Kyrie Eleison."

The continued embrace of women's ordination and the election of bishops who are married to women priests, represents the mushy thinking that allows for "dual integrities" -- an absurdity.

It appears that the space for catholic Anglicans in the ACNA is shrinking daily. Apparently, the welcome extended to people who came into the ACNA in "good faith" that their perspective on women's ordination would be protected and guarded has taken precedent over serious objections and deep theological and biblical considerations. The catholic minded are experiencing dejà vu and getting a picture of TEC redux.

Alice Linsley is a Biblical and Archeology scholar. She resides in Kentucky.


AFS1970 said...

Excellent article and thank you for saying what many of us have been thinking. When I first found out about the newest group to use the initials ACNA, I was hopeful. Then after seeing them raise contradiction to an art form via the same two integrities mush that Canterbury pushes, I realized that they were just a non homosexual TEC.

I had first wondered why these various parishes and diocese did not join any of the continuing churches. I now realize it was not because of size or even purple fever, as they have more than enough of that to go around. It was simply a matter of standards and not wanting to live up to them.

Anonymous said...

Thank you (both) for this!

I would be interested in a companion piece as to how this is distinguished from the introduction of married cohabiting (arch)bishops ab initio in the placement of the Church of England under the earthly Headship or Supreme Governorship of the Prince in the Sixteenth century. Were (presumably sexually active) married (arch)bishops (like Thomas Cranmer) an English breach with "catholicity" or not, and if not, why not?

In how far is this also an issue between older Provinces of the (non-continuing) Anglican Communion? Are there any handy resources as to which Provinces allow women in which Orders and which if any are out of communion with which others on this account?

What, if any, formal commitments, personal, parochial, diocesan or whatever, are there in the ACNA to the definite possibility and definite impossibility as to 'women having the capacity to receive presbyteral and episcopal ordination', rather than "in a more wary and suspense manner" (to apply Hooker's words from the LEP Preface, II,3) to allow that it may be possible, but in such suspense cannot be insisted upon? (Whether it were prudent to go ahead with such conditional 'ordinations' and recognitions of 'ordinations' in such circumstances, is another question.)


Fr. Robert Hart said...

The answer to your first question is that we covered the subject of why married bishops are in no way a break with catholicity, writing about Article XXXII in the Laymen's Guide to the Thirty-nine Articles ( We may have more to say about that if things still remain unclear.

Second, within the ACNA the only two churches I know of that don't have women priests are the REC and what was formerly known as the AMiA. But the problem is that they have not understood that the ministry of a deaconess in the ancient Church was a lay ministry, whereas the Office of Deacon was one of the three orders of ordained ministry. So, they have women as what they call deacons. I can explain in detail why this is wrong if need be.

Of course none of the jurisdictions we list on this blog have any women as clergy, and it is not allowed by the Affirmation of St.Louis.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Hart,

Thank you! I thought you probably had, but could not think how best to search - not thinking of Article XXXII and its annotation (which I think I must somehow have missed when it appeared, last year, as I have enjoyed following the Guide entries as they came along). I will look it up, and see if I have more to ask, thereafter...

I am grateful for the additional detail on ACNA. I have a certain sense that that (or some such?) idea of the Office of Deacon as distinct from those of Presbyter and Bishop in this way is (in its degree) widespread in the older Provinces of the (non-continuing) Anglican Communion - whether it is distinctly embraced by some in each Province, I do not know (and, of course, would be interested to learn - what would seem obvious details, I (ineptly?) do not find with ease, online).

I have read the Affirmation of St. Louis with interest on various occasions, but ought to do so again, as I wonder if it addresses the matter of what are usually called Minor Orders and those Offices which seem distinguished from them. (I paused to read Auguste Boudinhon's lucid little 1911 Catholic Encyclopedia article at New Advent.) Do any of the jurisdictions you list on this blog have formal Minor Orders or other formal (minor) Offices - including ones open to women?

Again, with thanks,


I can imagine that some might argue that some 'deaconesses' attested in the Primitive Church were neither clearly the wives of deacons nor laymen. I can also imagine that some might somehow distinguish the Office of Deacon from the Offices of Priest and Bishop, whether there seemed to be any possible (ambiguous) early evidence or not. However, I have not seen detailed Anglican arguments about any of this, so far as I recall.

Unknown said...

The only option for a woman priest is to desist, and in all humility step down and become a deaconess.

Anonymous said...

I have now read the Laymen's Guide to Article XXXII with interest and gratitude (still wondering how I missed it on first appearance).

Unless my mastery of Latin (and English) conjugation betray me, the article would seem consistent with legitimate stipulations (though "not commanded by God's laws") that married men may become Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, but that Bishops, Priests, and Deacons may not marry, and that that married men who have become Bishops, Priests, and Deacons must thereafter abstain from carnal knowledge of their wedded wives.

It would also seem not explicitly uniquely consistent with those stipulations. Am I mistaken in thinking that Anglicans have argued for both those senses?

I have not attempted to review all the evidence as to whether it is clear that any Bishop or Priest through Pope Hormisdas in the sixth century either married, or procreated children with his wife, after ordination.

The evidence of "councils that have never been recognized by the Universal Church as having any authority" (or no universal authority in all points, in any case) as cited, is clearly divided.

With respect to 1 Timothy 3:2,4,12 and Titus 1:6, Article XXXII does not seem to understand them to say Bishops, Priests, and Deacons must be married and have procreated children within their marriages. But what does 'mias gynaikos aner/dre/dres' mean? That they can never have been married more than once? Milton seems to have thought it evidence that Jewish simulateous polygyny was still a proper feature of the Apostolic Church, but that someone so married could not become episcopos/presbyteros, or diakonos!

The relevant texts do not explicitly address spousal carnal knowledge and procreation after ordination one way or another. And so various exegetes can argue that Sts. Paul, Timothy, Titus, and the contemporary members of Churches would have known without being told that married Bishops, Priests, and Deacons were/were not expected to abstain from spousal carnal knowledge and procreation.

Among those arguing for the possibility of women's ordination, I believe it is argued that just as these texts do not require candidates to be married or to have procreated so their use of 'aner' does not imply that they have to be male (even if in millennial practice they always have been in fact)!


Fr. Robert Hart said...

Article XXXII states what is clear enough: Neither marriage nor procreation are forbidden to bishops, priests, and deacons. Indeed, history shows all three having become fathers in early centuries of the Church. The influence of Stoicism in Roman culture is, I believe, the real origin for the rules later added, beginning mainly in the fifth century, weren't of any Divine commandment nor of Apostolic institution.

The real issue in Titus chapter One and I Timothy chapter three, is the character of a man and, if he is a family man, how that is reflected in many things, including his family.

That these offices can be held only by men is evident in those texts by much more than a single word, especially inasmuch as all the rest of scripture and of the praxis of the Apostolic Church was that only men could be ordained.