Thursday, June 26, 2008

Single issue theology

Following last week's analysis of the weakness of the Reasserter position, an unanswered question in the comments deserves to be repeated. A reader wrote admirably to defend the Stand Firm blog in response to my criticism (and the criticism of others), about their intolerance of honest discussion. The reader told me that the contributors there do not care only about the homosexuality crisis. Their main concern is the authority of scripture. I replied with a question, and for all I know that question might receive a genuine answer. The question, as I said and meant, was not hypothetical, but real: On what issue other than the homosexuality crisis do the Reasserters exert time and energy to defend the authority of scripture?1

Nonetheless, if the charge of single issue theology is to made, I for one plead guilty, and glad of it. Let me explain.

It has been argued by some that Continuing Anglicans care only about Women's "ordination," and by others that Continuing Anglicans care only about the Prayer Book. But, the Affirmation of St. Louis was written in 1977, before the 1979 book was finished, which book did not hit the pews until 1980. And, although the Affirmation was written because the "ordination" of women had produced an emergency by nullifying Holy Orders (and therefore nullifying the sacraments of Holy Communion, Absolution and Confirmation), the substance of the Affirmation was a long time in the making. The movement that produced it began its work in the 1960s, during which decade the Bishop of San Fransisco became the lasting symbol of heresy.

Some history

Bishop James Pike was more than a symbol of heresy. The failure of the House of Bishops to hold a heresy trial, or take any action, paved the way for all that would follow, including the nod and wink given to the rebellious bishops who defied Canon law in 1975 and "ordained" women. Instead of the Episcopal Church taking a stand for any sort of order, the General Convention of 1976 rubber-stamped an illegal and defiant act, inserting its approval into Canon Law by nothing more authoritative than a majority vote (no theology).

After being lenient with Pike, however, how could they take a strong stand anymore on anything? Pike's life of immorality and alcoholism also went by without church discipline of any kind. By the time of his son's suicide in 1966, Bishop Pike had already perverted evidence in the death of his secretary mistress, and had his first divorce. When I was in Berkeley California in 2005, retired Archbishop Robert Morse of the APCK told me about the days when he was Fr. Morse, a priest who was ministering to the distraught first wife of Bishop Pike, while Pike himself was on wife number three, and was influenced by a medium who supposedly helped him communicate with his dead son.

Pike finally resigned his position. But, he had already denied the Virgin Birth, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, and every other miracle during his time as bishop, a credo of unbelief that he summarized in his final sermon. In 1969 he went to the desert in the holy land, because the medium told him he would find the tomb where Jesus was buried. His car broke down, and though wife number three made it out of the desert alive, he died there of dehydration, and his body was found days later.

Pike's life and death were a tragedy, partly because he had been quite orthodox and none too shallow a scholar in his early years. Also, partly, because it seems that he was not suited, due to personal weaknesses and apparent psychological instability, to the position he attained. But, more tragic was the Episcopal Church. The House of Bishops failed to take action, and never again seemed able to regain its lost authority on matters theological or moral. They exert a lot of authority on matters canonical, but on nothing to do with God.

Toleration of orthodoxy

Yes, the issue is one of rebellion against the authority of Almighty God, and the denial of his word. But, that rebellion did not begin when Gene Robinson's consecration was approved in 2003. It began when orthodoxy went from being taught authoritatively to being merely tolerated as one option among many. In fact, that is how Robinson was done a disservice by the priest who led him into the Episcopal Church. When Robinson objected that he did not actually believe the Nicene Creed, he was told that he did not have to believe anything at all (justified by his mentor priest with a completely ridiculous version of the Elizabethan Settlement and "Anglican Comprehensiveness"). Robinson joined the Episcopal Church because he was led to think that no beliefs would be required of him. And, it turned out that he was right.

At a meeting in September 2003 (that I have written about before), I found myself surrounded by distraught Episcopalians who were in a state of shock from the approval of Robinson's consecration during their General Convention in August. Exactly why they invited me to speak, a priest who was not a part of their denomination, has remained a mystery to me. A speaker from an organization then called the American Anglican Council, took the floor as if he was the main attraction (when he was merely one of three speakers, an Episcopal priest, this AAC fellow, and me. The Episcopal priest urged everyone to stay in the Episcopal Church because, he said "we have a church worth fighting for!"). The AAC spokesman stated the goal of his organization. That goal was, in his words, to take the Episcopal Church back to "where it was the day before the vote on Robinson's consecration."

I could not sit through this quietly, as I watched heads nodding all around the room. I stood up and asked what the gain would be in going back in time, instead of being the "church" that had done the deed, to being the "church" about to do the deed. I tried to make them understand that their "church" had not suddenly gone off the rails, and that this was but the latest symptom of a fatal disease that had been diagnosed by my kind of Anglican long ago. 2

Just before leaving Arizona last year, I sat with a group of clergymen from various alternative Anglican bodies who wanted to give each other the support of prayer, and to have a level of communication. At the time I was with the APCK, and the group included clergy from the ACA, the CEC, the REC and the AMiA. One of the AMiA clergy made a remarkable statement, in the form of a hypothetical question. "Who would have thought, just five years ago, that the Episcopal Church would be in the state it is in today?" I was seated next to an elderly ACA priest, and we just looked at each other in a state of amazement. Turning my attention to the AMiA clergyman, I said, "those of us in the Affirmation of St. Louis churches are not surprised. Our people were aware of the problem thirty years ago."

It is all the same problem. What the Reasserters seem blissfully unaware of, with their unenlightened chatter about "salvation issues," is that the authority of God's word has been denied repeatedly for a long time. If the articles of faith in the Creed were not worth fighting for, everything to do with the Incarnation and the Trinity, the revelation of which doctrines provides our Gospel and the mission of the Church, why should they be shocked, shocked, that it gets around to same sex blessings and openly "gay" bishops? How could that not happen?

And, yes, that includes women's "ordination." Can they not see that the confusion of sexual identity comes from the world, not from the Holy Spirit? Can they not see that if a person's sex is irrelevant to the sacrament of Holy Orders, they cannot then make it relevant to the sacrament of Matrimony? If Connie can be a priest and father to God's people, why can Adam not marry Steve? If the entire Tradition of receiving God's word as taught from the beginning, when the earliest Fathers interpreted scripture, can be overthrown for the first, how can it hold its authority for the second? In fact, for anything?

I believe in the word of God, as revealed by the Holy Spirit and received and understood by the Church Quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus creditum est- "What has been believed everywhere, always and by all."

I believe in single issue theology.
1. It would be higher and better to speak of Divine Authorship of scripture, which automatically carries the idea of authority, but so much more.
2. The AAC speaker had also mentioned that Archbishop Peter Akinola, Primate of Nigeria, cared deeply about the Episcopal Church, and that his organization was grateful. This too I challenged. "Archbishop Akinoal does not care about the Episcopal Church as an organization at all. He cares about the salvation of souls."


Anonymous said...

"But, the Affirmation of St. Louis was written in 1977, before the 1979 book was finished, which book did not hit the pews until 1980."

Sorry, Fr Hart, but that's not how I remember it. After a long series of experimental liturgies (Green Book, Zebra Book, whatnot)had been infliced on us (the so-called "time of trial"), the 1976 GC released the "heavenly blue" book which was identical to what was adopted, ex post facto, in 1979. 1979 was the year of the "second reading" when it finally was legalized. But the thing had been inflicted on us in 1976 by brute force. The outrage over the "new Prayer Book" was just as much a factor as WO in bringing a crowd to St Louis; for the laity of low church background, perhaps more so.

And it certainly did hit the pews within days after GC 1976. I own a copy of it printed shortly thereafter, on which the word "Proposed" appears in very small type on the title page. After 1979, the word was quietly removed. But after Miknneapolis, very few Episcopalians had an opportunity to worship by the historic book.
Laurence K. Wells

Anonymous said...

Over all I am in agreement with the main thrust of this essay. Yes, ECUSA was apostate long before VGR was consecrated; it was at the point of death before he was even Confirmed.

But the time has come to say out loud that all is not well theologically in the Continung Churches either. How many CC priests will tell you that Anglicanism is a "three legged stool"? And how many will hedge on the statement that the Bible is (as the ordination oath declares) in fact the Word of God?
Laurence K. Wells

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"I could not sit through this quietly, as I watched heads nodding all around the room. I stood up and asked what the gain would be in going back in time..."

Thank you Fr. Hart for having the courage to stand up and speak hard truths to the unwilling ears of Institutionalist-Enablers.

This was a great, great essay and I heartily commend it to all.

Alice C. Linsley said...

Spot on! If only more of us had read the writing on the wall in the 1970s.

Thank you for challenging others to think about what they say.

Having had regular communications with Archbishop Akinola's Communications Director (soon to be a new bishop), I know that the good Archbishop cares very much about the Episcopal Church and the whole Anglican Communin.

poetreader said...

A really good article, Fr, Hart. Thank you.

I am afraid I do have to agree with Fr. Well, however, that the "New Prayer Book" was a powerful issue well before 79.

In the early and mid seventies I was mostly AngloCatholic, somewhat liberal, and still staunchly anti-WO. All during that time I was (something I'm not proud of) a strong advocate of liturgical change and corresponded frequently with the Standing Liturgical Commission. I was a tireless worker for getting the changes introduced into my parish, culminating in the "Zebra Book", of which I still have my copy. When the 76 Proposed book came out, I was in the process of leaving ECUSA over WO.

At that time, Most (but not all) of the parishes in the Diocese of NH had actually removed the 28 from the pews and substituted the Zebra.

Fr. Wells is also correct that even the Continuing Churches have not escaped the liberalism that has destroyed ECUSA. However, it seems obvious to me, that, even so, we are far more traditional in doctrine and practice than is the Aerican version of RCC.


Anonymous said...

A quibble: I think it more correct, prudent, and diplomatic (but mainly correct) to say that "Women Ordination" cast intolerable doubts upon the validity of Episcopal Orders and other sacraments.

In the tradition of Dean Staley, we cannot say with certainty that all that is without the visible Church militant is without grace -- the Spirit listeth where it may. Rather the Apostolic Church is an Arc of Safety providing reasonable assurances against reasonable doubts.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Maryland was a bit more conservative in the 70s then N.H. Yes, of the two books, the one we saw around here was the Green Book (Services for Trial Use- a title that is itself problematic. How can a liturgy be tried and used at the same time? Is any service in the Church for children of a lesser god?). When it was used it always caused a hue and cry from outraged people, and so it sort of vanished from the churches I was in by 1973. I guess we thought we had seen the last of it and its kind.

Nonetheless, I was not saying that Prayer Book revision was not an issue, but that neither that nor W"O" was the sole cause of Continuing Anglicanism. It was, rather, a combination of factors.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Alice Linsley wrote:

Having had regular communications with Archbishop Akinola's Communications Director (soon to be a new bishop), I know that the good Archbishop cares very much about the Episcopal Church and the whole Anglican Communion.

My remark was that he did not care about TEC as an organization, that is, in terms of its structures. He has never allowed Nigerian Anglicans in the U.S. to be part of TEC. Instead they have their own Anglican churches, and depend on his visitations. He has added to what the Jefferts-Schori crowd call "border crossing" by establishing CANA churches.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Hart,

This was very well written. The 79 BCP would not in itself invalidated the sacraments and could have been ignored just as most like most Anglo-Papalist ignore the 28BCP. The ordination of women is at the heart of ecclesiology and affect the validity of the sacraments. Once valid orders are no more, what difference does it make if one is gay.

Homosexuality is a moral issue that does need to be addressed but it must remain separate from women's ordination.


Anonymous said...

Fr Hart, I think if you check the archives of Stand Firm you will find there have been many posts and much commentary on the issues you seem to think no one there cares about. From Matt Kennedy's defense of the Virgin Birth and importance of the bodily Ressurection to Greg Griffith's running "Fresh Hell" series exposing the heresies rampant in TEC- SF covers plenty of issues besides that of homosexuality. While there is no denying VGR/SSB's have been the straw that broke the camel's back for many there, I think it is unfair to suggest that the other issues are of no concern. It appears to me, an avid reader of the Continuum and Stand Firm, that there is much in common between the two. For the most part it is that single issue of the importance of WO that causes the division. My impression is that the bloggers at SF, even those opposed to WO, don't view WO as a sin putting one's salvation in danger. My impression is that many here at the Continuum view WO as a "mortal" sin and believe that those accepting it are not Christians and are perhaps worse than outright heretics. It creates not a little tension when the sides interact. I think the SF hosts have tried to keep down the friction on their website by avoiding the endless and usually fruitless exchanges between the two sides, especially on threads where it is not directly relevant. That attempt has greatly angered some posters, some now banned. This is my impression at any rate. I for one will keep reading both and hope the sniping is kept to a minimum.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Homosexuality is a moral issue that does need to be addressed but it must remain separate from women's ordination.

That is exactly the opposite of the position I have taken here. I am saying that the two issues cannot be separated. Same Sex Blessing is simply part II of Women's "ordination." It takes the same error to the next level.

And, getting back to the main point of what I wrote, the whole problem is disregarding the word of God. Women's "ordination" certainly is a rebellion against the clear teaching of scripture, that can be missed only by willful blindness and stubbornness. Those who claim they can reconcile it to scripture perform such mental acrobatics that I don't believe them. After spending great mental energy trying to believe six impossible things before breakfast, they must come to know their position is wrong.



I dare say they probably never mention us at all, and I only mention them as part of the Reasserter movement that comes under theological scrutiny. I am glad to get your answer. I am glad that they address other matters. Now, if they would stop the paranoid banning, and lift the wrongful bans they have been guilty of inflicting, they might have a decent blog with honest discussion. I don't mind having people with whom I disagree. But, I do mind having the voice of dissent silenced. That is not intellectual honesty.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Hart's last comment is dead on.

Once an indubitably contra-biblical form of sexual perversity is normalized, such as cross-dressing (which is a fair description of Women's Ordination), then it is simply impossible to maintain a principled opposition to any other contra-biblical form of sexual perversity, whether it be buggery, polygamy, or pederasty.

And, quite ironically, Evangelical Anglicans, who so emphasize fidelity to the Bible or even "sola sciptura," simply finesse plainly stated biblical requirements regarding ordination by ordaining women, yet scruple at similar finesses made by the Liberals when they want to ordain self-confessed, practicing buggers.
Consequently, later day "orthodox" Anglicans are quite open to accusation of hating homosexuals, as they seem to have no problem with the aforementioned cross-dressers.

In sharp contrast, however, the Continuum broke from 815 and eventually Canterbury when several communion-dividing issues simultaneously came to a head in the late 70s. Those issues include (1)dropping the historic Book of Common Prayer for the very sophomoric 1979 Common Book of Prayer (which also happens to be very patient of heretical construction); (2) "women's ordination;" and (3) the already tacit normalization of various sexual perversities such as (a) abortion on demand, (b) abortifacent methods of birth control (as opposed to family planning by way of true contraception), (c) fornication of both the hetero- and homo-sexual variety, and (d) the promotion, preaching, and advancement of the Liberation, Liberal, and Feminist "theology" in seminaries and pulpits alike. In short, while we in the Continuum may find, along with with Canterbury Evangelicals, that Gene Robinson's ordination is repulsive to God's Word, we still can hardly take GAFCON seriously as a representing Traditional, Apostolic, or even Biblical Christianity. GAFCON's color preference may not be Lavender, but it is still has a deep shade of "Liberal Christianity" just the same.

Anonymous said...

From Nevin:
"My impression is that many here at the Continuum view WO as a "mortal" sin and believe that those accepting it are not Christians and are perhaps worse than outright heretics."

Your sarcasm does nothing to earn respect for your comments.
Laurence K. Wells

poetreader said...

Of course the issue of "ordaining" women is not the one and only area of concern, any more than the issue of homosexuality, but both are certainly part of the general trend to ignore what Scripture assumes about human sexuality, and this itself is only one aspect of the general tendency to substitute the desires of fallen humans for the principles of God's Word as understood by the Fathers and centuries of Christians.

WO, thus, is not the only issue, but it becomes very difficult indeed to discuss any of the root issues without WO emerging as a primary presenting symptom. If it is left out, for example, from issues of sexuality, those issues simply are not being adequately discussed and the root causes of them are being covered up.


Alice C. Linsley said...

That's true, Ed. The question of women priests is inseparable from the larger question of human sexuality. The priesthood is gender specific just as giving birth is gender specific. But to understand this one needs to persue the Ancient Path. This is very difficult for Protestants since they have spent centuries obliterating that path.

The prevailing culture The prevailing culture casts a blind eye to the existence of the ancient path. This is why CS Lewis insists that we need to read old books to correct this blindness. In Prince Caspian, he alludes to the reign of an usurper king who banishes or executes those who teach the old ways. Lewis made the lifelong journey from a stiff and lifeless Protestantism to a vibrant and seamless catholicity, finding direction in the old books and discovering the ancient path. Not surprisingly, he opposed the ordination of women.

Anonymous said...

Nevin said: "My impression is that the bloggers at SF, even those opposed to WO, don't view WO as a sin putting one's salvation in danger. My impression is that many here at the Continuum view WO as a "mortal" sin and believe that those accepting it are not Christians and are perhaps worse than outright heretics."

It's not about sin. I for one (and I think I'm not alone) don't see WO so much in the category of 'sin' as of 'sacramental nullity' or 'sacramental nonsense' or 'sacramental absurdity'. It's not that folk that receive purported sacraments from purportedly ordained women have sinned by so doing (unless they know better and have deliberately acted contrary to their knowledge and belief), but that they've only received purported sacraments and not the real thing. Although the older I get, the less truck I want to have with heretics, for me (and for many others), WO was the communion-breaking issue and went to the heart of sacramental validity. It is a sacramental issue, and also an ecclesiological issue. I'm not saying that those who have taken part in purported ordinations of women, both the ordaining bishops and the women themselves, won't be adjudged to have sinned in so doing, but that's not really my concern--I have my own sins to worry about. It's about the destruction of the sacramental life by which the Anglican Communion maintained its membership of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.

Anonymous said...

I have frequently objected on SFiF, when this comes up, of Sarah Hey and other's description of W.O. as a "salvific" issue. Precisely because it leads to the kind of misinterpretation and misunderstanding that Nevin - no doubt in good faith - posted above.

"Salvific", as it is used in most (especially Protestant) circles, tends to be used about "theological" issues such as Creedal affirmations, especially the primordial confession that "Jesus Christ is Lord."

S.H.'s (apparently) persistent and willful misnomer "salvific issue" for W.O. implies that, for anglocatholics, "do not ordain women" is as fundamental and important as "Jesus Christ is Lord." I know she herself knows this isn't the case -- but she persists in using that adjective, the easy and common misunderstanding of which I'm sure she's equally well aware of.

As Alice points out above, the issue of WO is, fundamentally, a sacramental one. Of course, the sacraments are not unrelated to salvation and are thus, in that way, appropriately called "salvific".

Nevertheless, the point about rejecting WO is not to say "you are going to hell if you ordain women" (as S.H's term so aggressively implies), but rather is that -- by having laity preside at Eucharist and laity claiming to perform clerical and episcopal ordinations -- you have, thereby, abandoned all surety of sacramental grace and validity.

A jurisdiction which ordains women, therefore, has thereby abandoned the apostolic succession (either in whole or in part) and valid sacraments. And those effects are far more "crucial" than the mere intellectual mistake (at least in itself) which caused them, i.e. the false proposition "women can be ordained."

You can be mistaken on that intellectual point and still receive - perhaps even offer - a valid communion. It is the results of that intellectual confusion when acted upon -- the loss of apostolic succession and sacramental validity -- that are the more serious, "salvific", problem.


Fr. Michael + said...

When having this discussion why do we seem to always forget another very important issue address in the Affirmation of St. Louis? ECUSA's liberal embrace of abortion and other socially liberal 'politically correct' issues like cohabitation and other moral issues.

The conscience, as the inherent knowledge of right and wrong, cannot stand alone as a sovereign arbiter of morals. Every Christian is obligated to form his conscience by the Divine Moral Law and the Mind of Christ as revealed in Holy Scriptures, and by the teaching and Tradition of the Church. We hold that when the Christian conscience is thus properly informed and ruled, it must affirm the following moral principles:

Individual Responsibility
All people, individually and collectively, are responsible to their Creator for their acts, motives, thoughts and words, since "we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ . . ."

Sanctity of Human Life
Every human being, from the time of his conception, is a creature and child of God, made in His image and likeness, an infinitely precious soul; and that the unjustifiable or inexcusable taking of life is always sinful.

Man's Duty to God
All people are bound by the dictates of the Natural Law and by the revealed Will of God, insofar as they can discern them.

Family Life
The God-given sacramental bond in marriage between one man and one woman is God's loving provision for procreation and family life, and sexual activity is to be practiced only within the bonds of Holy Matrimony.

Man as Sinner
We recognize that man, as inheritor of original sin, is "very far gone from original righteousness," and as a rebel against God's authority is liable to His righteous judgment.

Man and God's Grace
We recognize, too, that God loves His children and particularly has shown it forth in the redemptive work of our Lord Jesus Christ, and that man cannot be saved by any effort of his own, but by the Grace of God, through repentance and acceptance of God's forgiveness.

Christian's Duty to be Moral
We believe, therefore, it is the duty of the Church and her members to bear witness to Christian Morality, to follow it in their lives, and to reject the false standards of the world.

And on another note, yes I do often speak of the three legged stool model, as well as Holy Scriptures in their entirety being the Inspired Word of God.


Fr. Robert Hart said...

Fr. Michael has given us a large enough portion of the Affirmation of St. Louis that he helps make my point. We are single issue people, and the single issue is belief in what the scriptures teach clearly.

Fr. Michael, if you want to see why I consider the term "three legged stool" as a mistaken way to summarize Richard Hooker, see a post I wrote a few months ago entitled "No checks and balances here."

Anonymous said...

I am with you, L.P., but I think it needs a bit more fleshing out where you say: "S.H.'s (apparently) persistent and willful misnomer "salvific issue" for W.O. implies that, for anglocatholics, "do not ordain women" is as fundamental and important as "Jesus Christ is Lord." I know she herself knows this isn't the case -- but she persists in using that adjective, the easy and common misunderstanding of which I'm sure she's equally well aware of." As I see it, "do not ordain women" is an inevitable consequence of "Jesus Christ is Lord".

I think you are describing an attitude among those who hold a low doctrine of the Church that salvation relies on intellectual assent to a number of fundamental doctrines, and where it's all about the fate of the individual soul. For those with a higher doctrine of the Church, it's also very greatly about maintaining the Church as the Ark of Salvation for souls, as a means of living out eternal life in the here and now through the sacraments. In this respect, the natural consequence of "Jesus Christ is Lord" is a desire to maintain fidelity to apostolic Tradition.

Anonymous said...

The SFIF crowd and other neo-Anglicans are fond of stating that WO "is not a salvific issue".
This is a device for suggesting that WO is of secondary or perhaps tertiary importance, inviting the inference that both anti-priestess and pro-priestess positions should learn to co-exist in the same church (somewhat like Holy Communion every Sunday in one parish but Holy Communion only on the first Sunday of each month in the neighboring parish up the street).

What a clever way to slide in a dangerous innovation! It can be argued that SSB's are not a "salvific issue" either, nor was that troublesome little iota in the word homoiousion.

I have no hesitation in declaring that WO is truly a salvation issue.
Are we even half serious when we say that there are two sacraments "generally necessary for salvation?" And does not one of these require proper minister (that means a priest) and proper intention, along with proper matter and proper form? Do the Neo-Anglicans truly ask us to believe that a priestess can validly confect the Sacrament of the Altar? When Matt Kennedy or Sarah Hey receive bread and wine at the hands of Anne Kennedy (possibly clad in priestly robes), do they think they are receiving the Body and Blood of Chirst? Do they ask us to believe the same thing?

We have a statement from the Highest Possible Authority that "a house divided against itself cannot stand." Abraham Lincoln wisely applied that statement to the idiotic notion that some States could tolerate human slavery while others could oppose it in a meaningful way.

We have witnessed this week the GAFCON event, in which a wide assortment of people, all of whom sincerely consider themselves orthodox Christians and worthy inheritors of the Anglican tradition, have gathered themselves together. This event would never have taken place, but for the consecration of a maverick bishop in an obscure diocese in New England. It is not sarcasm to say the event was held in his honor.
The group which met to acclaim his importance included some who hold the Church's historic view of the sacred ministry, male in all three orders. Others who prefer male priests, but are cool with female deacons, others who only care about the gender of bishops, many others who say "I don't give a happy damn,
oops, I'm against WO but it isnt a saving issue." And a sizable contingent which has a strong preference for male presbyters but feels that anyone at all can serve as "lay president" and pass out bread and wine as an audio-visual aid ("visible words of God") to help folks remember the death of Jesus.

What goes by the name of "orthodox Anglican" has become a shambles.
This house, being divided, cannot stand and does not deserve to stand. This is why the Continuum is so very important and so very precious.
Laurence K. Wells

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Are we even half serious when we say that there are two sacraments "generally necessary for salvation?"

In the Reasserter version of Anglicanism, these words from the Anglican Catechism have been forgotten. They really don't know that this was ever (as in always) the official doctrine taught in the Book of Common Prayer. Nor do they understand its scriptural basis, even though the scriptures make this doctrine abundantly clear.

Their version of Anglicanism is "Young Life" revivalism all dressed up for Sunday.

Anonymous said...

I only saw today the comments on that other Continuum thread about SFiF and the kind of "editorial dishonesty" which goes on over there.

Here is one case in point -- I leave it to the reader to decide whether this constitutes "dishonesty" or not.

I put a post up at SFiF which was deleted within minutes by Greg Griffith for (I think) thoroughly inadequate reasons. I replied, objecting, but offered to re-post with the final paragraph -- the only one I could think of that might have elicited that response -- removed.

Ms. S.H. jumped on the bandwagon, accusing me of saying something in that deleted post that I, in no way, said; to wit:

you continue to misrepresent Communion Conservatives

When I objected to this mischaracterization of my post, and quoted that post itself to correct the record, she -- apparently knowing my own thoughts and meaning better than I do myself -- replied:
No, actually, LP, you did not. You called the ComCon position institutionalist and stated that they were interested in reforming TEC

and then added -- perhaps as part of their "open discussion policy":

LP—we are now discussing your comment that was deleted and rightly so.
This is a warning.
You will not be warned again at StandFirm.

In other words, my post says what she says it said and means, not what I said or meant, and that if I object to that misrepresentation (one which other readers can't check because the SFiFers deleted that message) I will be banned.


Now, here is the relevant portions of that original message itself, which fortuitously I saved a draft of.

I opened it, actually complimenting S.H. herself, saying:
Sarah’s fine piece and analogy raises for me some interesting thoughts about GAFCON’s “audience”. It seems to me—along this whole FedCon/ComCon division (which I continue to find confusing)—we could profitably distinguish 5 “camps” of Anglicans in North America

Note, I said that I found the FedCon/ComCon terminology confusing and that I was outlining, instead, 5 "camps" as an alternate way of dividing things up. Nowhere in the rest of the message did I use the FedCon / ComCon terminology... precisely because (as I said) I found it was confusing and was making a different division. In fact, I don't believe I've ever used the FedCon / ComCon distinction before in any of my posts, even in passing, precisely because I've never been clear on exactly what people mean by them.

Anyway, here are the 5 categories I gave:
(1) The angloapostates who will stay in PEcUSA—because the apostasy and heresy which are replacing Christianity therein is what they want....

(2) What I have called elsewhere “instutionalists”—those who (for whatever reason) want a reformed PEcUSA or will give up on Anglicanism altogether—their “fight” ultimately was only for the institution of PEcUSA, not for broader Anglicanism....

(3A) Those who want independent, national jurisdictions put in place in North America which will replace PEcUSA and the AciC in the “Lambeth Anglican Fellowship” while PEcUSA & al are ejected....

(3B) Those who want such independent jurisdictions put in place which are in communion with as much of the “orthodox” L.A.F. as possible, but not necessarily with Canterbury.

(4) Those who want independent jurisdictions put in place which define themselves first-and-foremost “theologically” and “sacramentally”—and then, from that basis, discern with whom they can be in genuine sacramental communion.


The whole thread (or, at least, those parts of it which haven't been deleted [such as my original post from which I quote above]) is here:


So seems to me the objective facts are these:

* I said the FedCon / ComCon division confused me

* I offered a different division in the course of answering the thread's question "what would you like to see from GAFCON"

* My thread was deleted

* S.H. accused me of "misrepresent[ing] Communion Conservatives"

* I objected (quoting myself -- since the SFiFers had deleted the post, not allowing other readers to see that fact for themselves) that this was simply not the case... that I had said no such thing

* S.H., instructing me on what I really said and meant, told me "No, actually, LP, you did not. You called the ComCon position institutionalist" and then she threatened to ban me if I continued to object to this (either grossly mistaken or simply downright dishonest) misrepresentation.


This, I take it, is typical of the treatment that S.H. has subjected other posters to: delete the evidence; make false claims; ban or threaten to ban someone who objects to those false claims.

Having given you the "primary source material" of the post in question, I prefer to let the reader decide.

I think the situation is quite clear... though, of course, having authored the original post I know what I actually meant by what I said (despite S.H.'s claims that she knows better than I do my own thoughts and mind) it's possible that what seems clear to me was genuinely ambiguous to another reader.



Fr. Robert Hart said...

This, I take it, is typical of the treatment that S.H. has subjected other posters to: delete the evidence; make false claims; ban or threaten to ban someone who objects to those false claims

As a matter of fact (and of record) this has been her consistent pattern. It breaks the commandment, "thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor." The false witness consists of deleting a comment, mischaracterizing the deleted statement, and then not allowing the record to be corrected. It's like winning at chess because you stole a piece off the board.

It is a violation of basic ethics.

Anonymous said...

It is a violation of basic ethics.

To be exquisitely fair and charitable, it's possible she misinterpreted my post because, of position 2 (i.e. reform PEcUSA or leave Anglicanism), I said "This, if I read Sarah’s post accurately, is her position." Because she said exactly that: "for those of us in TEC who have made the decisions to go to a non-Anglican entity should we leave TEC... very little from this meeting would change anything for us on the ground in TEC".

This doesn't change the fact that I've never used the FedCon/ComCon distinction (so she is, um, in error with respect to the truth when she says I "continue to misrepresent" ComCons), nor the fact that I explicitly said that I'm unclear on just what those distinction means, nor that I carefully made the caveat "if I read her post correctly", nor that I wasn't talking about ComCons in (2) anyway. [If I understand what ComCons mean, they're spread out between categories 3A, 3B and 4 in my division anyway.]

But still, possibly she merely skimmed the post without actually reading it, merely seeking justification for GG having banned it; perhaps she calls herself a ComCon and, insecurely, took everything personally; perhaps she ignored the careful caveat that I might have misunderstood her position; perhaps she ignored the fact that I made clear I wasn't talking about ComCons nor trying to associate any one of my 5 divisions with them; perhaps she is simply ignorant of the fact that I never use that distinction anyway.

Nevertheless, even granting all that, her reaction was to ignore what I actually said, preferring her own clearly inaccurate misreadings... nor to even bother to double-check the facts when corrected... nor to give any "charity" or "grace" to other posters (at least not those not in her little circle of internet buddies)..

Her reaction was, instead, to misrepresent (if not downright lie), hide the facts, refuse to admit error, and threaten force and censorship when any objection was made.

I would have to say that this particular example is completely consistent with the kind of incident and behavior which has repeatedly been attributed to her on this and other blogs -- and "dishonest", "shameful" and "unChristian", descriptions I've seen applied to her before, wouldn't be completely inaccurate in this incident.

And, as you say, this certainly seems a violation not just of basic objectivity or SFiF's own mission statement, but of basic ethics as well.

It's a shame that a site, which does provide a valuable service in collecting information, is marred by this sort of behavior among its moderators.

This, coupled with the widespread double-standard of often (not always) violently suppressing posts (like mine) which even appear to be at all critical of their own positions, while yet tolerating without any complaint violently hostile and often wildly inaccurate anti-anglocatholic posts, seriously undermines any expectation of reliable "objectivity" from that site.

The web does seem to bring out the worst in people sometimes -- I doubt anyone remembers "Granny Gloria" and "Kay and Allen Lewis" over on the Apostasy yahoo group some years ago, but it was the same phenomenon -- blatant partisanship, duplicity, and censorship of disagreement (particularly the more catholic and conservative sort) all while maintaining a pious public fiction of "open discussion" and "fairness". Sort of like, now that I think of it, PEcUSA's leadership.

Just goes to show how association with the rot causes it to spread, not just theologically, but psychologically and personally.

That's far more typing than this distasteful issue is worth.

But as there has been some criticism of this blog on various threads for its less-than-enamouredness of SFiF, I figured it was only fair to give the objective documentation of one incident for the record.

In Thy mercy, good Lord deliver us!


John Dixon said...

it seems to me that the issue of Wo is a mortal one because if it is a willful rebellion against roles ordained by God, and I believe it is, then the issue is ontological. If this is true then the mortal sin is coveting.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

This doesn't change the fact that I've never used the FedCon/ComCon distinction


What does this mean? I really can't decipher it.

Anonymous said...

RE: FedCon / ComCon

I'm still not sure.

It's the abbreviation of "Federal Conservatives" and "Communion Conservatives", which are used to describe different parties within the "reform the Anglican Communion" movement.

I think they both want to see PEcUSA either reformed or replaced and, if replaced, some new jurisdiction provided for the U.S.

I think what differentiates them is how they think such a group ought to related to Canterbury and how authority in the "Anglican Communion" (i.e. the Lambeth Anglican Fellowship) ought to be structured.

But I really don't understand the nuances -- for all that they've been the subject of empassioned exchanges on various blogs -- and I've never sat down to try to figure them out. That's why I never use the distinction myself (regardless of SH's libel that I am constantly misrepresenting them -- I never represent them at all!)

I expect there are posts out there explaining it all -- to me, it's always seemed (perhaps unfairly) chiefly an argument over how to arrange the deck chairs on the Titanic, so I've never taken the time to try to suss it out.


Anonymous said...

"I have no hesitation in declaring that WO is truly a salvation issue."

Now I'm thoroughly confused. When I stated my impression that some here believed WO was a serious enough sin to put one's salvation in danger- you objected to my "sarcasm". Since I was not being sarcastic in the least I assumed you objected to being lumped in with such an idea, as if such an opinion did not exist in the Continuum. Now I find you emphatically embracing exactly my impression. I notice you also stated over at Virtue's blog that those who even "tolerate" WO can't be part of the body of Christ. While some here object to Sarah Hey's use of the word "salvific" in regards to WO it certainly seems to apply in at least some cases.

Anonymous said...

Nevin said: 'When I stated my impression that some here believed WO was a serious enough sin to put one's salvation in danger- you objected to my "sarcasm"."

Nevin, I don't think you read my post in which I said that 'sin' wasn't the right category in which to consider WO. WO is a salvation issue because it invalidates one of the sacraments generally necessary for salvation, and because it tears apart the Ark of Salvation.

You don't score any points by persistently refusing to understand us. We understand you--we just reject your theology. It appears to me that you misunderstand us in order to persist in rejecting ours.

John Dixon said...

I did not get the impression of sarcasm either but both sides of this see salvific issues: WO and homosexuality. Both are gender/sexuality confusion based issues.

It is a fair question: do not people like S. Hay see homosexual Bishops as a salvific issue since many are breaking communion with ECUSA over it. Is not WO a communion breaking issue?

Regardless of how people who object to WO classify the objection is not the SFiF position exactly the same?

The Priestess wants to be man and the Bishop wants to be a "June bride".

Sarah Hay apparently is simply using the language in the same fashion as is normative in the ECUSA.

I am confused about your confusion!

Anonymous said...

Sandra Mccoll, my comment was more addressed to LKW than you. And I think you may have an argument with "john" as well- he insists that WO is a "mortal sin" and a "salvific" issue.

I understand you as saying that WO is not necessarily a sin (it may be but you won't judge?). The crucial issue to you is the sacramental "integrity" (my word) of those complicit in WO. And as such WO is at least somewhat a salvation issue.

For LKW and others WO is a "salvation issue" but not a "salvific" one? A fine distinction but if it is insisted upon who am I to quibble.

I've never actually discussed "my theology" regarding WO either here or at SF. For the record, I am opposed to WO. With Sandra Mccoll I'd rather not have the job of judging whether or not it is a "salvific" issue...

Fr. Robert Hart said...

The only theological position about sacraments and salvation that has ever been officially taught as the stated doctrine of both the Church of England and of Anglicanism everywhere, is in the Catechism. Whether the Reasserters like it or not, they cannot reject this and still believe in Anglicanism. Furthermore, whether or not it fits the SF and Reasserter unlearned "Young Life-Quasi-Baptist" theology or not, the Anglican position is based on scripture.

Now, the position I refer to, from the Catechism, is stated rather simply:

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."

(By the way, that is, "Two only as generally necessary to salvation," not "two only." A subject for another day)

These words "generally necessary" imply that God is not bound or limited to the sacraments, but that, in general, these two are necessary. Therefore, to treat them otherwise is dangerous to the salvation of souls.

The role that baptism generally has in salvation is explained in Romans chapter six, which chapter also clearly teaches that it is in baptism that one is born again- raised to new life with the risen Christ. The meaning is not hard to see, but it can be avoided by willful neglect.

The role that Communion generally has in salvation is clearly taught in John chapter six, particularly vs.53-57:

"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. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me."

Those who deny that baptism and Communion are salvation issues, deny these portions of the Bible. Their claims to be standing firm for the faith of God's word should include a defense of these two portions of that word, which portions they simply do not seem to believe. They do not defend them as scriptural or as stated Anglican doctrine, when, in fact, they are both.

The sacrament of Communion, by which we feed on Christ's Body and drink his Blood, the food and drink of eternal life, is a vital part of the sacramental life that is generally available, and generally necessary. If this sacrament is rendered null and void by the corruption of Holy Orders, then people are not feeding on Christ, but rather they are neglecting the food and drink of eternal life.

The Reasserters may argue with this interpretation if they want (and they find it easier to silence then to argue), but how dare they say "it is not a salvation issue?" Like it or not, in the world of theology, where grown-ups talk about serious things, it is a salvation issue- at least in terms of the debate. That is not simply our view; it is a fact.

Anonymous said...

I guess the way to put it, Nevin, is that it _is_ a "salvation issue" in the way - and for the reasons - given above: i.e. the effect of WO in invalidating the Eucharist.

And, to that extent, the description is a fair one.

The problem is that when people (like many of those over at SFiF) hear the phrase "salvation issue" they simply do not have the basic grasp of sacramental theology or Scriptural knowledge and logic to understand what you see explained above.

Instead, they assume that that phrase must mean that anglocatholics are "elevating" an anti-woman position -- one which they wrongly think represents misogyny or misguided devotion to some theologically meaningless tradition of a former society -- to the status of, say, a Creedal affirmation.

And because (in their minds) the question of ordaining women is of nor more import than whether one's liturgical style is "high church" or "low church", they immediately conclude that anyone who would call WO a "salvation issue" is being petty, insular, and inappropriately schismatic by breaking communion over such a "trivial" issue.


This is why I've always said when I see this phrase being used in circles like SFiF that I think "salvation issue" (even though -- when understood as you see explained above -- it has merit) is, in that context and for that audience, misleading and confusing (and, I suspect, sometimes intentionally used for that very reason), and ought to be replaced by a more readily-understandable phrase such as "sacramental issue".


Truth Unites... and Divides said...

LP: "This, I take it, is typical of the treatment that S.H. has subjected other posters to: delete the evidence; make false claims; ban or threaten to ban someone who objects to those false claims"

Fr. Hart: "As a matter of fact (and of record) this has been her consistent pattern. It breaks the commandment, "thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor." The false witness consists of deleting a comment, mischaracterizing the deleted statement, and then not allowing the record to be corrected. It's like winning at chess because you stole a piece off the board.

It is a violation of basic ethics."

As someone who has been wrongfully and sinfully banned by Sarah Hey, I can attest and confirm what LP and Fr. Hart have said. I saved the evidence of what happened and e-mailed them to Matt Kennedy, Greg Griffith, and to Sarah Hey. No acknowledgment, no apology, no restoration of commenting capabilities. And SFIF is supposed to be a Christian blogsite.

So I am sorry, but not surprised in the least that LP was banished.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

LP, if you could have responded to the following by BlueNarrative at SFIF, how would you have responded?

"With all due respect to LP-- with whom I am overwhelmingly in agreement concerning MOST of his comments, at least so far as many of his factual and historical details are concerned. I also find myself in agreement with many of overarching conclusions, though I think his methodology for arriving at these conclusions his transparently flawed.

Having said all of this, let me offer to the readers of SF my opinion: LP’s theology and ecclesiology are VERY STRAINED. And I must speak out regarding a fairly pronounced theme that seems to continually run through his comments.

My most significant disagreement with him has to do with his EXTREMELY NARROW definition of “Anglo-Catholicism.” For whatever reason, he seems to only be able to define “true” Anglo-Catholics as being signators of the St. Louis Affirmation. This is simply nonsense. True Anglo-Catholicism cannot-- and should not-- be equated with the fetishes and obsessions of the men who started the “Continuing Churches.”

MOST of the Anglo-Catholics (indeed, most of the Anglicans) in the world today have never even HEARD OF the St. Louis Affirmation. Nor would the overwhelming majority of Anglo-Catholics sign onto this document even if they knew what it was.

I have a good measure of respect for the intentions of the authors of the St. Louis Affirmation. But the practical FRUIT of that document has been the endless institutional fragmentation of countless tiny schismatic “Churches” that somehow believe that THEY-- and only they-- constitute the ONE HOLY CATHOLIC AND APOSTOLIC CHURCH.

These “Churches” are, for the most part, a joke. To equate THEIR fussy and forensic theology with authentic Catholicism is patently absurd.

The St. Louis Affirmation was a document put together by a tiny minority of cranky schismatics. The theological reasoning that undergirds the St. Louis Affirmation is, at best, very flimsy and thin. It bears the indelible stamp of men who obsessed with an almost fetishistic take on both Christianity and “Catholicism.”

There was Catholicism in the Church of England LONG before the Elizabethan Settlement, and English Catholicism was thriving long after the Elizabethan Settlement and long before the St. Louis Affirmation.

The fact that so many genuine (theological and pastoral) GIANTS of Anglo-Catholicism, such as Dean Munday of Nashotah House or Bishop Iker, are wildly enthusiastic about GAFCON and the Jerusalem Declaration belies the foundational premise that underlies LP’s opinions.

I assume, though I do not know for certain, that LP is, in fact, a member of one of these (largely irrelevant and rather silly) “Continuing Churches.”

The history of the “Continuing Churches” in North America is nothing less than a scandal. The truth of the matter is, the “Continuing Churches” are endlessly squabbling; they are incessantly breaking apart into ever-smaller bodies; their theological positions would not pass muster ANYWHERE in the REAL WORLD; neither Rome nor the Eastern Orthodox Churches want ANYTHING to do with these dysfunctional misfits.

LP made a brave attempt (either yesterday or the day before) to depict Anglo-Catholicism as being authentically located within several of the larger of these Churches.

In fact, in spite of what LP insists to the contrary, at least 45 or 50 “Churches” (most of which have less than 50 members) that have sprung from the farce that gave birth to the St. Louis Affirmation.

Today, I note that LP continues to try to equate authentic Anglo-Catholicism with these “Continuing Churches.”

I am posting this comment of mine for the sake of all those who are unacquainted with history and the reality of these “Churches.” Just because LP says something-- and says it quite impressively at times, does NOT make it true. And in this, he is dead wrong. IMHO

[230] Posted by bluenarrative on 06-29-2008 at 09:53 PM

bluenarrative gets the last word. Let’s head to the other threads. There is much to talk about.

[231] Posted by Greg Griffith

Fr. Robert Hart said...


I don't know what LP will say, but I will say that giving "bluenarrative" the last word is an example of yellow journalism, and endorsement of a mindless bigot's libel.

Who is this "bluenarrative" to think he can dismiss the concerns of thousands of faithful Christians, including clergy who gave up their security and pensions? And, why does he "think" that imitation is actual disunity, rather than the result of freedom of religion? And, does he imagine that the Reasserter realignments are a display of better unity than the CCs? Look at their alphabet soup: AMiA, CANA-Kenyan, CANA-NIgerian, etc., CCP, and the conservative TEC loyalists. They are in no position to talk about the appearance of disunity.

Greg Griffith is guilty of giving the last word to a nasty little bigot, and silencing the reply of a very educated man, our friend L.P. (a man who was in the circle of Jaroslav Pelikan for goodness's sake!).

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Fr. Hart, I asked the same question of LP over at The Midwest Conservative Journal and he responded at 6/30/2008 7:49:55 PM with a most vigorous rebuttal.

Read it here at Total Quality Anglicanism

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Fr. Hart: "I will say that giving "bluenarrative" the last word is an example of yellow journalism, and endorsement of a mindless bigot's libel.

Greg Griffith is guilty of giving the last word to a nasty little bigot, and silencing the reply of a very educated man, our friend L.P. (a man who was in the circle of Jaroslav Pelikan for goodness's sake!)."

It does seem kind of peculiar. I'm not sure why Greg Griffith closed that thread. He didn't have to. Doesn't seem just to let "bluenarrative" vent like that without allowing a response.