Thursday, December 11, 2008

Now more than ever

Those of you who want to see the Anglican T.V. presentation of the CCP creation of a "new province" may click here. However, this is strictly FYI, inasmuch as we cannot endorse the creation of a church body that includes a very broad and wide tent of theological disparity. Although we pray for these Anglicans as fellow Christians, and especially as Anglicans of a sort, we must remain separate from a "province" that builds its constitution on the principles of the Jerusalem Declaration of GAFCON. Concerning that statement, no finer analysis can be found that the one written by Archbishop Mark Haverland. We posted that statement here, as well as a statement by Fr. John Hollister.

Near the beginning of his statement, Archbishop Haverland wrote: "GAFCON produced a now widely published statement which does not address the innovations that led to the formation of our own Continuing Church in 1976-8: namely the ‘ordination of women’, a new and radical Prayer Book, and a pro-abortion policy." This brings me to my main point. As much as some of us may be on the side of our "Common Cause Partnership" (CCP) brethren and friends emotionally, this new "province" begins its life with the same infection that has killed the Episcopal "Church" and is killing the worldwide Anglican Communion. It may progress more slowly, but it cannot fail to progress.

The result is that, in the day to day world of our churches in real life communities, "where the rubber hits the road," such a church body creates an unfortunate competition for the hearts and minds, and therefore the affiliation, of well-meaning Christians who desire to be faithful and orthodox. In all honesty, and in all sincerity, we know that the truth is stated in our own Affirmation of St. Louis. As a result of the formation of this new "province" our fidelity to, and proclamation of the principles of our Affirmation, is called for now more than ever. Because this new CCP province, led mostly by Bishop Bob Duncan, includes toleration of modern practices that were never allowed in the Apostolic Catholic Tradition of the Church (in which Tradition and for its members, the New Testament was written and recognized as part of the whole Canon of Sacred Scripture), this new church body adds it voice to the general confusion of the world. To use C.S. Lewis terminology, it retains the errors common to our age.

Regarding the entire CCP and GAFCON movement, it is their claim that their main issue is not simply the Homosexualist heresy in some modern Anglican churches, but rather fidelity to scripture and its teaching. To that we answer in two ways. The first is contained in what I stated above, that the Scriptures come from Holy Spirit working within the Church, for the Church, and can be understood rightly, therefore, only with the aid of the entire Apostolic and Catholic Tradition. The second thing we say to them, in reply, is that while we may accept the sincerity of their claim, why has it taken this one issue of Homosexualism to move them to action? Why did they not join with us to resist equally anti-scriptural behavior and doctrine? I am afraid that we know the answer, about which I wrote a controversial article some time ago, which appeared in the pages of Touchstone, and which you may find here.

One more thing today. Regarding the above, I want to make available to our readers an analysis from Fr. Geoffrey Kirk of Forward in Faith, United Kingdom (FIF/UK). Although Fr. Kirk is not of the Continuing Church, his writing is always worth reading. This article is particularly relevant to all of the above.

the way we live now

Geoffrey Kirk has been listening to Bishop Gene Robinson and finds him percipient in his understanding of the issues

What would we do without Gene Robinson? He is the bellwether of the liberal agenda. Like God himself, if he did not exist it would be necessary to invent him.

Long ago, when women's ordination was no more than an idea in the mind of Christian Howard, many of us were warning that gay marriages and gay bishops were the logical corollaries. Of course we were ridiculed. The issues were discrete and distinct, it was said. No connection between them could reasonably be posited. Evangelicals in favour of women's ordination were especially adamant on the subject. I recall one particular Archdeacon...but it would be churlish to mock the retired.

Now Gene (bless him!) has come forward with a belated vindication of all those fears - as if the progress of the agenda were not now plain for all to see. Gene was addressing a conference of gay American Roman Catholic priests (like diligent Pharisees, revisionist liberals will encompass sea and land to make one proselyte, and with the same result). He concluded with the following advice: 'It's too dangerous for you to come out as gay to your superiors, but I believe that if you work for the ordination of women in your church, you will go a long way toward opening the door for the acceptance of gay priests.'

It is worth setting out, therefore (for those who still doubt it) why Gene is right about the connection between women's ordination and gay bishops, and to state as clearly as we can what that connection is.

To begin with first principles: what is human life for? To this question orthodox Christians have traditionally replied that it is to be lived in obedient service to God and in the hope hereafter to enjoy him for ever. For liberal Christians, on the contrary, it is self-evident that the end of human existence is self-fulfilment and self-realization. We are, quite literally, an end in ourselves: I exist in order fully to express the person that I am.

From such an understanding it follows that anything which limits or curtails free expression of the self is wicked and destructive. Social or sexual stereotypes not only limit human freedom, but destroy individual potential. We are made, not to conform but to choose. Each person has an inalienable right to be what he or she wishes to be and (so long as the rights of others are respected) to do what he or she wants to do. The argument between liberal and traditional Christians therefore is one of teleology. Catholic Christians find fulfilment in conformity to the given ('...whose service is perfect freedom'). For liberal Christians the highest good is the affirmation of the self (T am what I am').

From this liberal understanding two things follow.

First, it follows that there can be no legitimate reason to prohibit anyone, at any time, from any role, social or sacramental, to which they believe themselves to be called. All professions should be open to both women and men, and no restraints (other than those strictly dictated by biology) should affect men and women in their relationships one with another.

Secondly, it follows that arguments in favour of such restraints and prohibitions must be maliciously self-interested ('...he would say that wouldn't he'). So the arguments for an all male priesthood are seen as part of an over-arching patriarchalist conspiracy and the arguments against gay marriage seek only to sustain the privileges presently (and unjustly) accorded to married heterosexuals. This hermeneutic of suspicion, moreover, attaches not only to contemporary protagonists but to the whole of the tradition and to the Scriptures themselves. There can be no appeal to authority because all authority is necessarily tainted.

Whilst it is by no means certain that Gene has worked all this out consciously, he knows it subliminally He knows that the principal difficulty for homosexual-ists is the explicit prohibitions of Scripture, and that it is not enough to appeal to some over-arching trajectory of'inclusivity' against them.

Scripture itself must be relativized and neutralized. And what better to assist in that process than the ordination of women - where no specific text of Scripture can be cited, and where the unbroken tradition of two thousand years can be portrayed as a perversion of the real meaning of the Bible by a self-interested and repressive clique?

And if Gene knows only too well the uses of the hermeneutic of suspicion, he is just as clear about the dialectic of guilt. Women's ordination in The Episcopal Church was swept forward on a tide of liberal guilt - guilt for the church's attitude to black Episcopalians, which found institutional expression as late as the 1980s. The improbable analogy between slavery and an all male priesthood was a significant factor in the campaign to ordain women; perhaps the most important. Now the displacement of guilt is to be deployed (even less plausibly) in favour of gay marriages and the ordination of practising gays.

Rome, of course, is a tough nut to crack. Thus far the liberal tide has broken against that rock. Humanae Vitae still stands, and women's ordination has been declared to be beyond the Church's competence. It is obvious that if the Doctrine of Self-Fulfilment is to replace the notion of obedience to Revelation (if the gospel of Rousseau is to replace that of Jesus Christ) a breach must be made. Where better to begin, in a Church which accords such honour to the Mother of God, than with the role women play in the sacramental life?

It must by now be clear to every diligent observer that the Catholic Church is crucial in the fight for the very survival of Christianity in the secularised West. If the culture of secular humanism (or de-humanisation, as it appears to faithful Christians) is to be resisted and finally overcome it will be through the exercise of the Roman Magisterium.

Gene has, characteristically, got it absolutely right. If Rome can be forced into retreat on one major issue (and, improbably as it seems at the moment, women's ordination may well be that issue) then the dam is broken and the rest will follow. If Rome stands firm, then the vaunted experiments of The Episcopal Church will wither on the vine.


poetreader said...

Hear, hear!

As a same-sex attracted male, I've hit the same conflict that Robinson has encountered. The conflict is between my own desires (wherever and however they arose) and the historic teaching of the Church as attested by the Scriptures. Yes, I am what I am -- but that doesn't wash as a rationale for behavior. I need to become what God has called us all to become -- a saint. That means obedience to His expressed will, whatever my will and desires and urges might be.

Robinson has decided, honorably in his own lights, I suppose, to follow his own human desires, but the Proverbs testify that "there is a way that seemth right unto a man, but the ways thereof are the ways of destruction". As for me, in the words of the spiritual, "I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back, no turning back."

From this standpoint, I can look at the struggle of women who feel themselves called to ordained ministry very sympathetically. The passion within can be extreme when one is drawn to paths one shouldn't walk. The bottom line as always is not, "What is important to me?", but, "What has the Lord of the Church been saying?" No matter how much it may hurt to do so, my only choice is to say, "Yes, Lord, I submit my will to Yours." Bluntly, to insist to the end on any other path but that may be to taste of Hell.


Fr. Robert Hart said...

I received this by e-mail from Archbishop Haverland, and thought it good to pass along. After my negative approach, here is something positive that may aid faith to our intercession.

"Yes: the neo-Anglicans, like the Southern Baptists, are just the slow lane to modernist mush.

The new group (which BEGINS in impaired communion with itself according to Iker's explicit statement concerning Duncan's priestesses) IS a kind of competition for us. On the positive side, though, as C. S. Lewis said, the road into the City and the road out of the City are the same road - what matters is the direction in which one is headed. Leaving TEC opens back up for some people some of the issues that caused our departure 30 years ago. So we will try to nudge them further along the road in the right direction. And when they lose their buildings and endowments, they may be chastened enough to think more humbly about our endeavors, difficulties, and achievements.

Also, anything that undermines TEC at least weakens it as a positive force for the other side.


poetreader said...

And, yes, I like this very much indeed. Harsh condemnation is always a lesser road than the winning over of the erring. The principles are immutable, but the erring brethren are still brethren. May we have some role in helping them find their way home.


Anonymous said...

The new province cannot last. No organization can comfortably hold the REC, the (very questionable) Anglo-Catholics and the many flavors of neo-Anglican together. The only thing uniting them is their shared hatred for TEC. And they very fact that they are seeking recognition from an apostate like Rowan Williams is a major warning sign.

But once all of that is said, I can't help but admire the courage of many of the people in this movement. They have not chosen the easy road of remaining snugly in the upmarket Episcopal Church, and that alone is worthy of commendation.

(I am sure there are many clergy in this country with a nagging conscience but a full bank account and a well-dressed wife and children. The priesthood should never have been allowed to become a profession.)

Canon Tallis said...

Father Hart,

Your statement is superb and Archbishop Haverland's adminable. We all have a ministry here and need to do it with the greatest charity possible without betraying Biblical and Catholic truth.

I know by experience that they are afraid to talk to us and not afraid to say so to folks going back and forth between ourselves and them. This is a reason that I have urged all such to become regular readers of this blog. Here they find true classical Anglicanism defended from both the Holy Scriptures and from the great Anglican theologians and historical documents.

To my mind, the one thing more that we all have to do is to be better and more honest Anglicans ourselves, doing as clerics what we promised at our ordinations in keeping the "doctrine, discipline and worship . . .of the Church" as it is set forth in The Book of Common Prayer without trying or pretending to be anything but what we claim to be, Anglicans and as such, Orthodox and Catholic Christians. The better job we do of being what we claim to be will communicate itself to those following GAFCON as to what an authentic Anglicanism is really supposed to be just as the witness of the non-juroring Church in England and Scotland did for the established Anglican churches of its time.

Anonymous said...

Dear Father Hart:

From the Roman side, I applaud you!

I've thought for some time now that many homosexual clergymen in various denominations are being used, or are willfully acting, to take apart any semblance of legitimate authority and tradition within the Church. They also act in a sort of solidarity, as was noted in your quote.

What may follow such schemes, if they were successful, would probably resemble the spiritual reality of Russia after the October revolution. A cadre in charge whose yoke is heavy and bitter for the body and spirit, and a perpetual witch hunt for the enemies of their regime.

I also doubt that this "cadre" in charge would be the same clergymen who brought this revolution about, just as the old Bolsheviks who didn't inherit the new "worker's paradise".

Fr. John said...

According to one commenter over at "Stand Tall" the "three guys who own a web page" are boosting their self esteem, presumably over the Marx Brothers Comedy of the new ACNA.

I assumed the posting referred to this blog, but apparently I was wrong. You all seem just as humble as ever.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if the AC's, since they seem to be the majority, believe that WO, impaired Communion, and other issues will be resolved after they have had time to establish themselves.

I posed a question to the SF folks that they did not answer: How will you resolve moving or transfer of a deaconess or priestess within the new entity without starting the same range war that has been going on for years between the 3 AC dioceses and the TEC? What happens when that woman moves from Pittsburd to Ft Worth and wants to continue her 'ministry' in the new province? After all she was duly 'ordained' in a member diocese.

Anonymous said...

The Neo-anglican groupings will attact much media attention as long as they have VGR to kick around. He is the glue which holds their movement together. Once they are out on their own, this weak common thread will no longer serve as a uniting force and they will have to deal with their well-known internal differences. Some of us have 30 years of experience which gives us a little insight into the future.

Canon Tallis said...

In speaking with a couple of persons who were at Wheaton, one mentioned the almost outrageous number of female "deacons" who seemed to be doing everything except presiding and reciting the Canon. It was as if +Duncan and the diocese of Pittsburg was deliberating thumbing its collective nose at Fort Worth, Quincy and San Joaquin. Evidently it resulted in a response because at the Eucharist at a meeting of what I believe was the theological committee, only one female "deacon" was to be seen and she confined what she was doing to setting up the altar.

I was also told that Cantuar has been informed by several of the primates that after the new province passes its constitution and canons, they will no longer recognize either TEC or the ACofC as being in the Anglican Communion. I at present have no way of confirming this, but I know those who told me believe their sources are reliable.

While I have the greatest respect for Father Wells, I believe these folks are working together from motives much deeper than hatred for +VGR and the rest of the liberal (read 'heretical') bishops in TEC. There is among them a real desire for a return to their own version of orthodox prayer book Anglicanism, but they are like folks for whom too much of what is in both 1662 and the Articles is simply beyond their comprehension. This is why some of the most important rubrics of 1662 were left out or ignored in Dr Toon's translation into contemporary English.

We must all remember or realize that they, at best, represent folks who were never more than Anglican-lite and for whom a full use of the Book of Common Prayer liturgy is all but beyond their spiritual comprehension. They need our prayers, but most of all they need us to be a living sacramental of what they don't know and are missing about classical Anglicanism and Orthodox and Catholic Christianity.

Anonymous said...

A friend sent me a rather disturbing photo, which showed plenty of the female 'deacons' mentioned by Canon Tallis, as well as the new primate in a blue cope with matching mitre and another bishop in a rainbow scarf. Rainbow? Could he be a VGR spy who's blown his cover? While I applaud Fr Hart's desire not to be negative about such people (we still have people and even clergy coming in from the cold over here, and the wider the gates are left open, the more easily they'll arrive at the warm welcome that awaits them), I don't find all that much to be positive about here.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Who's "positive"? I am simply glad to have someone remind us that we can, at the very least, pray with faith that they will see the light when this structure proves to be unsound. The plumbline shows us that the wall is tottering. (Amos 7:7f)

Alice C. Linsley said...

I've posted an excerpt from this entry with a link, here:

The Biblical worldview presents a line in the sand. Daniel and his Judahite friends in Babylon knew where the line was and didn't cross it. The Jerusalem Statement, which has some good points, is still on the culture-accomodating side of the line.

The creeping crud has hit even the Orthodox Church. Apparently there is a professor at St. Vladimir's Seminary who teaches that women can be priests. Ugh!

Fr_Rob said...

The problem we continuing Anglicans face is that the neo-Anglicans are more and more going to be seen by most as the orthodox, conservative alternative to TEC. Because of our small numbers and presence on the American religious scene, as well as our numerous judicatories, most folks are never going to think about us as the Anglican/Episcopal alternative.

Additionally, as several folks who've come to my ACC church from TEC have told me, it's not that practicing homosexual bishops was their only issue with TEC; rather, it was the straw that broke the camel's back.

I think we should be engaged with these people as much as possible in order to evangelize them to the fullness of the Faith.

G. S. Southerly said...

On the issue of homosexuality, Rome has a major problem. There is a very wide disparity between what Rome says and actually does. Within the Roman priesthood, there is a large population of same-sex attracted males in the Roman priesthood, some repentant and abstinent, some unrepentant and practicing.

The recent John Jay Study denies homosexuality was the primary problem of abuse despite the statistics. The Catholic Church won't/can't admit this or clean house because they would have lawsuits from homosexual rights groups on top of the sexual abuse lawsuits. The JJStudy blames it on poor formation, on the cultural climate of the 60s, says the abuse could not be predicted and claims the crisis is over. However, the newspapers do not bear evidence of this claim, but show that it (abuse and sexual misbehavior) to be ongoing and world-wide.

Almost all churches have missed the mark in regard to same-sex attraction (SSA). The presence of these feelings is a symptom of a deficit, a disoriented identity and of the need for fathering and healing. It is not a fixed, permanent state. Only God is IAM - only God has a fixed, finished, fully functional, unchanging identity. We are commanded to conform every part of us (spirit, mind, will, emotions, thoughts, words, focus, priorities, values, attitudes, choices, actions, interactions with others - Everything!) to Him, to agreement with His Word.

The cure is redeeming love of The Father and the Son and His Church - a healthy, honest and functional church, with mature disciples who love Christ first and put the Word into practice, which is rare.

Again, SSA is a conditioned response and can be changed. I Corinthians 6:11 shows that the early church did not recognize this as a fixed state. The early church did not recognize these feelings as an identity, as creating a separate people (an exempted special folk as Rowan Williams calls them), but knew that SSA, along with the other sins and ALL human conditions can be re-conditioned and reformed in the image of Jesus Christ. He is able to save us to the uttermost. (Hebrews 7:25)

G. Southerly said...

Sorry - my first paragraph should read:
"On the issue of homosexuality, Rome has a major problem. There is a very wide disparity between what Rome says and actually does. Within the Roman priesthood, there is a large population of same-sex attracted males, some repentant and abstinent, some unrepentant and practicing."

Rome should heed Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, director and founder of the Thomas Aquinas group of therapists and of NARTH.

Rome has shown it will not face and admit its sins and failures unless forced to do so.

The loss of money and people and the light of day on its practices, the pressures of law enforcement and legislation will help and hurt what with all the ungodly pansexual rights they are also facing.