Friday, April 29, 2011

A new icon?

The unholy icon of a Deaconette Delusion
Bishop Jack Iker of the ACNA Diocese of Forth Worth is the man on the far left of this photograph. The title of this, if it were to become an icon, is taken from the words of Dr. William Tighe: "On the analogy of 'a pride of lions' or 'a gaggle of geese,' I suppose one might label this 'a delusion of deaconettes.'"
In a fairly recent posting on this blog, I asked and answered the hypothetical question: "What's the difference between us & the Anglican Church North America (ACNA)? This question comes up at least once a day." The difference of having women in what pretends to be Holy Orders, and having only the Orders that truly have been in the Church "from the Apostle's time (Anglican Ordinal)" are perfectly clear. Someone may protest the name of the icon, specifically the word "Deaconette." Should it not be "deaconess?" The answer is no. From ancient times, a deaconess has been a person among the laity, a woman who dedicated her life to serving the needs of the Church. Women who served in this role were deserving of honor and respect; but, they never presumed to be deacons, that is, to be ordained and among the clergy. 

Bishop Jack Iker deserves some respect for his stand, at times difficult, over the years. He has stood firm against the ordination of women to the priesthood. However, the matter of women in Holy Orders does not begin with the priesthood. It never has. When people tell me that most of the ACNA hold out against women's "ordination" this is what they mean. Even the best ACNA slope is slippery, and there is no sure footing. And, beside all that, where a delusion of deaconettes is spotted, a pretense of priestesses is not far away.

We pray this will change, and hope for the best.


Fr. Wells said...

One of the smaller segments of the Continuing Church keeps talking about a "new paradigm." Perhaps this is what it looks like.

Bb said...

'From ancient times, a deaconess has been a person among the laity, a woman who dedicated her life to serving the needs of the Church. Women who served in this role were deserving of honor and respect; but, they never presumed to be deacons, that is, to be ordained and among the clergy.'

In response to this, may I respectfully direct you to a post of mine from some time ago, here?

RSC+ said...

I see the following trouble:

Let us suppose, for a moment, that a woman can be a deacon the same way that a man can be a deacon.

Ontological issues aside, this supposition requires looking at Paul's pastoral letters. The language describing deacons and bishops are very similar and involve parallel syntax and structure.

It would follow, therefore, that if a woman can be the same sort of deacon that a man can be, she can be the same sort of bishop that a man can be. Any other conclusion relies on some faulty logic or an irrational belief that women are "only good enough to be deacons," which isn't the idea at all.

The various ordained offices of the church are not based on a CV of qualities, skills, and abilities. First and foremost, one must establish whether one is ontologically capable of receiving the sacrament. To my chagrin, places like EDS are entertaining notions that biological sex has no ontological value. Gah.

Second, it must discerned whether one is called to that office. This second criterion must follow the first, or we're left arguing about who is truly called and who isn't. A man cannot, for example, be a mother, and no amount of mewling and spiritualizing about how he feels called to motherhood will change that impossibility.

Only after these first two criteria have been met can we go about discussing qualities, skills, and so forth. Otherwise, we risk a) attempting to ordain folks who simply cannot be ordained, at the ontological level, b) shutting out those who might be called, but lack what we perceive to be the right skills, or c) pushing someone through the process who isn't particularly called, but has a groovy set of skills or qualities on his CV.

We aren't really discussing a slippery slope, so much as the logical outcomes of a given premise. Trouble is, church bodies are pretty notorious for never following premises to their logical outcomes.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

"Trouble is, church bodies are pretty notorious for never following premises to their logical outcomes."

Church bodies or individual thinkers. My argument is that every premise will, in time, lead to its logical conclusion by the law of logical gravity. The conclusion is same sex unions, the only conclusion that could come from ordination of women. And, the "church bodies" in question have gotten there. The ACNA is on the same path, they just don't know it because they have applied the brake enough to go much, much slower.

I have stated my premise here.

AFS1970 said...

How can I take the ACNA #2 seriously, or for that matter a Bishop like Bp. Iker who says he is against something but participates he joint services with these pretend deacons? What he really means is he will not ordain women but he is OK with anyone else doing it.

I felt the same way when I saw a picture years ago of a FiF conference whee at mass the collection was being brought up and handed to a female dressed as a priest.

It really is time to choose if you are for or against the historic church. This going halfway is not doing anyone any favors. It also softens the blow for the eventual victory of evil like what has happened in TEC.

chales said...

Maybe this is time for a formal apology?

A while back I argued the 50/50 nature on WO in ACNA, and, if more continuing churches had joined then ACNA upon inception, this would have decisively tipped the scales against WO.

I based this on two assumptions within the following documents:
1)Spaulding's study which turned out to error, see below.
And, 2)Section V. of the St. Louis Affirmation whereupon unity is advised with "other faithful parts of the Anglican Communion where faith and order is agreed".

Spaulding's report is misleading and needs to be corrected. Spaulding does not differentiate between WO in the priesthood vs. diaconate. In the ACNA, WO in the diaconate is much more widespread and possibly irreversible. It's consquently a hard figure to track, but even the ACNA Anglo-catholic jurisdictions practice it. REC is the only partner that has maintained set-apart lay deaconesses, abstaining from ordination.

Any change with larger ACNA will be an uphill battle, likely left to REC alone, but it would have to be joined by Fifna members. Right now, there is little sign of this happening. Most likely would be Fort Worth which has a relatively small number of six female deacons amongst her 47 diocesan parishes. And, while six is too many, Fort Worth may also consider a lay deaconess society instituted alongside her mixed diaconate in order to slowly phase out the innovation mandated upon the diocese while Fort Worth was in TEC.

However, I still stand by Section V of the Affirmation, though I realize ACC synod has amended this by 'asterisk'. However, I don't believe that amendment was ever adopted officially by UECNA, so the ACC holds an amended version that does not necessarily bind the other two St. Louis churches? Nonetheless, I believe Section V should be more actively followed as a sign of charity, and I remain curious why "non-amended Affirmation" members insist upon such a rigid policy of isolation.

Anyway, I apologize for my rather blind defense of ACNA. The problems are more widespread and desperate than I knew. But, I think more pressure could be born upon Fort Worth to get rid of her six deacons, thereby creating greater pressure on Anglicans elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

There was a guy from AMiA a number of years back (Fr. Patterson?) who wrote a phenomenal essay on why women cannot be ordained to the deaconate based on Scripture and Tradition. It is probably somewhere online. I think he works with the Prayer Book Society.


Fr. Robert Hart said...


I don't think you owed an apology at all, because you were raising a point to be considered, and asking why we take the stand that we do. It is reasonable to regard the ACC as having added an amendment, but I do not interpret our words as such. I think what we have placed there is commentary, because the idea expressed in Section V, when set against the reality, requires an explanation. The extra words, however, do not follow Section V itself, but they speak to the same thing, where it is also stated, that is, earlier in the Affirmation of St. Louis.

"The Continuation of Communion with Canterbury

We affirm our continued relations of communion with the See of Canterbury and all faithful parts of the Anglican Communion. [Note: Because of the action of General Synod of the Church of England, Parliament, and the Royal Assent, the College of Bishops of the Anglican Catholic Church is obliged no longer to count the See of Canterbury as a faithful part of the Anglican Communion.]"

That same principle has, since then, become applicable to other churches of the Anglican Communion.

Charity is never consistent with the wrong kind of tolerance, that is, the kind that treats everything as equal, that puts light for darkness and darkness for light, sweet for bitter and bitter for sweet. Charity never calls evil good, and good evil. It rejoices not in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth. However, at the same time it hopes all things, and I hope sincerely that the day will come when we can have full unity and be in communion with all of those who have begun to awaken to the bitter reality of the modern Anglican Communion.

Until then, we maintain our standards, and we pray.

AFS1970 said...

I never saw the note added by the ACC as an amendment, more like listing an already determined answer to the question. The language given in the Affirmation is clear cut, but people will always ask how or if it applies to a specific group, this answers that question about CoE.

Especially when one is dealing with the CoE, because of it's traditional role as the home of Anglicanism, it needs to be made crystal clear that even they are no longer faithful Anglicans. Remember in 1977, being in communion with Canterbury was still the goal.