Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Who needs Canterbury?

Was there any doubt that the Church of England would vote to have women "bishops" from now on? How is the C of E really any different from the Episcopal "Church" here in the United States, other than certain particular cultural traits of the English and the C's Establishment (i.e., as the State Church)? Nonetheless, we see the phenomenon of some people in the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) openly trumpeting communion with Canterbury as some sort of advantage, as if it provides a superior status of some kind, making them the authentic Anglicans. We see the phenomenon of the Reformed Episcopal Church (REC) apparently delighted finally, since its birth in the 1870s, to have a connection to the See of Canterbury. 

Continuing Anglicans did initially seek to begin their venture hoping to be in communion with Canterbury. In the Affirmation of St. Louis, back in 1977, we find this:

"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. WHEREFORE, with a firm trust in Divine Providence, and before Almighty God and all the company of heaven, we solemnly affirm, covenant and declare that we, lawful and faithful members of the Anglican and Episcopal Churches, shall now and hereafter continue and be the unified continuing Anglican Church in North America, in true and valid succession thereto."

Then Archbishop of Canterbury, Donald Coggan, strongly opposed the new Continuing Church, and gave it no recognition. As a result, the Continuers went ahead without any official status as part of the Anglican Communion. Frankly, forced to choose between orthodoxy and Anglican Communion membership, it was clear that genuine fidelity to Christ required the willingness to forego that membership. After a while, it became obvious that this estrangement was beneficial to the Continuing churches. The Anglican Catholic Church even went so far as to add this note to the original Affirmation of St. Louis:  

"[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.]"

The operative word is "faithful," both in the original and in the note. To preserve Church order and the validity of Holy Orders, the separation proved necessary. Perhaps there exists a failure of communication between us and the ACNA. You see, we are glad not to be in communion with Canterbury. If we were offered communion with Canterbury we would decline it, as in "Thanks, but no thanks."

The ACNA, on the other hand (which still has Priestesses in the Church, though we hope, and pray, not for long), has held communion with Canterbury as worth having. And this comes at a time when the Anglican Communion is falling apart, due largely to the refusal of African churches to participate in future Lambeth Conferences. For most of those African Anglicans, the final straw has been the liberal acceptance of homosexual acts, something very clearly revealed to be sin in the Scriptures. 

Perhaps, under political pressure, someday in the future, the Church of England will go the way of the Church of Sweden, where the clergy are required by law to perform same-sex "weddings." I have no doubt that right here, in my adopted state of North Carolina, the local Episcopalians will be performing same-sex "weddings" and feeling all warm and fuzzy about how liberal and advanced they have become. The See of Canterbury has watched for years the Episcopalians, trailing only slightly behind them into heresy and apostasy. 

Back in the beginning, the Continuers saw that ordination of women was simply the latest symptom, and one that required separation to protect sacramental validity. The arguments that were used for women's ordination were not merely similar to the arguments for acceptance of homosexual acts, leading to same-sex "blessings" and now "weddings," but largely the very same arguments. Just substitute a word here and there, and it all boils down to the same reasoning. Where did it begin? By believing that a person's sex (not "gender"- the word is "sex"- as in male and female) was totally irrelevant to anything sacramental. So, it went from ordination to marriage. The confusion of seeing a woman "priest" at the altar, portraying the heavenly Bridegroom, and seeing two people of the same sex get "married" to each other, may be different in degree, but it is the same in kind. The C of E, with its priestesses and bishopettes, is just a little behind the Episcopalians here in America. It is only a matter of time, as always.

What is the Anglican Communion anyway? Was the Episcopal Church part of something called the Anglican Communion in the late eighteenth century? How about during the War of 1812? Historically, the Anglican Communion is a very recent thing.

I would urge my friends in the ACNA, including those in the REC, to cut themselves free from the weight of it. Of my charity, I wish they would take several pages from our book. One of those pages says we don't need communion with the See of Canterbury. No orthodox church body does. In fact, no orthodox church body can afford the price that comes with it.


Warwickensis said...

Hear hear, F.r Hart! I vaguely understand *why* members of FiF in the UK remain in the CofE (it being the established church with resources and provisions), though *how* they can remain seems to be now a quixotic hope that things will change back. British FiF seem to be much more of the ostrich than the platypus.

ACNA has no such excuse as you ably demonstrate.

Anonymous said...

You may be pleased to hear that the new Archbishop of the ACNA, the Most Rev. Foley Beach, commented at our Provincial Assembly in June this year that restored communion with Canterbury is not particularly desirable to us.

Our "membership" in the Anglican Communion is only according to mutual recognition by the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans. While some members of the ACNA may still have interests or desires towards communion with Canterbury, we're catching up with the reality that you've known for some time already - the CoE is on the same train as TEC.

Fr. Phil said...

Very helpful. I wasn't aware the REC claimed a connection. That certainly puts a different spin on a dinner I'm to attend tomorrow evening where we are feting Bishop Mott (our church is currently independent)-and this is a walk and talk sort of meeting.

Warwickensis said...

The last plank drops on 26th January apparently.