9/17/2008

Gundersen trounces McCall: Episcopal Church IS Hierarchical

Lionel Deimel has posted "Is The Episcopal Church Hierarchicial?" on his blog and makes his own assessment and then points us to Joan Gundersen's new essay, “A Response to Mark McCall’s ‘Is The Episcopal Church Hierarchical?’” A PDF version of this is available HERE.

Gundersen's essay is clear and to the point. Read it.

Those who visit this blog know that I have had some interest in knowing just who Mark McCall is, and what his stake in all this is. The best read is that he is a retired lawyer living in Virginia and related at least in the past to one of the realignment churches there. The Anglican Communion Institute published his paper and Stand Firm has several times moved it to the top of their page (above the fold as Thinking Anglicans would put it) with the title, VERY IMPORTANT.

Gundersen's essay puts the importance of Mark McCall's essay in perspective. It is very important to those who don't particularly care about the facts.

In addition to Gundersen's observation that "anachronistic assumptions permeate McCall’s essay" she points to factual errors in his presentation. Those errors are devastating to his argument. I suggested in an earlier post that McCall also failed to consider the ecclesial context in which hierarchy is not simply a matter of canon but of practice and particularly of worship.

Unlike Mr. McCall's credentials, which are gleaned from notes by the Anglican Communion Institute, blog responses and the like, Dr. Gundersen's are given in the paper she wrote. They are that "Joan R. Gundersen holds a Ph.D. in American History from the University of Notre Dame and is professor emeritus in history at California State University San Marcos. She has served on the editorial board of Anglican and Episcopal History for more than 30 years and is the author of several books (including three on the history of the Church in North America) and of more than 20 articles or essays in scholarly journals, most on eighteenth-century America or Episcopal history."

Read the essay.

15 comments:

  1. Mark,the link to Gunderson's piece does not connect until you add an "s" after Progressiveepiscopalian(s).org
    Thanks for connecting.

    ReplyDelete
  2. At Home in TEC18/9/08 10:18 AM

    The link to the Gundersen PDF doesn't seem to be working. Can you update that? Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Mark, you ask in a prior post, “The thing is why is Mr. McCall involved in all this. Why is he concerned to give us advice regarding the legal niceties of Episcopal Church canon law?”

    I wonder why we don’t see the same questions here? Who is Joan Gunderson, and why is she concerned to give us advice as to how we ought to think about the structure of the Episcopal Church?

    Anybody who’s been around these controversies since GC03 (at least) knows that she’s an agitator – for the do-no-wrong Episcopal Church and against any Episcopalian that takes a conservative (i.e., mainstream Christian) view of the teachings of the Gospel, moral and otherwise. She’s tightly wound into the anti-Pittsburgh Diocese group “Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh.”

    So, Ms. Gunderson, like Mr. McCall, has an axe to grind; I can guarantee you she won’t be coming out with a paper any time soon – ever, for that matter – that argues contrary to ECUSA and in favor of its mainstream dissenters.

    Good for her; good for McCall; but it’s disingenuous to leave the impression that she’s the paragon of neutral scholarship over against the tendentious pamphleteering of the latest Stand Firm retread.

    ReplyDelete
  4. st. katherine, at home in tec, done. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  5. The following note will be posted soon on the ACI site. As indicated, Mr. McCall will be providing a full consideration of Dr. Gunderson's critique.

    Not sure why Mark needs to adopt the snide tone here. There is no conspiracy; Mr. McCall is not getting paid a dime, ACI is not funding him (let alone Ahmanson or whoever!), nor is ACI being funded by nefarious right-wing groups (at present some contributions by a range of Episcopal parishes and dioceses). As Phil above comments, interested parties exist on all sides of this debate; what is at stake is clear thinking and -- alas or not -- clear legal thinking in particular, since it seems that the lawcourt has become our church's arena of Christian discourse. "Trouncing" is precisely what has not happened in this area, nor can it.

    Ephraim Radner

    We have been alerted by a group called “Progressive Episcopalians in Pittsburgh” that they are to post a response to Mr McCall’s essay which appeared earlier on the ACI website. We have seen the response of Dr Gunderson, and we understand it is now before the public. We are pleased that there will be a public discussion of these important issues. Our comment for now is as follows.

    “The Anglican Communion Institute is pleased that Mark McCall’s serious paper is receiving wide consideration. It should be read carefully by all who are interested in TEC’s polity. Unfortunately, Dr. Gundersen has not herself read the paper with the care it requires. McCall’s so-called ‘fatal flaw’ is actually a legal point that he discusses in his paper, the actual language Dr. Gundersen relies on in n. 44 and the legal principle behind this language at pages 9-10. Dr. Gundersen also clearly does not understand the legal meaning of subsidiarity and fails to acknowledge that supremacy was hardly an unknown concept among the Episcopal churches in 1785, the Supremacy Act and the Oath of Supremacy having been part of the law of England for over 200 hundred years. It should be emphasized that McCall’s study, as he states on page one, is a legal analysis. Its proper understanding requires recognizing that legal terminology is precise and has meanings well-understood by courts and lawyers. McCall will prepare a response to Dr. Gundersen and we shall post it as soon as it is available.”

    Biographical note: Mr. McCall’s legal career was spent practicing law at the firm of Sullivan & Cromwell, a large, international law firm based in New York, where he was a partner. Sullivan & Cromwell is widely regarded as one of the preeminent law firms in the world. He was resident in the firm’s New York, Washington and Paris offices and also worked extensively in London and The Hague, specializing in international litigation. He represented numerous clients over many years before the international tribunal (the Iran-United States Claims Tribunal) in The Hague that adjudicated claims arising out of the Iranian revolution and the seizing of the American hostages. He also served for three years as the administrator of an international tribunal in The Hague adjudicating a claim between a Persian Gulf state and a consortium of European companies. For many years, he represented British and European clients in United States and trans-national litigation and also advised private clients and the British government in connection with treaties and other international agreements. He took an early retirement from his firm, and is no longer affiliated with Sullivan & Cromwell.

    ReplyDelete
  6. To appear on ACI's site. Thank you ahead of time for posting this.

    A Response to Mark McCall’s “Is the Episcopal Church Hierarchical” from Progressive Episcopalians in Pittsburgh


    We have been alerted by a group called “Progressive Episcopalians in Pittsburgh” that they are to post a response to Mr McCall’s essay which appeared earlier on the ACI website. We have seen the response of Dr Gundersen, and we understand it is now before the public. It is vital that there be an opportunity for discussion of these important issues. Our comment for now is as follows.


    “The Anglican Communion Institute is pleased that Mark McCall’s serious paper is receiving wide consideration. It should be read carefully by all who are interested in TEC’s polity. Unfortunately, Dr. Gundersen has not herself read the paper with the care it requires. McCall’s so-called “fatal flaw” is actually a legal point that he discusses in his paper, the actual language Dr. Gundersen relies on in n. 44 and the legal principle behind this language at pages 9-10. Dr. Gundersen also clearly does not understand the legal meaning of subsidiarity and fails to acknowledge that supremacy was hardly an unknown concept among the Episcopal churches in 1785, the Supremacy Act and the Oath of Supremacy having been part of the law of England for over 200 hundred years. It should be emphasized that McCall’s study, as he states on page one, is a legal analysis. Its proper understanding requires recognizing that legal terminology is precise and has meanings well-understood by courts and lawyers. McCall will prepare a response to Dr. Gundersen and we shall post it as soon as it is available.”



    Biographical note: Mr. McCall’s legal career was spent practicing law at the firm of Sullivan & Cromwell, a large, international law firm based in New York, where he was a partner. Sullivan & Cromwell is widely regarded as one of the preeminent law firms in the world. He was resident in the firm’s New York, Washington and Paris offices and also worked extensively in London and The Hague, specializing in international litigation. He represented numerous clients over many years before the international tribunal (the Iran-United States Claims Tribunal) in The Hague that adjudicated claims arising out of the Iranian revolution and the seizing of the American hostages. He also served for three years as the administrator of an international tribunal in The Hague adjudicating a claim between a Persian Gulf state and a consortium of European companies. For many years, he represented British and European clients in United States and trans-national litigation and also advised private clients and the British government in connection with treaties and other international agreements. He took an early retirement from his firm, and is no longer affiliated with Sullivan & Cromwell.

    ReplyDelete
  7. (Dan)
    How remarkably curious that despite its words, the Bible means whatever each one chooses to have it mean at any given time, yet Episcopal Church canon is susceptible to only one meaning or interpretation.

    ReplyDelete
  8. This is only significant because Supreme Court precedent treats "hierarchical" churches differently from "congregational" churches for the purpose of determining when a church can disaffiliate. There is abundant precedent that TEC is hierarchical for the purposes of this discussion. The original paper is an attempt to make an issue where the law is well settled.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Ephraim:

    Thanks for posting the ACI info and rebuttal. As to the snide tone... Dr. Gunderson's stake in all this is clear and she is clear about it. She is a member of a church in the Diocese of Pittsburgh, a major player in Progressive Episcopalians in Pittsburgh, and carries the credentials she noted in her paper. I suppose that there is an edge or "tone" (although snide is perhaps a bit over because what I have been asking about regarding Mr. McCall is what his stake is in all this.

    It may have very little to do with the content of his paper, but it has a lot to do with the connect or disconnect with the experience of the church rather than the abstract review of matters concerning the canons.

    ACI has produced some important work and you in particular have taken on some vital issues. I stil think your book "Hope among the Fragments" is among your best work. I in no way suggest that ACI is getting funding from Ahmanson etc. But I am interested in the question as to what his interest is - no one I think produces a paper of that length and with that care simply because it was, as a matter of idle interest, picked up.

    I will give it to you that "trouncing" is a bit of over reach. Dr. Gundersen does not have to trounce anyone. She puts out her critique. I found that critique important.

    So I'll give you that.... not snide, but perhaps a bit snotty.

    Forgive.

    The end of the matter is the force and breadth of the arguments. Good enough.

    ReplyDelete
  10. And Gunderson's legal background is...? If this would be decided in the courts, seems a partisan lawyer might have an edge over a partisan historian in determining what the court is likely to accept.

    You seem to not address that point.

    ReplyDelete
  11. "And Gunderson's legal background is...? If this would be decided in the courts, seems a partisan lawyer might have an edge over a partisan historian in determining what the court is likely to accept."

    Except that it's a settled question. Go read the precedents, there are quite a few of them, which hold that TEC is "hierarchical" within the context of the Supreme Court's religious affairs precedents. Unless the controlling legal principle changes, TEC is legally a hierarchical church.

    ReplyDelete
  12. If the point really is one of legality, I know the "ritualists" used this logic for years. That's why the "Fon du Lac Circus" happened. A parish I attended in the 80s, St Mary's, AKA Smokey Mary's, in Time Square was at its founding incorporated as a "The Free Church of St Mary the Virgin" that chose to affiliate with the Diocese of NY. Thus they (like Fon du Lac and the Church of Our Saviour in Atlanta and other such places) could continue to do horrid, unECUSA things like use the People's Anglican Missal and say the Rosary.

    I'm not trying to take sides, but this "we're not a hierarchy" argument has been used before. Yet I think the petty canonical legalism is being used as a cover for a theological argument.

    If we're trying to make a theological argument, that "the church" has spoken here, I think we've failed in that regard: from the Pike affair on up, we've steadfastly refused to *really* punish offenders. Righter? Spong? I think all the Bishops involved in the Philadelphia Ordinations proceeded in their orders without deposition, despite the clear violation of their "prophetic" action. And I don't think we have a right to play that card in light of our refusal to listen to our own brothers and sisters asking us to wait.

    Both sides really need to back down, forgive, pray and love. I don't think that'll happen, but it needs to continually be said, lest we get what we deserve: ridicule.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Laughable in the definition of who or what entities are hierarchical is the round-up of the friends of TEC in the Virginia cases (which is going extremely badly for 815). Among those that TEC believes hierarchical is the Seventh Day Adventist Church and various charismatic groups. News to the people in THOSE pews! The preacher can tick everybody off on Sunday and by Wednesday night be voted out by a board or congregational vote.

    Bottom line: Those denominational leaders who have ruined their relationships with their constituencies are fighting to keep their members from wandering off with their assets. TEC Inc. has gained a wealth of new friends that they wouldn't listen to any other day of the week except about property. Any port will do in a storm.

    ReplyDelete
  14. drat. pdf. for some reason, I can never read these documents.

    Is there any way to read this through html?

    ReplyDelete
  15. Mark -

    Sullivan & Cromwell is indeed a prestigious and well-regarded law firm. They are known for their expertise in financial and commercial law - and their attorneys are quite specialized by the time they achieve partner status.

    I suspect he is a fine attorney (he no longer has a Martindale Hubbel listing, so I cannot find out his MH Peer Review Rating). But -

    And a big "But." Based on the credentials presented, you would not hire him to defend you in a criminal case, write a complicated will, or draft the constitution and bylaws for your new non-profit organization. Or interpret canon law. He would have the connections to find you a good attorney in any of these areas. His treatise is interesting (I haven't finished it, groan...) but he isn't an expert.

    Or to be really blunt about it, would you want an orthopedic surgeon to perform an operation to restore your hearing? Even one with a superb reputation? No.

    ReplyDelete

OK... Comments, gripes, etc welcomed, but with comment moderation but with some cautions and one rule:
Cautions: Calling people fools, idiots, etc, will be reason to bounce your comment. Keeping in mind that in the struggles it is difficult enough to try to respect opponents, we should at least try.
Rule: PLEASE DO NOT SIGN OFF AS ANONYMOUS: BEGIN OR END THE MESSAGE WITH A NAME - ANY NAME. ANONYMOUS commentary will be cut.