2/25/2010

The Archbishop of all North America, etc, dreams of better days

Robert Duncan, deposed bishop of Pittsburgh and the Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America, made some remarks at an ACNA conference on church planting in Plano, Texas, Tuesday. David Virtue captured his every word, and offers us this fascinating report:

The Archbishop of the Anglican Church of North America said today that“if orthodox Anglicans do what we are sent to do, what we will become is the ancient future movement of the 21st Century church attracting a rising generation of believer leaders abounding in the love of Jesus Christ broken.

“This could be the AnglicanCentury in North America accountable to Scripture, Tradition, the HolySpirit and the transformation of society. There has never been a movement so well positioned at the beginning of an era multiplying congregations fueled by the Holy Spirit. It is the Anglican moment and if we are faithful we should prove to be an Anglican century,” said Archbishop Robert Duncan to 325 new Anglican Church planters.

“We have come a long ways from those dark days seven years ago when the church we grew up in we discovered had left us. We are in a different moment, today.”

Duncan said, "We are in a season where there are so many evidences of God’s favor about what we are engaged in. It is what the Father is doing and there is great blessing when we enjoin ourselves to what the Father is doing. We preach Christ crucified.”

“This is an Anglican moment because it is in God’s plan. We are not something special.God chooses those who don’t deserve it. ACNA is evidence of God’s favor.”

David Virtue would be hard pressed to make this up. These are the words, the very words, it seems, of the Archbishop of ACNA. Several of the sentences warrant further thought:

"...what we willbecome is the ancient future movement of the 21st Century church attracting a rising generation of believer leaders abounding in the love of Jesus Christ broken." This is quite a string of doublets -

"ancient future"
"believer leaders"
"love broken"

Each of these phrases nicely joins ideas slightly out of sync with each other, giving an air of mystery and profundity to the sentence.

Well, a bit arcane perhaps, but the words do stitch together into a coherent whole, even if the diagramming of the sentence is a bit maddening. Still the stage is set: love broken, identification with the crucified Christ, a longing for a future like the ancient past, the hope for believer leaders rather than leaders who lead astray from belief.

But then he goes on. "This could be the AnglicanCentury in North America accountable to Scripture, Tradition, the HolySpirit and the transformation of society." Here the Archbishop is beginning to lose it a bit. Accountability to Scripture, Tradition and the Holy Spirit makes some sense. Accountability to "the transformation of society," less sense. The remnants of the old three legged stool of Scripture, Reason and Tradition remain - Scripture and Tradition make it. The Archbishop speaks occasionally of ACNA as pentecostal, thus the reference to accountability to the Holy Spirit. The fourth accountability, to "the transformation of society," is grammatically mislaid. Oh well, perhaps it was just a bit of a slip.

Then again, who knows? The logic of the next sentences is not much of a help.

"There has never been a movement so well positioned at the beginning of an era multiplying congregations fueled by the Holy Spirit. It is the Anglican moment and if we are faithful we should prove to be an Anglican century." The sentences begin slipping badly here. The new century is no "beginning of an era." Numbers are just numbers. And the notion that, "It is the Anglican moment" and this might "prove to be an Anglican century," is a pipe dream.

He then says, "We have come a long ways from those dark days seven years ago when the church we grew up in we discovered had left us. We are in a different moment, today.”

Well, there is the core of the dream.

It is the dream of the abandoned child, a dream not far from the realities of the lives of some, but here a dream that somehow the church, like an errant parent, had abandoned the Archbishop and those in ACNA. Well, who knows? Still, perhaps what looks like abandonment is not that at all. What if the Church expected the Archbishop to grow up and see the church not as a parent, but as a community?

That is not for the Archbishop. He makes it clear, "We are in a season where there are so many evidences of God’s favor about what we are engaged in. It is what the Father is doing and there is great blessing when we enjoin ourselves to what the Father is doing. We preach Christ crucified.” He assures the world that he has not been abandoned, but rather is in held in God's good favor. The abandonment by the Church is an extension of crucifixion, but God will be steadfast even if the church is not. The whole abandonment thing is part of God's doing, and having been abandoned ACNA folk from the greatest to the least can now more easily reject the church parent and find a new attachment directly with the Father of all. The abandoning church is not of the Father, rather the Father is doing something new.

The wrap-up, the conclusion is, “This is an Anglican moment because it is in God’s plan. We are not something special.God chooses those who don’t deserve it. ACNA is evidence ofGod’s favor.” Even if abandoned by the church because undeserving, God chooses ACNA as a matter of favor.

If it is indeed a verbatim of Archbishop Duncan's words, the quote by David Virtue signals a sad situation. It is revealing of a dream of abandonment and ultimate victory in which the abandoned return in glory, in an "Anglican moment" which itself is God's plan. So the abandoned child, even if rejected, returns as sign of God's grace and favor.

There is a strange sadness in all this.

18 comments:

  1. Perhaps he sees himself as the Prodigal Son, and intends to repent and return at some later date?

    --Wade

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  2. Thank you for translating. My first reading left me confused; I know those are all words in the English language, but, in that order, they did not make sense to me.

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  3. This is clearly a Third Part addition to ¨Pilgrims Progress¨...no doubt about it and the realismo magico is hauntingly noticeable as ++Duncan whafts in and out of sanity!

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  4. Two questions:

    Why is the Holy Spirit third in line after Scripture and Tradition?

    Is God Anglican?

    I'm just asking.

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  5. Is the bishop taking rhetorical pointers from Sarah Palin? His swirl of words baffles the mind. Can he see England from his backyard?

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  6. Lionel, perhaps it is more about checking the supply of altar wine. What I find fascinating are the very negative comments on Virtue's blog. It sounds like Bob's stand on WO will be his undoing. I have little good to say about Bob, but one of his few positive qualities is his support for women as fully part of the church. It will be very interesting to see if he will trash the women he has supported to soothe the WO enemies. Given the number of women in his "Anglican Diocese of Pgh", one wonders what happens to them if he caves in. I think those women will finally see that the emperor has no clothes. If not, then how can he convert the enemies of WO???? It ain't gonna happen....these guys are not gonna change their antiquated stand. It is going to be interesting to watch.

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  7. I find the notion that this will be the Anglican century - or anyone's - disturbing and a bit triumphalist. That is hardly consistent with the intention to preach Christ crucified.

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  8. I am glad to see that it was not just me, as all these folks who are English as their mother tongue did not understand it any better than I did!

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  9. Not just boilerplate, but poorly manufactured boilerplate. He manages to make Sarah Palin seem profound and Enver Hoxha eloquent.

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  10. I'm hoping Mr. Virtue didn't quote Robert verbatim. If he did, I think Robert's "composition" so to speak is deteriorating.

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  11. I'm sorry, I really am having a hard time figuring out what Duncan is talking about. I understand about Scripture and Tradition, and I understand about the Holy Spirit (though I'm not sure what Duncan's subtext there is) and the transformation of society (though I should think that inclusiveness would be part of that). I assume that Reason is lurking somewhere in all that, though I'm not quite sure just where. But Duncan doesn't say anything about "no gay cooties." Isn't that what ACNA is really all about? (No, people, give me a break -- that really IS what it's all about.) And for a lot of the ACNA folks, though not Duncan so far, it also means "no girl cooties." That's obviously a Big Fight waiting to happen within ACNA. I hope that doesn't happen. Watching a train wreck is not spiritually healthy for the rest of us. A better solution would be for the "no gay cooties" folks to come home; let's talk, we can work this out. And for the "no cooties either gay or girl" folks to go away. 'Bye! Go with God! (And don't whine when God sends you back....)

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  12. On the topic of "reasserter" flights of fancy and the question "what is he smoking?", re-visit Mark Lawrence's 2008 "The new prince was born last month in Jerusalem" post (thank you Susan Russell for reminding me of it recently). For some reason, the piece is no longer be found at the Diocese of S Carolina link that Dr Virtue provides.

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  13. Perhaps I'm thick, but who is the new prince who was, according to Bp. Lawrence, born in Jerusalem? GAFCON? The Jerusalem Declaration?

    Other links have been swept from the DoSC website, too, including the link to Bp. Lawrence's address to the diocesan Special Convention, which I wrote about in October of last year. The link to the address, from which I quoted excerpts in my post, is now dead. However, the video of the address is still available on YouTube.

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  14. Lawrence’s address to the diocese from October 24, 2009, can be found at http://www.anglicansunited.com/?p=4886.

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  15. Several Dio SC links to the establishment of ACI that I posted here a year or two back are now dead as well, Mimi.

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  16. Lionel, thanks. I fixed my post. Folks sometimes read the oldies.

    The speech is memorable. In the course of it, Bp. Lawrence spoke the following words no less than five times.

    “When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?”

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  17. If Duncan is benighted, how about this comment from the President of the H of D. The 'national church' shall be the sole source of information on the polity and structure of TEC. Our brave new Liberalism showing its face. I can't imagine any other institution allowing its elected leadership to speak this way, and in that sense, the 'excesses' of Bishop Duncan are nicely imitated by his opponents:

    “The national Church should be the source of information on the polity and structures of the Episcopal Church,” Mrs. Anderson said.

    Signed--Brave new TEC.

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