Independence and a Pack of Cards

Well, I’ve more or less had it!

The pronouncements of the Synod of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican) grasping at an alternative worldwide meeting of Anglican bishops, compounding the various pronouncements of plea for alternative primatial oversight, a new province of the Episcopal Church, various disassociations, disgruntlements, and premature ejaculations concerning the thoughts of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the announcement of the election of a bishop for CANA, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Church of Nigeria, have led me to reconsider Alice’s evidence:

‘Let the jury consider their verdict,' the King said, for about the twentieth time that day.
`No, no!' said the Queen. `Sentence first--verdict afterwards.'
`Stuff and nonsense!' said Alice loudly. `The idea of having the sentence first!'
`Hold your tongue!' said the Queen, turning purple.
`I won't!' said Alice.
`Off with her head!' the Queen shouted at the top of her voice. Nobody moved.
`Who cares for you?' said Alice, (she had grown to her full size by this time.) `You're nothing but a pack of cards!'
From Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, CHAPTER XII, ALICE'S EVIDENCE

The Anglican Communion, “a Fellowship within the One, Holy, Catholic, and
Apostolic Church, of those duly constituted Dioceses, Provinces, and regional Churches in communion with the See of Canterbury, upholding and propagating the historic Faith and Order as set forth in the Book of Common Prayer,” is a GOOD IDEA.

The Anglican Communion, as envisioned by this mob of dissemblers, pleading for unity but constantly disassociating themselves from so called revisionists, and thereby from The Episcopal Church as constituted in General Convention, becomes a Covenant. Anglicanism has never presented itself as a confessional community, and the Anglican Communion has understood itself not as a covenant community, but a fellowship of churches. The Anglican Communion as a covenanting community is A BAD IDEA.

And the threats that The Episcopal Church might not be invited to Lambeth, might not have a “seat at the table,” and might not be part of the Anglican Communion meeting at Lambeth or in Alexandria or Lagos, or wherever, are all the threats in an unreal dream, the dream of a demanding, commanding, organized judgmental agency of God’s will, mislabeled “The Anglican Communion.” And so it is time to say, with Alice, “You're nothing but a pack of cards!”

The notion of a covenant based communion, is prefigured in the Constitution of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican), where communion is among those duly constituted Dioceses, Provinces, and regional Churches “that hold and maintain the Historic Faith, Doctrine, Sacrament and Discipline of the one Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church as the Lord has commanded in His holy word and as the same are received as taught in the Book of Common Prayer and the ordinal of 1662 and in the Thirty-Nine Article of Religion.” Other examples of such covenants include these elements and sometimes include other ideas - the reference to “God’s word plainly written,” or the “faith once delivered to the saints” favored by the realignment folk, the notion of “greater consensus” and “autonomy in communion” favored by some of the writers of the Windsor Report, and seemingly by Lambeth Palace, and even the notion, favored by almost everyone until they think about it, that because Jesus prayed for the unity of his followers we are commanded to place unity of the Anglican Communion above mission as member churches in the Anglican Communion.

But be assured, these various covenant schemes finally come to rest in a single reality: the covenants proposed are about churches, but will be made among, and mostly serve, heads of ecclesial state – Primates, Presiding Bishops, Archbishops and their retinues. They all rest their case on one basic premise: that unity among the churches morally trumps autonomy every time. And a covenant based communion structure will lead, without a shadow of doubt, to interference in the election of bishops, in the determination of the content of prayer books, in the ordination of persons in every order “whose manner of life” bothers some other part of the covenanted community, in the promulgation of rules, laws, codicils and patterns of behavior that will finally be destructive of provincial autonomy. This encroachment is already underway.

The Episcopal Church has been presented with the sentence first: that we must repent, cease and desist from various actions. The verdict was never reached, for the court was never in session. The Lambeth Commission was not such a court, the Primates are not such a court. It was at the Anglican Consultative Council meeting that The Episcopal Church was invited to give testimony. It did so in the form of the statement “To Set our Hope in Christ.” It was dismissed out of hand. But even that was not a court of verdict, for the ACC is precisely consultative. More recently a small advisory group to the Archbishop of Canterbury is weighing the efforts of the General Convention. We don’t know who these people are and can only trust that they have our interests at heart. But we will be judged by no peers, for in secret chambers there are no peers.

Now the Church of Nigeria has taken upon itself to proclaim the sentence, “off with their heads,” and like the Queen of Hearts, the list of potential decapitated grows longer and longer. Now it includes, “ECUSA, Canada, England and their allies.” But of course the Archbishop of Nigeria has no more power than any other foreign bishop, no more than say, the Archbishop of Canterbury. At least Canterbury understands this. All of this “off with their heads” business is meant to instill fear. And it almost succeeds. Certainly there was at General Convention some fear concerning being cast out into outer darkness, a fear closely related to decapitation.

Our Presiding Bishop Elect, Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, in her first sermon to General Convention called upon the Church to cast out such fear. She said,

“Our invitation, both in the last work of this Convention, and as we go out into the world, is to lay down our fear and love the world. Lay down our sword and shield, and seek out the image of God's beloved in the people we find it hardest to love. Lay down our narrow self-interest, and heal the hurting and fill the hungry and set the prisoners free. Lay down our need for power and control, and bow to the image of God's beloved in the weakest, the poorest, and the most excluded. We children can continue to squabble over the inheritance. Or we can claim our name and heritage as God's beloveds and share that name, beloved, with the whole world.”

Powerful words, more powerful than any I can make. I can only with Alice shout out to the stacked deck of accusers, “You're nothing but a pack of cards!” Still, it casts out fear to finally witness to name the players for what they are and to move on.

Urban T. Holmes, closes his book, “What is Anglicanism?” with the following:

“It is possible for the Christian to refuse to see the implications of Christ for his or her manner of living. It is a blasphemy to suggest that this is a matter of indifference and the prophet who challenges him is meddling in what is not of his or her business. There is nothing outside God’s business. If what the prophet says is not of God, ultimately that is the prophet’s problem. God will not be without his witnesses. God speaks and we as Christians must discern what he says to us now, in this place…

Ultimately the authenticity of faith and belief is measured at the bar of justice. All religious questions merge into the one query: What shall we do? There is an inevitable course to our religious profession, which can be aborted only by denying its Lord. That course leads to living in the world as God sees the world. We can debate the trivial points, but the vision is largely clear. To love God is to relieve the burden of all who suffer. The rest is a question of tactics.” (Morehouse Barlow, 1982, pg.95)

Asserting that we love God makes us party to the incarnation of God’s love for the world. If we would be one with God we must attend to God’s beloved, the people of the world and the world itself. In this context, The Episcopal Church need not then worry about whether or not it are at one with the State, or at one with the fellowship of Churches that constitutes the Anglican Communion, for we stake our claim on God’s confidence in us as the provisional and often incomplete incarnation of God’s care for and relief of the suffering, and that “God will not be without his witnesses.” Either we will do it, some other church will, or perhaps even the great mass of Christians who could not care less how we solve the question of who is in or out of the Anglican Communion will do it, but God will have witness to God’s love for the world.

That being the case, we in The Episcopal Church ought to rejoice in our autonomy, our autonomy from finally being bound by the noise of a pack of cards. While we in The Episcopal Church have spent a great deal of time and energy of late on the effort to find ways to remain in communion with other member churches of the Anglican Communion in spite of differences, some quite deep, it is time to move on.

Much of this effort to maintain the “highest level of communion possible” is commendable, since it is clear that we often find in such connections both the realities of the burdens others carry and the means of assisting in relief. Yet it has also become clear that the object of our efforts, which of Christian necessity ought be focused on the love of God and the relief of the burden of all who suffer, has been slighted in the current struggle.

It is time for The Episcopal Church to discern once again what God is saying to us and to recapture the vision that “to love God is to relieve the burden of all who suffer.” It is time for us to join the Presiding Bishop Elect who said,

“If you and I are going to grow in all things into Christ, if we're going to grow up into the full stature of Christ, if we are going to become the blessed ones God called us to be while we were still in our mothers' wombs, our growing will need to be rooted in a soil of internal peace. We'll have to claim the confidence of souls planted in the overwhelming love of God, a love so abundant, so profligate, given with such unwillingness to count the cost, that we, too, are caught up into a similar abandonment.”

Here is what I envision, concerning that growing in the love of God, in terms of the relation between the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion.

  1. We will or will not be invited to Lambeth. That is not in our control, but we may pray for good will and the opportunity for our bishops to meet with other bishops throughout the world. If any of our bishops are not invited, I would hope the integrity of the house would insist that no bishops from The Episcopal Church be invited. We need not fear, God will feed us wherever we are.

  2. We ought not shape or form our mission with the end of getting ourselves invited. Those ten days do not determine our mission or our engagement with Anglican friends throughout the world.

  3. We will hope to be part of the discussions about the future form of the Anglican Communion. I hope we will propose an alternative to covenant, namely a “compact,” whose purpose it is to agree on the ways and means of better addressing the suffering of the world, witnessing to God’s love for all people, and bringing the Good News of God’s renewal and redemption of all creation in Jesus Christ.

  4. We ought to continue to insist on our autonomy and on the respect of jurisdictions of the various dioceses of The Episcopal Church.

  5. We ought to come to every international Anglican Communion meeting with that autonomy as a sign of our particular ministry in the wider Church, neither proclaiming it as a standard nor apologizing for it as peculiar. We must come as we are, without one plea.

About the Episcopal Church and its internal divisions:

  1. It is time for members of this church to cease using “disassociation” as a form of protest. Protest is absolutely essential to the life of this more or less open system of governance. The protest against bad governance is the beginning of reform. It is a scandal, for example, that bishops in particular are given to conflict avoidance, when what is needed is conflict engaged. There protest and dissent are vital. But protest and dissent take place within the community and derive their power from the presence of those who dissent with their adversaries.

  2. The honoring of diocesan jurisdictional boundaries needs to be maintained.

  3. DEPO, delegated Episcopal pastoral oversight, must be understood as concerning Episcopal oversight; that same principle in no way ought to apply to Primatial oversight. The Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church is Primate, Chief Pastor and Presiding Bishop of this Church, and if someone can’t abide the reality of who is in place they can either live in patience until a new Presiding Bishop is elected, attempt to have that person removed by canons of this Church, or they can leave.

  4. DEPO ought not be considered a solution to conflict resolution or a means of conflict avoidance, but rather as a temporary means of providing pastoral care.

  5. The notion of a tenth province that is not area specific but rather theology specific is abhorrent to the vision of a church in which “all come to me.” In no way ought this be considered a viable alternative for the future life of The Episcopal Church.

  6. The Episcopal Church, through the Presiding Bishop and Executive Council, ought to be clear that it intends to turn its fact to the primary tasks of proclaiming the Good News and witnessing to the love of God by working to relieve the burden of all who suffer.

Well, there it is: a beginning agenda on the way to a vision.

It is Independence Day and I believe we must declare our independence from fear and distraction from God’s call to us.

In the Declaration of Independence it says this,

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

We in the United States live in a compact with one another mediated by the democratic proposition that the provisional decisions made in the moment will suffice or be perfected in the future if, and only if, we hold certain truths to be self-evident. We are better at this sometimes than at others.

I believe as we become more sure of who we are as The Episcopal Church after all this struggle, we too will be better equipped to respond to the unalienable rights with which all God’s children are endowed, and the compact among dioceses which we call The Episcopal Church will endure. It may be in its way a light to the world, as well as an occasional puzzlement.

The Covenant we have in baptism calls each of us into community as church. The covenant is personal, but universal in application. The Church is universal, but local in its forms of governance and the compacts it makes for the purpose of mission. We need not fear, we are not cut off from our place in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church by the compacts we do or do not make for mission’s sake. But we stand in judgment if we do not make compact to engage the world and attend to the call to love the world in God’s name.

We are engrafted in that mission from our baptism, and if we take the baptismal covenant seriously, “everything else is tactics.”

To this sort of compact perhaps we can “mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”


  1. I had to chuckle at the thought of the CA-N Synod celebrating Akinola's listing as "one of the top 100 who have shaped the world." So are a number of particularly notorious tyrants. To have had a measurable impact is not the same as having a positive, impact.

    While I largely agree with you, I respectfully disagree that this is time to act. That is, I don't think, for all the rhetoric or volume, that there is anything that's going to happen fast. I agree that there are places we can take initiative, but I don't think necessarily responding to pronouncements from CA-N, or from ACN, or others, will be as useful as waiting to see what steps someone actually takes.

    I have come to wonder whether the apparent patience (frustrating as we may find it) isn't intended to clarify who's really breaking the relationships. I have commented on my own blog on my sense of folks wanting to "walk apart" themselves, and then blame it on us. Holding out until they actually do that would absolutely clarify who values communion and who doesn't, who values freedom in Christ and who doesn't. Thus my comment in another post: "Don't Panic."

    I agree with you that we will not be leaving the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church, whatever steps they take. Therefore, we need not act anxiously. It is not weakness but faith that allows us to be responsive rather than preemptive. Many may say (you among them) that this has gone on long enough. I think that we don't want to assume more control than we have, any more than we want to attribute to nay-sayers more control than they have. I agree with you on the principals involved, and the goals we ought to seek. I just don't think we need to take action just yet. Let them show either their determination in breaking themselves this Communion; or let them show how hollow is their rhetoric as they shout again and again and do nothing.

  2. Hmm. Therefore you would keep for yourselves what you would deny to others - namely autonomy?

    Seems like double standards to me.

  3. Mark:

    I can't thank you enough for your beautiful Independence Day gift to all who cherish and support both the Episcopal Church and the (true) Anglican Communion. With grace and in faith, let us stand firm!

  4. Peter,

    No one is denied autonomy. Bp's Iker and Duncan are free men and can leave. The priests and deacons in their diocese can too.

    Diocese are created by General Convention. The perogative of leaving does not include the right to pillage. But, take yourself and the other self-proclaimed holy folk and be autonomous by all means. I actually expect to laugh when some of the self-proclaime try to explain autonomy to Abp Akinola!


  5. mark,
    sadly I have come to the conclusion that my fellow evangelicals in TEC really should leave. That is not because they are holy folk, but because the autonomy the TEC desires within the Anglican Communion will not be extended to them in TEC whether in the form of a seperate province, alternatibve oversight or otherwise.
    They will have to leave behind familar surroundings and building, friends, and coleggues but will gain the freedom to evangelise, teach and serve the world in the manner their concionce dictates.
    It is a sad day.
    I pray that they will leave in peace.

  6. I agree with Mark. The more time that passes, the more dumb decisions are made by those who have little patience. Bishop Akinola is incredible! What supreme, and very scary, arrogance. It smacks of fear, hatred and biotry. I predict it will be like the old-time TV show where the bad guys always turn on each other and disintegrate from within. I always maintained that if they'd hang together, they'd get away with the crime. They've moved from gays to women. What's next? Katie, bar the door! And just be patient. They are self-destructing.

  7. No one is denied autonomy. Bp's Iker and Duncan are free men and can leave. The priests and deacons in their diocese can too.

    And also with you. But somehow I imagine that you'd like to take the furniture with you but deny others the same. Not that it's about the furniture, it's about double standards.

    But, take yourself and the other self-proclaimed holy folk..

    Meaning? I didn't proclaim myself anything.

    Diocese are created by General Convention.

    Ah, yes, that one. The diocese being the structure and property I suppose, rather than the people. Well, perhaps we shall leave it behind. But, does it seem fair to you - say 90% of the diocese (i.e. the people) out of concience sake have to leave, and you'd strip them of everything to inherit a bunch of empty buildings. Some witness that would be. Better we let each other go in peace, eh? Somehow, I cannot see that happening though.....

  8. wgodvObadiah:

    I have always appreciated your civil tone, here and elsewhere. I wonder, though, about your concern about autonomy. After all, an autonomous province may hold a place - one organ, if you will - within the body of Christ. Autonomy carried to its extreme is a congregational polity that, while "an historically recognized position" (perhaps one of the most unfortunate observations ever reified in the Church), certainly isn't Anglican. Just what further autonomy is required for Evangelicals within the Episcopal Church, except for those few who don't wish to associate with those with whom they disagree?

    For that group (a minority, I submit, even among the Evangelicals in the Episcopal Church) there seems to be a strong push toward congregationalism. So, some cannot accept DEPO precisely because oversight remains with the ordinary who delegates, when what they want is a new ordinary. Thus, they complain that the shortcoming of DEPO is first and foremost that it doesn't satisfy them, even though it arguably better reflects and respects the historical ecclesiology of the Anglican tradition. A tenth province within the Episcopal Church seems unlikely, but the arena to address that is the General Convention, where under Canon it could be established; but there are obviously those who are already prepared to reject the authority of General Convention because other deputations haven't found them persuasive.

    I do not look forward to Evangelicals leaving the Episcopal Church, even those with whom I disagree. If they really believe some different jurisdiction, overseen from Nigeria or some other province of the Communion, I will question whether they are wise. Still, if they leave I will recognize their integrity, and I will continue to recognize them as siblings for whom Christ died.

  9. My, my - what a rancorous tone from the prescient preludinal! Which part of you are straying from the path of the Anglican Tradition and Christian Tradition and dysfunctionally affecting the Anglican Communion and the Christian Church did the WR, Dromantine, and Primatial comments did you not understand?

    Chose to ignore, rather, right? And now you complain as though it were news?

    I had thought preludium a bit ostentatious, but deludium is perhaps more apropos!

    Akinola was on of TIME's top one hundred, by the way.

  10. I think evangelicals should only leave with reluctance - and that reluctance should not be about losing buildings or money, but a loss of relationship.
    Here are the criteria that Peter jenson who heads my diocese recently set out as his "tripwire":
    We should leave if the denomination
    a)forced us to do something unscriptural
    b)involved a matter of salvation
    c)so involved me in the actions of others so that it appears that I agree with the action because I do not protest or withdraw.
    It is an interesting debate as to whether the line has been crossed.
    Certainly TEC allows a liberty of consience. The Network has been an attempt to protest after the manner of point c.
    But it is tough on both the majority and the minority for a group to be in continuous vociferous protest. I guess we could live with it if we were given a sense that evengelicals would be left alone at the local level.
    But I suspect that as a "justice issue" inclusion will eventually be mandated canonically, and perhaps it has been already.
    Please tell me if you think I exaggerate - there seems to be hightened feelings all around.

  11. ssorry that last post is me. again.

  12. obadiahslope said."But it is tough on both the majority and the minority for a group to be in continuous vociferous protest. I guess we could live with it if we were given a sense that evengelicals would be left alone at the local level.
    But I suspect that as a "justice issue" inclusion will eventually be mandated canonically, and perhaps it has been already.
    Please tell me if you think I exaggerate - there seems to be hightened feelings all around."

    obadiahslope-- I always find your postings insightful and only wish that we could talk more. In my "I've about had it" mode it might appear that I was out to get evangelicals. That is very far indeed from the case.

    I think this is not on the whole a struggle between evangelicals and - progressives/ revisionists / etc. I hope not, for even if not an "evangelical" I am evangelical all the time concerning preaching the Word and proclaiming salvation in Jesus Christ.

    I think the struggle is between those who believe the Anglican Communion ought to continue to be a fellowship of churches and those who believe it ought to be a more rigorous world wide church. Ultimately a "world wide church" with more rigorous basis for inclusion, etc, would serve us poorly. That is why I was arguing for a compact based on common efforts to do mission in an incarnational way.

    I very much hope that evangelicals and any other group of folk will NOT leave TEC. But if the direction taken by the Church through diocesan and national synods is both clearly the long term majority voice of the governance of the Church and is not likely to change in the future, some individuals and groups will indeed leave. I too hope that their leaving will be a peaceful one, with some honor for the real differences really confronted.

    You are right on the spot to suggest that one of the ways to check out the openness of TEC is to see what Canons dictate. Our canons, it seems to me, invite all into baptism and from there into every discernment process for further defined positions (ordination, etc). But since discernment is both a personal and corporate process, in which self and corporate exclusion takes place, the canons leave open an end result that is not really inclusive. Prejudice against persons for personal and faith characteristics does arise. The question of whether those prejdices are justified is always a source of contention.

  13. Mark --

    As usual, I am in full agreement with you.

    How odd that people fail to remember that ++Jensen was calling for a realignment of the Evangelicals of the Global South (he suggested under the Primate of Nigeria) BEFORE Rowan was appointed ABC (i.e., LONG before anyone even HEARD of Gene Robinson) -- all that happens is grist for furthering their plans -- we are only spectators (which is why the whole Windsor Process seems such a waste -- unless, of course, it helps wake some people up!)

  14. (Dave) This is one evangelical who does not want to leave but feels that his ministry and his witness is so compromised that he can no longer be obedient to his Lord while remaining. Same sex relationships are only one piece of it. Membership in the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Rights. Support for same sex marriage laws. Reparations.
    The Episcopal Church was once described as the Republican party at prayer. I did not mind it becoming the Democratic party at prayer butwe now mopre nearly approximate the Weather Underground at prayer.

  15. (BillK) If everyone agrees that an exit of a significant number of people, priests, deacons, etc. may be inevitable and we want it to be peaceful, what is the harm of negotiating a deal that recognizes on a parish by parish basis that the people in that parish have had a significant hand in building the resources of that parish and that if they choose to exit as a group they can buy out the Episcopal Churches interest in the property.

  16. Bill K:

    I live and work in close proximity to Christ Church, Overland Park, Kansas. That separation was negotiated, and at the time was hailed on both sides as an example of what could happen when negotiations were carried out with mutual respect on both sides. At the end of negotiations the congregation separated, basically paying the diocese for the rights to real property; and both sides stated publically their gratitude at being met respectfully and prayerfully by the other party.

    Sadly, the consequences have not been as expected. There is clear evidence that the "departing remnant" of the congregation was neither as large nor as committed financially as originally thought. The congregation is struggling financially, even though the clergy leadership try to put this in the best light. Moreover, one of the clergy of the parish invited Episcopalians of other area parishes to a meeting to view ACN videos and literature in violation of the negotiated agreement for both sides to refrain from trying to persuade away parishioners. (So far as I know, this was the decision of this individual, and does not reflect the program of Christ Church, as it were.)

    To negotiate requires respect on both sides, and there is plenty of evidence (especially where separating congregations have sought resolution in the courts - Los Angeles, San Diego, Connecticut) that all too often that respect is lacking. Is it possible? Perhaps. Is it likely in the current polarized situation? I don't think so. Is it desired by everyone? There are enough who speak in a "winner take all" tone to suggest not.

  17. Please note that Peter and several others responded to Mark above, refering to a comment I posted. The host of this blog is not Jim, and I am sure he is grateful for that fact.


  18. I was responding to you Jim, well at least intending to.

  19. Marshall,

    You make a good point. I am sure that in most situations there will not be a 100% decision either way. However, if 60% of the parish leaves and gets a new building and 40% stays, the result is still two struggling parishes that are in competition with one another and the one with the building may or may not have a leg up depending on debt. If 60% decides to stay and fight it out in court, there will be no possibility of a peaceful outcome and no matter who wins in court, both the 60% and the 40% will be weaker both in mission (after a public court fight) and in money after paying the lawyers. Multiply this by maybe 400 to 600 parishes and you see the futility in the winner take all philosophy that the strident (regarding property) on both sides seem to advocate.

  20. There are a lot of reasons I don't think the 'covenant' will work. But I found this piece rather interesting as food for thought:


    In addition to what Brown says here, I also think that existing relations (between sub-national groups of Anglican-based churches) will serve to subvert a two-tiered covenantal system. There will be more 'exceptional' cases than those who follow 'the rules'.

  21. I think you misinterpret disassociation as a form of protest. I see it as an attempt to survive.

    How can evangelicals do evangelism, nurture their children, or devote themselves to ministry in any sense within a church they view as apostate? If there cannot be some sense of distance, then separation will be necessary, or the evangelical churches will simply wither and die within our midsts. That may be okay for most of you, but it cannot be acceptable for them.

    At this point, Akinola appears to be a better option for them than anything suggested here. They would be very unwise not to see this.

    I am hopeful, however, that our new presiding bishop will find a pastoral solution to the dilemma -- or at least seek one.

  22. This is a truly fine piece of analysis, Mark. Thank you.

    A basic insight from family systems theory: we do more to change a system by working on ourselves and our reactions to others than by efforts to control other people.

    We ought to be about the business of improving lines of communication and of becoming the Church we believe God has called us to be. I see a peaceful departure of those evangelicals who feel they can't work within the process, with the possibility of dissent as you describe it, as a positive development. Better than trying to maintain poisonous relationships. I do wish that we could have helpful, productive relationships, in which the conscience of each is honored, that serve God's mission better. We ought to make it easier for those who wish to go to go peacefully, with God's blessing.

    I think there may be evangelicals who appreciate the unique charism of the Episcopal Church. Others would be happier as continuing Anglicans or as part of a new covenantal communion. We need to defend the idea of the Communion as a fellowship of autonomous churches because this renders the Communion and all the member churches better able to discern what God's Spirit may be doing. It also frees us to make mistakes. There is no doubt in my mind about what we did in 2003, but, even if it were a mistake, I think God could bless it and use it for good. One of the goods that comes out of it is a Church in which people are encouraged to act as responsible adults, rather than dependent children. Freedom in the Gospel is scary. It was in Paul's day. Then as now, it can be abused. But this is no reason to embrace a fierce and joyless legalism. This is what I see in some evangelicals today. Maybe if they had ecumenical relationships, rather than relationships of full communion, with those of us who embrace full inclusion, they could focus on other questions of discipleship. And so could we. The ecumenical relationship would be nice to avoid a complete cut off and would be an appropriate way to continue to try to discern God's will together. I'm not sure that all evangelicals who opt out of our fellowhsip of autonomous churches would like even an ecumenical relationship with those whom they consider a new religion. Even then, what's to prevent an interreligious dialogue based on our common humanity.

    I think that Rowan Williams proposal for a two-tiered communion is fine, so long as we realize that we aren't embracing a second class citizenship. We are merely opting to preserve autonomy and this witness might encourage other Anglicans to look at this value in a new light and join their voices to a resistance against curialization. The real proof of whether this arrangement is superior to a good old fashioned schism is whether interpersonal relationships, the heart of real communion, continue to exist among those on different tracks.

    The real enemy here continues to be neo-liberal capitalism and globalized injustice. This is why we ought to care about maintaining the highest degree of communion possible. The Bible's clarion call against economic oppression and political violence is something around which the vast majority of Anglicans worldwide can and should unite, no matter who they are sleeping with.

  23. Akinola was on of TIME's top one hundred, by the way.

    So were Ayman al Zawahiri and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

    Appropriate company for Akinola, if you think about it.

  24. (Dave)
    "Anonymous said...
    Akinola was on of TIME's top one hundred, by the way.
    So were Ayman al Zawahiri and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
    Appropriate company for Akinola, if you think about it. "

    "Interesting" comment! How then would you deal with the inclusion on the same list of people like Bono, Hillary Clinton and Pernessa Seele? Also appropriate company?

  25. Requests for Alternate Primatial Oversight are, in my opinion, designed only to garner headlines. While Canon I.2.4 (a) 6 requires the PB to visit each diocese, I have not been aware of such a visit to my diocese (WNY) during Bishop Frank’s tenure, and I suspect that a diocese might request that such a visit be brief with no public events. The only other time when the PB would normally visit a diocese would be for the ordination of a bishop, and I suspect that Bishop Katharine would agree to deputize another bishop to act as chief consecrator if requested. The only other occasion when there might be a conflict for the conscience of a traditionalist bishop would be at meetings of the House of Bishops. My suspicion is that at least some such bishops will simply stay home rather than attend a meeting at which Bishop Katharine presides

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  27. Too bad the evangelicals in TEC aren't more like the evangelicals of the United Church of Canada.

    "Based on the understanding that the Bible is the ultimate standard for our faith, the creeds and confessions formulated by the church can only possess a "subordinate authority". Thus, membership in the church is based on a profession of faith and not on a credal subscription or test. New members are asked to profess their faith in the triune God and to commit themselves to faithful conduct in church and world. What is required additionally of those being ordained or commissioned in the United Church is "essential agreement" with the doctrinal articles of the Basis of Union.

    We have doctrinal standards and attempt to set them forth in continuity with the Biblical faith. But our grasp on the truth of God is finite and fallible, and we do not believe that faithfulness consists in assenting to particular statements. Rarely, if ever, do we use doctrinal standards to exclude anyone from the circle of belonging. Rather we lift up Jesus Christ and his way, saying to all who seek God's grace and service, "Come and see."


  28. Requests for Alternate Primatial Oversight are, in my opinion, designed only to garner headlines. While Canon I.2.4 (a) 6 requires the PB to visit each diocese, I have not been aware of such a visit to my diocese (WNY) during Bishop Frank’s tenure, and I suspect that a diocese might request that such a visit be brief with no public events. The only other time when the PB would normally visit a diocese would be for the ordination of a bishop, and I suspect that Bishop Katharine would agree to deputize another bishop to act as chief consecrator if requested. The only other occasion when there might be a conflict for the conscience of a traditionalist bishop would be at meetings of the House of Bishops. My suspicion is that at least some such bishops will simply stay home rather than attend a meeting at which Bishop Katharine presides.

  29. I think it would be a huge mistake for Bishop Katharine not to preside at every single episcopal consecration she can get to. No exceptions.

  30. It is amazing how little broadcast news has been given to any of this here in England.

    About two weeks ago, the Bishop of Dorchester was here to celebrate eucharist for the college. He made a few (slightly snide, if you ask me) remarks about the 'decisions the Episcopal Church has to make'. But he also made a telling comment about the Church of England, as the member of the Anglican Communion that is the least conscious of there even being an Anglican Communion.

    Ah, well. It's nice to be able to presume your rightful place to order people around, without regard to being on the receiving end of such behaviour.

  31. How then would you deal with the inclusion on the same list of people like Bono, Hillary Clinton and Pernessa Seele? Also appropriate company?

    As far as I am aware, Bono, Clinton, and Seele are not religious fundamentalists who favor throwing people into prison for saying things with which they disagree.

  32. Mark,
    I have been meaning for some time to point out that you might be mis-reading bthe views of evangelicals in the anglican Communion about the proposal for a covenent.
    Fulcrum makes the case that the conservative and possibly the liberal groups in the communion are internally divided on this question here: http://www.fulcrum-anglican.org.uk/news/2006/newsletter08.cfm?doc=114
    I refer especially to section B which attempts a typology for the communion on the covenant question. Please forgive me if this piece is old news.
    My diocese, Sydney, has always been scptical about the wisdom and practicalities of centralising anglicanism.
    There may well be two networks developing within the anglican whole. But these will be within the context of looser ties, not tighter.

  33. Preludium isn't before the sound, but before the PLAY and that play can be a pantomime (Lewis and Short, p. 1083). I like to play, but not to make a covenant to become an anachronism almost at once (Luther, Zwingli, Calvin, Knox, Law, Wesley and the whole succession of Trent). Even a "compact" could try to fix the Holy Spirit at some point, while we are being set free. I heartily agree with your analysis and goal. Thanks, Mark. Jim Taylor, SU ret'd.

  34. What I don't understand is, if "protest is absolutely essential to the life of this more or less open system of governance. The protest against bad governance is the beginning of reform. It is a scandal, for example, that bishops in particular are given to conflict avoidance, when what is needed is conflict engaged", then why must diocesan boundaries be respected, since in e.g. one classic form of protest, the sit-in, the protesting students do not respect the boundaries of the Dean's office? The boundary-crossing is clearly in protest against what the protesters view as bad theology (and/or bad governance).

    [Congratulations on the lovely granddaughter, by the way; I'm expecting my first grandson (finally!) in August.]

  35. I love Mark's entry here...

    ...but so many of the comments on this thread break my heart.

    It's enough to make me wonder whether self-designated "evangelicals" have the slightest idea of The Good News?

    But what am I, broken vessel, to do? How am *I* capable of proclaiming it, in a way that can be heard?

    Exhort "Read your Bibles!" (Do I doubt you evangelicals do so?)

    Study---and better yet, pray---your BCPs? (Many of you probably had 1928---or is that 1662?---Morning Prayer this morning)

    Shout "God LOVES you! Don't you realize that?" (That God is NOT waiting to play Theological GOTCHA!? E.g., "Point 397 of your---following Nigerian Revision---853 point Faith-Declaration is heterodox, therefore I'm consigning ALL of you to the Lake of Fire! Mwahahahaha!")

    How can you call yourselves "Anglican", and yet not seem to have *any* of the charisms (whether High, Low or Broad) of our Tradition?

    For the Love of God, WHO IS ***JESUS*** for you "evangelicals"???

    I want to share the Gospel w/ you, yet I don't know how---my own sinful self probably gets in the way.

    Breaks my heart. :-(...


OK... Comments, gripes, etc welcomed, 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.