January 18, 2010

Mrs Ashworth is misinformed

and perhaps a meddlesome interferer who by her own admission did not consult with any Episcopalians other than those she appears to represent; or at the very least a well-meaning busybody.

Mrs Lorna Ashworth is bringing a Private Members Motion to the General Synod of the Church of England, appealing recognition by the Church of England of a state of communion with ACNA (the self-styled "Anglican Church in North America). You can review her background document for yourself. Amongst the numerous errors and half-truths in this document, I want simply to flag her assertion that the "Dennis Canon" was somehow a novel creation by which all parish property was transferred to "the ownership of the national church."

In fact, the "Dennis Canon" (which she quotes but clearly does not understand) merely put into canonical language the practice and understanding of the church (and in most places, the state) up to that time: that parishes may own their property, but they hold it as trustees for the wider church. It is not theirs to sell, for instance, and never has been, without diocesan approval, under canons far older than that proposed by Walter Dennis. (This is perhaps slightly different than they do in England, admittedly, but I very much doubt the leadership of an English parish could suddenly claim no longer to be part of the Church of England and retain the real property until then held in its name.) The Dennis Canon merely made explicit what had been the normal practice up to that time. Dozens of court cases had been decided in favor of the larger church prior to the adoption of this canon, and very, very few against (most of the latter involving peculiar circumstances in a given parish).

But to clarify for Mrs Ashworth, and any member of the Synod who might not understand, the question isn't ownership but trusteeship. I have dealt with this at length before and will not dwell on it here, but the basic principle is not that hard to understand: when people have custody of a property as trustees, the maintenance of the trust forms the basis of their control. Most Episcopal parishes were founded for the good and use of The Episcopal Church; they were maintained and contributed to over (in some cases) generations with that end in mind, and the vestries serve as the custodians of that trust. Those who give to the support of the church give -- the church doesn't belong to them simply because they have contributed to its construction or maintenance. (Ananias and Sapphira learned that the hard way.)

Moreover, when leaders of a parish vote to leave The Episcopal Church, even though they may feel that they are the truly faithful Anglicans, they fail in their trustee responsibilities, and at the very least remove themselves from being qualified to exercise that trust — they have, in fact, violated the trust. So the control of the property (not its ownership, per se) reverts to the body for whom it was held in trust: the diocese and national church. In many cases the members of the parish who remained part of The Episcopal Church will take up control of the property. Mrs A seems to show a great deal of pity of those she says are "excluded" from their churches, with scant recognition that in many cases a portion of the congregation has no wish to secede from The Episcopal Church, and it is they who have been "excluded" and are seeking to regain property wrongly occupied by those who wish to walk apart from the church of which they formerly were part.

I certainly hope this mischievous motion is not adopted. It will seriously muddy already well-trodden waters. (See the comments to this effect in the additional document from the Secretary General, especially noting the citations from the Windsor Continuation Group Report ¶ 93-96.)

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG

52 comments:

BillyD said...

She *is* misinformed.

But is CofE recognition of ACNA really an important concern for ECUSA? Is it just one step in the process of replacing ECUSA with ACNA, no matter what the resolution says?

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

BillyD, I think this is a first step towards parallel and mutually non-recognizing (that is, out of communion with each other) provinces. There is no other reason conceivable for the action -- ACNA does not need to be in communion with the C of E to call itself Anglican -- witness TAC and dozens of other such quasi-Anglican entities. What they want is legitimation -- and likely largely to deal with some of the lawsuits, which they wrongly imagine will be swayed by such overseas connections. (That is a fallacy except perhaps in the case of colonial era parishes; and depends on TEC being replaced. But for most of the lawsuits, the legal entity is TEC, and the Anglican Communion isn't part of the mix. Yes, Billy, there is Virginia! And I think that may be where some of the energy originates...)

Grandmère Mimi said...

Tobias, do you remember the discussion on my blog back in May in which Bishop Gregory Cameron, of the Diocese of St. Asaph in Wales, may or may not have participated? You left comments to the post. I lean toward the view that the comments were actually those of Bishop Cameron, who also served on the Covenant Draft committee. I was getting a visitor from Jamaica, where the ACC was meeting at the time I received the comments, but, of course that does not proove that the visitor was Bp. Cameron.

That and further commentary from English and Welsh bishops, canons, etc. left me with little hope that the powers in the churches "over there" would or even cared to understand the polity of the Episcopal church. The participants in the Synod may well believe that Mrs Ashworth has it right.

John Sandeman said...

I think there is a body of opinion in the CofE that is uneasy about the seperation of ACNA from TEC. A leading Liberal Catholic from the UK visiting Australia expressed the view that there should be room for ACNA somehow in the Communion. This surprised me, but I the majority CofE view is one that the anglican Communion should be able to contain all shades of opinion.
Reporting the delay to Women Bishops in the UK thse church times editorialised this week: "It is, though, important that the Synod comes up with the best possible legislation to introduce women to the episcopate without reservation while, at the same time, seeking not to un­church those who object."
Now, it may prove impossible to do both. Yet the CofE is going to give it a very good try it seems.
I believe there is frustration that the TEC was not successful in keeping more of their conservatives.
You might think that is unfair criticism - I am not trying to make the case for it here.
But there is a view in the CofE, not restricted to the conservatives that NOT to reach out to ACNA by some (un-specified) means, sends a bad signal to evangelical provinces.
The CofE really does want to keep them in the Communion. It wants to keep those who do not approve of Women bishops in the CofE. It does lot want to follow the TEC path in this regard.

Fr. J said...

All of the legal wrangling about who owns what gets very sticky very quickly, and most of it is so beside the point that I wonder why we bother. But I wonder, given the defense you make here of the Dennis Canon on longstanding practice (if not principle), is TEC making the same case that the Roman Church has made for centuries about why the C of E should "give back" its churches? After all, one could argue that the C of E was always holding its property in trust for Mother Church in Rome. Of course, the traditional Anglican response has been to say that the C of E was protecting itself from the excesses of Rome, that Anglicanism merely brought the parishes of England back to the sensibility of the early Church. But that is also the case that ACNA makes.

I'm not arguing here for the legitimacy of ACNA's claim, which is questionable at best. I merely point out that the reformation rationale appears to be the same. What would be the difference?

Lionel Deimel said...

Tobias,

Thanks for this helpful post.

I agree that passage of this motion is essentially meaningless. It is intended to put pressure on the Archbishop of Canterbury. I would hope that Rowan is not so stupid as to act on such a motion. Unless he actively hates TEC, he has no incentive to declare the CoE to be in communion with ACNA. Should he actually do that—which I think exceedingly unlikely—we should simply walk away from the Anglican Communion. Such a move would simply be intolerable.

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

Mimi, I do recall the conversation; there is still considerable lack of understanding (whether deliberate or not) concerning the Episcopal Church, and not just its polity. The minions of ACNA and its constellation have many voices and hands at their disposal -- including, apparently, Mrs. Ashworth (in spite of her claim that this is motu propio. They are spreading lies and half-truths throughout the Communion, and the official arm of the Episcopal Church has more or less let them paint the picture. The fact that many in the leadership of the Church of England, including the Archbishop, are terrified by the noisy wing, leads them away from conversation with the actual leadership of the Episcopal Church -- Archbishop Williams, in spite of his many visits to New York, has not once paid a call on the Presiding Bishop at 815. He fears people might take it the wrong way (i.e., that he "supports" TEC). Yes, it is appalling.

There is, of course, also the problem that many within TEC cannot understand our polity or governance! (The Committee of the House of Deputies I am honored to chair is attempting to do something about that.)

John, this also represents part of the difficulty you describe -- the well-meaning liberals bend over backwards to please an aggressive minority, and then end up being kicked in the face. Let me just say this once more very clearly: the Episcopal Church did not force any of the ACNA people out. They chose to walk apart -- in the language of Windsor. TEC did in fact do all it could to keep them, but certain among them have ambitions, and others are purists who cannot accept compromise -- so it often is with schismatics. A move on the part of the Church of England to "reach out" to ACNA would be a classical example of dysfunction and codependency. A better approach would be to let them alone and allow them to work out their own issues -- and to thrive or to perish (if, as they claim, God is on their side they should have no doubts.)

Of course, there is also the problem of what it means to be in communion -- and by recognizing ACNA Archbishop Williams would be taking a step towards the very thing he'd opposed in a speech some years ago: the image of a this-or-that Anglican church on one corner and a so-and-so Anglican church on the next. Finally, ACNA is not by any means "evangelical" --- though self-styled Evangelicals do make up a portion of it. I think any number of SSC members in ACNA would be surprised to hear themselves described as Evangelicals!

Fr. J., I do not think the analogy holds, at least as you present it. The primary issue in the separation of the Church of England from the Church of Rome was not primarily concerned with a return to primitive doctrine, but a return to Constantinian (and conciliar) polity: the notion of the autonomy of national churches, under royal or imperial protection, countering the claims of papal jurisdiction. The claim is that the property in fact belong to the national church -- the very claim now being made not by ACNA, but by TEC. So you have the analogy backwards. The underlying principle is that a national or provincial church has ultimate governing authority over all of its member dioceses and parishes. Rome claimed a universal jurisdiction which could not in fact be traced back before the early middle ages (and was never a reality in the East), and what England did was reassert its ancient right to self-government. Eventual toleration allowed non-C of E churches to function, outside the establishment.

Lionel, you're welcome. I do hope Rowan gains a spine on this one, and realize how destructive to his own goals such a recognition would be: the Balkanization of the Anglican Communion!

Jim Naughton said...

I wanted to pick up on a point that John made regarding TEC's loss of conservatives. There is certainly a perception that we have lost significant numbers of conservatives, but the facts don't vear it out.

If you take ACNA's own numbers, subtract out the Reformed Episcopal Church which split with us in the 19th century and make an estimate of the AMiA folks who were never Episcopalians to begin with (there are lots of former Presbyterians in AMiA, especially in the South) you arrive at a figure in the vicinity of 60,000 former Episcopalians who now belong to ACNA. That's about 3 percent of the Church. And this estimate may be a shade high, because at least some of the ACNA folks are Canadian. There are far more theologically conservative people in the Episcopal Church than there are in ACNA.

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

Thanks, Jim, for these facts. I was intending to avoid the numbers issue, but it is helpful to correct the false impressions that the Episcopal Church is "divided" [with the implication this means "in two"].

The more important point for me is that the whole ACNA effort is in fact the opposite of what it purports to be. People who have chosen to split from the recognized branch of Anglicanism in the US and Canada, simply because they did not wish to remain in the big tent that is American Anglicanism (I think the same is true of Mexico) in which they were welcome to stay -- though not with the ability to control, are now flying a flag of "unity." The issue is simple: will the Anglican Communion remain a big tent with a good deal of provincial variety (within and between), will it coalesce into networks of like-minded people across provinces, or harden even further into a Balkanized set of officially recognized constituencies, or, as the worst case scenario, simply bow to the works-righteousness of the false "evangelicals" and become a sect or cult instead of a truly catholic expression of the Nicene faith?

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

I just posted this comment at Thinking Anglicans:

Adoption of this motion will begin the formal Balkanization of the Anglican Communion, if non-geographical Balkanization is possible. A patchwork of affinity groups, some of them not in communion with others, all claiming to be in communion with a central hub? Is that a Communion? It sounds like less than we have at present, messy as it is, not more. There are three Anglican Churches in North America: one in Canada, one in the US (which also includes some non-US dioceses as relics of its missionary history), and one in Mexico. We do not need a third "non-geographical" province to assuage the consciences of those unable to accept the actions of the legitimate governing synods of their respective provinces.

Let us not formalize the schism.

WSJM said...

Tobias, I had not realized that Abp Williams had never made a call on the Presiding Bishop (I assume you include both Bp Griswold and Bp Jefferts Schori) at 815 while he was in New York. I find that scandalous. Did he visit 815 while he was in New York in September 2001? (Granted, that was not an ideal time to go visiting, when there were other pressing issues down on Wall Street, but still...) It's my understanding (OCICBW) that he never showed up at any of our parishes while he was writing his Dostoevsky book at Georgetown.

I'm currently in the middle of reading "Tokens of Trust." It's very good. +Rowan should read it.

Ormonde Plater said...

If trustees violate the conditions of a trust, or are in any way unfaithful trustees, are they not subject to civil and perhaps even criminal penalties?

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

Bill, that is my understanding -- that he has not darkened the portico at 815, the one emblazoned with the motto "Whose service is perfect freedom." Nice note on Tokens of Trust -- Rowan seems to have a knack for not making connections between the various clusters of his internal mind. At GC 09 I was astounded to hear him talk about the world economy in terms of the need for greater decentralization and a multi-centered world economy -- and fail to apply the same model to the economy of the Church!

Ormonde, I think the civil actions are precisely what are at issue in most of the lawsuits. I'm by no means expert in trust law, but I suspect this rarely goes to criminal court, as people would argue they are acting in good faith, even if the court finds they are not.

And now I'm off on a few days of retreat....

John Sandeman said...

Jim,
I was very careful to avoid the words "division" or "split" precisely because those who have left TEC for ACNA are a tiny proportion of Episcopalians. It seems to me that however careful I am writing on a progressive blog I am liable to be "corrected" for something I did not write. I am sure that some posters here will have a a parallel experience elsewhere!
The person from the CofE I quoted is no naive liberal, instead he was pointing out a problem the TEC (with a small number of conservatives) has posed for the CofE Liberals. If evangelicals (to over simplify categories) find it hard to thrive in TEC in a more progressive and inclusive province, what can Liberals like him say to those who argue that a more progressive CofE will mean they are sqeezed out too? If the communion is to include evangelical provinces, why can't they be included in the North American provinces?
If the chips were down and only "either/or" optons were available I have no dobt he woould vote for the progressive side: but he really wants to give "both/and solutions a good try, to have both Orombi and Jefferts Schori in the Anglican Communion.
Now the most effective rebuttal, Jim, would be to show that evangelicals can and do thrive in TEC. So can I ask (because I do not know) can someone who might oppose both gay and women ministers be accepted to train for ministry in your diocese? Be accepted by the Bishops and ordained? Be appointed to any parish that might choose them? Does this happen?
(Excuse me if it looks like I am hectoring you - I appreciate that you took the time to respond to my earlier post)

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

John, I should be packing for my trip, but I want to note that in my diocese, in any case, all of your questions would be answered in the affirmative. I serve on the diocesan standing committee, and I have yet to witness anyone being disapproved for ordination for the reasons you suggest. There are at least a few rectors in the diocese who do not support the ordination of women (and our bishop is sensitive in allowing for leeway when it comes to pastoral visits); there are more who do not approve of gay clergy. The great "myth" is that evangelicals are being persecuted or "forced out." I cannot speak for the whole church, but that doesn't happen in New York -- hardly a conservative hotbed.

There is plenty of room in TEC for everyone as long as they are willing to extend the same courtesy to others. It is as simple as that.

WSJM said...

"There is plenty of room in TEC for everyone as long as they are willing to extend the same courtesy to others. It is as simple as that."

Yes, Tobias. That nails it. And not just TEC -- the whole Anglican Communion. There is room for Sydney, and there would still be room for San Joaquin and Fort Worth if they had been willing to stay.

Have a good retreat, Tobias!

John Sandeman said...

So an evangelical can attend an evangelical seminary? Does the Bishop/s encourage this? (once again I don't know - so i ask) This has been a key issue raised by those who regard themselves as forced out. (Tobias may have left....)

Erika Baker said...

John
We do already have the same problem in the CoE, and it is leading to the strange situation that men who are against women priests can still be ordained into a church that does ordain female priests and is preparing for female bishops, and that they then ask for increasingly complicated special provisions to be made to accommodate them.

Each step is a logical consequence of the next, but the result is a tough choice: either forcing people to accept what they cannot accept, or to create a virtually spearate church within a church.
Neither of those options are appealling, but there seems to be no middle way.

The question is not whether evangelicals can thrive in TEC, but more generally, whether diametically opposing views can both be lived out in one and the same church.

Martin Reynolds said...

I would like to reassure Gmre Mimi that Gregory Cameron DID contribute to the debate on her blog.

Surely the point of any such recognition by the CofE would be to give the ACNA some desperately needed legitimacy and encourage further "defections" from the substantial conservative group Jim Naughton rightly identifies as being within TEC.

It is that remaining conservative group Gregory Cameron alludes to when he says in the discussion mentioned above:
"But I have to say that from abroad we see things deeply disturbing - 10% of diocesan coventions saying that they want out, strident voices condemning each other, and seeing conspiracies under every stone, and always the cry - we're proud that we do things our way."

It is surely those remaining dissenters who have organised themselves around the Windsor Report etc who are feeding the anti-Tec fire and providing a great deal of the propaganda. I am assured they are doing all they can to damage TEC and indirectly support those who have gathered as the ACNA.

Bishop Cameron gave an interesting address at Cambridge to celebrate the bicentenary of Bishop Selwyn's birth - I am sending a copy to Tobias - he has some very interesting things to say. Perhaps Tobias will share them when he returns.

I must agree with Gregory - In many people's eyes TEC seems vulnerable, weak (I see BO33 as evidence of this) often with its head located firmly up its backside - unable to govern itself and manage its own, (who are now playing foul with everyone else) and unable to robustly defend itself and show the lies and half truths for what they are. Posturing, puffing and panting, appealing to Baptismal Covenants or saying we should back off from the Anglican Communion is not going to get anywhere.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Martin, thanks for the information that the person who engaged in the discussion at my blog was actually Bp. Cameron.

You say, "I must agree with Gregory - In many people's eyes TEC seems vulnerable, weak...." Do the powers in the Church of England know or care how they appear from this side of the pond? The main thought that comes to my mind is the hypocrisy which seems to be supported and even encouraged amongst the gay clergy. I don't mean for the conversation to turn into a contest about which church appears the worst from the other side, but I find the attitudes in the English church toward partnered gay clergy quite shocking and even scandalous.

Lionel Deimel said...

John, I think that many bishops are wary of sending students to, say Trinity School for Ministry, because (among other things) that institution has been so central to the project of undermining The Episcopal Church. Additionally, a bishop will often send a student to a school that will challenge his or her beliefs rather than simply reinforce them.

Erika, your point is well taken. Some conflicting beliefs are more easily accommodated within a single church than others. That one priest believes in transubstantiation and another does not, all things being equal, does not inevitably lead to conflict. Disagreement about issues that relate to fundamental church polity are a different matter. One cannot really have a single church at all if those opposed to women priests insist on total isolation from ordained females. This became quite obvious in The Episcopal Church about seven years ago when a Forward in Faith president was chosen as a rector for Christ Church, Accokeek, in a diocese with a female bishop. The Church of England had better decide soon whether it wants to be one church or two.

Martin Reynolds said...

Grandmere

The answer to your question is

"Probably not!"

Unlike TEC my opinion of the CofE is unprintable!

Marshall Scott said...

John, let me take a step beyond Lionel's response.

The are two seminaries in the Episcopal Church that might seem marginal (and sometimes consider themselves marginalized), one conservative Anglo-Catholic, and one conservative (or perhaps more conservative) Anglo-Evangelical. Both have prepared clergy who have found their calling in ecclesiastical communities that are now part of ACNA (some directly, and some leaving the Episcopal Church). However, the Episcopal Church still recognizes both, and as far as I know (and I've had at least one dean correct me when I spoke in error) most of the seminarians they educate intend to find their ministries in the Episcopal Church. In addition to that, there are Anglican Studies programs in several notable Methodist seminaries; and some dioceses have recognized as appropriate, if not sufficient, the programs of various non-Episcopal seminaries (around here we've had a number of graduates of a seminary of the Church of the Nazarene, a Wesleyan holiness community, end up in Episcopal orders). There also continue to be diocesan programs that expand on the traditional concept of "reading for Orders."

Individual bishops actually have a great deal of influence and authority in these decisions, influenced these days as much by what a seminarian can afford as by the theological perspective of the school. That said, none of these programs has been officially or formally excluded by the Episcopal Church, nor have their graduates been declared unacceptable as a group.

pr.primrose said...

In the admittedly liberal-leaning Diocese of Los Angeles, two Trinity graduates were ordained priests last year. One was appointed vicar of a suburban mission. The other is also serving as an assistant but at the moment I'm blanking on where.

The "victimization" claim is mostly empty PR.

dr.primrose said...

Slight amendment to my previous comment. The priest that I characterized as a "vicar" is actually a "rector."

dr.primrose said...

Sorry for comments in drops. The other recently ordained priest from Trinity in the Diocese of Los Angeles mentioned above is a vicar in suburban mission. The point of this is that not only were these Trinity graduates ordained here but that they head congregations here.

David |Dah • veed| said...

So, did I get censored or did you not get my post?

John Sandeman said...

Dr Primrose,
Thankyou for confirming that LA is a diocese where candidates from conservative seminaries are accepted. And I agree that it is significant that they head parishes. The question is how typical is that of other dioceses, left leaning or not? I hope Jim is able to tell us about Washington.
Lionel,
I wonder if Bishops who want to send conservative candidates to (more) liberal seminaries send their more liberal candidates to conservative seminaries. Some Bishops may, but others may not.
In the TEC diocese of New Hampshire, those who opposed a gay bishop did not find it easy to stay. The CofE is still struggling with having women bishops and keeping many of those opposed in, and it is not proving easy. My point is simply that they are trying, and that they believe there should be one church not two.
Marshall,
You are absolutely right - bishops have a key role in approving training and licensing. If a bishop has a pattern of not licensing ministers for one particular sort of church or approving the training of ministers of this sort of church, it is easy to see how those people will consider they cannot thrive in that diocese.
Erika,
You may be right when you say there is no middle way. Many in my diocese would agree. (And I am in the diocese of Sydney). If you are right I suspect that the Australian model will be the future for the Anglican Communion. Like our dioceses there will be a range of provinces with very different flavours and a weak central voice. and a considerable amount of cross border church planting.
I thank the posters here for their challenging and informative responses.

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

Thanks for the additional thoughts, and particularly for those providing further information for John concerning the half-truths he has no doubt heard.

Dahveed, I did not receive a post from you on this thread. Was it lengthy? I learned a year of so ago that Blogspot will silently reject any post over 4,096 characters.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Unlike TEC my opinion of the CofE is unprintable!

And you're "over there", right Martin? Then, you know better than I, surely.

Jim Naughton said...

I thought I had chimed back in, but it seems my comment didn't appear. We have conservative rectors. I think many of our postulants choose their own seminaries. Bishop Ed Salmon, retired of South Carolina, is the interim at one of our parishes. He succeeded Paul Zahl. The bishop has twice given Peter Akinola permission to speak in the diocese, although he only came once. Several years ago we passed a conscience resolution at our convention that got support from both Integrity and the American Anglican Council. All of this is well-known and can be verified by a google search. Thus the left wing gulag that is the Diocese of Washington in the minds of various fantasists with Web sites.

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

Thank you, Jim. I am on retreat but checking in from time to time. It appears there may have been a hiccup with Google / Blogspot over the last few days, and comments didn't reach me. I will have to investigate.

But again thanks for addressing the slanders about the state of the "persecuted minority" in TEC. Even the "liberal" dioceses make room for "evangelicals" (and isn't it strange that opposition to women and gays in ministry should now be the shibboleth or touchstone for evangelicalism!) but there are many, many dioceses in which, like England, gay or lesbian persons can only serve as clergy from within the closet.

John Sandeman said...

Jim, so how many evangelical parishes in Washington? How many postulants at evangelical seminaries? Tobias, what about New York? By asking those questions I don't wish to be combative, but some quantitative information might help.

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

John, I have never taken a census on this question, but knowing the parishes in NY fairly well, I would say roughly a third are "evangelical" in the mainstream sense. Perhaps a dozen are more towards the right-hand shore of that stream. Another third would likely identify as "High Church" or "Catholic" though again only perhaps a dozen or so as old-line Anglo-Catholic. The rest are somewhere in the middle.

On the "liberal/conservative" spread, I could say with confidence that about a quarter or more of the parishes would not consider someone like me as a pastor, and a few would not even wish me to preach.

I think this is a fair representation of TEC as a whole, from my experiences and travels.

As to candidates for ordination, I think the spread is about the same -- judging by the parishes that sponsor them. I also have to echo the words above that bishops will often send a candidate from an evangelical parish to a more "catholic" seminary, and vice versa, in order to broaden their experience. I know that we have candidates for ordination at Virginia Theological Seminary, which by its heritage and current practice is mainstream Evangelical.

Hope this further information is of help.

Martin Reynolds said...

Well Grandmere I am a little closer to the Church of England than you - some 18 miles away.

Though it sometimes seem a lifetime away!

eternity.biz said...

Tobias,
as ever blog argument has its traps, and its probably my fault that we have run this far without defining "evangelical" which is not all that easy to define.
Now I do not own that word so I will turn to what might be reasonable examples.
I would say for example "Christianity Today" is a mainstream evangelical magazine, and to use UK examples Oak Hill, St John's Nottingham and Wycliffe in Oxford are examples of evangelical seminaries (St John's is less conservative, Oak Hill more so).
VTS which has a partnered gay staff member, Dr. Ruthanna Hooke, and gay students able to live together (please correct me if I am wrong) stretches the definition of mainstream evangelical in my view. And yet I take your point about shibboleths.

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

"Eternity" (John?) that is a fair point, and I alluded above to the apparent fact that "Evangelical" has come to be focused in some minds on attitudes toward the sexuality of ordinands. That, to me, is a sad reduction in the meaning of "Evangelical."

I take Evangelical to mean focused on the Gospel, holding to the primacy of Christ and his saving acts (from incarnation through Resurrection -- though centered on the Cross); acknowledgment that all have fallen short, but are capable by grace through faith of participating in that salvation, etc.

However, as I've tried to make clear, even if what you really mean when you ask "Is there room for Evangelicsals?" is, "Is there a place for people who disapprove of gay or women clergy in the Episcopal Church?" the answer is a resounding Yes. They are even able to attend VTS, GTS and CDSP (more liberal seminaries.) If they choose not to because they are offended by the presence of those who do not think as they do, that is not a matter of "persecution" or "exclusion" except by their own actions. If they want to attend a seminary where no one will disagree with them on these matters, it is true that their choices are more limited. But that does not constitute exclusion.

That is the point of this discussion: the falsehood of the report passed along by Mrs. Ashworth. (Though I was primarily addressing her misrepresentation of the property disputes.)

Grandmère Mimi said...

- some 18 miles away.

Martin, from my place in the bayou country in south Louisiana, I prefer an ocean and the height of the US between me and the CofE.

I visited your country. I remember most the art museum in Cardiff, attending a tattoo at the Castle, lovely scenery in the countryside, and the Bristol Channel.

John Sandeman said...

Tobias,

"Eternity" is my newspaper not my name! I fumbled the form somehow...

John

Jim Naughton said...

John, I don't know what you mean by evangelical. It isn't synonymous with theologically conservative. If you have a point you want to make I am all for your making.

John Sandeman said...

A common definition of "Evangelical" is Bebbington's quadraliteral from his "Evangelicalism in Modern Britain: A History from the 1730s to the 1980s".
Missing from your (off the cuff?) definition is a strong belief in the authority of scripture. This moves beyond the "all things necessary for salvation" view of many/some Episcopalians to all areas of faith and life (not that scripture talks about everything!).
I would not major on a cry of "persecution" but were I to have left TEC I would have regarded it as a sad separation. I would have taken the AMiA's view of property, making a clean break. But that is easy for me to say.

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

Thank you, John. That is helpful,

Yes, my list was "off the cuff." I would have to learn more about this "authority of Scripture" issue -- as I believe most evangelicals are as selective in their application as many liberals; and if they want to go beyond the official standards of the Articles of Religion (sufficiency unto salvation; liberation from observing the ritual law; nothing to be required without proof) then I think they make a good case for being the ones who have departed from Anglican norms into some other Christian culture. That, it seems to me, is the issue here. If people want to move away from the classical Anglican formularies (while ironically holding them up as banners) into a more restrictive model for the church, that is a decision I can honor and respect, though I do wish they would remain as part of the "big tent" the Elizabethan Settlement tried to pitch. (I would say the same for the Ultramontane Anglo-Catholics.) The issue here is that Mrs. Ashworth is trying to portray ANCA not only as the "true Anglicans" but as persecuted and put-upon. The first is only true if they stay, the second is based on their refusal to stay in a place where they cannot tolerate the fact that they do not rule. Had they taken AMiA's route, I would have no quibble with their freedom to do so. However, the one foot on sea and one on land approach, and the violation of civil law inherent in what they are doing with the property, is problematical.

John Sandeman said...

Tobias,
a couple of years ago, you interacted with Dr Ashley Null on the 39 articles and scripture. He gave the 2009 Moore College lectures on the 39 articles and scripture. (I can't link them sadly). As with your earlier interaction I guess you would disagree with his thesis that the articles do imply a high view of the authority of scripture beyond things pertaining to salvation.
As to who has moved from a true Anglican position: I believe that depends a lot om where you are viewing things from. From a province like TEC, I can see that evangelicals can be seen as innovators. from a traditionally evangelical province. the more liberal parts of the communion are seem as the innovators. I this matter I can see how both points of view are logically and sincerely held.

Ormonde Plater said...

The "all things necessary to salvation" which the scriptures contain is Jesus Christ. They also contain a lot that's not about Christ and hence is not authoritative or doctrinal.

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

John, I recall the conversation with Dr. Null, and would be interested in reading his take on the Articles. I have no doubts to his (or others') sincerity, nor do I wish to enter into a "Nor our sort of Anglican" competition (I'll leave that to the Evangelicals.) All I am pointing out is the objective fact that the Articles of Religion and the Lambeth Quadrilateral (to take two important documents in the history of Anglicanism) make no reference to the "authority of Scripture" except in relation to the church; rather both refer to its "sufficiency unto salvation" -- a notion you appeared to me to dismiss as a somewhat parochial minority view peculiar to TEC (unless you were including Scotland with "Episcopalians"). I don't wish to be a "literalist" but I do think one has to begin with the actual texts. As I see it, and I think the text support my claim that the issue of "authority" is neatly balanced between church and scripture (the latter treated in some sense like a constitutional document that the church in every age must interpret and apply). Thus the Articles give authority to the church to apply the Scripture (analogously to Christ's instructions to the Apostles) and the church is limited only in that it cannot require what cannot be demonstrated from or is contrary to Scripture; it is free in areas not addressed by Scripture to offer counsel and direction, though it cannot mandate that its counsel be followed.

So the question before us is not really the abstract issue of "Does the Scripture have authority?" but rather "How does the church exercise its authority in the interpretation and application of Scripture." The vexed questions of the ordination of women and the marriage of same-sex partners (and their capacity for leadership in the church) are all matters of debate in which we look to Scripture -- but it appears to be clear that the church as a whole is not of one mind. It is not a matter of "TEC doesn't respect Scripture" but rather "TEC has come to a different interpretation of Scripture on these issues." Still, TEC as a whole is willing to tolerate in its body those who disagree -- which, again, is the point of this thread: the false claim that those who disagree are being systematically excluded or persecuted.

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

Thanks, Deacon P. That is certainly how Luther and Hooker understood it: the extent to which Scripture "preaches Christ" or "the Eternal Gospel."

John Sandeman said...

Tobias:
Article 20 Ashley Null said "‘established the definitive Anglican principles for biblical interpretation". This article takes the authority of scripture beyond things necessary for salvation. The church is not to teach anything on any subject that is contrary to scripture.
(Null gave the 2009 Moore College Lectures and taught a MA course on the articles at the college - but I can't find his material on the cool looking re-designed website!)
"..And yet it is not lawful for the Church to ordain anything contrary to God's Word written, neither may it so expound one place of Scripture, that it be repugnant to another. Wherefore, although the Church be a witness and a keeper of holy Writ, yet, as it ought not to decree any thing against the same, so besides the same ought it not to enforce any thing to be believed for necessity of Salvation."
In installing +NH as bishop it is clear that TEC has changed its mind, but there seems to be nowhere where TEC (as distinct from individuals) has endorsed an interpretation of the Bible on this matter. The GC does not appear (please correct me) to have endorsed a detailed report on what the bible says about this matter. In fact it is not uncommon to read that TECians saying that we should act and let theology follow.
Article 35 in a general manner endorses the homilies.
Thus Homilies book 2, homily 10
"Thus if yee will bee profitable hearers and readers of the holy Scriptures, ye must first denie your selues, and keepe vnder your carnall senses, taken by the outward wordes, and search the inward meaning: reason must giue place to GODS holy spirite, you must submit your worldly wisedome and iudgement, vnto his diuine wisedome and iudgement. Consider that the Scripture, in what strange fourme soeuer it bee pronounced, is the word of the liuing GOD. Let that alwayes come to your remembrance, which is so oft repeated of the Prophet Esaias: The mouth of the Lord (saith he) hath spoken it, and Almighty and euerlasting GOD, who with his onely word created heauen and earth, hath decreed it, the Lord of hostes, whose wayes are in the Seas, whose paths are in the deepe waters, that Lorde and GOD by whose worde all things in heauen and in earth are created, gouerned, and preserued, hath so prouided it."

As to your point, Tobias, about TEC and tolerance: The weakness is your phrase "as a whole". For the pewsitter, tolerance in the abstract or general sense is not the point at issue. Will his/her
bishop, encourage and support evangelical ministers through seminary and into parishes in their diocese is the key for them? And the stoutest supporters of TEC here cannot say the universal answer is "yes". Erika and Lionel have a point - some conflicting beliefs are more easily accommodated within a single church than others.

Geoff said...

Br Tobias, your description of the Diocese of New York is heartening. If I ever get to spend some time studying at General, I'd very much like to serve at the Resurrection, but I'd be very uncomfortable having to cope with a bunker mentality. Good relations with the diocese are A Good Thing.

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

John, ultimately it all comes down to hermeneutics, whether of Scripture or of the Articles and Homilies themselves. I would strongly disagree with your statement (and Null's if that is his assertion) that Article 20 requires the church not to teach on any subject that is contrary to Scripture. This is far too broad and unsupportable, though of course he is entitled to that opinioin.

First of all, the key word in the Article is not "teach" but "ordain" -- which must be taken in context with the later "decree / enforce" -- this is not about teaching per se, but about making dogmatic statements. (It has nothing to do with "ordination" in the sense of ministry!)

Beyond the interpretation of the Articles we have the interpretation of Scripture itself. Scripture nowhere explicitly states that a bishop cannot be in a same-sex relationship. You may say that is obvious -- but it is not Scriptural. I have in fact written a book on the subject, which I commend to your attention. It was published by our Church Publishing Company -- and while I do not pretend that gives it any official standing, it is an indication of the worthiness of its consideration. TEC as a whole has made it clear -- I would say abundantly clear -- both in the consecration of Gene Robinson and in the votes at GC 2009, and in a number of other resolutions, that while acknowledging a lack of complete consensus, faithful gay and lesbian couples are in fact living within the bounds of Christian morality, and that the Scripture does not speak to this in a negative way. As I have written an entire volume on the subject, I don't wish to recapitulate my version of the argument here.

As to tolerance, you misunderstand me. By "as a whole" I did not mean in the abstract or in general. I am merely acknowledging the fact that there are some particular people in TEC who are less than tolerant of the Evangelical position. You now appear to have changed your level of evidence or standard, from "no persecution" to "universal acceptance." (For instance, an Evangelical would very likely not be sponsored by St. Clement's Church, Philadelphia -- but I doubt an Evangelical would even wish to be a member of that parish!) I am simply noting the fact that TEC is not monochrome, and parish differs from parish, diocese from diocese. But that being said, I know of no diocese in TEC in which an Evangelical would be denied ordination on the basis of being an Evangelical, as a matter of practice. (There may be reasons for denying acceptance into ministry for other reasons.)

I agree with Erika on the issue of the ordination of women being a bit more difficult. Absolute opposition to the ordination of women is very rare in TEC, at least in my experience. TEC has moreover made the ordination of women a part of its ordinal -- thus it becomes more difficult to "protect" someone who goes beyond simple disapproval and denies the possibility that women can be ordained and holds that position as an article of belief.

So at this point, I am not sure what else to say. We have wandered rather far from the matter of property disputes; I think I have answered your initial questions about how possible it is for an Evangelical to function in TEC. Ultimately, are you suggesting that schism is the only way forward?

John Sandeman said...

Tobias, The article also contains the word "expound". The church is not to "expound one place of Scripture, that it be repugnant to another".
So the church is required not to teach against scripture, in that it is teaching from scripture. And given that TEC uses a lectionary, Sunday sermons are surely scripture based.
I agree with you that the consecration of Bishop Robinson and various GC motin amounts to a declaration by TEC that "gay and lesbian couples are living within the bounds of Christian morality" as TEC sees it.
Yet that is different from a declaration that scripture does not negatively speak to it. It MAY be that some in TEC believe that scripture speaks negatively but that the church can move on from St Paul. It is impossible to tell - the votes for Bishop Robinson may reflect many different understandings of scripture.
I think it is reasonable to suggest that acceptance of evangelicals or some other type of christian thinking in a body of christians should in an episcopally orgainised denomination be measured at the diocesan level. So if by "universal acceptance" you mean "generally accepted in each/most diocese/s" I plead guilty!
I simply don't know whether schism is the only way forward. I have (reluctantly) to acknowledge that Erika and people who argue similarly from within the evangelical camp have a point.
I rather hope that the CofE can come up with a system that allows women bishops and those who believe that they should not exist to live together in the same church. After all we have had catholic and reformed views of holy communion in the same church for centuries, why split on gender?
Yet I know of one minister who believes in an all male priesthood who has taken up an appointment in Melbourne where the regional bishop is a women and she is to conduct the induction service. (They are both evangelicals and so the FiF anglo catholic theory of 'taint' is not an issue.)
My guess is that the Bishop is prepared to induct someone she knows believes she should not be a bishop, and will teach that way, and that the minister is prepared to be inducted by her, respecting her as a person. Australians don't much go in for obeying bishops as a rule - we have an egalitarian ethos.
I wonder though whether an outspoken opponent of women's ordination would make it in TEC?

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

Thank you, Johm. Not to rehearse my discussion with Dr. Null, but I think you misunderstand the import of the Article concerning "expound" and draw a mistaken conclusion from it. The issue in the sentence you cite is the practice of setting one text of Scripture against another -- not the interpretation of a particular passage of Scripture in and of itself. As I noted to Dr. Null, the King's Men (including Cranmer) were precisely guilty of this when they overruled the Deuteronomy Levirate provision with the Levitical brother's wife prohibition -- which is what the Articles forbid. Instead they should have taken the two texts in consonance, with the incest-by-affinity law having one specified exception: a childless brother's widow. Of course, that isn't what Henry wanted.

And yes, there are many different readings of Scripture on the issues surrounding sexuality, as there are on many others. So it is true that no specific magisterial declaration has been made declaring that Scripture isn't against X, neither is there one affirming the positive. In the absence of such an explicit reference to Scripture's position, one must rely on the statements that do exist concerning same-sex couples -- which is, as I hope you would admit -- the rationale for the upset by the Evangelicals: they know what the position of TEC is and they don't like it.

Finally, I am all for coexistance -- as you point out, we have managed to embrace dual or multiple opinions concerning the two sacraments mandated of Christ, so to do the same for things "commonly called Sacraments" and perhaps of merely human devising (isn't that the Evangelical view?) As you admit, there is at least one woman bishop evangelical; and I can attest that there are plenty of gay and lesbian Evangelicals -- and in fact I myself place a high premium on the authority of Scripture: which is precisely why I object when people assert it says something that it doesn't.
I think an outspoken opponenent of WO would have trouble, as I alluded. But then, one wonders why an outspoken opponent of WO would want to be in TEC; and this is where self-exclusion comes in.

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

Dear Geoff,
Thanks for stopping by -- you would find NY a very diverse and welcoming place. While I don't know the rector at Resurrection well, we have met and he is cordial and caring, and struggling, as so many of us do, with the difficulties of aging buildings and an increasingly anti- or non-Christian (or at least church-oriented) culture.