Saturday, March 1, 2008

'It's a tragedy for the Church' - Archbishop Venables
February 28, 2008

Archbishop of the Southern Cone, Gregory Venables was interviewed on CBC Radio in Canada earlier this week.

It's very very sad that it should come to this, it's a tragedy for the church, for the church in Canada and for the church throughout the world - but it shows how serious the division is. We are grateful for this transcript of the interview (the audio is available here in RealAudio format). Questions are from CBC's The Current presenter Anna Maria Tremonti -

Also joining us was The Most Reverend Gregory James Venables, Presiding Bishop of the Province of the Southern Cone. He's also the Bishop of Argentina and the leader of the parishes that have split with the Anglican Church of Canada. Archbishop Gregory James Venables spoke to us from Buenos Aires.

What is your response to the recent votes here in Canada, what do you think of these decisions?

It's very, very, sad that it should come to this, it's a tragedy for the church, for the church in Canada and for the church throughout the world - but it shows how serious the division is. This has never happened before. It has happened significantly with very large groups in the United States in recent years and recently with a whole diocese moving - and now it's happening in Canada. It shows how serious this division is and how strong the convictions are which are pulling the church apart.

In your view is this solely about the Canadian churches stand on homosexuality? Does it go beyond that?

No. This is about two versions of Christianity which are in a strong state of difference. You've got the original biblical Christianity which the church, the Christian church throughout the world has held to over the past two thousand years and then you've got this new liberal post-modern Christianity which has evolved especially in the western world over the last 100 years or so. It's like two ships that have gradually pulled apart and can longer really sail together and the trouble is it's pulling the church apart as it does that.

And how did you personally, in Argentina, get involved with the Canadian congregations?

We've got good links with folk in Canada, we are all a part of the Americas. Also I had been a part of the Primates' debate on this for a long time now and therefore I'd been in contact with Canadians who'd been in touch with us and discussed things with us and asked our advice and that's what has led to this situation - that in the end they came to us and said, "Look we are going to have to break away from something we can no longer walk with - will you please give us somewhere to live while this thing works itself out?" and we talked about it with other Primates - there were a number of provinces that were prepared to make an offer to receive these congregations and in the end the decision was to come down to us.

And in practical terms what does that mean to take on these Canadian parishioners?

It means basically that these people cannot say that they agree with their local Church, with the national Church where they are, but they want to remain within the Anglican church and - since they can't remain within the Anglican Church if they leave the Canadian Church and don't go anywhere else - they are coming to us for shelter until the situation is resolved. We hope it will be a temporary thing and that something more practical and able to be worked out locally will come out of this in the long term. As it stands there are two bishops who will be looking after these congregations, two retired Canadian bishops who will be doing the practical work for us but the overall coverage will be under the Province of the Southern Cone which includes the six countries you mentioned.

And along with the issue of faith when it comes to the running of a church there are legal and financial considerations how do those shake down with these changes?

Well I suppose the most difficult thing will be where the clergy go in terms of stipend, pensions and medical coverage and all that which implies an enormous sacrifice, which shows again how serious this is and how strong the convictions are. But also the tragedy is going to be over buildings - who actually owns the buildings. Because although buildings are secondary in our faith, the church is the temple - we are the temple and God lives in His people - but even so buildings are very very precious to us and they mean a lot, especially locally where families have lived for a long time in one locality so that is going to be probably the hardest thing of all. And what's been happening in the states is tragic because there are multi-million (dollar) court cases going on at this moment in which even members of vestries are being taken to court for 'abandoning the communion' as they say.

I can hear the regret in your voice.

Yeah. Oh yeah. It's heartbreaking. It's heartbreaking. It's tragic because the church is meant to be a demonstration of love - and one of the things that really breaks us up is that there seems to be so little love in this. I said at a Primates' meeting a while back that in a marriage, generally, in spite of difficulties you keep going because you want to, because you love each other and in spite of the fact you face terrible problems sometimes you want to stay together and that's what keeps you going. But there seems to be little love and little desire to remain together and that is the tragic revelation of this situation.

And yet we're talking about a tug of war over a view of Christianity.

Over two versions, one which is the ancient historic version and one which has grown up more recently but unfortunately you would have thought there would be enough in common to hold it together.

And do you think there is, you think there is a chance of doing that?

We thought that for a long time, we met together as Primates over and over again and every time we said, "Please don't go on with this, hold back, let's talk about this, let's find a way" - but even on one situation when we had a meeting in Brazil, with all the Primates and we put out a letter and said, "Please don't do this", within 48 hours a Canadian diocese had gone ahead with moving on same sex blessings which took our breath away, we hadn't even sent the letter out more than 48 hours I think it was. The other tragedy is, having been in this situation for so long and having taken part in it there's been very little real dialogue. There's been long silences but there hasn't been real dialogue and that is a tragedy. If Christianity is what it should be then we should be able to sit down and work it out in spite of differences and that is part of the sadness too.

Okay, well I understand there is a conference for the end of April in BC by the Anglican Network of Canada that is the group of more traditional or so-called essential Anglicans. You're going to that conference, what do you hope that will achieve?

I hope to be there. I hope it will give us a chance to clarify even more how this thing is going to work out and to affirm the position that people are taking so that there's a security within this and simply to be able to pray together and to say okay we've taken a step, how can we know be the sort of church that God wants us to be in a world that really needs to find some hope. And if the world is the creation of God what can we do to help the world find its place within that world vision.



Saturday, February 9, 2008

Blog has moved

After twenty or so posts I noticed a discrepancy in the address:

I can spell better than that, so I have reposted all the entries here to AiA at:

All future entries will be posted at the new and improved address.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

New wave of US defections

CoE Newspaper 2.01.08 p 5:

A new wave of parish defections has washed across the Episcopal Church with congregations in Tennessee, Pittsburgh and Central Florida quitting the national church in protest to its leftward drift.

The response to American church secessions however, has differed from past battles with a premium being placed on an amicable parting of the ways.

The new wave of defections has also come from “Windsor Dioceses”—dioceses whose leaders have been opposed to the innovation in doctrine and discipline made in recent years by the national church’s leadership.

While united in their opposition to the actions of the last two General Conventions, conservatives have been divided on what tactical programme to purse. With the breakaway groups now soliciting defections from conservative dioceses, traditionalist leaders within the Episcopal Church are concerned that turf battles over the remaining conservatives may weaken the remaining Evangelical and Anglo-Catholic witness within the Episcopal Church.

In the Diocese of Tennessee the bulk of Trinity Church in Winchester on Jan 6 quit the diocese for CANA, while the rector and members of Holy Cross in Murfreesboro announced that day they had joined the Church of Uganda.

Bishop John Bauerschmidt lamented the secessions, saying they were unnecessary as “Tennessee has on several occasions committed itself to the recommendations of the Windsor Report.” He noted that he was “committed to the Camp Allen principles of compliance with the recommendations of the Windsor Report” articulated by Archbishop Rowan Williams in his Advent letter.

The Bishop of Central Florida, the Rt. Rev. John W. Howe told his diocesan convention on Jan 25 that eight congregations, including the diocese’s second and fourth largest parishes, were withdrawing from the Episcopal Church.

Bishop Howe told The Church of England Newspaper the last three months had been the most difficult of his life, and the negotiations had left him exhausted. However “we have done something that has not been accomplished anywhere else. We are on the best of terms with all those leaving. And we are committed to rebuilding where there have been losses.”

In his Convention address Bishop Howe stated he understood there were some who for reasons of conscience had to withdraw. “I understand that. I don’t agree, but I don’t believe we should punish them. We shouldn’t sue them. We shouldn’t depose the clergy. Our brokenness is a tragedy. The litigation that is going on in so many places is a travesty,” he said.

“And although some seem to be trying to do so, I don’t think you can hold a Church together by taking everybody you disagree with to court,” he said.

Friday, February 1, 2008

CANA Grows Pulling in Archbishops and Bishops to Priestly Ranks

Leader Confident in Virginia Lawsuits. "We are moving forward"

By David W. Virtue

The leader of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, a Nigerian church plant of orthodox Anglicanism in the US says his church is growing with some 60 parishes (20 more in the pipeline), 120 plus clergy, and some 8,000 in attendance all in two years, making it one of the fastest growing body of orthodox Anglicans in North America. In an interview with the Rt. Rev. Martyn Minns at the Anglican Mission in the Americas Winter Conference in Dallas, David W. Virtue talked with Bishop Minns about the present state of Anglicanism in North America and CANA.

VIRTUEONLINE: Where is CANA at today?

MINNS: We are going forward and growing, adding churches, adding clergy and planting new congregations. We have 60 churches with several coming out of the Continuing Church movement, led by several archbishops and bishops from the Continuing movement. They have laid down their episcopal office to serve as priests in CANA.

VIRTUEONLINE: Are you simply monochrome or is there some diversity in your ranks?

MINNS: The episcopate and clergy is a blessed reflection of the diversity of the American populace, with significant numbers of immigrants and minorities. We are committed to modeling for American Anglicans the possibility of respecting both integrities regarding the ordionation of women within one ecclesial body.

VIRTUEONLINE: What are the distinctives of CANA?

MINNS: We are an indigenous ecclesiastical structure with representative leadership by member clergy and laity. One distinctive is that we see ourselves establishing the necessary structures for a growing church in North America along with our friends in the Common Cause Partnership.

VIRTUEONLINE: How do you differ from say the Anglican Mission in the Americas?

MINNS: It is a difference of approach, not theology or mission. We are equally committed to planting new congregations, but we are also structuring ourselves as a church fully in communion with the Province of Nigeria and the worldwide Anglican Communion.

VIRTUEONLINE: You are a church then, rather than a mission?

MINNS: We are committed to mission, but I am happy to embrace the word "church". I think the connection through Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola is seen as being positive. Those who come to us see he has taken a strong stand for the gospel. The Nigerian Church, indeed nearly all the African Anglican provinces, will not compromise in their core understanding of the gospel.

VIRTUEONLINE: So you wanted, from the beginning, to connect with an orthodox province in the Global South?

MINNS: Yes. Our desire was and is to connect with a larger structure.

VIRTUEONLINE: How long have you known Archbishop Akinola?

MINNS: We met briefly in '98 and started working closely together in the beginning of 2003.

VIRTUEONLINE: Are you pleased with what is happening in North American Anglicanism now?

MINNS: I am grieved by the brokenness of the Episcopal Church and the intransigence of the leadership in matters of faith and morals, but in the middle of this I see wonderful changes, lives are being transformed, people are offering themselves for ordination.

VIRTUEONLINE: Do you have standards for ministry comparable to the more well established educational channels and vehicles of education in Anglicanism? How well do you look after your clergy?

MINNS: All our clergy are properly educated. We have some flexibility in terms of context, but all clergy must have, at a minimum, a Bachelor's Degree or equivalent in theology. We will insist on more theological training, if necessary. We are also able to offer a comprehensive national healthcare, retirement, and insurance plan for clergy and congregational employees.

VIRTUEONLINE: In the Virginia situation, where some 12 parishes are being sued for their properties by the diocese and The Episcopal Church, the recent intervention by the Virginia Attorney General seemed to tip the scales in your favor. How do you read this?

MINNS: We are very grateful that he did intervene, and that he made it clear that the law is constitutional and that it applies to our situation.

VIRTUEONLINE: What do you hope for an outcome?

MINNS: I am hopeful, but I am still realistic. It is a complex legal case in all kinds of areas. We anticipate many appeals on a very costly, and frankly, an unnecessary journey. We had begun a process of amicable separation that could have been a model for the rest of the church, but those in power at 815 were not willing to let it happen. I am impressed by the thoroughness of the judge and his grasp of the complexities of the situation.

VIRTUEONLINE: What has happened with the lawsuits against vestries?

MINNS: My understanding is that the lawsuits have been put in abeyance and that the Episcopal Church is not proceeding with them.

VIRTUEONLINE: How are your people coping emotionally with what is going on regarding the lawsuits and their ability to minister in the midst of all this? MINNS: It is one of the hardest things going on, but they are handling it remarkably well. Some of the churches have experienced some division over this. We have lost people, but we are also planting new churches in Virginia. Our larger churches are seeing congregational growth. It is a very serious situation, but people are handling it pretty well. VIRTUEONLINE: What about the cost financially?

MINNS: There is an incredible cost financially. Our money is coming from individual parishes, churches and individuals and parishioners versus a line of credit and selling properties, which the Diocese of Virginia is doing. There is a big difference here; our people are fighting this battle. We have a lot of lawyers, some are working pro bono or giving time sacrificially, but our costs are comparable with the diocese. I think the national Church is spending a significant amount but less than the diocese.

VIRTUEONLINE: You are here in Dallas at the Anglican Mission in the Americas Winter Conference. Are you comfortable here?

MINNS: I am very comfortable and delighted to be here to see a healthy and growing Anglican mission. I am seeing lots of old friends. I have the vision of a united orthodox province that is stronger than ever. I was invited to come here and I accepted that invitation. It is important to see and experience encouragement and practical instruction going on. END ------------------------------

Editor's Note: St. Andrew's Anglican Church in Vestal is the CANA parish in Central NY.

The Global Anglican Communion and the Anglican Orthodoxy

The Rev. Prof. Stephen Noll
Vice Chancellor, Uganda Christian University
Mukono, Uganda

It is a daunting task to be asked to define orthodoxy.[1] Such a task has occupied the minds of great theologians and councils throughout Christian history, and I consider myself hardly up to the task. However, in looking to the future of Global Anglicanism, it is necessary to put one’s hand to the plough and begin a furrow.

The need to define or describe Anglican orthodoxy today has an urgency about it, because of the actions of the Episcopal Church (TEC) and other Provinces of the Communion in blessing homosexuality against the clear teaching of Scripture, the historic Church and the Resolution of the Lambeth Conference 1998. Although this issue has dominated discussions, it is clear that it is symptomatic of a larger abandonment of biblical teaching and authority on fundamental matters of the faith. The fact that Bishop John Spong, a man who has denied virtually every article of the Christian faith, continues a bishop in good standing in TEC, while orthodox bishops are threatened with deposition for their witness speaks for itself.
Global Anglican Orthodoxy: A Blueprint

I have chosen to adapt an essay I wrote in 2006 titled “The Global Anglican Communion: A Blueprint.”[2] This essay sought to outline the essential elements necessary to an orthodox Anglican Communion Covenant which would serve both to correct the errors present in the Communion and to guide the Communion into the future.

The blueprint follows the framework of the Lambeth Quadrilateral. This formulary emerged from the General Convention of the Episcopal Church meeting in Chicago in 1886 and was intended as an ecumenical statement among the many American denominations and was adopted by the young Lambeth Conference in 1888 as an expression of what we now call Anglicanism.[3] In my view, it can continue to inform a worldwide fellowship of Anglicans and at the same time offer an ecumenical platform from which to seek unity with other Christian churches. Although the Quadrilateral is not a sufficient statement of Christian doctrine, it does contain the theological DNA which can guide us in articulating our ecclesial identity, along with the Articles of Religion and the Book of Common Prayer. Together these formularies offer a kind of “branding” for Anglican bodies in their various social contexts.

Finally, let me suggest for strategic and tactical reasons that a statement of Anglican orthodoxy keep in close touch with the idea of a Covenant. Strategically the idea of a Covenant is a good one. The Quadrilateral itself was a kind of preamble to Anglican orthodoxy for the emerging Communion. Going back even further, one might suggest that the Articles of Religion were part of an Anglican Covenant before there was a Communion, as Thomas Cranmer intended the Articles to form the basis for an ecumenical consensus among the churches of the Reformation.[4]

The idea of an Anglican Covenant is also relevant in the present political context of the Communion. Those attending the Global Anglican Future Conference should maintain ties with those orthodox leaders who are working on the Communion Covenant. It seems unlikely that a final Covenant from Canterbury, filtered now through the Anglican Consultative Council, will be sufficiently crisp to deal with the present crisis. However, the opportunity may arise herafter to negotiate an ecumenical Anglican Covenant that will serve as a means of warding off heresy and will chart the future of orthodox Anglicanism.
The Role of Scripture in the Church

The Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament, as the revealed Word of God (CLQ), containing all things necessary to salvation,” and as being the rule and standard of faith.

It hardly needs repeating that the foremost objection of the Global South churches to the homosexual agenda is the fact that it is “contrary to Scripture” (Lambeth 1.10) and that this spurning of the Bible as “God’s Word written” has infected the entire structure of authority within the most “progressive” churches of the Anglican Communion. Recovering Anglican orthodoxy must therefore include a restoration of Scripture to its rightful place of authority. I propose the following classic traits of Scripture as benchmarks of a restored biblical orthodoxy.

The Primacy of Scripture. Lambeth 1998 passed Resolutions affirming the primacy, or the primary authority, of Scripture in matters relating to Christian faith and life.[5] Primacy is not a call for bare submission to a sacred text, as in Islam, but includes several closely associated principles.

* The Word as medium of the Gospel. The Reformation began with a dynamic sense of the recovery of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as a verbal revelation, originating in God Himself as the Word (John 1:1-18). Hence the primary medium of communication is “preaching the Gospel” (Romans 10:14).
* The self-authenticating character of Scripture. Although the Bible is an accommodated form of God’s revelation, God “lisping” to us (as Calvin put it), it is self-authenticating and cannot be “proved” by human science or Church edict.
* Scripture as a means of grace. The Word of God presented in Scripture convicts and evokes faith in hearers. The same Spirit that guided the authors testifies in the heart of readers.[6]

The Unity of Scripture. The Reformation also declared that, despite the differences within and between the Testaments, a fundamental consistency undergirds the various books of the Bible.

* Mystery and unity. As God’s triune nature is a transcendent mystery made known in the fullness of time (1 John 1:1-4), so biblical unity can include paradox and progressive development, without causing confusion in its overall message.
* Hermeneutical center. The center of the Bible is the Gospel of Christ himself. A biblical theology must be evangelical, acknowledging the role of the Old Testament as preparation and of the New Testament as fulfillment, avoiding Old Testament-based legalism or New Testament-based libertinism.
* Harmony of Scripture texts. The principle of “Scripture interpreting Scripture” is found in Cranmer’s Collect which urges ordinary Christians to “mark” i.e., compare, various passages in the Bible. As for the Church, it may not “so expound one place of Scripture, that it be repugnant to another” (Article XX).

The Clarity of Scripture. The clarity of Scripture was the basis on which the Reformers insisted on a vernacular Bible that could be read and understood by the simplest “ploughboy.”

* Simplicity of Scripture. The Reformers recovered the “plain sense” (sensus literalis) of the Bible.[7] Simplicity is not anti-intellectual. In fact, it is an invitation to study original languages and historical and social context.
* External and internal clarity. Scripture is transparent, not a secret Gnostic document. External clarity is the way Scripture conveys the Word publicly to all who would come with a seeking heart. Because of the hardness of the human heart, internal clarity is required through the grace of the Holy Spirit. One must “have ears to hear.”
* Exposition. “How can I understand unless I have an interpreter?” (Acts 8:31). Bible reading must be accompanied by expository preaching and teaching. Even mature Christians move “from the truth to the whole truth” through regular Bible study.[8]

The Sufficiency of Scripture. The idea of the “sufficiency” of Scripture asserts both its unique efficacy and its limited focus.

* The End of Scripture – salvation. Sufficiency looks to the end or telos of Scripture, which is salvation in Christ alone (John 20:31). Any Church which is ashamed of this salvation cannot be using Scripture rightly.
* Appropriation by faith. Just as the Spirit gives inward clarity, so the means by which salvation is grasped is faith alone. Only then does reason interpret Scripture and works of love apply it.
* Trustworthiness of Scripture. Unlike human councils (Article XIX), Scripture cannot err in the sense that it is an infallible guide to salvation and a holy life. In this it diverges both from liberal caricatures and fundamentalist simplifications of fallibility and inerrancy.

In addition to an exposition of the nature of biblical authority, the Global Anglican Communion will need to grapple with the interpretation of Scripture. Again, we should draw on the resources of the Reformation, in its goal of recovering the “plain and canonical” sense of God’s Word, which is accessible for preaching, teaching and mission. At the same time, the contemporary crisis has raised issues of philosophical hermeneutics which must be addressed. The recent work of Kevin Vanhoozer, for instance, opens an avenue for developing a faithful mode of understanding Scripture as “God’s communicative action.”[9]

Finally, global Anglicanism needs to revisit the so-called Anglican tripod of Scripture, Tradition and Reason. While a tripod of three equal legs is an historical fiction and a theological Trojan horse, there is need for a reaffirmation and redefinition of the consonance of Scripture, tradition and reason, as articulated so pithily by Richard Hooker:

Be it in matter of one kind or of the other, what Scripture doth plainly deliver, to that the first place both of credit and obedience is due; the next whereunto is whatsoever any man can necessarily conclude by force of reason; after these the voice of the Church succeedeth. (Laws V.8.2)[10]

A renewed study, and in places critique, of Richard Hooker is called for in finding a way forward.
The Church’s Historic Formularies

The Apostles’ Creed, as the Baptismal Symbol (LQ); and the Nicene Creed, as the sufficient statement of the Christian faith.

“The voice of the Church,” as Hooker put it, has always been important for an Anglican Christianity that sees itself as part of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church upholding “the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints” (Jude 3).[11] Reformation Anglicans tended to look to particular classic periods as sources of authority, such as the first five centuries and four Councils. At the same time, they adopted confessional statements that addressed the new insights of Scripture study and the pressing needs of the day.

The present crisis in Anglicanism provides the opportunity to recover a modest and ecumenical confessionalism that takes into account the Great Tradition of Christian theology and adapts and applies its truths to the contemporary situation. Our Anglican heritage affords us rich resources in the Thirty-Nine Articles and Book of Common Prayer. At the same time, new challenges to orthodoxy have arisen requiring precise analysis and redefinition, such as the nature of marriage and human sexuality, the rise of modern science and technology and the place of other religions in God’s economy of salvation. I speak of modest confessionalism in the sense of a confession that guides without closing off legitimate dialogue and testing from Scripture, and ecumenical confessionalism as presenting an opportunity for the historic churches of West and East to seek together the mind of God as they face off against militant secularism on one flank and militant Islam on the other.

In his recent book How Africa Shaped the Christian Mind,” Prof. Thomas Oden argues that Africa – and he means ancient Alexandria down to present-day sub-Saharan Africa – provides both the best rationale of “right remembering” of the apostles’ teaching but also the best examples of martyrdom, “where ordinary believers were unwilling to release their Scriptures to governing authorities who might debase them.”[12]
The Church’s Mission and Sacraments

The two Sacraments – Baptism and the Supper of the Lord - ministered with unfailing use of Christ’s words of Institution and of the elements ordained by Him.

A review and reform of Anglican doctrine should not omit the nature and role of sacraments. Sacramental theology has to some extent divided orthodox Anglicans, e.g., Evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics, and one may wonder whether a renewed debate or a papering over of these differences will lead to new life. Undoubtedly renewed discussion of the nature and efficacy of the sacraments is called for among those who agree on biblical essentials.

As a small contribution to such a discussion, I would propose that sacraments should be understood within a theology of mission. The Reformation in general and the Church of England in particular seem to have been deficient in articulating a proper theology of mission. For all their virtues, the Articles of Religion have no single reference to Christ’s Great Commission to evangelize the nations.[13] Likewise, Articles neglected the Person and work of the Holy Spirit, and the Established Church often marginalized or expelled movements of “enthusiasm.” Indeed, much of the work of mission societies has been accomplished in spite of rather than with the full support of the mother Church.

In the context of state churches, the sacraments have often been regarded as rights and rites of national identity. This was not true in the apostolic church, nor does it work today (e.g., what does it mean that the Church of England claims 26 million members?). So I propose we take a dynamic approach to the Gospel sacraments, an approach which I believe is found in the Pentecostal teaching of the apostles (Acts 2:38-47). From this preaching I think we can identify the following marks of the missionary church:[14]

* The Church preaches the Gospel to its own children and to those who are far off - to the churched and unchurched, to the youth of the next generation and to those whom we today call “unreached peoples.”
* It calls people urgently to be saved from the idols of the present age in expectation of the imminent return of Christ.
* Baptism is a response to preaching, and it signs and seals individuals as members of the Body of Christ.
* It expects believers individually and the whole Church corporately to be filled with the Holy Spirit.
* It expects and experiences healing and miracles in its midst.
* It is growing in numbers, often with remarkable leaps forward.
* It is devoted to apostolic doctrine, koinonia, worship and Eucharist.
* It is committed to radical sharing of goods and hospitality.
* It respects authority (the temple) but circumscribes that authority in view of the ascension and reign of Christ.

If the Anglican Communion can orient itself to our Lord’s Great Commission to make disciples of all nations, perhaps it can also reorient its sacramental heritage to convey the eschatological presence of Christ with his Church.[15] Another gap in Anglican theology and practice – not unconnected with its lack of missionary zeal, I suspect – is the conviction that Jesus Christ will return, suddenly and imminently, to judge the living and the dead.[16] As eschatological signs, the sacraments should be seen as incandescent badges of Christian identity: incandescent both in the sense of aglow with the Spirit but also as antagonistic to the world. Global Anglican orthodoxy will need to look not only for faithful administration of Gospel sacraments but for signs of the Spirit and power that accompany it (Mark 16:15-18).[17]
Anglican Ecclesiology

The Historic Episcopate, locally adapted in the methods of its administration to the varying needs of the nations and peoples called of God into the Unity of His Church.

The present crisis in the Anglican Communion has revealed a constitutional weakness in its doctrine of the Church, its ecclesiology. In response to a blatant attack on the apostolic faith, the worldwide Body and its “Instruments of Unity” have proved unable to enforce straightforward discipline of heretical members. This failure has led many to conclude that Anglicanism is fundamentally flawed, and they have departed for other bodies.

We must start by admitting that global Anglican polity has leaned far too heavily on the benevolent patriarchy of the Established Church and the British Empire. The idea that a rapidly expanding body of Global South churches must be governed from a historic See dominated by a secular Government and a compromised mother church is, to be blunt, a dangerous exercise of nostalgia.

Does this mean that the historic episcopate is itself obsolete. I do not think so. Anglicans can rightly uphold episcopal governance and the value of the historic continuity of its ministry, even as they uphold the priesthood of all believers. For all the failures of bishops, we cannot blame the office; indeed we can argue that a rightly ordered episcopacy has provided stability and faithfulness over the centuries and is often emulated by free-church leaders. The second clause of the Quadrilateral – “locally adapted” – qualifies a rigid view of prelacy and specifically relates it to global mission, “the varying needs of nations and peoples called” into the Church. As an example of the latter, one thinks of the Church of Nigeria’s strategy of sending missionary bishops into under-evangelized portions of its own dioceses, or even of another jurisdiction.[18]

The primary role of a bishop is that of a willing and apt pastor-teacher (Ephesians 4:11; 1 Peter 5:2; 2 Timothy 2:24). Bishops are to be stewards (Titus 1:7), which means they bear the final accountability for the state of the Church. To be sure, episcopal authority is not the same as episcopal totalitarianism – an attitude which many Global South churches need to address. The “household of God” which the bishop oversees (1 Timothy 3:4-5) is a “mixed regime” with subsidiary units – congregations, parishes, dioceses and officers, clergy and lay – which must be represented in its governing structures.

We must rethink the role of bishops and polity at the Communion level. Just as national politics and international politics operate on different levels, so also it is right that national churches have autonomy within an overarching framework an international covenant. Much of the work of the church should be “locally adapted,” although we should acknowledge that the electronic communications revolution has brought these local contexts much closer together than heretofore.

This pattern of episcopal governance can function at the level of worldwide Anglicanism. This will involve reform, though not total rejection, of the current Instruments of Unity, including the following elements:

* A synod of bishops should meet regularly (decennially) and have authority to address matters of doctrine, discipline and mission.
* An executive body of Primates should be authorized to carry out the will of the synod in between meetings.
* A presiding Primate should serve as a focus of unity. Canterbury or another historic see could function as a locus of unity as well. However, such a Primate should be elected by the synod of bishops.
* A secretariat should assist these Instruments, with accountability to all. The current Anglican Consultative Council and Anglican Communion Office have failed to function in this way.

In one sense, this polity is not far removed from the “Instruments of Unity” that have evolved of late in the historic Anglican Communion. The likeness may be deceptive: a diseased body may look like a healthy body, at least in the earlier stages of the illness. I am saying that the fault is not with the outward form of the Anglican Communion but with the doctrinal deviation from its apostolic and Reformation origins. Orthodoxy by its very nature must identify and renounce heresy and discipline false teachers, as a last resort, expel them.[19] If the Canterbury-based Anglican Communion continues to tolerate heresy in its midst and welcome false teachers to its councils, then the day will come when an orthodox assembly must break communion with Canterbury and set up alternative structures. Since the trend-lines seem to doom the current Communion to endless compromise or worse, the sooner the shadow structures begin take form the better.

Finally, the global Anglican Communion will need to evaluate the role of the churches in relation to the secular realm. This is classic problem of political theology. Traditional patterns, such as the Established churches are obsolete. At the same time, new models proposed by liberation theology have proved ineffective. I think the political theology of Oliver O’Donovan, while not spelling out specific solutions, offers a framework for developing a theology of church and state under the Lordship of the ascended Christ.[20]
The Spirit and Future of Anglican Orthodoxy

Like any blueprint, the above-mentioned elements of Anglican orthodoxy merely define the principles and structure of a reformed Anglican orthodoxy. Without the structure, it is unlikely that the life of the Communion will long endure. But at the same time, without the Spirit speaking to and working through the churches and their members, such a blueprint will be an empty vessel.

It is not for me to try to capture the wind of the Spirit in a bottle. But I would suggest that Anglican orthodoxy should be:

* Bold in proclamation and clever in apologetics
* Visionary in mission outreach
* Prayerful in all things
* Ecumenical in openness to brothers and sisters in Christ
* Vigilant in guarding the faith and awaiting the return of the Lord

I have attempted to sketch a blueprint of a Global Anglican orthodoxy that will embody the best elements of our tradition and mobilize Anglicans to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth. I believe that if the Global South churches and their allies will take bold action at this time, we shall see a new reformation in the Anglican tradition, one which reflects the movement of the Spirit of God in our day. If these churches, like the Church of Smyrna (Revelation 2:8-11), remain faithful, Christ will give abundant life. Jesus Christ is Lord and His kingdom reigns over all. The gates of hell will not prevail against His Church, which is His Body. Once we lift up our eyes from our own troubles and look at the worldwide scene, we shall realize that the Gospel is not in retreat but is beckoning to the uttermost corners of the globe. As Anglicans we have a stake in the global mission of Christ, and we have something to offer it from the riches of our heritage and our worldwide fellowship of churches.

Brothers and sisters, remember Lot’s wife. The present order is passing away. Behold the Global Anglican Communion is coming.

28 January 2008

[1] There is even need to justify the “orthodoxy” as the chief term of reference in this case. Clearly Anglican orthodoxy is to be differentiated from Eastern Orthodoxy. It has been chosen as being broad enough to include various groups of Anglicans – Evangelical, Anglo-Catholic and Charismatic – who agree on the essentials of the faith. At the same time “orthodoxy” recalls the position of those in the patristic period who identified and contended against its opposite, heresy.

[2] The best available version (written and oral) of this address can be found at

[3] The versions of the “Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral (CLQ) and the text approved by Lambeth (LQ) are slightly different.

[4] Cranmer’s design for the Church of England included reformed Articles, Common Prayer and Canons. See Diarmaid MacCulloch, Thomas Cranmer: A Life (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1996) pages 500-513.

[5] In Resolution III.1, the Conference “reaffirms the primary authority of the Scriptures, according to their testimony and supported by our own historic formularies.” In Resolution III.5, “The Authority of the Holy Scriptures,” it likewise “affirms that our creator God, transcendent as well as immanent, communicates with us authoritatively through the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments; and in agreement with the Lambeth Quadrilateral, and in solidarity with the Lambeth Conference of 1888, affirms that these Holy Scriptures contain ‘all things necessary to salvation’ and are for us the ‘rule and ultimate standard’ of faith and practice.”

[6] In Uganda, the first Christian converts were called “readers” as the Bible was the first text to become authoritative in an otherwise oral culture.

[7] The meaning of “literal sense” has been revived in contemporary hermeneutics. I defended its use before the House of Bishops in 1992. See “Reading the Bible as the Word of God,” in The Bible’s Authority for Today’s Church, ed. Frederick H. Borsch (Valley Forge, Pa.: Trinity Press International: 1993) pages 133-167.

[8] This phrase is borrowed from Meir Sternberg, The Poetics of Biblical Narrative: Ideological Literature and the Drama of Reading (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1985) pages 50-51. It suggests that the biblical writers were capable of conveying a plain sense which leads the reader into a deeper consideration of its meaning without overturning its surface meaning.

[9] See esp. Is There Meaning in This Text? (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1998), and First Theology: God, Scripture and Hermeneutics (Downers Grove: Intervarsity Press, 2002) which lay the groundwork for his dogmatic work, The Drama of Doctrine: A Canonical-Linguistic Approach to Christian Theology (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2005). See my review, “Post Conservatives and Post-Liberals: Reflections on Kevin Vanhoozer’s The Drama of Doctrine,” at

[10] Note that Hooker’s “credit and obedience” includes both theological dogmas but also what the Articles call the “Commandments called moral.” The idea that one could affirm the Creeds while disobeying the Commandments is foreign to classic Anglicanism.

[11] Note that the oneness of the Church is based on the “once-for-allness” (hapax) of the apostolic tradition entrusted to it.

[12] How Africa Shaped the Christian Mind: Rediscovering the African Seedbed of Western Christianity (Downers Grove: IVP Books, 2007) page 128. In this quotation, Oden is thinking of North Africans like Cyprian, but one cannot help but remember the Uganda martyrs as well.

[13] Granted, Article XVIII states that “Holy Scripture doth set out unto us only the name of Jesus Christ whereby men must be saved.” Still, the context of the Article seems to suggest doctrinal contention rather than missionary impulse.

[14] Curiously, the “Covenant for Communion in Mission” also has nine bullets. Only one of these, the sharing of goods, appears in both lists. The missio dei theology of this document emphasizes the “love, justice and joy which Jesus inaugurated” rather than His salvation from sin and death, as appears primary in Peter’s sermon.

[15] O’Donovan, On Thirty-Nine Articles: A Conversation with Tudor Christianity (Leicester: Paternoster Press, 1986), page 126.

[16] Note the omission of Cranmer’s articles on eschatology (#39-42).

[17] Even if the longer ending of Mark is not original, it indicates the linking of sacraments with mission in the early church.

[18] It is ironic that as Lambeth 2008 addresses “bishops in mission,” the one Province that has most successfully equipped bishops for mission will be absent. However, it is likely that Nigeria’s experience of missionary bishops would not be heeded any more than its lessons in the Decade of Evangelism.

[19] Note in this regard that the current crisis does not involve Bishop Gene Robinson so much as those in TEC who elected, confirmed and ordained him, knowing that his life was openly homosexual.

[20] O’Donovan, The Desire of the Nations: Rediscovering the Roots of Political Theology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999).

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

DALLAS: Consecrations of Three Bishops to AMiA Challenge Diocesan

"We need more missionaries", says AMIA Leader

By David W. Virtue

With more than 1,500 orthodox Anglicans watching, three Anglican Mission
in the Americas (AMiA) priests were consecrated by a cross section of
the Anglican Communion's bishops during an emotional three-hour worship
service in a ballroom of the Adam's Mark Hotel in Dallas.

The Rt. Rev. Terrell Glenn Jr. of Pawley's Island, SC; the Rt. Rev. John
Miller III of Melbourne, Fla.; and the Rt. Rev. Philip Jones from Little
Rock, Arkansas were consecrated using a service drawn from the new Book
of Common Prayer (1662 revised) and modern praise and worship music. The
service concluded the three-day winter conference of the Anglican
mission that brought together a bevy of evangelical motivational

Present at the consecration were two sitting African Archbishops,
Emmanuel Kolini of Rwanda and the Most Revd Justice Ofei Akrofi of West
Africa. Two retired Southeast Asian Archbishops were on hand including
the Most Rev. Moses Tay and the Most Rev. Yong Ping Chung. A Canadian
bishop, the Rt. Rev. Donald Harvey, under the authority of the Province
of the Southern Cone and 18 other Anglican bishops from the US, England,
Africa and the entire House of Bishops of the Province of Rwanda
participated. A number of Common Cause bishops participated from nine
jurisdictions including Nigeria, Uganda and Kenya as well as two bishops
from the Reformed Episcopal Church. Two retired Episcopal bishops, the
Rt. Rev. C. FitzSimons Allison and the Rt. Rev. Alex Dickson also
participated in the consecration as did the Bishop of Pittsburgh, the
Rt. Rev. Robert Duncan.

The conference itself drew clergy and lay people from across the United
States, Canada, Rwanda, West Africa, Southeast Asia and the UK. The
Rwandan Church's House of Bishops ratified the choice of the three new
bishops last year to accommodate the growing numbers of new converts and
establishing of new churches on this side of the Atlantic by AMiA.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has been critical of such diocesan
incursions and has spoken out directly against them.

Rowan Williams went public with a letter to Canadian Archbishop Fred
Hiltz in condemning the incursion into Canada by the Archbishop of the
Southern Cone, but he also made it clear that he was powerless to stop
conservative Canadian and U.S. congregations upset with their national
churches' positions on homosexuality from leaving and affiliating with
orthodox branches in Latin America and Africa.

It was a frank admission by Archbishop as to the limits of his power,
even though he is opposed to cross-border ecclesiastical moves.

"I have no canonical authority to prevent these things, but I would
simply repeat what was said in my advent letter (in December), to the
effect that I cannot support or sanction such actions," Williams wrote
the Canadian archbishop.

Mrs. Katharine Jefferts Schori, U.S. Presiding Bishop, has inhibited one
retired bishop, 87-year old William Cox, for ordaining and confirming in
Kansas and later confirming in Oklahoma, but he has since fled to the
Province of the Southern Cone for spiritual and ecclesiastical safety.

During his sermon, the Rt. Rev. Chuck Murphy, Bishop and AMiA Chairman,
said there was an urgent need for more missionary bishops as a Second
Reformation has begun and that bodes well for his church's efforts to
reach 130 million unchurched Americans.

"We need more missionary bishops to step into the next level of growth.
The critical factor, the God given vision of this remarkable vision,
comes from the Rwandan House of Bishops and their willingness to stand
up and be a part of us from the beginning. They broke with convention in
the early days and pioneered a way forward in mission unheard of
Anglican circles," said Murphy.

"These past 10 years have been challenging. The criticisms have been
voiced and questions about the legitimacy of our existence, but with
their God given vision they have stood up and stood apart. It could not
have happened without them."

Addressing the conferees, many of whom were formerly members of The
Episcopal Church, Murphy challenged them saying, "The world wants to
know of your witness, your boldness and pioneering vision. All you need
is a God given vision, a way forward in witness to the power of God who
moves with great authority in the world and North America."

Citing a book he had recently read on the changing face of Anglicanism,
Murphy said the AMIA was a profoundly influential movement in the
Anglican Communion, pushing the boundaries in a new vigorous way.

"God promises to give us vision, again, again and again. Where there is
no vision the people perish," he said citing Proverbs 29:18. Picking up
the thread of Joel 2:28 Murphy cried out, "I will pour out my spirit
upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your
old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions"

Murphy said the mission of AMIA was "unique" and offered a compelling
picture of a preferred future that "motivates to work, pray, and is a vision but then it unfolds...godly visions will flow
from the word of God.

"We must ask, is it in conformity with Scripture? Godly visions will
speak to peoples needs. We must get outside of our comfort zones. Godly
visions will ultimately unite as more and more people see and understand
what AMIA is about. Today's consecrations are yet another step in this
unfolding vision."

Murphy said the AMIA had a basis for action. "We see it, we say it and
we seize it. We cannot drift or lie in harbor. This is the challenge of
the church in this age. The trigger for this action is the call, and
that call we sense is from God.

It is also a pneumatic vision - the movement of the Holy Spirit to give
us the desire to send forth laborers into the harvest. You have got to
have an opportunity. The answer was yes. This "yes" required that
action. The good news is that God promises us the power. It fell on the
judges of the Old Testament, again at Pentecost, then St. Paul and came with the Spirit of power."

Murphy acknowledged both the challenges and temptations. "There is the
challenge to burn out. Do anything you want but not everything you want.
We need margins, time for family. We should expect attacks from The Evil
One and cited the areas of sex, money and power. Satan can trip people
up in the area of relationships and attacks us in the area of self
esteem. We are made in the image of God Satan is not, but we should
never give up."

The Anglican Mission in the Americas encompasses the United States and
Canada with missions in Mexico and Bogota. Since it began in 2000, the
mission has added an average of one church every three weeks. The AMiA
now has seven missionary bishops serving more than 133 parishes with 62
more in the pipeline.

Editor's Note: The AMiA parish in central NY is St. Andrew's Anglican Church in Syracuse.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Church brands draw members

From the

Faiths market themselves by taking on names that define their beliefs, message

By BOB SMIETANA • Staff Writer • January 15, 2008

On Sunday morning, just past the signs for Red Roof Inn and Go USA Fun Park on Armory Drive in Murfreesboro, and in the shadow of a billboard for Verizon Wireless, 110 people met to celebrate the first worship service of Faith Anglican Fellowship.

A temporary banner, with the church's name, stood in front of Integrity House, where worshippers gathered after leaving behind their former home, Holy Cross Church.

Inside, the Rev. Frederick Richardson, Faith Anglican's rector, spoke of the mixed blessings of "new beginnings."

Frustrated that the Episcopal Church's battles over doctrine and sex were turning off newcomers, the former members of Holy Cross decided, in essence, to switch brands. No longer Episcopalians, they were now Anglicans, allied with more conservative believers in Uganda.

Once reserved for consumer products like Coca Cola or Doritos, branding has become increasingly important in the God business. Churches, old and new, are using branding to define their theology, attract newcomers and get their message out.

"There is sadness for what we left behind, for who we left behind," Richardson said. But "God will be faithful," he added.

For Faith Anglican, the brand switch went deeper than a name change, Richardson said.

"It gives us a new identity," Richardson said. "The Anglican Church does not have the baggage that the Episcopal Church has at this time. It speaks of a deeper tradition and a more biblically grounded faith."

Church member John Sorrell of Woodbury, said he was worried about "the spiritual drift" of their former denomination.

"Episcopal has come to mean something other than orthodox Christianity," he said. With the new name, added Gary Warden, the church's senior warden, "people will know exactly what to expect when they come here."

For a group of members at Trinity Episcopal in Winchester, a tipping point came in 2006, when Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Shori was asked by Time if "belief in Jesus is the only way to get to heaven?" She replied, "We who practice the Christian tradition understand him as our vehicle to the divine. But for us to assume that God could not act in other ways is, I think, to put God in an awfully small box."

"That's not the faith that I received," said the Rev. Bill Midgett, who had been rector of Trinity Episcopal since 2001. On Jan. 6, Midgett, the church staff and most members voted to leave the Episcopal Church. They formed Christ the King Anglican Church.

"It may sound like a lot of religious-speak," Midgett said, "but for us, it is central to who we are in believing the gospel.''

Branding needn't be slick

Maurilio Amorim, who runs a church-branding firm in Brentwood, says branding is a biblical activity. He points to the parable in Luke 14:16-23, about a man who threw a banquet. When none of the guests showed up, the man sent his servant to invite outsiders in.

So Amorim helps churches creates Web sites, direct mail and other forms of branding to attract newcomers. "Branding and marketing is evangelism," he said. "I don't know what the difference is. You are compelling people, you are giving people a reason to come visit you."

Amorim says that some churches mistakenly believe that branding means a slick marketing campaign. "I hate for people to waste a lot of billboard and direct mail and newspaper advertising that says nothing," he says. Church messages like "Come because we are great" or "We're friendly" don't work, he said. Instead of trying to be slick, he said, a church should find what it does well and promote that.

For Crosspoint Community Church in west Nashville, branding was crucial when the congregation moved to a new building. The church, which started meeting five years ago in a public school, now rents about two thirds of the campus of Park Avenue Baptist Church.

But with its linoleum floors and mauve carpet, the building screamed out "1970s Baptist church."

"And that," said senior pastor Pete Wilson, "is not who we are."

While Park Avenue bills itself as a "traditional church family," Crosspoint services are more rock concert than hymns and prayers.

So, Wilson and Crosspoint leaders set out to brand the building as their own. They replaced carpet, set up video screens and theater lighting in the sanctuary, and transformed the concrete block children's area into something out of Gilligan's Island.

Wilson said he realized the power of branding while watching Supersize Me, Morgan Spurlock's documentary about McDonald's. During the film, Spurlock showed children a series of pictures of famous people like Jesus and George Washington and asked the kids to identify them. "These kids didn't know who any of these people were," Wilson said. "But Ronald McDonald … boom, every one of the kids knew exactly who it was."

And for a new church, he added, brands like McDonald's are the competition.

"We are not competing against other churches," said Jenni Carton, the church's executive director. "We are competing for all the other things that are vying for your attention every day."