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Anglican Futures
Stand Firm ^ | 6/03/2006 | Matt Kennedy

Posted on 06/03/2006 5:44:07 PM PDT by sionnsar

’m trying to gather my wits in preparation for GC2006. As part of this wit-gathering I’ve been sorting through scenarios and future possibilities for the Communion and for the Episcopal Church. As I’ve been doing this I’ve realized just how much hinges on the Archbishop of Canterbury. He is not the pope, but his decisions in the aftermath of General Convention will literally define and determine the shape of Anglicanism.

I’ve settled on four possible outcomes and I’ve ranked them in order of probability.

First: Two parallel provinces. ECUSA does not comply with Windsor. The Archbishop of Canterbury acknowledges the failure to comply but does not act immediately to derecognize ECUSA, preferring to put off a final decision until 2008. ECUSA is still part of the Anglican Communion but in a sort of suspended state, a limbo. The non-compliant bishops will be invited to “observe” at Lambeth. As a result of non-compliance, and in anticipation of some form of “walking apart” the ABC gives special recognition to the Windsor compliant bishops as a separate entity and indicates, by word and/or deed that, at least until Lambeth, there are two legitimate Anglican entities in the USA: one non-compliant and under discipline and one that is Windsor compliant. The Windsor compliant entity, comprised both of non-Network and Network bishops and non ECUSA and ECUSA parishes begins to function like a full-fledged province: planting churches, perhaps even ordaining bishops (recognized by Canterbury) for parishes residing in non-compliant jurisdictions.

This, in my mind is the most likely outcome. It is, granted, a mess but I don’t think anyone should expect a clean aftermath. Break-ups, even amicable ones, are always ugly and disorganized.

Second: One replacement province one disciplined rival. ECUSA does not comply with Windsor. The primates demand an emergency meeting. The ABC agrees. It is determined that ECUSA has chosen to separate herself from the Communion and it is made clear that no Lambeth invitations will issue from Canterbury to any ECUSA bishop who voted for non-compliance. ECUSA is effectively on her own. ECUSA, of course, does not accept this and continues to call herself Anglican and dress herself up in Anglican prerogatives, especially the prerogatives of jurisdiction. Lawsuits, property battles, darkness and devastation ensue. The ABC continues to recognize the legitimacy of Windsor compliant bishops and they form a remnant province. New churches are planted and bishops consecrated for non-compliant jurisdictions. Conversely, ECUSA considers sees participating in the remnant church vacant. She consecrates missionary bishops to move into these “vacant” jurisdictions and set up shop. Lawsuits ensue. The courts will have to decide just who or what the Episcopal Church is for the purpose of dividing property.

This outcome is also messy. It is also far more acrimonious than the first. Theologically speaking, however, it is the most proper and faithful. Biblical discipline is carried out. The reason I do not think it as likely as my first scenario is because I think the ABC will want to have as many I.U’s involved in a decision to discipline as possible. He will want not just the primates but the AAC and Lambeth to weigh in on whether ECUSA has complied before taking action.

Both of the scenarios above hinge on a decision by the ABC to discipline. The question is whether he will act slowly or rapidly. I put my money on “slow.” The following two scenarios envision the ABC’s inaction, a decision not to discipline.

Third: Two rival Communions, Two rival provinces. ECUSA does not comply with Windsor. But swayed by some of the more moderate bishops in the C of E, the ABC declares himself pleased with the “forward movement.” ECUSA is “headed toward compliance.” This is not enough for archbishop Akinola and CAPA. The boldest of the Global South primates set up a new Anglican center south of Canterbury and call all faithful orthodox bishops and primates to rally. Two rival world-wide Anglican entities emerge: one based in Canterbury and one based in the south. Canterbury retains the moderate and liberal provinces along with perhaps one or two orthodox provinces devoted to the historic see. The southern Anglican Communion is larger in numbers of communicants, but probably about even in the number of provinces. This world split wreaks havoc domestically. Archbishop Akinola restates his challenge given at Hope and a Future: Are you ECUSA or are you Network? The Network as a body is unsure. Some Network bishops join the southern Communion, others, like the more moderate orthodox primates, choose to remain tied to Canterbury. Eventually two rival provinces form: one, ECUSA, remains tied to Canterbury. The other, comprised of Network bishops, the AMiA, and the other Common Cause partners, is tied to the southern Communion. The legal war described in scenario two above breaks out. The was, however, is more localized in nature. There is no question that the Episcopal Church is the legitimate “Anglican“ province in the USA. The courts simply need to decide whether individual parishes and diocesan offices have rightful claim to their property. The two provinces ordain bishops and send missionaries into the other’s jurisdiction as each tries to outgrow the other.

This third scenario, given the ABC‘s failure to discipline, would in my opinion be the most faithful. Anglicanism as we know it would be finished. Hopefully a stronger, biblical, confessional body would arise from the ashes and over the course of many decades supplant Canterbury which, even in the west, would continue her long and, with the departure of the orthodox, irreversible decline.

Fourth: One province several provincial missions: The Episcopal Church fails to comply with Windsor. As in scenario three, the ABC fails to discipline. The primates, not unified enough to form a rival communion, loudly protest but remain institutionally tied to Canterbury. The Episcopal Church remains the sole legitimate Anglican body in the USA. Several Network bishops and many Network parishes are unable to stomach such an utter disaster for orthodoxy. They leave ECUSA and are recognized by various Global South provinces as missionary bishops. Others stay. There is little unity among the orthodox. The Network bishops choosing to continue outside of the Episcopal Church coalesce into something like the AMiA with perhaps a little wider Anglican recognition. The break between those Network bishops and parishes in ECUSA and those without becomes more pronounced and somewhat acrimonious. Ultimately, the center does not hold. The Common Cause partners remain friendly but cool. There is no coalescence, little commonality, and no cause.

This last scenario is the doomsday scenario. It would, in my opinion, signal the end of Anglicanism. God will have pruned a dead branch. At that point, I cross the channel and climb the mountains to Geneva.

All four of these scenarios depend upon the decisions or lack thereof of the Archbishop of Canterbury. I do not envy him. As I’ve said before, I believe that he is a good and honorable man. I believe he will uphold his commitment to Communion teaching and Communion decisions. But even so, these times require far more of us than faith and hope in the decisions of one man.

What are we going to do?

Has the Network done contingency planning? I hope and pray that they have. The Network must lead. It is great to have vision, but in three weeks we will need more than vision, we’ll need feet on the ground with a plan in hand.

If Network planners have not thought through and planned through these scenarios or others like them, then we are in serious trouble.

It’s one thing to say we‘re going to “reform North American Anglicanism,” it is another to actually build and implement a proactive plan to do it that takes all the relevant data and future contingencies into account.

We’ve had three years.

Moving from the macro to the micro, on an individual level, what will you the reader do? Have you personally thought through these contingencies? The Anglican default decision is always to do nothing. That can’t happen this time. Even if you decide to stay in ECUSA irregardless of the outcome, you still have to answer the question: what are you going to do?

There are nine days left.

TOPICS: Mainline Protestant
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[I don't think "The Anglican default decision is always to do nothing." Rather it's to keep talking and avoid precipitous action; slow motion is not absence of motion. I see something like the leadup to the third choice the most likely, but done just far enough that no split occurs and the current unpleasantness continues. OTOH, on the punditry scale of 1 to 10 I rank myself even lower than Midwest Conservative Journal blogger Christopher Johnson. --sionnsar]
1 posted on 06/03/2006 5:44:08 PM PDT by sionnsar
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To: ahadams2; meandog; gogeo; Lord Washbourne; Calabash; axegrinder; AnalogReigns; Uriah_lost; ...
Traditional Anglican ping, continued in memory of its founder Arlin Adams.

FReepmail sionnsar if you want on or off this moderately high-volume ping list (typically 3-9 pings/day).
This list is pinged by sionnsar, Huber and newheart.

Resource for Traditional Anglicans:
More Anglican articles here.

Humor: The Anglican Blue (by Huber)

Speak the truth in love. Eph 4:15

2 posted on 06/03/2006 5:44:53 PM PDT by sionnsar (†† | Iran Azadi | SONY: 5yst3m 0wn3d - it's N0t Y0urs)
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To: sionnsar
"It would, in my opinion, signal the end of Anglicanism. God will have pruned a dead branch. At that point, I cross the channel and climb the mountains to Geneva."

Better to put on the "water wings" and head over the Tiber. The Roman Catholic church is a lot closer to the Episcopal church as "I" grew up in it than it is to the Lutherans. Besides, the Lutherans are circling the same drain that the Episcopalians are (ordaining women and homosexuals).

3 posted on 06/04/2006 4:22:09 AM PDT by Wonder Warthog (The Hog of Steel-NRA)
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To: Wonder Warthog

'circling the same drain' -- nicely put. You really have a way with words, Wonder Warthog.

4 posted on 06/04/2006 10:04:34 AM PDT by bboop (Stealth Tutor)
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To: Wonder Warthog

There are Anglo-Catholic Episcopalians and Evangelical Episcopalians. I am evangelical. I could not go to Rome. I hold to too many of the sola's. I would not go to a mainline reformed body, but likely the PCA or Orthodox Pres.

5 posted on 06/04/2006 11:44:38 AM PDT by MMkennedy
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To: MMkennedy
"I am evangelical. I could not go to Rome. I hold to too many of the sola's. I would not go to a mainline reformed body, but likely the PCA or Orthodox Pres."

Lots of evangelicals have done it. See "Evangelical is Not Enough" by Thomas Howard. What "Rome" actually is, and what Rome is "sold as" by many Protestant denominations are vastly different.

6 posted on 06/04/2006 1:21:03 PM PDT by Wonder Warthog (The Hog of Steel-NRA)
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To: Wonder Warthog

Hmmm, I agree with WW yet again -- Many of us sola-scripturas have done it and wondered what had taken so long. I never laid down ONE thing I had from many years as a Protestant.

7 posted on 06/04/2006 4:55:20 PM PDT by bboop (Stealth Tutor)
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To: MMkennedy

The Anglican Church's structure and it's strength is the fact that it is not sola-scripture. The Anglican Church is built on what is essentially a three part tradition that incorporates scripture, predictable worship, and respect and honor for the saints and great theologians that have preceded us.

Scripture is the essential core of the faith that lays the ground rules and provides the truth about everlasting life in the service of our Lord and Saviour.

Traditional worship protects us from straying into the realm of "openess" while free-flowing worship invites problems similar to the problems we have seen in the Episcopal Church today. The beauty of the traditional Anglican service not only appeals to our aesthetic senses, but it also ensures that parishioners are reminded of the ten commandments weekly, that the life, promises and sacrifices of Jesus are commemorated predictably, and that our original vows of service are renewed.

Thirdly, the Anglican church recognizes the saints and theologians who have come before. The Tradition is built first on the good news, and secondly on the studies of men who gave their entire lives to service of the Lord. There are few men alive today (Catholic monks come to mind) who turn themselves over entirely to God, shunning all worldly influences.

The PCA church, while solid in its behavioral conservatism, makes the mistake of dismissing lightly all tradition and most theology. The PCA is also peculiarly obsessed with predestination -- Calvin himself would be distressed at the over-emphasis of predestination at the expense of forgivness-seeking -- and has also tossed aside many of the conservative guidelines that made traditional Presbyterian worship the success that it was the first centuries of its existence.

The PCA church is wonderful and fills a niche, but unless it is very careful, it, too, will slide into the evangelical mode of using single-line scripture interpretation to justify any action or reaction.

8 posted on 06/05/2006 5:38:41 AM PDT by TaxRelief (Wal-Mart: Keeping my family on-budget since 1993.)
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To: TaxRelief

Tax Relief,

Sola Scrptura is indeed Anglican. Here's an article I wrote about the subject a few weeks ago:

I was informed this week that "true Anglicans" do not hold to the doctrine of sola scriptura (scripture alone) and what is more; that the very idea of sola scriptura is antithetical to everything Anglican. This came as a great surprise to me as I both hold quite firmly to sola scriptura and, at the same time, consider myself to be a fairly true Anglican, if a bit on the evangelical side.

Moreover, I am not alone. I think there are a lot of Anglicans who hold to the same doctrine, some consciously and some unaware.

How can this be?

First I think I should explain what sola scriptura is not. It does not mean that the bible negates tradition, reason, science, or common sense.

As even a cursory glance at the orthodox side of the magisterial Reformed movements (Calvinism and Lutheranism) will show, classical teaching and human reason is highly treasured. There is a rich and multifaceted “tradition” of Reformed scholars from Calvin and Luther to the present, each generation building on the other. Some even refer to the Calvinist tradition as a sort of “reformed scholasticism” likening it to the intricacy and depth of medieval scholasticism.

Now that we know what sola scriptura is not we ought also to ask: what is it and is it rightly placed within the sphere of Anglicanism?

The doctrine of sola scriptura holds that the bible is the only infallible source of revealed truth. “Scripture alone” is infallible.

This assertion does not carry the corollary; that God has limited his revelation to the scriptures. One can both hold firmly to sola scriptura and at the same time believe that God speaks through the Church, the councils, holy tradition, nature, reason etc.

In other words, sola scriptura does not assert that the scriptures are the only source of revelation. It does assert that the scriptures are the only infallible source of revelation. Therefore, because it is the only infallible source of revelation, the bible is the sole norm by which all other authoritative norms are normed. Another way to say this is to say that because the bible is the lone infallible source, tradition and reason must be judged in light of the scriptures.

The best way to understand this doctrine and to understand how it fits within the realm of Anglican thought is to compare it with the Roman Catholic doctrine on the one hand and that of the radical reformers on the other.

At Trent the Roman Catholic Church embraced formally the two source theory of special revelation that she still holds today. Both holy writ and holy tradition are considered infallible sources of divine revelation. The teaching office of the Church, the magisterium, is charged with interpreting these two infallible sources for the faithful. Sometimes, like when the pope speaks from the chair of Peter or “ex-cathedra,” the Church interprets these two infallible sources infallibly and adds to infallible tradition. My Roman Catholic readers are invited to correct me if I have missed something here.

The Reformers objected that the Church can err and has erred in the past. While God does reveal his will to the Church, no human being, no council, no magisterium can infallibly define doctrine.

On the other side of the divide stand the radical reformers. These took sola scriptura to extremes. Not only does the bible stand as the norm by which all other norms must be normed, but it stands as the definitive precedent and model for all institutions, secular and religious. In other words, for many of the radical reformers nothing could be permitted or established in Church or state unless a biblical model or precedent could be found. Many of the Puritans followed this extreme form of sola scriptura.

Anglicans, especially evangelical and/or reformed Anglicans, have embraced a more moderate form of sola scriptura as a “via media” between Rome and the radical reformers. All things must be tested in light of the biblical witness, but not all things must conform to biblical precedent. In other words, change is possible, "new things" can happen in the church, so long as the new things do not contradict the eternal Word of God.

All other sources of revelation must be tested in light of the bible, the one infallible source, but there is room for dynamic change within biblical limits. Whatever does not contradict the scriptures is not forbidden by them.

Within this framework, tradition and reason stand as secondary sources of revelation and thus, secondary sources of authority. They are not negated, but they are subject to the biblical witness. As Richard Hooker wrote:

What Scripture doth plainly deliver, to that first 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, Book V, 8:2; Folger Edition 2:39,8-14),

Likewise, we read in article 20 of the Articles of Religion:

The Church hath power to decree Rites or Ceremonies, and authority in the Controversies of Faith; and yet it is not lawful for the Church to ordain anything that is contrary to God’s Word written, neither may it so expound one place of the Scripture, that it be repugnant to another…

And in article 34:

It is not necessary that Traditions and Ceremonies be in all places one, or utterly like; for at all times they have been divers, and may be changed according to the diversity of countries , times, and men’s manners, so that nothing be ordained against God’s Word. Whosoever, through his private judgment, willingly and purposefully, doth openly break the Tradition and Ceremonies of the Church, which be not repugnant to the Word of God, and be ordained and approved by common authority ought to be rebuked openly…

Both articles and the passage from Hooker show that sola scriptura; the dogma that scripture alone, as the infallible source of revelation, is the norm by which all other norms must be normed, stands at the center of classic Anglican thought and teaching.

It is not correct, therefore, to label contemporary efforts to test the most recent ecclesial novelties by the bright light of the biblical revelation as an emergence of “neo-Puritanism.” Rather, a more correct and appropriate label might be, “mere Anglicanism.”

9 posted on 06/05/2006 10:57:41 AM PDT by MMkennedy
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To: sionnsar

Anglican futures...

... are down 16 1/2 in heavy trading, after bitter management disputes related to a hostile takeover...

10 posted on 06/05/2006 4:04:19 PM PDT by dangus
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To: MMkennedy

Your definition of sola scriptura fits the Catholic definition of scriptural primacy better than Luther's.

11 posted on 06/05/2006 4:08:09 PM PDT by dangus
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To: MMkennedy
The doctrine of sola scriptura holds that the bible is the only infallible source of revealed truth. "Scripture alone" is infallible.

Ah, so it hinges on the the definition of "sola scriptura"...

How does the Pope fit into this discussion?

12 posted on 06/05/2006 5:47:41 PM PDT by TaxRelief (Wal-Mart: Keeping my family on-budget since 1993.)
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To: TaxRelief

No Tax Relief,

That was Luther's definition. Sola Scriptura has always meant that there is only one not two infallible sources of divine revelation. It has NEVER meant that the bible is to be read exclusively and individually.

The RC has held formally since before Trent (though it was articulated clearest at Trent) that there are two sources of infallible revelation: the 1. bible and 2. Tradition as defined infallibly by the Church.

you seem to be reacting against the Radical Reformers' twisting of Sola Scriptura rather than the magisterial reformer's articulated doctrine.

13 posted on 06/05/2006 5:54:18 PM PDT by MMkennedy
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To: Huber

If you have a moment to express your humble opinion...

14 posted on 06/05/2006 5:57:37 PM PDT by TaxRelief (Wal-Mart: Keeping my family on-budget since 1993.)
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To: MMkennedy

Let me offer this article for your perusal prior to continuing this discussion -

15 posted on 06/05/2006 6:21:27 PM PDT by TaxRelief (Wal-Mart: Keeping my family on-budget since 1993.)
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To: TaxRelief

Tax Relief,

Thank you for that article, but I think it betrays a deep misperception/misunderstanding of the doctrine in question. Here is Hodge's definition of Sola Scriptura

16 posted on 06/05/2006 6:28:35 PM PDT by MMkennedy
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To: MMkennedy
I humbly disagree with A.A. Hodge.

Jesus did not hand us a 27 book scroll prior to his death and resurrection. As you well know, the church existed for nearly 400 years prior to the final compilation of the New Testament.

I draw your attention also to 1 Timothy 3

1This is a true saying, if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.

2A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;

3Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;

4One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;

5(For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)

6Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.

7Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

8Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre;

9Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.

10And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless.

11Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things.

12Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.

13For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.

14These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly:

15But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

16And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.

17 posted on 06/05/2006 6:49:03 PM PDT by TaxRelief (Wal-Mart: Keeping my family on-budget since 1993.)
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To: TaxRelief; MMkennedy; dangus; Wonder Warthog; bboop; sionnsar; Kolokotronis; Gman; ...

MM. Your definition is an apt description of a traditional Anglican view of scripture, but far more nuanced than the term Sola Scriptura now implies. The issue is that the more extreme interpretation of sola scriptura has in fact become the mainstream understanding of it among evangelical protestants. Perhaps the term has perhaps been corrupted beyond vernacular utility by its misuse.

As you know, Anglican faith is generally understood as relying on a threefold foundation of scripture, tradition and reason. This differs from the doctrine of sola scriptura as practiced by many American protestants, who are deeply skeptical of tradition, rather than inclined toward it as Anglicans are, and who in some sects even advocate suspension of reason due to what they believe is its profane nature.

18 posted on 06/06/2006 7:16:06 AM PDT by Huber ("Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of classes - our ancestors." - G K Chesterton)
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To: MMkennedy
"Here is Hodge's definition of Sola Scriptura "

Can't say I think much of Hodge's effort. It has more holes than a Swiss cheese.

19 posted on 06/06/2006 9:43:15 AM PDT by Wonder Warthog (The Hog of Steel-NRA)
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To: Wonder Warthog

Please point them out.

20 posted on 06/06/2006 5:28:04 PM PDT by MMkennedy
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