Comments: God's Call and Our Response

A brief look at Dr Hall’s paper suggests Rowan Williams would find it useful.

“We are a church that determines membership and status by behaviours rather than belief.”

“Because bishops serve the whole church, he (bishop White, author of the Episcopal system) deemed their election needed to be ratified by the whole church as a mark of unity.”

“the consent process serves as a check on a diocese electing a bishop who has been otherwise demonstrated as unfit …”
for “advocating theological positions clearly outside the norms of Anglican practice.” bearing in mind the first of Dr Hall’s maxims that it is behaviour rather than belief that marks the character of Anglican theology ........ Oh dear ...

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Saturday, 30 January 2010 at 4:05pm GMT

Friend Martin,
Perhaps you might try reading Dr. Hall's essay with a generous spirit.
I believe he fairly states how the Episcopal Church operates. I have participated in several elections of bishops, and as a member of my diocese's standing committee confirmed elections of bishops in other dioceses, and I have voted to confirm bishops as a deputy to General Convention.
Episcopalians look to the Bible to form our faith and the Book of Common Prayer for statements of belief, but we do not consider our church a "confessional" church.
It is in worship that belief finds expression, i.e., in our behavior. Even the questions of the candidate in the Baptism service are about turning from sin and toward Jesus, i.e., behavior. The vows in the Baptismal Covenant commit us to act in a certain way.
No one checks his or her brain at the door when entering the church, nor is anyone quizzed about their particular understanding of the resurrection before being admitted to communion.
Membership is canonically defined by recording one's baptism in the parish register and active membership is defined as actually attending church.
Hall speaks of the Anglican mode of Christianity (which I believe he briefly but adequately describes); he is not trying to explore the character of Anglican theology.

Posted by Tom Downs at Saturday, 30 January 2010 at 7:52pm GMT

"We have been wrongly tempted to believe that we must choose between relationships in the worldwide Anglican Communion and full participation of all of our baptized sisters and brothers, including those who are LGBT."
- Dr. Ruth Meyers, Chicago Consultation -

This statement, by Dr. Ruth Meyers, epitomises the struggle that many have - in TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada - with the expectation of those opposed to their prophetic stance on the inclusion of women and the LGBT community in the
life, ministry and governance of both Churches.

To insist that TEC and the A.C,of C. have, per se, to choose between these two polarities, is to suggest that they ought, morally, to have to abandon their Gospel orientation in the light of the rest of the Communion's fudging on issues that concern the mission of the Church in and to God's world.

TEC and the A.C.of C. have moved into the modern world by pursuing Spirit-led initiatives towards the liberation of women and gays - in accordance with the spirit of Christ in the Gospels. To draw back now from these important and life-enhancing initiatives would be seriously detrimental to what both Churches have understood to be the call of God to 'open up the Kingdom of Heaven to ALL believers' - an all-inclusive and imperitive dimension of Christian ministry.

If others in the Anglican Communion (e.g. ACNA and GAFCON) wish to distance permanently distance themselves from TEC and the A.C.of C. on this issue, then it will be to their diminishment, and the end of the Anglican Communion as it has been traditionally oriented - embracing unity in diversity

There have been historical instances of other disagreements within the Christian community before - on issues of Circumcision, Slavery, Usury, Celibacy of the Clergy, the place of women in the Church, etc., but none have been seen fit to encourage the cause of schism - on those specific grounds. Dissenters have always chosen their own path of self-righteousness; let not TEC and the A.C.of C. be maligned for following the path of the Gospel in the cause of emancipation of women and gays - a human justice issue which they discern as the work of the Holy Spirit today.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Sunday, 31 January 2010 at 5:32am GMT

Thanks Tom

I can of course read this piece in the spirit it was written, though I think it might have briefly mentioned and commented on the consents process for South Carolina and Kevin Thew Forester.

My background leads me to read all material in this genre from a position that is not my own.

I will try and read the rest later today. The first essay rather put me off.

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Sunday, 31 January 2010 at 10:22am GMT

By the way, I was very critical of the document TEC brought to the ACC as its "defence" against accusations of heterodoxy. Not that I didn't stand with every word (well nearly!) of To Set Our Hope on Christ, just I thought it flawed and weak and amazingly insubstantial coming from a church with so many resources at a very significant time etc etc

Yet even recently when I made a critical comment about it on liberal blog the moderator did not publish it.

THAT attitude is our undoing.

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Sunday, 31 January 2010 at 10:35am GMT

Martin, you aren't alone in thinking that TEC's response at Nottingham could have been more robust. We are forever attempting to say what we mean without offending anyone. Too often we err on this side of not offending anyone.

Posted by Jim Naughton at Sunday, 31 January 2010 at 4:20pm GMT

Well in a cursory read, I hear this set of essays from Chicago as a strong call for Big Tent Anglicanisms to globally recall the customary or traditional Anglican vitamins of agreeing to disagree while we continue in common prayer.

Sad and puzzling that we hardly ever hear this sort of strong call, Big Tent plus Agreeing to Disagree plus Continuing in Common Prayer - from, say, Rowan Williams personally (occupationally? You'd think he was chief cook and bottle washer in Big Tent Church Life, alas, but not so far?); from one of the ballyhooed Instruments of Communion aka Unity; from ...???

I doubt that outside TEC the essays will get much play or attention. The Big Tent is no longer fashionable (trustworthy? See Mounir Anis withdrawing from the Standing Committee?), as we global Anglicans rush to collapse big tents in favor of piddling confessional statements, often written poorly if not rooted in thin and closed-minded or narrow-minded believer soil. I also doubt that the effective vitamins of agreeing to disagree, enhanced by the antioxidant properties of continuing in common prayer will typify anything much of the going conservative global Anglican diets, for similar reason of pride, consolidation, and sharp campaigning.

Still. Many thanks to Chicago - this is the sort of both/and thinking that distinguished TEC from nearly every other sort of USA church. And maybe still does as a tangynourishing recipe marker in church life. Hoping and praying for the consents of Bishop-Elect G. in Los Angeles?

Posted by drdanfee at Monday, 1 February 2010 at 1:41am GMT
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