Where is the Gospel? (aka the return of the Corkscrew of Anglican Infallibility)

26 10 2009

Much has been said about the recent announcement from the Vatican about allowing disaffected Anglicans to become Roman Catholic and still retain much of their spirituality and liturgy.  Under this new “Personal Ordinariate,” this will allow for married Anglican deacons and priests, but not bishops.  Those who have been agonizing over the fact that the Anglican Communion works best on a missional and consensus-driven model rather than a magisterial way of governance will find safe harbour at the Vatican.  Of course, these clergymen (and yes, they will all be men, make no mistake about that!) will have to be re-ordained because the Vatican does not recognize the vaildity of Anglican Holy Orders.

Many questions arise out of this announcement, and the answers will probably be sorted out in the actual Apostolic Constitution document when it comes out over the next few weeks.

Some questions include (most of which have been discussed elsewhere):

  • What about bishops who are currently married?  One case in point is a bishop of the Traditional Anglican Communion over in the Philadelphia suburbs.  His commentary on the matter may be found in the NY Times at the link above.  He hopes that the sea of purple can be “grandfathered in” and presumably going forward, once the initial crop of bishops dry off from their swim across the Tiber, the celibacy requirement will be in force.  Regardless, I think the ban on married bishops will prevent many from leaving the Anglican Communion than we might at first be inclined to believe (i.e., I don’t see +Jack Iker of Fort  Worth, or any of our African Bishops running off to Rome any time soon).
  • Will this bring up again the taboo topic of discussing whether or not it is a right, good and a joyful thing to require the clergy to be celebate? This has been brought up several times over the past week, recently on NPR’s All Things Considered, which featured interviews with Jim Naughton of Episcopal Cafe; +Robert Duncan of ACNA; and Fr. Thomas Reese, a Jesuit priest in Washington, DC.
  • And what about the laity?  In the USA, Canada, and also to an extent the United Kingdom, I believe that lay participation in the councils and structures of the church is rather robust … Is there room in a top-down magisterium for such a group?
  • Oh, yes and the property questions, and what to do with their stipends, pensions, etc.

Lots of questions, not a lot of answers …

For those of us in the US, and perhaps Canada also, this will not prove to be such a big deal.  Actually, I think it affects the Anglicans in Europe much more so than here in North America, which tends to be the consensus amongst the Anglican pundits.  The Anglicans in North America who have left TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada are busy forming their own parallel province, so I doubt seriously anyone will want to take advantage of this move … However, one really big question I have is ….

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The Anglican Covenant

11 04 2008

What follows is an statement made by the authority of the Corkscrew of Anglican Infallibility

This is the only covenant we need:

We, the constituent members of the Anglican Communion, bound together by the Grace of Jesus Christ working together in common mission, do solemnly and gratefully covenant to:

Reaffirm our bonds of affection, and it is by the Grace and Love of God that we have been brought out of the bondage of colonialism into a family of worshipping communities.

Give thanks that at the banquet of heaven and the Wedding Feast of the Lamb, the Lord will see fit to put us in charge of the cocktail hour.

Humble ourselves and be servants of the community, especially those called to Holy Orders of Deacon, Priest, or Bishop, for Jesus Christ humbled himself and took the form of a slave

Renounce any violence done in the name of God as anathema.

Recognize the faithfulness of each other’s walk with Christ in times of dispute

and above all, to love one another as God has loved us…unconditionally.

Corkscrew of Anglican Infallibility

24 10 2007

I promised Eileen a picture of the infamous Corkscrew of Anglican Infallibility so here it is:

corkscrew.jpg Read the rest of this entry »

What Pastoral Responses to GLBTs?

26 09 2007

(What follows is an official Statement made with the Corkscrew of Anglican Infallibility….. )

Yesterday evening, I commented on the House of Bishops statement after it was read a few times and thought about it over a nice mandarin vodka and tonic at my favourite lounge. I believe that it represents honest and hard work on the part of everyone, and in many ways it was the best that could be hoped for.

Does it change anything? No. +Gene Robinson is still the bishop of New Hampshire, and will most likely attend Lambeth in some capacity. Incursions (I would say invasions) by foreign prelates are still happening. Blessings of Same-sex unions will still occur. And the bishops have recommitted themselves to providing appropriate pastoral response to gay men and lesbians.

Is there still a lot of work to do? YES

Particularly in the realm of Pastoral Response. Defining what form that might take would be good start. I would dare say that by and large The Episcopal Church has failed to honestly start giving real consideration to what pastoral care to gays and lesbians actually means.

We talk a great deal about providing pastoral care to homosexuals in the Church, but what exactly do we do? What about our young people? What about conservatives? What about those who were considering ex-gay camps? What about those who are recovering from those experiences? What about homosexuals who desire to be celibate? What about those who are conflicted in their affections towards those of the same gender? As much as we might with those 5 or 6 verses in Leviticus and Romans are not there, they are there. What does the church have to say to someone who reads that? “Oh you can just ignore that” doesn’t cut it, I’m afraid.

As a Church we have not done any serious theological work and made it available for discussion. I know that “To Set Our Hope On Christ” was published as a response to the Anglican Counsultative Council back in 2003, but unless you follow this kind of thing, you wouldn’t know what work has been done. We are not simply talking about a justice issue here, though that is a very significant part. It is about justice, but it is also about genuine pastoral provision and theological study.

Believe it or not, it is liberal evangelicals who have pioneered some of these things. Ralph Blair, founder of Evangelicals Concerned, is a wonderful and brilliant man. Gaychristian.net is an online community which spans the globe that has a lot to offer to young people seeking to be gay and Christian, often times where they are not welcome.

Perhaps we can take some of lessons from these grass-root organizations and apply them to what we do now? Affirmation and welcome are wonderful things, and they go a long way, but they are only a start.

Infallible Corkscrew Statement #2 — courtesy of the Mad Priest

13 06 2007

I was going to say something about what’s going on the Anglican / Episcopal world, specifically relating to ++Katherine’s interview on Bill Moyers and the news about Kenya getting in on the Episcopal Parish Poaching Game, but I stumbled across this post by the Mad Priest which pretty much says it better than anything I could ever say.

He writes: 

Lots of rumours flying around the media today about the imminent demise of the Anglican Communion. Personally, I don’t think any new initiative by the schismatics will gain them much ground. I think we know the figures in respect of those we will lose, already, and there is probably little we can do, or even should do, to stop their apostasy. I very much doubt that another round of childish games by power hungry Africans will add to their number.

‘Nuff said, in my opinion!

Therefore, by the power invested in me, I hearby seal the Mad Priest’s statement with the Corkscrew of Anglican Infallibility.  😀

I really should send him one. My prayer is that he would use it wisely and with dignity. 😉

Schism and False Doctrine — Infallible Corkscrew Statement

2 05 2007

Marshall Montgomery’s blog, called “Communion in Conflict,” had a recent post entitled “Doctrine, Discipline and worship” where he raised the question, “Who gets to decide false doctrine?”  and “what kind of doctrine reinforces schism?”

I said to him in the comments section:

At its heart, I would think a doctrine that reinforces schism would be something that in some way reinforces a type of exclusion from other members of the body of Christ … For example, some Protestant churches ask that, unless you are a member of that particular church, you do not take communion for the sake of the purity of the table. Others may require a baptism by immersion for membership, claiming that baptism of infants is invalid.Regarding false doctrine, that’s a tough one. At some point, someone has to decide which doctrine is true to the Gospel witness and which isn’t. I would think that the validity of a given doctrine would be determined by its consistency with the witness of Scripture and Tradition, as well as the application of our reason.Sorry if this sounds a bit vague, but it’s a good starting point i think for conversation. If you want specific examples, let me know. Two that come to mind are the question of gay marriage and the issue of celebrating/partaking of the eucharist in a cross-demoninational setting.

Marshall then asked for me to elaborate, which I am pleased to do so here as I don’t want to be rude and take up any more space on his blog with verbose comments (that’s what this blog is for!).  These are things which I am rather opinionated about, so I think it is only fair that I mark this post with my Corkscrew of Anglican Infallibility, which I’ve been DYING to use. 😀

The Eucharist:  Each church’s practice of administering of the Eucharist is on some level is schismatic.  Even The Episcopal Church, where the only requirement is to have been baptized, more or less excludes those who identify as Christian but have not been baptized.  I don’t think one needs to be baptized in order to be called a Christian, though I think it’s something that should be done, even if one only attaches some symbolic level to the act.  That being said, while I believe that TEC’s requirement of baptism is quite broad and inclusive in the grand scheme of things, it should be expanded further to say “all those who identify as Christians are welcome to participate in Holy Communion.”

It is ironic that the rite that is supposed to bind us all together across sects and denominations is potentially highly schismatic.  As I said above, some Protestant Churches (mostly of the low church variety) require you to be member of that particular denomination or sometimes, that particular congregation.  This is called “fencing the table” and the premise is to guard against “eating and drinking damnation to your soul” or some such nonsense where they took Paul a little too literally.  To use a different example on the schismatic implications of the Eucharist, we can look at the examples of the House of Bishops or the most recent Primate’s meeting in Tanzania where some did not partake of the Eucharist because of the supposed lack of holiness of the celebrant or those who were partaking.  In both instances, whether you deny someone communion or whether you choose not to participate for reasons of purity, one party is in effect saying to the other “you are not a Christian … you are not part of the Body of Christ.”  It doesn’t get any more schismatic than that! 

Gay Marriage:  I said in my comments to Marshall that at some point, someone has to decide where a proposed doctrine is true to the Gospel witness.  What I think has gotten the church in such an uproar is that with the advent of non-traditional families (i.e., gay couples with or without children), we are corporately and institutionally being challenged with rethinking the validity of certain ways of living, or to quote one General Convention resolution, “manners of life.” 

The Church views marriage as a sacramental relationship.  In order for us to come fully to an understanding of marriage as sacrament, I believe that we should provide for the inclusion of same-sex couples as marriage, not as a blessing of a union. On a justice level, having a rite for same-sex couples that is other than marriage is basically another case of apartheid (see my post civil unions = apartheid for a rant on that subject).  On a doctrinal level, however, if we were to have a rite for the blessing of same-sex couples, what would be the rational for denying a blessing to cohabitating heterosexual couples?  Who says the couples regardless of their gender makeup need to be living together in the first place in order to receive a blessing? The inclusion of a “blessing” rite more or less creates a menu of options based on commitment level, and in this instance the commitment level carries a connotation that it is not life-long, but at best a long-term temporary.  I think there is a much greater disconnect between blessings of unions and the Gospel witness/Tradition than with gay marriage.  While I am certainly no theologian, I would think that blessing of unions (which is basically blessing cohabitation) is much closer to false doctrine and history would find us wanting were we to go forward with that idea.

On a side note, the Liturgical Committee (I forget what their full name is) recently came up with a rite of betrothal, which I think would be something that is worth considering a good look. I would think that in the long-term, a rite of betrothal would better serve justice and not be a departure from Scripture or Tradition.  Acutally, it would only serve i think to strengthen the institution of marriage.

Questions, comments and snide remarks are welcome in the usual space below.  Tomatoes and other things for throwing at me should be sent to the care of my Personal Atheist. 😉

Church of the Holy Corkscrew

7 04 2007

I have a friend in the UK who, like me, is very spiritual minded and who, unlike me, is Roman Catholic.   One time we were chatting online via a webcam, and I was making a point rather emphatically, so I picked up the first thing I could find and started brandishing it and pointing with it rather, um pointedly. 

My friend says with great dignified bravado (as only the English can do) “He …  has …. spoken!  Behold, the Corkscrew of Anglican Infallibility is in his hand.  He speaks and it is done!”

The corkscrew has been with me ever since.  

We’ll just overlook how ironic (and fitting!) it is that the symbol of Anglican Infallibility is a corkscrew.  Expect to see it pop up from time to time, though I hope I don’t have to use it much except for its original use, which is to open wine bottles and ward off evil spirits …