1/16/2016

We stand corrected: Its CONSEQUENCES not SANCTIONS. Got it? Its part Four of the Anglican Covenant.

The Church Times, UK, quotes the Archbishop of Canterbury as saying, "'The Episcopal Church had made a change to a “basic understanding of doctrine, ahead of the rest of the Communion and without consultation” he said. “We are not sanctioning them. We do not have the power to do so. We simply said, if any province, on a major issue of how the Church is run or what it believes, is out of line, there will be consequences in their full participation in the life of the Communion.”

Nice distinction. Let's see....facing consequences sounds logical. And so the ABC says, "“It is not a sanction but a consequence,” he repeated. “If you do X, Y will follow.”  Now for something to be a consequence in the high reaches of Anglican-dom it must be because there is a polity for the logic. Logics follow patterns set down for the in basic propositions. To believe that there are consequences that logically flow from this or that action, you must first believe that there is order in our daily madness that makes it clear that this is a consequence that logically flows from action.  So the difference between punishment sanctions (which could come from capricious action by the esteemed Primates) and simply requiring the Episcopal Church recognize the consequences of our actions is this: Sanctions proceed from power being exercised on the condemned, consequences proceed from the condemned own actions.

The difference is this: To the extent that the Episcopal Church did something wrong, it is their own fault, and we simply have to take the consequences.  

Well there it is.

But it reminds me of something - the Anglican Covenant, a document by the way that has not been ratified by the Church of England, nor by the Episcopal Church. Here is what section four of that document says about consequences:

(4.2.7) On the basis of  the advice received, the Standing Committee shall make recommendations as to relational consequences which flow from an action incompatible with
the Covenant. These recommendations may be addressed to the Churches of the Anglican Communion or to the Instruments of the Communion and address the extent to which the decision of any covenanting Church impairs or limits the communion between that Church and the other Churches of the Communion, and the practical consequences of such impairment or limitation. Each Church or each Instrument shall determine whether or not to accept such recommendations.
(4.2.8) Participation in the decision making of the Standing Committee or of the Instruments of Communion in respect to section 4.2 shall be limited to those members of the Instruments of Communion who are representatives of those churches who have adopted the Covenant, or who are still in the process of adoption. 



Now the AC got to 4.2.7 and 4.2.8 by way of a process of taking some issue of contention to the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion. The whole effect of the previous sections of 4 is to slow down decisions by individual Provinces of the Anglican Communion so that consultation really took place and no one jumped ahead, or behind everyone else.  But when you look at 4.2.7 and 4.2.8 here are the echoes of "consequences."


I believe the ABC and the Primates are acting AS IF the Anglican Covenant actually was in force and its logic was ruling such that sanctions were not in order, but rather consequences were.

But the AC is not in force except among those churches who have signed on. The CofE and TEC have not, nor have a number of other churches.

And, being perfectly clear, being told to stand in the corner by a body that does not have the power - logical, constitutional or otherwise - under the Anglican Covenant, and certainly not without it, is an exercise of Primatial power, not logic.

Fortunately for all concerned Primates have power, such as they have, within their respective churches. When they get together and say, "we formally acknowledge this distance by requiring that for a period of three years The Episcopal Church no longer represent us on ecumenical and interfaith bodies, should not be appointed or elected to an internal standing committee and that while participating in the internal bodies of the Anglican Communion, they will not take part in decision making on any issues pertaining to doctrine or polity." the Primates are REQUIRING.  Where in Anglican polity do the Primates have the power to require?

Nowhere, except in the ephemeral Anglican Covenant and in the residual power of the Primates to make their representatives at the ACC do their will.  It is, then, a matter of will, not logic, that operates here.

I believe the will of the ABC, and even of those Primates who strongly oppose what The Episcopal Church has done, is guided by the same forces that guide us all. We are all children of God and subject to the push that God gives to our callings. But good will is not enough here.

The first element of transparency is missing here: These are sanctions, not consequences, not unless people of will, good or otherwise, have already adopted the Anglican Covenant and its logic.  So either the Primates are exercising power to sanction, or they are operating with the Anglican Covenant rules of engagement, or...both.


14 comments:

  1. I think you are right to call the consequences what they really are, sanctions.

    I also think you may be missing the point re Covenant etc. the Communion as a body of provinces meeting together through various representatives (bishops, primates, members elected to ACC) is struggling to function as such a Communion because provinces have said X has happened so these are the Y circumstances under which we will meet. Welby has nuanced a "meeting" into a "gathering" in order that the primates might at least talk about what Y might mean at the present time. Not unexpectedly Y turns out to be the sanctions, and also not unexpectedly, the sanctions are time limited with a task force to further discuss what Y might mean after three years. Disturbing, disrupting and even downright despicable though Y is to many in the Communion, the only alternative I see is that the Communion of today becomes a much smaller "Western/Northern" Communion. One way to get to that point, of course, is not to wait and wait and wait for GAFCON/Global South to finally walk to formally form a non Western, Southern Communion, but for those who think Y is disgraceful to take action and form a new Communion in which Y will never rear its head again. Actions have consequences and it would not be surprising if the Primates sanctions have consequences they did not foresee!

    In the end this is about catholicity and which version of catholicity will prevail in the Communion as currently constituted or be expressed in two or more forms of Global Anglicanism.

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  2. Of course, if the recent meeting was only a gathering, not a real instance of a Primates’ Meeting, its actions have even less legitimacy than they might under the mostly-unimplemented Covenant. The primates have acted as tyrants, with Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby acting as Chief Tyrant.

    In three years, The Episcopal Church will not have changed its attitude toward sexual minorities, and I suspect that neither will have the Global South primates.

    The Archbishop of Canterbury has done nothing more than to postpone the inevitable, whatever that may be.

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  3. Peter, true catholicity would allow us to be without sanctions or consequences. To raise marriage to a matter of doctrine is just plain ol' crazy... Besides, a bunch of (male) bishops, no matter how princely, cannot and do not speak for the church. End of story. Not in our polity.

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  4. Isn't the obvious point here simply that the Episcopal church has departed from biblical doctrine. Same sex weddings and ordaining actively homosexual clergy are a-biblical. How do those things sit theologically with how marriage is defined in the Bible going back to the start of Genesis, God's intended order of things, what St. Paul wrote about the clergy, marriage, fornication, and homosexuality, and so on? Shouldn't the Episcopal church return to its reason for being - to preserve, teach, and promote the Christian faith - God's word, rather than promote what seems to be a social activist agenda? I love the Episcopal church and hope it goes back to its historical mission and teaching.

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  5. "Same sex weddings and ordaining actively homosexual clergy are a-biblical."

    No, they're just (currently) "a-Anonymous". If you would come back to the Episcopal Church (you say you love, Anon), and discern WITH us, I believe you would see that sacramental equality is DEEPLY rooted in Scripture, Tradition and Reason (the Anglican way---though it seems the majority of the Primates have forgotten how to do this). Or perhaps you would still disagree with us---and continue in loyal opposition "while the Lord tarry" (until we are ALL granted More Divine Light).

    ***

    "Consequences", yeah: I believe that's what Pilate told Jesus he'd earned himself, also.

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  6. It is plain that this was never in good faith, was an attempted blindside, and that the primates were laughing up their sleeves as they made these hackneyed "commitments" to ending homophobia.

    We are associating ourselves with evil. That's the word for it. A group that embodies and unrepentantly practices deception, hypocrisy, simony, promulgation of violence, is acting as an evil entity.

    They have thrown us out, in fact, in the English fashion - it's rude to say "Get out," so we'll ignore them until they go away. There is no "good faith" in anything from the conservative spectrum, there is no hope in their message, no Grace in their actions. Time for us to consider whether we are not actually abrogating our responsibilities by associating with them, lending our good name to their maliciousness.

    We can do much more at home. There are people in the U. S. who are suffering (because of our home-grown conservatives!) and need help. That terrifies ACNA that we might actually take care of those issues here, because then we will grow. You grow, not because people see you chasing after Third World problems, but because they can see - here and now - that you are engaging them. They see the results. They see Christ. We need to stop trying to grow churches abroad, and do it here.

    Gay kids that we have given hope now watch us appeasing the people who try to strip their humanity, and we have the gall to bemoan their suicides? Millenials believe, with just cause, that religion is evil - a stagnant dead-end of evolution, a promoter of tribal and racial violence, persecutors of the different, constantly strong-arming the political system to stop others being safe and cared for. Guess what? We are proving their beliefs right by desperately compromising our message of Christ's love to submit ourselves to people who embody what they believe makes religion a force of evil. As long as we do that, without calling them on their evil, without warning them that they make shipwreck of their souls, we have no right to try to "get the young folks in."

    They have cast us out. Betrayed us. Reviled us. Set themselves up as God.

    Let them be their little god, while we serve the real one.

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  7. Abp Welby apologising for hurting LGBT people is a bit like an abusive parent apologizing to his child as he beats her.

    Still Andrew Brown has the last word, as he surveys the collapse of the C of E.


    Only last week, Justin Welby was boasting to the other leaders of Anglican churches that the Church of England had secured exemptions from equalities legislation – and then complaining that he operated in an “anti-Christian culture”. What does he expect, when the church he leads systematically violates the moral intuitions of most of its own natural constituency?


    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jan/20/no-religion-britons-atheism-christianity

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  8. JCF,

    See, e.g., Romans 1:26-27:
    "Romans 1:26-27 (New Revised Standard Version (NRSV))
    26 For this reason God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, 27 and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error."

    There are many other passages, as you probably know. Research this. Pray about this when you are researching this. I'm serious.

    The Episcopal church is foremost a Christian church - it is not a social, activist club, with a secular agenda. St. Paul wrote the above, from Romans. It's in the New Testament. I'm sure you're familiar with the Bible, and its significance to the Anglican church. The Episcopal church is part of the Anglican Communion, which claims to be one, holy, catholic, and apostolic. (See the Nicene Creed.) Clearly, the Episcopal church (not all of it, but enough to get attention of the media and, here, the Primates) have departed from catholic belief - which means that belief accepted by all the church, from the beginning, supported by scripture, the early Church Fathers, and so on. There is much you can read on this subject if interested. The point is, the Bible (and catholic (universal) interpretation of that, and tradition) determines church doctrine. Tradition and reason, extend, but do not deviate from that source of doctrine. The church exists to preserve and to deliver that doctrine or belief to the world. Christ created the church, and commissioned the apostles, for that reason.

    The Bible provides in many places that homosexual sex is a grave sin. Homosexual attraction by itself, not acted upon, I believe is not a sin. Everyone has their own sinful nature, and thoughts that if acted upon would be sin. The church cannot, in the light of scripture, condone or bless homosexual marriage, because to do so would be condoning ongoing sin, that is contrary to God's intended order. It's not me saying that, it's God's revealed truth, through the Bible. If you are a Christian and accept orthodox interpretation of scripture, you must concede that. It's not, and cannot be, just a case of "anything goes." Of course, we are all sinners. But we must attempt, as Jesus said, to "sin no more" (Cf. John 13:15, John 10:11). Can we really sin no more? ... in any event, we must try not to. And we cannot as a church bless what is a grave sin. We must, as Christ instructed, follow his commandments.

    I was baptized as an infant in the Episcopal church and my family, going back, has belonged to the church since probably when it was Roman Catholic, i.e., before the reformation. I do love the Episcopal church, and by that I guess I really mean the Anglican church, or the English church - its liturgy, music, traditions, and - yes - it's theology. Homosexual marriage is not a part of that tradition or theology. It's a new, modern, social cause, advocated by a small minority, that is a huge departure from what the church is really about. The church is there for everyone - including homosexuals - but it has a belief system and doctrine that it must be faithful to, by the command of Christ himself.

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  9. That's a book, Anonymous. Not God.

    You are worshipping a book.

    A book that doesn't even keep itself clear - homosexuality is a result of idolatry? Yep. Sure. And being greedy will turn you into a dragon. St. Eustace of Scrubb showed that in the clearly inspired writings of Narnia.

    Scripture is important only as a starting point, as a record of what other people felt God was saying. Guess what? People are being inspired to say different things now. If you say that the current inspiration is from the Devil, then you have to allow that the inspiration recorded in Scripture is from the Devil, especially as it doesn't at all fit in with the overall message of love and God's redemptive power.

    You are not encountering God in the Bible, Anonymous, you are encountering other peoples' interpretations of translations of what may possibly be what was said by someone we never personally knew about what they thought God was saying. All of it compiled and interpreted by people with their own agenda, which may or may not have had a thing in the world to do with God's Will.

    Yeah. That's scary. It means you have to live with uncertainty. That's part of faith. So, you have to ask whether you are willing to live fully and have faith in God's mercy, love and the ineffable quality of Christ's triumph, or constrict into a corner - where, I assure you, the rest of us will not join you - because your faith is in punishment, retribution, the structures of men and anger. Whatever you choose, that's you. Don't try to lay it on others. The whole "prophet of doom" thing cuts both ways, so you may want to prayerfully reflect, as well, and consider the harm you do to real people, here and in your daily life.

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  10. Mark,

    Not sure what you mean by "the whole 'prophet of doom' thing".

    I really think you've got it wrong. God loves all people more than we can know. However, certain actions are defined as being sinful - they are defined as such by God. Certain actions are against God's intended order. The one, holy, catholic, apostolic church is based doctrinally on the Bible. What you seem to be advocating is no longer that "one, holy, catholic, apostolic church" church.

    You wrote "Scripture is important only as a starting point, as a record of what other people felt God was saying." Well, that is a rejection of the Bible and traditional teaching (e.g., the Early Church Fathers, the saints, the church's theology through the ages) - it is a rejection of scripture as God's revealed truth.

    You wrote "All of it [the Bible] compiled and interpreted by people with their own agenda, which may or may not have had a thing in the world to do with God's Will." That's a modernist idea and no longer Christianity. The Bible was put together by a council of the catholic church, being led by the Holy Spirit. The cannon was chosen in order to set down Christian teaching and faith and to protect Christians from heresies. You can research that. It's fairly well documented. The interpretation of the Bible has been by those chosen by Christ, by his church, the teaching authority of the church. Again, you can read about this.

    Modernist, relativism says that the Bible is just a set of words of men put together by men. That is not the catholic (universal) faith, it is not Christianity. It is a rejection of the creeds and the traditional faith. If there are people in TEC who want to reject the traditional catholic faith, why don't they simply start up their own church? Why try to make everyone else change, why claim the heritage, history, honor, and outward appearance of the Episcopal church but reject its inner content and basis? What you advocate, and I say this in all love, is a real departure from Christianity. It's heresy. I would really encourage you to pray to God about this, to meditate on what you read in the Bible. You may think I'm an idiot who just isn't cool or doesn't get it, or whatever, but I really believe that there is truth in the catholic faith, in God's revealed truth, which the Episcopal church has been a steward of.

    The Episcopal church does welcome all - we are to love God with all our heart, mind, and soul and our neighbor as ourself - and in doing that we must maintain the the catholic faith and stay true to God's word - which is not just a book.

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  11. Anonymous,

    You don't get to decide what is Christianity. I don't care what dogma you embrace, it isn't God. Scripture isn't God. God didn't say it, men wrote it. To claim otherwise is idolatry.

    Agreement? Tradition? It's very easy to get agreement when you can use the secular arm to punish those who disagree, as has been the churches' privilege up until now. In the end, I don't care to hear your theory about my real life. You have no right to use it, when I'm telling you the reality. Your words are not love, so they are not of God. They are not truth, so they are not of God. They are not anything that brings people to God, and the worst part is you know this or you wouldn't be so desperately defending it with trite repetitions of beliefs and faith you never developed on your own but received wholesale from others.

    Your words here are empty! " Well, that is a rejection of the Bible and traditional teaching (e.g., the Early Church Fathers, the saints, the church's theology through the ages) - it is a rejection of scripture as God's revealed truth. " Nonsense! It is to value the Scriptures in their right place, not to put them on the level with God. It is to love the True Living God, not to ignore Him in favor of a group of men and their political agendas.

    You are worshipping a book, that's all. If you truly believe all that you've declaimed, here, then I have no intention of allowing your "love" to do any further harm to me or others, nor your arrogant assumption that your aversions are tantamount to God's revelation to stand as truth! I don't think you "don't get it," I think your conscience is what drives you to this mindless scrabbling to justify your mistreatment, and that you ignore that conscience, that living voice of God, willingly harming others for your own comfort. That is why I believe we cannot walk with nor acknowledge those who hold such views - they are dangerous to true faith. God in His mercy will forgive you, I have no doubt, but you are too dangerous for us to be around, too toxic to faith and good order.

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  12. And your definition of "catholic" is faulty.

    Full Definition of catholic

    1
    a often capitalized : of, relating to, or forming the church universal b often capitalized : of, relating to, or forming the ancient undivided Christian church or a church claiming historical continuity from it c capitalized : roman catholic

    2
    comprehensive, universal; especially : broad in sympathies, tastes, or interests
    So, if you are not Roman Catholic, or part of a church undivided, you are not catholic. Or you can accept that catholic is a slippery word that ambitious men have made to mean what they wish.

    Oh, and - why don't you go to the Roman Catholics, by the way? You expect us to leave, who are the majority in TEC, while you stay. Other way around. If you cannot accommodate us, or accept change, you should leave.

    And I don't need you to tell me to pray and meditate on the Bible. I live in it, by it and with it as a part of my life. You have fallen from engagement with anything but your own prejudices and fears, and - in all love - you are not connected to the Holy Spirit. Your faith is dead.

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  13. Mark,

    You say "I don't need you to tell me to pray and meditate on the Bible. I live in it, by it and with it as a part of my life." That's excellent. But, if the Bible in plain, straightforward language, and repeatedly, says that same gender sexual relations are sinful - do you live by that? Do you accept that? Why not? Is there a way to discard what the Bible says about these things and 2000 years worth of doctrine on the subject and still claim that we're being true to the faith - its teachings and truth?

    As Christians, there has to be something we base our beliefs on. It's not just our own opinions, thoughts, or whatever pleases us.

    What do you think it means when in the Nicene creed we, in the Episcopal church, say that "We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church"? I think the catholic church in this sense might be thought of as meaning all believers in mystical (not necessarily visible) union, the worldwide Body of Christ, believing in the teachings of Christ and his church, scriptures, and traditions that have been accepted by all since the beginning. ... Vernon Stanley's "The Catholic Religion - A manual of instruction for members of the Anglican Communion" is a good source to try to get an understanding of how the Anglican church is catholic - an excerpt can be found here: http://www.christthesaviour.info/the-catholic-religion-by-vernon-stanley-excerpt-chapter-8. "Ye Are the Body" by Bonnell Spencer is another good book that, as I recall, also discusses the catholicity of the Anglican Communion.

    And, Mark, I don't want or expect anyone to leave. Like any church TEC is made up of people, and the church welcomes and is open to everyone. It's just that (NB: this is my own belief - maybe I've got it all wrong) we have to stay true to the faith and cannot change the basic doctrines - they don't change. God doesn't change, truth doesn't change - we do. We're all seeking God. God bless you, and I wish you the best.

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  14. Mark, hello.

    I did write a reply to you -- a few days ago, on 2/12/16. But it hasn't appeared here, for some reason. In any case, I think I understand your position. But, I do disagree with the part where it departs from Scripture and tradition. The church of course must be welcoming to all. However, the church must stay true to God's teachings, which we have from the bible and tradition.

    I don't want or expect anyone to leave the church, of course. But it's difficult to really understand a group that say they want to be a part of a church but who also seem to selectively accept or reject the church's teachings based on personal preference and seem to hold the belief that the Bible is not really God's word, and that it's simply up to us to change important doctrine without regard for the Bible or traditional teaching of the church.

    In coming into the church, we are - through Christ and the Holy Spirit - led to change ourselves, to follow God's commandments, and to the extent we are given the grace to do so, lead holy lives, following God's teachings - not simply pleasing ourselves and doing what we want or what feels comfortable. God does not change and his truth does not change. We do. We must have the humility to repent and change, to conform ourselves to God to the extent we are able, not the other way around, even when (or especially when) this is hard for us to do. Ultimately, this is the greatest freedom - to as Christ taught lose our own life to follow him (Cf Matt 10:39; Matt 16:25; Luke 9:24).

    From J.B. Phillips' (an Anglican priest) translation of the New Testament (which is very good, I think, and easily available in paperback), Matt. 16:24-26: 'Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone wants to follow in my footsteps he must give up all right to himself, take up his cross and follow me. For the man who wants to save his life will lose it; but the man who loses his life for my sake will find it. For what good is it for a man to gain the whole world at the price of his own soul? What could a man offer to buy back his soul once he had lost it?'

    Of course, my understanding is not perfect, but if we believe in Christ, then I really believe we must try to follow his commandments and the truth as revealed in the Bible - that is what we have been given. I believe, we cannot harm others when we are following God's truth.

    The word "catholic," as I used it, just means universal. That is the sense, I believe, it is used in the Nicene and Apostles' creeds. It means, as I understand it, the teachings of the church that have been traditionally, universally accepted by all since earliest times and as found in and supported by the whole of Scripture. If you're interested, you can read more about that in a book like "The Catholic Religion: A manual of instruction for members of the Anglican Communion," by Vernon Staley. "Ye are the Body" by Bonnell Spencer is another very good book that discusses this as well as the history of the church. Both address this "catholicity" of the Anglican Communion far better, of course, than I can here. Also, you can research the history of the Church of England and the Book of Common Prayer - and you will see throughout history, efforts were made to retain the catholicity of belief - the Sacraments, the deacon/priest/bishop structure, the ancient creeds, and so on. The church exists to worship God and to safeguard, preserve, and bring those teachings, which are necessarily rooted in the Bible, to all people.

    In any event, please forgive me if I have offended you. I didn't mean to do that, and am sorry if I did. I hope you will consider these things, however, with an open mind. God bless you, and I wish you the best.

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