Comments on the Final Report

If you examine the history of women’s ordination (WO) in the Episcopal Church (TEC), you find a denomination tracking with the Sexual Revolution and feminism right along with the culture in the United States; see this post for a brief look at that reality. With that in mind, I did a search of the Final Report to see what it might say about such issues and found very little. Here are the results (excluding the bibliography) with the headings of the search terms:

feminism

Page 262:

It is easy to see how ECs (the pro-women’s ordination movement) have seen their expectations rise amidst these revolutionary changes. All the old physical and social constraints on women’s leadership have dropped away. The contrast between the Greco-Roman world of New Testament times and western women’s environment today could not be stronger. Women now have up to fifty years of post-childbearing life. Western societies all encourage women to aspire to careers in which their gifts and character determine their success, and in which their sex matters less and less. To recognize all this is not to accuse ECs of capitulating to Enlightenment libertarianism or of embracing the ideologies of radical feminism. But it is plain that women today (and their male advocates) regard Church leadership with assumptions formed in the modern western environment. Protestant Biblically-minded women will read Scripture from a perspective shaped in this world.

Page 281:

From the traditional side of the argument, the question might be
stated, if women’s ordination was not received from Christ, where then does it come from? Unanimously, traditionalists point to the surrounding culture. Kirk (in particular) recounts the importance of maintaining cultural relevance in the debates leading up to the ordination of women in the Church of England; he also goes deeper than most, tracing the lineage of
the case for women’s ordination, through feminism more generally, to Enlightenment principles which were originally articulated in explicit opposition to Christianity.

feminist

Page 278:

Moreover, traditionalists frequently hold that to be truly ‘Catholic,’ one’s position should be consistent with both past tradition and the wider Church in the apostolic succession, and thus that proponents of women’s ordination, by definition, cannot be Anglo- Catholic. This paper leaves that debate to one side. Rather, a range of perspectives will be presented, in order to give ‘the lay of the land’ in what might broadly be referred to as sacramentalist Anglican discussion of the ordination of women. The ‘land,’ as it lays, is admittedly broader than the boundaries of Anglo-Catholicism as it finds expression in the Anglican Church in North America. This is particularly the case with regards to feminist perspectives. To limit the discussion to what falls within these ecclesiastical borders, however, would be a dual disservice: it would, on the one hand, provide a truncated and imbalanced view of the discussion’s dynamics; on the other, it would deprive the reader of considering some of the most vigorous arguments against the traditionalist position.

sexual revolution

Page 85:

The sexual revolution in the 1960s likewise entailed a re-paganization of British morals, especially in the under-thirty generation. All this meant that if Evangelicals were to re-engage the culture around them, they would face a culture that was far more hostile than (say) the Evangelicals had encountered a century earlier

And that’s it! That’s all I came up with. I don’t believe it’s possible to have an honest debate about these issues without referring to the underlying philosophies behind the exegesis put forth by the various camps, but I’m not sure we have that type of analysis in this report.

ACNA Task Force on Holy Orders Final Report

At long last we laity can read The Holy Orders Task Force Final Report. In what was (I believe) my first post on this Task Force back in  2013, I quoted this comment from the Titus One Nine blog:

I would suspect that ACNA’s leadership knows exactly how the theological report (if fairly done) will come out.  Indeed, pretty much any minimally informed person will know how this report will come out:  there are good arguments pro and con, and there is no clear resolution.  Therefore, ACNA will continue its current practice as it is the best possible solution to a theologically incoherent problem.  In this way, the non-WO activists can be partially mollified, or at least, they can no longer complain about the lack of any theological study.  And at the same time, ACNA can continue on its current policy but on a stronger footing.

That comment has guided my thinking on this Task Force throughout and the Task Force has not disappointed.

Where things go now is impossible to predict. I have heard chatter that  the College of Bishops strongly leans toward ending women’s ordination and grandfathering in those already ordained. The pro-WO bishops would have the option of sub-jurisdictional status. However, such a move would require a two-thirds vote of the Provincial Assembly. I have no way of knowing if this is possible or not, particularly with the addition of the Diocese of South Carolina. Has anyone counted potential votes?  And what happens if the folks voting for the historical position lose the vote in the Provincial Assembly after the House of Bishops has voted in favor of the historical position?

Although the leadership of the denomination seems to think it wise for “discussion” to keep on going over this issue, leaving it perpetually unresolved is like not treating an open wound. In the end, what would be the harm in the two camps going their separate ways? Think of it as the Jeroboam Option.

Capitalism and the family

Frederick Engels proposed a history of capitalism in his book The Condition of the Working Class in England. Gareth Jones discusses his views and quotes from Engels extensively:

By ‘dissolving nationalities’, the liberal economic system had intensified ‘to the utmost the enmity between individuals, the ignominious war of competition’. ‘Commerce absorbed industry into itself and thereby became omnipotent.’ Through industrialization and the factory system, the last step had been reached, ‘the dissolution of the family’. ‘What else can result from the separation of interests, such as forms the basis of the free-trade system?’ Money, ‘the alienated empty abstraction of property’, had become the master of the world. Man had ceased to be the slave of man and had become the salve of things.’ The disintegration of mankind into a mass of isolated mutually repelling atoms in itself means the destruction of all corporate, national and indeed of any particular interests and is the last necessary step towards the free and spontaneous association of men.’

The Gamaliel principle

Have you ever heard of the Gamaliel principle? It is based on the account in Acts about a Pharisee in Israel who warned the Sanhedrin to not kill the Apostles, but rather let their movement play itself out to see if it was of God. This is fine of course, until you see how it gets applied these days. Now, certain heretics and manipulators use this idea to mean that if someone’s church or ministry is growing, God is certainly behind it. How can you oppose the LDS Church or Benny Hinn, when he has big crowds or they are building new temples? Certainly their success means they are blessed by God, and therefore anything they may do wrong can be overlooked.

John Span addresses this kind of nonsense in this excellent article. He quotes Abraham Kuyper, among others, on the passage in Acts. Kuyper wrote:

Gamaliel’s advice is bad. It is not true that God destroys forthwith that which is not from him and crowns with success every endeavour of his believers. .. How is it that Gamaliel’s advice, so profoundly untrue, is repeated again and again in life? Could it not be just as well the other way around, that to have no success suggests virtue?… Oppressed, downtrodden, molested—can these not be signs that you are walking on the way of God?”

Generally speaking, if you hear someone throwing around this “principle”, it is a good sign to run away from his church/parachurch/ministry.

Tish Harrison Warren on everyday practices

In this interview, Tish Harrison Warren is quoted on living as a Christian in the day to day environment of life:

Daily life, dishes in the sink, children that ask the same questions and want the same stories again and again and again, the long doldrums of the afternoon. These things are filled with repetition and much of the Christian life is returning over and over to the same work and the same habits of worship. We must contend with the same spiritual struggles again and again. The work of repentance and faith is daily and repetitive. Again and again, we repent and believe.

CANA East teaching on the Reformation—imagine!

CANA East has a synod coming up. Bishop Julian Dobbs writes:

2017 is the 500th anniversary of The Reformation, therefore I have called our Synod, “Reformation 500 – Synod 2017.”

We are thrilled this year to have Archbishop Foley Beach (Archbishop of ACNA) and The Rev. Dr. Less Gatiss (Director of Church Society, UK) as our guest speakers.  I believe that Archbishop Beach and Dr. Gatiss are two very significant leaders within the Anglican Church in this generation.

I have asked our speakers to address the five solas of The Reformation:

* Sola Fide, by faith alone.
* Sola Scriptura, by Scripture alone.
* Solus Christus, through Christ alone.
* Sola Gratia, by grace alone.
* Soli Deo Gloria, glory to God alone.

It is very encouraging to see activity within ACNA that actively promotes the type of Anglicanism that Cranmer, Latimer and so many others would be familiar with, rather than a watered-down version of the same.

Fascism

It is predictable that whenever someone other than a Democrat wins election to the Presidency, we start to hear about “fascism” all over the place. Reagan, Bush and now Trump are “fascists.” This demeans and trivializes a term that actually means something.

According to The Oxford Guide to Philosophy,1) Honderich, Ted. The Oxford Guide to Philosophy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005 fascism is:

Political doctrine combining ethnic nationalism with the totalitarian view that the state should control all aspects of social life. Fascism is thus opposed both to liberalism—individual liberty and fulfillment being held to be relative to the nation’s, rather than vice versa—and to communism—class-identity and aspirations being held to threaten national unity.

If anything, the left has pushed an agenda through educational institutions, the State and corporations that has more to do with controlling all aspects of social life. Donald Trump is many things, but he is not a fascist. Like the boy who cried wolf, the left is weakening us against real fascism in the future by throwing the word around whenever they disagree with someone.

References   [ + ]

1. Honderich, Ted. The Oxford Guide to Philosophy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005

ACNA Task Force on Holy Orders Update — January 2017

The Task Force has now completed its work and handed its report off to the College of Bishops. The report from the College of Bishops says:

In 2012, the task force was asked to develop resources to help guide the bishops’ future discussions on holy orders in general, and the ordination of women in particular. At our meeting this week, the Holy Orders Task Force presented Phase 4 of their work to the college. The College thanked the task force for the hard work that they have done on this topic in just a few short years. Having received the report at this meeting, the conversation then turned to the timeline for addressing these issues.

The Phase 4 report is being formatted and combined with the previous documents from the task force. This report will be passed on to the GAFCON Primates and to our ecumenical partners for feedback, and released to the whole Church in late February. The bishops will pick up these discussions at their next two meetings, in June and September of this year.

The task force’s report does not represent the position of the college, as our formal discussions on this topic are just now beginning, but it is our hope that this document will begin to give us a common language for conversation in the College, and aid dialogue in the larger Church.

We are well aware that this is a passionate topic. We would remind our members of the clergy and laity that in all our conversations, whether they be in person, or on social media, our conduct must always honor Christ, and model his sacrificial love.

Past posts: