Let’s imagine that the bishops of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) decide that they want to end the practice of ordaining women to the priesthood, something I find very unlikely. How would they set this change into motion?
First, the Provincial Council would have to adopt an amendment to the Constitution and Canons. What is the Provincial Council? It is the governing body, made up of a bishop, a member of the clergy, and two lay persons from each diocese. I don’t know who sits on it now.
Next, a two-thirds vote of the Provincial Assembly is required to ratify the amendment. What is the Provincial Assembly? It is, “…composed of laity, Clergy and Bishops….Each Diocese, at a minimum, shall be represented by its Bishop or Bishops and two (2) members of the Clergy and two (2) lay persons. One (1) additional lay person and one (1) additional member of the Clergy may be added for each additional full one thousand (1,000) ASA of the Diocese” (Canon 2, Section 3).
A couple sections of the ACNA Constitution that are relevant:
ARTICLE VI: THE PROVINCIAL ASSEMBLY
2. The Provincial Assembly shall ratify Constitutional amendments and Canons adopted by the Provincial Council. The process of ratification is set forth by canon.
ARTICLE XV: ADOPTION AND AMENDMENT OF THIS CONSTITUTION
2. This Constitution may be amended by the Provincial Assembly by two-thirds of the members present and voting at any regular or special meeting called for that purpose. Any changes or amendments to the Constitution shall not become effective in less than ninety days following that meeting.
A few weeks ago, after two years of waiting, the Bibliotheca Bible arrived. In the time since Adam Greene proposed Bibliotheca, Crossway imitated the idea and beat him to market, but this didn’t change my love for the project or my anticipation for how good it would be—and Adam and his team delivered!
The books themselves are plain to behold, understated and elegant. I did not order the wood case, so I have a lower grade version of the case, but it is still very pleasing to the eye.
The paper is high quality, the pages are very pleasant to turn and the readability is outstanding. I have been reading Proverbs and the experience is superior to any other Bible I own. There is no hint of versification, so it really does feel like reading a book without any extra apparatus to infer that it should be referenced, diagrammed or chopped up in any way.
The colophon describes the unique features of the books:
This is how the Table of Contents looks in each volume:
In this paper I have followed the sacramental thinking of historic Reformation Anglican in Christ’s incarnation and the believer’s union in Christ with the resultant integrity in the priest’s ministerial office of Word and sacrament. It is this underlying theology that has provided the structure for the nature and duties in the office of priest and deacon explained in the Ordinal. The weight of evidence has led me to conclude that the practice of the Deacon’s Mass confuses the integrity of the priestly office and neglects the essential character of the diaconate. I thereby recommend that parishes reconsider their current practice in light of this evidence and that the practice should be discontinued within a timeframe that allows sufficient space for doctrinal teaching and that is pastorally sensitive to individual CANA East parishes.
The trajectory of CANA East continues to be worth watching for Classical Anglicans.
I have long suspected that the pastorate attracts those with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). It offers a position of trust and esteem, where your opinions are sought after and you are adulated for speaking publicly. You are invited into the trust of parishioners, and you are seen as closer to God (even if our theology tells us that this is not the case). It was therefore quite interesting to find a paper on this subject by R. Glenn Ball and Darrell Puls. Puls has a blog here.
In their paper, the authors focus on the Presbyterian Church in Canada, but their conclusions have broader application:
Now extrapolate our findings to the United States. Conservative estimates are that there are roughly 300,000–350,000 churches in the United States. If the percentages hold true, 96,300–112,350 congregations in the United States are pastored by clergy with diagnosable Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
They write (emphasis mine):
Narcissistic Personality Disorder has found its way into the institutional church. The actual levels and places where it manifests itself have been surprizing. Within the clergy of the PCC, there appears to be much higher levels of the most destructive expressions of narcissism than in the general population; while this was anticipated, the actual levels were greater than expected. In its covert form narcissism appears to arrive later in the practice of ministry, which was not anticipated. NPD appears to decline steadily through time in ministry; however, its continued presence is noted in some individuals well into retirement.
The number of clergy their study discovered with NPD is startling:
The hypothesis that the ministerial profession attracts individuals with Narcissistic Personality Disorder as a means of supply for their psychological needs is supported. NPD in active clergy in the PCC is between 500% to 3000% higher than is found in the general population. The problem is real, and it seems that ministry attracts narcissists for the same reasons that elementary schools and playgrounds attract pedophiles: these institutions provide access to victims. Ministry fills narcissistic supply needs through instant power and respect for the office of clergy. We believe that few other positions would be as attractive to the narcissist. Where else but in the clergy role are people instantly and automatically given authority to tell people how to lead their lives on a regular basis under the imprimatur of God and holy writ, are invited into parishioner homes and their counsel sought during the most intimate and difficult life situations, and where they can fit scripture to meet their desires and ego needs?
This NPD in the clergy drives parishioners and other non-NPD clergy out of the Church:
It is unlikely that the overt NPD pastor can remain hidden. His grandiosity and need for adulation eventually become caustic enough that it is likely the people under or over him will resist and work to deny narcissistic supply by dismissing or pressuring him or her to leave — if they are not driven out first by narcissistic abuse. This may be the reason for the large percentage (57%) of NPD’s located in the grouping of those who are currently not in active ministry but who have not retired.
As churches bleed people and blame “the culture” for those losses, it might be instructive to look within, to see if clergy are in fact one prime driver in losing people to the faith. As this study says:
The constant need for recognition as an authoritative expert, the lack of empathy, the need to be right, the inability to forgive, the drive for revenge and the willingness to manipulate, use, and throw away parishioners is the antithesis of Christ. It poisons the gospel message and destroys faith in God and in each other. Whether or not the percentage of NPD pastors, both overt and covert, is directly connected to the fact that 20+ percent of all churches are experiencing internal conflict at any given time (Roozen 2008, 26) is not yet known, but it makes sense that there would be a strong correlation.
The NPD pastor is like a spiritual and emotional vampire, taking from others what he needs without regard to their health, wellbeing, or even survival. One must wonder at how many people are driven out, never to return, from churches annually, and the Church overall, by these pastors.
ACNA’s Report of the Theological Task Force on Holy Orders (link) was made public in June, 2016. I haven’t seen much discussion of the report since it appeared, but I haven’t paid much attention either, so maybe I missed something. Different authors contributed to this report, reflecting the “three streams” makeup of the ACNA. That being the case, it is more of a descriptive document, outlining how each “stream” sees history and theology. Statements in the report should not be construed as endorsed by ACNA necessarily, but, they do show where different groups are coming from.
One stream of ACNA is the charismatic stream. (I am using the stream terminology under protest!) I grew up in a charismatic environment, but soured on the whole thing around 1997 given the crazy goings on of the Toronto Blessing and the Brownsville Revival. You can read a great summary of this time here. For example:
While he is happy to “marinate” Christians in the Holy Spirit, he complained when God began bringing “animal sounds” and “strange prophecy” to the party. When the Almighty allegedly asked, “Would you like Me to take it away?” Arnott quickly acquiesced.
Arnott’s assumption that God was more interested in evangelism than experiences led to another unexpected revelation as well. As he preached salvation messages, he began to sense a “quenching of the Spirit.” He went to the Lord in prayer and asked, “Well, why, why is this hard, like I would have thought you would have liked it if I’d have preached on that.” To his astonishment, the Lord replied, “It’s because you’re pushing Me.” And then God said, “Is it all right with you if I just love up on My church for a while?”
Better than reading about it, watch this:
I was therefore a bit surprised (but just a bit) to see the charismatic section of the ACNA report praising the Toronto Blessing (page 177):
The Toronto Airport Vineyard Church gave rise to a revival know as the Toronto Blessing in early 1994, which has been one of the most controversial movements in the Charismatic renewal. The press and associated media helped promote the impression that it was primarily characterized by such manifestations as laughing, falling, shaking and crying, earning it criticism that the movement was merely strange or even demonic. Such manifestations and the controversies they caused led to the fellowship and its leader, John Arnott, being released by the parent organization, the Vineyard under John Wimber. It is now known as the Toronto Airport Church Fellowship (TACF). Not all were critical though, citing similar manifestations mentioned in the Bible, credible sources like the journals of Jonathan Edwards and records of other revival movements. If a tree is judged by its fruit, one must consider over 9,000 new converts, marriages healed, bodies restored and lives transformed by the preaching and teaching of God’s word. There was also good measurable fruit in the area of mission, manifested in the ministries of those who participated like Heidi and Roland Baker, whose work with orphans in Mozambique is legendary. Recipients of the “Toronto Blessing” have planted over 10,000 churches, seen over a million conversions, and have expanded their work to include ten African countries. Over time, an estimated 55,000 churches have been affected by the “Blessing” as people visited Toronto and then returned to their home churches, many of which were Anglican or Episcopal, where similar renewal ensued.
The ACNA report should be analyzed by all interested parties in ACNA for a better understanding of where we are all coming from.
I have bought quite a few Bibles in the past year, most of them used and quite old. I hope to post about them soon. The one new Bible I have purchased is the Holman New King James Reader’s Reference Bible, which provided a cheap and unique alternative that excited me. What attracted me to this edition is the type, the version (I am moving back towards really liking the New King James), the price, and the unique layout.
What this Bible does is explained in the Introduction:
This single-column Bible does something unique in that it shows quotes of the New Testament alongside the Old Testament text, showing the fulfillment of promises made. In the New Testament, quotes also appear showing “that the background and foundation of New Testament truth are Old Testament promises, prophecies, etc.”
You can see an example of this style of citation in this picture:
Johs Haahr has an excellent overview of the concept behind this Bible here. Haahr works for 2K/Denmark which is the firm behind the typesetting in most of the best new Bibles on the market today. This Bible uses the Karmina Serif font by TypeTogether and which I think is eminently readable. The headings and cited text appear in blue, which is something of a 2K standard now:
The paper shows some ghosting and I am not a fan of the tabs that this Bible uses, but in a Biblically illiterate age, making the Bible accessible is understandable. For a relatively low price, this is a nice pick-up and I recommend it highly.
I am as shocked as everyone else is by Donald Trump’s victory last night. I was a political junkie when I was a kid, so by age 30 I was burned out and disillusioned with politics (it helps to start young). I was dismayed by Bob Dole, George W. Bush, Barrack Obama and many, many others in public life. Bad candidates, betrayals, unjust wars, and spineless leaders left me jaded by politics.
The two Obama elections were, I believed, the last nail in the coffin for any hope of rolling back abortion. The two Affordable Care Act decisions from the Supreme Court, coupled with the Obergefell decision meant that American elites had jettisoned thousands of years of jurisprudence in favor of the Sexual Revolution, and had handed the State unlimited power in relation to the citizens. When Justice Scalia died and Marco Rubio bowed out, leaving Donald Trump as the last man standing on the GOP side, I thought all hope was lost in my lifetime. Scalia was the leader of sane forces and his death was a devastating blow. Now President Obama would replace him and Hillary Clinton would be able to replace another 3–5 justices in her two terms as President.
I was disgusted by Donald Trump, seeing him as a liberal masquerading as a conservative. His embrace of the Sexual Revolution was every bit as troubling as that of the Democrats. I signed up for a William F. Buckley conservative movement and ended up with Sean Hannity — what went wrong? Some of my fellow Christians made the case that this was not a conscience issue, but rather a pragmatic choice between Clinton and Trump, but this did not change my thinking. I ended up voting for Darrell Castle and expected a Clinton electoral landslide as last night arrived.
I thought I would have an early night and be in bed by 10:30, with Clinton having wrapped it up. Exit polls seemed to confirm my view. When polls closed in Florida, I expected a quick call for Hillary, and thought I could start thinking about other things…but then Florida was not called. Certain counties were tighter than expected. Suddenly, Trump was competitive in North Carolina and Virginia…Virginia? Things were muddy, Clinton was not getting the electoral votes she should have been getting, and a glimmer of doubt was creeping into the TV coverage.
The night dragged on and I realized that Trump had a real chance at this thing. Leftists on my Twitter feed were weeping and gnashing their teeth over the results…could it be possible? And as the night went on, my elation grew. I didn’t support this man, but seeing the wisdom of the entire Inner Ring annihilated in a single night was too delicious not to love. And so events unfolded and he won. In the mystery of our Republic, people were referring to him as “President-elect Trump” by the end of the night. Imagine that!
And now I wake up in a world where the crushing premiums of the ACA may vanish, the innocent unborn may have hope in a refashioned Supreme Court, the economy might have the shackles taken off of it, and we may not rush off to whatever war the neo-liberals want us to fight next. How can I not breathe the fresh air and feel a new sense of possibility?
And yet….in the sea of all the post Election navel-gazing, Peter Hitchens article stands out to me. He describes how he has pleaded with liberals to use reason in their mad rush to destroy Western Civilization and how he warned that if they did not listen, something worse might arrive. As he puts it:
I said (as I recorded here a few weeks ago) to such people that they should listen to me while they could. I was content if they would only listen to me and moderate their policies. I did not even seek to wrest power from them, if they would only moderate their dogmatic revolutionary drive. I believed (and still believe) that they had made a mistake even on their own terms, that they could not possibly want the consequences of what they were doing. In the end, this was the Weimar Republic and they were courting a grave risk that they would eventually drive people too far. The response was sometimes personal abused, sometimes total, frozen indifference, very, very occasionally a brief, fairly uncomprehending attempt to see my point which came to nothing.
And he movingly summarizes:
Someone has cut the ropes, and we are adrift on a strange, sinister, powerful current towards an unknown destination which it might be better never to reach at all. The liberal democracies have exhausted their form of government, which is increasingly using democracy to reject liberalism, but in an angry and impatient way. This, no doubt, is due to the policies pursued by our existing rulers for 50 years. But I do not think that will make the experience any more comfortable. Anger and contempt for your opponents are poor foundations for civilised government.
I too think we may not have arrived in a sunny, new spot but rather are out to sea and moving towards a darker destination. It is much too soon to know, and I hold out hope that we come to our senses on killing babies in the womb, but I am also trepidatious about how we got here.
…of course we all know there isn’t anything, nor cleverness or gifts of gold or anything, that can make up for humility and the inward grace and they can say what they want about the P.E. church, but of course there’s no church that has more history or has stayed by the true principles of Christianity better than the Baptist Church…
…As I was saying, of course I agree with Reverend Zitterel in thinking that the great trouble with this nation today is lack of spiritual faith — so few going to church, and people automobiling on Sunday and heaven knows what all. But still I do think that one trouble is this terrible waste of money, people feeling that they’ve got to have bath-tubs and telephones in their houses…”
Quackodoxy exists between orthodoxy and heterodoxy (heresy). Quackodox ideas are ideas that are wrong but are held by people who are orthodox Christians. If a quackodox idea is pushed far enough and hard enough, it becomes a destructive heresy. Generally speaking, though, quackodox ideas simply trouble the church and make headaches for pastors.
Let me illustrate with several examples. One of the most prominent forms of quackodoxy today is the “home everything” movement. It is fine is you want to practice home birth, for instance, but it becomes quackodox when you try to say that home birth is the best, most Biblical way to have a baby, and then try to pressure other people into it. It is fine if you choose not to circumcise your son, but if you start calling circumcision “mutilation” you are getting pretty close to heresy (calling God a mutilator), and if you start pressuring people about it you are definitely quackodox. You choose to home school? Fine, but don’t say that the Bible teaches home schooling as the best way, because the Bible teaches no such thing. You choose not to use birth control and have twenty children? Fine, but don’t say that the Bible teaches against birth control, because in fact the Bible teaches that family planning is an aspect of Christian maturity (as are all forms of planning).
The Rushdoony-wing of Christian Reconstructionism has a number of quackodox ideas running around in it. One is their belief that the Sinaitic dietary laws are binding as laws of health for Christians. If you choose not to eat shrimp, that’s fine; but don’t try to say the Bible teaches it, because the Bible clearly teaches that Christians are not under these laws. Another quackodox idea that runs through California Reconstructionism is “Biblical geocentricity.” If you believe in a geocentric model of the cosmos, that’s fine; but don’t try to tell me that the Bible teaches it, because it clearly does not.
California Reconstructionists also virtually despise the institutional Church, and in this regard they are close to moving out of quackodoxy into full-blown heterodoxy.