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:

    Abortion in Rome

    Detail from a sarcophagus, mid-2nd century.

    In early Rome, according to Philippe Ariès:

    The birth of a Roman was not merely a biological fact. Infants came into the world, or at any rate were received into society, only as the head of the family willed. Contraception, abortion, the exposure of freeborn infants, and infanticide of slaves’ children were common and perfectly legal practices. They would not meet with disapproval or be declared illegal until a new morality had taken hold, a morality which for the sake of brevity I shall describe simply as Stoic. A citizen of Rome did not “have” a child; he “took” a child, “raised” him up (tollere). Immediately after the birth it was the father’s prerogative to raise the child from the earth where the midwife had placed it, thus indicating that he recognized the infant as his own and declined to expose it. […]

    A child whose father did not raise it up was exposed outside the house or in some public place. Anyone who wished might claim it. An absent father might order his pregnant wife to expose her baby as soon as it was born. The Greeks and the Romans thought it peculiar that Egyptians, Germans, and Jews exposed none of their children but raised them all. In Greece it was more common to expose female infants than males. In 1 B.C. a Greek wrote his wife: “If (touch wood!) you have a child, let it live if it is a boy.If it is a girl, expose it.” It is not at all clear, however, that the Romans shared this prejudice. They exposed or drowned malformed infants. This, said Seneca, was not wrath but reason: “What is good must be set apart from what is good for nothing.” The Romans also exposed the children of their daughters who had “gone astray.” (Ariès et al. 9–10).

    Cited

    Ariès, Philippe, et al. A History of Private Life, Volume I: From Pagan Rome to Byzantium. Eds. Philippe Aries and Georges Duby. 12th ed. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1992. Print.

    So you want to change the ACNA Constitution?

    ACNA bishops in January, 2017.

    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.

    Bibliotheca at last!

    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 five volumes of Bibliotheca

    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.

    A sample page

    The colophon describes the unique features of the books:

    This is how the Table of Contents looks in each volume:

    The books open flat:

    Here the set is with some other volumes:

    CANA East may eliminate the Deacon’s Mass

    CANA East’s Canon Theologian Rev. Canon Dr. Henry P. Jansma has written a paper suggesting that this diocese stop practicing the Deacon’s Mass. His conclusion:

    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.

    Clergy and Narcissistic Personality Disorder

    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.

    Elmer Gantry

    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.

    The Toronto Blessing and ACNA

    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.