Continuing AMiA Confusion

The issue of women’s ordination in the AMiA is old news on this blog. But the latest press release from AMiA (I refuse to call it “theAM”) continues to display the problems that American Anglicans have with this issue. Specifically:

In 2007, the Anglican Mission expanded its structure at the request of Archbishop Kolini by creating the Anglican Mission in the Americas as an umbrella organization which includes the Anglican Mission in America (AMiA), the Anglican Coalition in Canada (ACiC) now under the leadership of Bishop Silas Ng and the Anglican Coalition in America (ACiA). This structure embraces two countries (the U.S. and Canada) as well as two theological positions on the ordination of women to the presbyterate. Both the ACiC and the ACiA ordain women to the priesthood, as does the Province of Rwanda, while the AMiA maintains its policy of ordaining women only to the diaconate. This structure provides a way to maintain the integrity, and honor the consciences, of those with differing positions and policies on women’s ordination, which mirrors the period of reception within Anglican Christianity.

Let’s see, there is:

1. Anglican Mission in America – no women’s ordination

2. Anglican Mission in the Americas – yes to women’s ordination and includes:

—-[1] Anglican Mission in America

—-[2] Anglican Coalition in Canada

—-[3] Anglican Coalition in America

Now there is a “initiative” called  Churches for the Sake of Others (C4SO). Got it? With all those organizations and abbreviations, it’s like a front company being run out of Barbados! Websites exist for AMiA and ACiC. The bottom line to me is that it is one group, but it has created sub-groups in order to allow for the orthodox position on ordaining women (AMiA) and to look generic and not terribly Anglican to west coast hip people (C4SO).

Bishop Hunter is quoted using buzzwords like missional and celebrate when he says:

Bishop Todd explains. “It’s not about ordaining a particular gender or an issue of social justice for me – ordination is not a ‘right’ for anyone. While I recognize and celebrate the differences between genders, I want to raise up human beings gifted and called to Kingdom ministry…I guess you can say I’m an egalitarian of the complementary sort.”

What does that mean? I have no idea. My guess is that it means he is OK with ordaining women.

“I am excited about the potential for women to be part of our church planting movement on the west coast and am already seeing fruit of such ministry in C4SO,” he adds. “This is all about facilitating a missional commitment.”

The Bible and church tradition could not be more clear on this issue.

Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?  (1 Timothy 3:2-5 ESV)

I will continue to press the following beliefs:

1. AMiA, CANA, REC and all the other groups should cease to exist and merge into one body, namely ACNA. Disband all the regional headquarters and websites.

2. Women’s ordination should be totally rejected by all these bodies.

3. A common prayer book and liturgy should be used by all parishes in ACNA.

4. The 39 Articles should be central to ACNA, not just in lip-service, but in testing candidates for holy orders.

Hagarism: Sources 1

Patricia Crone and Michael Cook wrote a book called Hagarism: The Making of the Islamic World. The book posits a very different origin for Islam than the one we usually read about. They question the existence of the historical Muhammad and the origins of the Qur’an.

This book is vociferously hated in Islamic circles from what I can tell. I see it denounced and ridiculed, but I have yet to see anything that actually refutes it in terms of dealing with its claims and sources one by one. Crone herself has said that she no longer holds to the central thesis of Part I of the book {she has not refuted the entire thing}. That said, I want to list some of her sources for public consumption.

Her first claim is that the prophet of “Hagarism” came preaching Judaic messianism. Her is her text, interspersed with her endnotes and sources:

If we choose to start again, we begin with the Doctrina Iacobi, a Greek anti Jewish tract spawned by the Heracelan persecution.

N. Bonwetsch (ed.), Doctrina Iacobi nuper baptizati, in Abhandlungen der Königlichen Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften ‘zu Göttingen, Philologisch-historische Klasse, n.s., vol. xii, Berlin 1910.

It is cast in the form of a dialogue between Jews set in Carthage in the year 634; it was in all probability written in Palestine within a few years of that date.

See F. Nau, ‘La Didascalie de Jacob‘, in R. Graffin and F. Nau (eds.), Patrologia Orientalis, Paris 1903-, vol. viii, pp. 715f. The lack of hindsight in respect of the outcome of the Arab invasion would suggest that Nau’s date of 640 is certainly too late.

At one point in the argument reference is made to current events in Palestine in the form of a letter from a certain Abraham, a Palestinian Jew.

Doctrina, pp. 86f

A false prophet has appeared among the Saracens … They say that the prophet has appeared coming with the Saracens, and is proclaiming the advent of the anointed one who is to come[tou erkhomenou Eleimmenou kai Khristou]. I, Abraham, went off to Sykamina and referred the matter to an old man very well versed in the Scriptures. I asked him: ‘What is your view, master and teacher, of the prophet who has appeared among the Saracens?’ He replied, groaning mightily: ‘He is an impostor. Do the prophets come with sword and chariot? Truly these happenings today are works of disorder … But you go off, Master Abraham, and find out about the prophet who has appeared.’ So Abraham, made enquiries, and was told by those who had met him: ‘There is no truth to be found in the so-called prophet, only bloodshed; for he says he has the keys of paradise, which is incredible.’

There are several points of interest in this account. One is the doctrine of the keys. It is not of course Islamic, but there are some slight indications that it was a doctrine which the Islamic tradition had been at pains to repress: there is a group of traditions in which the keys of paradise are sublimated into harmless metaphor, and a Byzantine oath of abjuration of Islam mentions the belief that the Prophet was to hold the keys of paradise as part of the ‘secret’ doctrine of the Saracens.

See A. J. Wensinck et al., Concordance et indices de la tradition musulmane, Leyden 1933- 69, s.v. miftah, where the key(s) of paradise are prayer and the shahada.

‘I anathematise the secret doctrine of the Saracens and promise of Muhamed that he would become the gatekeeper (kleidoukhos) of paradise .. .’ (E. Montet, ‘Un rituel d’abjuration des Musulmans dans l’eglise grecque‘, Revue de l’histoire des religions 1906, p. 1 5 I). The oath seems to be a ninth-century compilation of heterogeneous materials.

The point is not of great intrinsic interest, but it does suggest that we have in the Doctrina a stratum of belief older than the Islamic tradition itself. Of greater historical significance is the fact that the Prophet is represented as alive at the time of the conquest of Palestine. This testimony is of course irreconcilable with the Islamic account of the Prophet’s career, but it finds independent confirmation in the historical traditions of the Jacobites, Nestorians and Samaritans;
The earliest confirmation is that of the ‘Continuatio Byzantia Arabica‘, which preserves in Latin translation a Syrian chronicle dating from early in the reign of Hisham (see below, p. 179, n. 9) and presumably of Melchite or Jacobite origin: according to this source, the Saracens invaded the provinces of Syria, Arabia and Mesopotamia while under the rule of Mahmet (T. Mommsen (ed. ), Chronica Minora, vol. ii ( = Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Auctores Antiquissimi, vol. xi), Berlin 1894, p. 337). Otherwise the most important testimony on the Jacobite side is the archaic account of the origins of Islam preserved by Michael the Syrian (J.-B. Chabot (ed. and tr.), Chronique de Michelle Syrien, Paris 1899-1910, vol. iv, p. 405 = vol. ii, pp. 403f); to this maybe added an anonymous Syriac chronicle of the later eighth century (I. Guidi et al., Chronica Minora (= Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium. Scriptores Syri. third series, vol. iv), Louvain 1903-7. pp. 348 = 274)· On the Nestorian side the belated witness of the Arabic Chronicle of Si’ird is explicit (A. Scher (ed. and tr.). Histoire nestorienne, part two, in Patrologia Orientalis, vol. xiii, p. 601).while a Syriac chronicle probably written in Khazistan in the 670s suggestively slips in a mention of Muhammad as the ruler of the Arabs in the middle of an account of the conquests. (Chronica Minora, pp. 30 = 26; the dating is that of T. Nöldeke, ‘Die von Guidi herausgegebenesyrische Chronik’, Sitzungsberichte der philologischhistorischen Classe der KaiserlichenAkademie der Wissenschaften, vol. cxxviii, Vienna 1893. pp. 2f). On the Samaritan side we have the testimony of a medieval Arabic recension of the tradition (E. Vilmar (ed.), AbulfathiAnnalesSamaritani. Gotha I 865. p. I 8o). The convergence is impressive.

the doctrinal meaning of the discrepancy will be taken up later.

But the really startling thing about the Doctrina is its report that the Prophet was preaching the advent of ‘the anointed one who is to come’. That is to say the core of the Prophet’s message, in the earliest testimony available to us outside the Islamic tradition, appears as Judaic messianism. The idea is hardly a familiar one, but again it is strikingly confirmed by independent evidence.

It also finds a confused reflection in the prominence in Theophanes’ account of the beginnings of Islam of Jews who take Muhammad to be their expected Christ (Chronographia, A.M. 6122).

[end of quotes from Hagarism]

Thoughts on Death

One thing that strikes me in thinking about death is that when someone dies, their way of ordering the world is gone. There is something about the things that they touched, wrote, painted and so on that we are inclined to preserve. I was looking at some cards from my Mom that were fairly insignificant, but now they mean a lot to me because that’s her writing on the paper. Her thoughts are expressed and they are now inaccessible to me going forward.

What I mean by ordering the world is the way that we keep our things. Mom placed articles and books in certain places in her house. Everything in the house was a certain way. Clothes were here, pictures there. Boxes were put in this closet, the old high chair in that one, etc. You might cut your grass and trim your hedge a certain way. These are very tedious and in some sense, minor details, but as soon as you die or are struck ill, they begin to evaporate and vanish from the world as if you had never been. This is probably one reason behind why some people keep rooms exactly as the deceased left them and refuse to alter them. Altering the room would break apart some of the last remaining traces of the dead person’s affect on the world. Taking this further, it is easy to see some of the motivations behind preserving the relics of saints in the form of pieces of clothing, bone, teeth, hair and so on. I’m certainly not agreeing with that practice, just seeing a possible origin for it.

As soon as you die, the way you kept your house and trimmed your hedge begins to fade. Someone else may be left living in it and decide to change things to the way they want it. Or it might be sold to someone entirely different and all traces of you living there will be gone. For those in nursing homes this uncaring process starts earlier. The world does not care about you or I and it will keep right on turning without us.

But traces of us (and our ancestors) linger on if our own children do things the way we did them. Perhaps they organize their things in similar ways to us, make the same recipes or like the same authors. A hundred little things pass from generation to generation, most of them unconscious and hidden in plain sight.

The urge to preserve something of who we were is a primary motivation for writers of history and seekers of glory who want to emblazon their memory onto the wax of history. Unfortunately for many of them, the vast bulk of people couldn’t care less for what happened five days ago, much less five centuries or millenia ago. Anna Comnena admirably summarizes the urge of the historian to preserve:

The stream of Time, irresistible, ever moving, carries off and bears away all things that come to birth and plunges them into utter darkness, both deeds of no account and deeds which are mighty and worthy of commemoration; as the playwright says, it ‘brings to light that which was unseen and shrouds from us that which was manifest’. Nevertheless, the science of History is a great bulwark against this stream of Time; in a way it checks this irresistible flood, it holds in a tight grasp whatever it can seize floating on the surface and will not allow it to slip away into the depths of Oblivion.

I think this is also the motivation of the family historian, researching genealogy. It is often a lonely task and you wonder why you are doing it. But that is why: to try to preserve some slim reed of what was against the overwhelming tide of time which sweeps on ahead.

The ultimate hope for the Christian is that these small things which make up the essence of who we are will be continued in the future age. Perhaps when we are resurrected our way of doing things, perfected and renewed, will be carried on in the new heavens and new earth. When I walk into wherever my resurrected Mom “lives” – if such a concept makes sense then [and I think it will] – it will be recognizably her space as her way of doing things will be obvious to me. At least, that’s my theory.

A Thought on Israel

Since many pre-millenialists have so hitched their wagon to the current state of Israel, if it were defeated and destroyed in a war, what would happen to their faith? Would it be shattered because what they think the Bible says has been overturned? I hope not. I hope the post-millenialism and preterism will get a hearing as the years tick by and The Late Great Planet Earth keeps turning.

Books on Death

Since my Mom died, the subject of death interests me in more than an academic fashion. I have pulled out some books on death, grief and the afterlife that I plan to read or skim in order to solidify in my mind what is going on. One thing that is key to remember in this situation is that my Mom is now experiencing life after death but that it isn’t the goal or the end of the story. The final act is what N.T. Wright calls life after life after death – the resurrection of the dead. That can get lost in all our talk about heaven. Our future isn’t a disembodied state in the clouds. It’s in our body, perfected and raised, in a new heavens and new earth. Mom was buried (as I believe all bodies still are) with her feet facing east. Why? Because Jesus comes from the east and when we are raised, the presumption is that we will face his glorious appearance.

So, the books I am looking at so far are:

1. C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

2. N.T. Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God

3. Philippe Aries, The Hour of Our Death

If I can, I’ll share some things I find interesting out of reading these texts. Hopefully they will help me deal with my Mom’s death. As great as the Christian hope is during the death of a loved one, the inability to communicate with that person over the gulf of death is (I think) one of the cruelest parts about death. I am thankful for the example of Jesus, who wept at the death of Lazarus, and for the fact that the Bible calls death an enemy, although a defeated one. We don’t have to be pie in the sky, happy at the time of death. I’m not in favor of trying to “celebrate” at death. I want a grim funeral with the 1928 Book of Common Prayer liturgy when I die. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Yes, we have hope. Yes, the future will be glorious. But yes, the pain is real and the loneliness in the midst of a world that keeps turning and doesn’t care that you are here today and gone tomorrow is real. It all has to be worked through somehow.

Rebinding a Bible

My Mom was a student of the Word of God throughout her life. She took notes, underlined things, looked up words, and prayed over the text. One Bible she had was a beat up King James version that she got in 1967 from my Dad. It is red, and I remember her reading it during prayer in the morning. I just sent it off to be rebound, and I’m excited to see what it will look like. I should have taken before pictures, but I’ve had a lot going on so I didn’t. I sent it to this place: Mechling Bookbindery. You can watch a short video about them at this link.

I ordered red goatskin, with a red and a gold ribbon. I expect it to look great and to last for years to come. It’s a Cambridge Bible, so it should be a real treasure. I’ll put pictures up when the work is finished.