Rev. Blake Johnson on Holy Orders

Blake Johnson contributed to the discussion of women’s ordination over on the Theopolis blog. One point he makes that readers of James Jordan will find familiar is:

The typological representation in marriage is gendered. And so it is in a liturgical context. Genesis doesn’t give us a biological description of male and female, but it does give us a liturgical one. Like marriage, liturgy does not assume androgynous categories of the body, but invests male and female categories with typological significance, rooted in creation and pointing to redemption.

PEAR USA on Women’s Ordination

The Proposed Charter of the new Missionary District says:

Section 3. Men and Women in Ministry

PEARUSA upholds the biblical teaching that both men and women are created in God’s image and called to service in his Kingdom. For this reason, PEARUSA is committed to promoting the ministry of women alongside men, both within and outside the church. At the same time, the Bible also teaches that God created men and women with distinct differences, and has given them different roles within his Kingdom. Within the Anglican Communion there is a diversity of opinion regarding the ordination of women. While the Anglican Province of Rwanda does ordain women as Presbyters, PEARUSA does not, nor does it consecrate women as Bishops, nor does it receive or license women to serve as Presbyters or Bishops.

Technically, AMiA held this same position, although it watered it down over time by creating various sub-jurisdictions and entities. This is a very encouraging step towards rolling back the errors inflicted on the Church in the Seventies.

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.

Ending the Anglican Alphabet Soup

With the creation of the Anglican Church in North America, the time has come to end the various sub-groups which were necessary for the time of trials just passed through. Part of me doesn’t like this much because I think that parts of the AMiA are the best current representation of what a Biblical Church should look like. But it seems to me that every dollar spent on maintaining separate organizational structures is wasted. Why have a separate communications structure for CANA, AMiA, REC, etc? It’s waste of effort and money. And yet we see Bishop Minns saying:

Since Day 1, CANA has been and will continue to be a full participant in the life of the new province, and will continue to maintain our own identity.  We will encourage groups of congregations when they are ready, to establish themselves as free-standing dioceses.  Our goal is to support the work, mission, and ministry of the gospel on this continent and bring our own particular distinctive to that task.

Bishop Murphy has said similar things about AMiA continuing in something of a “Canterbury and York” model. Indeed, as I was writing this I received an e-mail from AMiA where Bishop Murphy says:

As a founding member of both the Common Cause Partnership and the emerging province, we will continue to fully participate in ACNA.  As we have consistently explained, however, we remain a missionary outreach of the Province of the Anglican Church of Rwanda under the authority of Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini.  This allows us to enjoy dual citizenship, a similar relationship to that of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA).

But I think we need to ask whether in ten or twenty years we will need all of these separate groups? It’s great for AMia and CANA to continue missionary efforts, but they should be able to do this as some kind of missionary diocese under ACNA, without needing their own leadership and headquarters. How much of this division is due to leftover animosities between bishops and churches?

I do understand some legitimate reasons for staying apart. As my friend Jim said to me, many folks won’t want to be under a Bishop who approves of women’s ordination, for example. But these issues need to be worked out from within ACNA unless it becomes obvious that it will never change and is un-reformable, which is hardly the case right now at its inception. I think good Anglican in all the bodies that make up ACNA should voice their desire for unity to their leaders and pray for change.