Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Why a new Anglican group might not be much better than The Episcopal Church

UPDATE: Folks, I was in a near car wreck today so my adrenalin was a bit up. I reacted to some sarcasm with this post. I'm not going to take the post down, but let me say a couple of things for clarity:
  • I have lots of friends in ACNA, and a bunch of them are in Bedford.
  • ACNA is taking in the real missionaries that TEC is throwing away. The influence of mission-minded leaders is why a person like Rick Warren was invited to speak and why he accepted.
  • But the 'tude thrown at me on the other site does give me pause. How much of the old Episcopalian snobbery, even if "traditional," has relocated? It didn't advance the Gospel in TEC, and it ain't gonna advance it in ACNA.
  • I think that the jury remains out on Anglicanism in North America... but I will keep praying and working.


Earlier, I blogged about the value of Rick Warren's insights into congregational ministry, which he shared with a newly formed Anglican Church in North America (ACNA).

But on another site, a commenter wrote:

I specifically avoided Warren, a non-reading, broad evangelical. Give me some substance and Warren didn't fail to meet my zero-standards. Please afford us some depth.

When I posted a reply defending Warren's value for a church that needs its ideas put to work in mission, the commenter came back with:

Thanks Tim for your curious thoughts, although rather unhelpful theologically. Thanks again.

So there ya go. I can have ACNA, with a wrapped-too-tight traditional museum/church constituency, or I can have The Episcopal Church, with a campy-albeit-moldy cabaret/church constituency.

Neither vision very inspiring, thanks. My doubts about Anglicanism just keep on growing.


Anonymous said...

Fr. Tim -

Know it gets a little depressing to find the 'wrapped too tightly' types out there. However, if you had heard Fr. Bill Thompson or Fr. Jose' speak you would be encouraged. Yes, there will always be those who only can see the red door and smell incense - but the REAL men of Christ and Anglicanism know that others knowing Christ and reaching out to the world around us is what we are to be about.

I think your friend would have thought Jesus's thoughts a little curious and 'unhelpful theologically' - we should feel very sorry for him.

Blessings and keep your awesome faith -


TLF+ said...

Hi, Kay, and thank you.

My blood is a bit "up" tonight after a near car wreck today and some other stressors earlier in the week.

I know Bill (so glad he's a Bishop!) and Jose from my L.A. days, and have many friends in ACNA generally and there in Bedford specifically. I know that the sincere and well developed disciples are in the lead there. And I think it is a testimony to their missionary emphasis that they had Rick Warren speak... the question now is, can they get enough clergy and people to follow the good counsel.

I'll keep praying!

robroy said...

A very timely post. At the inception of the ACNA, it is meet and right to walk humbly before the Lord remembering to never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Boy, was that mixing references or what? But it is important to remember that we boast in something so shameful as the cross.

Hubris was the downfall of the Episcopal denomination. I grew up with people that looked disdainfully on those who treasured Holy Scriptures (those "Bible thumpers"). It was this attitude that led to the ignorance of Scriptures that allowed false teachers to rise and with serpent tongues lead millions astray.

Blessings to you and yours, Father Tim!

Texanglican (R.W. Foster+) said...

I don't know who that commenter was, sir, but he in no way represents what I have felt at the ACNA Assembly. Warren was spectacular, and anyone who casts stones at his address either didn't bother to watch the video or has a peculiar idea of what an appropriate evangelistic talk is all about. This meeting has not, IMHO, shown the hubris your commenter displayed. He is not in any way representative. Please do not tar all of ACNA because of the unfortunate opinions of one commenter.

plsdeacon said...

While I have my doubts about ACNA (the proliferation of Bishops and the fact that they still are not united enough to have one bishop per geographical area gives me great pause. The humility necessary for one bishop to subordinate himself to another is not there. There still seems to be too much "me" in ACNA.

But things in TEC are not much better. There is way too much "me" in TEC - from priests and bishops who determine which parts of the Canons they will obey to the ones who think their theological thinking is more important than that of the Church.

Phil Snyder

TLF+ said...

Deacon Phil, you get the prize for best John the Baptist day insight!

"Too much 'me'" =

"I must decrease, while He must increase."

Unknown said...

I wholeheartedly agree with your warnings, dear friend. We cannot escape our DNA - only the Holy Spirit can regenerate us to be what He has created us to be. We will take our TEC (and other organizations) DNA into this new organization - how can we not?

There is robust discussions on the local level on the opportunities before us to do things differently. The challenge is that for many - local and national - there is a weariness of years of struggle. There is a tendency to believe we have "come home" when that is not true, not true at all. Home is not here, it was never meant to be here. We are sojourners in this land, that has not changed.

That being said, we must be diligent, we must be watchful, we must not believe for a second that we've arrived. We are the ones most in danger of becoming the Pharisees. We need to take that warning soberly.

We have barely begun - we are only just starting out on this journey. This is not about arguing over whether it's better to order vestments from Whipple or Almy. This is not about whether we have the lastest iTunes download from Hillsong. This is not about whether we are followers of Calvin or Wesley. This is not about defining ourselves even as former Episcopalians.

In fact, the Epistle reading from this past Sunday was as prophetic as they come. II Corithians 5:

6So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 18All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21God made him who had no sin to be sin[a] for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

May this be so - that we have a zeal to be not caretakers of a religion, but truly ambassadors for Christ. If the old has passed away, the new has come - the old is not TEC. The old is us. If our DNA is to be regenerated, let it begin here, with us, on this day - and we will know it to be so by our love, yes, our love and hope in Christ for all and we can leave the snobbery behind.


JamesW. said...

I share much of Phil's concern with the ACNA. I was personally soured on reading about the ACNA meeting when I read the name of one individual who will be made a bishop. This is a guy who shouldn't be a priest, let alone a bishop, and I know that higher-ups in the ACNA know that. I also would have known if the guy had been properly vetted, which he apparently wasn't. It just seems to me that the ACNA has an awful lot of "purple fever" - almost as if they asked every ACNA clergy "who wants to be a bishop?" and everyone who answered affirmatively gets consecrated.

I mean, what's up with the Canadian group having under 5,000 ASA, but having a combined total now of SEVEN bishops!!! Why?

I think that Phil hit the nail on the head when he said "[t]here still seems to be too much "me" in ACNA" and also when he points out that the humility is lacking that permits one bishop to subordinate himself to another. I continue to believe that the ACNA would have been far better served if it had remained under the leadership of GS bishops, until the ACNA had purged itself of this lack of humility and purple fever.

TLF+ said...

the old is not TEC. The old is us. Well said, bb. Personally, I think one of the reasons that God has me stuck betwixt and between and not having a dramatic way forward is that there is too much "old" in me. (Long backstory of God closing many doors and I won't bore you with it here). I don't think myself superior to ACNA, rather, I would not be helpful to ACNA at this stage in its life. Too much resentment for having my gifts rejected by TEC and, with that, probably too much craving to have them puffed up in a new setting.

But that gets me back to my original worry - can North American Anglicanism produce anything but such spiritual frustration and warping? Is it so subservient to old notions of social superiority and elitism that it cannot help but speak only to its card-carrying members? I wonder if it has to die with all the old cultural stuff to which it is subservient.

JamesW - to pick up on your final point, I felt that Global South leadership gave the now-ACNA folks moral high ground. It pointed up the cultural bigotry and institutional racism of old, gay, rich white TEC and its Euro dependents. It also pointed up the hilarity of TEC's "inclusive" claims and, frankly, gave an exciting vision of a church not based on cultural trappings but one that truly spanned the globe, overthrew some worldly assumptions of superiority and inferiority, and just plain had a chance to be more of a New Testament church. Hopefully ACNA can achieve some of this by sharing mission with the GS, as Abp. Orombi suggested in Newport Beach.

Peter said...

JamesW, all of the bishops currently connected to the Anglican Network in Canada are retired right now. They were filling in. The bishops-elect" are filling those spots.

JamesW. said...

Peter - yes I am aware that 3 of the soon-to-be 7 bishops are retired. I still wonder why there needs to be 4. And this isn't just the case in Canada, but there seems to be pretty rampant purple fever in the U.S. branches also.

My personal belief is that our church needs fewer bishops right now, and we need to be a whole lot more careful about who we make bishops - and that means fully investigating and vetting each candidate like is done for U.S. Supreme Court judges and presidential candidates. That means looking at candidates' pasts - has there been significant parish conflicts in their churches? If so, why? Talk to everyone who was involved. This simply isn't being done, but instead the "personality contest" attitude remains - in TEC the most popular people were liberals. In the ACNA the most popular people are conservatives. We need to rethink how we do things, rather then simply redo what we've always done thinking that its okay to do it that way since we are all conservatives now.

Wilf said...


I don't believe God shares your opinion about you.