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Curry emphasizes autonomy of Anglican Consultative Council

Curry emphasizes autonomy of Anglican Consultative Council

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry spoke with the Church Times:

THE Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States, the Rt Revd Michael Curry, has emphasised the autonomy of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC), in the wake of the Primates’ decision to censure his Church.

At their meeting in Canterbury earlier this month, the Primates’ required the US Episcopal Church to no longer represent them on ecumenical and interfaith bodies, not serve on the Primates or ACC standing committees, and not vote on matters of polity and doctrine at the ACC for a period of three years, as a consequence of its support for same-sex marriage.

The Primates’ gathering, however, has no official executive status. The authority to enforce such steps rests with the ACC itself.

Bishop Curry was asked directly whether he would contest these “consequences” at the next meeting of the ACC in April. On Wednesday, he would say only: “The ACC is the only formal constitutional body of the Anglican Communion and it will decide what it will do. Our representatives from the Episcopal Church look forward to being there.”

The ACC meets in April. The representatives to the ACC from The Episcopal Church are the Bishop of Connecticut, the Rt. Rev .Ian Douglas, the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings (also President of the House of Deputies), and Rosalie Simmonds Ballentine, lay person and deputy to the General Convention from the Virgin Islands. Church Times reports Douglas and Jennings have confirmed  they will attend. Douglas also serves on the ACC Standing Committee.

The Church Times reminds us:

In the past, members of the ACC have criticised the Primates for overstepping their remit. In 2006, after the Primates asked the US Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada to voluntarily withdraw their representatives from the ACC, the organisation’s then chairman, the Rt Revd John Paterson, criticised the move as “at least slightly premature, if not coercive and somewhat punitive” (News, 24 June, 2005).

Earlier this week Canon Lawyer Doe, member of the Anglican Covenant Design Group, called the primates’ move to limit the participation of the Episcopal Church “completely unacceptable interference with the autonomy of each of these bodies as they transact their own business.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury today issued his interpretation of the meaning of primates’ communiquë. The key paragraph regarding the Episcopal Church:

We remain committed to being together, albeit we asked that TEC, while attending and playing a full part in our meetings and all discussions, will not represent the Anglican Communion to other churches and should not be involved in standing committees for a period of three years. During this time we also asked that they not vote on matters of doctrine or how we organise ourselves.


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Chris Cooper

We have a big weekend coming up in Miami / Southeast Florida for the seating of the Rt. Rev. Peter Eaton.

1 P.M. – 5 P.M.


Keynote Presenter
The Most Reverend Josiah Idowu-Fearon
Secretary General of the Anglican Communion
Other Participants:
Archbishop John Holder of the West Indies
Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi of Burundi
Bishop James Tengatenga, Chair of the Anglican Consultative Council

Followed by Reception on Cathedral Grounds

SATURDAY, JANUARY 30, 2016 11 A.M.

Bishop Rowan Williams
104th Archbishop of Canterbury

Nelson Howell

We will see what happens but in my opinion the Episcopal Church has already lost 4.2 million members from the early 60’s. Episcopal Church cannot afford to lose anybody and I would not be surprised if we started losing people over this. AC of C has lost 3/4 of their membership from 1.2 million to 300 odd thousand. Don’t you all think we are doing something wrong?

Gregory Orloff

All Christian churches in the developed Western world are dropping in numbers — not just the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada.

Perhaps the words of Martin Luther King Jr. can explain why:

“So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an archdefender of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church’s silent — and often even vocal — sanction of things as they are.”

“But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If today’s church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century. Every day I meet young people whose disappointment with the church has turned into outright disgust.”

(Letter from a Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963)

John Sandeman

“All Christian churches in the developed Western world are dropping in numbers “.
Greg, this is not true in Australia. The pentecostal denomination “Australian Christian Churches” is growing well above the rate of population increase as is the seventh day Adventists. In Anglicanism the conservative parts of the anglican church of australia are also growing. Similar patterns occur in England where some denominations and some dioceses within the CofE are clearly growing.

Dan Ennis

The ACC is where Welby may prove to be in over his head when it comes to polity.

1. He called a “Primates Gathering” as distinct from a “Primates Meeting.”

2. He let GAFCON hijack the agenda and put through sanctions. It is unclear, from a parliamentary procedure point of view, whether the “Gathering” had any authority and thus whether the sanctions were anything more than a expression of the sentiments of a particular group of Primates.

3. Reports are that the voting as at the very least irregular, with Foley Beach either a) given a ballot so he would not feel left out, b) given a ballot because he was explicitly given the right to vote or c) not allowed to vote and sent out of the room.

4. Welby immediately starts to hem and haw about the language of the sanctions (ask? require?). He makes the weak gesture of condemning the criminalization of homosexuality — with no consequences attached, in the passive voice so as not to embarrass his new-found allies.

5. The Instrument of Communion that is charged with “advis[ing] on inter-Anglican, provincial, and diocesan relationships” is the ACC, a group that already views the Primates as having overreached.

Should TEC reps show up at ACC and act as if nothing is unusual, what would Welby do? Cite the “Gathering” as a new “Instrument of Communion?” Pretend the Gathering was a de facto “Primates Meeting?” Use his position ex officio President of the ACC to paper over the procedural issues by endorsing the statement issued by the Gathering?

And who cares anymore? Let’s get on with the divorce.

Jeremy Bates

Over on Andrew McGowan’s blog, Christopher L. Webber has posted a comment that puts the polity issue quite plainly. Quoting Webber:

“It’s all very well to point out that the Primates don’t actually have the power they assume, but it is not very well to let that action go unchallenged. Power unchallenged is power acquired. Rome gained the position it is has over centuries by asserting increasing power and not being challenged. If this power grab is not challenged, the Primates will understandably reach for more and this precedent will be cited as evidence that they have this power.”

Prof Christopher Seitz

Did you go to all that effort simply to conclude, “And who cares anymore? Let’s get on with the divorce.”

That does make for a true speech act…

Ellen Campbell

Very good comments Dan Ennis. You summarize all of the problems with this very well.

Br. Gregory Shy, CoS

I remain curious as to “how the three requirements” will work out if the ACC concurs with the primates. Given that there are churches that are ecumenically in relationship to the Anglican Communion that recognize same-sex marriage (Church of Sweden for example), what will that mean for those relations to exclude any TEC participation? Is this indirectly a message that those “bonds of friendship” are also in jeopardy? In for a penny, in for a pound? Should the Anglican Communion be consistent and make it clear that same-sex is a no-go and suspend those relations for three years (or more)?

The only one of the three that bothers me is the not vote on “how we organize ourselves.” Let me think about this. There will be a legislative body that will make decisions by/about us, and we don’t get any say in the matter. Didn’t parliament in England already try this once (with somewhat “difficult” consequences. Is disenfranchisement really an appropriate consequence?

Jeremy Bates

The “how we organize ourselves” business is presumably an attempt to lay the groundwork for some more structured Communion–one in which the Primates can “discipline” supposedly wayward provinces in more meaningful ways.

Prof Christopher Seitz

“Be sure you are not standing against the Holy Spirit as God moves to unify Christ’s Church.”

Amen and may that be blazoned above the skies.

For 2000 years, in solemn rites, vows and promises, the Holy Spirit has been called upon to bless a marriage as ordained by God in Creation and confirmed by Our Lord.

The Holy Spirit cannot contradict Himself. He is One with the Father who sent Him and the Son who makes Him known.

What you are calling for is a spirit who over time changes its mind.

It is precisely at this point that the Primates draw back and say ‘we cannot join you on this path. We will remain in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit who has guided us thus far.’

Dr. William A. Flint, MDiv, PhD

I not only think God has the ability to change God’s mind, but in fact God does. I also believe God has a greater ability to Love than we humans can ever begin to imagine. It is God’s Love that changes God’s mind, not our actions. I have lived through some of the most turbulent times in recent history to witness what I think to be the revelation of God’s Truth beyond the Bible. We interpret what God’s truth is many times without God’s active Presence. When I was boy, my pastor would tell me that “it isn’t true because it’s in the book, it is in the book because it is true.” He continued to say “that not all that is true can be in any book, it takes a human heart.” I think as we grow in God’s grace, that very grace changes us. It may well be God never changes, but we do.

I can trust that God is God and God will do what God wishes to do without our permission. The Word of God is a Living Word that far exceeds the bounded book. I believe in God and I trust in Jesus, the Incarnation of God. I try as best I can to be lead by the Holy Spirit. However, I am still a sinner and stand always in need of Christ, that is why the words: “take eat for this is My Body broken for you and take drink for this is My Blood shed for you” are so very important to me.

From the Cross, God saved the world with His own sacrificial Lamb. God forbid that I should judge who and who cannot be a part of His Body, the Church.

Thanks Be to God.

Gregory Orloff

“The Holy Spirit cannot contradict himself.”

Oh boy. Peter sure is in trouble then. Presumably the Holy Spirit gave the Law to the Hebrew people, but then Peter says: “You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with or visit a Gentile. But God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean.” (Acts 10:28).

Either the Holy Spirit contradicted himself, or Peter contradicted the Holy Spirit — or, just possibly, something changed in perception, awareness and understanding, divinely or humanly.

Then, of course, there’s the pesky business of circumcision. The Holy Spirit commands it as a marker of belonging to the covenant between God and his people (Genesis 12:9-14), but a few millennia later, James, Peter, Paul and Barnabas, along with the rest of a church council in Jerusalem, ruled that circumcision was not required, sealing their decision with “it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us” (Acts 15:1-29).

Hmmm… Either the Holy Spirit contradicted himself, or the Jerusalem Council contradicted the Holy Spirit — or, just possibly, something changed in perception, awareness and understanding, divinely or humanly.

The prohibitions on eating shellfish and pork, lending money at interest, getting divorced… All in one part or another of the Bible presumably inspired by the Holy Spirit, but right out ignored by even the most “traditionalist” of Christians nowadays, though practiced in various degrees by the generations that preceded them.

Are those Christians contradicting the Holy Spirit? If not, what legitimizes their changing of precedent?

Heavens to Betsy! That Bible, presumably inspired by the Holy Spirit, even speaks of slavery as natural and gives rules by which to operate it. Yet most Christians today argue that slavery is immoral and sinful (though some modern “Christian Dominionists,” who seek to impose “biblical law” wherever they can, argue that slavery is morally permissible, since it’s “in the Bible”).

So who’s on the Holy Spirit’s side there? The “Christians” who hold to the letter of the Bible on slavery and speak of the permissibility of its revival, or those Christians who can no longer consider slavery moral, in the spirit of what the “big picture” of the Bible has to say about all human beings being made in God’s image?

Jesus Christ may be “the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8), but the historical record makes it patently naive or dishonest to claim that nothing has ever changed in belief or practice among his followers over time because “the Holy Spirit cannot contradict himself.”

Christian history is rife with examples of change aplenty.

Prof. Christopher Seitz

“the foreigners living among them — not just to Gentiles.”

The foreigners living among them ARE the gentiles.

The laws in Leviticus 17-18 that apply to the ger are just those laws exactly that James (a Jewish Christian) and his confreres deemed the proper conduct for ‘those in the midst of Israel’ brought near by Christ.

Perhaps you could see the essays of Bockmuehl, Bauckham, or myself (Figured Out). This is pretty basic stuff.

God bless.

Gregory Orloff

The laws laid out in Leviticus 17 and 18 are addressed to both the Israelites and the foreigners living among them — not just to Gentiles.

Leviticus 17 deals with issues of animal sacrifice (which not many “orthodox, Bible-believing” folk practice nowadays, despite the Bible’s instructions — oops, more change, more “cherry-picking” and “compromise”) and consumption of dead animals.

It might have some modern application to ethical practices in hunting and meat preparation, and it does bring into question if one can still be “Biblically faithful” and order a medium rare steak. Perhaps the next “Primates Gathering” or “Meeting” (whichever it is at the moment), can address that dietary issue, so we all remain “absolutely Biblical.”

Leviticus 18 deals with issues of sexual relations and child sacrifice. The vast majority of its verses are addressed to heterosexuals.

It does bring into question if the marriage laws of states like North Carolina, which allows wedlock between first cousins, can be considered “Biblical” and thus “moral.” “Defenders of traditional Biblical marriage” might want to start campaigning to get those laws repealed. (Hopefully they’ll get around to all those un-Biblical divorce laws, too, for consistency’s sake.)

That said, Paul and the Council of Jerusalem most certainly did introduce a change in not requiring Gentiles to be circumcised, since “the Bible teaches” (presumably with the Holy Spirit behind it) that every male — “including those born in your household or bought with money from a foreigner” — must be circumcised as the mark of belonging to the covenant between God and his chosen people (Genesis 17:9-14). Not to do so, God says in that portion of the Bible, breaks his covenant (Genesis 17:14).

Yet the Council of Jerusalem sealed this change, this break with Biblical precedent, with these words: “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us” (Acts 15:28).

Peter’s visit to Cornelius also broke with Biblical practice and aroused much criticism: “You went into the house of uncircumcised men and ate with them” (Acts 11:3). Peter’s stance: “It is against our law for a Jew to associate with or visit a Gentile. But God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean” (Acts 10:28). He doesn’t appeal to the Bible for this change, but to a vision, a personal experience of the Holy Spirit. The church examined and agreed, probably after much more argument than Luke sets down in writing. Perhaps, were you alive at the time, you might have railed against Peter’s change as spurious innovation on the basis of “new revelations.”

Slavery is neither a canard nor a red herring. The inconvenient truth is that slavery was taken for granted in the Bible and not questioned morally, which many have used to justify its maintenance throughout history as part of “the divine order,” as the polemics of the American Civil War amply prove. (Some modern “Christian Dominionists” still flirt with its permissibility.) Long, long, long before Wilberforce, way back in the fourth century, Gregory of Nyssa spoke against the institution of slavery — the lone voice among the ancient church fathers to do so — on moral grounds drawn from Biblical notions of the God’s image in human beings, despite the rest of the Bible’s apparent tolerance of slavery. And look how many, many centuries it took the rest of the church to catch up with that one man!

Speaking of canards and red herrings, nobody here has appealed to “new revelations” a la Mormonism or New Age philosophy. They have appealed to a considered, reasoned and measured reading of the Bible and drawn conclusions from the gospel of Christ Jesus that, obviously, differ from yours or GAFCON’s or any number of parties. (Such disagreement is by no means a recent novelty in Christendom, as evidenced by the existence of thousands of different Christian denominations, many claiming a monopoly on truth and Biblical fidelity.) But to attribute their motivations and grounding to something other, to something un-Christian, is not right.

The question here was the premise that “the Holy Spirit cannot contradict himself” and thus nothing ever changes, when the history of Christianity is rife with changes from a presumably Spirit-inspired Biblical precedent — again, take the consumption of pork and shellfish, lending money at interest and getting divorced as but a few examples of things once prohibited by God’s word in the Bible, but now tolerated without batting an eyelash by most Christians.

Why, even the Bible changes its mind! In 2 Kings 10, Jehu’s massacre of the royal house of Ahab at Jezreel, endorsed by the prophet Elisha, is presented as a victory of God’s righteousness. Yet just a few generations down the road, another prophet, in Hosea 1:4, bills Jezreel as a name of shame, not of triumph, and deems Jehu’s massacre as something bad, which God says he will punish.

Come, Holy Spirit, come? As every celebration of Pentecost and every baptism reminds me, he’s already here!

Prof Christopher Seitz

Apologies for having to repeatedly point out that the laws laid down for Gentiles in Acts 15 are the precise same laws laid down for the sojourner in the midst of Israel in Leviticus 17-18, or as Markus Bockmuehl titled his work, “Jewish Law for Gentile Christians.” See also Richard Bauckham.

The slavery canard is also a red herring. Kidnapping people is a death penalty offense in the OT. Wilberforce and other Christian leaders were inspired by the Holy Spirit to reject false use of scripture in defense of chattel slavery originating in Muslim contexts and then exploited brutally by westerners.

The lavish gifting of the Holy Spirit isn’t in the form of Mormonism or New World ‘new revelations.’ Even the BCP’s catechism gets that much right!

Come Holy Spirit, come!

Jeremy Bates

“What you are calling for is a spirit who over time changes its mind.”

No. What we are describing is our faith that the Holy Spirit leads us into truth.

The truth that slavery is unChristian. The truth that the Jim Crow laws were unChristian. The truth that disciminating against women is unChristian.

Are all these, to you, be instances of the Holy Spirit changing its mind? Or is the church actually discerning more closely the very mind of God?

Lastly, I’m not sure whether God changes God’s mind. But if you wish to derive authority from the Hebrew Bible, read literally, what do you make of the passages that tell us that the Lord “relented”? (Jonah 3:10, Exodus 32:14.)

That might be a scary concept for you. But it’s what is written: God “relented.” In other words, God changed God’s mind.

So which is true? The literal words of Scripture? Or your understanding of God as eternally consistent?

Prof Christopher Seitz

You’ve reached your max of four for the day on this thread – ed.

I’d welcome the reminder about BCP services invoking in sacred rites the Holy Spirit’s full embrace of slavery, or Jim Crow, or whatever.

You may wish to read my books on God’s relenting in the Minor Prophets (Joel, T/T Clark, 2016). Or you would find more help from St Thomas at this passage.

Thank you however. Your remarks help show how the New Vision of TEC organizes its theological warrants and for that I am grateful.

God bless.

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