The ACNA’s “James Pike Moment”

It’s in front of them:

Now, a close associate of the Archbishop of Canterbury, The Rev. Tory Baucum, the Rector of Truro Church in Fairfax, Virginia (along with his eighteen-member vestry), has followed along this postmodern Humpty Dumpty trajectory, re-defining “Reconciliation” away from its biblical meaning of unity in Christ and in the truth of the Scriptures. This week, they announced the establishment of a “School of Peace and Reconciliation” based at their church, a parish in the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), in partnership with the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia. This is ironic, in that the TEC Bishop of Virginia has participated in law suits against numerous congregations of the ACNA in Virginia. Further “muddying the waters” are the terms of the agreement for this new school, which appear to include having a TEC Bishop resident at Truro Church and, while granting permission to visit Truro for the ACNA Bishop of the Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic (ACNA), who has oversight of Truro Church, neither the Archbishop of the ACNA nor any other bishop may visit the church without TEC approval!

Truro for its part attempts to put an evangelistic face on the thing:

It is the natural outgrowth of Truro’s “ministry of accompaniment,” most visibly expressed in our Alpha and Amore (domestic church) missional communities. To better export Truro’s DNA we are developing an internship program for young people to learn the practices that “make for peace” in spiritually and socially conflicted situations such as prevail in the greater Washington DC region. The situations we will focus on in the early years of the program will include, but are not limited to, ministry among Muslims, immigrants and at-risk-children.

In the greater scheme of things, I don’t see what a partnership with TEC will do to enhance any church’s evangelistic mission.  For openers, it really too small of a slice of the population (and getting smaller all the time.)  Moreover, at one time it had a serious reach to the upper levels of our society, but now the upper reaches are just too secular any more, it’s best to start with something completely different and representing the real Gospel.

It’s no secret that this is a part of Justin Welby’s “reconciliation” initiative.  That should be no recommendation.  It’s the critical moment: the leadership of the ACNA needs to make up its mind that all the agony and money expended on a new “province” in North America was neither in vain nor just an exercise to manufacture more purple shirts.  In the context of the present situation, it’s the ACNA’s leadership’s “James Pike moment,” and we would do well to remember the last one, fifty years ago:

In 1966, a group led by Henry I. Louttit, bishop of the Central Archdeanery of South Florida, demanded that Pike be tried for heresy.

John Hines, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, met with Louttit and a small delegation in New York and told them he had polled key figures in the mass media, who had declared unanimously that a heresy trial would severely, disastrously damage the Church’s image.

Most of the bishops agreed. The Bishop of New York expressed the feelings of the majority: “Of all the methods of dealing with Bishop Pike’s views, the very worst is surely a heresy trial! Whatever the result, the good name of the church will be greatly injured.”

Hines asked Louttit and his cohorts to allow an ad hoc committee to address the problem more informally, less visibly. Louttit reluctantly agreed. Members of the committee met, engaged in a great deal of hand-wringing, and came back with a report that said in part:

It is the opinion that this proposed trial would not solve the problem presented to the church by this minister, but in fact would be detrimental to the church’s mission and witness…This heresy trial would be widely viewed as a “throw back” to centuries when the law in church and state sought to repress and penalize unacceptable opinions…it would spread abroad a “repressive image” of the church and suggest to many that we were more concerned with traditional propositions about God than with the faith as the response of the whole man to God.

At Wheeling, West Virginia, the House of Bishops adopted this statement by an overwhelming vote, though they also agreed to “censure” Bishop Pike – a small, dry bone tossed to Christian orthodoxy. In the above passage, two phrases — “acceptable opinions” and “repressive image” – revealed what was really going on.

It’s time to quit worrying about what “everyone thinks” (and that includes Justin Welby) and do the right thing.

And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. (Jos 24:15 KJV)

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