As the Anglican Church in North America just recently announced, the PDF of the new “Approved” edition of the Catechism is now available. Crossway will be publishing this edition of To Be a Christian: An Anglican Catechism in early 2020. You can pre-order a copy on Amazon here (affiliate link). I’ve added bookmarks to the…
Of all the prayers we used to pray from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer at Bethesda, probably my favourite was what the Prayer Book called “A General Thanksgiving,” but I normally attached the definite article to it. It’s especially appropriate now and here it is: Almighty God, Father of all mercies, we, thine unworthy […]
One of the more interesting items on this blog (some don’t think there are any, but I digress) is the McPherson-Bogard Debate, between one of the most important figures in early modern Pentecost and one of the most illustrious representatives of fundamental Baptist belief and practice. The fact that the Pentecostals were represented by a woman does relate to the current topic, but that’s for another post.
In those days the two disputants got into a church with a crowd and went at it. Today in the Anglican/Episcopal world two or more get on a blog or blogs and produce extended pieces which many won’t understand and hopefully won’t degenerate into a food fight. Mercifully the recent debate between Emily McGowin on the one side and Lee Nelson and Blake Johnson on the other didn’t do that. It concerns the possibility of ordaining women to the priesthood or not, a debate that has continued in the Anglican Church in North America since its founding.
It’s easier to start with the rejoinder: at the risk of oversimplification, Nelson and Johnson state that, since Christ was male, it is necessary for a male to represent him at the altar, thus women cannot do this task. This is familiar to any one who has moved in the Roman Catholic world. The problem with this is that it presupposes an unbiblical ecclesiology. It requires that the celebrant, as a priest, represent Christ at the altar, and thus be empowered to effect the transformation of the elements as Our Lord did at the Last Supper and Paul enjoined us to continue in the Eucharist. That in turn leads to the whole concept of the Mass as a present sacrifice, which I deal with elsewhere.
At the risk of being repetitious and otiose, let me remind my readers of the following:
Again, new Levitical priests are continually being appointed, because death prevents their remaining in office; but Jesus remains for all time, and therefore the priesthood that he holds is never liable to pass to another. And that is why he is able to save perfectly those who come to God through him, living for ever, as he does, to intercede of their behalf. This was the High Priest that we needed–holy, innocent, spotless, withdrawn from sinners, exalted above the highest Heaven, one who has no need to offer sacrifices daily as those High Priests have, first for their own sins, and then for those of the People. For this he did once and for all, when he offered himself as the sacrifice. The Law appoints as High Priests men who are liable to infirmity, but the words of God’s oath, which was later than the Law, name the Son as, for all time, the perfect Priest. (Hebrews 7:23-28 TCNT)
We don’t need a priest representing God any more. We have one perfect priest, Jesus Christ. We may appoint someone to represent us before him when we gather together, but Our Lord needs neither representative nor substitute. I’ve debated this subject in the past and you can read that here and here.
Once that is posited, Nelson’s and Johnson’s case collapses. That doesn’t entirely solve the issue, and it brings another one to light: the whole nature of the church. When the ACNA was started I noted that there were two major issues of division that remained unresolved: WO (this one) and the Reformed-Anglo-Catholic divide. The two are related; McGowin actually touches on this issue in her response but doesn’t really pursue it. In American feminism the custom is to superimpose postmodern ideas of equality on existing structures without considering the merits of those structures to start with, and the result is cognitive dissonance. The same problem applies to same-sex civil marriage: it never occurred to anyone to debate whether civil marriage was working for heterosexuals before extending the franchise to same-sex couples.
Anglicanism is metastable in its ecclesiology; it started out by combining a Reformed (how Reformed it is depends on whether you equate Reformed with Calvinist or not) theology and an episcopal church structure. The Anglo-Catholics called their bluff and today we have a “communion” which doesn’t have a unified ecclesiology. That’s the source of many of Anglicanisms problems today, and it’s going to take more than GAFCON or a covenant to ultimately resolve them.
It’s actually been “out there” for almost two months, but I just found out and it’s worth repeating: Stand Firm in Faith, the once and future premier conservative Anglican blog, is back with Matt Kennedy, his snow-shoveling wife Anne Carlson Kennedy, and Tim Fountain standing firm in faith against People Who Shovel Something Else.
Honestly I’m glad to see this: Stand Firm’s disappearance created a void in my online routine that hasn’t quite been filled by anything else. And it obviously brings up another question: is the blogosphere, which in many ways got us where we are, still relevant? For conservative Anglicans, the answer is “yes” for two reasons. The first is that is allows the long (sometimes too long) treatment of topics that the Anglican/Episcopal world likes but social media (especially Twitter) doesn’t allow. The second is that social media is a fickle business: Matt Kennedy was booted from Twitter for a season because he spoke the truth to the transitionally transgendered Jessica Yaniv, and none of us know when the social media equivalent of the “fickle finger of fate” will point at us.
Welcome back, it’s not been the same without you.
Friends, please hear me, we Africans are not afraid of our sisters and brothers who identify as lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgendered, questioning, or queer. We love them and we hope the best for them. But we know of no compelling arguments for forsaking our church’s understanding of Scripture and the teachings of the church universal. […]
There are now, in truth, three Anglicanisms: These are, (1) the First Millennium Consensus, or Anglo-Catholicism, now mostly found in Continuing Churches, (2) Liberalism, now found in the Lambeth Canterbury Communion, and (3) Evangelicalism, mostly found in those bodies adhering to GAFCON. The Elizabethan Settlement has for all practical purposes collapsed and has ceased to […]
Catholic keyboard warriors who “spend all day attacking and responding” on social media in the belief that they are “defending the integrity of Church teaching” have been sharply criticised by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin.
For those of us who have been at this in the Anglican/Episcopal world, this sure sounds familiar. Before social media there was the blogosphere, with people such as Kendall Harmon, David Virtue, Standfirm (Greg Griffith/Matt Kennedy/Sarah Hey,) Alan Haley and so many others, including of course Mary “BabyBlue” Ailes, now of blessed memory. Since social media many of these have migrated there, but it’s been rough: Matt Kennedy got kicked off of Twitter by Jessica Yaniv, who just lost the waxing case. And I’m seeing a mini-resurgence in the blogosphere, given the uncertainties in social media.
We on the conservative side (and we outnumbered the liberals by a healthy margin) were criticised as divisive, hateful, mean, bigoted, homophobic…you get the idea. And we’re seeing the same thing said about Catholic social media/sites, which have got the Archbishop’s dander up.
But the real fear among the RCC’s own “reapprisers” (to use Kendall Harmon’s term) is that all of this intensely offensive stuff actually works. We wouldn’t have the ACNA, warts and all, if it weren’t for the internet and those who inhabited it. We wouldn’t probably have GAFCON either. In the 1970’s opponents of the changes taking place in the Episcopal Church were marginalized before they could get off the ground; Continuing Anglicanism was hardly a blip on 815’s radar screen, and the Charismatic Renewal ended up filling Pentecostal and Charismatic churches outside of the Anglican world.
With the Catholic Church’s more centralized structure, and the obsession of the Trads with the authority of Peter’s see, seeing a path to progress is more difficult. But one never knows. The Anglican Revolt was the great story of American Christianity in the last decade; who knows what might come this time. Perhaps the Amazonian idols won’t be the only things thrown into the Tiber.
With the canonisation of Anglicanism’s most famous convert to Roman Catholicism, there’s been a dust-up about Newman’s sexual orientation, especially by the dreadful James Martin, SJ (whose own mendacity about his own celibacy helped get him into the Society of Jesus.)
A long time ago this site posted an academic paper by David Hilliard about homosexuality and Anglo-Catholicism. It is, IMHO, one of the most interesting monographs written on Anglicanism in general and this topic in particular. Some of his own take on the subject, long before the stink surrounding the canonisation, is here:
This homoerotic motivation was strongly hinted at in the 1890s by James Rigg, a Wesleyan historian of the Oxford Movement, who made much of the “characteristically feminine” mind and temperament of Newman and the lack of virility of most of his disciples. The idea was developed and popularised by Geoffrey Faber in his classic Oxford Apostles (1933). His portrait of Newman as a sublimated homosexual (though the word itself was not used) has since been a source of embarrassment to those biographers and theologians who seek to present him as a “Saint for Our Time.”
Faber’s argument was brilliant but open to attack. Meriol Trevor, in her two-volume biography of Newman, undermined some of his illustrations, as when she pointed out, for example, that Wilfred Ward had given no source for the often-quoted statement that Newman lay all night on Ambrose St. John’s bed after the death of his inseparable friend, and that in view of other known events of that night the incident could hardly have occurred. Of the intensity of their relationship, however, there can be no doubt. On his death in 1890 Newman was buried at his own wish in the same grave as St. John.
I would suggest that my readers download and digest the entire paper; it’s worth the time. Hilliard points out something else that people like Martin (and probably Francis himself) conveniently ignore:
Until the late nineteenth century homosexuality was socially defined in terms of certain forbidden sexual acts, such as “buggery” or “sodomy. Homosexual behaviour was regarded as a product of male lust, potential in anyone unless it was severely condemned and punished. In England homosexuality had been covered by the criminal law since 1533 when the state took over the responsibility for dealing with the offence from the ecclesiastical courts. The last executions for buggery took place in the 1830s, but it was not until 1861 that the death penalty was abolished. In the 1880s and 1890s—at the same time that the word homosexuality entered the English language, largely through the work of Havelock Ellis—social attitudes towards homosexuality underwent a major change. From being defined in terms of sinful behaviour, homosexuality came to be regarded as a characteristic of a particular type of person. Because homosexuality was seen as a condition, homosexuals were therefore a species, which it became the object of the social sciences to explore and explain. The principal vehicles of this redefinition were legal and medical. Homosexual behaviour became subject to increased legal penalties, notably by the Labouchère Amendment of the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1885. which extended the law to cover all male homosexual acts, whether committed in public or private. This in turn led to a series of sensational scandals, culminating in the three trials of Oscar Wilde in 1895. The harsher legal sanctions were accompanied over a longer period by an important change in the
conceptualisation of homosexuality: the emergence of the idea that homosexuality was a disease or sickness which required treatment. The various reasons for this change in definition are beyond the scope of this essay. The result, however, was that the late nineteenth century saw homosexuality acquire new labelling, in the context of a social climate that was more hostile than before. The tightening of the law and the widespread acceptance by opinion-makers of the “medical model” of homosexuality produced conditions within which men with homosexual feelings began to develop a conscious collective identity.
This transformation is why we have an LGBT “community” today, and that it’s a part of a person’s identity.
Mary Ailes died today. She was one of the pioneers of Anglican blogging who was in the thick of things from Truro in Virginia, in the early days of CANA. To me it feels like yesterday but it is quickly fading into the past. I met her in person once and she was a kind soul. I am thankful for her work in proving that blogs could be a great source of news, something that we have gone backwards on I fear.
She was one of the best in the Anglican/Episcopal world and one of the most enduring–and endearing. She spent her last years fighting cancer.
She was also a die-hard Bob Dylan fan, so it’s not inappropriate to say that she’s “knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door…”
The Prayer of Humble Access is a traditional part of the Anglican service of Holy Communion. I recently found out how beloved the Prayer of Humble Access is to so many Anglicans when I posted about it on Twitter. I posted what I thought was a slightly humorous tweet poll which indicated some questions I…