Tuesday, August 31, 2010

More than One Episcopi Vagantes Bishop in the Anglican Church in North America

By Robin G. Jordan

The Anglican Church in North America’s College of Bishops’ reception of Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches Bishop Derek Jones this past June is the tip of the iceberg. Icebergs are always larger under the water than they are above the water’s surface. Upon further investigation I found that the College of Bishops has received at least one other bishop, Communion of Christ the Redeemer Bishop Richard W. Lipka, who, like Bishop Jones, has orders that are traceable to the excommunicated Roman Catholic bishop Carlos Duerta Costa through the Independent Catholic Apostolic Church of Brazil. Bishop Lipka was subsequently appointed suffragan bishop of Forward in Faith North America’s Diocese of All Saints. Both Bishop Jones and Bishop Lipka were bishops of charismatic Convergence churches.

This answers the question that one of my readers has been asking, “Why are the Anglo-Catholic bishops of the ACNA not concerned about Bishop Jones’ orders?” The answer is that they recognize the Duarte Costa lineage of Bishop Jones and Bishop Lipka. Put another way, having agreed to Bishop Lipka’s reception, they were in no position to object to Bishop Jones’. Both bishops share the same lineage.

The ICACB claims that the Roman Catholic Church recognizes its orders on the basis that liberal Pope John XXIII received Salomâo Ferraz, an ICACB bishop, as a Roman Catholic bishop in 1958. My investigation into the matter shows that John XXIII’s reception of Ferraz was an anomaly. It was out of the normal because Ferraz had been consecrated by Duerta Costa without the authorization of the Vatican and therefore both Duerta Costa and Ferrez were automatically excommunicated by the Roman Catholic Church. Duerta Costa, at the time, he consecrated Ferrez as bishop had already been excommunicated by the Vatican and therefore had no authority under Roman Catholic canon law to consecrate Ferrez. Ferrez was also married. This makes his reception even more irregular from the perspective of Roman Catholic canon law. The Pope, however, is the supreme authority in the Roman Catholic Church. John XXIII not only lifted Ferrez’s excommunication but also recognized his orders even though he was married and had seven children. The anomalous nature of Ferrez’s reception is further supported by the fact that the Vatican has not since that time received into Roman Catholic Church any clergy whose orders are traceable to Duerta Costa except as laymen, as far as I have been able to determine.

In investigating the orders of Bishop Jones and Bishop Lipka, I found that Duerta Costa had consecrated a number of independent bishops between 1945 and his death in 1961. All the bishops that Duerta Costa are excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church by the virtue of their consecration at the hands of an excommunicated Roman Catholic bishop.

Bishop Lipka and a number of other Charismatic Episcopal Church bishops sought re-consecration from the Independent Catholic Apostolic Church of Brazil when they concluded that they had not received the apostolic succession at their original consecrations. Bishop Lipka subsequently broke with the Charismatic Episcopal Church and formed his own jurisdiction, the Communion of Christ the Redeemer.

On his Introduction to Episcopi Vagantes Lineages web site T. J. Boyle identifies four “complex lineages” comprised of scores of independent Catholic and charismatic Convergence clergy who claim valid Catholic orders on the basis that their orders are traceable to an excommunicated Roman Catholic bishop. In addition to the Duerta Costa consecrations for the Catholic Apostolic Church of Brazil, they include the Nun Dinh Thuc consecrations for various groups, the alleged Sánchez consecration for the Mexican National Catholic Church, and the various consecrations for the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Associations.

The Old Catholics of the Union of Utrecht, the Coptic Church, and the various Orthodox churches apply the category of heretics or schismatics to independent Catholic and charismatic Convergence clergy, completely reject the validity of their ordinations, and do not recognize their orders.

Roman Catholic Church has declared that the ordinations performed by excommunicated bishops such as Archbishops Emmanuel Malengo and Piere Martin Nun Dinh Thuc have no canonical effect. It has refrained from commenting upon their validity. It stated that, "as for those who have already thus unlawfully received ordination or any who may yet accept ordination from these, whatever may be the validity of the orders (quidquid sit de ordinum validitate), the Church does not and will not recognise their ordination (ipsorum ordinationem), and will consider them, for all legal effects, as still in the state in which they were before, except that the ... penalties remain until they repent." [Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Decree Episcopi qui alios of September 17, 1976 - Acta Apostolicae Sedis 1976, page 623] The clause "....as still in the state in which they were before.." indicates that the Vatican continued to view them as being laymen. The reception into the Roman Catholic Church of Charismatic Episcopal Church clergy only as laymen supports this conclusion.

With regard to Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo's consecration of four men, all of whom claimed already to be independent Catholic bishops, on September 24, 2006, the Roman Catholic Church, as well as stating that, in accordance with Canon 1382 of the Code of Canon Law, all five men involved incurred automatic ("latae sententiae") excommunication through their actions, declared that "...the Church does not recognise and does not intend in the future to recognise these ordinations or any ordinations derived from them, and she holds that the canonical state of the four alleged bishops is the same as it was prior to the ordination." [Declaration of the Press Office of the Holy See on the present ecclesial situation of Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo]

The foregoing show that John XXIII’s reception of Ferraz as a Roman Catholic bishop cannot be used to support any claim that orders of the Independent Catholic Apostolic Church of Brazil or any other orders traceable to excommunicated Roman Catholic Duerta Costa are recognized as valid by the Roman Catholic Church. Subsequent popes have not adopted John XXIII’s position.

The official view of the Eastern Orthodox Churches may be summarised as follows: "While accepting the canonical possibility of recognising the existence (υποστατόν) of sacraments performed outside herself, (the Eastern Orthodox Church) questions their validity (έγκυρον) and certainly rejects their efficacy (ενεργόν)." It sees "the canonical recognition (αναγνώρισις) of the validity of sacraments performed outside the Orthodox Church (as referring) to the validity of the sacraments only of those who join the Orthodox Church (individually or as a body)." The Orthodox Communion clearly does not, and will not, accept as valid the orders of independent Catholic and charismatic Convergence clergy. [Professor Dr. Vlassios Pheidas, Τhe limits of the church in an orthodox perspective] Any supposedly Orthodox ecclesiastical entity that does recognize their orders is not genuinely Orthodox.

In my investigation of the orders of Bishop Jones and Bishop Lipka I have so far found no evidence that any existing Anglican province recognizes the orders of clergy traceable to Duerta Costa. I did find that the Anglican Church of the Province of Uganda has permitted Charismatic Episcopal Church consecrations in its cathedral in Impala. This, however, does not constitute formal recognition of the Charismatic Episcopal Church or of the orders of its ministers any more than Roman Catholic Church permitting Anglican consecrations in its cathedrals. In recognizing their orders and receiving them as ACNA bishops, the College of Bishops appears to have adopted a unilateral course of action, much in the same way as the Episcopal Church did in the case of Bishop Gene Robinson.

The College of Bishops has also adopted a mechanical, reductionist view of apostolic succession, which ties the transmission of the apostolic succession, not to preservation of apostolic teaching as historic Anglicanism has understood the apostolic succession, but to the imposition of the hands of a bishop in a succession of bishops going back to the apostles, that is, the Roman Catholic doctrine of tactual succession. This doctrine is implicit in the ACNA canons, which are based in a number of places upon the canons of the Anglican Church of Rwanda. The Rwandan canons are themselves based in large part upon the Roman Catholic Church’s Code of Canonical Law.

In its recognition of Bishop Jones’ orders, the College of Bishops has put the Nigerian House of Bishops into the position of recognizing the orders of a number of independent Catholic and charismatic Convergence ecclesiastical entities with the approval of Bishop Jones’ appointment. A number of these entities are nominally Anglican. However, they do not evidence any commitment to classical Anglicanism and Reformation Christianity. The historic Anglican formularies play very little if any part in their teaching and life.

The Nigerian House of Bishops’ approval of Bishop Jones’ appointment will be a coup for independent Catholic and charismatic Convergence ecclesiastical entities that trace their orders to Duerta Costa. A number of these entities are quite Roman Catholic in their doctrine and practices.

Another ramification will be closer relations between the ACNA and the independent Catholic and charismatic Convergence ecclesiastical entities with the Duerta Costa lineage and an high possibility of an influx of congregations and clergy from these entities into the ACNA. The latter will boast the numerical strength of the ACNA. At the same time it will also greatly weaken the Anglican identity of the ACNA, which is already not very sound as it is. It lends credence to my observation that the ACNA is moving in a direction that removes it even further from historic Anglicanism. The prospect of confessional Anglicans—those who uphold the Protestant faith of the reformed Church of England and its formularies and who are committed to the Anglican understanding of the New Testament gospel as articulated in the Thirty-Nine Articles—becoming a decided minority in the Anglican Church in North America is very high, if it is not yet already a present reality.

Research Finds Generation X More Loyal to Religion Than Baby Boomers

It has emerged that when it comes to religion, Gen-Xers are surprisingly loyal to their faith than baby boomers.

In a study University of Nebraska-Lincoln sociologist Philip Schwadel showed that Gen-Xers are, in comparison with their Baby Boomer predecessors, far more likely to adhere to their religion.

In fact, Boomers are 40 to 50 percent more likely than Gen-Xers to "disaffiliate" from their faith.

As Generation X continues to grow older, this loyalty may translate into a more stable nation in terms of its religiosity, he said.

To read more, click here.

Author: More teens becoming 'fake' Christians

If you're the parent of a Christian teenager, Kenda Creasy Dean has this warning:

Your child is following a "mutant" form of Christianity, and you may be responsible.

Dean says more American teenagers are embracing what she calls "moralistic therapeutic deism." Translation: It's a watered-down faith that portrays God as a "divine therapist" whose chief goal is to boost people's self-esteem.

Dean is a minister, a professor at Princeton Theological Seminary and the author of "Almost Christian," a new book that argues that many parents and pastors are unwittingly passing on this self-serving strain of Christianity.

She says this "imposter'' faith is one reason teenagers abandon churches.

"If this is the God they're seeing in church, they are right to leave us in the dust," Dean says. "Churches don't give them enough to be passionate about."

To read more, click here.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

More unanswered questions in Derek Jones’ reception as an ACNA bishop

By Robin G. Jordan

What I found interesting is how the Anglican Church in North America has responded to my request for information concerning the College of Bishops’ reception of Bishop Derek Jones as an ACNA bishop of August 14, 2010. I directed this request to Archbishop Robert Duncan as I thought that he should be the most knowledgeable person in the matter. I did not receive an email response to my request rather the acting ACNA communications director to whom my request had been given left his response upon a comment thread of one of my recent articles.

The acting ACNA communications director refused my information request because I had written a number of articles on the topic before I submitted my request to Archbishop Duncan. He did not consider me to be a friend of the ACNA and therefore he saw no reason to engage the College of Bishops and its Credentials Task force on the matter on my behalf. He appeared to believe that the fact I had written several articles before contacting Archbishop Duncan was sufficient reason to deny my request. He did not attempt to explore with me why I had chosen to write the articles rather than contact ACNA first. He did not ask me about my past experiences with dealing with the ACNA. He jumped to a conclusion and did not trouble to check out the validity of the conclusion. I was dismissed as hostile to the ACNA and therefore not someone whose questions that the ACNA would wish to answer.

A few days later George Conger, an Internet commentator known for his friendliness to the ACNA, writes an article in response to a number of questions that I had raised in an earlier article, treating these questions as an attack upon the ACNA. To this point no other Internet commentator had written anything on Bishop Jones in response to my articles as one of my readers drew to my attention. The Rev. Conger’s article, however, addresses none of the questions that I asked in my letter to Archbishop Duncan. His article gives the appearance of having been written at the behest of the ACNA and has all the earmarks of ACNA-instituted damage control. The Rev. Conger appears to have been given ready access to Bishop Bill Atwood and Bishop Derek Jones. The article smells suspiciously like a red herring, a subject raised to distract attention from these questions.

As I noted in my last article, Bishop Jones’ qualifications were not an issue, and his orders were not a major issue. What were primary issues is how the ACNA leadership operates, how they make decisions, and why they are not more open and transparent, in what direction are they taking the ACNA, and similar questions.

The Rev. Conger’s article is revealing in part for what it does not say and in part from what may be read between the lines. Bishop Bill Atwood is quoted in the article as dismissing what the Rev. Conger describes as my “objections” to the College of Bishops’ reception of Bishop Jones as an ACNA bishop as “superficial.” Presumably by “superficial” he means that they are minor, of no great weight or consequence. This is very revealing of Bishop Atwood’s view of the bishops of the Anglican Communion, the Lambeth Conference and its Resolutions and the foundational document of the ACNA. The 1958 Lambeth Conference was a pivotal conference in the history of the Anglican Communion and the consequences of its positions in a number of areas are still being worked out to this day. The ACNA constitution articulates the principles upon which the ACNA was founded. This leads me to wonder if Bishop Atwood is speaking for himself or for all the ACNA bishops.

Bishop Atwood is further quoted as stating that the ACNA requires a “significant standard concerning Christian testimony, character and manner of life, Biblical qualification, evidence of call, and demonstration of apostolic fruit for any candidate that is considered by the College of Bishops.” What is not mentioned is that Bishop Jones was not just a candidate for bishop presented for the approval of the College of Bishops. He had already been consecrated a bishop in another denomination. There is no mention in the standard that Bishop Atwood cites that a bishop consecrated in another denomination must be consecrated in “the Historic Sucession.” As I have pointed out elsewhere, the ACNA canons regarding the reception of ministers from other denominations require the re-ordination of deacons and priests who were not ordained by a bishop in “the Historic Succession” but they do not require that a bishop must be consecrated by three other bishops in “the Historic Succession.” They provide a loophole for bishops. Was this an oversight in the canons or was it intentional?

Bishop Jones is quoted in the same article stating that CANA conducted a review of his orders and informed him that there would be no ecclesiastical difficulties in his jurisdictional transfer to CANA. How extensive was this review? Was it completed before the adoption of the ACNA constitution and canons? Or afterwards? Was consideration given to Lambeth Resolution 54 in the review process? Was the Church of Nigeria consulted as a part of the review process?

Bishop Jones’ own comment that the Nigerian House of Bishops was distracted by Archbishop Akinola’s retirement suggests that the Nigerians were not consulted. It was decided to seek approval from the ACNA College of Bishops first. Who championed this course of action? Was any consideration given in the making of this decision to the position in which might place the Nigerians if the College of Bishops recognized Bishop Jones’ orders but the Nigerians were not satisfied with them? Was it decided that the Nigerians would have to approve Bishop Jones if the College of Bishops approved him first?

Bishop Jones is further quoted as saying that he did not perform any episcopal duties in the period between the time that he left the CEEC and the time the ACNA College of Bishops received him as an ACNA bishop in order “‘to specifically avoid the type criticism’ raised by Mr. Jordan.” Note that Bishop Jones’ statement does suggest that there was concern that there might be objections to his orders. Also note that Bishop Jones does not actually name me. The Rev. Conger names this writer.

The Rev. Conger then goes on to discuss Bishop Jones' orders. He mentions the case of Bishop Salomão Barbosa Ferraz. For those unfamiliar with Bishop Ferraz he was born in Jau, Brazil, in 1880. He was a Brazilian priest and bishop whose career took him through membership of several Christian denominations from the Presbyterian Church through to the Roman Catholic Church.

Originally a Presbyterian minister, Ferraz was ordained an Anglican priest in 1917. He founded an ecumenical society, the "Order of Saint Andrew", in 1928, and was instrumental in organising a 'Free Catholic Congress' in 1936. At the close of this event he established a "Free Catholic Church" and was elected as the church's first bishop. However, the Second World War halted his plans to seek consecration as a bishop at the hands of the Utrecht Old Catholics. Ferraz joined with excommunicated Roman Catholic Bishop Carlos Duarte Costa to found the Igreja Católica Apostólica Brasileira (or the Independent Apostolic Church of Brazil).in 1945. Just over a month after the church's foundation, on August 15, 1945, Duarte Costa presided as the principal celebrant at the Ferraz’ consecration.

Ferraz in turn consecrated Manoel Ceia Laranjeira on May 29, 1951 (not in 1965, after he was reconciled with the Roman Catholic Church as the Rev. Conger claims in his article and before the Vatican recognized his orders). Bishop Laranjeira would become the head of the Igreja Católica Apostólica Brasileira when Ferraz reconciled with the Roman Catholic Church in 1958. Although Ferraz was married at the time, he was fully recognized as a bishop by Pope John XXIII. Feraz was not re-consecrated by the Roman Catholic Church even conditionally (sub conditione). However he was not appointed to a diocese immediately. He did pastoral work in the Archdiocese of São Paulo until May 12, 1963, when he was appointed titular bishop of Eleutherna by Pope John XXIII. He was subsequently appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Rio de Janeiro by Pope John XXIII.

For those who are unfamiliar with the term titular bishop, he is a bishop that assigned to a titular see. A titular see is a diocese that is no longer in existence. In Asia Minor and North Africa, many dioceses became defunct over them when they became schismatic, or when they were swept by other religions, or when they disappeared simply because the importance of the cities declined. The Apostolic See can also suppress a diocese when the number of Catholics in the diocese has declined sharply. Titular bishops have no jurisdiction over their titular dioceses. Under the present Roman Catholic Church’s Code of Canon Law, The Apostolic See or the Episcopal Conference may give him a special function or office in a territory. If he resides in a territory, he may be invited to participate in particular councils. In grade and rank he comes after a coadjutor bishop and an assistant bishop. He is a bishop in name but without the power of the bishop. Demotion to titular bishop has in the past been used by the Vatican as a way of punishing bishops whose behavior the Vatican does not approve of.

Ferraz attended all four sessions of the Second Vatican Council, and Pope Paul VI appointed him to serve on one of Vatican II's working commissions. Upon his death in 1969, Ferraz was buried with full honors accorded a bishop of the Roman Catholic Church. He was survived by his wife and seven children.

Ferraz was a rare instance of legally accepted married bishop in modern Roman Catholic history.

Bishop Carlos Duarte Costa was an outspoken critic of the regime of Brazilian president Getúlio Vargas (1930–1945) and of the Vatican's perceived cozy relationship with fascist regimes. He also publicly criticized the doctrine of papal infallibility and Roman Catholic views on divorce and clerical celibacy. In response to Costa's continued insubordination, the Vatican finally stripped him of his responsibilities as a diocesan bishop and transferred him to a titular see. The Vatican accepted his resignation from the Roman Catholic Church in 1937. Duarte Costa formed the Igreja Católica Apostólica Brasileira in 1945.

Holy Orders conferred by Duarte Costa after he left the Roman Catholic Church are usually inferred from a Roman Catholic perspective to be valid but illicit. Ferraz’s consecration involved a single bishop recognized to be in the Historic Succession, not the three usually required by Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Church.

On the basis of the Ferraz case the Igreja Católica Apostólica Brasileira claims that its apostolic succession is valid, even by Roman Catholic standards. The Igreja Católica Apostólica Brasileira maintains that .the Roman Catholic Church, by accepting Bishop Ferraz in the manner that it did, without any re-consecration, affirmed de jure and de facto the sacramental validity of the Duarte Costa Apostolic Succession of what is commonly known as the "Rebiba Apostolic Succession."

In accordance with the definition of The Oxford Dictionary of Christian Church of episcope vagantes, which the Rev. Conger cited in his article, Ferraz, despite his recognition by the Church of Rome, was an episcopus vagans. His consecration was irregular and he was consecrated by a bishop who had been excommunicated by the Church that consecrated him and was in communion with no recognized see. Duarte-Costa was excommunicated by the Vatican on July 7, 1945.

The Western Church has generally been ready to admit such irregular consecrations are valid as I stated elsewhere. The Eastern Church does not recognize them. The 1958 Lambeth Conference adopted the following resolution:

Resolution 54
Church Unity and the Church Universal - Episcopi Vagantes

The Conference draws attention to the fact that there are "episcopi vagantes" who call themselves either "Old Catholic" or "Orthodox," in combination with other names. It warns its members of the danger of accepting such persons at their own valuation without making further inquiries. The Conference reiterates the principle contained in Resolution 27 of the 1920 Lambeth Conference, that it cannot recognise the Churches of such "episcopi vagantes" as properly constituted Churches, or recognise the orders of their ministers, and recommends that any such ministers desiring to join an Anglican Church, who are in other respects duly qualified, should be ordained "sub conditione" in accordance with the provisions suggested in the Report of the relevant Committee of the 1920 Lambeth Conference.

The ACNA College of Bishops’ recognition of the orders of Bishop Jones suggests a shift away from the position of the Anglican Communion, as articulated in Resolution 54, to that of the Roman Catholic Church and it is in itself significant.

The question is, “How are we to interpret this shift?” Does it mean as I have suggested that the ACNA is willing to extend recognition to charismatic Convergence and independent Catholic churches that the Anglican Communion does not recognize? Was the College of Bishops hoping that Bishop Jones’ reception would go unnoticed and that no one would question it? Or did the College of Bishops fail to do their homework and rely too heavily upon the CANA review of Bishop Jones’ orders? Why did the College of Bishops chose not to conditionally consecrate Bishop Jones and in this way resolve any doubts in regards to his orders? Why did the bishops chose to receive him instead of conditionally consecrating him? The notion that what occurred was purely happenstance is not sufficiently likely to be believable. If that is indeed the case, it then raises serious questions as to the competence of the ACNA leadership.

What also does Bishop Jones’ reception tell us about the College of Bishop’s understanding of apostolic succession? In recognizing Bishop Jones’ orders did it affirm the Roman Catholic doctrine of tactual succession? This doctrine is implicit in the ACNA canons in TitleI II.8.2, which describes the ministry of a bishop. "By the tradition of Christ’s One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, Bishops are consecrated for the whole Church and are successors of the Apostles through the grace of the Holy Spirit given to them." This section is taken from the Rwandan canons with slight alteration in the language. The corresponding provision of the Rwandan canons is taken from the Roman Catholic Church’s Code of Canon Law.

Bishop Jones’ reception resembles the kind of testing of limits seen in adolescents. They will push the limits as far as they can. It is the same kind of thing that the Episcopal Church has done with the African Primates over the last twelve years since the 1998 Lambeth Conference. Someone in the ACNA leadership want to see how the Africans, in this case the Nigerians, will react to one of their convocations presenting to them for their approval a bishop whose orders would not be recognized by the Anglican Communion. Will they accept the bishop’s orders because the ACNA College of Bishops received him? Or will they insist upon conditional consecration of Bishop Jones or reject him altogether?

The question arises is what does the ACNA leadership gain if the Nigerians accept Bishop Jones’ orders? Are they considering a merger between the ACNA and one or more charismatic Convergence or independent Catholic churches? The ACNA leadership, in particular Archbishop Duncan, is preoccupied with numbers. They may be looking for an easy way to replace the Anglican Mission congregations and clergy that the ACNA lost. Archbishop Duncan has used both Convergence terminology and concepts in his addresses and sermons. In his address to the Anglican 1000 Church Planting Conference he said:

“We have an identity. The charisms of catholic, evangelical and Pentecostal have been brought together in one church to reach North America with the transforming love of Jesus Christ.”

The theory of the Anglicanvia media enjoying currency in the ACNA is that the three theological streams—Catholic, evangelical, and charismatic/Pentecostal/Orthodox—are converging in a new synthesis in the ACNA. This convergence is the next evolution in the Anglican via media. A merger with charismatic Convergence and independent Catholic churches would fit with this view. Such a merger, however, would remove the ACNA even further from historic Anglicanism.

One of the concerns that the Africa bishops voiced at the recent CAPA meeting was that the Western churches have abandoned the gospel. One of the purposes of the Thirty-Nine Articles is to safeguard the truth of the gospel. Such a merger would unite the ACNA with non-Anglican churches for whom the Articles, the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, and the 1661 Ordinal have never been the doctrinal standard, and which do not share the Anglican understanding of the gospel as articulated in the Articles. The Anglican identity of the ACNA is already shaky as is its proclamation of the true gospel. The ACNA acceptance of the authority of the Articles is for a large part token.

There are congregations and clergy in the ACNA, which wholeheartedly embrace the biblical and Reformation teaching of the Articles but they are in a minority. There are clergy who preach the gospel of justification by grace alone by faith in Christ alone. There are also clergy who preach “a different gospel.” Before the ACNA can join with the African churches as a mission partner in the re-evangelization of North America, the ACNA needs to put its house in order.

The ACNA needs to return to the Articles. As the GAFCON Theological Resource Group draws to our attention, the acceptance of the authority of the Articles is constitutive of Anglican identity. [Being Faithful, The Shape of Historic Anglicanism Today, p. 35] The Articles are a faithful testimony to the teaching of the Scripture. They exclude erroneous beliefs and practices. They give a distinct shape to Anglican Christianity. They offer first principles and a framework for approaching the Bible that give us the means to grapple with new questions and new challenges. [Being Faithful, p. 36]

The ACNA needs to drop the Common Cause Theological Statement from its constitution and adopt a new declaration of principles that brings the province-in-formation more in line with the Jerusalem Declaration. The ACNA also needs to overhaul its canons, require a greater degree of openness, transparency and accountability from its leaders, and make other desperately needed changes.

Until the ACNA takes these critical steps and its leaders show greater maturity and responsibility in their leadership, the ACNA will not be ready to take its place as a member province of the existing Anglican Communion or a new global South Anglican Communion. North America does not need another Episcopal Church. It needs a new Anglican province that in the words of the Preamble to the Jerusalem Declaration “promotes and protects the biblical gospel and mission to the world.” The ACNA has yet to show that it is capable of doing that.

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Anglican Tradition of Common Prayer--Part 7

By Robin G. Jordan

Are we witnessing the demise of common prayer?

The closing decade of the twentieth century and the opening decade of the twenty-first century has seen the introduction into Anglican churches patterns of worship that are not truly corporate. These patterns are described with the catchall phrase “contemporary worship,” are borrowed from non-Anglican evangelical and Pentecostal churches, and reflect the influence of nineteenth and twentieth century revivalism and the twentieth century Seeker Service movement. Congregational participation is minimal. The congregation is limited to singing along with the vocalists in the church band. The voices of the latter are amplified electronically as are the instruments of the musicians. The members of the congregation cannot hear themselves much less those around them. The thinking behind this practice is that members of the congregation do not sing well and therefore must be spared the embarrassment of hearing the singing of their fellow congregants and themselves. Those who do not care to sing need not do so. They can listen to the church band. Today’s young people also like to feel the music viscerally. They are not satisfied with hearing it. The objective is to make the service “friendlier” to seekers—that is, make it less strange and unfamiliar to them and more like what they might experience in a secular band concert.

A typical service begins with a “worship set,” a block of songs, which may be interrupted by a brief extempore prayer and may be accompanied by occasional exhortations to worship. The songs generally are contemporary Christian and praise and worship with the occasional repackaged hymn or gospel song. The lyrics are projected onto one or more multimedia projection screens. A video clip, dramatization, interview, or testimony may follow the worship set. This ushers in the main focus of the service—the sermon. An invitation to discipleship follows the sermon. The invitation is in turn followed by an extempore prayer for those making a commitment to Christ and sometimes special music. An offering may be taken at some point in the service. The service may end with a final song, a reprise of an earlier song, or a simple dismissal. While the music, the dramatization, and the video clips are contemporary, the “shape” of the service can be traced to the revivals of the nineteenth and twentieth century.

There has been heated debate over whether “contemporary worship” is truly worship. It has been criticized as more entertainment than worship. Based on my own observations I believe that “contemporary worship” can be accurately described as a form of worship even thought it may lack certain elements that traditionalists associate with worship. Those who plan the services and those who conduct the services see themselves as honoring God in the services. In the worship set, the extempore prayers, the sermon, the special music, and the other elements of the service homage is paid to God. The elements of the service do make known God’s worth. They direct the congregation’s attention to God. They may cause individual congregants to contemplate God, his character, his attributes, and his mighty deeds and may draw individual congregants into praise and adoration of God. In this respect the service can be viewed as truly “worship.” It is the public performance aspect of “contemporary worship,” its similarity to a secular concert, which prompts the criticism that is more entertainment than worship. However, those who attend “contemporary worship” services come away feeling that they have worshiped God even though they may have done nothing more than be present and listen to the music, the testimony, and the sermon. One explanation is that they may have worshiped vicariously through the worship of others. Another explanation is more alarming: they perceive their attendance of the service as worship. They are honoring God with their presence. Both explanations point to an immature understanding of worship.

The songs and the other elements that precede the message portion of the service, however, do serve another function, that is, to prepare the congregation for the sermon, to put them in the right frame of mind, to cause them to be more receptive to the message. The purpose of the service is not solely to glorify God. It is evangelistic and revivalistic. The testimony and the sermon are directed toward bringing about the transition of the seeker to a believer and the believer to “a fully-devoted disciple of Jesus Christ.” It is also edifying, that is, it builds up the believer through a combination of uplifting music and inspiring messages, encouraging him or her to persevere in the Christian faith and life.

The thinking behind the bare-boned structure of the service is similar to the thinking behind its very loud music. This thinking is that anything that may put-off the seeker during his first or subsequent visits must be eliminated. This includes excluding from the service any elements that may be associated in the mind of the seeker with traditional worship (e.g. recitation of the Apostles’ Creed). Liturgical elements and vestments (e.g. choir robes, preaching gowns) are equated with traditional worship and therefore are eschewed.

I am wondering how future generations of seekers may react to what is now described as “contemporary worship.” Will it be off-putting to them as traditional worship is reportedly off-putting to today’s seekers? Is it already off-putting to some in today’s unchurched population?

The Journey is the five-year-old new church plant with which I have been sojourning for the past four years. The church modeled upon Northpoint Community Church in Alpharetta, Georgia, It is primarily targeted at university students and other young adults. The worship is contemporary and seeker-friendly. For a number of students this type of worship does not hold enough attraction for them to forego sleeping late on a Sunday morning. One Murray Student University student told a friend that invited him to the Journey that he was not going get up on Sunday morning for a rock concert. The average Sunday attendance at the Journey’s two services is high but the church only reaches about 5% of the student body.

“Contemporary worship” is popular especially in the Southern Bible Belt. A part of the reason is that the population of the Southern Bible Belt still has a modern mindset and contemporary worship is attractive people with a modern mindset. “Contemporary worship” attracts large numbers of people and therefore holds a certain appeal for pastors who want to increase the Sunday attendance of their churches. It is the most common pattern of worship seen in megachurches. It is also the form of worship that many North American evangelical Christians favor.

“Contemporary worship” suffers from the drawbacks of seventeenth century Puritan worship during the time of the Westminster Directory of Public Worship. In this period of English Church history the minister dominated the service, reading the Scripture passages, saying the prayers, and preaching the sermon. The minister chose what passages of Scripture he read and determined the content of the prayers and the sermon. Except for singing the metrical psalms and saying “Amen” to the prayers, the members of the congregation were relegated to the role of passive spectators. This pattern of worship would persist in the Non-Conformist chapels of the eighteenth century and would become the typical pattern of worship in a number of nineteenth century Protestant denominations with hymns and gospel songs replacing the metrical psalms.

Revivalism would lead to the disappearance of Scripture reading and the pastoral prayer from the service. The result was a two-part service—the “song service” or “preliminaries” as they were called and the main event—the sermon and the invitation to discipleship. The same pattern can be seen in “contemporary worship.” “Contemporary worship” has been described as an updated form of the revival service with bands with guitar, keyboard and drums and contemporary Christian and praise and worship music replacing the piano, organ, and choirs and hymns and gospel songs of an earlier generation. The revival soloist did, however, survive the transition into the twenty-first century.

In my opening paragraph I suggest that the patterns of worship that are described as “contemporary worship” are not truly corporate. They are corporate only in the broadest sense. True corporate worship is worship that is shared. In “contemporary worship” the corporate character of worship is not strong. Worship is not fully a corporate action. The congregation does not sing together. The congregants sing along with the vocalists as isolated individuals. The congregation does not pray together. The extempore prayers offered from the platform are not the prayers of the whole congregation. They are the prayers of particular individuals on the platform, the pastor, a worship leader, a band member, or a vocalist. What takes place is parallel worship rather than shared worship. Corporate intercessory prayer is conspicuously absent from “contemporary worship.” It is more common in Pentecostal congregations than it is in evangelical congregations and then it may take one of two forms. A worship leader may ask the congregation to break into small groups and to pray for a particular concern or request. Or a worship leader may ask the congregation to pray for a particular concern or request and the entire congregation prays in concert for this concern or request, those who are led to pray, praying at the same time aloud, in tongues, or silently as the Spirit moves them.

This is why I am prompted to ask, “Are we seeing the demise of common prayer?” By common prayer I am not referring to the use of the same liturgy. I am referring to prayer that is shared by the entire congregation.

Common prayer is an important part of the Anglican tradition of worship. The congregation joins the service leader in the prayers. When the service leader is praying alone, he is praying as the mouthpiece of the congregation. With a few exceptions, his prayers are the congregation’s prayers. Although hymns are not generally considered a part of the liturgy, they are a part of the congregation’s worship and prayer. The congregation sings them together. They also sing the canticles and the Psalms, which are a part of the liturgy.

In the second Book of Common Prayer Thomas Cranmer gave back the congregation their part in their service. They had lost their part when the Western Church retained Latin as the language of worship, effectively excluding the people from the liturgy as they did not speak or understand Latin. The liturgy became the possession of the clergy instead of the work of the people. When Mass was celebrated on Sundays, the people gathered in one room—the nave—and the pious said their private devotions and prayers, while the priest celebrated the Mass in another room—the chancel. A rood screen separated the chancel from the nave and hid the celebration of Mass from the people’s rude gaze. After the priest had consecrated the host, he elevated the host for the people’s adoration. He then received communion and dismissed the people.

As David Philips points to our attention in his Church Society leaflet, “Why Liturgy?” Cranmer wrote his liturgy for a country where the majority of the people could not read. His intention was that congregations should “learn certain texts by repeating each line after the minister and by saying the same texts week after week.” The trend in recent years in a number of Prayer Books (e.g. An Australian Prayer Book 1978) has been to take Cranmer’s liturgy, render it in good contemporary liturgical English, and make it even more congregational and participatory.

The Puritans in the seventeenth century sought to take the people’s parts away from them and give them to the minister. They would have replaced the priest with a preacher and the Mass with a sermon. They would have changed the role of the members of the congregation from passive spectators to passive auditors. They did so during the Great Rebellion or Interregnum when the Prayer Book was abolished and replaced with a Directory of Public Worship. The people’s parts were restored with The Book of Common Prayer of 1662.

In the nineteenth century the Ritualist Movement took away the people’s parts and gave them to the choir. The priest’s part was amplified with material from the pre-Reformation medieval service books. The people were once more relegated to the role of passive spectators in a non-communicating Mass.

With the twentieth century Liturgical Movement the pendulum swung in the opposite direction. It emphasized the liturgy as an action of the whole people of God, not the clergy and the choir. It taught that the ministry of the members of the congregation is expressed through their active participation in the liturgy, and by some of them reading the Scripture readings and leading the prayers. It stressed that it was highly desirable that a different person read each Scripture reading and a different person lead the prayers. The practices of licensing Readers to read the Gospel and preach the Sermon and of licensing Communion Assistants to assist in the administration of Communion were encouraged. Revised services were produced that were more congregational and participatory. The congregation was recognized as the primary musical resources of the church. The result was the production of a large repertoire of music—hymns and worship songs, canticle and Psalm settings, and service music that was winsome from a musical perspective while being accessible to most congregations.

The Seeker Service movement was an offshoot of the twentieth century Church Growth movement. Seeker Services were designed for seekers. They were not intended to be a form of corporate worship. Congregational participation and common prayer are not features of the Seeker Service. They were a multimedia presentation of the gospel and involved dramatizations, discussion panels, interviews, music, short videos, talks, and testimonies. The original concept was that having heard the gospel in a Seeker Service and come to faith in Christ the new believer would move from the Seeker Service to a midweek Believer Service which involve corporate worship as well as teaching.

Saddleback Church and Willow Creek Community Church pioneered the Seeker Service. They found, however, that believers were also attracted to their Seeker Services. The seekers who were becoming new believers in their Seeker Services were not transitioning to the midweek Believer Services. This discovery was not particularly new. It had a parallel in the experience of a number of liturgical churches. In these churches it had been discovered that when children worship separately from their parents in a less formal service with different kind of music from that used in the adult services, they have difficulty adapting to the more formal adult services that also do not use the type of music to which they are accustomed. They prefer the informality and type of music of the children’s services and when they grow older will seek a church that has less formal services and the type of music that they enjoyed as children. It is their type of church service. For the new believers the Seeker Service was their type of church service. The midweek Believer’s Service was not.

This development led to a movement away from Seeker Services to making Believer’s Services more seeker-friendly. My observation is that Seeker Service concept has not disappeared altogether and what is presented as seeker-friendly “contemporary worship” service in a number of churches is actually a Seeker Service. A more recent finding of Willow Creek staff is that their seeker-friendly services, while they result in a high attendance and numerous decisions for Christ, they are not producing mature believers. This has led them to re-evaluate their whole approach.

The Seeker Service movement and seeker-friendly “contemporary worship” originated in non-liturgical churches and denominations, that is, churches and denominations that have historically used informal local patterns of worship instead of a formal and official liturgy. A number of concerns expressed about how traditional worship—read liturgical worship—and the traditional church—read the liturgical church—puts off seekers reflect old anti-liturgical prejudices. These prejudices may be piggy-backing into Anglican churches on “contemporary worship.” At the same time a number of these concerns are legitimate. The challenge is sorting the legitimate concerns from the prejudices.

As well as doing away with common prayer, “contemporary worship” also omits what Anglicans have considered essential parts of the service or it downplays them. For example, in the typical “contemporary worship” service any reading of Scripture is done within the context of the sermon. To ensure that churches using informal local patterns of worship retain these elements, the Church of England in South Africa has incorporated into its canons the requirement that any service on the Lord’s Day must include five elements—confession of sin, praise and thanksgiving, petition, reading of Holy Scripture drawn from both Old and New Testaments, and exposition of Holy Scripture. The Church of England and the Church of Ireland have produced guidelines for informal local patterns of worship, and the Diocese of Sydney in the Anglican Church of Australia has produced a collection of simplified forms of service, Sunday Services (2001) for the use of its churches.

To complicate matters, contemporary Christian and praise and worship music has moved away from the simpler choruses and songs that once characterized these genres and become less accessible to the average congregational singer. More songs are being written for the performance of the professional and semi-professional musicians and vocalists that form today’s church bands. The use of these songs and the tendency to change songs frequently without giving the congregation sufficient opportunity to learn and master new songs have reduced congregational participation in the music of “contemporary worship.” It is becoming more even more performance-oriented. Another factor is that congregations are expecting music of the same quality as that performed at concerts and on MTV. These developments are drastically curtailing a major form of congregational participation in non-liturgical worship. Indeed in a number of non-liturgical churches it has been the only form of congregational participation.

Does “contemporary worship” have a place in Anglican worship? If a church begins to offer a “contemporary worship” service as a part of its Sunday schedule either on Sunday morning or Sunday evening or its weeknight schedule, it must be willing to accept that the people whom it attracts with this service are not going to move from the service to one of the church’s liturgical services that may need more people in its congregation. They will exist as a separate congregation from the congregations that are accustomed to liturgical services. They may never develop an appreciation for common prayer or liturgical worship or other forms of church music beside those used in their “contemporary worship” service.

A church that seeks to attract more people with the occasional “contemporary worship” service is not going to keep the people it attracts with this service. They are going to find a church that regularly offers this type of service. This is what has happened in the Church of England where parish churches offer a different type of service on each Sunday of the month to meet the needs of the different constituencies in the parish. This approach does not work. If a church is going to offer “contemporary worship,” it must be willing to do so every Sunday or every week and to live with the consequences.

One of the peculiarities of confessional Anglicanism is that two of the formularies that enunciate Anglican beliefs, norms, and principles are collections of liturgies. They are the 1662 Book of Common Prayer and the 1661 Ordinal. The third formulary is the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion of 1571. One of the purposes of the Articles is to provide doctrinal standards for interpreting the Prayer Book. As more and more churches adopt non-liturgical “contemporary worship” and acquire the anti-liturgical attitudes that may be associated with these patterns of worship, they are not only going to contribute to the disappearance of common prayer but also they are going to further undermine these formularies as authoritative Anglican standards of faith and worship. The question will eventually be raised, “If we do not need a Prayer Book, why do we need an Ordinal? Why cannot we determine the form of all services at the local level?”

In his Church Society pamphlet, “Why Liturgy?” David Philips lists a number of good reasons to follow a formal and official liturgy. Among these reasons is that liturgy supplements faithful Bible teaching and “safeguards against hobby-horse preaching and comments.” “In Churches where there is false or non-existent teaching,” Philips stresses, “a sound liturgy may be the only source of true teaching.” Further on the pamphlet he writes:

“When people make up their own liturgies not only is there a tendency to focus on their particular likes, they also ignore their dislikes.

Moreover it is easy to produce nonsense, or heresy. Good liturgy will ensure that a congregation receives sound doctrine.”

In “contemporary worship” what is taught is solely at the discretion of the minister of the church. The congregation is subject to the vagaries of its minister.

The Jerusalem Declaration upholds “the 1662 Book of Common Prayer as a true and authoritative standard of worship and prayer, to be translated and locally adapted for each culture.” In Being Faithful: The Shape of Historic Anglicanism Today the GAFCON Theological Resource Group explains:

“Archbishop Thomas Cranmer’s liturgical achievement culminated in the Book of Common Prayer of 1552, which was republished with minor alterations and additions in 1662. This has been the standard liturgical resource for Anglicans ever since, translated into many languages and adapted to different circumstances. The orders of service found in this book, together with Cranmer’s prefaces, provide an important and distinctive approach to Anglican sacramental and liturgical life.” [Being Faithful, p. 47]

The GAFCON Theological Resource Group goes on to explain:

”We should not expect uniformity of liturgy across the Anglican Communion, but we should look for a common theological basis. Our commitment to the principles underlying the liturgy of the Prayer Book should produce forms of corporate worship which may be diverse, but which still bear a family resemblance. The 1662 Prayer Book provides a standard by which other liturgies may be tested and measured. One key principle of revision is that new liturgies must be seen to be in continuity with the Book of Common Prayer.” [Being Faithful, p. 47]

They further explain:

”A second key principle of revision should be that of mutual accountability within the Anglican Communion. The further removed a proposed liturgy may be from the 1662 Prayer Book, the more important it is that it should be subject to widespread evaluation throughout the Communion. [my emphasis][Being Faithful, p. 48]

What approach would the GAFCON Theological Resource Group recommend to patterns of worship like “contemporary worship” that only remotely resemble the 1662 Prayer Book and are locally determined—not at the level of the diocese but at the level of the local congregation? Would they recommend the setting of canonical requirements and guidelines as I have noted that a number of Anglican bodies have already done? How would they react to the proposal of a number of the proponents of “contemporary worship” that Anglicans should dispense with a formal written liturgy altogether? These and other questions need addressing as “contemporary worship” grows in popularity in Anglican churches.

The Theology of Mission: The Word Must Become Flesh in Every New Context

Jesus gave the church the mandate to evangelize the world. The importance of Christ’s command to his followers to go into all the world to proclaim the gospel and make disciples is evidenced by the fact that this command occurs in all four Gospels (Matt. 28:16-29; Mark 16:15-18; Luke 24:45-49; John 17:18;20:21). Each version contributes a different emphasis on the nature of the command to proclaim the Gospel.[1] At the same time, each underscores the same objective of sending the church out into the world bearing the good news.[2]

In the Great Commission, Jesus declares the mission of the church: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and Holy Ghost, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always to the very end of the age.” In the Greek, the words “going,” “baptizing,” and “teaching” are all participles. The imperative found in this commission is matheteusate which is translated “make disciples.”[3] Matt. 28:18-20 establishes that the followers of Christ are to communicate the gospel of salvation and to walk alongside new believers in a journey that will lead them into a life-long commitment to discipleship.

To read the entire article, click here.

CEN—New bishop raises questions about the ACNA’s commitment to Anglicanism

Charges the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) has abandoned the historic episcopate by receiving a bishop from the Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches (CEEC) without re-consecrating him are unfounded, the traditionalist province-in-waiting tells The Church of England Newspaper.

On July 31, American church commentator Robin Jordan charged the ACNA with having abandoned the historic episcopate when its Provincial Council of Bishops voted on June 9 to receive the Rt. Rev. Derek Jones as a bishop in good standing. Formed in 1995, the CEEC is an American Protestant denomination that has found a niche blending charismatic worship with liturgies drawn from the Book of Common Prayer, and is not normally numbered among the Anglican breakaway churches in the United States.

However, a review of Bishop Jones’ episcopal antecedents by the CEN finds that while a number of his consecrating bishops would not be recognized by Anglicans, his descent from a Brazilian bishop whose episcopal orders were recognized by Pope John XXIII places him within the apostolic tradition.

To read the entire article, click here.

To read the comment thread on TitusOneNine, click here.

I find that it is interesting that the ACNA turned to George Conger, a charismatic Anglo-Catholic friend of the ACNA, to write an explanation of the College of Bishops' reception of Bishop Derek Jones as an ACNA Bishop.

I must continue to ask why did not the ACNA College of Bishops, when it announced Bishop Jones' reception, state the basis for his reception as an ACNA bishop?

I also must point out that the Rev. Conger did not address the questions that I asked Archbishop Duncan in my letter to him. Indeed he avoids or skirts a number of issues that Bishop Jones' reception raises. Bishop Jones' qualifications were never an issue and even his orders were not the primary issue. The chief issues were related to how the College of Bishops operates. I refer readers to my articles, "Anglicans Ablaze goes a-begging" and "Openness + Transparency = Trust + Confidence."

The Rev. Conger's article does not offer a satisfactory explanation for the College of Bishops' hesitancy in making known the basis of its decision. It does not address whether the College of Bishops addressed the issues I raise in my article, "Openness + Transparency = Trust + Confidence."

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Does your fellowship or church meet in a house, apartment, or similar setting? Anglicans Ablaze wants to hear from you.

If you pastor an Anglican fellowship or church that meets in a house, apartment, or similiar setting or you worship with an Anglican fellowship or church that does, I am interested in hearing from you. I am doing research for my series, "Home Fellowships for Heritage Anglicans." I am interested in learning about how your fellowship or church was started, especially how the initial nucleus or core group of the fellowship or church was gathered, how long it took, what kind of preparation it was given before the launch of the fellowship or church, what is the vision for your fellowship or church, what challenges your congregation has faced and how it has overcome them, and that sort of thing. I can be reached at exploringananglicanprayerbookatgmaildotcom.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Historic Anglicanism Today: A Faith of Many Expressions?

By Robin G. Jordan

We often hear or read the argument that there are so many expressions of Anglicanism that it is impossible to define Anglicanism. But I suspect that those making this argument do not really want a concise definition of Anglicanism because it might exclude them. A broad, vague definition of Anglicanism or no definition at all is preferable since it will make room for all the groups that claim to be authentically Anglican.

“Anglican” and “Anglicanism” are terms that were not used until the nineteenth century, and what they mean and to whom they apply have been controverted since that time. During the period from the Elizabethan Settlement to the early nineteenth century the Church of England was described as the Protestant Church of England, the Protestant Episcopal Church of England, the Protestant and Reformed Church of England, and the Reformed Church of England. What defined the faith of the Church of England were the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion of 1571, The Book of Common Prayer of 1662, the annexed Ordinal, and the Books of Homilies of 1547 and 1571, interpreted in their intended Protestant sense, the Canons, and various Acts of Parliament. If anything can be classified as classical Anglicanism, it is the faith that they define. It is unmistakably Protestant and Reformed.

In the nineteenth century the “Tractarian and Anglo-Catholic ideologists,” as J. I. Packer describes them in The Thirty-Nine Articles: Their Place and Use Today, “got down to their self-appointed task of trying to change this identity,” to use Packer’s words (p. 35). They were unapologetically Roman Catholic in their sympathies and introduced Roman Catholic doctrine and practice into the Church of England and her daughter churches. The dogmas of the Council of Trent and the innovations of Roman Catholic Church since the Reformation, they claimed, were the Church of England’s true heritage. After they muddied the water, the once pure stream of Anglicanism has grown more turbid since. It has become like the Mississippi River as it flows into the Gulf of Mexico, fouled by all the impurities that have been dumped in the river upstream.

The determination of whether a particular expression of Anglicanism is genuine should be based upon the extent that it is rooted in this faith and gives expression to it. This is the wellspring from which the Anglican stream flows. The further a particular expression is removed from classical Anglicanism, the less it is authentically Anglican.

The application of this principle in a survey of the Anglican Church in Canada, Anglican Church in North America, the Continuing Anglican Churches, and The Episcopal Church I hazard would reveal that substantial number of the bishops, clergy, and congregations of these supposedly Anglican bodies are marginally Anglican at best. The Thirty-Nine Articles were never given a central place in the teaching and life of The Episcopal Church and they are certainly not a living formulary in the other churches. The service books used in North America are far removed from the Prayer Book. Even 1928 Prayer Book and the 1962 Canadian Prayer Book are in their doctrine.

What I see in North America today is a number of ecclesial bodies that brand themselves as “Anglican” but if classical Anglican is used a standard by which they are tested and measured, they do not merit that brand name. Some individual bishops, clergy, and congregations in these bodies may be more Anglican than others but the number of these people is not large enough to qualify the whole body as Anglican.

Obtaining the recognition of the Archbishop of Canterbury and even the recognition of the global South Primates is like obtaining the stamp of approval of a product-rating agency for purity. However, they are product-rating agencies that do not have objective criteria for their determinations and do not actually subject the product to testing and analysis. They depend upon the assurances of the company marketing the product. The global South Primates have not sent teams of inspectors to all the churches in the ACNA to determine their purity anymore than the Archbishop of Canterbury has to the churches in the ACoC and TEC.

The Task Force for drawing up a new catechism is surveying the clergy and congregations of the ACNA regarding their beliefs. It would be interesting to see the survey questionnaire they are using and the results it yields.

Anglicanism, that is, the faith of the Protestant and Reformed Church of England and its formularies, faces a bleak future in North America. Only a small number of bishops, clergy, and congregations in the ecclesial bodies that identify themselves as Anglican are interested in its survival. The rest could care less. They are perfectly happy to be one of the many expressions of an indefinable Anglicanism, which is so nebulous that one might argue that anything that we want to call Anglican is Anglican. Some people already do.

Those who are happy to be one of the many expressions of an indefinable Anglicanism need to face up to the truth. They are not really Anglican. They are certainly not Anglican in the sense of their acceptance of the authority of the Articles, which Being Faithful: The Shape of Historic Anglicanism Today maintains is constitutive of Anglican identity (p. 35). It further holds that the 1662 Book of Common Prayer is central to the common identity of Anglican Christians (p. 46). This may apply to the provinces outside of North American and even to the ACoC but it certainly does not to TEC and those who left that province and formed the ACNA. Few people in the ACNA and TEC are acquainted with the biblical and Reformation teaching of the 1662 Prayer Book. The PECUSA began moving away from the 1662 Prayer Book tradition with the inclusion of the 1764 Scottish Non-Juror Prayer of Consecration in the 1789 Prayer Book.

Paul Zahl coined the term “contemporary Episcopalianism” for what passes as Anglicanism in TEC. He thought that it was a more accurate description of the faith of twenty-first century Episcopalians. I would suggest that there are two varieties of this faith—one is conservative and is found in the ACNA and the other liberal and found in TEC.

There was real hope in the very early part of this decade that the new Anglican province that would be formed in North America would return to the Articles and recognize and affirm them for what they are—“a faithful testimony to the teaching of Scripture, excluding erroneous beliefs and practices and giving a distinct shape to Anglican Christianity” (Being Faithful, p. 36). The 1662 Book of Common Prayer, adapted to a North American cultural context, and available in traditional and contemporary English, would be the starting point for a new Prayer Book tradition in North America. There would be a rebirth of the faith of the Protestant and Reformed Church of England in Canada and the United States.

This is not going to happen in the ACNA. Only the bishops of the ACNA know in what direction they are taking that body and from all indications it is not in that direction. This should not be surprising. How many of them have drunk deeply the sparkling pure water of Anglicanism near its fountainhead? Most of them come from TEC where the stream of Anglicanism is polluted and toxic. A small number come from churches that are not even nominally Anglican. They cannot be expected to lead a revival of classical Anglicanism in North America.

The plight of Anglicanism in North America is so disheartening that it is causing good men to fall into despair. The prospect of the complete demise of the faith of the Protestant and Reformed Church of England in North America looms large in their minds. Yet there is hope. God has preserved a remnant that have not bowed a knee to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed his idol, as He did in the day of the prophet Elijah. Some are scattered throughout ecclesial bodies that identify themselves as Anglican. Others sojourn in other church bodies or are churchless. They share a common desire to see the pristine stream of Anglicanism to flow anew in North America, welling out of the ground of the holy Scriptures, bubbling with the life of the Holy Spirit, and charged with the gospel of grace, and to offer its refreshing water to the thirsty, the water that is life because it comes from Christ. It is the water that Christ alone gives that becomes in those who drink it a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life. (John 4:14). God is calling this remnant to unite together to maintain a genuine Anglican witness in North America that is faithful to the Bible and the Reformation, and to give the historic Anglican formularies their proper place in that witness as God’s gifts to the Church of England when He brought her out of the darkness of superstition and ignorance into the marvelous light of the gospel, and a God-given heritage to her children.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Sizing Up Koinos Churches

By Robin G. Jordan

I had originally planned to examine in this article the similarities and dissimilarities between house churches and home fellowships. But my research for the article revealed that the number of kinds of house churches and home fellowships have proliferated since I first became interested in this phenomenon in the 1980s. It is no longer as simple as it was then to distinguish between these gatherings. The terms “house church” and “home fellowship” are often used interchangeably.

In Planting Missional Churches: Planting a Church That's Biblically Sound & Reaching People in Culture, Ed Stetzer uses the term “Koinos churches” to describe what the house church movement is doing. Stetzer is a missiologist and researcher for the Southern Baptist Convention’s North American Mission Board. "Koinos" is derived from the Greek word "koina" that the New Testament uses to describe Christian fellowship. He goes on to write:

Koinos churches are churches that, at their core, have committed to have face-to-face relationships in such a way that they truly live life together. This requires a commitment to community beyond larger churches in that they will always intentionally stay small so that people cannot be a part of the church without being truly connected in biblical community.

Stetzer notes that the potential for Koinos churches is high in culture that “values intimate relationships, shared leadership, transparency, and teamwork.” There are indications that house churches may play a significant part in Christianity’s future in North America. At the same time Stetzer acknowledges that Koinos models are not at the present time being effective in North American culture. They have not succeeded in penetrating “the culture of lostness” as a number of common models have. He has, however, seen several examples of Christians gathering in intentional Koinos communities to practice solid New Testament church structure and to reach out to their neighbors, which encourage him to believe that more are possible.

Stetzer has assembled some of the literature on Koinos churches available on the Internet at www.newchurches.com.

He believes that a basic understanding of the difference between Koinos church and home cells might prove helpful:

A home cell is a part of a larger church and supports the ministry of that church. Most churches planted in the last few years have a large celebration service for worship accompanied by meetings in homes for small group care.

The Koinos church is different in that it doesn’t see itself as a part of a larger body—it is a church. The Koinos church performs all the functions of the church—baptism, Lord’s Supper, study, giving, etc. It is a church.

Koinos churches do not start in a home with the hope of moving to a large rented or permanent facility “when it grows up.” The home is their permanent facility. The church is a church in a home.

I recently trained church planters in Romania. Their church-planting strategy involved building a “mission house” or a “house church” where the missionary church planter would live. The missionary would reach out to the people of the village and invite members to meet with him in his home—which included an extended living room with benches. As the church grew, it would then builds its own building.

The same pattern is very common in North American church planting today. The vast majority of new churches start as churches meeting in a home. But they do not stay there. Eventually they move to a larger facility.

The Koinos church is different. Fundamental to its design is the idea that it will remain a Koinos church. As it grows, it will multiply into other homes, businesses, coffee shops, etc.—not enlarge.

The Journey, the Southern Baptist new church plant with which I am presently sojourning has home cells, or Life Teams as they are called, which are an important part of its discipleship process. New Life Teams are formed every year in September at an event called Synergy. Newcomers are encouraged to try a Life Team for an initial period of six weeks. At the conclusion of this six-week period the participants in a particular group will contract with each other to meet as a Life Team for eighteen months. The church staff will help people find a new Life Team if they found the group that they tried was not the right one for them. The Journey has both open and closed Life Teams. Open Life Teams accept new participants; closed Life Teams do not.

The Church of the Beloved, an eight-year-old Episcopal church plant with which I was involved to some degree in its early stages of development, began meeting in a home. As it grew, it moved to a vacant house in a new subdivision. Later it met in the conference room of a local Holiday Inn. It presently meets in the sanctuary of a local Lutheran church. The Church of the Beloved had a good start and at one stage was attracting newcomers with the Alpha program. The Church of the Beloved was launched before the Gene Robinson consecration and his consecration devastated the newer churches in the Diocese of Louisiana. At least one that had just become a parish lost so many families that it was forced to become a mission again. The Church of the Beloved suffered a decline in its attendance from which it has never recovered. While the church itself is conservative, it has not been able to overcome the radical liberal image of the Episcopal Church in an area that is conservative in its values.

Both the Journey’s Life Teams and the Church of the Beloved are highly relational. However, they are not Koinos churches. The Life Teams are a part of a larger church—the Journey. The Church of the Beloved is a church that in its early stages of development met in a house but its vision is to eventually become a church with its own building.

Defining the house church is difficult, Stetzer further notes, because it has so many expressions. In his article, “Some Streams of the House Church,” Frank Viola identifies eleven streams of house churches.

While some Koinos churches see themselves as a church, Stetzer draws to his readers’ attention, they do not function as one. They neglect some of the ecclesiology described in Scripture. They de-emphasize New Testament patterns of leadership. They do not covenant with other Kairos churches and assist and support each other. They do not practice baptism and the Lord’s Supper. For a Koinos church to be a biblical church, it must have all the characteristics of a New Testament church. The North American Mission Board has developed and adopted a guiding ecclesiology to help church planters and starters to ensure that the churches they are planting are biblical churches. This document is available on the Internet at Church Planting Village in PDF format. I have examined these guidelines, and they offer one example of how a denomination is seeking to ensure that all churches being planted by church planters and starters affiliated with that denomination represent its understanding of the biblical church. Any Anglican body seeking to use Koinos church models in its church planting strategy will need to develop its own guidelines that are consistent with its own understanding of the biblical church.

While there is a broad range of answers to how the Koinos church works, Koinos church proponents all agree on one thing—Koinos churches do not need a building. Meeting in a non-facility is fundamental to the new Koinos church. As the Koinos church grows in size, it multiplies into other houses. The Koinos church does not move into a building.

Only by staying small does a relational church stay relational. Koinos churches usually multiplies into small groups before they reaches thirty people. Twelve people are about the optimal size for both a home cell and a Koinos church. Both home cells and Koinos churches become increasingly less relational once when they move beyond fifteen people. They also become increasingly less interactive and participatory.

The Koinos church can definitely help Christians to make the transition from going to church to being the church.

Dick Scoggins has a number of resources on his website. Click "books" and then "PDF Downloads and Translations." They include Planting House Churches in Networks and Handbook for House Churches. Also check out "Other Resources" and "Websites."

The following websites have resources for further reading:


The views on Koinos churches presented in these websites may vary widely. My advice to readers is work methodically through the material on the Internet to gain a better understanding of the different expressions of the Koinos church. One of my own concerns is making the most effective use of the Koinos models in North American culture while also preserving the essentials of an Anglican identity. Some Koinos models may be a better choice for Anglicans than others. Sifting through the literature and experimenting with a variety of models will be useful in discerning the best models for Anglicans.

A Koinos church may be the best option for Anglicans who live in communities that cannot sustain a conventional church for a variety of reasons. A Koinos church that is New Testament in its church structure is as real a church as any conventional church. Koinos churches in several communities might network together for mutual assistance and support, and occasionally meet together for fellowship and worship. These meetings would not be seen as “real church.” Real church would take place whenever and wherever the Koinos church meets.

Koinos churches do present a number of challenges for Anglicans. In this article series I will be looking at ways of meeting these challenges as well as examining other models of home based faith communities and the challenges these models also present. I will also be taking a look at the use of The Book of Common Prayer in the worship of churches and groups that meet in private houses and exploring a number of other topics.

Anglican Church is broken, says Orombi

The Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, Henry Luke Orombi, yesterday said the Anglican Church today faces many challenges which have made it dysfunctional.

“What I can tell you is that the Anglican Church is very broken,” Bishop Orombi said.

“It (church) has been torn at its deepest level, and it is a very dysfunctional family of the provincial churches. It is very sad for me to see how far down the church has gone.”

Speaking at the opening of a three-day provincial Assembly in Mukono, the head of the Church of Uganda noted that the church has lost credibility.

He proposed that the Church of Uganda engages church structures at a very minimal level until godly faith and order have been restored. “I can assure you that we have tried as a church to participate in the processes, but they are dominated by western elites, whose main interest is advancing a vision of Anglicanism that we do not know or recognise. We are a voice crying in the wilderness,” he said at the Church’s top assembly that convenes every two years.

To read more, click here.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Anglicans Ablaze Goes A-Begging

By Robin G. Jordan

At the suggestion of a number of my readers I submitted to the Office of the Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America a request for information regarding the College of Bishops’ reception of Bishop Derek Jones by email on Saturday, August 14, 2010.

Dear Archbishop Duncan,

I am investigating the details of the College of Bishops’ reception of CEEC Derek Jones as a bishop of the Anglican Church in North America for a story that I am writing for the web journal Anglicans Ablaze. As the senior bishop of the Anglican Church in North America, president of the College of Bishops, and spokesman for the College, I thought that you would be the one person who would know all the details in this matter and might be able to assist me.

A number of details were not released with the announcement of Bishop Jones’ reception. These details include:

(1) The basis of the College of Bishops’ decision to accept Bishop Jones’ orders rather than require his re-consecration.
(2) The extent of the College of Bishops’ own inquiry in the validity and regularity of Bishop Jones’ orders.
(3) What consideration the College of Bishops gave to Resolution 54 of the Lambeth Conference of 1958 in its recognition of Bishop Jones’ orders.
(4) The extent to which the Church of Nigeria was, prior to the College of Bishops’ decision, consulted especially in regards to the status of the Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches and the orders of its ministers in relation to Lambeth Resolution 54.
(5) What short-term and long-term effects the College of Bishops anticipated their decision might have upon ACNA relations with the CEEC and other independent Catholic and Convergent churches, its relations with the Anglican Communion, relations between the Church of Nigeria and the Anglican Communion, the direction of the ACNA, and the future of the global South Anglican community.

I would greatly appreciate any information that you might give me that sheds light upon these details of the Bishop Jones’ reception.


Your brother in Christ,

Robin G. Jordan,

On August 18, 2010 Peter Frank who identified himself as the interim communication director for the Anglican Church in North America posted this comment in response to an article I posted on Tuesday, August 17, 2010 and titled “A view of the emerging Anglican Church in North America.”

I work at the ACNA's provincial office - as interim communications director. In that capacity I have been given the questions that you emailed to Archbishop Duncan on Saturday (he is traveling).

As I look at your website, it is difficult for me to understand why I should suggest to the College of Bishops or the Task Force on the Episcopacy (which was responsible for looking over Bishop Jones' credentials) that we engage with you on this. Your website would seem to indicate that you have long ago made up your mind about us, our leadership and our Anglican identity. In fact, it appears you wrote four posts over two weeks about this issue before contacting our office for clarification. It causes me to wonder what your goal may be in this engagement.

Whatever our disagreements, and as is the case with all Christians, we wish you a successful ministry as together we seek to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with a broken world

- Peter Frank

The information request that I made was a reasonable one. There was no hidden agenda to my request—just a desire to bring into the light a number of yet undisclosed details. If I had received the information that I requested, I would have written my story, and would have moved on to other matters.

Letting outsiders like myself know how the College of Bishops came to a decision and what was and was not considered in that decision builds bridges between the ACNA and those who have become alienated from the ACNA for a variety of reasons. It also gives those inside the ACNA insight into how their leaders make decisions and fosters greater trust and confidence in their leadership.

I am still interested in writing that story.

Openness + Transparency = Trust + Confidence

By Robin G. Jordan

This article was prompted by the comments of one of my readers in response to a previous article, “A view of the emerging Anglican Church in North America.” It spurred me to better articulate my concerns related to the College of Bishops’ reception of Bishop Derek Jones.

There are a number of issues involved in Bishop Jones’ reception. His orders are not the only issue. They are the presenting problem that points to a whole complex of interrelated problems that are much more serious than the presenting problem itself.

Among these issues is how the College of Bishops came to their decision, what the bishops considered in the decision, and what they did not. Both people inside and outside the ACNA would like to know more about the College's decision-making process and in particular the way in which this decision was reached.

These issues include that the Anglican Church in North America’s canons establish certain requirements for the reception of deacons and presbyters but do not apply these requirements to the reception of bishops. Why was this loophole left in the canons? Why are not the same requirements being applied to all three ministries? This particular loophole points to other defects in the canons. The canons were a flawed document from the outset. They were available for public scrutiny and debate for a very brief period—too short of a period for people to examine and weight their provisions. They were also rushed through the inaugural Provincial Assembly.

One of the issues is the lack of real accountability mechanisms in the canons. This issue is further complicated by the unwillingness of the ACNA members to require accountability from their leaders at a formative stage in the development of the ACNA when such accountability is critical. What is being established is a precedent that is going to haunt the ACNA in the not too distant future and create all kinds of problems for the denomination. We have seen what happened in The Episcopal Church when it failed to require accountability from its leaders.

The ACNA is not immune to the problems that have beset TEC. Indeed I would suggest that the ACNA was infected with these problems before it was born. Indeed they are a part of its very DNA. They have already begun to manifest themselves. This is evident in how certain leaders show a disregard for the provisions of the denomination’s constitution and canons, for constitutionalism, and the rule of law, and treat these documents as a mandate for them to do whatever is right in their eyes, to use a biblical expression.

A very important issue is the direction in which the leaders of the ACNA are taking the denomination. This may not concern Anglo-Catholics and Convergentists, the two groups that dominate the ACNA. It does concern Anglicans like myself who value the Protestant heritage of the reformed Church of England, who recognize in the Thirty-Nine Articles not just a venerable formulary but an important means of safeguarding the truth of the gospel, and who believe that The Book of Common Prayer of 1662 in its main substance and chief parts contains the true doctrine of Christ. We share with the Global Anglican Future Conference the belief that acceptance of the Articles, as understood in their plain, natural, and intended sense, is essential to Anglican identity. We affirm with the Jerusalem Declaration that the 1662 Book of Common Prayer is “a true and authoritative standard of worship and prayer,” “a standard by which other liturgies may be tested and measured” (Being Faithful: The Shape of Historic Anglicanism Today, p. 47).

An issue that is closely related to the direction in which the ACNA leaders are taking the denomination is the extent of consultations between the ACNA leaders and the global South Anglican bishops regarding proposed decisions that would affect not only the ACNA but also the entire global South Anglican community. The failure of TEC to consult with other Anglican Communion members and its willingness to act unilateral to pursue its own agenda provoked the crisis that led to the need for a new North American Anglican province. The leadership of the ACNA is evidencing the tendency toward the same kind of unilateralism. It is lower key than that of TEC but it is discernable.

I gather from various sources that the supporters of the ACNA in Africa, Australia, South America, Southeast Asia, and the United Kingdom do not have an accurate picture of the ACNA. They see the ACNA as a strong supporter of GAFCON, indeed as GAFCON in North America, but the ACNA is in reality not as strong in its support of GAFCON as they imagine. This is evidenced from its constitution and canons, the statements of ACNA leaders, and the comments of ACNA members. The commitment of the ACNA to a number of the tenets of the Jerusalem Declaration (e.g. 4 and 6) goes near the margin. GAFCON recognition and support of the ACNA is tied to this belief; and the ACNA at the present time needs GAFCON recognition and support. However, if the ACNA leaders continue to take the denomination in its present direction, I foresee a parting of the ways between the ACNA and GAFCON looming in the future, as the ACNA leaders increasingly create situations that try the patience of the GAFCON bishops. Americans are accustomed to holding positions of leadership in whatever international organizations to which they belong and the ACNA can be expected to seek hegemony in GAFCON. The concept of manifest destiny is evident in Convergentist thought, in the view that the Holy Spirit is bringing the three theological streams—Catholic, evangelical, and Orthodox/Pentecostal—together in Anglicanism and in particular in the ACNA.

There has emerged in the ACNA what may be described as a culture of denial. This culture does not encourage leaders and members of the ACNA to face up to negative developments and problem areas and deal with them. It is the kind of culture that is found in unhealthy family systems. In a healthy family problems are recognized and solved and the family is strengthened through the process. In an unhealthy family those who draw attention to a problem or a set of problems are seen as “the problem.” They are calling attention to the family that it does not welcome, particularly the family member or members who are making the largest contribution to the family’s difficulties. The family may view as acceptable or normal what outsiders see as problematic or unacceptable. There is an unwillingness to admit that the family is experiencing difficulties, much less that each family member is contributing to these difficulties.

In some ways the ACNA is reminiscent of ancient Jerusalem. The city was surrounded by the enemy who was raising siege ramps against the city walls. Yet there were those within the city who kept saying “Peace, peace.” The people of the city listened to them and not to God’s prophet Jeremiah. They were unwilling to accept the reality of their situation.

The emergence of this culture of denial is not surprising. A large segment of the ACNA, clergy and laity, came out of The Episcopal Church, and they brought elements of its unhealthy family system with them. They fled the toxic environment of TEC. However, they absorbed a lot of its toxicity before they fled. This toxicity is poisoning the ACNA.

Those who fled TEC also misdiagnosed a number of the problems of TEC. What they see as preventive measures against these perceived problems are perpetuating in the ACNA the very real problems that exist in TEC.

The result is an unhealthy organizational culture. The culture of an organization influences how it operates, how it relates to outsiders, how it relates to its own members, how the leaders of the organization are in actuality selected, how decisions are actually made, what factors are given consideration in the decision-making process, and so forth.

The problems of the ACNA are not going to disappear. It is much easier to address problems in their early stages—nip them in the bud, than it is later on, especially when they have increased in complexity as well as number, and are all demanding immediate attention.

Rather than responding with denial to problems, the ACNA needs to size them up, identify a range of solutions, choose what is the best solution under the circumstances, and to apply it. After giving it an opportunity to work, the ACNA needs to evaluate whether it is working. If it is not, the ACNA needs to try something else.

Whatever the ACNA does, the denomination needs to do it out in the open and not behind closed doors. Greater openness and transparency on the part of leaders engenders greater trust and confidence in their leadership. It is a very simple equation. Openness + Transparency = Trust + Confidence.