Monday, August 22, 2011

Archbishop Robert Duncan on the New ACNA Ordinal – Part II

By Robin G. Jordan

On August 19, 2011 Kevin Kellsen posted the second part of his interview with Archbishop Robert Duncan, titled “Discussing the Ordinal with Archbishop Duncan,” on Anglican TV. (The interview is at 11:22 on the video.) Archbishop Duncan in this part of the interview emphasized the dissimilarity of the 1979 Ordinal from the classical Anglican Ordinal and the similarity of the new ACNA Ordinal to the classical Anglican Ordinal. However, a comparison of the new Ordinal with the classical Anglican Ordinal and the 1979 Ordinal does not support Archbishop Duncan’s claims. (See my previous articles, “The 2011 Ordinal: A Foretaste of the New American Prayer Book,” “The New ACNA Ordinal: Shadows of Things That Will Be or Shadows of Things That May Be?” “Prelates and Pontificals in the Anglican Church in North America,” “Further Thoughts on the New ACNA Ordinal,” and “Archbishop Robert Duncan on the New ACNA Ordinal.”)

A number of alterations and additions to the Ordinal that the Liturgy and Common Worship Task Force made and which the College of Bishops approved affect the doctrine of the Ordinal. This includes the optional ceremonies and ornaments in the Ordinal. They are statements of doctrine whether or not the options are exercised. They have been included in that Ordinal and form a part of its doctrine. They cannot be explained away as liturgical enrichments.

A comparison of the new ACNA Ordinal with the Ordinal in the Book of Common Prayer 2011 is revealing. The two Ordinals have common features, which point to a common doctrine. This doctrine is articulated in the Book of Common Prayer 2011’s Ordinal and its Offices of Instruction. Needless to say it is not the doctrine of the English Reformers, the Anglican formularies, and historic Anglicanism. It is teaching associated with the Roman Catholic Church, the nineteenth century Tractarian and Ritualist movements, and the modern-day Anglo-Catholic movement. It is teaching that has no real basis in Scripture and is at odds or inconsistent with the doctrine of the Anglican formularies. It is teaching that clearly shows negligible commitment to the Jerusalem Declaration on the part of the Anglican Church in North America and its College of Bishops.

Under the heading “On Apostolic Order” the Book of Common Prayer 2011’s Ordinal offers a brief explanation of this teaching:

…God sets apart those called to the Apostolic order to provide the leadership and unity which Christ ordained. The apostles were men sent with the authority of Christ who commissioned them to be icons of Christ to his Church: Christ the Servant and Christ the High Priest.

The Bishop makes Christ visible to his diocese in the unity and headship of Christ, with full Apostolic witness and the power to carry Christ’s ministry to the world, bearing the authority of his Name, and represented symbolically when the Bible is laid on the head of a new bishop.

The Bishop is the icon of Christ the High Priest. As chief shepherd, the Bishop extends his priestly ministry by ordaining Priests for preaching, teaching, and the pastoral care in the life of the local congregation. The Bishop ordains Deacons to be icons of Christ the Servant who encourage the local fellowship to manifest the love of Christ in their service to others.

….In Holy Orders, Christ shepherds his flock by the apostolic leadership of Bishops, Priests, and Deacons. (Book of Common Prayer 2011, p. 332)

The Book of Common Prayer 2011’s Second Office of Instruction further explains:

In the Sacrament of Holy Orders, the Bishop sets apart, by the laying on of hands and anointing with holy oil, specific men for the pastoral and sacramental headship of the common life of the Church. These men receive the increased gifts of the Holy Spirit to be Servant-Leaders and the Pastors of Christ’s flock. (Book of Common Prayer 2011, p. 356)

It goes on to state:

The Bishop is the chief Pastor and the visible sign of unity and faith of the Church. The Bishop assures that leaders are set apart for the spreading of the Gospel in keeping with the tradition of the Apostles. He administers the Sacraments of Confirmation and Holy Orders in the life, ministry, and mission of the Church. [my emphasis] The Bishop is the visible sign of unity in Jesus Christ of his one, holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.

The priest is appointed by the Bishop to lead and direct the training and care of the local fellowship for outreach and ministry. He is to preach the Word of God, to preside at Baptisms and Holy Communion, and to pronounce absolution and blessing in God’s Name. He is to make visible Jesus Christ the High Priest, making intercessions and offerings on our behalf. [my emphasis]

The Deacon is appointed by the Bishop to lead and encourage others in ministries of service. He is to make visible Jesus Christ the Servant in the common life of the fellowship and sacramentally at Holy Communion. [my emphasis] he is to encourage the faithful to be Servant-Leaders, following the example of Christ who came to serve rather than be served. (Book of Common Prayer 2011, p. 357)

This doctrine maintains that priests, by virtue of their ordination, are “made a special link between God and his people” through whom the Holy Spirit works “during a sacrament as the principal means of dispensing divine grace to the people.” Archbishop Thomas Cranmer and the English Reformers rejected this doctrine of ordination, the priesthood and the sacraments. Archbishop Cranmer understood the Holy Spirit to come directly to God’s people through his Word. See "Dr. Ashley Null on Thomas Cranmer.”

An observer of developments in the Anglican Church in North America might be led to conclude that one part of that church is seeking to exploit the weaknesses of the other parts of the church to foist upon the church teaching that is inimical to authentic Anglicanism. These weaknesses include widespread ignorance of the doctrine of historic Anglicanism due to inadequate or non-existent catechesis.

Sound doctrine does matter. Without sound doctrine false teaching becomes rife. This is what happened in the Episcopal Church. It would be ironic that those who form the Anglican Church in North America backed away from erroneous doctrine in one key area of church life only to fall prey to false teaching in another such key area. The bishops of the Anglican Church in North America, like their Episcopal Church counterparts, appear unable to discern truth from falsehood. Instead of banishing and driving away erroneous and strange doctrines contrary to God’s word, they are encouraging the spread of these doctrines.

Some readers may object that there is no equivalency between the Episcopal Church’s teaching on sex and marriage and Anglo-Catholic teaching on apostolic succession, the historic episcopate, ordination, and the sacraments. However, both have primary salvation issues tied up with them. They do correspond to each other. They also have the same result. The Scriptures admit no variation in how we may be saved any more than they admit any variation in what is moral. One person cannot be saved by good works and sacraments and another person by grace alone by faith alone in Christ alone.

In the Examinations, the Exhortations, the Prayers and the Delivery of the Bible in the Form and Manner of Ordering of Priests and The Form of Ordaining or Consecration of an Archbishop or Bishop the classical Anglican Ordinal lays emphasis upon the offices of priest and bishop as being first and foremost ministries of the Word for very good reason. We are saved by faith and faith comes from hearing God’s Word. The New Testament stresses the importance of sound doctrine and likewise the classical Anglican Ordinal stresses its importance. If the Anglican Church in North America is to be an authentic Anglican Church, it must be a genuine gospel church. The new ACNA Ordinal is a part of a growing body of evidence that the Anglican Church in North America under its present leadership falls well short of the mark.

Recommended Reading:
Roger Beckwith, Elders in Every City: The Origin and Role of the Ordained Ministry
Mark Burkill, Better Bishops (Online)
Michael Green, Called to Serve: Ministry and Ministers in the Church
Joseph Lightfoot, The Christian Ministry (Online)


Fr. Chris Larimer said...

Isn't it at least a bit misleading to impugn the ACNA ordinal by using the solo-project of Fr. Acker?

RMBruton said...

The buck has to stop somewhere, who has signed-off on this ordinal and whatever ends-up passing as the official prayer book of the ac/na? Ultimately Duncan & Co. will bear responsibility. It has become more apparent, of late, that Anglicanism in North America, at least South of the 49th Parallel, since 1962, was still-born and does not seem to carry the requisite DNA to be Anglican. The founders of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States got it wrong in not requiring subscription to the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion. They paved the way for the Tractarians and others to introduce strange and erroneous doctrines. The REC might have got it right, but did not, nor did the Continuers and the Continuing-Episcopalians of the ac/na, although larger in some sense, have strayed even further away. I am sure that Robin disagrees with me in my assessment that Proper Historic Anglicanism is in demise and may have gone beyond the point of no return; but it was still-born in America.

Robin G. Jordan said...


Not at all. The similarities between the two ordinals are striking in regards to the ceremonies and ornaments as well as other alterations and additions to the ordinal. The doctrinal statements in the Book of Common Prayer 2011 are representative of the theological views associated with such ceremonies and ornaments.

The Book of Common Prayer 2011 also has all the earmarks of being more than a solo project. Keith Acker is a member of the Society of the Holy Cross. He is involved in the work of Forward in Faith North America. The Society of the Holy Cross has a long history of publishing manuals that are presented as the work of a unidentified committee or under one author's name but which are a collective effort. FIFNA is committed to promoting "Catholic faith, order, and practice" in the ACNA. Keith Ackerman who is also involved in the work of FIFNA serves on the Archbishop's Cabinet and the Liturgy an Common Worship Task Force.

The ceremonies and ornaments in the new ACNA ordinal are doctrinal statements. Both the 19th century Ritualists and evangelicals knew that. So do modern-day Anglo-Catholics and Roman Catholics. The Book of Common Prayer 2011 articulates the theology associated with them. The new ACNA ordinal refrains from doing so in order to avoid the appearance of being aligned with a particular theology but it clearly is!

Robin G. Jordan said...


The old gal still has life in her yet. Let's not be in such a hurry to bury her.

Val W. Finnell, MD, MPH said...

Help me out here. I see that you have quoted the Book of Common Prayer 2011, but you have not demonstrated how the ACNA Ordinal is similar to it at all, other than merely stating so. I searched for some of the language associated with Diaconal ordination and it didn't come up in the ACNA Ordinal.

So, would you please (specifically) demonstrate how the two are so intimately connected in order to substantiate your claim? Right now, you have no evidence for the accusation. Thanks.


Robin G. Jordan said...


Did you compare the rubrics?

Val W. Finnell, MD, MPH said...

I did not. Which ones should I look at? Thanks.