Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Further Thoughts on the New ACNA Ordinal
By Robin G. Jordan
When I began first began posting articles and comments on the Internet in which I voiced my concerns about the Anglican Church in North America, it was pointed to my attention that if I focused upon governance I might receive a more sympathetic hearing for my concerns and gain a measure of support. While I believed that the form and structure of the governance of the ACNA was a major cause for concern, I also believed that the doctrine explicit and implicit in the governing documents of the ACNA could not be ignored. The doctrine pointed to the thinking that underlay the form and structure of governance. The two were tied together and were inseparable from each other.
Developments in the ACNA have clearly shown the connection between the two. The new ACNA ordinal is the latest of these developments. The manner in which it was adopted and the theology implicit in the ordination services point to a view of the episcopate that is closer to what historically been that of the Roman Catholic Church than what has historically been that of the Anglican Church. This is a part of the Anglican Church in North America’s legacy from the Episcopal Church, which was strongly influenced by Roman Catholic Church’s view of the episcopate in the nineteenth century, and which would unchurch other denominations that did not have bishops.
Rather than being submitted to the Provincial Council for final approval, the new ordinal was submitted to the College of Bishops for authorization. According to the ACNA constitution and canons, the Provincial Council is the governing body of the province and it alone has power to make canons affecting the common worship of the province. This includes a canon authorizing the use of the new ordinal. Such a canon would have to be ratified by the Provincial Assembly before it could go into full force. The manner in which the new ordinal was authorized is one more example of how the present ACNA leadership routinely ignores the provisions of the ACNA governing documents, displaying low regard, if not contempt, for constitutionalism and the rule of law.
Under the provisions of the ACNA governing documents the College of Bishops’ authorization of the new ordinal is of questionable constitutionality. While the bishop having jurisdiction in a diocese is responsible under the provisions of the ACNA canons for determining what forms of public worship and administration of the sacraments may used in that diocese, the canons do not empower the College of Bishops to authorize such forms for the entire province, much less a service book by which men (and women) are admitted into the holy orders of the ACNA. In its authorization of the new ordinal the College of Bishops is usurping the power of the Provincial Council and the Provincial Council is acquiescing in this wrongful assumption of its power.
In the classical Anglican Ordinal, the Ordinal of 1661, which is substantially the Reformed Ordinal of 1552, the Veni, Creator Spiritus is sung as a part of the Ordering of Priests and the Consecration of Bishops. It, however, is not used in the Making of Deacons. Its use in the ordination services for presbyters and bishops recognizes that presbyters and bishops, while they exercise different offices and have different spheres of ministry, are essentially of the same order. The English Reformers regarded the superiority of bishops consisting “not in the superiority of their Order, yet in the office of their dignity.” It is the Holy Spirit that has called presbyters and bishops to their particular ministry and provided them with the spiritual gifts to fulfill that ministry. It is therefore fitting that the Holy Spirit should be so invoked at their setting apart for the ministry to which the Holy Spirit has called them and for which the Holy Spirit has gifted them.
The Veni, Creator Spiritus is followed by a solemn prayer of invocation in the Ordering of Priests and the Consecration of Bishops. The ordination prayer, like the Veni, Creator Spiritus, is omitted from the Making of Deacons.
The new ACNA ordinal makes a number of changes in the ordination services for deacons, presbyter, and bishops. I examine these changes and discuss their significance in 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?" and "Prelates and Pontificals in the Anglican Church in North America."
Among these changes is that the Veni, Creator Spiritus is also sung or recited as a part of the ordination service for deacons as well as the ordination services for presbyters and bishops. The rubric introducing this hymn to the Holy Spirit is the same in the ordination services for deacons and presbyters, making reference to the singing or recitation of the hymn as a prayer for the renewal of the Church.
In the ordination service for bishops the corresponding rubric, however, directs that the Veni, Creator Spiritus should be sung over the bishop-elect. In this service it is clearly put to a different use than in the ordination services for deacons and presbyters. It makes a distinction between the ordination of presbyters and the ordination of bishops that the classical Anglican Ordinal does not make. At the same time it equates the ordination of presbyters with the ordination of deacons. (In the classical Anglican Ordinal, on the other hand, there is a clear distinction between the Making of Deacons and the Ordering of Priests.) The intention appears to be to give greater prominence to the consecration of bishops. Implicit in this act of singing or reciting the Veni, Creator Spiritus over the bishop-elect is the inference that bishop at their consecration receives the Holy Spirit in a way that deacons and presbyters do not, a belief which has no Scriptural basis. This points to the Roman Catholic doctrines of apostolic succession, ordination and the sacraments. This includes the theory that a special grace of the Holy Spirit is conferred by the imposition of hands and anointing with the oil of chrism at ordination.
For the English Reformers and historic Anglicanism ordination is a formal setting apart of the ordinand by the laying-on-of-hands, with prayer, for a particular office and work in recognition of what God has already done—called the ordinand to a particular ministry and bestowed upon him the spiritual gifts for that ministry. Prayer is made for the further empowering of the Holy Spirit as the ordinand in the Ordering of Priests is exhorted to pray himself for such empowering. This acknowledges that we can do nothing unless God is at work in us to will and do his good pleasure, including praying for the Holy Spirit’s empowering.
The questionable constitutionality of the authorization of the new ACNA ordinal and the highly partisan character of its doctrine and liturgical usages are further evidence of the need for reform in the Anglican Church in North America. It is ironic that Archbishop Robert Duncan touts the ACNA as spearheading a reform movement in Anglicanism when the ACNA is itself so desperately in need of reform.
Posted by Robin G. Jordan at 11:42 AM