Friday, October 14, 2011

A Critique of PBS President Gavin Dunbar's Appraisal of the New ACNA Ordinal

By Robin G. Jordan

In his recent article, “The ACNA Ordinal and The Prayer Book – A Response,” PBS President Gavin Dunbar gives what amount to an unqualified endorsement of the new ACNA Ordinal. I have a number of problems with Dunbar’s appraisal of the new ACNA Ordinal.

At the beginning of the article Dunbar acknowledges the unfamiliarity of most Anglicans with the services of the Ordinal. Later on he justifies the incorporation of structural elements from the 1979 Prayer Book into the Ordinal because they are “familiar to many members of the ACNA.” Does he realize that he is contradicting himself?

Dunbar glozes over the significance of the inclusion of what he describes as “additional ‘explanatory’ ceremonies cherished by Anglo-Catholic wing of the ACNA. Their use may be discretionary but that does not prevent them from affecting the doctrine of the Ordinal and in turn the doctrine of the Church. While they may be “cherished” by the ACNA’s Anglo-Catholic wing, this is not sufficient reason for their inclusion in the Ordinal. Throughout its history the Anglo-Catholic movement has sought to revive or introduce in the Anglican Church ceremonies and ornaments and associated beliefs and practices that have no place in a reformed catholic church. As Roger T. Beckwith puts it, “the Reformers corrected mediaeval tradition by the Bible, so Anglicans have no business to try to restore mediaeval tradition in disregard of the Bible, as Anglo-Catholics have sometimes tried to do.” (The Church of England: What It Is, and What It Stands For, p. 10)

Dunbar goes on to claim, “…the bulk and theological substance of the ordinal is the classical texts in conservatively modernized language.” The editors of the ACNA do use wording from the 1928 Ordinal but they recast it into new forms in a number of places and put these new forms to a different use from the forms from which the wording was taken. Such changes affect the doctrine of the Ordinal, as do changes in the wording.

Dunbar also claims that the basis of what he would have his readers believe is a ”conservatively modernized ordinal “is in fact the work of our late President, Dr. Peter Toon, who did most of the pioneering work in the Anglican Prayer Book.” The similarities between the Ordinal in An Anglican Prayer Book (2008) and The Ordinal According to the Use of the Anglican Church in North America (2011) are small in number. Dr. Toon and the editors of the ACNA Ordinal insert “three” between “these” and “offices” in the Preface to the Ordinal and drop the alternative formula for use at the laying-on-of-hands in the ordination service for presbyters. The addition to Preface as I have written elsewhere imposes a particular interpretation upon the Preface. Mark Burkill in Better Bishops draws to the attention of his readers:

The way the Anglican tradition addresses the question of order may be seen in the Preface to the Ordinal of the Church of England which famously states ‘It is evident unto all men diligently reading holy Scripture and ancient authors that from the Apostles’ time there have been these Orders of Ministers in Christ’s Church; Bishops, Priests and Deacons’. It is not often appreciated what this careful statement is and is not saying. It is not arguing or insisting that bishops are essential to the existence of the Christian community. It is simply acknowledging that ‘bishop’ is a scriptural word, and that a distinctive episcopal ministry arose in the time of the apostles (hence the reference to ‘ancient authors’). This is the characteristic position of the early generation of Reformers in the Church of England. It is also to be noted that the statement speaks of ‘these Orders of Ministers’ and not of ‘three Orders of Ministers’. The latter is often assumed, but in fact the Church of England Reformers viewed bishops and priests as being of the same order, which is why bishops are consecrated rather than ordained.

Burkill goes on to write:

It is important to appreciate that the English Reformers, in line with the history outlined above, did not claim that a binding pattern of church order is to be found in Scripture. They would therefore take issue with those who insisted that presbyterianism was the church order to be followed, just as they would take issue with any who insisted that bishops were essential to the life of the Christian community. The point is that the Reformers understood very clearly that it is the gospel that creates and establishes the church, rather than a particular form of Church government. To think otherwise would be to align oneself with the error of the Roman Catholic Church. Apostolic succession comes from fidelity to the doctrine of the apostles rather than an unbroken episcopal succession. Thus John Jewel, Bishop of Salisbury and celebrated author of ‘An Apology for the Church of England’, puts it like this: ‘Succession, you say, is the chief way, for any Christian man to avoid antichrist. I grant you, if you mean the succession of doctrine’ (Avis 1982 p130).

The omission of the alternate formula removes from the Toon Ordinal and the ACNA Ordinal a longstanding feature of the American Ordinal. It was adopted with the first American Ordinal in 1792 and retained in the 1928 revision of the American Ordinal. The alternative formulae was provided in the 1928 American Ordinal because “the sacerdotal implications of the older form were objectionable to many…particularly since the formula was unknown to the ancient rites, but first came into use in the thirteenth century.”(Massey Hamilton Shepherd, Jr., The Oxford American Prayer Book Commentary, p. 545) During the thirteenth century Transubstantiation and the Sacrifice of the Mass were made official doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church. In the ACNA Ordinal the formula for use at the laying-on-of-hands in the ordination of deacons is modeled on the thirteenth century Medieval formula used in the ordination of priests. In the 1928 Ordinal and the Toon Ordinal the reformed 1552 formula is used.

The editors of the ACNA Ordinal do imitate Dr. Toon in his rendering of the Salutation as “The Lord be with you. And with your Spirit” and credit him with its use in the new Ordinal. Like Dr. Toon, they adopt a feature of the 1661 Ordinal and place a Collect before the parting blessing. However, Dunbar’s claim that the ACNA Ordinal is based on Dr. Toon’s work is pure exaggeration. Unlike the editors of the ACNA Ordinal, Dr. Toon sticks closely to the 1928 Ordinal as far as the order of the liturgical elements in the three ordinations services are concerned. The editors of the ACNA Ordinal do not use Dr. Toon’s translation of the traditional language texts into contemporary idiom.

The editors of the new ACNA Ordinal claim to have frequently consulted the Toon Ordinal but Dr. Toon’s work does not appear to have greatly influenced their own. The reference to An Anglican Prayer Book in the General Introduction and Notes on the ACNA Ordinal appears designed to win the support of the Prayer Book Society for the ordinal.

The editors of the new ACNA Ordinal go on to state:

The structure of this edition, however [emphasis added], does look to ecumenical and more recent Anglican Ordinals, especially the American BCP of 1979, the Church of England “Common Worship: Ordination Services,” Study Edition of 2007, and the Province of Southern Africa “An Anglican Prayer Book” of 1989.

The new ACNA Ordinal evidenced the influence of these books more than it does Dr. Toon’s work.

Dumbar concludes his review with this astounding statement.

So kudos to ACNA for returning to the Anglican tradition in its ordinal; and thanks to God for the ministry and teaching of his servant Peter.

The ACNA does not return to the Anglican tradition in its ordinal. There could be nothing further from the truth! Rather the ACNA departs from it!! The classical Anglican Ordinal is the Ordinal of 1661, which is based upon the Ordinal of 1552. If the 1661 Ordinal is used as a standard, the ACNA Ordinal falls short in a number of areas. The Anglican tradition is to give a new deacon a New Testament and a new priest and a new bishop a Bible and nothing else. This is a reminder that he is first and foremost a minister of God’s Word. Anointing the hands of a new priest is a part of the Roman Catholic tradition as is the anointing of the head of a new bishop. The Anglican Reformers rejected these ceremonies and the beliefs and practices associated with them.

The revival of Medieval Catholic ceremonies and ornaments rejected by the Anglican Reformers is not surprising in an ecclesial body that has incorporated Roman Catholic doctrine regarding the historic episcopate into its constitution and canons. The new ACNA Ordinal goes well beyond the 1979 Prayer Book in its departure from the classical Anglican Ordinal. The new ACNA Ordinal is further proof of the pressing need for a new orthodox Anglican province in North America that is faithful to the Scriptures and the classic formularies and stands in continuity with the beliefs and practices of authentic historic Anglicanism.

Related article: The State of the Anglican Church in North America


Jim said...

Robin, you wrote, "...glozes over..." I think you meant, "..glosses over..." Minor but it stopped me cold as I was reading your post.

Over all, I think your problem is that your reading of the history and theology of the church is very idiomatic. Sorry but I simply cannot go there.


Soul Deep said...

Mr. Jordan, quoting Burkill "The way the Anglican tradition addresses the question of order may be seen in the Preface to the Ordinal of the Church of England which famously states ‘It is evident unto all men diligently reading holy Scripture and ancient authors that from the Apostles’ time there have been these Orders of Ministers in Christ’s Church; Bishops, Priests and Deacons’. It is not often appreciated what this careful statement is and is not saying. It is not arguing or insisting that bishops are essential to the existence of the Christian community. It is simply acknowledging that ‘bishop’ is a scriptural word, and that a distinctive episcopal ministry arose in the time of the apostles (hence the reference to ‘ancient authors’). This is the characteristic position of the early generation of Reformers in the Church of England. It is also to be noted that the statement speaks of ‘these Orders of Ministers’ and not of ‘three Orders of Ministers’. The latter is often assumed, but in fact the Church of England Reformers viewed bishops and priests as being of the same order, which is why bishops are consecrated rather than ordained."

A rather odd, sort of circuitous argument from silence that bishop is a scriptural word. So are expiation, justification, election, propitiation, and so on. Luke, Titus, Peter, and Paul all make several references to episkopos. Seems to me the writers above were under inspiration to do so, hence at least a particular emphasis on episkopoi, diakonoi, presbyteros. Burkill's position is rather weak here.

Mr. Jordan, do you subscribe to Burkill's position? If so, I think is more representative of your point of view than even what you have defined as classical Anglicanism.

Robin G. Jordan said...


"Gloze" is the correct term. It means to "explain away."

Are you asserting a liberal Anglo-Catholic reading of Church history and theology is not? It is peculiar to a particular school of thought. Interestingly the GAFCON Theological Resource Group identify both liberalism and Anglo-Catholicism as challenges to historical Anglicism. This would include their interpretation of Church history and theology.

Robin G. Jordan said...

Soul Deep,

I think that you need to do more reading on the views of the English Reformers on bishops. I recommend Phillip Edgcombe Hughes The Theology of the English Reformers as a starter.

Archbishop Richard Bancroft was the first to champion the divine right of bishops as well as to denounce the exercise of the right of private judgment. He did so in a sermon at St. Paul's Cross in 1589 in which he attacked the Puritans. Bancroft used such strong language that one of the queen’s councillors held it to amount to a threat against the supremacy of the crown. Bankcroft was reacting to the Puritan claim of the divine right of presbyters. It must be pointed out that not all Puritans were presbyterians.

Bankcroft become Archbishop of Canterbury in 1604. He succeeded John Whitgift who wrote that he found no mandate for any particular form of church polity in the Scriptures.

The Caroline High Churchmen, while they championed the divine right of bishops, also in large part in reaction to the presbterian views of the more extreme wing of the Puritan party in the Church of England, did not unchurch the Continental Reformed Churches because they lacked bishops. They recognized their orders and sacraments.

American Episcopalians and Anglicans have been strongly influenced by Anglo-Catholicism, which like Roman Catholicism maintains that bishops are of the essence of the church. This view was not held by the English Reformers nor is it held by many Anglicans outside North America.

As the late Peter Toon pointed out in his critique of the proposed Common Cause Theological Statement, the majority of Anglicans hold to the bene esse position: bishops are of the well-being of the church. They are not essential to the Church's existence. The Common Cause Partnership in adopting the plene esse or esse position was excluding the greater number of Anglicans.

Anglo-Catholics have a tendency to present their views as if they represent the views of the whole Anglican Communion or historic Anglicanism when they represent the views of only one wing of the Communion and their views depart from historic Anglicanism at a number of points.

I recommend Joseph Lightfoot's The Christian Ministry and Roger T. Beckwith's Elders in Every City: The Origin and Role of the Ordained Ministry for a scholarly examination of the development of the offices of deacon, presbyter, and bishop.

Soul Deep said...

Where to being in re your last??

Perhaps I didn't read my own post, but I don't recall writing a single word about the "divine right of bishops".

Bancroft was hardly a "classical Anglican". It appears that he may have been a generation-once-removed subject of Mary Stuart. Divine right of bishops originates with the Council of Trent.

Where did I give any indication of being Tridentine?

The three-fold orders have a distinct New Testament link. Are they adiaphora? By lack of dominical mandate, the answer is yes. Are they a distinctive mark of Anglicanism? Yes.

Esse, bene esse, plene esse? I don't have the patience to ascertain that. The episcopate is a distinctive.

Congregational polity is also adiaphora, and its distinctiveness rests on the continental side of the Reformation.

Congregational polity isn't working too well in the west, btw. At least with the Jerusalem Council (Acts), the apostles were conciliar. The Jerusalem Council was a necessary part of the early church. Where is the strength of council in congregational polity? IMHO congregational polity is like denominationalism on hyper steroids, prone to myriad fragments.

Just for kicks and giggles: Around 1585 or so, at the Temple Church, whom would you have preferred Travers or Hooker? I wonder if my guess at your answer would hit the mark.

What's your next classical Anglican target, the 39 Articles, the formularies?

Soul Deep said...

"Where to being in re your last??"

Golly, my typing was trying to be existential...

Where to begin...

Robin G. Jordan said...

I write responses to comments for the other readers not just for whoever left the comment.

Where did I suggest that you were Tridentian?

Where in the New Testament do you find the basis for referring to the offices of deacon and elder-overseer as three seperate orders?
That comment points to a particular school of thought within the Anglican Church and its interpretation of Scripture. The emergence of the office of deacon and offices of presbyter and bishop was a post-apostolic development. The elder-overseer of the New Testament is not the monarchial bishop of the post-apostolic period or the prelate of the post-Constantine era. In the New Testament elder and overseer are used interchangeably.

The English Reformers retained the three-fold ministry of deacon, presbter, and bishop but they did not regard presbyters and bishops as a seperate order.

Where do I mention congregationalism?

The Council of Jerusalem was a very Jewish response--much like a council of rabbis deliberating upon a matter and issuing their opinion.

Descriptive passages in the Acts of the Apostles are not a strong basis upon which to establish doctrine or practice. There must be clear indications that what the author is describing was meant by the author to serve as a precedent.

As I recall, Hooker takes the position in Of the Lawes of Ecclesiastical Politie that if bishops abused their authority, it could be taken from them. I have never read Travers.

I understand that Travers attacked Hooker for his extension of salvation to Roman Catholics. Hooker, however, is not asserting Roman Catholics will be saved by sacraments and good works as they believe. Rather God is sovereign in who he predestines and elects for salvation and he could choose a Roman Catholic and by the power of his Holy Spirit bring him to faith in Jesus Christ. God could also choose a Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Wiccan, or Zoastrian. In taking this viewpoint Hooker is not condoning the beliefs and practices of the Roman Catholic Church. He is not suggesting that everyone is saved by the Law or Sect that he professes. Hooker's position unfortunately has been used to justify beliefs and practices of the Roman Catholic Church, which are not Scriptural.

Izaac Walton's account of Hooker's life has been questioned in recent years. Walton has been accused of conspiring with others to delay the publication of the final volumes of Ecclesistical Politie and of giving a false account of Hooker's life in order to influence how these volumes are interpreted. Hooker took positions that did not support beliefs and practices favored by Walton and the Caroline High Churchmen.

Your remark about targeting "the 39 Articles, the formularies," suggest that you have not read many of my other articles.

Soul Deep said...

Mr. Jordan, if not congregational, what is the church polity that you admire most, or adhere to?

Your writing suggests a very strong classical Puritan streak, wishing to avoid totally any and all that has a scintilla of popery or popishness. It's a wonder when reciting the creeds you can say the word catholic without a twinge of fear. The Orthodox Church would also give you pause, perhaps.

Sir, I know the 39 articles quite well, including #36. You know, the one about bishops.

Other notes:

Bishops are human beings, subject to the possibility of gross error, see Article #26.

I'm not certain why I detect a disdain on your part for what I've pointed out.

Bishops err. Popes err. Archbishops err. Priests err. Deacons err. Pastors err. Presdbyteries err. Synods err. Congregations err. Laity err.

From your staunchly anti-clerical standpoint I see no reason whatsoever for you to adhere to Anglicanism as an expression of the Christian faith.

Anglicans have bishops. Heaven forfend. Oh, so do Methodists, Lutherans, African Methodist Episcopals, Orthodox, Copts, the Syriac...

I guess for polity, you prefer constant ambiguity??

Soul Deep said...

BTW, Walton's Hooker is decidedly through rose-colored lenses, no doubt. I've read Secor and Keble multiple times; and "Lawes" at least five times through. How about you?

Please don't insult people who take time to read and respond to you.

The Hackney Hub said...

Soul Deep,

Robin is not advocating congregationalism or presbyterianism but episcopalianism. Robin has not questioned episcopacy in any of his writings. I think you have a poor understanding of Reformation theology regarding the episcopacy. A good book to read is the "Theology of the English Reformers," which will elaborate for you the theology of bishops held by the Reformers.

Robin G. Jordan said...

Soul Deep,

The Articles contain two references to bishops - Article 32 as well as Article 36. Article 32 recognizes that it is not inconsistent with the teaching of Scripture for bishops, priests, and deacons to marry. What Article 32 is not saying is that particular and national churches must have the threefold ministry of bishops, priests, and deacons. This also applies to Article 36.

The Thirty-Nine Articles, like the Lutheran and Reformed Churches identifies three marks of the visible church—a gathering of believing people, the preaching of the pure Word of God, and the ministration of the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper with due order and discipline as ordained by Christ (Article 19). The episcopate is not identified as a mark of the visible Church of Christ. The Articles do not require a man to be episcopally-ordained to minister in a congregation, only that he should be selected and called by those entrusted with public authority in the Church to call and send ministers into the Lord’s vineyard (Article 23). Article 36 declares that anyone who is consecrated or ordained according to the services of the 1552 Ordinal is rightly, orderly and lawfully consecrate and ordained.

Articles 32 and 36 do assume the retention of the threefold ministry of bishops, priests, and deacons in the Church of England. However, they say nothing about the necessity of other churches having bishops in order to be true churches. The phrasing of the Articles so as not to dechurch the Lutheran and Continental Reformed Churches that had no bishops was deliberate.

The 1661 Ordinal requires episcopal consecration or ordination of bishops and other clergy in the Church of England. This addition to the Preface of the Ordinal was intended to put a stop to the practice of presbyterian ordination in the English Church, which was a common practice during the Commonwealth.

In order to maintain an Anglican identity, a church arguably needs to have the threefold ministry of bishops, priests, and deacons and episcopal consecration and ordination. This does not mean that the church must subscribe to the Anglo-Catholic view that bishops are a separate order from presbyters, they are essential to the very being of the church, they are the exclusive channel of authority and grace in the church, their authority is supreme, and they alone should govern the church. The idea of bishops as a superior order is traceable to Cyprian of Carthage, not to the New Testament. We do not find in the New Testament a prescription for a particular form of church polity. We do find reference to the offices of deacon, presbyter, and bishop. The New Testament uses the terms “presbyter” and “bishop,” or “elder” and “overseer,” interchangeably.

Robin G. Jordan said...

An inflated view of the episcopate is found in the North American Church. Its origin is traceable to the nineteenth century Tractarian and twentieth century ecumenical movements.

In Canada and the United States there is also a tendency to blame the laity for developments in the church in these provinces and to downplay, if not ignore altogether, the major contribution of the bishops and other clergy in the same provinces to such developments. Bishops sent practicing homosexuals to seminary, ordained them, licensed them, and deployed them in the church. Bishops confirmed the election of a practicing bishop as a bishop and consecrated him. Bishops deposed disaffected clergy who opposed these developments. Clergy denied the authority of the Scriptures and the classic formularies and promoted liberal theology. The laity provide a convenient scapegoat for what was and still is to large extent the doing of the bishops and other clergy. This points to the need for the reform of the episcopate, not unfettered prelacy, which, if not openly promoted in the Anglican Church in North American and the Anglican Mission, is increasingly practised.

We are not talking about fallible men but a movement. Authoritarian bishops are not the solution to the problems that beset the North American Church. They will only exacerbate them.

Puritan, congregationalist, anti-cleric--you seem to have left out anti-Catholic in your attempt to define my views as un-Anglican when they represent a legitimate school of thought in the Anglican Church, a longstanding school of thought that may be closer to the thinking of the English Reformers on a number of key issues than your own.

Small children, when they are sitting at a table, eating cookies and drinking milk, play this game. They will count the number of cookies they have and boast that they have more cookies than anyone else. If they have the same number of cookies, they will boast their cookies are larger or have more chocolate chips and so on. There is much more important things in life than endulging in such games.

As far as books are concerned, what matters is not how much you have read a book but how much you understand it and in the case of the Bible whether you are applying its teachings and to what extent.

Any contempt that you read in my posts is imagined. As I noted in my last post, I write responses to comments for the other readers not just for whoever left the comment. While you may well-read, I do not assume that they are. Some may be. However, my experience is that that is often not the case. Many people are poorly-informed or misinformed.

Soul Deep said...

Mr. Jordan,

Thanks for your thoughtful reply.
In re the "inflated view"; if that is prevalent in the American church, I'd say it is most so in The Episcopal Church, and as such has gotten out of control, witness the canonical/constitutional crisis and the laxity of their theological approaches to essential doctrine. I do not see something similar in TAC, APA, REC, AMiA, CANA.

Perhaps you see ACNA treading dangerously, in terms of episcopal power, in a similar direction to TEC?

Robin G. Jordan said...

Soul Deep,
I have been following a number of developments in the Anglican Church in North America and the Anglican Mission that bear similarity to developments in the Episcopal Church and may be carryovers from the Episcopal Church. Both the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church in North America are moving in the direction of greater centralization of power at the provincial level. The Anglican Mission has already moved in that direction, having adopted an ecclesiastical structure modeled upon that of the Roman Catholic Church and exported a similar model to their sponsoring province, the Anglican Church of Rwanda. With this model were introduced significant changes in the doctrine of the Rwandan Church. The result the Rwandan Church has abandoned the reformed catholicism of the classic formularies and historic Anglicanism for the unreformed Catholicism of the Roman Catholic Church.

The developments in the Anglican Church in North America are complicated. The constitutions and canons of the ACNA are highly flawed documents. Among their problem areas they do not give metropolitical jurisdiction to the Archbishop of the Province or recognize metropolitical jurisdiction inherent in his office. Under their provisions the Archbishop of the Province is a presiding bishop with a fancy title. In all the other Anglican provincial constitutions and canons I have studied, if an Archbishop is the metropolitan of a province with metropolitical jurisdiction over the province, it is clearly stated in the constitution or canons. Archbishop Duncan has, however, been acting like he has metropolitical jurisdiction in the ACNA and has been arrogating to himself powers that the constitution and canons do not give him or recognize as inherent in his office. He has also been assuming powers that metropolitans do not exercise in Anglican provinces, creating offices and making appointments and establishing an Archbishop’s Cabinet, an administrative and consultative body found in the Roman Catholic Church. The ACNA constitution and canons make the Provincial Council and its Executive Committee the principal decision-making bodies in the ACNA but the Archbishop’s Cabinet and the College of Bishops have been usurping their role. The ACNA disciplinary canons give to the Archbishop of the Province authority in certain areas that is historically the prerogative of the ordinary of the diocese and infringe upon the autonomy of the diocese. Infringement upon the authority of the diocese is one of the developments in the Episcopal Church. As the body that sentences bishops convicted of wrongdoing, the College of Bishops has the long-recognized right to reduce or terminate the sentence of the convicted bishop. But the ACNA canons require the College of Bishops to first obtain the permission of the Archbishop—an unusual provision. The disciplinary canons are also missing a number of procedural safeguards that would ensure that bishops and other clergy prosecuted under their provisions would receive a fair trial. The ACNA Governance Task Force in its model diocesan constitution and canons and its consultations with groups of churches forming new dioceses is encouraging these groups to relinquish to the Archbishop certain powers that are rightfully the diocese or to involve the Archbishop in deciding matters that purely diocesan. Coupled with a very weak affirmation of the classic formularies at best and liberal positions on women in ordained ministry and a number of other key issues, these developments are a real cause for concern.