I'm worried that ACNA may accept women clergy; and they're too 'big tent'. Help?

Discussion in 'Navigating Through Church Life' started by Justin Haskins, Nov 17, 2015.

  1. Justin Haskins

    Justin Haskins Active Member

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    Hi All,

    It's been awhile since I have posted. Over the past four or five years, I've been studying the different Christian denominations very closely (after finally becoming a Christian), but I've always struggled to find a denomination I felt taught what the apostles were teaching. I've learned more, and as I have learned more, I've come to be quite fond of the Reformers (especially Luther and Calvin) and of Reformation churches. When I lived in Chicago, I visited many Anglican churches to worship, as well as many other denominations, but I couldn't really make a commitment. Part of this was driven by the fact that Chicago had very few (or none) evangelical parishes at the time, and I couldn't stomach being in a postmodern church.

    I don't live in Chicago anymore, and there are Anglican churches nearby that preach the Gospel. There are also many good Presbyterian churches nearby that are evangelical, and I've found myself drawn to these two denominations. I'm having a lot of trouble coming to the right decision about the two, however, and I was hoping to speak with all of you about this.

    My theology is pretty Reformed, although I'm not 100 percent convinced of their Regulative Principle of worship, or the traditional Calvinist understanding of the sacraments. In that sense, I'd say my theology is probably closer to what many Anglicans believe.

    However, I have some serious doubts on that score:
    • First, I'm very worried the Anglican Church in North America will eventually settle on female clergy throughout the denomination (and eventually bishops). I would not be able to stay in a church with this (because the Bible prohibits this).
    • Second, I'm also concerned because Anglicanism is a huge tent. I don't agree with some Anglo-Catholics on certain issues.

    Do you have any thoughts, advice, comments, suggestions, encouragement, or anything else? It's something I've been praying about for a long time. I'm lucky to have both options nearby (with good pastors, or so it seems), but I just can't figure out which makes more sense. I'm totally willing to reexamine things, and I'm open to any issues you all may think of.

    Thanks for your time!

    -Justin
     
  2. Spherelink

    Spherelink Active Member

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    My personal view after many years of debates on this issue is that the 5 points are ultimately not a salvific issue. Ultimately neither the adherents of Dort nor of Arminus nor many others who adhere to neither, disagree on two essential doctrines:
    • the sovereignty of God,
    • and the contingency of human action.
    Within this apostolic range many people can debate, and I'm sure we still would!, but more for our own vanities sake than any Gospel or salvific necessity.
     
  3. Mark

    Mark Well-Known Member Anglican

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    I will second Spherelink. Much of what you are talking about Justin is not salvific. But doctrines of a man or men. My jurisdiction is the Reformed Episcopal Church. We have 5 pt calvinists and Anglo-Catholics. In my Diocese, my Bishop leans more toward a Presbyterian view while I am so Anglo-Catholic I fell off the wagon onto the barque of Peter. (ie the Roman Church). But I recovered. My Bishop and I get along greatly. When I was examined for my orders to be received, the board consisted of Calvinist, Charismatics and Anglo-Catholic. Did we agree on everything? Nope. But we are Christian brothers who agree on what is required for salvation. I assist in a parish where they are very low Church and protestant. Eucharist once or twice a month. My family and I disagree, but we continue and we worship and serve side by side.

    As to female bishops in the ACNA. Canon 8, section 3 forbids females from being Bishop. While our First ArchBishop was pro-woman ordination, the current one is not (though I wish he was more authoritian on it) I know of one Bishop who was pro-wo who now is not. Sadly the ACNA still has some
    "baggage" from the TEC, well those who left the TEC. If more of the Continuing Churches would join the ACNA college of Bishop would have enough power to force the vote. The REC rejects as heresy any WO. We do have the Order of Deaconess, but that is a religious order and not ordained.

    The Anglican Catholic Church and the Anglican Providence of American both are showing interest in the ACNA. If they came aboard it would do much to help right the ship Anglican in the States.

    Fr. Mark

    ps. not to scare you. I started off an Arminian Southern Baptist, moved to 5 pt Calvinism, briefly flirted with the Reformed Churches (still have many friends there) and moved to Catholicism, ie Anglo or Reformed Catholicism. Just keep praying for the guidance of the Holy Spirit. He will guide you to where He wants you to be. Just be open and ready. Blessings.
     
  4. Justin Haskins

    Justin Haskins Active Member

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    Thanks for posting! I agree that it's not an issue of salvation. An Arminian with faith is saved just like anyone else with faith is. If I had grown up Anglican, I probably wouldn't even think twice about leaving over those issues. However, because I'm neither Anglican nor Presbyterian, I am tasked (I believe) with finding the church that is truly the closest to the earliest church (led by the Apostles). Even if I took your position completely, it still doesn't differentiate between the two groups I'm considering, because the differences you may have with Presbyterians are also likely to be non-salvific issues. This is why I'm having such a difficult time choosing.
     
  5. Justin Haskins

    Justin Haskins Active Member

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    Thanks so much Fr. Mark for the response and your kind words of advice. I will certainly continue to pray about this in the hopes the issue becomes more clear to me over time.

    I am also comforted by your take on WO and to hear that canon law forbids it ... although we should keep in mind that these things can be changed and that other, otherwise very orthodox Anglican churches in Africa support WO.

    While I agree with you and Spherelink that the 5 points are not issues related to salvation in the sense that regardless of who is right or wrong, both sides will ultimately be saved by their faith thanks to Christ's work on the cross, my point isn't to say, "Lots of people in Anglicanism have it wrong and therefore I don't want anything to do with them." Rather, I'm trying to figure out why I should be Anglican instead of being Presbyterian or continental Reformed. Or, in other words, why would someone who holds to the 5 points choose Anglicanism over Presbyterianism?

    I have my own views on this of course, and I'm sure yours are much different since you are Anglo-Catholic, but I haven't been able to figure out in the end what is more important. On the Anglican side of things, I appreciate the liturgy, the higher view of the sacraments, and an openness on certain issues (such as praying for the dead, which appears to have been an apostolic practice). On the other hand, I obviously would be much closer to Presbyterianism regarding the 5 points, the intercession of dead saints, and other issues.

    I have always been fascinated by J.I. Packer and others who seem to hold more "Puritanical" views than I but choose to be Anglican instead of Reformed. You could argue J.I. Packer is more confessionally Presbyterian than some famous Presbyterians, such as R.C. Sproul, who allows images of Christ at his church in Florida. I have often tried to find out what his reasons are for being Anglican, rather than Presbyterian, but to no avail.

    Anyway, I'm very thankful for your thoughts and for Spherelink's thoughts!

    -Justin
     
  6. Rhys

    Rhys Member

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    You're suffering from cognitive dissonance arising from the search for absolute, systematic truth where there isn't any. We've all been there.

    Your search for the Apostolic church is going to come up empty -- there isn't one. Keep in mind that perhaps hundreds of sects - many which we now consider heretical - flourished in the three centuries following the Ascension, and a majority consensus about what Christianity is was only reached in the fourth century - long after the Apostles had gone home, and long after many of the doctrines which are now considered to be broadly 'orthodox' began to develop.

    The "huge tent" you are concerned about is not particular to Anglicanism, but to Christianity itself. There is plurality in Christian orthodoxy, and this is what you are struggling with. All churches that teach the resurrection of Christ and practice baptism and the Lord's supper are, in some sense, Apostolic.
     
  7. Justin Haskins

    Justin Haskins Active Member

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    Yes, I don't disagree with you. However, you'll notice I said "closest to," which doesn't mean there needs to be a perfect fit, only the best fit. That's what I'm looking for. I realize none of the denominations have it totally right; I don't think we have enough information to even make it possible to recreate the earliest churches. However, I do think it's clear some churches are further away from the truth than others, and that's what I'm trying to get at.
     
  8. Spherelink

    Spherelink Active Member

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    The difference between us is pretty substantial. In doctrine just about everything considered Presbyterian such as federalism, covenant theology, not to mention the views on natural law, original sin, sanctification -- it is all quite alien to Anglicanism. I'd say their teachings were not so removed from the Apostolic Teachings during the Reformation, but over time enough departures and accretions had grown around Presbyterianism that it is a separate set of doctrines, only in a few areas not unlike Roman Catholicism, overlapping with us.

    Additionally their view of the church is obviously defective. Not having a valid biblical and apostolic Church Government should alone indicate the reasons for not joining them. If you have a church government that is totally alien to the Historic Church, a rebellious invention of a discreet point in time 500 years ago, it makes a mockery of what a Church should be, which is not innovative but conservative, not rebellious but deeply submissive and penitential.
     
  9. Justin Haskins

    Justin Haskins Active Member

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    Based on all of the research I've done, I don't think much of what you said here is accurate. Their views of original sin, sanctification, etc. are absolutely in line with many Anglican theologians. Further, I'm not sure why you think Presbyterianism was never practiced as a form of church government. It's quite clear from the biblical record and from sources such as the Didache that there were councils of elders, rather than one chief elder, who governed congregations. Many supporters of the episcopacy even admit this. I think it's fair to say that's not the ONLY valid form of governance, but to say it's totally "alien" is not at all accurate.
     
  10. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member Anglican

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    I've said it before, so excuse the broken record, but I think the Anglican church is much closer to Lutheranism than Presbyterianism.
     
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  11. Justin Haskins

    Justin Haskins Active Member

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    Certain sections of it are for sure, but certainly not all. Lutherans would never tolerate the Anglican prayer book's language on the real presence in the Lord's Supper. Lutherans would never tolerate double-predestination, which many Anglicans have held. Those are two pretty big differences.
     
  12. Spherelink

    Spherelink Active Member

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    Reformed theology has changed drastically over the centuries, and almost no Presbyterian today studies or even knows much about Reformation era theologians such as Bucer or Cocceius. When you are a Presbyterian today you sign onto the developments which that Church has experienced over 500 years, developments which not only have it differ from her own founder, Calvin, but even more so from the apostolic fathers and scripture. Federal theology is a clearest example of this. Calvin never taught it, but over time more and more Reformed theologians started to teach it, to the extent that today everyone must accept it to be seen as Presbyterian or Reformed. By contrast federal theology was never believed to be an Anglican concept, from the past into the present.

    On Sanctification a central Presbyterian concept of Once Saved Always Saved has profound consequences for sanctification. Anglican literature on holiness has a totally contrary view placing a major emphasis on repentance and piety.

    Their view of Original Sin teaches Absolute Depravity, ie. a failure of all human facilities, whereas Anglicans teach that the Will falls, not the Intellect, explaining why atheists can perform science or be good at math.

    Once you scratch the surface there will be countless differences in our two doctrines, exacerbated by the fact that Presbyterian theology has drastically changed and grew worse over time.


    There
    I just read something on this site recently, check it out:
    http://www.anglican.net/works/lance...three-epistles-of-peter-moulin-answered-1647/

    http://www.anglican.net/works/john-...ent-of-catholic-church-kingdoms-of-the-world/

    In short there was never a time when the Church wasn't governed by episcopacy, even into the Old Testament times. Bishop Overall shows that the government of the Church Catholic, by bishops priests and deacons, was established by God after the time of Noah. Bishop Andrews debates the divine nature of episcopacy against a chief Pesbyterian theologian, and clearly wins it.
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2015
  13. Mark

    Mark Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Justin,

    Theologians such as J. I. Packer will doing good work have also muddied the theological landscape of Anglicanism. Anglicanism suffered under Calvinism while Edward was King and then suffered the attempts to change Anglicanism into Presbyterianism all the way to the Puritans, who were Presbyterians, chopping off King Charles I head and outlawing Christmas.

    Anglicanism has always had that remaining strain of puritanism, or presbyterianism, within it. Most Anglican theologians of the 16-17th centuries rejected Calvinism and its form of Church government. The Scriptures and Church history clear show an Episcopal form of government. Bishop, Priest, Deacon. The Calvinist wanted to get rid of this form as it was "papists".

    The Anglican Church has the Episcopal and the elders form. The vestry at the parish level and at Synod we have laymen and ordained branches for government.

    Happy Thanksgiving.

    Fr. Mark
     
  14. Justin Haskins

    Justin Haskins Active Member

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    Thanks for the resources and your time. I will definitely read them over! However, your understanding of Reformed theology is simply wildly inaccurate. Nothing is required to teach within the Presbyterian church other than that which is spelled out in the Westminster Confession or the Three Forms of Unity, which were developed in part by Anglicans. I've read these documents very closely and have found absolutely nothing within them (except for the stuff on sacraments) that would fit the claims you have made here.

    Further, your idea about "once saved always saved" is totally false. You say the Anglican view has a "major emphasis on repentance and piety," as if the Presbyterian view does not. Presbyterians absolutely stress repentance and piety ... over and over and over. The Presbyterian understanding of once saved always saved, which is a term Presbyterians almost never use, honestly has very little to do with sanctification. I'm not even sure what kind of connection you are trying to make here.

    The Reformed view of original sin is basically identical with that of countless Anglican scholars across time. You can even find total depravity in the writings of John Wesley! Have you read Bondage of the Will or Jonathan Edwards on original sin? They explain quite clearly that people are not as evil as they could be but that it is their WILLS that prevent them from doing what is right and pleasing to God. Honestly, I really think you should spend some time reviewing these documents before making those claims. It's been said Lutheranism is much closer to Anglicanism, but Lutheranism and Calvinism agree 100 percent on total depravity, as virtually any Lutheran scholar today will tell you. Further, many Roman Catholics (notably Augustinians) hold a very similar view. The Presbyterian view of original sin has long been the view of the Western church (or at least much of the church in the West).

    I will agree with you that in some Presbyterian circles, theology has changed from what was taught in the confessions, but for the most part, the largest Presbyterian churches are teaching something very similar to Calvin. The biggest difference is many Reformed people today have a lower view of the sacraments than Calvin and definitely Luther.

    In regards to church polity, I'd be happy to look your sources over and consider a contrary view, but I have seen much evidence already that disputes your claims here. Numerous biblical accounts speak of "bishop" and "presbyter" as the same order with different names. The terms in many sections are actually interchangeable. In fact, I've heard theologians in the Roman Catholic Church (of all places) say that in the very beginning, there was no difference and that it grew over time. The vast majority of church historians today believe there was a transition from rulership by elders to an episcopal system. Even men such as St. Jerome, over 1,500 years ago, said emphatically that there is NO difference between a presbyter and a bishop except that over time the church, in the pursuit of good order, decided to give more responsibilities to one elder and call him an overseer. In other words, a bishop and an elder are the same thing, just one has been given a few more responsibilities. Jerome was used by many of the Reformers to show this, and both Luther and Calvin appealed to him as proof that the Roman Catholic Claims at the time about its authority were not true.

    Again, I'll consider something different, but it sounds to me as if you are creating a fictional history of Anglicanism. Have there always been Anglo-Catholic types in Anglicanism, yes, but there have also always been Reformed types as well ... and MANY of the Reformed types controlled the church at certain points in history.
     
  15. Justin Haskins

    Justin Haskins Active Member

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    Hi Fr. Mark,

    Much of my response to Spherelink applies to your points as well.

    I don't agree that "Anglicanism suffered under Calvinism" because, frankly, Anglicanism has suffered under many different groups at many different times. You're cherry-picking one particular point in time to draw a larger conclusion that you probably shouldn't draw. Lots of Reformed people (very early on) were driven out of the Church of England, persecuted, killed, and mistreated. That's why the pilgrims came to American in the first place. Additionally, the rebellion against King Charles was also largely driven by socio-economic-political factors not related to religion at all. You make it sound like a bunch of wild puritans went on a killing spree, but that's just not accurate.

    Further, Reformed churches in continental Europe flourished for much of the 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, so to imply that "puritanism" was an extreme form of Christianity that failed horribly is very misleading. It was very successful in much of the world.
     
  16. Justin Haskins

    Justin Haskins Active Member

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    By the way, I'm not a hardcore hyper-Calvinist or anything. Theologically, I have a much higher view of the sacraments than most Reformed people do, and I believe some practices universal in the early church, such as praying for the dead, should continue. I also think kneeling and bowing at the alter are totally acceptable and I really don't like how so many Reformed churches are designed to be plain, sometimes even ugly, worship spaces. However, I do believe it is inescapable that God governs all things, without exception, that the intercession of the saints is very dangerous, and that there are more than one kind of valid church government.

    I would probably be a Lutheran if it weren't for their view of predestination and that they have, in my opinion, gone too far in their definition of the Lord's Supper.
     
  17. Spherelink

    Spherelink Active Member

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    What do you mean?... Anglicans here in America, or in England, or anywhere in the world have never had to swear to Three forms of unity, and during the signing of the Westminster confession I seem to remember that the Church of England was proscribed and prohibited by law!

    My friend.... federal theology is in the Westminster confession. If you don't espouse federal theology, you cannot subscribe to the Westminster confession.

    It is one of the Five Points of Calvinism!

    I've read all these authors, Edwards especially. Suffice it to say that I don't agree with your reading. Edwards was viewed back in England as a dissenter, who wasn't even a Presbyterian but a Congregationalist, which is its own separate heresy.

    Now since we both have read these authors, let's us discuss gently, so do you think this conversation could be taken down a notch?... No need to get defensive

    So... why must Anglicans? What have we to do with that?

    I'd kindly ask you to look through any of our Prayer books or official documents to find a dogmatic endorsement of total depravity... Indeed in the Articles we see an endorsement of general depravity, as opposed to total depravity. Part of man falls, not all of man.

    You're citing here the Augustinians, and Augustine (presumably), and the historic Western Church. Soon maybe you will start mentioning St. Paul in this context? It all seems like a pre-packaged Apologetic from the Calvinist Interwebs. I have seen it a dozen times. The same inaccurate claims all together and in the same breath, in one whole package.

    On the contrary, Augustinians aren't allowed to hold their own form of theology. They have to subscribe to the canonical Roman Catholic view, whatever that happens to be. "Augustinians" then as a group do not support Calvinism. If you approach or ask one, he will deny it vehemently! This leads me to think that you've never approached an actual Augustinian, but only presbyterians making a presumptuous claim about Augustinians, right?


    Not really. Most Presbyterians today and by that I mean (In the United States) the PCA, the PCUSA, an the like -- they all have dogmatically adopted either the theology of Karl Barth, or modernism in the case of PCUSA. Karl Barth is incompatible with historic Reformed theology, and so almost no Presbyterian churches today formally teach or study Calvin any longer...

    Confessional groups that do subscribe to Westminster Confession -- like NAPARC -- by this point in history are today almost microscopic on the macro scale.


    Okay thank you..
    All I can present to you is the Anglican view and you can then proceed as seems fit.
     
  18. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member Anglican

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    I never said they were identical. The language of the prayerbook regarding the lords supper is about the only real difference...compare that with Presbyterianism's Calvinist bent, it's belief in double predestination (as you pointed out some Anglicans have held but has never been the official position of the church, which was essentially Lutheran single predestination ), it's anti-episcopalian views on church governance, etc....I think my earlier statement still holds. Anglicanism much closer to Lutheranism than Presbyterianism.
     
  19. Justin Haskins

    Justin Haskins Active Member

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    With all due respect, I don't think you know very much about Reformed theology. You are simply using a number of caricatures that are totally inaccurate. You keep referring to this "Anglican" theology but you have yet to point to where precisely it exists. An Anglican could be a 5 point Calvinist and agree with every single word of the BCP and 39 Articles. ... just like an Anglican could be a Wesleyan and still believe in all of the BCP. The BCP is so broad, the theology doesn't deny or affirm any part of the 5 points.

    I urge you to take the time to actually study these issues rather than rely on the misinformation you are presenting here. I don't mean to say this in a hostile way at all, but you truly are making a lot of misleading statements here not based in fact. I could easily point out each and every single one of your errors, but honestly, nothing I say will change your mind, which is evident from your tone. Your commentary on "total depravity" and "once saved always saved" proves you don't know what you're talking about. As I said, I hope you take the time to study the matter further.
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2015
  20. Justin Haskins

    Justin Haskins Active Member

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    Whether the language in the BCP on the Lord's Supper is the only real difference or not depends VERY heavily on how you're defining "differences." The Book of Concord is MUCH more specific than the BCP, so there are actually a great many differences. For instance, Anglicans typically have not held to a Lutheran understanding of baptism. Lutherans also reject the episcopacy as the only (or preferable) form of church polity. Lutherans also believe in sola scriptura, uphold the necessity of retaining confession in the church, and a variety of other teachings you won't find anywhere in the BCP or the 39 Articles. I think there are just as many differences between Lutheranism and Anglicanism as Anglicanism and Presbyterianism. If you ask a confessional Lutheran (and I've heard many of the most famous say this), he or she will say Anglicanism is much closer to Reformed theology (in a bad way). That's just what I have read/seen/experienced. Anglicanism is SO broad, it depends very heavily on the time, place, and bishop/pastor.
     

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