New article on ACNA's teaching authority. Looks pretty awesome

Discussion in 'Anglican and Christian News' started by Stalwart, Mar 5, 2021.

  1. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

    Posts:
    1,877
    Likes Received:
    1,835
    Country:
    America
    Religion:
    Anglican
    Really strong words, to shame Bishop Todd Hunter who attempted to go against the teaching authority of the House of Bishops. Below are what seemed to the most pungent parts of the article:



    https://americananglican.org/featur...ve-teaching-authority-when-they-speak-or-not/

    17-09-06108_COOL_ACNA_Bishops_mid_res-scaled-1.jpg

    On January 30, Bishop Todd Hunter published a C4SO Pastoral Guidance on the ACNA Statement on Sexuality and Identity. To his diocese Bishop Hunter wrote:

    “Policies are blunt instruments. They are rarely able to take into full consideration the nuances of context and the complexity of personhood. They cannot anticipate all eventualities. Well-meaning theological statements are similar. Eugene Peterson told me he thought the making of polemical statements brought out the worst of the Church and got in the way of the work of God in the Church. For Eugene, ministry was relentlessly local and always carried out among named persons. I agree.

    The College of Bishops does not speak with the authority of a magisterium. The statement, Sexuality and Identity, says: We request that Provincial publications, teaching events, and seminars employ the recommended language and the biblical arguments that support this recommendation. Upholding our commitment to subsidiarity, we defer to diocesan bishops to discern these matters within their own diocesan communities and ministries.”


    You can read the whole statement here: https://anglican.ink/2021/01/30/c4s...the-acna-statement-on-sexuality-and-identity/

    In short, Bishop Hunter seems to challenge the authority of the Pastoral Statement of the ACNA College of Bishops:

    • “The College of Bishops does not speak with the authority of a magisterium”
    • Their Pastoral Statement is a mere “policy” he likens to a blunt instrument that ignores our missional context; and
    • It is a well-meaning but polemical statement that brings out the worst in the Church.
    These statements raise the question: Does the College of Bishops have teaching authority within the Church when it speaks or not?

    According to the Constitution and Canons of the Anglican Church in North America, bishops do have such authority:

    • “A Bishop is an overseer of the flock and, as such, is called to propagate, to teach, and to uphold and defend the faith and order of the Church….” Canon. I.8.1 (emphasis added); and
    • “… Bishops are consecrated for the whole Church…They are chief missionaries and chief pastors, guardians and teachers of doctrine, and administrators of godly discipline and governance.” Canon I.8.2 (emphasis added)
    The work of the bishops is exercised not only individually but also collectively:

    • “The chief work of the College of Bishops shall be the propagation and defense of the Faith and Order of the Church, and in service as the visible sign and expression of the Unity of the Church.” Article X (emphasis added).
    One cannot dismiss this teaching authority with the observation that the ACNA College of bishops “does not speak with the authority of a magisterium.” Anglicans have never had the magisterium that the Roman Catholic Church has had. But that does not mean that Anglicans have no limits on what we believe! Anglicans observe “the mind of the Church” as it is expressed in such classical Anglican formularies as the Bible, the Creeds, the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion, and the Book of Common Prayer and Ordinal. The Anglican Church in North America confesses all of these as the basis for the Anglican Way of following Christ and adds, as additional characteristics of the Anglican Way, the sacraments of Baptism and the Supper of the Lord, the godly, historic Episcopate, and the witness of the undivided Church (Article I). One of these sources that is “a standard for Anglican doctrine and discipline” (Article I), the Ordinal attached to the Book of Common Prayer of 1662, clearly describes the office of a bishop in terms of ruling the household of God (I Timothy 3:4-5), teaching and defending God’s church (Acts 20:26-31), and feeding the sheep (John 21:15-17).

    The College of Bishops consciously expressed their teaching authority throughout this statement. They are, individually and collectively, fulfilling the office of a bishop as presented by the Anglican formularies. In doing so, when they say that same-sex sexual practice is simply incompatible with the whole witness of the Bible, they are sitting with the teachers of the Church throughout the ages in their “universal and uniform” conclusion.

    Accordingly, the College of Bishops expressly presents the Pastoral Statement as an exercise of its teaching authority:

    “We call upon the leaders within our Province, and especially our deacons and priests, to teach the Word of God regarding matters of human sexuality. We desire the churches of the Province to be places where those who experience same-sex attraction, especially our youth, know where they can go to share about this reality, be gently and clearly discipled in God’s Word, and be taught the difference between the unsought experience of same-sex attraction and the sin of engaging in lust or bodily practices that stem from this experience. We strongly encourage robust catechesis on same-sex attraction, Christian marriage, and Christian celibacy.”

    and

    “In summary, we recommend this statement to be used as a guide for those in teaching or counseling ministries. We request that Provincial publications, teaching events, and seminars employ the recommended language and the biblical arguments that support this recommendation. Upholding our commitment to subsidiarity, we defer to diocesan bishops to discern these matters within their own diocesan communities and ministries.”

    The principle of subsidiarity which the College of Bishops cites is an invitation to each diocesan bishop to apply the teaching of the College in a way that is consistent with the missional challenges and context of the diocese. In that regard, there is very much to commend in Bishop Hunter’s letter. His affirmation of our ultimate identity in Christ, the corruption of sin in all people, the alienation and pain that Christians with same-sex attraction have experienced in our churches, our need to extend compassion instead of judgement to those who are struggling with their sexuality, the need for the Church to affirm the goodness of life-long singleness and celibacy, as well as the articulation of Christian marriage with a vision that is broader and deeper than our culture currently offers—these are all praiseworthy and marks of the fruit we should all bear in reaching those who are struggling with sexual identity and same-sex attraction.

    But among Anglicans, subsidiarity does not give diocesan bishops or dioceses the authority to decide matters unilaterally that touch upon the faith and order of the Church—the very matters at the heart of the ACNA Bishops’ Pastoral Statement. Does Bishop Hunter’s repeated use of the very identity language that the College recommends not using reflect a respectful dissent? Or does it signal a choice to disregard the Pastoral Statement and lead his diocese in a different direction?
     
  2. Thomas Didymus

    Thomas Didymus Member

    Posts:
    64
    Likes Received:
    38
    Country:
    United States
    Religion:
    Christian
    I am reminded of a saying by Roman Catholic nun sister Frances Xavier Cabrini (paraphrased):
    "If all religions are equal, none of them are true".

    LBTQ and same-sex attracted individuals often feel they are incredibly far away from the church understanding them, which couldn't be further from the truth. Trying to communicate with them, or anyone else for that matter, will only work when differences help us to understand each other better instead of tearing us apart. One mistake all too-often made in interacting in these contrasting relations, including ecumenical or interfaith ocassions, is trying to find what we have in common. The problem with this approach is that there is little to no actual learning if reputation takes priority over integrity for the sake of trying to seek everyone's approval. I think careful, yet biblically constructive deliberation is necessary in these affairs in order to properly witness to those who may not think much about the church due to either personal misgivings or preconceived notions in need of effective challenging.

    I know this may not sound like much, but two chairs cannot rest to face each other earnestly if both of their legs on each of them are unhinged underneath. That said, the truth matters and must be handled graciously. Anglican orthodoxy should be supported in this matter.
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2021
    Botolph likes this.
  3. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    1,473
    Likes Received:
    1,684
    Country:
    Australia
    Religion:
    Anglican
    XX. Of the Authority of the Church.
    The Church hath power to decree Rites or Ceremonies, and authority in Controversies of Faith: and yet it is not lawful for the Church to ordain any thing that is contrary to God's Word written, neither may it so expound one place of Scripture, that it be repugnant to another. Wherefore, although the Church be a witness and a keeper of Holy Writ, yet, as it ought not to decree any thing against the same, so besides the same ought it not to enforce any thing to be believed for necessity of Salvation.​

    I really don't know about ACNA, but there is a question as to whether of not Magisterium is an Anglican thing, and if it is, then surely Article 20 is instructive and ultimately says the benchmark has to be scripture. I have come to see today that is is a bit of a hot issue in ACNA. The Synod of our Diocese meets today and is considering matters related, though now the Appellate Tribunal of General Synod has ruled it is within the authority or the Diocese despite the opposition of the Metropolitan.

    I don't think any of this stuff is easy, and the hurtling of abuse that seems associated with much of the discussion does not add to our understanding. I thought the ACNA position was fair and modest. Clearly for some not fair and not modest enough.

    Are we lifting the cross higher, or building higher walls? Time will tell, lets hope we don't damage too many people on the way.
     
  4. AnglicanAgnostic

    AnglicanAgnostic Active Member

    Posts:
    366
    Likes Received:
    125
    Country:
    New Zealand
    Religion:
    none
    I'ld be a bit more impressed with the College of Bishops authority to speak if they didn't all congregate under what appears to be the Israeli flag. I have no idea what the other flag is.
     
  5. Rhys

    Rhys Member

    Posts:
    55
    Likes Received:
    64
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    Methodist
    Canada.
     
  6. AnglicanAgnostic

    AnglicanAgnostic Active Member

    Posts:
    366
    Likes Received:
    125
    Country:
    New Zealand
    Religion:
    none
    Ah Canada you're right; perhaps just a touch less controversial than Israel. :D
     
  7. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

    Posts:
    1,877
    Likes Received:
    1,835
    Country:
    America
    Religion:
    Anglican
    I don’t know what country they’re meeting it, but chances are they’re in Jerusalem, Israel. Gafcon is making a concerted effort to center the worldwide orthodox Anglican identity around the Jerusalem, for obvious reasons. So yes if that’s where the Bishops are pictured here, then that’s a pretty badass photo.
     
  8. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    1,686
    Likes Received:
    862
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    Anglican Christian
    It seems to me that Bp. Hunter is disagreeing with the statement that the phrases "gay Christian" and "same-sex-attracted Christian" need to be simply avoided, period, no qualifiers. He is laying out his reasoning why he thinks this is impractical in terms of actual, one-on-one ministering to Christians who already self-identify in these ways. While I think the Pastoral Statement is commendable in its recommendation, it is just that... a recommendation. A bit of minutia such as this is not worthy of codifying as some sort of 'rule' or orthodoxy. There is room for discussion and even disagreement on such a small matter. After all, it's not like they're disagreeing about the deity of Jesus! Hunter is saying, in effect, that it might not be particularly helpful to tell Christians who feel same-sex attractions that it's wrong to call themselves "same-sex-attracted (or gay) Christians." Better to work on helping them come to grips with the problems they face and to see "the difference between the unsought experience of same-sex attraction and the sin of engaging in lust or bodily practices..." The people who face this difficulty need to come around to this understanding first; after that they can better modify how they see themselves and how they self-identify.

    I don't see this as an authority problem at all. Look at the College of Bishops' pastoral statement itself: “In summary, we recommend this statement to be used as a guide..." This question of what to call certain folks is not a question of orthodoxy or of blind obedience. There is no command.... just a recommendation. It's sort of like, 'Here's our best guidance, we hope you find it helpful.' As long as rectors teach the Word of God on matters of sexuality, they must use their own best judgment and discretion when counseling an individual with an issue.

    As for the flags, I imagine it just was a matter of getting a fairly uncluttered (and wide enough) background for a photo in the room where they happened to meet. The flags probably happened to be there already, is my guess.
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2021
    Thomas Didymus likes this.
  9. Fr. Brench

    Fr. Brench Well-Known Member Anglican

    Posts:
    193
    Likes Received:
    278
    Country:
    United States
    Religion:
    Anglican (ACNA)
    I tried searching for the picture's origin, and it seems to be from 2017, but I never found a clear caption to explain it. I know the CoB met in Vancouver a few years ago, and many of them were probably at GAFCON in Jerusalem, but I can't quite pin-point the photo itself.
     
  10. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    1,473
    Likes Received:
    1,684
    Country:
    Australia
    Religion:
    Anglican
  11. Ananias

    Ananias Active Member Anglican

    Posts:
    174
    Likes Received:
    148
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    ACNA
    I cannot tell you what a relief it is to see ACNA push back against the homosexual lobby, and against the whole identitarian/social-justice leftist agenda.

    This is exactly the thing that ripped apart TEC and CoE to begin with. One of the reasons for ACNA's founding was to give the Province an enforceable way to discipline wayward clerics and either snap them back into orthodoxy or show them the door. ACNA has been reluctant to flex their muscles as the church has struggled to build itself up, but I think the ground is firm enough now that ACNA/GAFCON are willing to take a firmer stance on issues of traditional Anglican orthodoxy. (It remains to be seen if their spines will remain stiff regarding women's ordination, but we shall see.)

    If there is a danger in arrogating too much interpretive power to the church (as with the Roman Catholic magisterium), there is also a danger in letting every pastor decide what is and isn't "scriptural". (Trust me on this -- I came up as a Southern Baptist, and the stuff I've heard coming from various pulpits over the years would curl your hair.)
     
    Stalwart likes this.
  12. Ananias

    Ananias Active Member Anglican

    Posts:
    174
    Likes Received:
    148
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    ACNA
    The point is that one is a Christian, first and foremost. Not a hyphenated Christian. We don't refer to ourselves as Tall Christians or Fat Christians or Male Christians, after all. The Christian aspect is primary, not co-equal. Thus, I think it's entirely correct to discourage the use of "Gay Christian".

    This is also why I discourage the use of hyphenated "-American" labels. If one is American, the whole idea is to put that identity above all others, not to subordinate it to some other identity.
     
    Thomas Didymus, Stalwart and Rexlion like this.
  13. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    1,686
    Likes Received:
    862
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    Anglican Christian
    I agree completely that we are Christians first and foremost. It's just that some people aren't ready to hear it. When counseling such people (one-on-one), clergy need to "pick their battles" with care as they lead the person in baby steps toward truth.
     
  14. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

    Posts:
    1,877
    Likes Received:
    1,835
    Country:
    America
    Religion:
    Anglican
    Yeah, not to mention that it goes completely against our history. In the Reformation we (following the examples of medievals and the patristics), imposed the Prayerbook on everybody. 100% compliant. And all of the clergy had to sign the Articles, and those who refused were simply not ordained. When the presbyterian clergy refused to be validly ordained under episcopal orders, 6000 of them were ejected on a single day. The Anglican Church has had a deep history of binding decisions. Like the church fathers, we didn't need the label of infallibility to have decisions be definitive.

    The problem with the Romans is not that they had a binding 'teaching church', which is what we have as well. The problem with them was that they made it infallible.

    But one doesn't need to be infallible to be definitive; just ask any legislative body in the history of mankind. If you are under a legislative body, you are subject to its edicts. It's a natural truth, it doesn't even need a special revelation to support it.

    Yeah the problem with the Baptists is that they didn't acknowledge the basic natural truth which even secular legislative bodies around the world exhibit every minute of every day.
     
    Fr. Brench likes this.