Discussion in 'Faith, Devotion & Formation' started by bwallac2335, Oct 5, 2019.
Pragmatically, that requires a change to the provincial canon & constitution. Or every single bishop would have to decide to halt the practice in his own diocese. Like banning abortion in the USA, the legal legwork would be quite involved, but possible, whereas the transformation of culture and the changing of minds is almost unimaginable.
As one who ministers in a diocese "fully committed to the ordination of women", as it said in our brief for the search committee when selecting a new bishop, I can attest that those who are in favor of it are absolutely committed to it and see it practically as a gospel issue that women should be so free. Many don't understand the thinking behind the traditional view - partly because some are just blind to opposing views, partly because some are given conflicting arguments against it. Simply giving them "the right teaching" isn't going to change very many minds because it's part of a larger complex of worldview, systematic theology, and fundamental beliefs. It'd be like trying to convince Focus on the Family that abortion is acceptable.
So in that light, I don't believe that the ACNA as it currently stands can ever end the practice of ordaining women in the dioceses that do so. It will take a radical and large-scale culture shift, bucking the trend of culture both in and out of the church. Maybe, in fifty years, if classical Anglicanism sees a significant revival, there'll be enough momentum to see the pro-WO dioceses as the small hold-outs rather than the other way around. In the meantime, this is an experiment that the ACNA is committed to. It'll take time to see if or how the practice of WO will impact the doctrine and life of the church in the long run - if the TEC 2.0 accusation will ring true, or if things will move in a different direction.
Do you think, Father, that emphasis on the fact that the Orthodox Church will no longer accept our Apostolic Succession will make a difference to many bishops in the ACNA?
I think I've mentioned it before but I have a rather different, quite optimistic perspective. If all that we needed to look at was the status quo, then sure, WO would be here to stay forever, but by the same calculus, in the traditional society and traditional Anglicanism of the 1950s, WO would have never been enabled in the first place. And yet clearly here we are, WO is somehow here.
Clearly the status quo is not the only thing we need to look at. A big other piece are the larger trends, those tectonic shifts which historically have upended the status quos of any given era. If we look at the tectonic shifts, we will see ACNA growing more and more traditional. So even if you keep people's views on WO at present rates, you will find those same people (and new ordinands) growing more traditionalist over time. Just think, all of today's ACNA bishops were formed under the awful '79 Prayer Book; they received the same liberal catechesis as their heretical counterparts in TEC; that they were still faithful to our Lord is a miracle, and none of the '79 or the things they were formed by will be present moving forward. Even if it were TEC 2.0, by the simple fact of how it orients itself against secular culture means that TEC 2.0 and TEC would go in opposite directions, because they position themselves in an opposite way to the world around them. TEC accomodates to the world, while TEC 2.0 (if you wish) rebels against it.
Why should traditionalism increase if our society is growing more liberal? Because traditionalist outlets serve as the natural pressure-release valve for the few traditionalists who are left, in any generation. This was the explanation for conservative Roman Catholics in the 90s and 2000s -- RCism was seen as the natural outlet for the few conservatives; all the liberal/heretical Christians happily joined into the Presbyterian, Methodist and Episcopal Churches. Now that trend has basically reversed: ACNA is seen as an 'ultra conservative' Church (by the world's standards). What that means is, not only will existing people grow more traditional, but you will get the few traditionalists of this generation joining ACNA as a way to protect their traditional view of the world.
This explains all the statistics I've seen, and I travel around ACNA quite a bit, namely, there are only 5 dioceses left which ordain women priests. I've heard plenty of stories of feminist ordinands going into TEC, because they feel 'there is little future' for them in ACNA. By the sheer calculus of trends and the underlying traditional self-image by which our new TEC 2.0 sees itself, it will only attract reactionaries and traditionalists. All those with heretical allegiances have many easier, financially wealthier options (including Roman Catholicism, increasingly).
Think of your own trend Fr. Brench: I understand you're on a younger side, and you ended up in "TEC 2.0" but not in TEC. I'm in my 30s as well. This has been the trend of many younger men in our generation, and it's only going to increase.
I am 34 myself and ended up in the ACNA for the same reason. Had to find a conservative traditional church.
As I understand it, in the ACNA it is up to each diocese to set their course on this issue.
I agree with Stalwart; the ones who are not ordaining women are likely to continue not doing so, and the ones who are might continue or (I suspect) might gradually pull back from the practice. I don't think there is much incentive right now for more liberal-minded people to join ACNA and influence it in a liberal direction, for the time being anyway.
I can see that as the greatest problem. Not just for the Orthodox Church, but for the continuation of the Anglican Church in Britain. At the moment it is still possible to choose, but it won't be long before male bishops will have been ordained in the first place by a female bishop - so where is then the Apostolic Succession?
Ordaining women as bishops was hauling in the Trojan horse!
@Stalwart , I want to share your optimism, but cannot reasonably share that hope yet, given the blinders of my locale
In my opinion (since I only know two bishops in person) that fact won't sway anyone, but will rather serve as reinforcement for those who do care and be ignored by those who don't. Full communion with the East is quite a pipe dream, after all, as there are several critical issues besides ordination that would need to be overcome.
Yeah the communion with the Orthodox has never been a worthwhile argument for those in TEC who were ideologically radical. Same with CofE, very close to a communion agreement with the Orthodox in the 1980s. When they started flirting with women's ordination (it hasn't been that long ago!!), the Orthodox threatened to revoke any further agreements. And it literally did nothing. Churchmen in general don't like to be cowed into anything, and the Orthodox are themselves a prime example of that. The radicals in the CofE dug in and cared little about the opinion of outsiders. In ACNA while the streak of radicalism is far weaker, still the human sinfulness and stubbornness play a role. If a bishop has gotten radicalized and adopted feminism and gender theory, the ideas of respect from outsiders will not play a big role in his decision making.
That being said, the Orthodox are not very peachy in terms of working with other churches. AFAIK, they don't recognize anyone outside of them as having valid apostolic succession, or being a valid church.
What else would need to be overcome?
I don't want to deviate from the subject of this thread too much. But in short: our Reformation heritage has several points of conflict with Eastern theology, particularly how we talk about grace, justification, predestination/election, the authority of Scripture over against that of the Councils, those sorts of things. As I recall, "Calvinism" is a heresy to them, too, which would not bode well for our Reformed-Evangelical wing.
Sad I would love to see us have inter communion with the Orthodox.
Indeed. Unless I am mistaken, I think I have read somewhere that several of the original English reformers actually looked for communion with the Eastern churches, rather than with the continental protestants at one point. Someone wiser than me can confirm or deny this, I'm sure.
It would be alas an overstatement to say the entire Orthodox Church ever accepted Anglicans as having apostolic succession. A substantial and powerful faction spread throughout the Church adheres to an interpretation of St. Cyprian of Carthage not so much in addition to, but rather instead of that of St. Augustine, and under this interpretation, schismatic and heretical bishops lack apostolic succession per se, and thus for them sacraments cease to be effective and filled with grace outside the visible Church, which this faction will define as that particular communion (EO, OO, etc). This movement is at its most forceful among the EO and has been a major hindrance in EO-OO reconciliation. It manifests itself even in relatively liberal or should we say, pragmatic, individuals, like Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, who, before setting out on his current adventure to elevate the EP to primus sine paribus, rather than primus inter pares as is accepted, to make himself the “Eastern Pope” if you will, did in the 1990s declare there to be an “ontological difference” between Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox. Apparently to him this difference is less formidable than the words would imply given his enthusiasm for being photographed in prayer alongside Pope Francis, but from this you can see the problem.
I should stress this is not my view for among other things, the problem it causes even on an inter-EO basis when we consider, for example, the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia. They were entirely out of communion with the rest of the canonical Orthodox church for much of the 20th century, until reuniting with the Moscow Patriarch in a rather splendid liturgy in 2007. Now, during that time, if we take the view a lot of Orthodox take, it seems to me one has to resort to special pleading or retroactive grace-infusion in order to be able to answer definitively whether or not ROCOR had valid sacraments. If we say on the other hand that the sacraments are effective as the Romans say after St. Augustine ex opere operanto, and then merely apply the limitation of St. Cyprian, where the apostolic faith is taught, this has the effect of remedying the problem and also opens the door to Anglican sacramental validity even where Rome could lack it.
Now, that being said, once we get to that point, female bishops or female priests completely kill the discussion. Metropolitan Kallistos Ware writes that Anglican-Orthodox dialogue (referring to Canterbury) became “effectively academic” after the Episcopal Church began ordaining women in 1979.
Also one must remember that even if one’s own church does not ordain women, I would be shocked if the Orthodox entered into communion with a church that was in communion with a church which ordained women.
But there is, as I have mentioned earlier, remarkably, an Oriental Orthodox church indirectly in communion with Canterbury via the Mar Thoma Syrian Church, that being Thoyizoor, as it is known from the seat of its archbishop, the Malankara Independent Syrian Church. But they are not in communion with any other Orthodox, including the other two Oriental Orthodox churches in India (who are in a fearsome, stupid and entirely unwarranted schism with each other over politics, while maintaining the same faith and remaining both in communion with the Copts, Ethiopians and Armenians). Indeed I could more likely than not find you Oriental Orthodox ready to denounce Thoyizoor as heterodox or schismatic.
This post is not meant to be pessimistic regarding Orthodox-Anglican reconciliation, but rather merely to show you the state of mind of many Orthodox bishops, and a great many laity, probably more laics than bishops (and in the Orthodox world, the laity and the bishops are one might say “evenly matched” in the event of a disagreement; for a church which sings to its bishops “Many years to you O Master” the laity are remarkably able and willing to rid themselves of bishops whose mastery suits them no longer, as happened for instance after the council of Florence, where one bishop, St. Mark of Ephesus, convinced the laity to reject the capitulation to Rome, which a majority of bishops had agreed to). So that has to be overcome.
Realistically at present the ACNA would have to not only not exclude women from the priesthood but also break communion with the Global South and thus sever its indirect link to Canterbury to have a slim chance of being received into, for example, the Orthodox communion. But even then there would remain huge obstacles, because people would start to ask questions which a century ago were not being asked about the compatibility of Orthodox and Anglican theology and the polemics would start to fly. Also, schisms could occur in both the Orthodox and the ACNA as the more hardline elements on each side reacted with each other. I could see a dreadful scenario where the majority of bishops agree on communion and then a schism erupts because someone accuses the other of being heretical, owing to accusations of idolatry, iconoclasm, faulty sacramental theology, monergism, Popery, you name it. And this is really sad by the way. This is not something to be happy about.
But there is a solution for members of the ACNA and for Orthodox like me who want communion with them, and that is to pray.
The points of conflict you mention are either overstated or can be reduced to differences of terminology, Father, except with regards to Calvinism, which would have been rejected in any case due to the rejection of monergism (including Pelagianism and Universalism). Except, oh dear, Dr. David Bentley Hart is now going around declaring in his basso profundo voice that we are universalists, and this is rather a problem for us, in that it is not true and standa to create a genuine point of conflict with mainstream Anglicanism. And the sad thing there is I like DBH for the epic takedown he performed on Dawkins and company in The Atheist Delusion. But this does not give him license to rewrite Orthodox theology based on what was at most a minority opinion, which even if it was held by, say, St. Gregory of Nyssa or St. Isaac the Syrian (it wasn’t; apokatastasis is a different belief), was something contradicted completely by the preaching of St. John Chrysostom, among others, which is regarded as being rather authoritative even in Western Christianity.
Fortunately this is not universally the case. For example, the EO and OO theoretically would be compelled to anathematize each other as Nestorian and as Monophysite, based on their own councils; however limited intercommunion exists between the Syriac and Antiochian Orthodox churches, the EO and OO Popes of Alexandria, and so on. And if the EO and OO can bridge the gap caused by the post-Chalcedonian controversy and enter into that, and if for that matter in the 1900s, when we consider that the Antiochian Orthodox bishop in the US directed his flock to seek out the Episcopal church when an Orthodox church was unavailable, this does in my opinion hold considerable promise.
Also, the Eastern Orthodox in the US historically sent most of their clergy to Episcopal seminaries prior to the current system being established, for training in the basis of theology, and then postulants had only to be trained in the Orthodox liturgical practicum (which is no mean task but incredibly complicated, although fortunately for the priests most of them do not have to learn the more arcane details, for example, about which hymns are to be sung during Matins on a given day according to the Typikon).
By the way on that last point @Stalwart let it never be said that I am not an admirer of the simplicity of the Prayer Book. When you see my liturgical library and compare the 20 or so books required to match it for purposes of Orthodox usage, your devotion to it might well be further increased.
But one fun aspect of Anglicanism is that the complexity of services can, within the rubrics, be voluntarily increased, even, or I should say, especially, in the 1662 BCP. So if a church were to use the Directorum Anglicanorum, Ritual Notes, and Rev. Percy Dearmer’s guidance, they would attain a level of complexity at least 50% that of a typical Orthodox parish, and then when you throw in the aesthetic questions forced on the choir director anout whether to use at Choral Evensong a service by Herbert Howells or Edward Bairstow on a given evening, and then which anthem by which other composer, should be used, the ornateness is further increased. And if you set these decisions into a rule which repeated itself only once every 517 years, or so, then you would be very nearly at Byzantine Rite complexity.
The other amusing thing is that most of what is in the 20 or so volumes equivalent to the BCP is that most of what it is in there is either seldom used, never used or read silently. Which is why a Syrian priest named Fr. Seraphim Nasser was able to cram the essentials of the propers of the services into a massive volume nicknamed the “Nasser Five Pounder.”
That’s a valid point actually. I can’t imagine most Orthodox bishops, aside from a few relative liberals like Metropolitan Kallistos Ware, being willing to enter into communion or concelebrate with a bishop who had been co-ordained by a woman. But if the bishop were to prepare himself for public ostracism and renounce the legitimacy of his female co-consecrator, and seek reordination, that would help. The Forward in Faith/Society people seem to have this in mind; it looks to me like they are trying to maintain a group of male bishops only ordained by male bishops so as to preserve a claim on apostolic succession.
@Liturgyworks how is Metropolitan Kallistos Ware a liberal. I know very little about him really except he wrote a bunch of books about EO.
Metropolitan Kallistos is someone I like very much, but he has expressed, in particular of late, views concerning the ordination of women and human sexuality which are unsettling. This is of course extremely unfortunate. These remarks are tame in comparison to certain Episcopalian remarks and are contemplative rather than prescriptive, but still did cause consternation, especially his most recent statements,
His books The Orthodox Church and The Orthodox Way are excellent primers on the Eastern Orthodox Communion, and Orthodoxy in a more general sense, respectively. On doctrinal matters however one would do well to read alongside The Orthodox Way another work such as Orthodox Dogmatic Theology by Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky, and also Orthodox Christology, written by the Oriental Orthodox Fr. Peter Farrington, as the former presents a more strict specification of EO doctrine and the latter would be corrective of a potential erroneous statement His Eminence made regarding EO beliefs concerning what our Lord meant when He exclaimed “Eloi, eloi, lama, sabacthani” (some people worry that Metropolitan Kallistos inadvertantly expressed a view which was Nestorian; reading an OO interpretation of EO Christology would present one with a most vigorous inclination against the errors of Nestorius).
I have heard no complaints regarding the fidelity of the translations he did with Mother Mary (a Greek nun; all Orthodox monks are referred to as “Father” and all nuns as “Mother”) of the Triodion (the Eastern Orthodox book of liturgical propers for pre-Lent, Lent and Holy Week; alas they did not do the Pentecostarion, which covers Pascha (Easter Sunday) through All Saints, which in the EO liturgical rite is the first Sunday after Pentecost, or Whitsunday), but there is a very good translation of that recently published by St. John of Kronstadt press. However, the work of His Eminence and Mother Mary features a very excellent forward, explaining Lent, the structure of services and so on, and the same is true of their exceedingly good Festal Menaion, which features the propers for the most important feasts throughout the year along with another detailed explanation. You get slightly more Menaion* coverage in the “Nasser Five Pounder” as we nickname it, owing to its heft, by Fr. Seraphim Nasser, memory eternal, but the translations of the Metropolitan and Mother Mary are of a better quality (and also include some material less likely to actually be used, but which is good to have if one is reading the liturgy for edification).
The two also have done a superb job translating the Philokalia, which is a collection of monastic and theological writings, although alas they have only done the first four of five volumes, and due to their age I worry the rest might not be completed, and there is also additional valuable material in the Romanian version of the Philokalia which ought to be being translated into English, but to my knowledge no one is working on this. One cannot fault Metropolitan Kallistos or Mother Mary for either, given the huge amount of work and the fact they are not fluent speakers of Romanian.
So with Metropolitan Kallistos Ware, his overall contribution has been immense. The controversy boils down to some remarks he has made in various periodicals in recent years, and also to a few specific items in The Orthodox Way. Also, some people lambast The Orthodox Church for being “ecumenist” and so on, but most of the critics of that book in my opinion are in error and take a too narrow view of ecclesiology, which I alluded to above.
*The Menaion refers to the services on fixed days of the calendar year, like Christmas, Epiphany, Transfiguration, the Dormition, and so on; this also includes the feasts of various saints, and when you include everything, because the text of every hymn sung on these feasts is fixed and invariant, and because of the particular structural forms of the Orthodox divine office, specifically Matins and Vespers, but also Compline, the Typika or Liturgy, and sometimes even the Hours, you get a set of 12 volumes, one for each month, which costs $1,200, but in practice very few people need that, because most parishes do not serve most of the services in the full Menaion, and there is also something called The General Menaion which is a sort of fill-in-the-blank service book for the feasts of martyrs, confessors and other categories of saintly persons commemorated liturgically, and one could use that, and one does in the case of the recently glorified; also, because the process of reading all these books and figuring out what to sing is complex, most jurisdictions these days have people who figure it out for the parishes and generate PDFs with the correct text, which are sent out.
Now, the beauty of the Anglican Rite is that you can optionally make it be similarly complex if you desire, by, for example, using various 19th century supplemental items such as the Directorum Anglicanorum and Ritual Notes. However the defaults are easier; the Byzantine Rite is probably the most challenging of the major liturgical rites still in existence, much more complex than for example the Tridentine Latin Mass or the Coptic Rite.