Saturday, July 30, 2016

Still an Anglican, but Barely

I have to wonder, in light of the recent stories highlighted below, whether it's still worth any reader's time to generate posts about the Anglican Communion.

First of all, the Episcopal Congregations in the United States of America (what used to call themselves ECUSA) are no longer a church, let alone a bona fide member of the Anglican Communion. In wrecking themselves, they have done their level best to drag the rest of the Communion down with them.

So I decline to cover any more news items about ECUSA. Apostasy is neither uplifting nor fulfilling. Writing about its continuing descent into irrelevance, and its internecine disputes over canons that no one respects or obeys anyway, is too dispiriting to your faithful Curmudgeon.

The Anglican Communion, thanks to ECUSA (and now the Anglican Church of Canada as well), is a train wreck in slow motion.

Following the farce that took place at Lusaka in the wake of the Primates' Meeting last January, the Archbishop of Canterbury promoted his former advisor on reconciliation to be his Chief of Staff and Strategy -- good luck with that, and to the woman who has succeeded him in an impossible role.

Meanwhile, the independent inquiry into a massive scandal and coverup of child sexual abuse in the Anglican churches of England and Wales is underway.

And the Archbishop of Canterbury has asked the Primates to reserve a week in October for another meeting, at which they will hear about the (non-) results of the sanctions they supposedly imposed on ECUSA.

Given the current course of the Churches of England, Scotland and Wales, it is beginning to look as though Pope Leo XIII was correct when he stated his view in Apostolicae Curae that Anglican orders were invalid. But they go on ordaining persons professing and practicing views contrary to Scripture all the same, as though "reconciliation" with Roman Catholicism or Eastern Orthodoxy were no longer important.

In short, the definition of what is "Anglican" is by no means even a consensus any more. The Communion itself is broken and disjointed. For what is perhaps the best view of the matter I have come across, please read Fr. Van McCalister's observations in this post. I think he is correct in saying that we are wrong to try to understand Anglicanism through observation (still less imitation) of the Church of England. It never was meant to be that way, and should not be so now.

So the question is: what is left for this Curmudgeon to write about? What, over the past years, have you found rewarding here, and what not worth your time? I welcome your insights and reflections (be polite, please) in the comments.


  1. Dear Alan,

    Given the nominees of the two major parties, I think you should have no shortage of cultural and political material to write about for the next four to eight years.

    I would love to read you regularly on how Christians should remain faithful to Christ, whatever awaits us in the wider political culture.

    If it requires adjusting the name of your weblog to reflect your wider focus, I suggest adding American before or after Anglican.

    In any case, don't go silent!

    1. Ditto. Add philosophy, Church history, and Alex Haley's personal experiences.....

  2. Well, to begin with an entirely selfish observation, your weblog is the best I know of for a quick overview of what the Anglican blogworld is saying, and I'd miss the convenience of having it.

    But I've also found your own writing interesting and well-informed. I often disagree, and have occasionally commented to express that disagreement.

    To me, the active controversies that arose with the sexual revolution have by and large been settled. There's no consensus, but there's very little new to say about them. Lines are now drawn, schisms in progress or done. I find that there's really little point in public argument or discussion, other than clarification, if requested. It's like public argument over, say, the difference about justification between Protestant and Catholic. It's a real difference, and an important difference, but I don't know if I have anything to say about it that hasn't been said better a thousand times before.

    So I find I argue a lot less as I get older. My own blog has always avoided the "hot button" issues, but there are a world of topics outside of those that still bear on them, if in a more fundamental way.

    I hasten to add that I get about one comment per year, only a handfull of looks, and my kids have given my blog the distinction of being "the most boring blog on the internet."

    So I'd encourage you to continue, possibly in a less combative vein if that might be more rewarding. But your experience as a Christian layman and experience with the interaction of the Church with politics and with the law surely will never leave you without something to say.

  3. Dear Allan,

    My husband and I discovered your blog some years ago; there were times when I cried reading your words as they'd described my thoughts and feelings about the church I'd adopted as an adult. However, I was homeless in Los Angeles at age ~12 (my maternal grandparents took me in-my grandfather was a WWII Japanes POW and my grandmother was a stay-at-home mom). I had a chance to understand the evils in society close-up and I've had an uncanny ability to call the outcomes of court decisions, elections and even our extended family's behaviors (all of which I've based primarily upon the politics surrounding them.) But I've learned patience from the power of prayer, too. I began to pray for Hollywood actors and their children because the actors star in tv shows and films that influence our culture which is downright hostile toward traditional Christianity. These prayers have had a remarkably positive impact upon me.

    Since our departure from ECUSA in 1999 (my husband wanted to stay and fight, I said no at the time because of our young children), we've been criticized and have been made to feel unworthy for our interest in believing Christ's words in the Bible. Your blog has served as our family's surrogate leader because you also know the power of Christ. It is clear that you know that He alone changed the world. Christ is the church and His will made it a peaceful and Holy body, and the people are to serve it for God's good purpose.

    I understand your frustration; I've personally wondered how many posers are now in the relatively new ACNA waiting to take it over (to me, it seems a fairly weak body) and to make it bend to the will of mankind. The culture of chaos reigns within (most) American governments, businesses, schools, universities and families.

    Your blog has helped to uplift our spirits which we have also found extremely funny at times; you have a good wit. The legal blow you've been dealt recently isn't right, but neither is ECUSA. This life is about God not us. What then will we do to help God's spirit light our paths? Perhaps reading the Bible and posting about it is the answer? I don't really know the answer. It is depressing talking sense about nonsense. I will pray for you, and for your inspiration to help ease the heavy burden that you and your San Juaquin Christian family are carrying. God bless you!


    1. Well spoken. Agree and concur. We find ourselves in the back pews of Roman Churches that occasionally have Tridentine ceremony.....

  4. Yes, it is well worth this reader's time for you to generate posts about the Anglican Communion.

    You mention the implosions of The Episcopal Church and Church of England, and seem to suggest that without legitimacy in the CoE and Archbishop of Canterbury the Anglican Communion will cease to exist. I do not see it that way. I have considered the GAFCON bishops to be the true leaders of the Anglican Communion since about the time "Indaba" became a fad. I believe that the Church of England will soon be out of the Anglican Communion, like TEC and Anglican Curch of Canada. That doesn't make the Communion less Anglican. Rather the Communion will be more Christian. A new English province will supercede the Church of England, and I think its primate will likely be one among equals. As long as the experience of our struggles is driving faithful Anglicans to hold on more firmly to the Scriptures, we haven't lost.

    In the future I would love to see posts on:

    - The cannons of ACNA
    - New and improved instruments of communion
    - Other provinces fighting to remain faithful, in comparison to the TEC struggle
    - All Christian denominations and their struggles against invasion by the same dark forces
    - Hillary's coming administration's attacks on religious freedom

  5. Missionaries went out an spread the Word, which grew into strong, vibrant churches. Now the churches which once sent out missionaries have become withered, empty husks. We are seeing the beginning of those churches founded so long ago working to return the faith to their early creators. This will not happen quickly, nor in our lifetimes, but the process is under way and deserve an able chronicler.

    1. The fervor of a Protestant submerging a new congregant in the name of Jesus of Nazareth....the incense, the comfort of ancient words derived from the Greek, Latin, Hebrew, Aramaic, and early English writings and good Catholic order is all worth at least a good autopsy.....and who knows...on the third day.....,???

  6. There is still the case that the SC Supreme Court is sitting on!

    1. UP, I consider that case to be more Anglican than Episcopalian, same as Fort Worth. I shall cover them both, to the end.

    2. mr haley, while i spent my formative years in the diocese of sc, most of my adult life has been in NC. i joined an ACNA congregation last year after much consideration. my father is one of the 'defrocked' in SC after 40+ years of ministry/leadership. while the efficacy of that could be debated, the reality is that diocese continues to grow and they continue to look to the future. i'm looking forward to the next chapter for them and for your take on it - thanks for your insight and transparency - d malone

  7. I came to belief, then Anglicanism by the way of reason…much has been added along the way…but reason has remained my path to understanding Scripture, my place in the world & the Body of Christ, to morals and duty.
    You, Mr. Haley, with a few others, I consider to be the most reasonable of men and I would very much miss your insight, especially on the subject of Law, as it relates to our Christian duty.
    I am often frustrated with questions: "how in the world could a Court have reached that decision?", what do they think ''the free exercise thereof" means?", or "shall not be infringed"?
    I think there are battles yet to be fought, and we need your input.

    1. Once again, a person who says in fewer and better words than I. And they are words my better half and I fervently endorse.

      El Gringo Viejo

  8. Oh please don't go Mr. Haley. I have written here before that I joined my beloved Episcopal Church at 15. I so loved it. Finally I could see where the church was going - I am now a happy Catholic. However, my daughter is so looking for something Anglican. For her I am hoping for the growth of the ACNA. May it stay strong. Please report on how it is doing.

  9. Dearest Allan:

    You ask: "What is left for this Curmudgeon to write about?"

    Rather: the question is WHO is there to write about?



    1. 30 - 12 - that is a Texas-sized 10 - 4.

      There are many good ones, but only one who melds so well the qualities of intelligence, knowledge, and inspiration. And he is a fighter.
      El Gringo Viejo

  10. Dear Allan,

    New to your blog, but appreciative of the scars. Such betray orthodoxy.

    Why not write for those Christian friends you know, and for those silent ones you've not yet met?

    The battles may differ, but the struggle is shared.

    May God bless and keep you.


    1. I have encountered four, just in this backwater of Southernmost South Texas who follow my Rabbi. It was astonishing.

  11. Dear Allan,

    I would surely miss you if you stopped writing. I think there will be plenty to talk about in the coming years- Anglican realignment around the GS, we will need a scorecard to identify all the ACNA jurisdictions and bishops, and the upcoming Gafcon conference that will determine the future of Global Anglicanism.

    I think, for us, it is a time to go forward and build up Christ's Church. The 25-30 orthodox provinces of the Anglican Communion have awakened to the danger before them, but will need help and support and good analysis and information, as you have been providing all these years.

    For Welby and his Ambiguous Community of Good Disagreement, well....

    "“When the situation was manageable it was neglected, and now that it is thoroughly out of hand we apply too late the remedies which then might have effected a cure. There is nothing new in the story. It is as old as the sibylline books. It falls into that long, dismal catalogue of the fruitlessness of experience and the confirmed unteachability of mankind. Want of foresight, unwillingness to act when action would be simple and effective, lack of clear thinking, confusion of counsel until the emergency comes, until self-preservation strikes its jarring gong–these are the features which constitute the endless repetition of history.”

    Winston Churchill

    —House of Commons, 2 May 1935, after the Stresa Conference, in which Britain, France and Italy agreed—futilely—to maintain the independence of Austria.

    1. Alex,

      We on the other side of the Atlantic have become used to the idea that whatever happens in the US will one day happen in the UK, however lunatic it might seem. It might take a year, it might take twenty, but sooner or later, it will happen.
      So, although not understanding some of the finer points of US law despite your excellent attempts at explaining them for the uninitiated, I know all these issues are going to be here sometime. I had always believed that our judiciary was the best in the world, until I realised that our judges were political appointments like every other hack and crony that surrounds political life these days.
      So far, however, we haven't resorted to the civil courts to resolve our disputes - see 1 Cor 6:1-8 - and when it does, that will probably be the time when the C of E finally has no credibility in the rest of the Anglican Communion. Time to sell up and go...

    2. In thirty years, what if....said the Whatify Monster....there is a union of Catholic, Orthodox Black African, European and American Tridentine-philes, Anglicanoids, Conservative Jews, and Protestants who have tired of the Krystalle Kathedrahl and who seek the comfort of the Gregorian chants and musty smelling synagogues.
      We who recognise the excesses of the Inquisition also know that fewer were abused by the Church in that matter than would have been sacrificed by the Aztecs in a week of sacrifices to assure the proper positioning the sun for the next harvest.
      We are a great segment of the most loving Religion in the history of the Planet Earth. We believe in the unseen. We do no damage. We produce and are brethren of all who profess and friends of the traveller.
      In all these things I see the hand of Alex Haley and people like him. Allow him his forty days in the wilderness. And let us charge him...we are people accustomed to leading, but we find Alex Haley something greater than a leader.....nothing magic....but a true thinker of the highest and final degree who can truly illuminate The Path.

  12. I like to think of my relationship with God, myself and my neighbors (& even my enemies) as an isosceles triangle and God is at the vertex point and my neighbors and I are at the base points. What I do in life should lead me on the path to the vertex point, and my neighbors' paths should lead them toward the vertex point. We grow closer together until we are all heavenly bound. When we love our enemies, it is clear that we should not allow them to pillage and sunder God's resources because it is cowardly and unworthy behavior. However, if we're really clever then we can help the enemy to change his mind, repent and then hopefully make him or her our neighbor. However, we must cast him out when he refuses to repent and continues to pillage and sunder God's resources.

    It shouldn't matter how far apart we are at the start or how steep our climb up, we should all be moving in the same direction until we know God. Individually and collectively consuming God's Scriptures all of our lives, learning from the wisdom of the ages, patiently and happily leads us to God's truth for life everlasting.

    The churches' current troubles can be traced to the absence of moral truth in the seminaries, but also with the parents who are ultimately charged with passing down Biblical truths to their own children. The Left has flipped this relationship upside down, and they've done so very effectively.

    The Bible's simple message is that God is first, and we (collectively) are second.

  13. Keep writing. The pen... or in this case the blog... is more powerful than the sword.

    You have a wonderful way of separating the chaff from the grain.

  14. Goodbye, Curmudgeon. Don't forget to wipe your feet as you leave ECUSA. The Church will probably survive without your doom and gloom.

    1. And goodbye to you, Father Ron -- as you may not have noticed, I shook the dust from my feet a year ago.

      May you fare as does the organization you so admire.

  15. Our Curmudgeon has suggested that we read Fr. Van McCalister's observations in the linked post. I found it to be slightly challenging. I have a beef with a large part of Father Van's post, but I agree with his essential point on unity.

    Fully half of his post alienated and frustrated me, because it accused me/us of holding King Henry VIII and the Act of Supremacy as central to our identity as Anglicans. I think most Anglicans should be offended at phrases like "If we continue under the mistaken identity that our patrimony is Henry VIII, Thomas Cranmer and the Reformation Movement..." and "Anglicanism is no longer ethnocentric and imperialist."

    I have spent my life holding fast to the belief that Henry did not define Anglicanism; that he was instrumental in establishing a great institution despite his well-known failures. Growing up on the West Coast where all Christians were suspect, I was still always hurt by the common slander against Anglican/Episcopal legitimacy due to Henry. Far from ethnocentric, I am enthused by the strong leadership now being provided by the African provinces. I was proud to be a member of the Church of Uganda for several years, and was thrilled to attend a men's retreat with Archbishop Henry Orombi.

    The author seems to admire that More "believed the Roman Catholic Church represented the root of Christianity". And yet I believe the Anglican Church represents the root of Christianity as well as any other denominational group. My love of Anglicanism includes the idea that it better retains the authentic faith and practice of the Fathers of the Church. Isn't it the most reformed of the Catholic and the most catholic of the Reformed?

    My favorite message of Fr. Van's post was his call for us to see our identity as entwined with that of the Roman and Orthodox faithful. He clearly favors them over the other Protestant denominations. I, however, also feel akin to the Methodists, Presbyterians, and Lutherans, to name a few others. After leaving our last Episcopal congregation, we eagerly tried many other denominations (and landed at a Reformed Episcopal mission). I believe the other denominations all suffer from the same challenges as we Anglicans, and carry the same hope. Today we are members of an ACNA congregation.

    I would love to see the Anglican Church more closely embrace other denominations on the basis of shared faith in Scripture and Creeds. If there are non-essential, Anglican/Roman doctrines that we maintain, I hope these will not stand in the way of greater Christian unity. Yet today, even under the relative persecution we face, I see quite a lot of denominational chauvinism.

  16. Dear LJ - I think we are more in agreement than you may realize. I regret that my writing did not make that clear. Two of the concerns that I endeavored to address were the very things that you mentioned – that Anglicans seem to be reduced by critics to a church that is merely a byproduct of the whims of Henry VIII and/or some imperialist expression of the British Kingdom (hence the use of “ethnocentric”). My point was that we must not accept those as defining principles. There are some historical realities there, but that is not who we are. My admiration for Thomas More is not because he was Roman Catholic, but because he was so genuinely faithful to Christ. Likewise, we are first and foremost Christians who proclaim Jesus as our Savior. And as Anglicans, we share an authentic catholicism rooted in the pre-Roman catholicism, that is the Early Church Catholic (unified). Also, our clergy have the benefit of orders under Apostolic Succession, along with those of the Orthodox and Roman Churches, which is why I singled out those denominations. I do see Apostolic Succession as a defining feature of ordination, but that was not meant at all to dismiss the great work that God is doing in other denominations. In conclusion, I hoped to communicate in my article encouragement to Anglicans and Episcopalians that we not become discouraged by mistaken denominational labels and recent events, when our hope and our identity are found in Jesus and transmitted to us through the apostles and Early Church. That is a heritage that no one can take from us. Fr. Van McCalister