Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The ACNA debate in the Synod in England

The Synod in England will debate whether to acknowledge the ACNA (the alphabet soup of American dissident Episcopalians). Unfortunately, the group continues to assert that they are blameless in the current struggles. Much has been written on this and it is clear that they are not blameless. SEE

But another problem with this debate is represented by this quote from the member of the Synod who proposed the resolution to accept the ACNA into the fold of the Anglican Communion.

Most lay members, like myself, have little understanding of the technical ‘ins’ and ‘outs’ of canon law with it uses and misuses. What is clear however is the shocking, unjust treatment of historical/biblical Anglicans as they seek to continue living out their faith within these provinces.
This is the neat trick that this group has pulled. They have fairly successfully characterized themselves as "historical Anglicans." The problem is that they are not. For centuries Anglicanism has been known as the middle way and represent by a broad tent where many views were allowed. Anglicanism has not been a communion brought together by a creed but by common worship. ACNA and their ilk suggest that the Episcopal Church has somehow broken with tradition. In fact those who demand (and I do mean demand) unity of thought and belief are what is new and foreign to Anglicanism. Historical Anglicanism has never been about unity of thought or belief it has always been broad enough to allow differences in how Anglicanism was expressed especially in different places. They can not claim to be representative of historical Anglicanism.

Further, they can not claim to be the only Biblical Anglicans in North America. Again, Anglicanism has allowed for different interpretations and allowed for evolution in understand the Bible and encouraged critical Biblical interpretation at least until lately. People who take the Bible seriously can find that there are not prohibitions on ordaining women and gay men and lesbians. It does not make them non Biblical and until recently differing views like these were perfectly fine in Anglicanism.

About the only claim they can make related to this is to be historically Biblical. They would freeze in time (although when this time would be is open to much debate within the group) a set of interpretations of the Bible. They kid themselves and say they are true to the original meaning of the Bible. They are not. They will not stone their children for speaking back and until recently we thought they would not condemn to death homosexuals (although again the recent actions in Nigeria raise some doubt about this). They do not take the Bible literally they are just willing to apply interpretations to a time they are comfortable with. There is lots of historical support for this type of interpretation. It was used to justify slavery, to disallow divorce, and to keep women in their place.

To the extent that the debate in the Synod takes as a given that these people are historical/biblical Anglicans the fight is largely lost. They are foreign to Anglicanism. That doesn't necessarily make them bad people just not Anglican and they should not be recognized as a part of the Anglican Communion.

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