7/06/2008

Venables, Jensen and Orombi in London: Not a pretty sight.

Archbishops Jensen, Orombi and Venables held a press conference, (July 5th I believe) in the context of a meeting at All Souls Langham Place, London, billed as a post-GAFCON meeting. It is reported that there was an overflow crowd.

Archbishop Peter Jensen said, "Something is going on here of a spiritual nature. Something is happening of great importance." The GAFCON followup (the Fellowship of Concerned Anglicans) is "to assert the authority of the Bible over the Church and the importance of the Gospel for the Church. If we treat it (GAFCON / FOCA) in some other way we really have misunderstood it."

Presiding Bishop Venables, also sometimes called Archbishop, said, "it i(again the GAFCON/ FOCA movement) is not a seizing of power, it is the exercise of legitimate authority for the sake of the Anglican Communion. A group of leadership has go to take things in hand to move forward...we are just bringing this together because we believe it is the time to do it."

Both men tried to draw a distinction between exercising authority and exercising power.

The claim is that GAFCON / FOCA is a spiritual movement whose authority relies on spiritual grounding in the Bible and the Gospel is debatable, but at least it is an understandable claim.

The much more tenuous argument is that such a spiritual grounding gives the GAFCON authority to do what its Primates Council contemplates following GAFCON's recommendations, recommendations which are decidedly political and not particularly spiritual.

"Taking things in hand" and exercising authority "for the sake of the Anglican Communion" involves taking things OUT of the hands of others and exercising power in order to rescue, save, or otherwise "do something" that makes the Anglican Communion what it ought to be.

GAFCON / FOCA may a spiritual movement and the actual meeting in Jerusalem was no doubt for many an insightful, grace filled, enlightening or transforming experience. The Church Times ran an article titled "Treat GAFCON with respect." It began, "GAFCON was a good thing. Other complexions have, of course, been put on it, but the conference in Jerusalem transformed disaffection from the Anglican Communion into a renewed commitment to its core, which is the love of Christ. Against the expectations of many, the week was not spent fulminating against gays. Bishop Robinson’s name was not heard. Clearly, dissatisfaction with liberal developments in ethics and theology, principally in the United States, had brought many of the participants to Jerusalem. But, once settled in Jerusalem, the participants spent too much of their time worshipping God and making their pilgrimage for GAFCON to be written off as a godless mistake." There is some merit to its admonition to "treat GAFCON with respect."

Respect or no for GAFCON, respect stops where the GAFCON Primates begin. The new Primates Council, essentially the GAFCON central initiating Primates, keeps wanting the eyes of all in the Anglican World to be upon the conference itself, or upon the "fellowship of confessing Anglicans," and not upon the actions of its leadership. The Archbishops at the press conference in London want us very much to pay attention to the "movement" and not its leadership, to the spiritual force of FOCA and not to the political force of the Primates.

It is a shell game the purpose of which is to avert the eyes from the reality of a power shift in which "things are taken in hand" for "the sake of the Anglican Communion." In the fellowship of Provinces and Churches that constitutes the Anglican Communion the GAFCON Primates have no authority at all over what individual Provinces do and no authority to determine what the Anglican Communion will be or look like, except in so far as the existing Anglican Communion "instruments" simply rolls over and plays dead.

GAFCON leaders claim that their authority to determine what constitutes the Anglican Communion derives from their commitment to the authority of the bible in the church, a commitment which they believe is not shared by others within the Anglican Communion. They will use that claimed authority, unless it is challenged, to pronounce the Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church of Canada and Brazil defunct as Anglican Provinces and replace the whole lot of us with some new agency of Provincial character in North and South America. I don't know what they think of Mexico, but I bet it isn't good. It appears that they are now recruiting to take on the Church of England as well.

The Primates Council will shortly admit a new Province in North America into communion with those Provinces making up the churches committed to the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, and the existing Provinces of TEC and ACoC will be considered heretical and outside the fellowship. Later they will take up Brazil and who knows who else.

Explain to me again, dear Archbishop Venables just how the Primates Council is not in the process of seizing of power. Explain it being an exercise of legitimate authority.

There is no legitimate authority here. The exercise of authority will grow, if it does, from the seizing of the power to do so. It will be legitimate after the fact, much as the legitimacy of a new government tends to depend on if it wins the war and struggle that accompanies its formation.

As far as I am concerned the Primates Council can do what it wishes. Indeed I have no power and no authority to say otherwise. But we can exercise the right of refusal: they have no more authority here in the Episcopal Church than any foreign bishops.

And when all the fuss and fury is over, we will be in some sort of ecumenical relation to whatever it is that the Primates Council conceives as necessary for North America. In peace they will be friends, in war enemies. That's the way it is out there in ecumenical land.

But when they say they are followers of Jesus Christ and we are not, I say we ought consider that an act of oppressive disrespect and seek fellowship elsewhere - say with the other thirty or so Provinces of the Anglican Communion.


24 comments:

  1. "The much more tenuous argument is that such a spiritual grounding gives the GAFCON"

    Is there a continuation of this sentence that got dropped out somewhere? Just curious.

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  2. I've come to this discussion as a woman, a liberal democrat and as someone who was raised episcopalian, also a feminist, who became curious after reading about GAFCon and wanting to learn more.

    I started reading articles from the Guardian, and moved on to the Independent and Telegraph, then on to the blogs. I became struck by the frankly unChristian comments coming from those who are aligned with the leadership of the Episcopal and Anglican churches. I searched further, reading about the leadership sueing and attempting to seize churches that had been built and maintained by congregations. No monies coming from the official church to pay for them.. yet the hierarchy sought to take them from the very people who along with their ancestors had built and cared for their churches through blood, sweat and tears. Why? Because these congregations and their clergy wanted to adhere to the gospels, rather than accept what they felt was heresy, being foisted upon them.

    Do I agree with them on everything, no, but quite honestly, I have been struck over the past few days by the many hypocrisies of those who claim to be activist against discrimination against themselves and others.

    What I have picked up on in the various threads here and in other similar blogs, is that the leadership and those they've hand picked are the ones guilty of intolerance. It's as if they are indeed what they've been accused of, elites who have sought to destroy the church from within.

    I've read snarkly remarks who refer to moderates and conservative Christians as "weeds". Is this the reason that Bishop Jefferts-Schori is firing priests and bishops, and replacing them with people who will chase the faithful from church. So she can close those churches down, sell them and pocket the money?

    Prior to this, I have had problems with what I've felt to be a disconnect from the realities, on Bishop Schori's part. I now believe that she simply doesn't care.

    Christ spoke about the poor, and there are many poor here in the US, but the Bishop chooses not to recognize them. That tells me that she is not moved by Christ's teachings, merely seeks to exploit Christ and the position she has attained for her own purposes. It lends credence to the reaction by the attendees at GAFCon, that she and the ABofC are sick with a colonialistic mindset and disrespect the rights of Christians, most especially African, Asian and Hispanic Christians to think and decide for themselves.

    In closing, I have to say that I believe that the only way forward is for those of you aligned with this exploitation of Christ and his faith, is to reflect on your thoughts and actions, honestly. If you aren't interested or capable of striving to be like Christ, and being part of a faith that espouses the same, then perhaps you should move on.

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  3. In the last days of the French Third Republic, it was the Left that got all the blame for wrecking France.
    But it was the Right that opened the gates for the Germans. They would rather have betrayed their country and thrown their fellow citizens to the mercy of Hitler than have shared power with socialists.

    Perhaps something similar might be happening with this Anglican Falange movement.

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  4. Who on earth are you, anonymous, and whom do you represent?

    You claim to be a woman, a liberal democrat, someone who was raised an Episcopalian, and a feminist, and you claim to support the ideals of GAFCON. It just is not believable.

    How about those of us in the Diocese of San Joaquin? How about our ancestors, and how about those of us still alive in this diocese who have spent a life time working for our Episcopal churches, through blood sweat and tears, who have recently have had the experience of having our churches from us and handed over to the Southern Cone. We certainly did not like it, and are outraged that
    that schism has been foisted upon us.

    I have read "snarky comments" from the "other side" calling our presiding bishop all sorts of derogatory names, as well as other bishops and priests in leadership. I saw in the San Joaquin, churches closed by those who had been in leadership, so that money could be pocketed.

    I have been to several church services and events where Presiding Bishop Schori was speaking, and have heard her talk about the poor, and have heard her ask what we plan to do.

    Annonymous, your comments do not make sense. Many of us just know too much and have seen too much.

    I pray for our church.

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  5. Dear Anonymous,

    That was quite a speech...I wish I believed you were anything other than a "concern troll" striving to fog up windows to the Jesus through a dim hearted/limp smear campaign.

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  6. All Souls Langham Place has about the same number of people turn up each week as the whole TEC diocese of Nevada....

    .....they have not been blessed in this way by peddling the tired relativism that your PB supported in Nevada and now in 815.

    GAFCON gets the support of those in the UK and the USA who have been blessed with many people, including young people, as they faithfully preach, not deviating from the scriptures....go figure

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  7. It's not often that I see something on a religious blog that leaves me with the niggling suspicion that I have just read a piece of complete fiction, beginning to end, Anonymous, but you've got me wondering.

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  8. counterlight:

    Many of us subscribe to the theory that the first person who compares or makes an analogy to Hitler or Nazis to attack our enemies automatically loses the argument.
    Therefore, you lose.

    Jim of Lapeer

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  9. Mark - The last paragraph seems out of place or incomplete.

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  10. caminante...got it. sentence was meant to be cut...sigh...

    ed...same for the last paragraph. Thanks.

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  11. Has anyone seen the snitfit that Tom Wright is throwing over the very idea that furriners might come in and tell him how to run his church?

    It's hysterically funny, given that a week seldom passes when Wright doesn't jet across the Atlantic to lecture us naughty colonials yet again on just what naughty colonials we are.

    Of course, one possible upside to gaffecon is that if they make enough trouble in Durham, Wright might have to start spending some time in his own diocese. What a change that would be!

    As for you, anonymous, well, concern trolling is something that has to be done subtly and skillfully in order to be effective. You failed on both counts: you laid it on way too heavy and you broke character by lapsing into fundamentalist lingo and conspiracy theorizing. You should probably leave this sort of thing to those who have some talent for it.

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  12. +Jensen says, "The GAFCON followup (the Fellowship of Concerned Anglicans) is "to assert the authority of the Bible over the Church and the importance of the Gospel for the Church." What +Jensen says in the first half of his statement is uttery contrary to Anglicanism and to the tradition of the Church Catholic. It is the Church which exercises authority over the Bible. Second, no one disputes the importance of the Gospel for the Church; we all agree that it is central, and the insinuation that there are some Anglicans that do not borders on calumny.

    Those who assert the authority of the Bible over the Church are really asserting their own interpretations of the Bible as authoritative. This also un-Anglican position, which combines their "spiritual reasoning" with power politics must also be opposed vigorously and firmly.

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  13. GAFCON / FOCA may a spiritual movement and the actual meeting in Jerusalem was no doubt for many an insightful, grace filled, enlightening or transforming experience.

    How can a conference put together in a place where no permission was given to hold such a conference, by a group of thugs hell bent on delivering hell to those who disagree with them, create a document that foists regressive issues on an entire church be enlightening? Transforming, okay; transmogrifying probably, but enlightening, Wowsers -- really wrong word.

    Ghost Riders in England (the Sky)

    An old cowpoke went ridin' out one dark and windy day,
    Upon a ridge he rested as he went along his way
    When all at once a mighty herd of red eyed cows he saw
    plowed through the ragged skies and up a cloudy draw.

    Their brands were still on fire and their hooves were made of steel
    Their horns were black and shiny and their hot breath He could feel
    A bolt of fear went through him as they thundered through the sky
    He saw the riders coming hard... and he heard their mournful cry

    Yipie i ay Yipie i oh
    Ghost riders in the sky.

    Their face is gaunt their eyes were blurred their shirts all soaked
    With sweat
    They're ridin' hard to catch that herd but they 'aint caught 'em yet
    'cause they've got to ride forever in the range up in the sky
    On horses snorting fire as they ride hard hear them cry

    The riders leaned on by him he heard one call his name
    If you want to save your soul from hell a riding on our range
    Then cow - boy change your ways today or with us you will ride
    Tryin' to catch this devil herd... a - cross these endless
    Skies.

    Yipie i ay Yipie i oh
    Ghost riders in the sky.
    Ghost riders in the sky.
    Ghost riders in the sky.

    Finally, who died and leftthem Pope?

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  14. We Mexican Anglicans are but a tiny minority. We are, however, the child of TEC and loyal to her overall, so if FOCA does anything in our direction, it will probably be just to sow confusion and distrust. Not hard to do since we are still reeling and recovering from the affair of our two thieving bishops.

    An anonymous drive by shooting with fake credentials! Whudda thunk it?!?

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  15. "Many of us subscribe ..... therefore you lose" is not an argument, Jim of L., though it carried the day on Good Friday and quite a few other occasions. Incidentally, Counterlight did not, if you take the trouble to read, compare anyone to Hitler.

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  16. What if the metaphor fits?
    Especially when it's with French fascists or Spanish Falangists.

    I'm not conceding.

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  17. Oh, nlnh, I thought he was here to sell books!

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  18. The Presiding Bishop "firing priests and bishops"? No Episcopalian would make just a innane statement, save for the propagandists. Anonymous, best stick your buds at the Faux Network because, except for the unChristian damage you do to faithful Body, you only succeed in giving us a good chuckle at how poor you are at trolling.

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  19. I've come to this discussion as a woman, a liberal democrat and as someone who was raised episcopalian, also a feminist, who became curious after reading about GAFCon and wanting to learn more.

    Anonymous, tell me another. That statement in no way fits with the rest of your words. It doesn't parse. What weight should we give to your words when you come in anonymity? You haven't even bothered to be serious enough to make up a name.

    June Butler

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  20. Sure, Marc, and no Episcopalian, until recently, would have made the seemingly inane statement that, “The Presiding Bishop fired the diocesan Standing Committee,” since she has no authority to do so. Haven’t you noticed? The rules don’t much matter any more in ECUSA.

    Why don’t you stick to your buds at ENS? The rest of us are following the machinations of questionable canonicity via the internet, bane of besieged bureaucracies, like the one at the Episcopal Church Center, everywhere.

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  21. Sharon wrote: “All Souls Langham Place has about the same number of people turn up each week as the whole TEC diocese of Nevada....

    .....they have not been blessed in this way by peddling the tired relativism that your PB supported in Nevada and now in 815.”

    Sharon dear, might have something to do, come to think of it, with Langham Place being in London, instead of Nevada…

    Up-market place.

    You know, white plastic buckets for collection.

    ; = )

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  22. Grandmere, re anonymous' opening paragraph, I read the exact same opening, except for the woman bit, to a comment on another blog, an opening designed to suck us in and then smash us with the writer's superiority.

    I got sucked in the first time. When I saw it here, I gave it a pass. I'm learning that when an anonymous-one gives their bona fides up front like that, it's not trustworthy. OCICBW...but, no.

    Course now anonymous knows he/she needs another ploy. Truth and transparency might be a change.

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  23. Phil! My old friend! (And I really do mean that in an endearing way, even though we really irritate the crap out of each other.) Can't figure why you're coming after me, implicitly defending someone who is inherently dishonest while parroting the inane propagandized right-wing blather against The Episcopal Church. Is there anything Mark said that you find either of value or substantiably in error? You're at least more capable presenting an argument than the Anonymous One is. Stick with your strengths, Phil. Polemic and sniping ain't yer strong suit, brother.

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  24. OK, Marc, I'll take your advice. But the anger in your remarks just seems over the top. You don't agree with anonymous: I get it. But why is the stuff about "Faux Network" (what does that have to do with anything?) and "unChristian" necessary?

    Well, I've done it myself, I guess. Hope all is well, Marc.

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OK... Comments, gripes, etc welcomed, but with comment moderation but with some cautions and one rule:
Cautions: Calling people fools, idiots, etc, will be reason to bounce your comment. Keeping in mind that in the struggles it is difficult enough to try to respect opponents, we should at least try.
Rule: PLEASE DO NOT SIGN OFF AS ANONYMOUS: BEGIN OR END THE MESSAGE WITH A NAME - ANY NAME. ANONYMOUS commentary will be cut.