Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Fearful beginning. . .

There were some of my friends who said explicitly that when they left the ELCA they were looking to established a church body which would be just like the ELCA but prior to the CWA 2009 decisions on sexuality.  I had initially given the NALC the benefit of the doubt but it seems that it is less a church body that exists for positive cause than a church body of people who wish the ELCA had not made its fateful choices in August 2009 and so have developed a church that mirrors the ELCA prior to those choices to accept same sex marriage.  In other words, it was all about sex.

There are some of my friends in the ACNA (Anglican Church in North America) who have urged me to consider this a truly catholic version of Anglicanism, a prayer book worshiping 39 Articles believing, conservative church body.  I want to believe that as well.  However, I beginning to wonder if the ACNA is not in many ways like the NALC -- a body formed to roll back the clock somewhat but not necessarily to be all that the name implies.

After four meetings the ACNA Task Force on Holy Orders has not gotten further than an introductory paragraph. The pivotal words of that update say: It remains to be seen whether or not the issue of women’s ordination can be resolved in any direction beyond the status quo, apart from making judgments about these divergent views, thereby further defining holy orders for the whole church. The bishops and church will need to consider the tension between the values of liberty and unity in this regard.
In other words, certain things remain effectively off the table, among them the ordination of women, and it may well be that the members will disagree and have to live with this tension.  In other words, it is like the Episcopal Church except before it took its wayward steps into the sexuality abyss -- an ECUSA without Gene Robinson or his kind and hopefully forgetful of John Shelby Spong and his kind.  It only seems to confirm the fear that it was all about sex.

If the NALC for Lutherans and the ACNA for Anglicans/Episcopalians are to effectively become a new and positive church bodies formed to express the catholic identity they claim for their traditions, they must not rubber stamp the positions of their former church bodies except to a point.  They must be willing to address and either defend theologically or abandon the practices that violate the catholic principle of doctrine and practice that was, is, and everywhere remains the same.  They must be willing to put the ordination of women on the table.  There has been a woeful lack of theological underpinnings for this nouveau practice among the Lutherans and, I believe, the Anglicans.  Either you defend it or you abandon it but you don't merely keep it because the predecessor bodies had done it or it is a can of worms you would rather not open.

I do not say this out of anger but disappointment.  If the NALC and ACNA are churches who will live up to their promise, they must be prepared to face a review of something that challenges their claims to be the rightful successors of their theological forbears.

After I wrote this piece, I read of a challenge to the ordination of women by none other than CoE Bishop Nazir-Ali (who might have been Archbishop of Canterbury) who at least raised the issue while speaking to the International Catholic Congress of Anglicans in the US last month.  It is not much but it is surprising that someone would challenge what has become a holy grail of the disenchanted Anglicans and ELCA Lutherans.  


William Tighe said...

Bishop Nazir-Ali's comments are the more remarkable in that he was once a strong proponent and practitioner of the pretended ordination of women. A few years ago an English friend, then a clergyman of the Church of England, told me that Nazir-Ali had come to believe that women's ordination was "a mistake, but not an error." Maybe he has come to the realization that it is an error, and one with pernicious consequences.

David Gray said...

They wish to retain women's ordination. A hermeneutic which allows you to ordain women will invariably allow you to ordain sodomites. Repent of the whole rebellion or it is just hand waving.

Dr.D said...

The ACNA is a fraud. It pretends to be catholic, but it is not. It is composed of parishes that remained far too long in ECUSA, and are thus infected with all of the ECUSA virus, even though they fight against a small part of the virus. They are compromised through and through.

Anglican Priest

Padre Dave Poedel said...

During my years with the Society of the Holy Trinity I had a kind of front row seat in the development of the NALC. My initial reaction, expressed in great disappointment, is that it was "ELCA Lite" with all of the histical-critical Biblical hermeneutics (after all, seminary has a great influence in the formation of a Pastor). My colleagues and I had long discussions into the night on the opportunity the NALC had to become a truly Confessional Lutheran/evangelical catholic Church, but I agree with Fr. Peters that they squandered that opportunity.

I had personal high hopes that the NALC might become a home for this evangelical catholic, a home without the baggage and history of circling the wagons and aiming the cannons inward, all of the "anti-Roman Catholicism" I experience in my own LCMS. The early reception by Pope Benedict XVI gave me very high hopes. But, alas, the NALC never followed through with the thrust that I saw at the beginning (maybe I was trying to see what I was praying was happening) and then watched it settle into ELCA-Lite. What a huge disappointment it has been for me. I guess I continue to flourish where God planted me.

Anonymous said...

How are the breakaway splinter groups such as the ACNA and the NALC any different than the various Lutheran microsynods that most people do not know nor care about. They obtained most new church members when whole congregations broke away from the much larger, mother denomination. The mass exodus of disenchanted laymen and dissident congregations to the new splinter church bodies has slowed to a trickle in recent years. The microsynods are isolated, largely unknown by the general public, and are either in decline or stagnating. Their only "claim to fame" is that they once broke away from a much larger, more "mainstream" Lutheran church body. They have no other identity and therefore have no ability to attract non-Lutherans to their churches.

I have seen this movie before. How many of these once-promising, but now dying micro-synods do most people recognize: