Wednesday, August 19, 2015
Fearful beginning. . .
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.