Wednesday, June 03, 2009

ACNA Disagreement Over Historic Episcopate

I am disappointed to see there is dissent within the Anglican Church in North America over language in the proposed constitution affirming the historic episcopate, at least enough dissent that Bishop John Rodgers thought it necessary to address it. The offending language is the following:

We confess the godly historic Episcopate as an inherent part of the apostolic faith and practice, and therefore as integral to the fullness and unity of the Body of Christ.

But as Matt+ Kennedy points out, this clause does not require an Anglo Catholic reading.

Still, there are some evangelicals unhappy about the language.

I’m hesitant to say much because I do not wish to increase the disagreement. And I am confident most ACNA evangelicals can and will approve of this language. However, some ACNA evangelicals would do well to ask themselves if they really want to be Anglican. Anglicans generally do think bishops are Pretty Important after all.

And Anglicans are not all a bunch of low church evangelicals. Orthodox Anglicans range from low churchers that flinch at the mention of Mary to Anglo-Catholics floating on clouds of incense – and that’s how it should be because that is what Christ’s church looks like.

So our constitution should reflect that and be a document both evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics can live with. And the proposed constitution does that well. It should not be a document that imposes one party’s viewpoint on the whole church. Nor should the constitution be so dumbed down that it can barely bring itself to affirm the historic Episcopate!

We are the Anglican Church in North America after all.

Having said all that, this suggestion might be a good resolution.


CMWoodall said...


I did not have the energy to read all the comments at SF, nor the desire to register there for a comment...but I would like to suggest that the 39 Articles assume the Episcopate, as do the classic BCPs, when they speak of rightly and duly administering the Sacraments. One cannot have Orders nor Confirmation without the Episcopate. I would venture to say that none other of the Church's great Sacraments, yea even a Eucharist or Baptism can be valid without the Episcopate because they assume a Bishop--in that they require a Priest under Orders. So I am happy with Rogers' statement:

"for a body to be a Church it must preach the Gospel faithfully, administer the sacraments of the Gospel in accord with Christ’s institution, and exercise faithful ecclesiastical discipline"

Anonymous said...

Lets look the church fathers

St. Ignatius of antioch

Whenever the bishop appears, let the congregation be there also. Just as, whenever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic church.

The bishop is the Icon of Christ. Through the Apostolic succession of the bishops the church continues.