Wednesday, February 24, 2021

ACNA Update: Increasing Identity Conflict and the “Dear Gay Anglicans” Letter

Conflict over Critical Theory and related identity issues is escalating in the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA).

On the one hand, the woke cabal in ACNA has gotten more bold.  One prominent example is the Anglican Multi-Ethnic Network (AMEN) naming Johana-Marie Williams as Interim Director.  She happens to be the Southern Gothic Womanist blogger.  The goal of her blog is two-fold:

1. To show how who Jesus is answers womanist, posthumanist, and afro-pessimist ontological concerns.

2. To show how a deeper commitment to Jesus Christ, the Bible, and the Church can (and should) legitimately lead to a deeper commitment to fighting the capitalist-imperialist-racist-hetero-patriarchy.

Got it.  Now it should be said it is unclear what relationship AMEN retains with ACNA.  I believe AMEN was once a provincial initiative, but that may no longer be the case.  Nonetheless, this appointment has gotten some attention in ACNA as Kevin and George note in their latest Anglican Unscripted (648, about 9 minutes in).

Not getting quite as much attention, but it should, is that The Table Indy, a C4SO (Diocese of Churches for the Sake of Others) congregation of course, is giving up Whiteness for Lent.  Their “Lent focus on Racism and Repentance” began with an online Workshop on “Re-imagining Life Together Beyond Whiteness.”

The discussion at the Facebook announcement was interesting, including this:

Whiteness? Why does the color of my skin assume I have some supremacy or that I have wronged others. Sound like a rather blanket racist comment.

To which one of The Table’s Priests, Matt Tebbe, replied:

You misunderstand whiteness... It’s racist to refuse to acknowledge or learn about whiteness. 

You are free to learn by watching the workshop if you wish.

But by far the biggest battle lately is over “Gay Anglicans,” namely whether it is appropriate for Christians with same-sex desires or temptations to identify as Gay Christians.  And that battle sure got interesting the past two days (to the point where I had to rewrite this).

Earlier the ACNA College of Bishops put forth an excellent and sensitive pastoral statement even if it seems written by a college of bishops.  But it did not take long for there to be pushback.  Bishop Todd Hunter of C4SO, of course, issued guidance that some took as undermining the College of Bishops.  And then came a “Dear Gay Anglicans” open letter, which most definitely does undermine the College of Bishops’ statement. (Anglican Unscripted 648 also discusses this while the matter was still ongoing about 19 minutes in.)

The response was swift. I know of at least two ACNA bishops who told their clergy not to sign the DGA letter.  Stand Firm issued a good open letter in response. I was aware of more efforts in the works as well.

But swift actions by two bishops put a quick end to the DGA letter. Archbishop Foley Beach issued a remarkably frank letter:

While [the DGA letter] says they are not undermining our Pastoral Statement, they actually are. Replacing “gay Christian” with “gay Anglican” is pretty much in your face. My immediate reaction to the letter was that it was pretty benign and wasn’t going to change anything about what we teach. 

However, it has already had international ramifications. I have had to deal with two provinces already (actually now three as of a few minutes ago) — and this is just the first day…. 

In the province, the expected hard rhetoric is coming from both sides in reaction to this. I find our lack of charity in the province a serious blind spot we need to address. Many of our bishops, and rightly so, feel this is an attempt to undermine our roles as guardians of the Faith and teachers of the doctrine of the Church. Some individuals have expressed that we are now TEC 2.0. Some think this is going to break the ACNA apart — one quote I received tonight: “If I had to guess what might fracture the ACNA I would’ve said women’s ordination. I never would have thought it would be homosexuality. We gave up everything to take a clear stand on this. It is disheartening to have it being taken away.”  I could go on, but you get the point. 

This is serious enough, however, that I am writing this at 1:15 am.

I don’t think he was happy.  Do read the rest.

Then the Interim Bishop of Pittsburgh Martyn Minns asked the DGA ringleader Pieter Valk to take the Dear Gay Anglicans letter down, which he did.  A few are very unhappy about that.  But more, including me, rejoice that we in ACNA actually do have bishops who have spines and know how to use them. 

So this episode had a somewhat happy ending.  But it suffices to say that conflict over Critical Theory, identity, and related issues continues and is increasing in ACNA.  And frankly it needs to increase. The routine of the woke cabal pushing and pushing while the rest of us are “collegial” will no longer do.  That is a road to becoming The Episcopal Church.  As St. Paul wrote:

For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part, for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized. (I Cor. 11: 18, 19)

We need our bishops and other leaders to come down every bit as hard on Critical Theory and its progeny as they just did on the “Dear Gay Anglicans Letter.”  But I may say more about that another time.


Katherine said...

Yes! There are Christians who are unmarried for a variety of reasons. Treating one set of reasons as a special category, worthy of more respect, isn't very respectful to other unmarried Christians who are also called to be celibate.

And Critical Race Theory is antithetical to Christianity. We are all one in Christ. CRT identifies people of European ancestry as innately evil and incapable of repentance.

Unknown said...

The bishops of ACNA have to get their arms around these "woke" issues, because the activists will not stop until they make the whole dialog of the Church about them. As you pointed out, this was part of the demise of TEC.

ryangran said...

Hi all, two questions for anyone who can answer:
1. does anyone know who the two bishops were who "put an end to the DGA letter"?
2. Does anyone know of any bishops who are bold enough to speak out against this homosexual agenda and also against critical race theory? I'm looking for a solid, orthodox bishop that stands for Godly principles and doesn't cave in to the culture. I would TRULY appreciate anyone's response leading me in the right direction. Please don't say "anyone in ACNA, as that is clearly not the case.
Ryan Grandon

Mark said...

Ryan, sorry for the delay in getting back to you.

This past month both the Archbishop of ACNA Foley Beach and the Presiding Bishop of the Reformed Episcopal Church (which is within ACNA) Ray Sutton gave major addresses opposing Critical Race Theory and warning against putting sexual identities alongside our identities in Christ. Sutton's address went into more detail on these subjects.