Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The New Anglican Church in North America

Congratulations to the newly formed Anglican Church in North America!


Dr. Ev said...


I wish you would say more about the "The New Anglican Church in North America." I went to their website and saw only PR comments being made. I wonder if this is the group that has split from the US Episcopal Church over homosexuality and biblical inerrancy issues? If so, my reading as I followed this debate for the last year or so, makes them sound like they have been innoculated with the fundamentalism strain that is doing a witchhunt in the CON under the rubric of "Concerned Nazarenes." Are you really "congratulating" them on seceding from mainstream Christianity and creating yet another walled-off, non-Wesleyan- catholic-spirit group?

Just curious.

Todd Stepp said...

Dr. Ev,

Since I'm now at General Assembly, I won't have much time to spend on the ACNA. However . . .

There is not simply one group that has split from TEC. That being said, this is "the groups" that split primarily over biblical authority (not necessarily inerrancy), with homosexuality being a flashpoint.

Such a position, I would suggest IS a part of the mainline of Christianity (though not necessarily a part of liberal protestantism).

The groups vary. There are Anglo-Catholics, and evangelicals, and, yes, some fundamentalists. However, my reading of most (?) of the groups is that Wesley would fit there nicely (perhaps much more nicely than in the CotN, since, though we have kept a Wesleyan soteriology, we have completely left off Wesley's liturgical/sacramental theology.)

Unlike fundamentalists, they are very "broad church." And, unlike fundamentalists, they are very connected to historical (read ancient) Christianity.

There may be some in the group like the "Concerned Nazarenes" (but the CN wouldn't claim them; they would call them emergents!). My feel is, the majority are not.

They desire a catholic-spirit, as well. They seek to be fully a part of the Anglican Communion (and are already accepted by the majority of Anglicans in the world). They are interested in ecumenical relationships.

However, they are also committed to a Christian orthodoxy. They are opposed to TEC's views of Scripture and their agenda for promoting the homosexual agenda.

The ACNA is not the Anglican Catholic Church, or the Province of Christ the King or the Evangelical Episcopal Church, or the Anglican Orthodox, etc. Many of them, I would say do fit more closely in the fundamentalist camp.

However, in keeping with a good catholic-spirit, they have reached out to the ACC, etc. - They have responded in a "walled off" "non-catholic-spirit" fashion.

(The new ACNA is made up of CANA, AMiA, the REC, and the Episcopal dioceses that recently broke from TEC; some Anglo-catholic, others evangelical; as well as some other groups.)

Hope that helps! - If you go to their website, and click on the various other groups listed you can find out more about them.

Now, if you think there is no problem with the kind of heterodox view of Scripture and sexuality that is prominate in TEC, then you would likely not like the ACNA. - If you are Wesleyan, with a "catholic-spirit," then you would likely (cautiously!) have great hope for the new ACNA.

I think there is a huge difference between fundamentalism and a conservative, catholic, orthodox faith. I think Wesleyan theology fits in the second category. Both of those would oppose the kind of heretical stuff that has happened recently in TEC.

Like us, though, they do have their share of fundamentalists.

For the time being . . . Todd+

Todd Stepp said...

Dr. Ev,

One more thought: Do you know David Pendleton? (Started Christ Community from O.P. near K.C.) - He is now an Anglican Priest with the ACNA. - If you know Dave, I'm sure you will say that he is a solid Wesleyan and NOT a fundamentalist.


Todd Stepp said...

Dr. Ev,

One more thought: Do you know David Pendleton? (Started Christ Community from O.P. near K.C.) - He is now an Anglican Priest with the ACNA. - If you know Dave, I'm sure you will say that he is a solid Wesleyan and NOT a fundamentalist.


Anonymous said...

Yes, I do know David Pendleton. Your explanation helps me. I was thinking of an entirely different "fight" that has been going on where American Anglicans have joined African Anglicans in protest over the two issues--Scripture and homosexuality, especially after the ordination of gay Bishop Robinson.

What are your thoughts on creating yet another denomination, one that is fully Wesleyan--ecumenical (catholic), liturgical, and socially responsible?

It seems to me that most of the attempts I have seen (such as David Pendleton's) have been able to raise one or two of those elements to the forefront, but not all three at the same time. I would like to be in a denomination that was unashamedly high church in worship, ecumenical in its evangelization/educational efforts, and socially responsible to address the problems of individuals and society.

Would you?

Dr. Ev

Todd Stepp said...

Dr. Ev.,

I'm not sure that we are yet on the same page. - The groups that formed the new ACNA are made up (in part) of the groups that aligned with the African Anglicans.

The two big issues (at least on the surface) were/are Scripture & homosexuality.

However, what I have suggested is that one need not be a fundamentalist (or equate to "Concerned Nazarenes") for those two subjects to be real issues when it comes to TEC.

From a catholic and orthodox point of view (an early Church point of view), TEC has strayed from the orthodox teachings of the Church on issues of Scriptural authority (which is different than the fundamentalist inerrancy issues) and human sexuality.

Look at it this way. Is the mainstream of the Church of the Nazarene to be lumped together and identified with the "Concerned Nazarene" group? - I would hope the answer is a resounding "No!" -

However, some may look at the Church of the Nazarene over against the United Methodist Church and incorrectly label us all fundamentalists, etc.

Now, if one thinks that the Scriptures do not have authority (e.g., "We [the Church] wrote the book, and we can re-write the book", as one Episcopalian has said concerning the issue of homosexuality), then, of course, one would stand up for TEC and against anyone who opposed their positon.

If one thinks that homosexual behavior is not only okay, but out to be celebrated, blessed and sanctified by the Church, then one would stand up for TEC and against anyone who opposed their position.

I am simply asserting that neither the Roman Catholic Church, the Orthodox Churches, nor the Church of the Nazarene are "fundamentalists" in holding positions that are contrary to TEC. Nor, do I think that the majority of the new ACNA are fundamentalists (though, as I have said, there surely are some).

As for a new denomination . . .it would be nice if there was a truly and fully Wesleyan denomination out there. There simply isn't one. The Church of the Nazarene is primarily Wesleyan. Our soteriology is such, and our heritage is Wesleyan/Methodist. We identify as Wesleyan, but we are not very Wesleyan (as a denomination) when it comes to worship/liturgy and the sacraments. In that regard, the UMC comes much closer to Wesley (at least officially), however, they have left off so much of the Wesleyan doctrine that we have maintained. The UMC has not sought, as a denomination, to be solidly Wesleyan theologically. The CotN has consciously sought to be evangelically Wesleyan, particularly in terms of holiness.

Having said that, I think that it is extremely serious to form a new denomination over against Christ's prayer that we be one. I think that, when possible, one ought to work within established denominations.

That is what I have tried to do with the resolutions I have written over the years to General Assembly (eleven plus). Some of those resolutions have made real changes in the Manual. Others have started conversations.

In the case of the new ACNA, they are responding, not to a lack of the fullness of the gospel being available, but rather to what they percieve as an agenda of blatant heresy that cuts at the very heart of what it means to be Christian. The primary battle is the authority of Scripture (not inerrancy, again) and the authority of the sacred tradition. The flashpoint that illustrates the primary issue has been the disregard of Scripture, tradition and the larger Church on the issues surrounding sexuality.

Something like that might be worth breaking from to form a new denomination. But I would be hesitant to "endorse" a schism when the heart of the gospel is not at stake, when there is openness to allow one to practice the faith more fully, and/or when there are other options available.


Anonymous said...

Wow, Todd. You certainly are a thoughtful and articulate person on this subject.

I think I am getting what you are saying and how it is different than the way I was reading the issues.

I still wish there were a denomination that was truly Wesleyan in theology and outlook, "high church" liturgically, and socially responsible. Every one of the denominations you or I have mentioned have some of those characteristics but not all in one package.

The Protestant way (which probably has been taken to an extreme that Luther never intended) is to form a new denomination by a group of people who believe that they can "do church better"--that is, make corrections for the deficiencies they see in their previoous denomination. Hence, the CON emerged from Methodism on the issue of Holiness. And there are many other examples with the founding issues perhaps much less important.

If we were within the Roman Catholic fold (which we cannot be for some real theological differences), we could form an order and continue in the main church. I believe that was Wesley's desire, to remain in the Anglican church but to reignite some of the parts that had lost their
fervor--heart-felt religion and social conscience. The liturgy was there as a constant for him, which it is not for us now.

To form a new denomination with the three characteristics I desire might actually be the Wesleyan thing to do if it provides a corrective way forward for enough individuals.

I find discussing this with you interesting. Keep up the good blogging!

Dr. Ev

eric wright said...

I was an ordained minister in the COTN and left about 3 1/2 years ago...surrendering my credentials because I left. I came to the Vineyard church not so much because of their worship style, but because of the social concern for the people and the way they serve others...without falling into liberalism.

Just recently the former President of the Vineyard Association, Todd Hunter, was ordained with the AMiA. As to Dr. Ev's mentioning the social concern...it will be interesting to see what Todd brings to the table having come from the Vineyard background.

Anonymous said...

I'd be cautious throwing out the term fundamentalist or describing particular theologies as non-fundamentalist and others as fundamentalist. Liberals tend to think that anything that enforces a certain view is fundamentalist. In that sense, they would argue Wesleyanism to be a form of fundamentalism.

Todd Stepp said...

But they would be incorrect. Fundamentalism, as a definable movement has certain characteristics that go beyond "conservatism." It includes particular ways of looking at Scripture, as well as a particular way of interacting with other Christians. - Certainly, many "liberal" Christians see little difference between those who are conservative, orthodox or fundamentalist, but when one is being precise, there are clear signs. - It is also possible for people or groups to hold particular beliefs or attitudes that are "fundamentalist like," while not fully fitting the category.