Tuesday, July 24, 2007

father peter toon on what's most likely to happen

Sadly, I have to say I agree that this seems the most likely scenario:

As things stand in July 2007, the scenario, in my view, that is most likely to happen in the USA is not that there will be the old PECUSA (as a Unitarian Liturgical Church) doing its own thing on its own, and a new "orthodox" Province in the USA, part of a 38 member Global Anglican Communion, proclaiming orthodoxy alongside the degraded old PECUSA. A more likely scenario will be that the old PECUSA continues with a few (by comparison with the liberal majority) conservative dioceses; that several African Provinces have dioceses or networks in the USA (overlapping each other and sometimes competing one with another), that there are all kinds of associations and links of parishes with other overseas bishops; that the number of small jurisdictions of continuing Anglicans of one kind or another continues and increases, even as a few of them unite with one another; and that an increasing number of Anglicans in frustration either cease to be church goers (as happened in a massive way in the 1970s with the introduction of the new liturgies and women priests) or go to Rome or Orthodox or various forms of Protestantism-especially interdenominational churches. To create a new Province in the USA will be exceptionally difficult for it will need in the USA powerful (but rarely experienced) centripetal forces and from overseas all kinds of diplomatic, theological and constitutional help and advice. And the wrath of the old PECUSA will work to make it not happen!

From here. If this is indeed the way things ago, as seems to me most likely, I think Anglicanism will have been vindicated as just another protestant denomination and perhaps it will be time to disband and join other families. A depressing thought. In the meantime, buckle down where you are, and proclaim the Gospel.


Dave said...

I think Toon is right here. And so was the ACI. The sad thing is that we probably could have shown up at Lambeth 2008, with or without the VGR-consecrators, created a meaningful covenant and led the AC into an orthodox future.

The only hope right now is for Rowan to withdraw those invitations. Unlikely, but really it's the only hope for Anglicanism.

I had a talk with Fr. Heidt on Sunday, and he seemed much more upbeat, that there would be a single leader and a single province, and said that the reason this time is different than St. Louis is that we will have entire diocese leaving (namely FW). I'd like to be as optimistic as he is, I really would. Right now I wouldn't even complain about Federal vs. Communion as long as the new province is unified. God bless Fr. Heidt and Matt Kennedy and all the optimists, but I agree with Seitz, Radner and Toon. I just don't see any one leader or organization with, as Toon put it, the centripetal force to pull the Acronyms together.

And I really, really, really hope I'm wrong.

father wb said...


couldn't agree with you more. on every point. there's little sanguinity left in me. but i do (really, really, really) hope my (our) prognostications are wrong.

Dave said...

BTW, I don't have your email so I'll tell you this here: we're watching Ordet at St. David's on Friday at 7pm. Your presence is requested.

ddx said...

"...buckle down where you are, and proclaim the Gospel."

My dear Fr WB, how right you are in your closing rescription.

The church has been under attack since it's birth. The Episcopal/Anglican battles are just part of a larger war that will go on to the end of the age. This is but one battle at a point in time. But throughout history, in every instance...
"... When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him." (Isaiah 59:19) The Lord always wins...never looses.

The Gospel is the standard and the Lord lifts it by (and only by) the proclamation you prescribe. That makes you (us) His standard bearer while He wins the battles.

It is so important that in all our frustrations and seeming setbacks we remember that "we war not against flesh and blood" but against "principalities and powers and spiritual wickedness in the heavenlies (high places)" and "the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but spiritual thorugh God to the pulling down of srongholds and casting down of vain imaginations...", etc.

Once an individual drops the standard and starts to "war against flesh and blood" he is rendered ineffective. Though this war was already won 2,000 yrs ago we can still get faked out by a still active enemy, drop the standard, start fighting instead of proclaiming, and become a casualty.

This organization...that organization...in the end none of that will have mattered. Oh how important your little closing phrase is!

"...buckle down where you are, and proclaim the Gospel."

(and continually pray for the victims of satanic deception who, not knowing they have been deceived, are promoting satanic perversions of many sorts under a banner bearing the cross of St. George on a white shield and calling it "christian.")

Drew said...

In such a tangled web of episcopal allegiances as that, I think it would have to be only a matter of time before congregations begin to ask, "Why do we need a bishop, anyway?"

father thorpus said...

Although I count myself in agreement with Toon and ya'll others who see this as the most likely scenario, keep in mind that what he describes is not a STABLE scenario. It's full of motion, dynamic, always changing. Why may not the Spirit of God, amidst this constant change, renew the catholic unity of His Church visible? He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. The climate of dynamism can't last forever -- look at the times in our history when that's been the case: England in the 17th century is one example. After more than 150 years of dynamism, the whole thing finally settled down into the monolithic stability that was the CofE in the 18th and 19th centuries. It was that final stability that gave us the picture of Anglican stability, the 1662 prayer book.

O ye of little faith, do not despair. No temptation has overtaken but what is common to man. In the world we'll have tribulation, but Christ has overcome even our American separatist impulses.

Rather than bemoaning the lack of leadership toward unity, my friends, I urge you to determine yourselves to BE that leader you want to see. I tell my parishioners all the time that if they see a need in the parish, that's probably God calling them to step up, pitch in and fill that need. Why may not our determined band of Whitehallians renew American Anglicanism? Is anything too hard for the Lord? Is His arm grown short, that it cannot save?

We stand moaning, like the Israelite army faced by a giant Philistine, and wishing someone would step up. What does David say? You come against me with all the worldly weapons, but I come against you in the Name of the Living God!

Look at the history of ecumenism. it was a relatively small group of Episcopalians who started the modern Ecumenical movement and steered it to its climax in the WCC. These men like Wm. Huntingdon were determined that God was calling His church to unity, and they faced a stronger giant than we do. They faced factionalism at home and the frigid ecumenical climate of Apostolicae Curae abroad. Yet by God's help they created a successful ecumenical effort that lasted about a hundred years. But now it is fallen, now it is lagging. Are we not also so determined? Shall we not also strengthan the weak knees and the hands that hang down? Was it not in our ordination prayers that the things which have grown old are being made new and the things which are fallen are being raised up?

If we make a determination now, both as individuals and together, to see American Anglicanism restored to unity by God's grace, who is to say it cannot be done? Look to the Cappodocians! Did they sit around moaning about Arianism? It took them 75 years, but by God's grace the truth conquered. Why may not it do so again? It may not be in our lifetimes, but if we carry through on this determined vocation to see Anglicanism be all that it can be, perhaps our sons and daughters will rejoice in a new, stable, fully Catholic unity.

Dave said...

Amen, Fr. Thorpus. I agree with every aspect of your post, and I hope to some degree I'm way ahead of you. Even if it all comes flying apart on the international and national scene, I have no intention of abandoning my parish, which at the moment is growing and vital, and where I have a host of obligations, relationships, responsibilities and so forth that I could not in good conscience abandon.

In the abstract, I truly believe Anglicanism addresses the contemporary situation in a way that no other ecclesial expression can. I think Ramsey is more relevant now than ever. Political realities have encumbered that expression for too long, and what we may be witnessing is the painful correction necessary to reform it and make the abstraction truly incarnational.

So, yes -- if it all fragments and comes spinning apart, I will take both your and Fr. WB's advice and "hunker down and proclaim the Gospel," and try to "renew Anglicanism in North American" by helping cultivate an exemplary parish.

Those are good, encouraging words. Thank you!