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Anglicans Clash Over Anglo-Catholic Priest's Disinvitation from Mere Anglican Conference

Anglicans Clash Over Anglo-Catholic Priest's Disinvitation from Mere Anglican Conference
Calvin Robinson broke the rules and got his head handed to him

By David W. Virtue, DD
January 25, 2024

Like John the Baptist 2000 years ago, the Rev. Calvin Robinson got his head handed to him. At this year's Mere Anglicanism conference in Charleston, SC he went off-script in a presentation: "Critical Theories are Antithetical to the Gospel." Robinson tied women's ordination to the cascading downfall of the Anglican faith.

As the [mostly] Anglican media portray it, Robinson, was the victim of the organizer because he spoke about something not on the agenda. Brushing aside his perhaps unfortunate comments about Luther and the Reformation, "I am not a brown face for hire to speak about race," he said.

No one asked him to be. One absurd commentator made the observation that "Calvin was just being Calvin." Really, in that case Judas was just being Judas.

First of all, he was not disinvited from the conference. He gave his speech and was only disinvited to a final round table. He got fully paid and probably won't get another invitation back again. And he shouldn't. If the conveners had wanted to have conference on the place of women in ministry, then that would have been another matter. It was not. The conference centered around apologetics not the ordination of women.

Robinson was not cancelled for his faithfulness to the gospel, he got disinvited because he went off script, which probably got him the very publicity he was seeking.

One observer noted that: "I do think he addressed critical theory pretty extensively. The issue was he didn't get into Critical Race Theory."

The host of the conference, the Rev. Jeff Miller, Rector of St Philip's Church, in Charleston tried to defuse the situation, by removing Robinson from the remainder of the conference, but said Robinson would be fully paid.

The Anglican Bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina, the Rt. Rev. Chip Edgar weighed in and said that Robinson was not "cancelled" due to his position on Women in Holy Orders. "I write to correct that notion, and to tell you that he was removed from the final panel because his talk was deemed to have veered substantively from the topic he was asked to address. Instead, he took advantage of the opportunity and opined on what he considers the exceeding evil of women in Holy Orders. Most importantly, he did so in a way which was inexcusably provocative, and completely lacking in charity and pastoral consideration of the people in attendance--especially the many women clergy both of our diocese and others who attended."

Bishop Edgar is no liberal theologically. Yes, he believes in the ordination of women, and I do not, but that does not make him a heretic. The Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) has maintained a "dual integrities" position allowing dioceses to choose what direction to take. My own bishop, Julian Dobbs is decidedly opposed to it.

Yes, it could well explode and split the ACNA at some point down the road, but for the last 15 years (since 2009) the bishops and the archbishop have gotten along just fine. For the record, Archbishop Foley Beach is opposed to WO, former ACNA Archbishop Bob Duncan was for it.

Bishop Edgar went on to apologize for the situation especially to the women present (many of whom left when Robinson made his remarks) and who he said "were deeply insulted by his remarks."

"The Anglican Church in North America, and the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina, and I, as bishop, are deeply committed to the idea that both those who favor women's ordination, and those who oppose it, do so in fidelity to scripture and are both welcomed and valued in our common life. We refer to this recognition of both positions throughout the ACNA with the unwieldy moniker, "dual integrities." While that is a less than helpful designation, it points to the deep reality that both views ought to be held with integrity, are welcome, respected, and will be defended on either side."

"I do require, as a matter of godliness among us, that we always treat those with whom we disagree with love and charity and kindness. The kind of demeaning talk that marked the Rev. Robinson's presentation will not be countenanced," said Edgar.

Robinson has had his fair share of disinvitations including being "uninvited" by the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham from filming his GBNews Easter Special at Our Lady of the Assumption and St. Gregory Church on Warwick Street.

It started when he sought ordination within the Church of England. In 2022 he ended up crossing theological swords with Sarah Mullally, the Bishop of London, who refused to give him a pulpit. He was denied a curacy for his strong views on women's ordination. He was later ordained a priest by the Nordic Catholic Church, a part of the Old Catholic Church network, which is in communion with various parts of the Anglican Communion.

Calvin Robinson is a mixed race single straight male. His paternal grandparents hail from Jamaica and his mother is British. He was born, reared, educated, and lives in England. He is light skinned and until his ordination as a priest, he wore a full Afro. He identifies with his white background as much as he does his black heritage. He bristles at being used as the token black at an event.

The Mere Anglican Conference is the premier Anglican gathering in the United States. According to the North American Anglican blog the conference was initially begun before the turn of the century.

In past years Mere Anglicanism drew noted Anglican heavy hitters to explore the Conference's various themes.

This year's Mere Anglicanism 2024 drew a distinguished group of presenters to theologically discuss "Speaking the Truth in Love: The Church and the Challenge of the New Morality." The list included: The Rev. Dr. John Dickson, Anglican priest and apologist; the Rev. Sam Allberry, Anglican priest and apologist; Dr. D.A. Carson, Renowned New Testament scholar and author; the Rev. Dr. Carl Trueman, Professor, Grove City College; Dr. Rebecca McLaughlin, Apologist and author; the Rev. Vaughan Roberts, Anglican Rector of St. Ebbe's Church, Oxford; Dr. Amy Orr-Ewing, Senior Fellow, Oxford Center for Christian Apologetics; and the Rev. Calvin Robinson, priest, writer, and social commentator. Archbishop Foley Beach (ACNA II) was the Conference's Festival Eucharist celebrant.

"I wanted to address the root of the problem rather than the symptoms, which we spend too much time focusing on," Fr. Robinson explained on his substack site. "It was my point that the reason Gender Theory, Queer Theory and Critical Race Theory are so prevalent in the Church today is because we have conceded too much ground to Feminism."

But then he tackled Women's Ordination head on.

"I put it to you that Feminism -- an arm of liberalism -- is the gate by which all the other woke ideas gain ground. They are all part of the same ideology, but Feminism is the brute force which breaks down the wall for all the others," he said. "The Church has become effeminate and, therefore, vulnerable in a way that it needn't be. Men, being the stronger sex of the species, offer talents different from those of women. That is not to say they are better; goodness no, women are far better than men at a great many things. Men are simple beings. But we do have a practical role to play in the Church, which can only be played by men."

Calling the priesthood of women into question he said: "A woman cannot be a priest any more than a man can be a mother. They are both tremendous blessings from God, both vital for advancing His Kingdom, but neither interchangeable."

Speaking from experience he said: "I can tell you; it is much easier for a liberal granny with nothing to do to become a priest in the CofE than it is for a young orthodox man."

"Women's orders directly link to the liberalisation of the Church of England -- once they adopted Feminism and started to believe that men and women are the same and interchangeable, they started looking at the Church through a liberal lens and realised they needed full equality. That meant they needed as many women priests as men priests, and so they flooded the Church of England with priestesses," he explained.

ACNA has unanimously agreed that women will not be consecrated as bishops in the Anglican Church in North America. These positions are established within the Constitution and Canons and, because it is a conciliar Church, it would require the action of both Provincial Council and Provincial Assembly to be changed.

As George HW Bush, the most recent Episcopalian president said (and probably the last), "Not gonna happen."


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