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The Mushy Thinking of Neo-Anglicans

The Mushy Thinking of Neo-Anglicans

By Alice C. Linsley
June 26, 2016

On June 23, 2016 the College of Bishops of the Anglican Church in North America consented to the election of the Rev Jim Hobby as the next bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh. Fr. Hobby will be yet another bishop married to a woman priest. How many does that make now in the ACNA?

Such bishops are severely compromised on the question of women's ordination. The hope of many Anglicans for a catholic resolution of this issue in the ACNA is further diminished. Perhaps Anglicans who hold to catholicity have hoped for the impossible. Consider what Archbishop Foley Beach said on this issue in August 2014:

"...in our constitution and canons, we have left the issue of women's ordination for each diocese to decide. A lot of people came into the ACNA in good faith that their perspective -- including those who ordain women -- would be protected and guarded. And, people who believe in ordaining women hold their position by conscience and can Biblically argue it, although I disagree with them. This issue is a very important thing to them, and so I think it would create a lot of tension. A lot of the women priests in ACNA have stood side-by-side with a number of our bishops and clergy who are against women's ordination when they were in The Episcopal Church. These women argued for the right of these bishops to have the freedom to not ordain women. Women's ordination is a very complicated issue, because we've got people who have given their heart and soul on each side. And, these people are sincere; they're godly."

No doubt the Hobbies are fine, godly people, but they have set aside catholicity, an essential mark of the Church. That in itself should disqualify them from holding offices in the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.

Sometimes historical perspective is needed to see how we have strayed from the path set before the Church.

No woman ever served in the office of priest until 1944, at which time Florence Li Tim-Oi was ordained by Ronald Hall, Bishop of Victoria, Hong Kong, in response to the crisis among Anglicans in Communist China. She later stepped down from serving as a priest.

In 1976 the Episcopal Church broke the age-old tradition of the all-male priesthood by vote of General Convention. At that time the "irregular" ordinations of the "Philadelphia Eleven" and the "Washington Four" were made regular. The first woman ordained to the priesthood in the United States was Ellen Marie Barrett (January 1977). She was ordained by the Rt. Rev. Paul Moore, Jr., Bishop of New York. Ellen Barrett, a lesbian, had served as Integrity's first co-president. Other lesbians had been among the Philadelphia Eleven.

In the United States, the ordination of women and gay and lesbian "rights" were intertwined from the beginning, so that today it is difficult to treat these as separate issues. Both have been framed as equal rights issues, revealing a profound misrepresentation of the nature of the priesthood, a distortion of Christology, and an abandonment of the Received Tradition.

This misrepresentation of the priest as a "right" contributes to the Anglican identity crisis. Yet it is not the main factor. The main factor is the ease with which the ACNA has set aside catholicity. Consider this truth, spoken by Archbishop Mark Haverland: "We are not Anglicans first and Catholics second. We are members of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church first, and Anglicans second."

In an address delivered to the ACNA in July 2015, Archbishop Haverland made this statement: "The central problem of which I just spoke is a lack of theological clarity and consistency and, to be blunt, catholicity."

The Body is broken because of willfulness of its members to innovate, accommodate to culture, and set aside the Received Tradition in favor of a subjective modernist approach to truth. In another, earlier context, Archbishop Haverland spoke of the Neo-Anglicans as being in "the slow lane to modernist mush."

What is this modernist mush? Fr Jay Scott Newman once described it as follows:

"The primary category mistake of most Anglicans seems to be a refusal to accept the Principle of Non-Contradiction. For example, either sodomy is a grave sin or the foundation of a sacrament, but it can't be both. Or, either it is possible that women have the capacity to receive presbyteral and episcopal ordination or they do not, but it can't be both. Let's forget for a moment the authority of Apostolic Tradition which every Catholic must believe is an intrinsic part of the Gospel (no sola Scriptura for us), when a foundational principle of right reason like Non-Contradiction is routinely denied in practice if not in theory, then the only thing left is raw will to power. Hence the General Convention of the Episcopal Church. Kyrie Eleison."

The continued embrace of women's ordination and the election of bishops who are married to women priests, represents the mushy thinking that allows for "dual integrities" -- an absurdity.

It appears that the space for catholic Anglicans in the ACNA is shrinking daily. Apparently, the welcome extended to people who came into the ACNA in "good faith" that their perspective on women's ordination would be protected and guarded has taken precedent over serious objections and deep theological and biblical considerations. The catholic minded are experiencing dejà vu and getting a picture of TEC redux.

Alice Linsley is a Biblical and Archeology scholar. She resides in Kentucky.

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