More Questions about the ACNA

This article came up in Deborah Gyapong’s blog – What are the chief obstacles in persuading ACNA members to consider Ordinariates?

Would the Anglican Church in North America be interested in the Ordinariate, the PNCC or the uniting Continuing bodies from the Affirmation of Saint Louis? Would they be able to persuade Canterbury to recognise them in spite of North American opposition? The ACNA represents, by all accounts, a goodly number of tithing and credibility-conferring people.

I don’t know the ACNA in spite of the many accounts I have heard about their being like “ordinary” Anglicans of the 1960’s and 70’s. I would not make any guess as to what they might be inclined to say or do, or with whom they would seek solidarity. I hardly see them join the Ordinariate unless they are prepared to assent to Roman Catholic teachings like Papal infallibility and “true church” ecclesiology – and go through the same experience of ecclesial rupture as did those leaving the Anglican Communion and the TAC. Anything is possible.

Those are my humble reflections on this subject. I would love to see the Continuum unite and get its act together and for the ACNA to renounce women’s ordination and go for more traditional liturgy.

We’ll see. Things are often in the habit of being unpredictable…

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6 Responses to More Questions about the ACNA

  1. ed pacht says:

    I don’t see any significant number of ACNA people going over, nor do I see ACNA as having any long-term stability in itself. The internal division over ‘ordaining’ women is only one (though the greatest) of its serious internal divisions. Some of the Fort Worth segment have indeed already “poped”, but I suspect that that has come near to exhausting the supply. From a Continuer’s viewpoint what I see is a loose group of churches who had assimilated most of the radical changes in the Episcopal Church (at least partially) until the consecration of an openly gay bishop, and who have been aggressively independent in their dealings with authority. I doubt if many of them will find Rome a congenial destination – and you are correct that it does require swallowing several difficult doctrinal pills in order to make that change.

    What I hope to see (and do pray for) is for a definitive separation of woman-ordainers and those who will not. They simply can’t survive long under one roof. After that, I hope and pray that the Continuing churches will finally get their act together and unite. I do see signs that this is happening slowly, but inexorably. I hope I am right. When those two developments have come to fruition, I don’t believe it would be difficult for the two groups of conservative Anglicans to merge at last.

    • Stephen K says:

      Dear ed, I was struck by how you expressed the line-in-the-sand by which you hoped rupture would come: the “woman-ordainers and those who will not.” This sounds as though you regard this as the greatest and most fundamental issue of division between Anglicans. Is that true? Even more, say, than beliefs in miracles, physical resurrection, real presence or ecclesial authority?

      I admit, of course, that I do not believe women cannot be priests, but even were I to deny they could be, I would surely think that other things were more critical and irreconciliable.

      Presumably, the argument might go: if women cannot be priests, then the whole sacramental integrity goes out the window so it IS pivotal. Is that how you would put it? Is that how others see it?

  2. ed pacht says:

    Well, obviously ordination of women is not the one most crucial issue in Christendom, but, yes, your last paragraph is right on with regard to the crucial nature of this doctrine/practice. If women purport to be priests, and even more crucially, if they purport to be bishops, sacramental integrity is indeed compromised or even destroyed. That and other considerations do make it a watershed issue. ACNA is conservative theologically in all its divisions, in substantial (though not perfect) agreement on central issues of the Faith. There is not the disbelief in miracles or in the Resurrection that has become endemic in the episcopal Church from which ACNA has emerged. The Creeds are taken for what they are, without the necessity for ‘crossed fingers’. Except for a Calvinist minority, the Real Presence in the Eucharistic elements is strongly affirmed. The fault line of division within this particular body is the irreconcilable presence of those who insist that women MUST be ordained and those who insist that they CANNOT, resulting in a church that is not in communion with itself. That just can’t last long.

    One other matter regarding this ‘ordination’ is the way arguments for it distort anthropology and theology. If there is no ontological difference between male and female, there can be no real objection to homosexual practice or even ‘marriage’. I see a very clear progression in the historical development of these opinions, a developing androgyny that has led, in The Episcopal Church and elsewhere, to bizarre distortions of the nature of God Himself. No one in ACNA has arrived at that place, continuing at this point in the objection to homosexuality that brought about the split when Gene Robinson was consecrated. However, the logical progression is so clear and inexorable that, when the ick factor has worn off, they will find it very difficult to maintain that position.

    Yes, in this particular situation this issue is the crucial one, in a way that may not be true for other bodies. At least that’s how I, along with many others, see it.

  3. Dale says:

    I will agree with Ed as well. The issue of the ordination of women to the priesthood is the real separating issue within Anglicanism.

  4. Pingback: Which Christian beliefs are essential? | Foolishness to the world

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