Archive for the 'Articles' Category

The New Episcopal Church: What Hath General Convention 2015 Wrought?

Written by:
Monday, July 27th, 2015

The Anglican Communion Institute has followed with care and interest the decisions of The Episcopal Church’s (TEC’s) General Convention 2015. We have pondered key aspects of these decisions, and spoken to a range of participants and members of the broader Anglican Communion.

In summarizing our reflections, we note that the following things are clear:


July 27 2015 | Articles

Good Order And The Re-Definition of Marriage

Written by:
Sunday, June 21st, 2015

On the eve of a General Convention that will consider several important proposals to change the definition of marriage in the Church’s doctrine, discipline and worship, much attention is directed, perhaps belatedly, to the question of good order. Several bishops generally sympathetic to the idea of same sex marriage have expressed concerns that the way in which that innovation is now being proposed violates “good order.” Rejecting this charge, the Task Force on the Study of Marriage, also sympathetic to same sex marriage, has offered an amendment to the marriage canon that it claims will promote rather than undermine “good order.” The Task Force’s secretary, who states that he was “one of the members most closely involved in …the wording of the canon,” responds to the question of order:


June 21 2015 | Articles

Questions Facing the Episcopal Church Over Redefining Marriage

Written by:
Thursday, June 18th, 2015

Men, women and children are distinct and united in their living forms. As a man and a woman unite in sexual intercourse, a child is conceived and then given birth. The physical elements involved in this are obvious and particular. The bond between a mother and her child is among the deepest that is experienced, and goes beyond (but includes) hormones and breast-feeding. It is shaped through a range of physical elements still not well understood. The relationship of a father to this bonded unity has been socially prescribed and encouraged in a variety of ways over time, mainly to uphold the father’s protection and support of the lives of the mother and their child. There is a raft of historical, and much contemporary social evidence, that the weakening of a father’s general, but very concrete role, has harmful effects on mothers and children both, as well as (less well understood) on fathers’ own well-being.

Marriage, understood as between a man and woman, has primarily engaged these realities, and, in various cultural forms, has been defined by them intimately and definitively. Every society within the history of the world that we know of has not only understood marriage as the profound locus of human coming-to-be in this way, but has also been committed to finding ways to guard and strengthen this reality. Not all male-female couplings give rise to the conception of children; but every such coupling derives from a previous procreative marriage, by definition. Hence, marriage has almost always been sacralised in some way as standing at the basis of human life.


June 18 2015 | Articles

Questions for Presiding Bishop Candidates, 2015

Written by:
Tuesday, June 16th, 2015

The following are questions we would want to see posed to and answered by the current candidates for Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church. We hope that our bishops will make sure that these, or questions like them, are put forward and engaged publicly by the candidates themselves.


June 16 2015 | Articles

Excluding Your Enemy: A Comment on the Present State of Episcopal Church

Written by:
Monday, June 8th, 2015

We write to bring to the attention of the Bishops, Priest, Deacons and Lay Persons of The Episcopal Church (TEC) a matter of grave concern. It is a matter that, left unaddressed in the decision-making of General Convention, now threatens the integrity and public witness of everyone who calls him or herself an Episcopalian: is our church prepared to permit in its midst clergy and lay leaders who, however much they represent a minority opinion, are committed to a traditional reading of TEC’s Prayer Book and Constitution? Or will TEC instead seek to drive such persons out, by invective, discrimination, and abuse of the disciplinary canons?

The current situation that has given rise to this question is long in the making. Over the last few decades, debates over women’s ordination first, and then over same-sex affirmation, particularly associated with Gene Robinson’s election and consecration as bishop of New Hampshire, set in motion dynamics of mutual recrimination and finally litigious confrontation. Some more conservative members of TEC left, others were determined to stay, and the lines of acrimony and litigation proliferated, abetted by new internet media.


June 08 2015 | Articles

Infant Baptism For A Modern Age

Written by:
Sunday, May 10th, 2015

From the end of the Roman Empire into early modern times the Christian Church has, here and there, practiced forced conversions. The most frequent objects of this practice were Jews; and among them were most especially children, “converted” in the form of forced baptism.

The official teachings of the church since the 5th century at least, forbade such forced baptisms, but the practice continued nonetheless. One problem that the church had to face was how to deal with the children thus baptized. Forced baptism of Jewish children judged to be of the age of “reason” was assumed to be valid, without question: by the age of 7 or 8, a child was capable of making his or her own decision for the faith, and Jewish children baptized at that age, even if against the wishes (and pleas) of their parents, were no longer permitted to be classed as Jewish or to live in Jewish settings. But what about younger children and infants? Was their forced baptism, although illicit, still valid – that is, were the children truly baptized? Assuming the form and bare intent of the baptism were followed, the Church judged the baptisms to be “real”: the children were indeed now “baptized Christians”. But then what? If truly baptized Christians, the church concluded, the children needed to be raised as such. Hence, the common practice of the church was to remove from their families Jewish children forcibly baptized, however illicitly, and place them in Christian families or institutions.


May 10 2015 | Articles

Same Sex Marriage and Infant Baptism

Written by:
Thursday, May 7th, 2015

A controversy has erupted in the Diocese of Central Florida over an apparent request by the dean of the cathedral to postpone the infant baptism of a same sex couple. This led to Facebook and blog postings, general outrage and immediate calls for charges under Title IV. All this before the facts were known.

Given the lack of knowledge of all the relevant facts in this instance it is not appropriate for reasonable people to comment on this particular case, let alone encourage legal proceedings founded on ignorance of the facts. We will not address this case here. However, the question of baptizing infants of same sex couples raises theological issues deserving comment.


May 07 2015 | Articles

What Then Shall We Do? A Note on the upcoming General Convention of the Episcopal Church

Written by:
Wednesday, April 29th, 2015

There are times in the life of individuals, institutions and communities when they are faced with questions for which received wisdom has no ready answers. As loyal members and Priests of The Episcopal Church (TEC), we find ourselves in precisely this position. As our General Convention approaches, changes are afoot within TEC that either have or soon will alter the worship, common life, governance and identity of our church in ways that render all of them in fundamental ways unrecognizable as continuations of what went before. There are forms of change that constitute evolution and there are forms that result from revolution—the elimination of what went before and the establishment of a new thing. It is this latter form of change that appears to be in process, and we find ourselves without an obvious way to respond. Our purpose in the following is to indicate the nature of these revolutionary changes, the dubious means now being deployed to bring them about and the extraordinary challenges they present to Priests like ourselves who have argued over a significant span of time that neither departure for another church nor schism provide an adequate Christian response to the deformation of the church in which God has placed us. The changes of which we speak can be usefully summarized under three headings—Constitution, The Book of Common Prayer and Mission.


April 29 2015 | Articles

Misrepresenting ACI’s Concerns About The Constitutionality of Supplemental Liturgical Material

Written by:
Tuesday, April 21st, 2015

Last week we published an analysis of proposals to have this General Convention authorize supplemental liturgies that would be neither part of the Book of Common Prayer nor a proposed revision of it. Based on the detailed text of Article X of TEC’s Constitution, we concluded that General Convention does not have this authority and […]


April 21 2015 | Articles

The Episcopal Church and the New Episcopal Church

Written by:
Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

In 2013 an “Ecclesiology Committee of the House of Bishops” produced something they called “A Primer on the Government of the Episcopal Church and its underlying theology.” We have evaluated the document in detail at the Anglican Communion Institute website. Recently the document appeared again, this time at a House of Bishops meeting in North Carolina (See the weblog of Bishop Dan Martins).What is the purpose of trying to secure a place for this understanding of TEC’s polity at this point in time?


April 14 2015 | Articles

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