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Is the lack of "central leadership/authority" a weakness?

Discussion in 'Scripture,Tradition,Reason-Anglican & Old Catholic' started by VincentIII, Nov 14, 2021.

  1. VincentIII

    VincentIII New Member

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    I saw a video in which Gavin Ashenden said that Anglicanism was an experiment that is failing because of its lack of magisterium. I take that to mean lack of central leadership or authority, like the Pope is in the RCC. It isn't the first time I've heard that called a weakness of the Anglican Church. What are your thoughts about that?

    In case you don't know of Gavin Ashenden, he's a former Anglican and was at one time an honorary chaplain to the Queen of England. In 2019, he left Anglicanism and was received into the RCC.
     
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  2. Albion

    Albion Facilitator

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    It could be considered a weakness. But that doesn't mean that a centralized system is either right or beneficial. Every dictator claims to be doing the right thing by the people he directs. And there are examples of decentralized denominations that are even more unified in belief, practice, and purpose than the Church of Rome. Eastern Orthodoxy, for instance.

    But also Anglicanism has never been that kind of centralized denomination.

    Neither the "Anglican Communion" nor the independent Anglican jurisdictions that represent about 1/4 of the world's Anglicans have been some sort of non-Catholic version of Roman Catholicism. I have heard many non-Anglicans talk as though the Archbishop of Canterbury is some sort of Anglican Pope, but in reality, he is nothing of the sort.

    So to think that some recent movement away from genuine Anglicanism on that account has recently taken place and brought disastrous results as a consequence is incorrect.
     
  3. PloverWing

    PloverWing Episcopalian

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    I consider the lack of a magisterium to be a strength of Anglicanism, rather than a weakness. Because we are united by common worship rather than by uniformity of belief, the Anglican tradition deliberately allows intellectual exploration and disagreement.

    I have been in (Evangelical Protestant) religious communities that had lengthy, detailed statements of faith that were required of the members, and I constantly felt that if I studied too much or questioned too much, I would step over a line that would put me out of the community. The Anglican tolerance for diversity has allowed me to have more intellectual honesty and integrity, as I am permitted to explore ideas freely and to believe what I think is true without punishment from the church.

    I can see that someone like Gavin Ashenden, who prefers that there be a magisterium, would be more at home in the Catholic Church. :)
     
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  4. Paidiske

    Paidiske Clara bonam audax Supporter

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    I think there are benefits and drawbacks to any governance structure. Like PloverWing, I think it's a benefit that both individuals and local churches have some room to move in exploring ideas and enculturating to their local context. On the other hand, as I watch GAFCON threaten to tear our national church apart, I also wish there were a stronger way to exert some discipline on people who deliberately undermine the fabric, norms and governance processes of our church.
     
  5. PloverWing

    PloverWing Episcopalian

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    I thought of GAFCON, actually, but I thought of it differently. Back in 2008, when I first heard of GAFCON and the Jerusalem Declaration, what bothered me most was the idea that the Anglican Communion might become a confessional body, with a detailed statement of faith that we would all have to agree to. That change in philosophy in Anglicanism was more troubling to me than any particular assertion that might appear in the statement of faith. I think if we had a magisterium, it might look very much like GAFCON.
     
  6. Albion

    Albion Facilitator

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    Best I can tell, there's no way to have a perfect system, whether that's the Papal model or the Baptist one, or somewhere in between. The Anglican Communion was grossly disunited internally long before GAFCON acted up. She suffered with it and tried to patch it over, but the disunity and defiance of the rules still existed. And as for GAFCON, her sin is mainly that she won't accept neo-colonialism as a necessary part of membership in the Anglican Communion any longer.
     
  7. Paidiske

    Paidiske Clara bonam audax Supporter

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    When I look at a diocese like Sydney, I'm not sure that really fits.
     
  8. Albion

    Albion Facilitator

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    Sydney really is an Anglican oddity, though, wouldn't you say?
     
  9. Paidiske

    Paidiske Clara bonam audax Supporter

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    Sure; but that oddity is a driving force within GAFCON. And, I might add, when that oddity is close enough and forceful enough to impact directly on Anglicanism as I experience it, it is perhaps harder to dismiss with a shrug.
     
  10. Shane R

    Shane R Priest Supporter

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    This is what many within TEC (and ACNA) have said for some time! The Continuing churches have tended to be more magisterial and are moving further in that direction. Results are yet to be determined.

    Is that it? What about the Pentecostal takeover of that conglomeration? Most of those great big African churches that everyone stares at with wanderlust without really knowing anything about are embracing the word of faith thing rapidly.
     
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  11. Albion

    Albion Facilitator

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    You no doubt have followed these developments more closely than I, but I do recall that the leaders of GAFCON made this point early in the going, and much to the surprise (so it seemed) of the US, English, and Canadian churches. But after reading the specifics, I thought that the African bishops had a point, yes. What you are speaking about now is something that apparently has grown since I gave up following the dispute.
     
  12. Arcangl86

    Arcangl86 Newbie

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    What sort of things did they point to? I'm not really familiar with their early arguments.
     
  13. Albion

    Albion Facilitator

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    It is a complicated matter but, roughly put, the African churches pointed to the fact that, in the Anglican Communion, they were supposed to be equals with the English, Americans, and other "advanced" nations, but it never worked out that way. Instead, the English and North Americans violated both the rules of the Anglican Communion and the traditional Christian faith...and got away with it, while being simultaneously outraged that the African jurisdictions were contending for historic Christian (and Anglican) beliefs that had been targeted by the other group for revision.

    And then, to make matters worse, this patronizing attitude was exhibited by the Northern churches by them telling the Africans that it was TEC money which was keeping the African churches going. This was going on, remember, while some of the African nations and churches are literally fighting for their existence against Muslim violence.

    Then, failing to browbeat the African churches into submission, the North American and English jurisdictions decided to undercut their adversaries by bribing the minority of African churches which had not joined GAFCON in this never-ending struggle for supremacy within the fast-sinking Anglican Communion.

    And by the way, if an onlooker were to think that the churches which are growing and/or count the largest memberships should be the natural leaders in Anglican affairs...

    The Church of Nigeria is by far the largest Anglican church in the world, and is growing, and while the Church of England and The Episcopal Church in the USA (TEC) are losing members at a dramatic rate and the Anglican Church of Canada is expected to cease to exist altogether in a generation or so, so severe have that body's losses been in recent years.
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2021
  14. Paidiske

    Paidiske Clara bonam audax Supporter

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    There's probably some truth to the claim that the English and American churches had treated some of the third-world churches less than ideally. But the above post is only one slice of the issues.

    If we want to talk about where funds were coming from and going to, for example, we'd need to note that Sydney (at that time the wealthiest Anglican diocese in the world; I don't know if it still is) was bribing several of the African churches which later came out in support of GAFCON.

    In many ways I think GAFCON as it is would never have come to be, if some western dioceses hadn't courted and recruited parts of the global south them for their own political ends. I don't see it as some noble rejection of colonial attitudes, so much as different western groups manipulating and using third-world groups for their own ends.
     
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  15. Albion

    Albion Facilitator

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    Okay, but I was asked for the GAFCON churches' view of the matter. Of course there is going to be a different story told by the other side.
     
  16. Paidiske

    Paidiske Clara bonam audax Supporter

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    Sure. But in this discussion, a more complete account is important.
     
  17. Albion

    Albion Facilitator

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    and you gave the other side of the story, didn't you?
     
  18. Paidiske

    Paidiske Clara bonam audax Supporter

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    I gave another piece of the puzzle.

    The idea that GAFCON was the global south rejecting the colonialism and heresy of the west is just not the whole picture. The dioceses which have been most pivotal in GAFCON are in the "west"!
     
  19. Albion

    Albion Facilitator

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    Sure. And I am not a specialist in the inner workings of the Anglican Communion or of the public statements from that corner which must have flown back and forth at times during this struggle.

    So because I could offer some information on what I was asked about, I did, fully expecting you or one of our friends who belong to The Episcopal Church to contribute at some time or other.
     
  20. The Liturgist

    The Liturgist Traditional Liturgical Christian

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    These kinds of remarks are common from Roman Catholic neophytes, and variously target Anglicans, Eastern Orthodox, Lutherans, Presbyterians, and other churches (usually which ever church the member converted from). I usually don’t see these criticisms from mature and well established Roman Catholic theologians, who are for the most part more interested in dialogue than polemics.
     
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