Tuesday, June 24, 2008


I haven't written much on GafCon or on the inside v outside strategy for the crisis in the Anglican Communion and TECUSA's part in that crisis.

First, I support the "inside" strategy. This strategy says that we should reform the Episcopal Church from within. I have the luxury of that strategy for a few reasons.

  1. Neither my living nor my pension depend on TECUSA. I receive no pay and very little in the way of expenses to serve as a deacon.
  2. My parish (St. James, Dallas) is a very orthodox place with biblically based preaching and teaching. There is no confusion where we stand on the issue of authority.
  3. My diocese (The Diocese of Dallas) is a very orthodox diocese with a wonderful Bishop and diocesan staff. As a diocese, we send no money to the national church. Individual parishes do that, (but mine doesn't) but the diocese does not and has not for several years.
  4. I am in no way persecuted for my beliefs. It is not hard to be an orthodox Anglican in this parish or diocese.
However, I can understand the need for an "outside" strategy where people in theologically progressive dioceses or parishes may need to break out to combat the heresy. These people need clergy to support and lead them and the clergy should be well trained and understand the issue.

If we take the Global Anglican Future CONference at its word, they are not working to create a separate Anglican Communion. They are working to reform the communion from within. I can support that. I can also support the Common Cause partnership that includes both TECUSA as well as "Continuing Anglican" congregations. The goal is the same - a theologically orthodox, unified Anglican witness in North America that is part of the global Anglican Communion.

But there is a large problem with the "outside" strategy. Those that leave have not left for a unified outside strategy. There are congregations and dioceses associated with Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, South East Asia, and South America. That does not even include the "Continuing Anglicans" that formed several different churches during the 70s and 80s in response to Women's Ordination. Those who engage in the outside strategy need to make it clear that these congregations and dioceses will reform into one witness by a date certain and that any parishes or dioceses that refuse to from into one witness with one house of bishops and a single primate will no longer be supported by their current bishop or primate. There needs to be a plan for the lifeboats to get back together and either build their own ship as part of the Anglican Fleet (ideally) or rejoin the effort to rescue or raise the good ship TECUSA.

As I said before, I believe that one of the largest problems with the outside strategy is that it arises from our individualism and lack of patience.

Anthony didn't start a new church when he found the church too corrupted by society.
Athanasius didn't start a new church when he found the church's theology to bring death and not life.
The Capadocians didn't start a new church when the church declared itself Arian.
Ratramnus didn't start a new church over sacramental theology
Dominic didn't start a new church when the people and clergy grew to lax
Francis didn't start a new church when the people and the clergy grew to rich and indolent
Luther didn't set out to start a new church, but to reform the existing one (and it took a long time, but he was basically successful).

We need to be very careful to be sure to create a way forward for all those who wish to continue in the Apostles' teaching and fellowship. Breaking fellowship is a very serious step. Almost all heresies have been successfully fought off (over time). To the best of my knowledge, no schism has.

Phil Snyder

1 comment:

TLF+ said...

Deacon Phil - can you drop me an email to john316@northernplainsanglicans.com

please? Would like to check in about a few questions but not via blog.