March 27, 2017

February 21, 2013

Congregationalism Can Be a Good Thing

Or at least the best choice amid a myriad of evils. My friend Peter Ould is not happy about the ordination of a pastor for an Anglican congregation outside the authority of the Church of England. My question is why on earth, given the obvious and apparent trajectory of the English church, would any orthodox congregation want to yoke its minister to it?

We Anglicans may be constitutionally averse to independence and/or “congregationalism” but independence is far far better than being in direct communion with bishops who either approve of or will not forcibly oppose soul and body destroying heresy. Why would anyone actively Create Bonds to so called leaders of that sort? Congregationalism is Always Better than exposing the souls in your cure to the legally enforced authority of bishops who are false teachers themselves, actively support false teachers, or who will not stand for truth.

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In a world where sooooooo many are ready to compromise the faith [often quietly behind your back], a pastor, rector, vicar darn well better be ready to protect those whom God has appointed he/she to lead and shepherd.

I have been accused at times of being a little harsh toward bishops: actually, I am ready to cut the purple shirts a little slack when they seem to advocate odd things because they live in a bubble with handlers who often try to shield them from the truth.

But that slack disappears quickly for bishops who will not defend the faith, who will not defend their clergy who defend the faith, and will not defend the laity who are doing the heavy lifting of defending the faith.  So, keep your independent streak and do not entangle parish assets with a higher order worldly entity.

[1] Posted by Capt. Father Warren on 2-21-2013 at 08:53 AM · [top]

RE: “Why would anyone actively Create Bonds to so called leaders of that sort?”

That’s the one place I disagree.

The Diocese of Dallas, for instance, is creating missions hand over fist.  That’s a part of their strategy, it seems clear, for strength and growth.  If a clergy member is called to be in TEC—to stay and fight for truth—it sounds as if you’re saying he cannot be a rector of a mission or church plant because that would be “creating bonds” with the nasty corrupt leaders within TEC.

Doesn’t that philosophy just doom people to *only* stay in current parishes and not plant churches?

[2] Posted by Sarah on 2-21-2013 at 09:48 AM · [top]

Hi Sarah,

I think you missed my point. I am not saying that one “cannot” create such bonds (though in the CofE I think it unwise) - I am saying one should not be blamed for not wishing to create such bonds…which is what Peter has done.

[3] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 2-21-2013 at 10:06 AM · [top]

It should be pointed out that the CofE congrational polity provides far far less power for parishes and rectors than does TEC. Essentially, as I understand it, English congregations are under the direct control of the bishop and the church. And of course dioceses do not elect their own bishops…they are appointed by the crown.

[4] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 2-21-2013 at 10:23 AM · [top]

An answer in the form of a question to Peter’s original question in his post,

“Why was a request made to the GAFCON Council of Primates without first referring to the local ecclesiastical jurisdiction, the Diocese of Sheffield?”

Don’t forget that Sheffield voted in favor of women Bishops, so the writing is on the wall for traditionalists. Who should they turn to for oversight?

[5] Posted by Undergroundpewster on 2-21-2013 at 10:54 AM · [top]

I can see the point of Peter Ould’s query, which is a similar one to Sarah’s.  And it is bound up with the fact that the current Bishop of Sheffield (Stephen Croft) appears to be a non-oppressive liberal - he is an “open evangelical” who believes in women bishops but also is genuinely keen for his conservative evangelical congregations to plant churches, and actively assists them by altering parish boundaries, granting permissions, and such like.  So he is a smart liberal.

I also get the impression that the Ugley Vicar’s bishop, Stephen Cottrell bishop of Chelmsford, is in a similar mold.  The Sydney-trained Ugley Vicar seems to have a fair bit of respect for him.

So it seems that a number of bishops in the CofE have learnt the lesson from the early noughties - direct opposition to conservative evangelicals, as notoriously practiced by +Tom Butler of Southwark, is plain dumb.  Better to co-operate with them, and help them do their church planting thang.

And I see Sarah’s point as well: if for whatever reason you are in CofE (or TEC for that matter) and your bishop lets you plant churches without trying to suborn them, why not do so? 

But where I think Peter Ould has got it wrong is in initially misuderstanding the facts of this situation (and I did exactly the same thing, so not pointing the finger!).  It seems that this congregation (CC Walkley) has been independent from CofE since its inception: it was planted by another church (CC Central) which was an unauthorised plant in 2003 (back in the confrontative days before +Croft arrived in 2009).  So it is doubly removed from CofE.  The original “grandparent” church, CC Fulwood, is back in the fold with +Croft and working together with him.

So it seems that CC Walkley has never been part of CofE in any sense, and has never thought of itself as part of CofE.  So asking why it didn’t try to get ordination of its minister from the CofE diocese is just irrelevant - why would it even think of this?

[6] Posted by MichaelA on 2-21-2013 at 04:39 PM · [top]

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