The long-term Problem with Two Provinces

One of the options being put forward to solve the crisis in TEC is a 2 Province solution. Broadly put, the Primates would create a new Province (probably under Bob Duncan as it’s first Primate) and it would sit alongside TEC. Dioceses and parishes could align to it, the orthodox in the USA would be saved and all would be merry and light.

It’s an attractive scenario and it has some short term merits but as a long term solution I believe it is doomed. Let me explain why:

i) It violates Nicean principles of Episcopal Diocesan integrity

You know this one because the Windsor Report itself refers to this in response to some actions of other Primates outside TEC. Simply put, the Council of Nicea ruled that in one place there would be one bishop and one diocese. It was not possible to have two bishops in jurisdiction over one diocese or place within the diocese.

Interestingly though, the out working of this ruling was to, over time, depose a great number of Arian Bishops and to replace them with orthodox episcopal authority. We also have the very important example of St John Chrysostom who as Patriarch in Constantinople deposed a number of unorthodox bishops. He didn’t put up parallel jurisdictions, he deposed them.

The bottom line is that a parallel province is un-Nicean and therefore unCatholic. It destroys the principle that there is a universal church represented by universally recognised bishops.

ii) It doesn’t discipline TEC

So this leads us to our second problem with a parallel or two province solution – it doesn’t discipline TEC for it’s apostasy. We need to remember that this is not a squabble over adiaphora or women priests. It’s not really about homosexuality actually. The problem with 815 (the TEC headquarters and leadership) is that it has completely apostasised. KJS and others, starting with Pike and Spong and carried on down the decades, simply refuse to affirm and teach basic Christian truths. Spong denied the entire Nicene Creed and yet TEC did nothing about it. In St John Chrysostom’s day Spong would have been literally kicked out the palace gates.

Greg and Sarah have blogged today on the absolute need to discipline TEC on this and other matters. A failure now to discipline TEC would completely undermine the whole of the Anglican Communion. The major players in global creedal orthodoxy, the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church, are looking to us to see whether we will still teach the Nicene and Chalcedonian truths of the Scriptures. To not discipline TEC would be to acquiesce to heresy. Indeed, we need to be bold here and say that anybody who does not criticise and discipline heresy is guilty of supporting it and therefore denying Christ. It’s as simple as that. If we let untruth exist we deny God because untruth denies who he is. Untruth CANNOT live alongside truth – it simply cannot.

A two province solution without discipline of TEC would be a cutting off from our catholic roots AND an implicit denial of basic creedal truth.

These are my initial thoughts this evening – I’d welcome comment and constructive feedback below.

13 Comments on “The long-term Problem with Two Provinces

  1. How far would you or many people go along with Greg’s perception of ++ RW?

    For myself I await the Covenant draft. I believe this will probably tie TEC down as much or more as the sub-group’s report. The latter has a subtle minefield for TEC. On the moratorium/moratoria and on being Windsor compliant re same sex blessings just to start with.
    As a former Secondary School Head (long ago it seems!) ‘discipline’ can take many forms, some much more effective than the seemingly apparent.

  2. I think I want to wait until Monday’s conclusion before I pass judgement on Rowan++. I am though moving to be persuaded in part by those who believe that his signature on the Sub-Group’s report is, to put it bluntly, “An Act of Deceit”.

    Let’s wait till Monday though. It could all be absolutely brilliant – we don’t know.

  3. I agree with Sarah and Matt+ in principle, but perhaps not in practice. Someone, a RC lawyer as I recall, once referred to Canon Law as the suppression of God’s love for the good of the Church.

    In this case, I am looking for the most Christian way to separate the conjoined twins which currently exist in TEC. (For reference, I am a cradle Episcopalian who walked out of TEC after 58 years to another Anglican jurisdiction.) Given that there are effectively two religions already within TEC, I don’t see the problem in overlapping episcopal jurisdictions which a two Province solution would cause. We don’t worry about RC, Orthodox, Lutheran, or Episcopal jurisdictions when they overlap!

    A two Province solution would allow time for separation by diffusion. Liberal churches would become more liberal, and traditional churches also more so. Each would have a “recognized” Province, with associated bishopric, to join, and should be free to do so without disrupting things like pensions for clergy. American move about every 5 years, and having an “authorized” church of your particular bent would make selection of a new church much easier than it is now. I suppose I have in mind the very English solution after a bloody war for the Crown that “No one who served a crowned King was guility of treason.”

    I will also comment that the traditional idea of simply defining TEC to be apostate, and declaring its sees to be vacant is much easier said than done. While the primate of a Province could possibly do as St. John Chrysostom did within that that Province, there certainly today is no person or group which has the moral or legal authority to do so from without. And of course that is before the secular courts get involved.

    Of course this assumes something like good faith on the part of TEC, and there has been precious little of this seen lately. Still, an agreement by the Primates to recognize a 2 Province solution, and a very strong statement that TEC is receiving only a provisional pass on being Windsor compliant, to be reviewed annually, might be enough carrot and stick to bring about a civilized divorce.

  4. The bottom line is that a parallel province is un-Nicean and therefore unCatholic. It destroys the principle that there is a universal church represented by universally recognised bishops.

    While simply shutting one down and opening another for business would be ideal, it simply cannot happen like that without a Covenant first already in place. The problem with your analysis is that it is Anglo-centric and totally uncatholic; it completely disregards the fact that there are very healthy Eastern Orthodox jurisdictions (yes, that overlap each other), and the Roman jurisdiction already present.

    Your objection works only if you “out” the E.O. and Romans from being a valid part of the Church.

  5. This is spot on, Peter! If we can’t correct the spoilt child who has passed the limit, we’re in for trouble.
    We’re talking about apostasy here, which has crept in and totally hijacked the leadership of then, ECUSA, now TEC, future whatever.
    How are the Primates going to get out of this “fine mess you’ve got us into” (remember Laurel and Hardy? The anglicantv press coverage shows certain tensions that spin thin, and now we hear that the UN MDGs are being promoted (TEC PB) as kind of Gospel truth? MAMA MÍA!!!

    Lord, have mercy. In your judgment, remember mercy!

  6. As to the claim, “The bottom line is that a parallel province is un-Nicean and therefore unCatholic. It destroys the principle that there is a universal church represented by universally recognised bishops.” FYI . . . this noble idea has already been massively violated in North America with the overlapping jurisdiction/authority of Roman Catholic and Anglican dioceses/bishops. Did you not get the memo? (smile)

  7. Just a short note. Anglicanism already has and has had parallel provinces, Europe and the Phillippines for starters. The Roman Catholic Church has Latin and Eastern Rite bishops in parallel jurisdictions (one geographical area, several bishops, one faith under Rome). The Eastern Orthodox also has churches that are parallel jurisdictions (Greeks, Russian, etc). So, what is the problem with having the same amoung Anglicans in North America, one orthodox and the other “the holy new thing”, both in communion with Canterbury?

  8. Yes! There are currently existing Provinces in the Roman Cathoic & the Eastern Orthodox. The real problem I see if it does come to a Parallel Province in communion with Canterbury is what really changes? We in a sense are still yoked with those that condone heresy…Canterbury! I see Canterbury as our real problem. I cannot & will not choose to be in communion with any governing body that willing accepts heresy, apostasy, etc… by not dealing with it in the way it should be dealt with. Personally, I feel we need a whole new See altogether. ++Rowan Williams & Canterbury have helped in the making of this mess by sitting and doing nothing and accepting the actions that TEC has wiling and intently done. TEC has no intentions of repenting and deposing Gene Robinson or KJS or any other heretical priest. This is not just about homosexuality, it’s about dening Christ and the Divine Word of God as Truth.

  9. Dear Peter, Peter, PETER

    You’ve assessed the situation very well. There is only ONE Catholic Church —– and the Episcopal Church no where close being catholic (small ‘c’ or big ‘C’). I was born and raised in the Episcopal Church, and served as an Episcopalian priest for 17 years. I know what I’m talking about. I finally came home to the Catholic Church a year ago. For those who really do believe in ‘the one holy catholic and apostolic church’ —- there’s only one alternative— and you know very well what it is. Do not be afraid! Believe me, there is more joy and peace than you can imagine. As they say, there’s no place like home. Come home.

  10. Peter, you speak my own thoughts entirely!

    I understand there is a new version of the Bible out – the Gay Bible.
    (See: http://www.theconservativevoice.com/article/22836.html)
    TEC could be given a copy as a golden handshake and sent on their way.

    I just cannot see how we can continue in the same Church with Liberalism, a religion that isn’t Christianity.
    Christianity and Liberalism are immiscible. Liberalism is the cuckoo’s egg. It is dishonest to keep this farce going. We are already split in Spirit and in Truth.

  11. Peter,

    As someone who just left TEC less than a month ago (currently in an AMiA lifeboat) I actually think it might be the other way round. That is, the Two-Province plan would be a huge mess in the short term, but would be okay in the long term.

    What we want, really, is to cut the cancer of Apostasy out of TEC. However, I have seen the patient up-close, and the cancer is bigger than the patient. The disease is almost completely throughout the body. Even in orthodox parishes, such as the one I just left, the thinking of both laity and clergy has been subtly compromised.

    Echoing what Alan said above, there is no way to force TEC (which would initially be the larger of the 2 Provinces) to play by the rules. For example, they will NOT turn loose the buildings (perhaps with certain rare exceptions). So, Dioceses and parishes which leave TEC to join the 2nd Province will do so without their buildings, vestments, and other holy hardware. It will be a tough go.

    But TEC’s “gospel” is a sterile one. It cannot reproduce itself. Once the believer’s in Christ’s gospel leave (if they can be convinced to leave … on that, more below), TEC will go downhill quickly. It will collapse, in my view. So, that is why I think the long-term effects of the Two-Province solution might be quite good.

    But, can the godly be made to leave. I think of the dear parish I have just left. I think of the many parishioners who still don’t “get it.” They may easily end up on the wrong side of the split … choosing to remain within the heterodox province, to keep the building. And, it is not all just cluelessness either … it is emotional blackmail by the heterodox diocese and province, as well. I think of the many parishioners who have the remains of relatives who’ve passed on, in the columbarium of the church. It will be hard for them to break that emotional tie.

  12. Two Provinces: one for people who believe the Bible as orthodox people have historically understood it and one for people who don’t believe, who create their religion as it suits their cultural experience. George Marsden at the University of Notre Dame once wrote, “If history has any lesson for us, it is that the church is often most healthy, when it is at odds with the cultural standards.” ECUSA has no intention of being at odds with cultural standards anywhere.

    TEC will never walk away from their properties without lawsuits. It’s not about truth with them. They will not give in. They might say they are giving in, but they misuse and recontruct language to suit their purposes. They don’t speak the same language as orthodox people.

    The Papacy wasn’t always in Rome. The See of Canterbury doesn’t need to be in England. The Global Soluth Primates MUST step up to the plate and assert their authority. To do otherwise at this point, to delay till the next Lambreth conference is to abandon faithful and godly Episcopalians.

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