Bishop Alan on Lay Presidency

A great post, in particular the last paragraph.

Contradictory signals from down under, driven by gross ecclesiological revisionism about Eucharistic Lay Presidency. I’m confused, anyway, about the news from Sydney. The fatuous notion that “this will make the diaconate a real diaconate” demonstrates simple but complete ignorance of Catholic order. In those terms all the Sydney innovators’ proposals would do is make deacons, functionally, priests. This would tend to inhibit diaconal ministry, in any distinctive sense. The C of E meets pastoral need from within a traditional understanding of Church, by authorizing Extended Communion. Cursing in fluent Kangaroo, as Dr Doolittle called it, is a non-traditional sport.

But has the time really come to trash the reformation formularies like this? The genius of Anglicanism, its missional crown jewels within the whole Kingdom of God, has been its ability to run essentially (but not exclusively) primitive Evangelical software on essentially (but not exclusively) primitive Catholic hardware. When this is done contextually, with real faith and passion, it’s a plenty powerful machine, plenty creative.

Cranmer, Hooker, Whitgift, Parker, Elizabeth, consciously chose not to be a simple Zwinglian sect. Time may have come (really?) to ditch Hooker’s ecclesiology, reformat, and replace it with that of Travers the Bible Man. Doing this whilst banging on at everyone else about Anglican “orthodoxy” shows, at the least, a catastrophic failure of historical self-awareness.

Back last century, John Shelby Spong led the charge for lay presidency in his book Why Christianity must Change or Die. It looks as though this issue has now reached what one might call the Jensen Spong Vanishing Point. The whole matter was considered very fully by the 1998 Lambeth conference, which decisively rejected it. So 98 Lambeth 1:10 is to die for, and 98 Lambeth 3:22 is to dynamite. Simultaneously. Shome mishtake?

Methinks he has a whopper of a point.

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  • John Foxe

    I’m no fan of lay presidency but I think the author of this piece does Zwingli and Travers a disservice by assuming they would go for it. No, what both men would probably have done is actually returned to having a diaconate which cared for the physical needs of the church and the wider world. Holding up Anglican diaconal practice as the acme of biblical principle in this area fails to develop a Biblical ecclesiology.

    Don’t assume Sydney’s approach to this issue is Puritan or Reformed. It ain’t. It’s Anabaptist.

    In Christ,

    John Foxe.

  • winston

    Hmmm, does this mean that we should convene the Primates, make resolutions, demand that they recant?  Surely, this totally endangers our relationship with Rome, Orthodoxy?  What about asking them to leave Gafcon?