Anglican Samizdat

April 26, 2010

Selected heresies from the Diocese of Niagara

Filed under: Diocese of Niagara — David Jenkins @ 2:27 pm
Tags: ,

Plucked fresh from the May Niagara Anglican:

Jesus is not God:

St. George’s, Guelph, is a free thinking church, where dissent from the faith is permitted, if not encouraged. Everything is open to debate, including the divinity of Christ and the Trinity.

Man is not sinful:

Reservations of St. Augustine’s theology, especially that part which described “humankind as a mass of corruption and sin, or looked upon the world as irredeemably evil.”

The Good News is temporal and unrelated to Jesus atoning for our sins, salvation or eternal life:

“To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom”…. The Marks of Mission invite the church to begin our ministry where Jesus began his, with proclamation that another way—the kingdom of heaven, the reign of God, a New Creation—has become an available choice within history, and not just a hope for the eternal future.

Jesus is not unique; all religions lead to the same place:

Who’s in charge? No one person or religion, and that’s fine. Let’s work with other religions as a global force doing God’s work and let’s allow our traditional rivalries to die away……

Recently a cartoon was printed of a wall dividing a dry desert from a luscious garden with every fruit tree imaginable in it. In the wall were two gateways; one with “Right Religion” over it, the other with “Wrong Religion.” Everyone, of all races and tribes were clamoring to enter the one marked “Right Religion,” but no one the one labeled “Wrong Religion.” Above were God and some angels. The caption read, “It’s too bad that they just don’t get it.”

Jesus was a heretic and but a caricature of God:

But we do see Jesus, the greatest heretic of all time, but the truest manifestation, or caricature, of God we’ve got, or will ever get.

Faith is shaped not by objective truth, but by experience:

There’s no part of the faith that’s so sacrosanct that it cannot, or should not, be questioned, pulled apart, and put back together again. Faith is not like the multiplication tables. We may question whether six times seven is the same as seven times six, which equals forty two; but it won’t change, no matter how we look at it.



  1. Some of these items, selectively taken out of context and strung together, are difficult to deal with. I am conservative (orthodox is a word that has taken on another meaning in concservative Anglican circles), so I would not support many of these statements as presented here. I do think that the decline of the Anglican Church should be placed in the context of the decline of Christianity generally in our society, especially in the so-called “mainline” churches. The question of who is declining faster is irrelevant and silly.

    This is not a contest. This actually cuts across the liberal/conservative spectrum. Roman Catholicism, which is very conservative, even without its issues and scandals, is also in decline among the same historic groups that established it in Canada. Without immigration from heavily RC countries, it would be in bad shape. It has totally collapsed in Quebec, its heartland and oldest expression in Canada. Its conservatism has not kept it alive in a secular society. To suggest that “liberalism” is killing the Church is much too simple, but it suits the agendas of the right wing. The difficulties of “liberal” Anglicanism in England are the same as “conservative” Romanism in France, for example. This is the conundrum we are always dealing with.

    So called “liberals” are trying to deal with the shift away from religion (secularism) and the changing demographics of our society (old WASP Toronto has vanished, for example) by saying that we have to find new ways of reaching people and accomodating those who have often been alienated by instransigent, dogmatic, inflexible churches, especially because this is the unfortunate public face of Christianity in North America, as portrayed in the media and in American politics. Conservatives say that people are attracted to clear, robust, and definite teaching and wishy-washy liberals are just hastening the decline and we need to reinvigorate traditional teaching and stand firmly against changing attitudes (e.g. openness to gay pesons in mainstream society.)

    However we might caricature one side or the other, each sees the “other side” as the problem and each justifies itself by claiming to be dealing with the same issues, just from opposite positions. I have no problem with “conservative” Anglicanism, as long as it is Anglican, in the sense that it sticks to Anglican liturgical and theological touchstones and is authentically Anglican (Evanglical and Catholic). Conservatism in Anglicanism seems to be mostly concerned with a right wing political and social agenda and makes efforts to ape the worst of Protestant fundamentalism, oddly calling it “orthodox” Anglicanism.

    Orthodoxy is not Biblical literalism. Anglicans haven’t been Biblical literalists for nearly two centuries, if not longer. We are not the so-called “Christian right” in vestments. We don’t debate endlessly the evils of Darwin or the real age of the planet and we take the position, as is classic in Anglicanism, that the three “stool legs” of Scripture, Tradition, and Reason are all important. Many conservatives have made this a lopsided idea, with no historical context, that Anglicans are “scriptura sola” Protestants.

    This seems to be especially true among those who have come to Anglicanism from Protestant traditions and this view may be more true in some parts of the world than in others, but it is not who we are or ever have been in Canada. Efforts on the “right” and the “left” to reinvent ourselves have a sincere purpose, but each cannot blame the other for the difficulties of Christianity and Anglicanism in today’s alien and hostile culture. The mocking of “liberals” for being “inclusive” sems oddly cranky, since this seems to be seen as a purely bad thing.

    Therefore, is “exclusivity” a good thing? Even good ideas can be demonized when they seem to have a party attachment and much of the rhetoric seems to be mindlessly reactionary, as if there can be nothing good. Even Jesus suffered the stigma of coming out of Nazareth. These polarities are nothing new in the Church, but they are still a scandal to the world and an insult to Jesus(John 13). Perhaps if we washed each others feet instead of bashing each other on the internet, the mission of Jesus might actually bear fruit. Our divisions are actually more in tune with our fractured secular culture than we would care to admit and each “side” comes at these issues with a different solution.

    But claiming the spiritual and moral “high ground” and enjoying anyone else’s demise or struggles gives no glory to God and is clearly contrary to the words of Jesus who calls us to love another and to show our discipleship by seeking to be one.

    Derek, I reformatted this to make it easier to read – David.

    Comment by Derek — April 27, 2010 @ 8:23 am

  2. In #1 Derek said:

    I am conservative (orthodox is a word that has taken on another meaning in concservative Anglican circles), so I would not support many of these statements as presented here.

    I don’t know what you mean when you use the terms “orthodox” and “conservative”; but would be curious to find out. My hunch is that your defintions wouldn’t have much overlap with mine, but I might be wrong.

    Anglicans haven’t been Biblical literalists for nearly two centuries, if not longer.

    Do you think biblical literacy is synonymous with inerrancy? If so, you’re mistaken (take a look at the Chicago Statement on Inerrancy). It is interesting to note that liberal theology began to assert itself about two centuries ago. When I use the term “liberal”, I am primarily thinking of liberal theology and the assault it made on the authority of Scripture. I’m still not sure what you mean by the term “liberal” and most of your descriptions are not what I would think of when characterizing liberalism. Even the term “fundamentalism” has come to mean something quite different than the meaning it had in the 1920 when Bible-believing Christians began to push back against theologians who increasingly questioned if the Bible was even inspired, let alone accurate.

    For good or bad, I have no denonminational loyalties. I’m loyal to the local churh of which I’m a member and, so long as I’m a member, submit to the authority of those in positions of spiritual leadership. I respect the traditional Anglican approach to worship inasmuch as it conforms to God’s Word; and I wouldn’t want to see the baby thrown out with the bath water. However, I believe that corruption in the ACoC set in long ago and, because of the church’s failure to reform itself, it has completely lost its way. You seem to be afraid of reformation; I’m not.

    PS, did you really mean to capitalize “Catholic” in your comment? If so, I don’t understand what you mean.

    Comment by Warren — April 27, 2010 @ 1:48 pm

  3. Anglicans are Catholics with a capital “C”. This is basic to Anglicanism. Eastern Orthodox Christians are also Catholic. In one sense, the word means “universal” or “for everyone”. In another more significant sense it means that we believe in the Catholic Creeds (Nicene, Apostles’ and Athanasian), the Councils of the undivided Church (capital C) and maintain the same Holy Orders through Apostolic Succession, the Sacraments, and church order (Bishops, Priests, and Deacons) etc. Anglicans never rejected its Catholic faith, it simply reformed it.

    Comment by Derek — April 27, 2010 @ 6:04 pm

  4. The word “orthodox” is not about how we believe the Bible. It is literally Greek for “right praise”. (Think of the “dox” as the same as “doxology”.) It is sometimes seen as “right belief”, but only when it is applied to the Catholic Creeds and Councils of the Universal Church. The words “I believe One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church” in the Nicene Creed are used by the Eastern Orthodox, the Roman Catholic, and Anglican Churches to mean the same thing without reference to Rome, Constantinople, or Canterbury.

    Comment by Derek — April 27, 2010 @ 6:10 pm

  5. Derek (#3), I suggest you check the dictionary. By the way, do you go by Richard on the Essentials Blog? Richard likes to make the same characteristic error with the word catholic. If you’re the same person using different names, you’ve basically thrown all your credibility out the window. I consider such posting behaviour as misleading and deceptive and will view anything else you have to say through different eyes.

    Comment by Warren — April 27, 2010 @ 7:33 pm

  6. Derek (#5), meaning number one in the Concise Oxford is: “holding correct or currently accepted positions”. I think you value ambiguity – even if it makes meaningful discussion virtually impossible.

    Comment by Warren — April 27, 2010 @ 7:34 pm

  7. I had no intention to deceive-I made an error on a borrowed computer which I did not know how to fix-I am lamentably computer illiterate-no, don’t say it. Once I started as Derek, I wanted to change it but just thought it would be difficult. I do apologize. It doesn’t change my sincerity nor the validity (or invalidity) of my views.

    I am not concerned with the “dictionary” meaning of “orthodox”, since this word is being used with a “church” meaning by some. I may not have given you what you want, but what I have said is absolutely correct. It comes from Greek and has a precise meaning when applied to Christianity. A whole branch of the Christian Church uses it as a name. If you want to say that you have an orthodox approach to cooking, gardening, or managing your finances, that’s fine. But if a Church uses this term, it’s silly to ignore it’s historic Christian meaning.

    Comment by Derek — April 28, 2010 @ 1:03 pm

  8. Exactly, right belief. In other words, believeing that Jesus was who He said He was, and what the bible says about Him.

    Comment by Kate — April 28, 2010 @ 1:17 pm

  9. I said #4 that it actually means “right praise”. This comes from the idea that how we praise (and pray) makes us what we are, or “lex orandi, lex credendi” (the law of prayer is the law of belief or similar words.)Right belief comes from and comes after right praise. The secular meaning is more about precise formula of belief or methodology, but the traditional meaning for Christians is the original one about praise or worship.

    Comment by Derek — April 28, 2010 @ 6:38 pm

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