Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Schism I, II inventory

Today David Virtue posted an inventory of US Anglican groups:
  • TEC
  • Schism II, i.e. ACNA: AMIA, CANA, Uganda, Kenya, FiFNA, ARDF
  • Schism I: ACC, APA, APCK, TAC, UECNA, EMC and 52 smaller groups
He also lists the ACC, ACiC and ANiC in Canada.

He has estimated populations (by # of parishes or clergy) for some groupings (AMIA, CANA) and not others (REC, all of Schism I).

According to the 2007 TEC Census (the “red book”), the TEC had about 7,000 parishes, 2.1 million baptized members and average Sunday attendance of 728,000 in 2007. (Some report ASA of 768,000, but that includes non-US dioceses, which is comparing apples and oranges.) Of those, 4 dioceses (with 189 parishes, 49,000 baptized members and ASA of 19,000) left TEC for ACNA — but not all of the parishes in those dioceses left. Of course, other parishes have been leaving TEC before and since — that’s where the AMiA, Uganda and Kenya parishes have come from (whether they left as a congregation or merely as individuals).

ACNA overall claims 100,000 members and an ASA of 69,000. So I’m guessing that the AMiA and the REC actually account for more ACNA parishioners than do the ACNA Four (the 4 TEC refugee dioceses).

Virtue doesn’t provide Schism I figures, but (better than nothing) here’s what Wikipedia lists — presumably from the corresponding websites — for US members of the 6 largest Schism I groups:
  • ACC (Anglican Catholic Church): 135 parishes, 10,000 members
  • APA (Anglican Province of America): 69 parishes, 6,000 members
  • APCK (Anglican Province of Christ the King): 45 parishes and 8,000 members
  • The US arm of TAC, which is ACA (Anglican Church in America): 100 parishes, 5,200 members
  • UECNA (United Episcopal Church of North America): 18 parishes
  • EMC (Episcopal Missionary Church): 50 parishes
So by this, I’m guessing that these big six are about 415 parishes and 35,000 members. Figure the other 52 groupings as 100 parishes, that would give us slightly more than 500 Schism I parishes and about 42,000 members. The ACNA Four had a Sunday participation rate of about 42%, suggesting an ASA of about 18,000 people.

Add these numbers up that gives this estimate of US Anglicans† in pews on an average Sunday:
  • TEC (less ACNA Four): 709,000 (89%)
  • Schism II: 69,000 (9%)
  • Schism I: 18,000 (2%)
  • Total: 796,000
Will any of those remaining in TEC eventually leave? Those remaining span the gamut from traditionalists left in the Southeastern US, to social justice progressives who don’t actually believe in the literal truth of the Nicene Creed but find TEC a convenient vehicle for their causes; clearly the latter are more representative of the TEC clergy.

I’d like to think that if the Dennis Canon didn’t exist, the Schism II exodus would increase by 50% or more. But this is just a thought experiment unless some court eventually finds the Canon invalid — since the whole point of the Canon is to avoid a repeat of the Schism I exodus.

Still, will there be bridges for ongoing dialog and cooperation between Schism I, II and fellow travelers stranded behind enemy lines (e.g. to create my new hymnal)? The AAC and FiFNA were supposed to be this, but they now seem to be branches of ACNA. The Anglo-Catholic SSC certainly spans all three, but it seems more of a religious order than a group involved in the various political or jurisdictional disputes of the day.

† Yes I know that Schism I is not in the Anglican Communion and TEC may get kicked out. For now let’s call them all Anglican, since they all claim to be Anglican in some way shape or form.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Parallel Lutheran decline

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is the largest Lutheran body in the US with about 4.7 million members. Last week the ELCA had its own gay clergy vote to parallel that of the TEC. (Of course, the ELCA and TEC are in communion with each other).

German-born Lutheran theologian Uwe Siemon-Netto lamented the decision in his own recent commentary:
East Germany called itself German Democratic Republic, or GDR, for 40 years. Germans used to quip that this acronym stood for a threefold lie. The GDR was neither German, nor Democratic, nor a Republic. One wonders whether a similar analogy could not be made for the ELCA now that its national assembly of this denomination supposedly committed to the "Sola Scriptura" principle stressing the authority of Scripture.

Is it still "evangelical"? Surely not. Is it still "Lutheran"? No way. Is it in fact still "Church" in the original sense of this word deriving from the Greek vocable "Kyriake" (belonging to the Lord)? That depends on which Lord are we talking about - God or a wimp who does not care whether His word is mocked? The Greek word for church is "ekklesia," meaning "called out." In the light of the ELCA's new sexuality decision we must ponder the identity of the Spirit the largest Lutheran church body in the United States seems to follow these days.

To state it bluntly, there is nothing Lutheran about what has happened in Minneapolis.
I won’t say that misery loves company, but the situation of the remaining Lutheran faithful parallels that of American Anglicans watching the abandonment of the faith by their former Episcopalian colleagues.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Singing the praises of Issues Etc.

As noted in earlier postings, I’m been a big fan of Issues Etc. It’s played a tremendous role in acquainting me with Lutheran theology and also the efforts of traditionalist Christians to push back against a secular culture.

The LCMS radio show hosted by Todd Wilken has done shows on specific hymns and more broadly on the role of music in liturgy in 2008 and 2007.

However, in catching up on some broadcasts earlier this year, I want to call attention to two shows on famous German Lutheran church musicians
Time does not permit me to summarize the two shows, but I commend them to those interested in religious music — available either via the links above, the archive webpage or iTunes podcasts.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Schism II, III: Can't we all get along?

The president of the American Anglican Council has called for Schism II and Schism III Anglicans to get along:
My hope and prayer is that those orthodox Anglicans within TEC and those orthodox Anglicans who have departed to the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) will be able to work charitably together for the good of the global communion. The orthodoxy of the entire Anglican Communion is now at stake. TEC is pressing its false gospel overseas, and trying to keep the Archbishop of Canterbury in a state of paralysis. It is time for all the orthodox Anglicans in North America, Canadians and Americans together, to work with the orthodox Anglicans represented by the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FCA) Primates' Council, and with Dr. Williams if he is willing, to build a stronger, more cohesive, orthodox Anglican Communion …
The few orthodox leaders remaining in the TEC are making calls similar to those who recently left. However, it seems as though those remaining in TEC have limited options without running afoul of the TEC hierarchy and its strictures. That which is optional will be made mandatory, a new prayer book will come out that’s even worse than the 1979 version.

And what about Schism I? Or was the AAC, formed in 1996, too wedded to the 1979 prayer book to consider the 1928 BCP crowd?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Questioning the unquestioned

Conflict within TEC is tearing the church apart, giving it negative publicity, anguish for many members on both sides, and enriching lawyers at the expense of ministry. My friends in the LCMS are 5-15 years behind on the same paths, except that instead of “815” they have “LCMS Inc.” and without the Dennis Canon, they won’t waste money on the lawyers.

The controversy has also been tremendously emotionally draining for me and many other Anglicans who find themselves searching for Schism I parishes, escaping with Schism II parishes, sitting in fence-sitting parishes, or trapped behind enemy lines.

However, this controversy has brought retrospection and self-examination for all of us. I (and many other Anglicans) have spent much of the past decade examining and articulating our faith and the reasons that we believe what we believe.

This calls to mind the famous quote by Socrates: “The unexamined life is not worth living.” In addition to its philosophical, educational and personal growth implications, it also provides a rationale for Christian apologetics.

This epiphany was prompted by reading a couple of postings recently by Schism II ex-Episcopalians. The Schism I folks all went through this 30 years ago, but at the time most of us were not paying attention (perhaps because our local priest or bishop was still doctrinally sound).

One is last month’s open letter by the Rt. Rev. Robert Duncan, archbishop of ACNA. An excerpt:
The North American poet, Robert Frost, once wrote: “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the road less traveled by. That has made all the difference.” For Anglican Christians, for the Instruments of Unity (Communion), for interdependent Provinces, for ordinary believers, there is a choice to be made. The choice is between two religions, two roads, two cities, two sets of conflicting values and behaviors. In Deuteronomy, chapter 30, Moses sets the choice as between blessing and curse, life and death. For contemporary Anglicanism the present choice is this stark.
Another example comes from G.W. Barry, a former St. Edwards (San Jose) parishioner, posting on the Bay Area ACNA discussion forums:
The New Testament letters Paul wrote to Timothy have been the most helpful to me throughout this process. I urge you to pick up your bible and prayerfully read his relatively short but challenging message. The values we model matter – they matter to our children, and they matter to the community at large. Timothy is warned about false teachers and urged to uphold his faith in Christ.

Paul also discusses the qualifications of a church leader and he lists specific criteria. There is also a rather sobering admonition regarding those who would “quibble over the meaning of words,” (I Tim 6:4) and those who “spend their time arguing and talking foolishness.” (I Tim 1:6) It is not mine to interpret it for you in light of this controversy, but I have God’s promise that He will use those inspired words just as Paul told Timothy He would: “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives.” 2 Tim 3:16.

“For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to right teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers to tell them whatever they want to hear” 2 Tim. 4:3
She concludes:
I have been reminded that we are not to judge, rather, we are to love one another as Christ loves us. At the risk of quibbling over the meaning of words, context is important here. There are two meanings for the word “judge”, one is to condemn someone for a behavior, and the other is to “discern” or to make a choice between options. I believe we are called to judge in the sense that we need to discern what it means to remain faithful and choose to stand firm in our faith, and what is essentially false teaching. For me, that meant letting go of a church that is drifting into territory I discern to be forbidden.
Did people write (or read) letters like this before they had to make difficult choices? Having to define your faith — in order to shop for a doctrinally sound parish — is far more time consuming than just spending a hour a week in the nearest PECUSA franchise, as most of us did 15 years ago.

It might even force a few Anglicans to (gasp!) actually read their Bibles. A cradle CoE friend of mine is very active in Bible Study Fellowship. For at least two years, he has (gently) been nudging me to join a BSF class. This year, it may actually work.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Anglo vs. Roman

Updated 5pm Aug. 10 based on two comments from reader Nicholas below.

Since the Oxford movement, many Anglicans have been so enthusiastic about Catholic-style liturgy — to the point that many of Anglo-Catholics claim (post-Vatican II) to be more Catholic than the Roman Catholics.

A few Anglo-Catholics even want to be Catholic. Over more than a year, the Traditional Anglican Communion (and their US affiliate the Anglican Church in America) has been exploring how it might get into communion with Rome and the Pope (who I guess they would then call the Holy Father). Rumor has it that the plan has some support in Rome, and the TAC’s archbishop still hopes to achieve such a result. (My impression is that the ultimate result would be to become another Anglican-rite Catholic church, but the Vatican seems to have said nothing official yet).

I’ve always wondered, however, what doctrinal issues lurked under the surface — not the obvious authority ones, but ones about our conception of God and man’s relationship to him. Clearly there must be some doctrinal questions that enter into borrowing between various Christian denominations and groups, unless the lyrics are such pablum as to encompass everything from Opus Dei to the Unitarian Universalists. (When I took a Hymnal 1940 hymn (#55) to sing at my local LCMS church during a midweek Lenten service, the rightfully pastor insisted on seeing the hymn first.)

I was reminded of this when driving down the road listening to EWTN (aka the “Global Catholic Radio Network”). On the show, the host made reference to a line from the Easter Vigil (which Wikipedia helpfully describes thus: “In the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion, the Easter Vigil is the most important Mass of the liturgical year…”).

I didn’t have a pen, but one key phrase stuck in my mind that allowed me to look up the passage using Google®:
What good would life have been to us,
had Christ not come as our Redeemer?
O happy fault, O necessary sin of Adam,
which gained for us so great a Redeemer!
Now I understand the broad point, but the happiness and necessity of The Fall — which my reader Nicholas points out is “Felix Culpa” in the Latin — seemed alien to any Protestant teaching I’d ever seen. I checked a few sources:
  • Reformed. Because Anglicans “both Catholic and Reformed,” I started with the Westminster Confession. Not surprisingly for Calvinists, The Fall was pre-ordained, while Adam, Eve and their descendants are “dead in sin, and wholly defiled in all the parts and faculties of soul and body.”
  • Lutheran. The Small and Large Catechism mention sin in terms of repentance, forgiveness and redemption of sins, but I didn’t see any discussion of Original Sin in any form. I don’t have the 55 volumes of the printed Luther’s Works (from ELC/LCMS) in printed form, or the searchable CD-ROM. (Now on sale!)
  • Anglican. Looking at the 39 Articles, Article X has Free Will and XI has Sola Fide, Article IX is the most directly relevant:
Original sin standeth not in the following of Adam, (as the Pelagians do vainly talk;) but it is the fault and corruption of the Nature of every man, that naturally is engendered of the offspring of Adam; whereby man is very far gone from original righteousness, and is of his own nature inclined to evil, so that the flesh lusteth always contrary to the Spirit; and therefore in every person born into this world, it deserveth God's wrath and damnation.
Given that, I can’t see any Protestant singing “O happy fault, O necessary sin of Adam, which gained for us so great a Redeemer!” I’d appreciate pointers to any hymn (from any source) that incorporates this theology, particularly if it’s an official hymn in any Protestant hymnal.

As reader Nicholas points out in the comments below, the theology of “Felix Culpa” is very similar to that of the 15th century English carol Adam Lay Ybounden — although that would clearly be pre-Reformation, pre-Anglican.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Who needs a hymnal?

In this blog, I have been ruminating on the next American Anglican hymnal, what will be in it, and which Continuing Anglican groups will contribute to it — or if there will even be enough Anglicans to make a hymnal. This blog is my homework to get ready for that revision, although I’ll probably need to go to Kaplan (or whatever the Anglican music equivalent is) once the revision plans are announced.

However, one thing I haven’t asked is: do we need a new hymnal? No, I’m not asking if Hymnal 1940 needs updating — it certainly needs some improvements, and we want to stop bailing TEC out of its fiscal overstretch.

Perhaps more germane is the rising number of non-hymnal evangelical parishes out there, who probably wouldn’t buy a hymnal even if it were produced — let alone share a hymnal with us Anglo-Catholics. Even if they had a list of hymns they liked, the fashion is to rotate through new workship music so that little or nothing is older than the preschoolers. (The Catholic church seems to have caught this fad in printing a new Today’s Missal every few months.)

But that comes back to the basic points of why the Anglican (and Lutheran and Catholic and Methodist and Baptist and Adventist and …) denominations have long had their own hymnals. For now, I want to limit myself to pew hymnals, rather than service books (such as 12th century missals) intended only for choir or clergy.

I can think of three reasons why a hymnal exists:
  • To distribute the words and music in a cost-effective fashion. In worship, this is being displaced by PowerPoint projectors and at home by TheCyberHymnal and other Internet sites.
  • To make sure we’re all singing the same thing — to provide a common culture and shared worship across different parishes of a denomination. This has been my fundamental argument for timeless hymns against those pursuing the fad-of-the-day, whether musical fads embraced by CMM worship leaders or social-political fads pursued by the cultural revisionists.
  • As a way of validating a common doctrine shared by the church theologians and other leaders. If any parish priest or music director can pick any variant of any hymn off the web (or out of a book) and sing it, then how do the bishops and other church leaders know that the music is being used to reinforce the one true catholic and apostolic faith rather than promote heresies and other false doctrine?
This last point is the subject of a posting Saturday on Brothers of John the Steadfast, a blog representing those LCMS clergy and laity who will be forced (ala ACNA but without the lawyers) leave the LCMS in the next decade and form their own synod.

Guest blogger Holger Sonntag quoted Martin Luther hymself as he wrote the introduction to three Lutheran hymnals, explaining the theological role of the hymnal in Christian worship. What I found amusing (or troubling) is that a tendency towards faddish hymnal revision is nearly 500 years old:
Now there are some who have given a good account of themselves and augmented the hymns so that they by far surpass me and are my masters indeed. But others have added little of worth. And since I realize that there is going to be no end to this haphazard and arbitrary revision which goes on from day to day, and that even our first hymns are more and more mutilated with each reprinting, I fear that this booklet will ultimately fare no better than good books everywhere, namely, to be corrupted and adulterated by blunderheads until the good in it will be lost and only the bad remain.
So where is the Rt. Rev. N.T. Wright decrying the New Anguish Hymnal? I realize he is busy with other Anglican matters (and writing and selling books, ala C.S. Lewis) but isn’t this a matter of some import? In fact, most clergy seem to think music selection should be left to the musicians, although I have found a few that will devote the time due its central role in reinforcing the theology of any given worship service.