Lessons from the Anglicans

Asbury Theological Seminary President Timothy Tennent offers the United Methodist Church four lessons that can be learned from the Anglican Church of North America.


8 thoughts on “Lessons from the Anglicans

  1. While I think there are a lot of problems found in liberal Christianity, I am a bit wary of the assertion that somehow that the acceptance of gay clergy is equal to falling away from the faith. At least that’s how I read this blog post. Did I miss something?

    1. Dennis, I think Tennent would tie his concerns to much more than that one issue. As he says in the post, he sees a network of issues: “the unique Lordship of Jesus Christ, the authority of Scriptures, the atoning power of the death of Christ and the historicity of the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ”

      1. I understand that he is talking about a bigger issue than homosexuality. And I would agree with him on those issues. If he would have stopped there, I would be okay with that. My problem is that it feels like my issue is kind of wrapped up in all of the problems. Again, I could be overstating the case.

  2. I am a veteran of those wars within the Episcopal church and speak from that framework. Although a simple reading of the situation makes it appear that something like acceptance of gay clergy is the big issue, it isn’t. Underlying questions involving the sanctity of marriage, the meaning of the eucharistic celebration, and the trinitarian nature of God are actually at the core. In the Episcopal church today it is possible for a same-sex couple to be married by a transexual priest. I think it’s fine for that to happen if that’s what you want, but to get to that point within the frame of a mainline faith is difficult and you have to change the meaning of a lot of core concepts to make it happen. Read the statements of the current Presiding Bishop and you’ll get the flavor of this. I still remember her inaugural sermon, the one in which she referred to “Mother Jesus” and said that the church wasn’t yet strong enough to split from the Anglican Communican.

    Another point worth noting, although I’m not sure how universal it might be, is that the liberals not only wanted to see orthodox folks leave, they have often seemed to be pretty darn nasty about it. As it was expressed to me by a leader of the movement, “They’re going and good riddance”. The group that remains is tolerant of all points of view but the orthodox/conservative/traditional one.

    1. Frank, actually I would agree with a lot of what you said. I’m a Disciples pastor and work in the Presbyterian world for a local presbytery. A lot of the progressives in the church seems glad to get rid of the conservatives and have not treated them with much respect. I also think a lot of the desire by some to leave the PC(USA) is not just about the ordination of gays and lesbians but is about far more than that. I think liberals (and I guess I include myself, though I’m more neo-orthodox) tend to think this is just about homophobia when it is so much more than that. So, yeah I think the gay issue is just the tip of the iceberg.

      But I feel I need to address how I came to deal with my own sexuality and how I was led into the ministry. When I was coming to terms with being gay, I didn’t want to accept it just because it was the trendy thing. Coming from an evangelical background, I learned to take scripture seriously. It was only after a lot of prayer and theological study that I was able to come where I am. I felt the call to ministry around the same time, but in my own examination, I didn’t feel like I was being led to not be gay, for lack of a better term.

      I share this because my discernment wasn’t tied to ignoring the Trinity or denying core beliefs such as the divinity of Christ or the ressurection. I still believe in those things and I’m dismayed when people try to water these doctrines down. But I did listen to what I felt scripture and God were telling me.

      What I think is missing in mainline churches is…well, some kind of neo-orthodoxy, some blending of the traditional teaching of the faith in a modern world. What we have now tend to be two incomplete sides: one side places empahsis on tradition, but seems to not want to deal with the modern world, the other does engage the world, but at the expense of tradition.

  3. I’m just generally confused by these “lessons”, esp # 2 & 4. What it sounds like to me is (#2) make sure you don’t let people that don’t agree with you take over your church, and (#4) when the parasites do take over, be ready to leave. And this is from a seminary president? I can only gather from this that the free interchange of ideas is not a value at Asbury.

    As Dennis said, Dr. Tennant could make a lot of common cause with people if he didn’t make it all about GLBT issues. My wife has a friend who is one of the ministers who left the Anglican church to align with an African bishop and start a new church. We and he disagree profoundly on GLBT issues, but otherwise probably agree on most church affairs. As Dr. Tennant said in a blog post from May “all impossibilities can be reframed by the hope of Jesus Christ”

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