Skip to comments.Metropolitan Jonah calls for Full Communion With New Anglican Province
Posted on 06/24/2009 6:07:43 PM PDT by bobjam
Speaking on Wednesday morning to the ACNA Assembly, His Beatitude, Jonah, Metropolitan of All America and Canada and leader of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA), called for a "full... intercommunion" with the Anglican Church in North America. "What will it take," he asked, "for a true ecumenical reconciliation? That is what I am seeking by being with you today."
This marks the potential resumption of an Orthodox/Anglican dialogue that began a hundred years ago between two missionary bishops, St. Tikhon of Moscow and Bishop Grafton of Fond du Lac, only to be broken off in the 1970s with the ordination of women. Metropolitan Jonah spoke as the successor of Tikhon, "I come to you as the successor of Tikhon... with the same openness, the same invitation, the same love and desire to unify Anglicanism and Orthodoxy."
What would it take for this reconciliation to occur? The Metropolitan was explicit:.
Full affirmation of the orthodox Faith of the Apostles and Church Fathers, the seven Ecumenical Councils, the Nicene Creed in its original form (without the filioque clause inserted at the Council of Toledo, 589 A.D.), all seven Sacraments and a rejection of 'the heresies of the Reformation."
His Beatitude listed these in a series of 'isms'; Calvinism, anti-sacramentalism, iconoclasm and Gnosticism. The ordination of women to the Presbyterate and their consecration as Bishops has to end if intercommunion is to occur.
These are controversial words, especially given the make up of the Assembly, which is admittedly divided on key issues such as the ordination of women, the nature and number of the Sacraments and perhaps the essential character of the Church itself. Still, the delegates welcomed his candor with applause, perhaps because His Beatitude was self-evidently "speaking the truth with love." Less controversially, he called for a true renunciation of sin and immorality, "We must eliminate any shred of immorality in our lives," not least because sin "kills and maims the soul," likewise immorality, which destroys the soul and "demoralizes our culture." Coming from a faith tradition fully alive to the aggressive threat of militant Islam, the Metropolitan issued the following warning:; a culture demoralized by immorality "cannot stand up to the strict asceticism of Islam."
He then spoke to the current blurring of gender identity. Homosexualism not only "destroys authentic masculinity, it destroys authentic womanhood." Again, "gay ideology is neither from nurture or nature... we cannot accept their lifestyle or validate their unions." These are not something healthy, but "something to be healed". His Beatitude was equally emphatic on abortion, "Abortion not only rips out the soul of the fetus from the body of a woman, it rips out her own soul also... We must stand together in an absolute condemnation of abortion." The Assembly rose in thunderous acclamation. There should be no doubt whatsoever that ACNA stands for the life of the unborn child.
The Metropolitan's words on the unity of the Church were equally well received. We must find, "unity of vision, unity of life, unity of being in Jesus Christ" in the power of the Holy Spirit. This is to be found in true orthodoxy, which means, for Jonah at least, not simply "right opinion", but also "right glory", which is discovered in the worship of God. This gives the faithful entry into the liturgy of the Angels and Saints as revealed to Moses, Ezekiel and St. John, being a true participation on earth in the worship of heaven. The same meeting of heaven and earth is to be found in the Church; this "is not simply human, it is divine," and to be believed in as we believe in Jesus Himself - not merely as a man made institution, who may or may not "like the same prayer Book", but as the organic union of Christians with Our Savior in the Body of Christ. Again, this met with spontaneous applause.
The same approval was given to his Beatitude's description of faith and the necessity of surrendering to Christ.
"Faith... is the knowledge of the heart (that) I have died and my life is hidden in the heart of God... it is only Jesus that matters."
This means a total self-oblation:
"We have to surrender to God in the depths of our being," and this "is that spiritual quest... to be transformed by the Spirit." The corollary of this is radical forgiveness and a giving up of all resentments against those "who have offended... abused... (and) slandered you... When you forgive like that, you liken yourself to Jesus Christ."
This, in the end, was at the heart of Metropolitan's message. He called on ACNA to embrace Christ in His totality - in His Church and Sacraments, in the Faith and Morals handed down by Jesus Himself to the faithful throughout the ages, and in that true repentance which is nothing other than complete surrender of self to the mind and Person of Our Lord. With such a spirit in place, his vision of unity between loyal Anglicans and Orthodoxy may be realized. There can be no question that the invitation is on the table, and the prize is big, nothing less than the recognized integration of the Anglican Church in North America with historic Catholicism. Will ACNA rise to the challenge?
He left out openly gay clergy and married bishops.
That is one misleading headline!
Metropolitan Jonah is only calling for the resumption of discussions, NOT for Full Communion!
Big, big difference!
No, I think that’s in there when he calls for their return to the Seven Councils.
He can’t knock them on the head quite so openly, not this early anyway.
Yes, parts of ACNA have women priests. They are in the minority. With the right approach, we can isolate it and grandfather the whole thing out.
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Speak the truth in love. Eph 4:15
K, any take on this?
There will be trouble with these as the parishes I represent that are coming out are modified Calvinists and there is a question as to the number and efficiency of the sacraments. That holds true with a number of parishes that are part of the Anglican Church in North America.
This needs to get in line after Jurisdictional unity.
You have your Anglicans confused. The new Anglican Church of North America was formed by groups that left The Episcopal Church just because it shows its rejection of Scripture, exactly by ordaining openly homosexual clergy (and bishops...). These are people who have sacrificed a LOT in order to leave the apostate TEC. Many if not most of the ACNA congregations and bishops are being sued by the deep pockets of TEC...
The Orthodox have many married clergy—why one would absolutely exclude Bishops from marriage doesn’t seem consistent with either scripture or ancient tradition.
Anglican founding documents, especially the Thirty-nine Articles, are very Reformed however, and Anglicanism has been, since the 1500s a kind of “Reformed Catholicism.” Hence there is very little chance Calvinism (read ‘Reformed’) will be condemned by any Anglican body any time soon...
Just to be clear, ALL the groups and individuals making up the ACNA condemn homosexual behavior—and they certainly do NOT ordain active homosexuals.
As I tried to state above, that’s the main reason (or the straw that broke the camel’s back...) they are separated from TEC.
Thank you. I stand corrected. In my defense, I don't keep up with endless schisms in the Protestant world.
The Orthodox have many married clergywhy one would absolutely exclude Bishops from marriage doesnt seem consistent with either scripture or ancient tradition.
You are right. I suppose they could work something out, given that it is a discipline and not a matter of theology. In the East the bishops are drawn from monastic ranks (and an occasional widowed priest), so celibacy is a given (Orthodox priests must be married before receiving holy orders, so widowed priests cannot re-marry).
But, again, this is discipline more than theology, so I agree that this should not be an obstacle no matter how alien it may seem to the East.
Anglican founding documents, especially the Thirty-nine Articles, are very Reformed however, and Anglicanism has been, since the 1500s a kind of Reformed Catholicism. Hence there is very little chance Calvinism (read Reformed) will be condemned by any Anglican body any time soon
Now we are talking theological "meat" and I'd say no amount of chewing on this morsel will get the Orthodox to swallow it. That in itself makes even raising the issue of any intercommunion dead on arrival.
Yes, I gathered that much. But why do they "ordain" women?
RE our discussion yesterday, the Metropolitan believes the seven sacraments are indeed important...
“K, any take on this?”
I’m a bit surprised it was Met. Jonah who spoke to the Anglicans. If this new group is actually interested pursuing thee discussions, they would do better to be speaking with +Demetrios and +Philip. Beyond that, I think the Orthodox Church is open to anyone who wishes to embrace Orthodoxy.
As I have said to you, s, it has been my experience that Episopalians take to Orthodoxy much easier and quicker than people from other particular churches or ecclesial groups. There is a remnant of a very ancient Anglo Orthodox mindset there which flowers in an Orthodox setting, though to the extent that this group is made up of bd’s (good to see you bd!) clients, I don’t see a wholesale acceptance of Eastern Christian theology which of course is the sine qua non of any unity.
The experience of Orthodoxy with the reception of large groups here in America has been mixed. When thousands of Carpatho Russians came into Orthodoxy in the late 19th century, that worked out fine. The reception of a large group which styled itself as “Evangelical Orthodox” in 1987 has been, at best, a mixed blessing. The Carpatho Russians were all but Orthodox anyway; the Evangelical group is still very, very Western in its mindset and tends to preach a Western, even Protestant sort of atonement theology which while probably not heretical, is foreign to Orthodoxy. I’d say the conservative Episcopalians fall somewhere in between, but much nearer the Carpatho Russians than the Evangelicals.
I trust that Met. Jonah isn’t anticipating an expansion of “Western Rite Orthodoxy”. That won’t fly among even the Antiochians. Otherwise, I think the OCA metropolitan has set out the usual requirements for becoming Orthodox and this new group may well want to consider it.
Metropolitan Jonah was once an Episcopal priest and he is the successor of St Tikhon (whom the Episcopalians are adding to their calendar of saints next month). He, more than anyone else, can serve as a “bridge figure” between Anglicanism and Orthodoxy,
I took the time last night read the 39 Articles of Religion again. It is interesting to note that Article XIX declares the Churches of Jerusalem, Alexandria, Antioch and Rome to have erred. It does not say anything about the Church of Constantinople. It is important to know that Anglicans have never had problems with the Orthodox. No Archbishop of Canterbury was ever murdered in the name of Orthodoxy (unlike Archbishops Cranmer and Laud).
The ACNA Constitution affirms the the teachings of the first four councils of the undivided Church and the Christological clarifications of the fifth, sixth and seventh councils. Icons are not unusual in Anglican churches, but they are not central to worship like in Orthodoxy.
I think the biggest obstacle for Anglicans embracing Orthodoxy is not theology, but culture.
Why don't you state what the Anglican theology is (if there is such a thing as one Anglican theology) and Kolo and I can tell you if it is cultural, theological or both.
I was already reminded on this thread that the Anglicans are predominantly (the operant word!) Calivinist in their theology. That in itself is a DOA difference that preculdes any interocmmunion unless one side gives up its theology in all but dogma of Trinity and Chriostology.
Where do Anglicans stand on Mariology? Intermediate state of the souls? Original Sin? Real Presence? Sacraments? Procession of the Spirit? And so on.
I would say that Anglicans and Orthodox share a lot precisely in their culture, superficially, and differ irreocncilibly in their thoelogies, exactly the opposite of what you are saying. Anglicans like ecclesial tradition, they are liturgical, and the High Church is in some ways "older" than the NO Catholic Church today.
So, they find a lot in common with the tradition-bound Orthodoxy. But this is just the surface; what's underneath is as different as night and day.
“Metropolitan Jonah was once an Episcopal priest and he is the successor of St Tikhon (whom the Episcopalians are adding to their calendar of saints next month).”
I am aware that Met. Jonah is both a convert and a former Episcopalian priest. I had not heard, but am not surprised, to hear that he claims to be the successor of +Tikhon. The Russian Orthodox Church as well as the Greek Orthodox Church likely disagree.
“He, more than anyone else, can serve as a bridge figure between Anglicanism and Orthodoxy,”
What is it with Western Christians and bridges to Orthodoxy? The Latins have tried that with the Uniates...with absolutely no success at all.
“I took the time last night read the 39 Articles of Religion again. It is interesting to note that Article XIX declares the Churches of Jerusalem, Alexandria, Antioch and Rome to have erred. It does not say anything about the Church of Constantinople.”
That’s odd; an oversight perhaps? There is absolutely no difference in the theology of the Churches of Antioch, Alexandria and Jerusalem and that of Constantinople. With Rome, of course, there is.
“Icons are not unusual in Anglican churches, but they are not central to worship like in Orthodoxy.”
So I have seen but the Anglicans at least of Elizabeth’s era and for a couple of centuries thereafter were committed iconolclast heretics.
“I think the biggest obstacle for Anglicans embracing Orthodoxy is not theology, but culture.”
I agree with Kosta. There is a sort of Anglo Orthodox mindset surviving in Anglicanism extending back to the pre-Council of Whitby era. That makes it easier for Anglicans to become fully Orthodox than for others. Culture at other levels, as in ethnicity, is another matter entirely. That can be a problem but with a little humility it can be overcome. Theology is the real problem. Yours is sort of an amalgam of Latin and Reformed and as such really is very, very different from Orthodoxy. Met. Tikhon may wish it were otherwise, but its not and the OCA is in no position whatsoever, especially since the reunion of ROCOR with Moscow, to change that.
All ACNA groups currently have a moratorium on ordaining women—because conservatives like me believe it is both against scriptural instructions from Saint Paul, and universal tradition. At the same time, they are not un-ordaining any women either—and female ordination proponents see the current moratorium as temporary...
The reason some individuals and leaderswould like to ordain women—even though they are evangelical, and take the bible seriously—is, I think:
A) They don’t take Saint Paul’s instructions as cross-cultural for all time...they see them merely for the church at that time, not ours (a hermanuetically very dangerous place to be, IMHO—especially for New Testament passages.)
B) Charismatic Christians have a big influence on Anglicans, as it was the Charismatics that brought evangelicalism BACK into the Episcopal Church in the ‘70s and ‘80s. Charismatics have never been very big on either tight scriptural hermeneutics or, tradition...(quite anti-traditional, actually).