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A Defense of the Doctrine of the Eternal Subordination of the Son  (Yes, this is about women's ordination.)

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Father is Head at the Table: Male Eucharistic Headship and Primary Spiritual Leadership, Ray Sutton

FIFNA Bishops Stand Firm Against Ordination of Women

God, Gender and the Pastoral Office, S.M. Hutchens

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Homo Hierarchicus and Ecclesial Order, Brian Horne

How Ordaining Women Harms Ministry to Men, C.R. Wiley

Let's Stop Making Women Presbyters, J.I. Packer

Liturgy and Interchangeable Sexes, Peter J. Leithart

Male-Only Ordination is Natural: Why the Church is a Model of Reality, Steven Wedgeworth

Ordaining Women as Deacons: A Reappraisal of the Anglican Mission in America's Policy, John Rodgers

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Priestesses in the Church?, C.S. Lewis

Priesthood and Masculinity, Stephen DeYoung

Reasons for Questioning Women’s Ordination in the Light of Scripture, Rodney Whitacre

Streams of the River: Articles Outlining the Arguments Against the Ordination of Women to the Priesthood ,

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William Witt's Articles on Women's Ordination (Old Jamestown Church archive)

Women Priests?, Eric Mascall

Women and the Priesthood, Catholic Answers

Women Priests: History & Theology, Patrick Reardon

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Thursday
Jun142012

Metropolitan Jonah Addresses the ACNA Assembly

Metropolitan Jonah is the presiding hierarch of the Orthodox Church in America, the outpost of English-speaking Slavic Orthodoxy in the United States.  His Beatitude has been an ecumenical advisor to the newly-formed Anglican Church in North America, delivering a speech to the ACNA at its first general assembly in 2009, and again last week at its second general assembly in Ridgecrest, NC.  The text of his address can be read here at Virtue Online (VO).

There is a substantial contingent of Orthodox Christians who comment in the VO comboxes, especially when the subject is Eastern Orthodoxy or when, as here, one of their leaders is given the spotlight.  Typically, however, what they have to say annoys me a tad, as it is commonly characterized by the triumphalism and parochialism for which the Orthodox  have unfortunately become legendary.  Sometimes that triumphalism and parochialism is veiled by a well-meant ecumenical bonhomie on their part, but in my estimation it is always thinly veiled.  Maybe this is because I spent 13 years in the Orthodox Church and know the mindset well, and am therefore aware of convert-fishing when it occurs .  Anyway, here's a section from His Beatitude's address that elicted a response from me, which I post in its entirety below:

I would remind you that the root and foundation of the Church of England is not "Roman" but rather, the broader Orthodox Catholicism that prevailed until the Roman Church began massive changes in the Second Millennium. The English Church was a local Orthodox Catholic Church in communion with Rome and the rest of the Churches for most of the first millennium. Part of the English, and even continental, Reformation was intended to bring the Church back to its original roots, free from the changes that occurred during the isolation of the Western Church in the Dark Ages and Middle Ages. The Orthodox see the Reformation as having gone awry, and reinforced the very elements that made the Western Churches' theological positions idiosyncratic, thus isolating it even more from Orthodoxy.

My hope is that we can roll this back. You have the opportunity to return your Church to its original heritage, and thus actualize the rich inheritance of English Orthodox Catholicism, in communion with its root tradition. This means the overcoming of generations of schism, a schism which was forced on the English Church, and then a perpetual state of schism for itself and the churches established by it in its colonies and missions. This needs to be healed.

The ecumenical hope is to overcome the schisms of the West, so that the English and Roman Churches can again take their place within the communion of the One Orthodox Catholic Church. You have an immense role and opportunity within this. Removing the filioque is not simply a nice gesture of ecumenical solidarity; it is, rather, an affirmation of the ancient faith of the Undivided Church.

And my response in the combox:

Having re-read the text of Met. Jonah's address to the recent ACNA assembly, I am compelled to make an additional comment or two. I do so as one who spent 13 years in the Orthodox Church before he found his true Catholic home in Traditional Anglicanism.

There is a subtle insinuation in His Beatitude's address that, prior to the Roman power grab, English Catholics were part of the "Orthodox Catholic Church" (emphasis on upper case "O"). Nothing is said about the fact that the term "Orthodoxy" has long meant *Eastern* Orthodoxy, with all the cultural, liturgical and theological baggage that goes with it. But English Catholics were never "Orthodox" in that sense. They weren't -- and aren't -- cultural Easterners, they never prayed the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, and their theology was formed by Western influences, especially by the Latin tradition, which modern Eastern Orthodox spokesmen routinely excoriate.

Moreover, the bishops of the English Catholic Church were of course *English* bishops who prayed a Western Rite. If English Catholicism is to be restored in the Anglican Churches, then English Bishops -- not bishops of the AOCA, or the OCA, or the GOA, or the ROCOR -- will govern our churches. An English parish praying the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom -- or the so-called Liturgy of St. Tikhon for that matter -- under an Orthodox bishop from the East is not an "English Catholic" Church at all, but an "Orthodox" Church in England. A foreign transplant, in other words.

Having spent the time that I did in the Eastern Orthodox Church, I know enough about the mentality there to know that His Beatitude and his supporters here are not so much interested in a restoration of English Catholicism as they are in fishing for converts. Those who do not have the experience that people like me have need merely read between the lines of everything that is being said here by the Orthodox: they aren't interested in Anglicanism; they're interested in "Making America (and the rest of the West) Orthodox", to cite the title of a book written by convert to Eastern Orthodoxy Fr. Peter Gillquist.

As for the Reformation, I take notice of the fact that Met. Jonah said, "The Orthodox see the Reformation as having gone awry, and reinforced the very elements that made the Western Churches' theological positions idiosyncratic, thus isolating it even more from Orthodoxy." But, as one Lutheran critic notes, "the Orthodox tend to make no distinction between a snake-handling Pentecostal and a confessional Lutheran, thereby only displaying their ignorance of the heritage of the Christian West after the Reformation." We see this same tendency, I think, in Met. Jonah's statement here. Unfortunately, he doesn't distinguish the English Reformation from the Continental Reformation(s), but rather lumps them all together as one "Reformation", and indeed as one that went "awry."

Not for His Beatitude, apparently, is the fact that the English Reformation was the most conservative and Catholic of them all, so much so that the Anglican Church was able to take a dramatic Catholic turn a mere 200 or so years later in the form of the Oxford Movement, whose influence is still felt greatly in Anglicanism today.

More importantly, however, to write off the Reformation -- and especially the English Reformation -- is to write off the intent of a church to get back in touch with its *apostolic (which is to say biblical) and patristic roots*. As Fr. Wells implies above, this is something the Orthodox Church could stand to do itself. This is because the Orthodox Church suffers from the same essential soteriological pathology that afflicts Rome, which, as one astute analyst puts it, is this:

"The genius of the Protestant Reformation is the recognition that, during the Middle Ages, "ecclesial creep" in both the Western and Eastern portions of the Church had for all practical intents and purposes replaced Old-Law works righteousness with a new works righteousness based on the respective "New Law" of the West (the Penance-Merits-Purgation-Indulgences doctrinal phalanx) and of the East (the imposition of the Monastic Typicon upon the laity).

Furthermore, . . . the formularies of classical Anglicanism did a better job of retaining the wheat of the orthodox catholicism of the ancient Church while jettisoning the chaff of innovative medieval accretion than did any other segment of the Reformation. This is why Anglicanism can, perhaps uniquely, lay equal claim to the appellations Protestant and Catholic and affirm both without any sense of inconsistency or incoherence. Indeed, strictly speaking, in proper understanding of each term, to truly be one, you must be both."

No, Your Beatitude, along with our native bishops, our Western liturgy and our distinctive theological tradition, we will keep our conservative Reformation, holding with the Early Church Fathers that every church teaching and practice which stands in opposition to the Bible is subject to reform. My experience in the Orthodox Church leads me to conclude that Orthodoxy is not the slightest bit interested in reform of this nature. More's the pity.

See my article here at OJC, For Evangelicals and Others Considering Eastern Orthodoxy.

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