Since I was out of internet access for a good portion of the last 10 days, I’m catching up on a lot of news and videos (unfortunately, not far enough out of touch to avoid the 24/7 Michael Jackson death watch). I just got finished watching the presentation of Metropolitan Jonah (click on the scrolling photo of Met. Jonah) at the inauguration of the Anglican Church in North America in Bedford, Texas, between June 22nd and June 25th.
Every time I hear him speak I’m amazed at his natural and powerful speaking presence. Sorry Rick Warren, but when I compared your message with Metropolitan Jonah’s, it became apparent that one was speaking with the a spiritual and intellectual mind rooted in the Gospel and the tradition of the Church; the other in cliched phrases and platitudes. Words, no matter how cleverly presented mean nothing if there isn’t substance to support them.
As far as the subject of the speech – the unification of the Orthodox Church with the “orthodox” Anglican Church – I’d have to say I’m one of those skeptics who looks at this proposal as maybe a little too visionary and ripe for a big let down in the end.
My life as a former Protestant and my continuing observations of mainstream Protestantism just doesn’t give me much hope that a greater portion of these denominations won’t eventually fall into liberalism, compromise, and further inter-division. Secularism and humanism are attacking Christian denominations from both the inside and the outside, weakening, polarizing and splitting what “orthodoxy” they still retain. I would really like to believe that the ACNA will be different.
Despite my misgivings, it was heartening to hear the loud and enthusiastic applause supporting the pro-life stance of the Orthodox Church and the ACNA. But did you hear the crickets chirping when Met. Jonah firmly stated the impossibility of women’s ordination? It’s solely my soapbox opinion, but I believe that the issue of women priests will be the ultimate stumbling block for this unification process. Even more so than same-sex gender issues, even more than sacramental or theological questions. The mad-eyed feminist genie has been let out of the bottle and won’t be easily or willingly stuffed back in. Which of the proud, smiling, women celebrants at the ACNA inauguration is going to voluntarily laicize themselves for the greater good of unification? Julia Duin of the The Washington Times commented a few days ago on the quandary ACNA is in with this issue. I just don’t see how ACNA is going to keep up this schizophrenic liberalism on women priests while standing in the traditional camp on others. It still sounds like the doctrinal picking and choosing which Metropolitan Jonah said cannot exist for a true orthodox Christianity.
In the end, who knows where this will lead. Metropolitan Jonah may not know either, but he’s acted with the kind of boldness and promise that characterized his elevation to the episcopacy just a few months ago, and which has renewed the vision of the Orthodox Church in America. Let us all pray for Metroplitan Jonah and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in this bold process, and that all will come with a sincere desire to put the Church first for the glory of God.