Monday, July 4, 2011

SPREAD IT All Around

Well folks, here is the GAFCON latest idea on what constitutes an Anglican Communion.  Let's start with their statement, written by Charles Raven.

Events between the 1998 and 2008 Lambeth Conferences demonstrate decisively that the Communion's present "instruments of unity", including the See of Canterbury itself, are no longer fit for purpose when confronted with deep theological confusion in which evil is held out as good and good as evil. A merely institutional unity not firmly rooted in the revealed truths of God's Word written is not only counterfeit but also toxic, exposing the whole Communion to the false teaching and immorality absorbed by the Western Churches. SPREAD seeks to guard against this danger and to encourage the emergence of new Anglican structures able to support a coherent and confident proclamation of the gospel around the globe.

Two key elements are attacked here by those revisionists that would fashion an Anglican Communion in the image of peter Akinola, or perhaps more to the point, Michael Nazir-Ali.  Notice that the "see of Canterbury is no longer fit for purpose"   Conveniently, GAFCON now takes on the titular head of the Anglican Communion, the Archbishop of Canterbury.  These folks have lost all moral compass, at least in so far as the Anglican Communion is concerned.  My feeble brain with my minimalist logic says: The Church of England, founded by the English, also known as Angles (hence Anglican) was the originator of the the Anglican Church.  I think my history calls me to account for Henry the VIII, Elizabeth the I, Cranmer, Richard Hooker, etc.  When the British, also known as Angles, created their empire away back when, they brought to all the new lands, the English Church, that is, the Church of England.  This happened in as unusual a place as the 13 colonies, India, Nigeria, Australia and so on.  As these countries became independent such as Canada, they formed their own variation of the Church of England, in this case called the Anglican Church of Canada.  The archbishop of Canterbury, appointed by the crown in England, has been the titular head of this loose confederation of provinces including the Episcopal Church of the United States.  How can the head of the Church of England, the tree from which all the branches have grown, suddenly not be "fit for purpose".  Nothing has changed in a thousand years.

Then, Mr. Raven goes to the what ought to be the first argument but turns out to be his second argument.  A merely institutional unity not firmly rooted in the revealed truths of God's Word written is not only counterfeit but also toxic,  Just what the heck is going on?  It appears Mr. Raven and the fellow Conelonialists want to move this loose confederation of provinces gathered under the titular head, the Archbishop of Canterbury, into a clear, top don, organizational structure with like rules and regulations and a magisterium and everything roman.  After all, how can any province be punished if we can all think for ourselves?  How can there be any sense of unity unless we can snap a string and straighten out the entire communion.  Why do we need to talk and  discuss when all we really need to do is have Mr. Akinlola, Mr. Nazir-Ali, Mr. Jensen, Mr. Duncan, Mr. Orombi et al make these decisions for us.  Boy, how much pressure can we take off all the provinces.

What a crock!  First, one cannot change facts and one cannot change history.  The Anglican Communion is a confederation of provinces that celebrate diversity and welcome discussion and discernment.  If we do not ask questions, if we do not posit interpretations, how does the living word of God stay alive? 

What SPREAD/GAFCON/FCA/CANA/AMiE/AMiA and all the other groups want is a new church built on new "standards", pillars if you will.  Well, no one is stopping you all, go ahead.  Create a "new communion" that has all the trappings you like but, please do not call it Anglican and please do not include me.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Moving Toward A New Anglican Comunion

In a recent post by Tobias Haller our good friend says,

But it is the idea of being a fellowship, a communion — not a "church" or a "federation" — of self-governing churches whose individual decisions do not bind the others, even as they cooperate in mission and ministry, that forms our only peculiar offering to the tapestry of world Christendom. It is a model of service and fellowship, of work with rather than power over, commended by Christ himself as a model of churchly governance. If that is not worth preserving, then we have little else to offer.
The highlights are mine.  The words, the very capable words, are Tobias'.

Then, in a recent post here at Off-Topic Allowed, Mad priest and I had a heartfelt exchange that cut to the quick of this communion issue.    Here is where it drew to a point:  This is MadPriest writing:

It is my contention that the New World is no longer geographically located in the same way that the Kingdom of God is not geographically located. But, in respect of New Anglicanism the main locus is in the Americas and is strongest in the USA. In fact, I do not think it is strong enough anywhere else to survive, let alone thrive. Outside of the Americas the "New World" is dependent on its success in the USA and this is why we absolutely need TEC to include the rest of us within its God-given destiny. Of course, this will be painful for the Church in the US, and like Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane you can choose to accept or reject this role. But the goal, if eventually achieved, will bring TEC far more joy than breaking away and going it alone ever would.
In other postings at other times  many have put an emphasis on "saving the Anglican Communion".  I have contended from the beginning that the Episcopal Church just move forward and if any other province wants to tag along, then fine otherwise -- oh well.

Tobias Haller and MadPriest along with Mark Harris The Pluralist and a few others have made an impression to the point I have reconsidered my approach.  The basic facts remain the same, the implementation of those facts is what becomes a little different.

So, what do we do?  Well, we call a "special plenary session" of bishops and lay leadership to meet in a neutral site, say, New Orleans, Louisiana (you are welcome Mimi) to consider a New Anglican Covenant.  This special session will be hosted by the Episcopal Church of the United States and chaired by a group from The Episcopal Church of the United States, The Anglican Church of Canada, The Church of England, and the Anglican Church of New Zealand.  Everyone is invited from all corners of the world.   The sole purpose of this special session is to create:  a model of service and fellowship, of work with rather than power over, commended by Christ himself as a model of churchly governance.

No one leaves the conference until a new Communion is born that allows for inclusion of all God's children and an approach to modeling Christ like behavior that involves resolving issues within one's own province prior to telling other provinces what needs to  be done in their province.  The honors each other's decisions as appropriate for them though not necessarily appropriate for all.  That embarks upon the worldwide work of eliminating hunger, disease, child abuse and torture and terror.  That we live those goals at home as we seek to eradicate them abroad.  That those who can fund and finance do so and those who can staff and work do so in a spirit of love and forgiveness.  This is not just our God-given destiny but all those who claim Christianity as their own.