Wednesday, September 3, 2008

An Anglican Future?

September 3, 2008

News reports suggest that the Gafcon Boys, (I’m sure there are more respectful ways of describing these men, but this captures the source of their authority –a conference they called to set up an alternative structure within Anglicanism in order to cleanse it of those who believe that homosexuals are people who can partake of the transforming love of God without that being defined by them; and that they are all men) still using words like ‘desperate’,’ dire’, ‘critical’ and so on to describe the need of faithful e Episcopalians for their intervention over against ‘liberal bishops’ (most of whom are in fact simply trying to be Episcopalians) are apparently planning to take their cause to the Anglican Consultative Council and seek permission to establish a parallel province of Anglicans in North America. This of course is what they have wanted for along time and has been condemned as a course of action for those claiming catholic principles from at least the fifth century until the Windsor report and its aftershocks. If the ACC approves such a move (and I can only presume that the GBs are counting votes) then the only way they can in conscience approve such a move is to declare that the Episcopal Church does not exist as part of the world wide Anglican Communion (also, of course, what they have wanted for along time.)

The Virginia judge who is making preliminary rulings on a number of matters of law regarding eleven Virginia parishes has made another ruling that the statute designed for churches splitting over slavery is applicable there and that what is happening is not, in effect, individuals leaving the Episcopal Church, but actually a ‘church split’. As I understand it, other states do not have that strange statute or its equivalent on their books. I wonder if Canterbury recognizes this movement as a church split and if not, why it wouldn’t say so; and if so, who is splitting from whom? Canterbury clearly believes that he has no role in sorting this out so the mess will continue for a while.

I’m, OK ‘living with tension’, ‘lack of resolution’ and so on but am wondering if it would not be altogether more Christian to resist my urges to fight and instead to let any parish that wants to secede to leave with the property that it currently holds in trust for the mission and ministry of the diocese in which it sits. I realize that is only half the issue. The other half wants to be part of the Anglican Communion. Maybe we should recognize that the Communion has no coherence at this point, an eirenic Lambeth notwithstanding, and that we should form our own ‘Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans’ preferably by a less grandiose and pretentious name, with a less unfortunate acronym, in which we know that many parishes throughout the world, if given genuine freedom, would choose to join. We could predict that for the most part the split would be along the fault line of those cultures that recognize such a thing as a homosexual orientation and who read scripture accordingly and those who don’t. My hope that we could continue together under one ‘tent’ is apparently intolerable for those fomenting schism. What is the alternative?

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