Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Archbishop of Canterbury

October 7, 2008

At our parish weekend at Kanuga, our speaker Giles Fraser (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giles_Fraser) defended his friend and former tutor Rowan Williams by explaining that the English reformation and Elizabethan Settlement was essentially a peace treaty between various ecclesiastic factions (primarily Puritan and Catholic) within a national church. The purpose of that ‘treaty’ was to keep the largest number of people possible within the same church. Giles is of the belief and opinion that such a vision and treaty is informing the Archbishop’s decisions with regard to the Anglican Communion as a whole.

My ‘take’ in response and in light of our own bishops response to Lambeth (see previous entry) is that he may very well be right but that the reason the Archbishop’s decisions are not good in this regard is that he is viewing the communion (in spite of his own experience in the Church of Wales) through a thoroughly English lens. The rest of the constituent provinces of the communion do not have the same ‘container’ in the form of a state church with a particular history in law. From where we sit his attempts to keep the maximum number of people at the table through compromise looks like on one hand placating conservatives at the expense of the Episcopal Church in particular; and on the other hand looks like a leadership vacuum that the likes of Peter Akinola and Greg Venables are rushing to fill. Meanwhile Pittsburgh continues down the road of San Joachin (with Fort Worth and Quincy not far behind) with their continuing attempts to bring about the non catholic, non traditional and schismatic idea of a second North American province calling itself Anglican. From an English perspective this would be quite simply illegal. From where we sit, our PB says people and clergy can leave but parishes and dioceses cannot and the schismatics are saying ‘watch me’ and long costly law suits result.

What would be so dreadful if The Episcopal Church as a whole withdrew from the Anglican Communion? It would make many Anglicans throughout the world quite happy and we could get on with planting vibrant congregations in England and elsewhere instead of sitting on our hands while the communion disintegrates over its fear and loathing for gay and lesbian Christians and our (tentative, timid and painstakingly carefully slow) affirmation of them.

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