Thinking Anglicans

Eames at Virginia Seminary

The Anglican Communion: A Growing Reality was the title of a lecture given by Archbishop Robin Eames at Virginia Theological Seminary on 4 October. The full text can be found on ENS here.

A further lecture by him is scheduled for tomorrow. I will add another link here when it is available.

Update
The full text of the second lecture, The Anglican Communion: What Communion? is now available on ENS here. This lecture is essential reading.

Press Reports Update
Reuters has reported on this in Top Anglican cleric warns against gay rights split
The Living Church has Archbishop Eames: More Must Be Done to Heal Breach in Communion
The Church Times today (went to press Wednesday evening) also carries a very brief report, under the heading Anglican pain and referring mainly to the section on reconciliation. It starts this way:

The Archbishop of Armagh, Dr Robin Eames, spoke this week about the “hurt and dismay” caused by the present dispute about sexuality and authority in the Anglican Communion. In a pair of lectures at the Virginia Theological Seminary, where he received an honorary doctorate, Dr Eames said: “The impressions of the Anglican Communion I gained in the preparation of the Windsor report are dominated by one word: pain.”

32 comments

  • Graham Kings says:

    A wonderful, timely lecture by Robin Eames. I chuckled at the wording of the following quote:

    ‘The historic significance of Canterbury itself for generations, the fulcrum of those ‘bonds of affection’, continued to be acknowledged in spirit.’

  • Mark Harris says:

    Simon: Thank you for posting this. By far the most important post Windsor response I have read. I look forward to tomorrow’s posting.

    Your site and your work are a pearl of great price.

    Mark Harris

  • J-Tron says:

    He will be at Yale next Wednesday, speaking and meeting with students.

  • Anna says:

    I went to this lecture, and was impressed to see that in the span of time it took me to get home, Thinking Anglicans had already posted it!

    A few comments from Archbishop Eames that weren’t in the linked text:

    “I’m going to make a categorical statement. The Anglican Communion needs the Episcopal Church USA and the Episcopal Church USA needs the Anglican Communion.” The audience clearly agreed.

    In his discussion of reconciliation, he said that success in reconciliation can never be guaranteed, especially in the political contexts he’s worked in, but that a reconciliation process in the Church has one additional element that can make all the difference: the presence of the living Spirit of God.

    There was only time for one question after the lecture. The questioner asked about times when truth and unity seem to pull in different directions. How do you balance the two?

    Archbishop Eames replied that for those who seek to bind the two together, there will always be dilemmas. The interpretations of truth that Christians reach will bind people together because of their integrity, honesty, and power. He framed the question in the light of communion and what the Virginia Report had said about it: Communion is a precious gift of God to his Church and communion has practical implications and applications. He said that the breaking of the bread is the high point of the experience of a loving, manifest God. (I think he was making the point that in the breaking of the bread, truth and unity come together, but I don’t want to put words in his mouth!) He said some of his deepest pain over the last years has been when people won’t share communion with each other.

    Finally, the Archbishop said to the questioner, you and I aren’t going to decide on truth and unity. God will, and one day, he’ll reveal it to us.

    Archbishop Eames’s tone throughout was quite serious, but good-humored, affectionate and ultimately hopeful. You could see the pastor behind the teacher quite clearly. I only wish I could have gone back this morning.

  • steven says:

    ECUSA and the communion have struck an iceberg. The messages of distress are going out, flares are going up, and serious voices such as Eames discuss the damage done and what can be done to salvage the situation. All for nought I fear. Many have already abandoned ship and more will be going in the next few years. The rent in the fabric is too deep and long for healing. And, although the bow has not yet slipped beneath the waves, the time approaches. I pray there are enough life boats to go around.

  • Prior Aelred says:

    Commendations for linking the second lecture already, Simon.

    The Archbishop’s optimism & generosity towards the North American churches is encouraging, but I find his return to the notion of an Anglican Covenant perhaps the most intriquing aspect.

    The various sections of Windsor seem to have been rejected by almost everyone but the idea of an Anglican Covenant has seemingly simply been ignored.

  • Thomas C. Wyld says:

    Y’all should read the commentary on this lecture by Canon Kendall Harmon over at Titus 1:9, address: titusonenine dot classicalanglican dot net.
    [TA adds: more exactly at
    http://titusonenine.classicalanglican.net/?p=9315#comments ]

  • Kurt says:

    “ECUSA and the communion have struck an iceberg. The messages of distress are going out, flares are going up, and serious voices such as Eames discuss the damage done and what can be done to salvage the situation. All for nought I fear.”–Steven

    Oh, please! What is this, a soap opera? This is the 21st century, not the 19th; get used to it.

  • With all due respect to Mr Wyld, I have looked at Canon Harmon’s commentary and the subsequent comments on Titus 1.9. I didn’t find it very encouraging (although I wasn’t surprised). It seemed to me that Archbp Eames’ comment in his second lecture could be aptly applied there as well as elsewhere: “Opinions continue to be expressed here which do not encourage any expectation of reconciliation as I have described that process in my first lecture.”

    In fact it seems to me that the real problem is that so many of the parties on all sides have moved past reconciliation. What they want is capitulation on the part of those who do not agree with them — and this applies as much to many of the commenters here on TA as is does to “the usual suspects” on Titus 1.9. But Archbp Eames seems to be going out of his way to suggest that the framers of the Windsor Report sought prayerfully to produce a report that would not leave either side feeling thay had no where to go but out, one that offered the possibility of reconciliation to those that were willing to take it. That at least is what I take paragraphs like the following to indicate:

    “The Lambeth Commission recognised there was genuine disagreement on the sexuality issue across our Communion and that that disagreement could not be settled easily one way or another. I have to say as Chair of the Commission that those members who held the liberal view could not have been expected to sign the Windsor Report if they had felt the Report’s conclusions meant that the debate on the Church’s attitude to human sexuality was closed. (see par 146). In all honesty I have to say that just as this was necessary to provide a unanimous Windsor Report so if the Anglican Communion is to remain united there can be no blanket condemnation of an on-going process of discernment about the right way, under God and in the spirit of the Gospel, to accommodate the reality of faithful Christians who happen to be homosexually orientated within the life of the Communion. To do otherwise is to court schism.”

    I agree with the archbishop, despite Canon Harmon’s instances, that the whole thrust and tenor of the response by the bishops of ECUSA and the ACC has been to seek that possibility of reconciliation while still remaining true to the synodial process that led to the controverted decisions. And I agree that we are still very much at the beginning of a process, both as far as the reception of the Windsor Report goes and (in the Canadian church) the reception of the St Michael Report as well. That process needs to be given a chance to work naturally and organically in our two Provinces, as I think the archbishop is also saying. I am looking forward with some trepidation to Archbp Eames’ third lecture!

    Abigail

  • steven says:

    My attempt at poetic allusion was, apparently, not appreciated. I’ll be more direct–can anyone say “rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic”? How about, “polishing brass on a sinking ship”?

    Eames offers nothing that will bring the two sides together. As such, his discourse is ultimately pointless or, at best, an after-the-fact analysis that can neither undo what has been done, nor halt the inevitable demise of the communion.

  • J. C. Fisher says:

    To those who believe that “reconciliation is impossible” (and, please note, I am addressing those on the “left” as well as those on the “right”):

    do you believe in a *GOD OF MIRACLES* or don’t you?

    If it’s just left up to us—sinful human beings—then *of course* reconciliation is impossible!

    If, on the other hand, God is in charge…

    The question is, do we WANT to be reconciled? Do we want to break bread with each other, EVEN IF the beliefs we have about The God *behind* the Bread and Cup are profoundly different? (It is, I would suggest, our differing God-concepts which are at issue here: *not* our differing bedroom practices!)

    Lord, have mercy.

  • Merseymike says:

    Steven ; if demise is inevitable, can anything bring the two sides together?

  • Prior Aelred says:

    If I can bring J. C. Fisher & Merseymike together, I think the question is about the desire to be reconciled — IIRC, +Gene Robinson has said from the time of his election that he desired to be in the same Communion as ++Peter Akinola — the Archbishop of Abuja, Nigeria has not and cannot reciprocate.

  • Kurt says:

    “To those who believe that “reconciliation is impossible” (and, please note, I am addressing those on the “left” as well as those on the “right”):

    “[D]o you believe in a *GOD OF MIRACLES* or don’t you?”–JC Fisher

    Of course I do. It would take a miracle for some of these bigots to to admit they were sinners. It would be nice. I just don’t expect that of the Akinola, Duncan and their ilk.

    At least that’s the way it looks to me from Brooklyn, USA

  • steven says:

    Re: Can anything bring us together?

    Merseymike:

    Not as far as I can see. The pat and insipid answer is “just let everyone do their own thing”–however, this absurdity is what has brought the communion into the current situation. It will certainly never (let me emphasize that–NEVER!!!)be accepted by the conservative side. And, ultimately, it will not be accepted by the liberal side either.* Going back to previously approved Communion-wide standards on homosexuality might be acceptable to conservatives, but will never be accepted by liberals. So, where is the ground for compromise when there is no acceptable “middle-ground”?

    Others speak of a “work of the Holy Spirit” making the impossible possible–when what they really mean is that they have not given up on being able to finesse and finagle through their own particular version of one of the above alternatives. LOL.

    Could the Holy Spirit work a miracle? Certainly. But, there is no reason to expect a miracle at this juncture when one did not happen during the East/West schism or the Protestant/Rome schism. The current Anglican schism is, in any sane analysis, a much smaller matter in the life of the universal church than either of the former schisms.

    I could continue my rant, but you could do just as well. Instead of laboring in a lost cause, the pieces of the former communion should be striving to determine how to make as amicable a divorce as possible and move on. Its been a nice run, but its over.

    Steven

    *Someone is in serious error and/or sin here, it has to be incumbent on the side that believes it has the truth (liberal or conservative) to try and correct the situation.

  • Steven wrote:
    ‘The pat and insipid answer is “just let everyone do their own thing” – however, this absurdity is what has brought the communion into the current situation.
    It will certainly never (let me emphasize that – NEVER!!!) be accepted by the conservative side. And, ultimately, it will not be accepted by the liberal side either.
    Going back to previously approved Communion-wide standards on homosexuality might be acceptable to conservatives, but will never be accepted by liberals.
    So, where is the ground for compromise when there is no acceptable “middle-ground”?’

    Four pertinent points, indeed. 1st, The Anglican Communion is not Rome but a Communion, meaning no Magisterium, no Inquisition. So everyone have been doing “their own thing” since 1549. Absurd or not.

    Just have a look at the differing versions of the BCP ;=)

    2nd, “it will certainly never be accepted”. Now, that is the question. How come? When did this start? (year, month, week, day, hour) and Where?

    For in a Communion without Magisterium and Inquisition, not based on dogma but on a shared ancestry (The Empire, you know), everyone does “their own thing”.

    When did that cease to be “accepted”? Something has happened – and someone made that happen (year, month, week, day, hour).

    3rd, “previously approved Communion-wide standards”. Well, to an outsider, the trouble seems to be around the point that there weren’t any – and by the 1st and 2nd points above cannot be any pace the Windsor Report.

    So, there being no “Communion-wide standards”, the whole thing sounds more like a power grab to me :=(

    4th, “no acceptable “middle-ground”. Well, the choice seems to be either/or: Communion or Magisterium. So there can’t be any middle ground, can there?

    Question remains: when did this start and who started it (year, month, week, day, hour) and why?

  • bls says:

    Yes, someone is in serious error: the institutional Church has tormented and tortured and persecuted innocent people for 2 thousand years. It’s not the first time, and it won’t be the last.

    In addition, when the Church finally realizes it’s been in error and has caused destruction and disaster in other people’s lives – see Pope John Paul II’s writings on the Catholic Church’s complicity in the persecution of Jewish people – it pretends that the laity was at fault and not the hierarchy. (When it’s Galileo, the pretense is that the guy was a sorehead and deserved what he got.) Everybody’s tired of obfuscation of this sort, which is why the pews have been steadily emptying for decades.

    The Church is and has been an ass, a good portion of the time. The benefit of being Anglican is that it can admit it’s been wrong, apologize, repent, and move on.

  • Merseymike says:

    Steven ; actually, I am in complete agreement with you. It seems to me that there are many of us who have reached this conclusion, but that our leadership, both liberal and conservative, is not facing this reality.

    Rather than continuing to hold together something which has little uniting it, I think we should try and split with some sort of dignity.

  • Dave says:

    Dear Bis, IMuch of society and politicians were actually DOING the persecuting of different groups, with or without the church’s complicity.

    Mind you, just because you have been persecuted doesn’t mean that you are morally perfect. Just look at some of the moslem extremists who were given asylum in the UK in the 80’s and 90’s because of a well-founded fear of persecution back home!

    I guess you meant the persecution of homosexual people though. I condemn persecution of everyone, but I still uphold biblical and traditional moral values on sexual behaviour. Expressing moral views and disapproval are a long way down the scale from hatred and persecution!

    As for the split, it happened a long time ago. At least in the UK most church members probably identify much more to national networks/movements like Exclusive Church, Forward in Faith, Reform, Alpha, CPAS etc than to their local diocese and Bishop. I think that a “reorganisation” is inevitable and would probably best take place along the lines that everyone is actually aligned along already. Might make a few Bishops redundant though!

  • Dave says:

    ps I was amused at Eames’ “concerns” about Akinola’s commitment to the Windsor Report…

    Virtually a whole evangelical diocese has been summarily disenfranchised by it’s liberal province, several US diocese have also appealed to the ABoC as have persecuted priests… and the Archbishop of Canterbury’s office has, according to a recent report, still not even referred a single matter to the Panel of Reference!!

    Was Windsor just a delaying tactic ? So much hot air to try to passify the conservatives ? It appears that the current Archbishop of Canterbury has no intention of doing anything!

  • Dave wrote: I condemn persecution of everyone, but I still uphold biblical and traditional moral values on sexual behaviour

    Dear Dave, I have shown you innumerable times (on the Inclusive Church forum) that the traditional 2nd millennium academic moral values on sex and other things, are not to be found in the Bible.

    They are not Biblical, only in part Tradition and un-Reasonable to most.

    I have shown you that what we are being exposed to now is a political developement over the last 40 years.

    I have also shown you what has been happening to the translations in the second half of the 20th century – how the “Dynamic Equivalence” explaining of the text, c h a n g e s the text.

    There is not a word in the Bible itself on “sexual behavour”. Your “traditional moral values” are late 20th century social politics.

    The persecutions you talk of are a product precisely of 2nd millennium academic moral teachings on sex and other things.

    You cannot distance yourself from the persecutions from Lateran IV in 1215 on, if you continue to uphold the teachings.

  • badman says:

    Dave wrote: “At least in the UK most church members probably identify much more to national networks/movements like Exclusive Church, Forward in Faith, Reform, Alpha, CPAS etc than to their local diocese and Bishop.”

    I doubt that; I doubt it very much. Most church members identify with their own parish, their own congregation, their own clergyman; and then with their sense of membership of the historic Church of England; and are well disposed towards their bishops, whom they come across from time to time at confirmations etc, without knowing very much about them. We go to church – we worship – we pray – we confess our own sins and try not to judge those of our neighbours, whom we do our best to love – for most people with a life, that’s quite enough to be going on with.

    Factionalism is very much a minority pursuit – thank God.

  • steven says:

    Merseymike:

    Yup, we agree. I have generally found that the realists in this situation are those at opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of the central issues. We are the ones that realize that there is ultimately no way to square the circle here. Someone’s theology is right and someone’s theology is wrong. Someone is in sin and error and someone is not. It’s as simple as that.

    All of the latitudinarian platitudes being bandied about are generally reflective of the approach of kindegarten teachers dealing with 5 year olds: “Just be nice little boys and girls and share the toys, Johnny play on that side of the sandbox and Jimmy play on the other side, just get along and everything will be alright . . .”

    This is tripe. The issues here are real issues and the people involved are rational grown-ups dealing with matters of principle. Unfortunately, latidudinarians only have one principle: unity. When unity does not exist and cannot exist they are left dully repeating the same hopeless mantra as if it will be the cure. The scriptures have harsh words for those that say peace, peace when there is no peace.

    Eames has relevance in understanding the current situation, but he has no cure–ultimately there is no “cure” but the painful ones: capitulation or separation by one side or the other.

    Steven

  • badman says:

    Steven wrote: “All of the latitudinarian platitudes being bandied about are generally reflective of the approach of kindegarten teachers dealing with 5 year olds: ‘Just be nice little boys and girls and share the toys, Johnny play on that side of the sandbox and Jimmy play on the other side, just get along and everything will be alright . . .’ “

    Jesus said: “Truly I say to you, Unless you are converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
    Whoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

  • Merseymike says:

    I agree again, Steven.

    I’d like to know what is meant by ‘unity’ – it seems meaningless unless it is built on genuine agreement.

  • Kurt says:

    “Steven ; actually, I am in complete agreement with you. It seems to me that there are many of us who have reached this conclusion, but that our leadership, both liberal and conservative, is not facing this reality.

    Rather than continuing to hold together something which has little uniting it, I think we should try and split with some sort of dignity.”–Merseymike

    Agreed. I hope that the Akinola, Duncan, et. al. soon leave of their own accord. If Williams is attacked or insulted in Egypt, he should call for a walkout of those who wish to be considered associated with the Anglican Communion. And quickly change the listings on the Anglican Communion Web-Page.

  • steven says:

    Merseymike:

    You make an excellent point. The old adage still obtains–“In the essentials–unity, in the non-essentials–liberty, in everything–charity.” We are speaking of ESSENTIAL matters here, not non-essentials. This is hard to get through the head of a latitudinarian, because the only essential they recognize is “sticking together”–doctrine and practice are meaningless to them. Thus, they continue to harp on “liberty” as the solution with a seeming unwillingness to recognize that the issues here are not trivial. In doing so, they are missing the opportunity to exercise charity in the only way possible in this circumstance, by separating with grace and (as you point out) dignity.

    Steven

  • steven says:

    Kurt:

    I’m not sure that would qualify as charity by either side. I think both sides need to take a deep breath and begin acting with at least the dignity and charity they would urge on their congregants in other matters. However, as this is a dispute between those who claim Christ as their savior, I would hope that they can do even better. Even in dealing with the necessity of “walking apart” isn’t it still possible that both sides could act in such a way that the world will know that they are Christians? “See how they love one another . . .”

    Steven

  • Marshall says:

    Just to be sure, I needed to recheck “latitudinarian.” At http://www.bartleby.com/61/49/L0064900.html I found this definition from the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language:

    “ADJECTIVE: Holding or expressing broad or tolerant views, especially in religious matters.
    NOUN: Latitudinarian A member of a group of Anglican Christians active from the 17th through the 19th century who were opposed to dogmatic positions of the Church of England and allowed reason to inform theological interpretation and judgment.”

    So, as a latter-day Latitudinarian, I want to suggest a couple of things:

    First, “unity” is not the only value. However, since Jesus prayed that we might find unity, it is a Christ-centered and entirely Biblical value, and certainly not irrelevant. Since the Truth called for unity, you can’t separate issues of unity from issues of truth.

    Second, another issue is humility. Humility is the core of seeking to incorporate reason as an Anglican leg to stand on (note “an” and not “the”). I know I cannot know the truth entire. My mind is limited, my perception of the Spirit is limited, and my understanding of the Word (both written; and Living and Active) is limited. I can hear more if I listen to the experience and perception of someone else who is also doing his or her best to listen to Spirit and Word. Together, while not free from error, we are arguably clearer togther than either of us separately. Humility calls me, then, to refrain from condemning, except in the most qualified terms, those views with which I disagree. I can identify that with which I disagree. I can discuss what I think is Godly and un-Godly. I cannot, in all humility, declare my own perspective to be identical with, or even equivalent to, what God expresses in Word and Spirit.

    Finally, there is the value of charity, in the sense of agapaic love for the other. The call to seek to love even those who disagree with me calls me to refrain from dogmatic statements, and from efforts at exclusion.

    It seems to me that several of the Beatitudes lean toward a Latitudinarian perspective: acknowledging my own poverty of spirit; pursuing meekness; showing mercy; and seeking peace.

    With all this in mind, I’m happy still to call myself a Broadchurchman.

  • Dave says:

    Dear Göran

    This is a basic reason why there is such tension in the Anglican Communion (though I guess you aren’t Anglican).. We both agree that knowledge, assumptions and “reasoning” (or whatever you call it) have changed in the last 2-4 thousand years, BUT… You think that you have reasonably demonstrated to me that “the traditional 2nd millennium academic moral values on sex and other things, are not to be found in the Bible”. AND.. I think that I demonstrated the fallacies in your assumptions and reasoning (eg your attempted, but obviously erroneous, narrowing of the definition of “pornea”).

    My assumptions and reasoning support my position that it is always sinful to engaged in sex outside [male-female] marriage… because that is the way God intended for humankind. Unless you can clearly explain anything to the contrary, I think that your position is that *everything* written in the Bible is irrelevant if it conflicts with current assumptions, “knowledge” and therefore reason.

    That position is wholly unacceptable to anyone who is following the Christian faith as originally given (including the command to deny self). My position is wholly unacceptable to people who believe in the equal rights of all to freedom of self-realisation (which I would contend is humanistic, not Christian).

    Until each side can persuade the other that it 1. understands and 2. takes seriously the other sides position how can there be any convergence ? My suspicion though, is that you really see the weakness of your case, if the scriptures are properly analysed, and therefore resort to the tactic of straight denial!

  • David wrote: “AND.. I think that I demonstrated the fallacies in your assumptions and reasoning (e.g. your attempted, but obviously erroneous, narrowing of the definition of “porneía”).”

    Well no, you didn’t. Instead I think you tried to fool me with a gloss ;=)

    AND I think I’ve found something that will prove important.

    David wrote: “My assumptions and reasoning support my position”

    Well, assumptions and reasoning tend to, don’t they. Not valid.

    David wrote: Unless you can clearly explain anything to the contrary, I think that your position is that *everything* written in the Bible is irrelevant if it conflicts with current assumptions, “knowledge” and therefore reason.

    Suit yourself. But then, you have not been listening. I’ve told you so, repeatedly.

    David wrote: That position is wholly unacceptable to anyone who is following the Christian faith as originally given (including the command to deny self).

    My point is that late 20th century American social politics is not “the Christian faith as originally given”. Cannot be.

    Dave wrote: My position is wholly unacceptable to people who believe in the equal rights of all to freedom of self-realisation (which I would contend is humanistic, not Christian).

    I could think of a few more than humanists, to whom your position would be unacceptable.

    David wrote: Until each side can persuade the other that it 1. understands and 2. takes seriously the other sides position how can there be any convergence ?

    Well, you could start with yourself, dear Dave. Not simply ascribing whatever nonsense to whomever.

    David wrote: My suspicion though, is that you really see the weakness of your case, if the scriptures are properly analysed, and therefore resort to the tactic of straight denial!

    One can lead the horse to the well, but one cannot make it drink ;=)

  • Merseymike says:

    Dave ; the problem is that to a liberal, proper analysis is something quite different than the meaning of the same to a conservative. As is the level of authority of the Bible.

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