Thinking Anglicans

Reaction to Williams statement

Press reaction is mostly focused on the potential for a split in Anglicanism. Some examples:

BBC Archbishop raises idea of split

The Telegraph has Archbishop of Canterbury plans Anglican split

The worldwide Anglican Communion could be divided into “associated” and “constituent” provinces in an attempt to resolve the impasse over homosexuality, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said.

Ruth Gledhill in The Times goes further, singling out the American Church as a target for exclusion:

in The Times: Worldwide Anglican church facing split over gay bishop

The Archbishop of Canterbury has outlined proposals that are expected to lead to the exclusion of The Episcopal Church of the United States from the Anglican Church as a consequence of consecrating a gay bishop.

and in her blog, Gledhill writes: an ABC of schism

Never again can anyone accuse him of failing to give leadership, or of not speaking plainly. … The thrust of the letter, an intense and passionate theological teaching document for any who are prepared to listen, seems to be that episcopalians in the US and anywhere else who are unwilling to sign up to a covenant setting out Anglicanism in its orthodox and traditional, biblical form will be consigned to “associate” status. They will no longer be full Anglicans.

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Steven
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Steven

Of course, its rather mean and nasty of me (which will not surprise my detractors), but I cannot help but observe the irony of all of this in view of the new PB and her ardent supporters. It seems that her elevation is a bit of a pyrrhic victory after all. Seemingly, she’ll barely have a chance to get herself in the clubhouse door before she’s thrust back out in the cold along with the rest of the representatives of “associate” members. Likewise, for the denomination she represents, a continued hammering against the perceptions and strictures of the communion as… Read more »

bls
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I’m cool with not being a “full Anglican.” Under these conditions especially.

But they’ll still have to deal with us.

Merseymike
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Merseymike

Given that at least a third of the CofE wouldn’t be able to sign up to that sort of doctrinal statement, we could be in interesting times!

thomas bushnell, bsg
Guest

if the covenant includes all of the provisions of the windsor report’s mandated apologies and moratoria, and all of the provisions of Lambeth 1998 1.10, then no church could possibly join, because no church has done what was promised in 1.10, and no church has done the pleasing things about human rights for gay people that those resolutions and documents call for. but we already know that the “we will listen to gay people” and “we stand for gay civil rights” talk was just a dishonest lie. it will only compound the dishonesty if those parts are conveniently left out… Read more »

Nick Finke
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Nick Finke

Rather than being a blueprint for schism, as it is somewhat simplistically described by Ms. Gledhill and others, it seems to me that the document is actually a challenge to the authenticity of the Christian faith of each one of us, no matter what party we belong to. It reminds us of the uncomfortable truth that as Christians we all need each other, that ‘only the whole Church knows the whole truth.’ It sets us the challenge that “if we believe that we are answerable to something more than our immediate environment and its priorities and are held in unity… Read more »

Tobias S Haller BSG
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Tobias S Haller BSG

Not bad; not bad at all. Finally a response that begins to make a good bit of sense, and lays out some clear paths for the future. Thank you, +++Rowan. I, for one, could live with the “second track” solution; maybe even prefer it! After all, what does it mean in practice to be “second class” in this new split-level Communion: not going to Lambeth, maybe not being part of ACC (which takes a vote of 2/3ds of the primates — including us and Canada and SA and Mexico etc.) So let’s say that’s what happens; as my CPE supervisor… Read more »

Jon
Guest

I don’t entirely see why Archbishop Williams assumes we need two tiers if we’re only talking about those currently in the AC. Why shouldn’t we take some of the stories about the events around the time of the American Revolution as inspiration, and insist that assent to the Covenant must be unanimous for the Covenant to come into force? Such an insistance could perhaps help everyone involved relax a little in the assurance that they wouldn’t be driven out of the family by any majority.

Jon

Merseymike
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Merseymike

I think ECUSA will opt to break away rather than fund a bigot’s communion. Let Akinola pay for it – will make a change from the usual begging bowl mentality.

bls
Guest

“I’m hopeful the two-track solution might actually be liberating for us all!

So let’s embrace an imperfect communion based on mission instead of a pure one based on the lifestyles of the missionaries!”

I couldn’t agree more. And actually I think I’ll be happier Downstairs.

sheila
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sheila

I trust that when the Anglican Sorting Hat is finally passed about, Ruth Gledhill will end up in Slytherin.

The Episcopal Church and the rest of those who believe in full inclusion of glbt people have a number of good options. I would give a lot to spend the next ten years focussed on our witness and our mission and not on purity codes.

David Huff
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David Huff

bls wrote, “I’m cool with not being a “full Anglican.” Under these conditions especially.”

I’m with her. Pre-2003, the word “Anglican” gave me a nice feeling, like I was connected to the Mother Country (most of my ancestors came to the New World via the Virginia Colony).

But now ? Quite frankly, and with apologies to all the good-hearted CoE folks on the other side of the pond, it just makes me a bit sick to my stomach. American ANGLICAN Council, ANGLICAN Communion Network, ANGLICAN “Mainstream,” etc… you get the picture.

TheWesternSeminarian
Guest

Pity Rowan has forgotten the tradition of a church that does not care for windows into men’s souls – that only asks that we all pray by the same book. I see him as being a midget in a huge suit of armor. Unable to actually weild the power given to him, he must appease, appease, appease. I wish he would move to Nigeria and join those whose values he finds so much more valid.

Patrick Bridges
Guest

So, will the CoE have to be an associate member of the Anglican Covenant since they support “challenging” ideas like ordaining women, allowing their priests to be in same-sex unions, and might actually have (*gasp*) women bishops in the near future?

Jeremy
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Jeremy

How is this plan ever to work? As I see it, the “1st Class” members will be the CoE and the Global South. The “2nd Class” members will be the developed world. At what point are the people of the CoE (numbering approximately 17 at this point) going to look around and notice that it’s nothing but them and some very strange (not queer) men from a land far away sitting at a table arguing about who’s on top? Meanwhile, the Americans, Canadians, Scots, Aussies, Kiwis, etc. are partying on the sidelines. Can the CoE exclude itself from the Anglican… Read more »

Rob Hall
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Rob Hall

Archbishop Rowan doesn’t seem to want to recognise the pre-conditions necessary for the two tier approach to work as advertised. As Bishop Nazir-Ali showed us, this “solution” will turn into a “divorce that dare not speak its name,” as not everyone involved wants to work on the assumption that all Anglican churches are Christian.

The sense of proportion driving this “solution” is also flawed, as the American Church is the only situation that Archbishop Rowan’s “solution” wants to address. Why is the “divorce that dare not speak its name” paper so silent about the Province of Central Africa?

Mark
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Mark

What worries me about this whole debate and especially the tone of it, is that a huge proportion of the comments being made are about the behaviour of other people. YOUR behaviour, your belief is MY first order communion breaking issue. The sense that we have all sinned and fall short of God’s glory – or as Jesus put it we need to remove the lump of wood from our own eye before we can see properly the speck of dust in our neighbour’s – seems to be absent from consciousness: which is presumably why the teaching was given in… Read more »

John Henry
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John Henry

Before the release of ++Rowan Cantuar’s official statement, I was re-reading for my personal edification Humphrey Carpenter’s biography of ++Robert Runcie, 102nd Cantuar, published in 1996. ++Robert Cantuar dealt very openly, in his interviews with +Harry Carpenter’s son, with the issue of homosexuality in the C of E, especially among teachers of theology at Oxford and Cambridge. Years ago respected gay C of E clergy came out of the closet, owning up to their sexual preferences. Not a big deal at that time, compared to the African and ACN outrage that gays and lesbians seem to provoke these days. The… Read more »

NP
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NP

Merseymike – Akinola does not seem worried about losing US money, does he? Some people have principles

If you want to talk about “begging” – look at the English “liberals” who are sustained by money they diocese gets from the growing evangelical churches! Hypocrisy….

Anyway, CofE “liberals”, please join TEC – it is tiring funding you and embarassing being associated with your declining numbers even as you claim to be “inclusive” and shrink year by year.

Alan Marsh
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Alan Marsh

John Henry asks, “Weren’t the openly gay clergy at Oxford, Cambridge and Mirfield an integral part of his academic circle of friends a few years ago?”

Tempora mutantur et nos in illis.

Ahem, the debate has moved on a little since then.

Cheryl Clough
Guest

This was probably inevitable, unless those who would support or are GLBT were prepared to deny themselves and silently submit to the absolutist conservative paradigm. It is not necessarily going to be an easy process, I for one ponder what to do, being based in Sydney and a diocese that is proud of its uniformity (which makes me an ugly duckling indeed). There will be other dioceses that will also have people who have been isolated from sister/brother souls (at both ends of the spectrum), and the question will need to be addressed of how to link with a branch… Read more »

Tony
Guest
Tony

It is good to see some measured statements by Rowan Williams. As an outsider who attends Anglican services, I think what I have found most disturbing over the past few years is what I would call the Frank Sinatra mentality of some parts of the American church – I did it my way (and if you don’t like it, tough); the disregard for the idea of a body of christ in favour of an ideology of individualism, and the triumphant tone of having done something that they know will cause problems. I can see no objection to women bishops or… Read more »

Tim
Guest

I agree, bls and others are onto something. Let us consider it in terms of 3 positions: a) it is permissible for someone who is gay to become a bishop subject to the same criteria as anyone else (ie being good for the job); b) we must have some representation of LGBT folks amongst our bishops; c) there can be no LGBT bishops. I would object to the latter two on the grounds that they impose constraints on God, serving an earthly institution’s hierarchy rather than giving God any say in who does His work when & where. Additionally, they… Read more »

AlaninLondon
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AlaninLondon

Naturally, all of you are focussing on the gay aspect to all of this. When it comes to negotiating the terms of this covenant, given that most of the primates will be from conservative non-women ordaining churches, will those churches that ordain women priest and/or bishops be offered associate status only? An interesting thought. (I think it is not only gay and lesbian Anglicans who need to be afraid but also women.) Second thought. The Anglican church in England is ‘by law establised’. If, as +Rowan indicates, core and associate membership could mean core and associate status WITHIN a province,… Read more »

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

John Henry- What you are saying is that Rowan Williams ought to side with his friends. In other words, weighing up the issues and arguments counts for nothing, merely sticking to cliques. It reminds me of the commendations on the backs of books that come from the author’s best friend (keep it in the family!). To which one responds: how can I tell if it’s a good book or not – because the best friend ‘would say that, wouldn’t they?’. If we all simply agreed with our friends, it follows that they should also agree with us. End result, everyone… Read more »

Spirit of Vatican II
Guest

The ECUSA made a very good impression on Christians worldwide last week. We saw a human church, engaged in open discussion, Pauline parrhesia — a church of the people and very much a church of the Gospel.

And for this it is threatened with secondary status, while the Nigerian prelates who trample on basic Gospel values, of justice, mercy and charity, are assured of full ecclesial health?

Funny the ECUSA react as if they seem almost happy with second-rate status. I guess it makes them feel close to Jesus, who was banished outside the walls?

Spirit of Vatican II
Guest

The ECUSA made a very good impression on Christians worldwide last week. We saw a human church, engaged in open discussion, Pauline parrhesia — a church of the people and very much a church of the Gospel.

And for this it is threatened with secondary status, while the Nigerian prelates who trample on basic Gospel values, of justice, mercy and charity, are assured of full ecclesial health?

Funny the ECUSA react as if they seem almost happy with second-rate status. I guess it makes them feel close to Jesus, who was banished outside the walls?

Steven
Guest
Steven

Alaninlondon:

Interesting thoughts. As previously noted, the devil’s in the details. There is a lot of ground to be covered, one way or another, between here and there.

Tony:

Thanks for the thoughts as an outsider, especially one with “liberal” proclivities. However, you’ll never get’em (TEC libs) to admit that their own attitude is primarily at fault. They compare themselves with themselves which is, of course, no comparison at all.

Steven

Spirit of Vatican II
Guest

R Williams’ reflection is interesting, worth pondering a lot. This paragraph struck me: “It is true that witness to what is passionately believed to be the truth sometimes appears a higher value than unity, and there are moving and inspiring examples in the twentieth century. If someone genuinely thinks that a move like the ordination of a practising gay bishop is that sort of thing, it is understandable that they are prepared to risk the breakage of a unity they can only see as false or corrupt. But the risk is a real one; and it is never easy to… Read more »

mynsterpreost
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mynsterpreost

Perhaps Akinola is not worried about losing ECUSA money because he already has other conservative sources bankrolling him? I recall Andrew Brown suspecting that at the last Lambeth there was a lot of cash rolling around certain pressure groups which most emphatically did not pass through ECUSA’s books. I do find NP’s argument (which can be boiled down to ‘push off you liberals, we don’t need you’) a little simplistic. For one thing, I don’t regard myself as at all liberal — more a critical-orthodox (hows that for a neologism?) yet have considerable sympathy with a non-fundamentalist reading of scripture… Read more »

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

NP; I think there will be a good many CofE members and churches who do opt for TEC. Certainly they could not, in good conscience, sign up to anything the so-called Global South would approve of!

It will certainly be a lot easier to reformulate a Christian mesage for the postmodern society without those who prefer revealed messages of an earlier era.

Gerry Lynch
Guest

most of the primates will be from conservative non-women ordaining churches

This isn’t true. Most Anglican provinces now ordain women to the priesthood.

Graham
Guest
Graham

AlaninLondon raises some interesting points, particularly regarding establishment.
But on a personal level, as someone residing in the province of Canterbury who could not in any way agree to the covenant as described, where would my membership lie? No TEA, no flying bishops. I don’t particularly want to break communion with anyone, but am feeling increasingly cast aside. Am I henceforth an Associate Anglican? An Episcopalian? Or simply a Christian, trying desperately to hang onto faith, truth and love?

Cynthia Gilliatt
Guest
Cynthia Gilliatt

“Naturally, all of you are focussing on the gay aspect to all of this. When it comes to negotiating the terms of this covenant, given that most of the primates will be from conservative non-women ordaining churches, will those churches that ordain women priest and/or bishops be offered associate status only?” An interesting thought indeed. A little more thought could turn up some more points of differing practice and belief: Remarriage after divorce? Only if the spouse is dead? Only once? More than once? Lay presidency? Elected or appointed bishops? Then there are the more characteristically American protestant deal breakers:… Read more »

Nick Finke
Guest
Nick Finke

I agree completely with Jonathan Clark above. The main thrust of the reflection is that it wants to challenge us to learn how to live together in charity, not to divide into self-satisfied doctrinally pure camps.

I am greatly saddened by the number of those on both sides who seem to assume that such an effort is doomed to failure.

Prior Aelred
Guest

Off the wall idea, but what if it is the Central African, Southeast Asian & Southern Cone of South American churches were are accorded second class status for their exclusionary policies (actually, I think the the points raised by AlaninLondon & Stephen Bates regarding the feasibility of the notion probably renders the question moot).

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

Nick ; I don’t wish to ‘live together’with conservative evangelicals. They follow an entirely different religious path. Separation would be both more honest and infinitely preferable – there can be no compromise between two such diametrically opposed outlooks.

John Henry
Guest
John Henry

Wrote Christopher Shell: “John Henry- What you are saying is that Rowan Williams ought to side with his friends. In other words, weighing up the issues and arguments counts for nothing, merely sticking to cliques.” You misread my intention. I was appealing to ++Rowan Cantuar’s personal integrity and conscience rather than admonishing him to “stick with his friends”. Moral integrity, and having experienced ‘out-of-the-closet’ gays as theological teachers of international reputation at Oxford, Cambridge and Mirfield, he should, if there is any moral fiber in him (and I am not saying or alleging that there is not), offer to ‘designate’… Read more »

Pete
Guest
Pete

merseymike, and all whose beliefs reject those who differ… is the “no compromise” a Christian posture? Why can I not live and commune and worship with those whose beliefs are antithetical to mine? I can worship (I hope) with an Akinola if he is willing to kneel at the rail with me. I could accept the body of Christ from him. I could recognize that he is a sinner as I am. Is this not the essence of being Anglican? Remember who is God here, my friends.

NP
Guest
NP

Dear mynsterpreost you are right – we (the vast majority of Anglicans, even in England) do not need the “liberals” because they only bring confusion, falling numbers, financial deficits and burdens on the majority, distraction and their made up religion which ignores the Bible whenever it suits. “conservatives” are not wanting to feel superior toanyone – we just want to have some confidence that people ordained in the church actually believe what they signed up to….we have had decades of bishops and vicars undermining the Bible and the articles of the church and now the time has come, as the… Read more »

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

Hi John Henry Is it true that RW experienced ‘theological teachers of international reputation at Oxford, Cambridge and Mirfield’ who were also ‘out’? Mirfield – OK Harry Williams – scarcely a major international theologian. Though I have long thought that the friendship of such figures may be a factor for RW, much as it shouldn’t be if one is wanting to be objective. The ones at Oxford and Cambridge escape me – who were they? I was at both institutions over 15 years in the 1980s and 1990s, and they were certainly not thick on the ground, let alone strident… Read more »

mynsterpreost
Guest
mynsterpreost

“undermining the Bible” Yes, dreadful. We should really have learned from the Taliban and destroyed anything inconveniently disturbing of bibliolatry. Perhaps a ban on studying the Biblical languages would help, along with the torching of the Vatican/John Rylands/British libraries. Silence any archaeologist not currently leading an expedition to find Noah’s Ark. The odd well placed stick of dynamite at places like Kuntillet ‘Arjud wouldn’t come amiss either. Pardon my spleen, but if talking about what the Bible says (rather than branding it infallible and inerrant and then performing theological gymnastics like ‘as originally given’ to hold the resultant mess together)is… Read more »

mynsterpreost
Guest
mynsterpreost

The “liberal” message of “believe what you like and let’s play church” has only emptied churches for decades I’m no sociologist of religion, but it would be interesting to know at what point the clergy of the CofE (for example) became ‘liberal’. If decline is to be pinned on ‘liberals’ then we would expect a pretty close correlation, would we not — but the decline began in 1906, at which time I would guess that the liberal option was not even on the parish horizon. I believe that extremist expressions of faith are building in most faith traditions. Were I… Read more »

NP
Guest
NP

Dear mynsterpreost

If you are right and “liberals” are seeing growth too, when can evangelicals expect to stop giving money to subsidise them?

Alpha or “liberalism” for church growth – the ABC clearly knows which team to back

mynsterpreost
Guest
mynsterpreost

“If you are right and “liberals” are seeing growth too, when can evangelicals expect to stop giving money to subsidise them?” I refer you back to my earlier point – the study that in real terms, those ‘successful’ HTB-esque parishes often have a lower level of giving than their (on the face of it) underperforming brothers and sisters in less economically favoured areas. Sacrificial giving is to be found in all parts of the Church — if Alpha-esque Christianity is appealing disproportionately to the rich and comfortable, perhaps we should be worried? I am aware of one such congregation flourishing… Read more »

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

Decline began in 1906: Correct, I am sure – although this was a decline from an impossibly high peak. From memory WW1 also had a negative effect. To some extent, this was inevitable, since if you kill off such a high proportion of the country, churchgoing stats (like all other kinds of stats) aint exactly going to go up. But the steepest decline has its roots in the 1960s. One could try to argue that this had nothing to do with the social and political changes that took place then – but this would be special pleading. It has everything… Read more »

mynsterpreost
Guest
mynsterpreost

“since if you kill off such a high proportion of the country, churchgoing stats (like all other kinds of stats) aint exactly going to go up.”

I think the causes were rather more deep rooted than that. And I’m not too sure about the 1960’s argument — ‘post hoc’ does not mean ‘propter hoc’ for one thing. One might argue (mischievously) that the ’60s decline was a reaction to vain attempts to maintain 1950’s authoritarianism, and that the so-called ‘liberal’ response was an attempt to stem the haemorrhage?

Any sociologists out there?