In his Fulcrum lecture last Saturday, Bishop Tom Wright said this (emphasis added):
…Fourth, we have seen, predictably but sadly, the rise of the super-apostles, who have wanted everything to be cut and dried in ways for which our existing polity simply did not, and does not, allow. Please note, I do not for one moment underestimate the awful situation that many of our American and Canadian friends have found themselves in, vilified, attacked and undermined by ecclesiastical authority figures who seem to have lost all grip on the gospel of Jesus Christ and to be eager only for lawsuits and property squabbles. I pray daily for many friends over there who are in intolerable situations and I don’t underestimate the pressures and strains. But I do have to say, as well, that these situations have been exploited by those who have long wanted to shift the balance of power in the Anglican Communion and who have used this awful situation as an opportunity to do so. And now, just as the super-apostles were conveying the message to Paul that if he wanted to return to Corinth he’d need letters of recommendation, we are told that, if we want to go on being thought of as evangelicals, we should withdraw from Lambeth and join the super-gathering which, though not officially, is clearly designed as an alternative, and which of course hands an apparent moral victory to those who can cheerfully wave goodbye to the ‘secessionists’. I have written about this elsewhere, and it is of course a very sad situation which none of us (I trust) would wish but which seems to be worsening by the day…
This has been commented on at Fulcrum by Graham Kings who suggests that this is a response to what the Dean of Sydney said:
Phillip Jensen, in his address in Sydney on 14 March 2008, ‘The Limits of Fellowship’, said:
To those bishops who go to Lambeth knowing the unrepentant homosexual activity is wrong – your profession of evangelical credentials will always be tarnished.
And he also explains the reference to elsewhere in the last sentence quoted above:
…that last sentence, which refers to an earlier article. This, it seems to me, is the one written for the Church Times, 28 January 2008, and co-published with permission on Fulcrum, ‘Evangelicals are not about to jump ship’…
In that earlier article, Bishop Tom had said (again emphasis added):
The rationale of GAFCON (the Global Anglican Future Conference) is: “The Communion is finished; nothing new can happen; it’s time to split.” No mention is made of the Windsor report, the proposed Anglican Covenant, or, indeed, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Advent letter, insisting as it does on scriptural authority, which GAFCON seems to regard as its monopoly.
That last point is crucial. To say “scripture is our authority” does not commit anyone to joining the small group represented by Chris Sugden, Martyn Minns, and Peter Jensen. It is clear that they are the prime movers and drafters, making a mockery of Canon Sugden’s claim (Comment, 11 January) that GAFCON is about rescuing the Churches from Western culture. But they have marshalled impressive support, particularly from great leaders like Henry Orombi of Uganda.
Our Communion has for the past five years been living through 2 Corinthians: the challenge to re-establish an authority based on the gospel alone and embodied in human weakness. Inevitably, “super-apostles” then emerge, declaring that such theology is for wimps.
To them I would say: Are they Evangelicals? So am I. Are they orthodox? So am I. Do they believe in the authority of scripture? So do I (including the bits they regularly downplay). Are they keen on mission? So am I, and on the full mission of God’s kingdom which an older Evangelicalism often ignores.
Those who want to be biblical should ponder what the Bible itself says about such things. There are many in the GAFCON movement whom I admire and long to see at Lambeth, but the movement itself is deeply flawed. It does not hold the moral, biblical, or Evangelical high ground.
To say no to GAFCON is not to say yes to the revisionist agendas prevailing in much of the Episcopal Church in the US. It is to say yes to a Lambeth Conference based on and taking forward the Archbishop’s agenda of Windsor and the Covenant, in pursuit of what Dr Williams refers to in his recent letter as “an authoritative common voice”.
Anglican Mainstream has responded to the recent lecture by publishing an article by Charles Raven Gospel Grip and Fulcrum Fantasy – a response to Tom Wright’s Fulcrum Conference Lecture ‘Conflict and Covenant in the Bible’. (Mr Raven is now Senior Minister of Christ Church Wyre Forest.)