Thinking Anglicans

Primates Meeting: more commentary 2

The Anglican Communion Institute has published Dublin Post-Mortem. The concluding paragraphs read:

…For all these reasons, the group of Primates who met in Dublin cannot be recognized as acting in accord with the accepted Communion understanding of the Primates’ Meeting as an Instrument of Communion. This Instrument thus joins the others as now being dysfunctional and lacking in communion credibility. The role of the Lambeth Conference as an Instrument of Communion is to “express episcopal collegiality worldwide.” But in 2008, when the bishops of most Anglicans “worldwide” were not present, it could not perform this function. It accomplished little of substance and is now regarded throughout much of the Communion as a symbol of futility. Similarly, the Anglican Consultative Council has been re-structured legally so that it is no longer recognizable as the Instrument defined in the Covenant or in past Anglican documents. The role of the Archbishop of Canterbury as an Instrument of Communion is to function as “a primacy of honor and respect among the college of bishops,” as “a focus and means of unity,” and the one who “gathers” the Lambeth Conference and Primates’ Meetings. Whatever may be said about the cause of the disintegration, it is incontrovertible empirically that Canterbury has been unable to perform this function over the last three years. The Communion thus finds itself with no working Instrument that has been able to perform its necessary function, follow its rules, and garner credible acceptance from the majority of the Communion.

We are left with a grouping—one can no longer say “communion”—of three dozen or so autonomous churches, many of whom are not in communion with others, without any effective Instruments of Communion to bind them together. This is made no less heartbreaking by being the Communion’s obvious trajectory for several years.

But we can only proceed from where we are. The first task for those who share a Communion ecclesiology is to begin to re-constitute working Instruments of Communion. These will necessarily be provisional at first, but if the Communion is to survive they must evolve into Instruments that actually work to unite the member churches of the Communion. If church history, including our own recent experience, teaches anything it is that neither confessions without instruments nor instruments without common faith and order are sufficient to preserve unity. As recently noted by the Secretary General, the vast majority of the Communion continues to share Anglicanism’s historic faith and order notwithstanding its rejection by two provinces. What is needed as a matter of urgency are Instruments that express that common faith. We call on the Primates representing the vast preponderance of Anglicans, together with their colleagues, to take up the charge of seeing to the furtherance of the Communion and we pledge our prayers to that end.

Bishop David Anderson of ACNA and the American Anglican Council in his latest weekly email quoted various other commentators and then wrote this:

…For my own opinion on the leadership of the Anglican Communion I would refer you to last week’s AAC Weekly Update, and my lead comments.

And here is what he had written (before the Dublin meeting took place):

Many of the primates have made their reasons for being absent very clear in public and private correspondence to Dr. Williams, who is the convener. However, the Anglican Communion Office, headed by Canon Kenneth Kearon, has concocted reasons for some of them that are simply disingenuous. Most of the primates have made it clear to Dr. Williams why they are absent and why they are frustrated and disappointed in his leadership. With this fact in mind, there is a question that begs to be asked; “Is Dr. Williams competent to lead the Communion?” You would be surprised if you polled liberal revisionists and orthodox conservatives to find that many on both sides would answer NO. It is time to acknowledge before the world that the emperor has no clothes, and the Archbishop of Canterbury has no competency to lead the Communion.

We do understand the formal process that led to the royal appointment/directive of Dr. Williams as Archbishop of Canterbury, but in practical, realpolitik terms, Williams was chosen by Prime Minister Tony Blair to assist in Blair’s task of blending church and state agendas to the gay agenda. One should be able to ask why in the world the entire Anglican Communion should be subject to a manipulative prelate chosen by a politician elected by a secular government. If there is no way to replace a failed archbishop and restart with an actually spiritual (in a historical and understandable sense) archbishop, then those who can see failure and call it for what it is need to look elsewhere for leadership.

The Anglican Communion is a wonderful global family that has some real dysfunction, and as is often the case, the heart of the dysfunction sits in the center. The heart of the dysfunction is not TEC, nor Bishop V. Gene Robinson, nor Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori. That these have perpetrated grossly unbiblical misconduct and deserve to be severely punished is clear enough, but to posit the blame on all of them gives them entirely too much credit and feeds their sense of importance. The blame properly falls on the spiritual father who should have disciplined the miscreants and is now unable to act for the well being of both the miscreants and the rest of the family. To be effective, discipline needs to be clear, redemptive in nature, and prompt – all of which Dr. Williams is unwilling and unable to fulfill.

In a more perfect world we could announce, “NEXT!” and pick a new one. As it is, the process will be unsure, open to failure, possessing unforeseen collateral effect, and take much more time. Will the Anglican Communion survive? Possibly, but most likely not in the form we have known. Perhaps there will be a healing of the orthodox Global South stress fracture, and a new way forward will be found. Fortunately, God is still sovereign, and the church still belongs to him, and in time he will set right what man has over turned…

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Martin Reynolds
Martin Reynolds
10 years ago

So sad to read the ACI essay. It is so poor, one wonders where all the care and diligence that once characterised their work has gone. I may not have agreed with what they wrote in the past but it usually deserved respect – this is just tosh, although it follows a predictable decline.

I don’t even think it deserves further engagement.

Malcolm French+
10 years ago

The five bad writers with a website need to be called on their BS. The centralized Anglican Communion they describe, complete with a Lambeth Vatican and a Primatial Curia is a fabrication – or, in plainer English, a lie. This misleading meme is to 21st century Anglicanism what the forged decretals and the mythological donation of Constantine were to the Western Church through the Middle Ages.

Bill Moorhead
Bill Moorhead
10 years ago

To the Anglican Communion Institute: Your mom called. It’s time for you to come home now.

Randal Oulton
Randal Oulton
10 years ago

>> As recently noted by the Secretary General, the vast majority of the Communion continues to share Anglicanism’s historic faith and order notwithstanding its rejection by two provinces.

Two provinces. I reckon that’s Canada and America. The hope of the future for all mankind for the past 500 years. Which would be why they all are beating down the doors to get in.

We are the future, not the past.

Randal Oulton
Randal Oulton
10 years ago

David Cameron, Prime Minister of the UK on sexual equality:

“Freedom of speech. Freedom of worship. Democracy. The rule of law. Equal rights, regardless of race, sex or sexuality. It says to its citizens: This is what defines us as a society. To belong here is to believe these things. Each of us in our own countries must be unambiguous and hard-nosed about this defence of our liberty.”

Note: to belong here is to believe these things.

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
10 years ago

I am sure that if the GAFCON Primates do move to a formalised split from canterbury, they will find division within their own provinces..there will be fragmentation, not two clear cut communions.
Andersons stuff about +Rowans appointment and Blairs realpolik is simply crackers.

Martin Reynolds
Martin Reynolds
10 years ago

No Malcolm, some of their work is very well written. Some indeed has been first class, in the early days their work was challenging and well prepared – even more recently there was a first class analysis by Ephraim Radner I remember, and the most recent articles on the Anglican Communion by Turner were for a large part well drawn and insightful. But gradually they started to build on shaky ground of their own making – taking their own opinions as fact. One could see the trajectory as they became more involved in the politics and replaced sound thinking with… Read more »

JCF
JCF
10 years ago

“Williams was chosen by Prime Minister Tony Blair to assist in Blair’s task of blending church and state agendas to the gay agenda”

Can anyone—w/o an “agenda” divorced from reality—SRSLY believe this?! [Yeah, Blair was so slavishly pro “gay agenda”, he Poped! :-X]

I’m embarrassed to *read* it, nevermind who wrote it…

Simon Sarmiento
10 years ago

This is the same David Anderson who, this time last year, was seeking to persuade the CofE General Synod that it should in some sense “recognise” ACNA.

Susannah Clark
Susannah Clark
10 years ago

There is actually very little wrong with having a “grouping of thirty or so autonomous” churches… …and in the second article… “gay agenda”…? Is there a “heterosexual agenda”? There are just people, trying to live their lives, love their partners, serve their communities. There is, however, discrimination and marginalisation of LGBT men and women, and the resulting diminution of lives, and lost flourishing, and loss of gifts to the Church. As for Rowan Williams not being “spiritual”… I’m left gasping at such judgment… and I remain deeply impressed by Rowan’s spirituality and insights on prayer, especially in the tradition of… Read more »

Michael Russell
10 years ago

It is good to see the ACI stuff aired out here. Their whole argument is built on the notion of “if they are right about the Primates being a council”. Sadly that if is now and always has been wrong. The ACI and its predecessor SEAD intellectually invented the so called instruments and sold them to various parties in the communion. Each of the so called instruments bought in thinking they would be the primary instrument. The ACI was rooting for that primacy to be among the Primates because their own bully position depended on the notion that a numerical… Read more »

JPM
JPM
10 years ago

This is also the same David Anderson who said, on CNN, that he was in the Episcopal Church at that time because “I like a good fight.”

Richard Ashby
Richard Ashby
10 years ago

‘That these have perpetrated grossly unbiblical misconduct and deserve to be severely punished is clear enough, but to posit the blame on all of them gives them entirely too much credit and feeds their sense of importance. The blame properly falls on the spiritual father who should have disciplined the miscreants and is now unable to act for the well being of both the miscreants and the rest of the family’. There is something very odd about ‘Bishop’ David’s language. The language of an old fashioned headmaster of a ‘Public School’ (for USA readers actually a private school). ‘Deserve to… Read more »

Lapinbizarre
Lapinbizarre
10 years ago

“….delight to bark and bite, it is their nature to.”

EmilyH
EmilyH
10 years ago

As to whom or what to put your chips on. Pt. 1 Please recall Ephraim Radner’s Stand Firm post on Lambeth 2008 06-06-2007 at 05:16 AM The discussion was whether Lambeth was a council of the church..or whether it should be. Prior to the conference, Radner said: “As far as I can see, Matt’s reaction is on the level of “I don’t want Lambeth to be read in terms analagous to Nicea or Constantinople—i.e. as a council of the Church—and therefore I shall insist that it isn’t.” My point is that it could be seen as such, in the light… Read more »

Nat
Nat
10 years ago

“Gay agenda”?

Isn’t that filed on the same shelf as the Protocols of the Elders of Zion? The shelf marked “Doesn’t Exist”?

Charlotte
Charlotte
10 years ago

Thanks to Randal Oulton for introducing David Cameron’s “multiculturalism has failed” speech to this discussion. The Tory Prime Minister argues strongly that his government should take an active interest in the preservation of what he terms liberal Western values. He insists that new immigrants, whatever their faith, be prepared to uphold them. These values include “equal rights, regardless of race, sex or sexuality.” This is not at all the same as the “persecuted Christian” motif Lord Carey has introduced to the political discussion in Britain. It’s something quite different, which moreover fits poorly into the US liberal/conservative dichotomy. The IRD/Stand… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
10 years ago

“the group of Primates who met in Dublin cannot be recognized as acting in accord with the accepted Communion understanding of the Primates’ Meeting as an Instrument of Communion. This Instrument thus joins the others as now being dysfunctional and lacking in communion credibility” – A.C.I. Statement on P’s Meeting –

As Malcolm has already suggested, the sheer improbabililty of A.C.I.’s understanding of the real situation within the Anglican Communion at large renders their opinion on this, and other, subjects of liberality within the Communion, null and void. Really, just so much Taurean manure.

Malcolm French+
10 years ago

Martin, in gvstibvs, non est dispvtandem, I guess. But even back in the old days when ACI articles were thoughtful, academically credible and well reasoned, they were never well written. Tye prose style has been consistently overwrought and vaguely archaic.

Göran Koch-Swahne
10 years ago

I am with Charlotte!

Martin Reynolds
Martin Reynolds
10 years ago

Yes, that was true, Malcolm ….. our tastes are not too different …. I have myself constantly complained about their overblown style ….

So you are correct.

Martin Reynolds
Martin Reynolds
10 years ago

And apart from your own stuff Malcolm, also well worth reading is that other ACI watcher who also comments above.

There are two good pieces at Michael Russell’s blog
http://eudaimonia.blogs.com/anglican_minimalist/2011/01/anglican-communion-if-stitute.html
http://eudaimonia.blogs.com/anglican_minimalist/2011/01/aci-d-ic-blast-from-the-cold-north.html
… both worth a read

Richard Grand
Richard Grand
10 years ago

Two things: 1. Why is David Anderson on mission to get rid of Rowan Williams when he has already left the Anglican Communion anyway? What does he care unless he thinks that someone more acceptable to him would recognize ACNA? 2. As a response to EmilyH: It is an important principle in the Communion that all have equal votes. The idea that power and influence is predicated on numbers (“They have numbers on their side”) is unscriptural and unfair. Not only do numbers say very little (how are they measured and what defines membership?) but they can be used as… Read more »

Derek Gagne
Derek Gagne
10 years ago

It’s interesting that those who are continually telling us what a disaster the Communion is (and usually +Rowan Williams) are also those who have a vested interest in its demise. They tell us it’s over because they want it to be. These are often people who have already sold their souls to the Gafcon or ACNA people anyway, or vice versa. They think that saying it is so makes it so.

Cynthia Gilliatt
Cynthia Gilliatt
10 years ago

If you google “gay agenda,” you will find various versions, some of which are the product of the paranoid fears of the religious right, and many of which are quite funny satires on the same.

EmilyH
EmilyH
10 years ago

For Mr. Grand…I would agree with you regarding representation. One of the great concerns I have always had is the potential for tyranny of the majority. That cuts either way, by the right or the left. The words I quoted were +Radner’s not my own. It was he who suggested re: Lambeth that the GS show up and vote as it had the numbers..the implication being the work of the Spirit was the work of the majority. Simon has not yet posted Part 2, in it, I tried to illustrate that the right has tried to capture each of the… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
10 years ago

“The marginalized toward whom Christ’s ministry was directed had no numbers. The disciples had no numbers. But Pilate and the Chief Priest did”. – Posted by: Richard Grand on Monday – What a beautifully expressed couple of sentences in the English language that actually tells us ‘how it is’ with the real focus of the Gospel. I still remember the opposite focus of the old *Global South* web-site – upon which I was barred from commenting after the drift of my opposition to its ingrained denigration of TEC’s (and the Anglican Church of Canada’s) life-giving outreach to the marginalised LGBT… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
10 years ago

EmilyH’s part 2 was posted, but on another thread. I am copying it below. EmilyH wrote: Pt. 2 from above…After Lambeth 2008 failed to do what Radner+ wanted, he did not seem to give it the credibility he had forecast. The same may be the case for the Primates Meeting. If the Meeting does what is desired, Dromantine and Dar-es-Salaam, then it is authoritative, if it doesn’t, then it isn’t. Again, if ++Rowan Williams does what is wanted, he is authoritative, if not, he isn’t. Terry Holmes in What is Anglicanism wrote: “Clarity of authority should not be expected–in fact… Read more »

Leonardo Ricardo
10 years ago

There are just people, trying to live their lives, love their partners, serve their communities.¨ SC Yup, what extravagant demands of ¨hello/abre su ojos/nice to see ya¨ we make upon the most holy, the self-proclaimed Godly, the Squeamish, the genuinely mean, the demonizing/the hysterical deniers/revisers of the Holocaust and the twisters of everyday TRUTH (which are often bold faced lies)–we, the LGBTI people near you are your families/friends/coworkers and ¨peace be with/next to you¨ pew sitters–not to worry, if we ¨had¨ something contagious you would have gotten IT already, already…please note we certainly didn´t ¨catch heterosexuality from YOU even though… Read more »

Derek Gagne
Derek Gagne
10 years ago

“the implication being the work of the Spirit was the work of the majority”. If one applies this thinking to the Church, there was a time when the majority of Christians believed Arius.

Randal Oulton
Randal Oulton
10 years ago

>> Williams was chosen by Prime Minister Tony Blair to assist in Blair’s task of blending church and state agendas to the gay agenda.

This man is absolutely blinded with hatred for LGBT people. He think everything centres around that which he hates. He’ll be blaming them next for the new cardboard milk cartons ASDA has introduced.

john
john
10 years ago

Agree entirely with Richard Ashby. The sentiments are so stupid, so offensive and so adrift from any sort of reality, moral or factual. Of course it’s good if these people look absurd. More broadly, I can’t quite see how if the outcome is recognition of provincial autonomy the hand of the centre (Canterbury, RW) is strengthened. So I agree with those who think the outcome is benign. As for the Covenant, its teeth seem to being progressively drawn. In the end it boils down to: there is a group of people who want to get on – sort of –… Read more »

Lapinbizarre
Lapinbizarre
10 years ago

“If the Meeting does what is desired, Dromantine and Dar-es-Salaam, then it is authoritative, if it doesn’t, then it isn’t.” Bull’s eye, Emily!

EmilyH
EmilyH
10 years ago

Again for Mr. Grand on why David Anderson is so concerned with Canterbury…. David Anderson runs the American Anglican Council (AAC not to be confused with Anglican Church of Canada) Its purpose is argue the position of the “orthodox” and influence decision makers. Anderson was present and at work, for example, at Dromantine and Dar-es-Salaam. It is also a principle funding organization for such activities. Anderson got his start at St. James Newport, CA, Howard Ahmanson’s parish…Ahmanson being a principle funder of the “orthodox” social agenda. Anderson has now been appointed a bishop (I believe Kenyan?) and is a priciple… Read more »

EmilyH
EmilyH
10 years ago

If, I am inaccurate on the precise charges, I will be happy to stand corrected by Fr. Armstrong. I am going on memory here.

Father Ron Smith
10 years ago

Interestingly, in the old ‘Global South’ website days, when the ACI fellows had some serious input into the emerging pre-GAFCON, pre ACNA, agenda; it seemed that Dr. Radner was one of the saner voices of the G.S. contingency. However, since the ABC has not proceeded to act according to what his American advisors at ACI (with some input from English Bishops like Nazir-Ali and + Winchester) were wanting of him; Radner, and the other 3 theologians on the board of ACI have proceeded to denigrate ++ Canterbury – after his decision not to outlaw TEC and the Anglican Church of… Read more »

Lapinbizarre
Lapinbizarre
10 years ago

Based on the relative clarity of the prose, I rather doubt that “Post-mortem” is primarily the work of Dr Radner.

EmilyH
EmilyH
10 years ago

The following is taken from the last bits of Philip Turner’s most recent contribution to the discussion….Again, they didn’t do what we wanted them to….. and the special bits about the deafening ears of the rich who will no longer be dining with the poor is really over the top. “The Primates who stayed away from Dublin did not do so because they had left the family. They did so because part of the family will not hear what they have to say, and the only way they have left to protest is to refuse to attend this particular meal.… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
Pat O'Neill
10 years ago

“They did so because part of the family will not hear what they have to say, and the only way they have left to protest is to refuse to attend this particular meal.”

Oh, we have listened…but we simply don’t agree. When these people pray, do they always expect the answer to be “yes”?

Father Ron Smith
10 years ago

“They seem to understand better than those who met in Dublin just how terrible this division is.
My guess also is that they understand better than those who were there in Dublin how much all suffer from this terrible divide.”

Of course ‘They’ understand better than the Primates who actually deigned to attend the recent Primates Conference in Dublin. ‘They’ remain the primary agents of schism within the Anglican Communion. There sure do understand! But it hasn’t made them repent of their homophobia and misogyny.

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