Skip to comments.To Whom It May Concern
Posted on 10/17/2005 6:59:14 PM PDT by sionnsar
Down here, I mentioned that one of the aspects of the Anglican controversy that infuriated me the most was the sociopathic refusal of ECUSA and New Westminster to recognize the radical nature of their actions in 2003. Heres something else I can quite happily do without. Open letters from traditionalist Anglicans like this one from the Anglican Communion Institute:
The proliferation of alternative oversight arrangements in the United States (and Canada; and now in South America) indicates that the level of discontent and disarray within the ECUSA and the Communion is high.
Some arrangements pre-date the General Convention 2003 developments, most specifically the never regularised Anglican Mission in America (AMiA). In addition, and in the light of General Convention 2003, other independent examples of alternative oversight in ECUSA have sprung up, that have involved a number of outside provinces.
There has been a specific call for such activity to cease for the time being, though because the failure to act conciliarly was first undertaken by ECUSA herself, there has been some sympathy for understanding why the necessity of such alternative arrangements made and continues to make itself felt.
This would be the "boundary crossing" issue ECUSA and New Westminster got the Lambeth Commission to waste time on.
So long as ECUSAs own walking apart remains officially vague and (within its own councils) not consciously declared to be such,
And never will be.
the danger is real that these arrangements will continue to cause mutual recrimination, fragmentation and disunity in the Communion, while the underlying cause of the problem is left without adjudication.
See Missouri, Los Angeles, Connecticut, etc.
Although a Panel of Reference is set up, it is unclear why it has not yet engaged any concrete problem.
Probably because its a dodge just like the rest of the Windsor Report but thats just a guess.
What is becoming clear is that the real burden here cannot be borne by Panels of Reference or Canterbury alone. This is an issue that requires the Primates themselves to sit down and determine a state of the question and an adequate response. Canterbury and the Primates together serve the college of Anglican bishops as a whole, and their common leadership in between Lambeth conferences in this regard is crucial. So, while it is the business of Canterbury to preside and invite, it is also now evident that the ad hoc character of Primatial responses to circumstances in ECUSA (and Canada and Brazil) calls out for an order the Primates themselves should address, evaluate and resolve on all the Communions behalf.
If the Primates dont take the bull by the horns, bad stuff will happen.
And a failure in this regard carries with it the very real risk of destroying what conciliar and evangelical faithfulness the Windsor Report in fact embodied and of dismantling the theological tools Windsor provided for a way forward. For even while it was the Reports vision of the Church and communion that the Primates explicitly accepted, the Reports concrete recommendations themselves have ended up not being followed, from ECUSAs side largely, and in a differing character because of that failure of ECUSA, from the side of many responding to ECUSAs evasions.
The outcome to this is unfortunately clear: the theological bases of Windsor are now being obscured in the eyes and minds of Anglicans and onlookers around the world. Vying views of the church, largely incoherent with Windsor, are re-asserting themselves and are being publicly defended, from ecclesiological minimalism to the asserted redefinition of the Communions Instruments of Unity to the complete negligence of such notions altogether in the forming of self-ordering alliances.
REAL bad stuff.
This has left the mission of the Anglican Communion and of Anglicanism itself in a state of utter confusion: far from ordering our common life, more splits and discouragements are being fomented among the faithful, causing many simply to leave Anglicanism for other churches or to abandon ecclesial existence altogether. Those who are intent on erecting their own brand of Anglicanism apart from common council should be aware that for every one they gather to their local brand, others are simply trading the whole object in for something completely different, which includes despair even over the Gospels claims.
Oh please. The idea that anyone would "abandon ecclesial existence altogether" or "despair even over the Gospels claims" because of the Anglican controversy is too ludicrous to waste any time on. And I dont know, I could be wrong about this but maybe, just maybe, the folks "who are intent on erecting their own brand of Anglicanism apart from common council" are doing so because they take "the Gospels claims" seriously and know that they dont need an Anglican Communion to advance and proclaim them. But these folks apparently think that the Anglican Communion is the only thing keeping Mordor at bay.
Federation itself something Canterbury, Windsor, and the Primates have themselves rejected as an acceptable goal and virtue for a Communion called to serve the Gospel and Christian unity is not only becoming the de facto default point, it is now being defended by liberal and conservative alike as an evangelical vocation an odd apologetic coupling which surely means that even this form of debased Christian relationship is doomed. At present, even the notion of discipline is being jettisoned in favor of simple distancing, detachments, and divorce. Obviously, when there is no longer any commitment to or hope in discipline, communion itself founders and Gospel is undercut.
The Anglican Primates need to step up and do...something.
Paradoxically, this confusion also underscores the fact that Windsor remains the only game in town (as one prominent theologian put it) with respect to coherent Anglicanism in world-wide mission. If that is so, at present only the Primates themselves can properly coordinate their commitments, mission, self-ordering and accountability to play the game responsibly, openly, and with discipline.
The danger is real that the Primates will externalise deliberations and hard decisions that they themselves are best suited to take up. They may decide that the pressure needs to be applied to the Panel of Reference, as that instrument called for by themselves. If it is necessary however to call an emergency meeting to address this problem, that is still preferable to ongoing alternative arrangements which, as stated above, run the danger of failing to address the matter most in need of address: in this case, ECUSAs unwillingness to live by the terms of Communion conciliarity and forbearance, as now most recently underscored in The Windsor Report.
To sum up, ECUSA and New Westminster have been relieving themselves all over the Windsor Report since its release. Therefore, the Anglican Primates need to call an emergency meeting and address the issue...somehow, since the Windsor Report is the only game in town. If they dont, the whole Anglican Communion will come crashing down and the cause of the Gospel itself will be severely wounded. William Tighe is quite rightly scornful.
If Anglicanism is a form of Catholicism with some Protestant features, then such an episcopal coup deglise would have been most welcome in 1977, 1978, 1979 or 1980 to deal with WO, but it is now 25+ years too late to be credible; if, by contrast it is a form of Reformed Protestant with a number of Catholic structural features (one is reminded of Queen Victorias characterization of the Church of England as reformed in doctrine, unreformed in structure), it wont ever happen, or fizzle in a half-cocked manner and do no good (since on what basis can bishops who do not claim the authority of Catholic bishops but are merely Methodistic or Lutheran pastors of pastors or CEOs claim authority for such a coup not that I am contending here that that is what Anglican bishops are) whatsoever, but rather speed the ongoing dissolution of ther Anglican Communion. So, which one is it, and on what basis might one expect such a prescription to succeed?
The nobility of the Anglican Communion Institutes words is matched only by the total impracticality of its suggestion. The notion that the Anglican Primates should somehow calm the chaos caused by New Westminster and ECUSA is laughable. The Primates have known what sort of a man Frank Griswold is for two years, ever since he lied to their faces in October, 2003. ECUSA and New Westminster have both answered the requests of the Windsor Report with repeated evasions and prevarications.
Yet apart from declarations of broken communion(which are, for all practical purposes, meaningless; no one walked out of the last primates meeting when Frank Griswold and Andrew Hutchison walked in) and the refusal of money, the Primates have done next-to nothing. Indeed, they recently badly undercut their own position by publicly taking a split from Canterbury off the table. Retired South Carolina Bishop C. FitzSimons Allison, one of Anglicanism's rare realists, thinks that was a mistake.
I should like to offer a quite different model to help us with our current issues. The turmoil of 17th century Anglicanism, I believe, provides a better lesson that Dr. Radners French Roman Catholic model. The English monarchy, under James I and Charles I, was one with that of Francess Louis XIV in their claim to Divine Right of Kings and absolute powers of monarchy. James response to Anglican puritan objections was that they must "conform or I will harry them out of the land or else do worse."
Charles I, paralleling Louis XIVs absolutism, dissolved Parliament rater than acquiesce in the historic parliamentary right to have grievances addresses before granting taxes. The use of the Star Chamber by Archbishop Laud to enforce tyranny was almost as cruel as the French Catholics against the Huguenots. Ears were severed, noses sliced, and tongues cropped when the Divine Right claims were not obeyed.
Fortunately for Anglicanism Lauds political ineptness had none of the Machiavellian sagacity of Cardinal Richelieu. After the fall of New Rochelle in 1629 and the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685, France lost a significant portion of Bible believing middle class artisans and scholars. They were dispersed over the world but in large part, seeking religious freedom, they settled in the American colonies and the Episcopal Church. Many, in subsequent generations, became outstanding leaders and bishops: Dr. William Porcher DuBose, Bishops Guerry, Dehon, Quintard, Gadsden, Huger and Provoost. If I understand Dr. Radner correctly, the Huguenots should not have separated from France and Roman Catholicism, but instead should have abjured and returned to Roman Catholicism.
As his participation in those "irregular" Ohio confirmations demonstrated, Dr. Allison has consistently shown himself to be one of the few conservative Anglicans willing to throw down the gauntlet for the sake of the Gospel. The sitting Anglican Primates have not yet displayed the same determination. Until they do, it is a waste of time to expect them to do something as drastic as the Anglican Communion Institute suggests.
And to be perfectly blunt about it, it is not the Primates who need to act. The Anglican Communion Network bishops need to start acting as if ECUSA's apostasies matterered. Sitting Network bishops need to start taking some risks and pushing some envelopes. Because if the Anglican Communion Network won't stick its neck out, it won't matter in the slightest what the Primates do.
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