Skip to comments.Disturbing Words [Cantuar]
Posted on 03/21/2006 12:05:45 PM PST by sionnsar
Heres a link to the very recent Guardian interview with the Archbishop of Canterbury (ABC). The interview is mostly taken up with national issues and the controversy over Islam in Europe, but the ABC does briefly address the Anglican Communion crisis. And, for the first time in a long time, I strongly disagree with what he says.
First, he seems to take up the revisionist lament against the orthodox web:
We have now such a level of mutual mistrust between different bits of the communion, certainly accentuated by - well, by the sort of heightened rhetoric thats encouraged generally these days, and certainly happens a lot on the net, such a culture of mistrust that, for us to break apart in an atmosphere of deep mistrust, fierce recrimination and mutual misunderstanding, is really not going to be in anybodys good in the long run.
The complaint generally heard from institutional hierarchs in ECUSA is that the internet is home to bitter, angry people who twist the truth and promote schism. As someone suggested yesterday, revisionists would prefer an eternal 1970s world, where all ecclesial information originated directly from diocesan newsletters, ENS, and Episcopal Life.
Of course, the reply to this is that, in fact, these official publications can be and often are home to bitter, angry people who twist the truth and promote heresy.
The orthodox web is the equalizer.
But, getting back to the ABC, since he doesnt identify the orthodox web or any website by name, we should give him the benefit of the doubt. There are plenty of revisionist sites that fit his description.
But there are two more things about his interview that really disturb me.
First he seems to reduce the Communion crisis to a cultural crisis:
the Anglican communion as a multicultural, an international body, is, I dare to say, more important, more significant than an Anglican communion fracturing along the cultural lines which is unable to relate to, work with, even in different sorts of contexts.
While it is true that there is a north/south global split, it is not true that the differing cultural contexts between north and south constitute the substance of the differences between orthodox and revisionist parties. The theological/doctrinal differences are actually as old if not older than the cultural ones. Gnostics have from the beginning sought to rip orthodox Christianity from its moorings in real history and special revelation; to drive a wedge between the Spirit and the Letter, turning one against the other. The heresy promoted by the current crop of Gnostics is no different. It seeks to divorce the love of Christ from the Word of Christ.
However, reading his present comments in context with his comments of the recent past, I think it safe to assume that the ABC is not providing a full orbed summary of the crisis. He has consistently demonstrated a deep understanding of the theological dilemma imposed on the Communion by North American unilateralism.
But the second disturbing aspect of his interview is not so easily dismissed.
AR at what point do you eventually stub against your irreducible, small l liberal principles and say actually well there is an irreducible bit I cant negotiate over?
AC: Yes, I havent got there yet, and if I could speculate about where those were, then it would be rather simpler now. Its - its a dangerous comparison, because it sort of ups the stakes a bit, but Im very struck by what Bonhoeffer writes in the middle-30s about the division of the church over the Aryan laws in Nazi Germany, where he says both that its extremely important not to try and work out in advance every circumstance in which it would be necessary for the church to break. Equally, its important to have the freedom and the clarity to know when the moment comes, and there just isnt a formula for that, I think hes saying .he says youve got to have the ability to say that at some point. But once you start saying in advance - well, I think it will be this that will be the moment where it would all crack That, he says, is trying to - trying to find large-scale reinforcements for your present positions before youre actually entering into the moment of crisis.
In other words, we cannot, according to the ABC enter into this controversy already knowing where the breaking point lies.
Heres the rub. Weve already "entered into" this crisis a long, long time ago.
In most of his recent comments (see links above) he has acknowledged that for many if not most of the Communion that point has come with regard to ECUSA. The consecration of VGR was the breaking point.
That, in fact, is the assumption of the Windsor Report and the Dromantine Communique; recommendations heartily and wholly supported by the ABC.
Both documents assume that we have reached a breaking point and for that reason there must be some pull back on the part of N. America. Otherwise ECUSA and Canada must walk apart.
How can the ABC argue that we dont know where the breaking point lies and we should not identify that point, when he supports two documents which assume and assert the opposite.
Cognitive dissonance? A bad day? Off the cuff remarks?
I hope so.
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