Skip to comments.Hope and a Future
Posted on 04/04/2006 5:59:29 PM PDT by sionnsar
In my last few articles Ive approached the question of General Convention from a rather negative standpoint: 1. why we should not compromise the Windsor requirements in any way both for our own sake and the sake of the Communion and 2. why the report of the Standing Commission on the Anglican Communion represents such a compromise.
But the argument against compromise would not be complete were I not also to call attention to the historic opportunity that God has given orthodox Anglicans in America. This opportunity is the result a grand pincer movement that has succeeded in focusing just the right kind of power at just the right point at just the right time.
What is a pincer movement? Picture the pincers of a crab. The two claws that make up one pincer are fairly large but they curve inward and meet at a very narrow point. The shape of the claws serves to concentrate all of the crabs strength at the single point where the pincers come together so that most small creatures caught between them have very little opportunity for escape. Another way to think of a pincer movement (and an illustration frequently used when discussing American pincer movements during the Vietnam War) is to think of a hammer striking anvil--admittedly this is a little less elegant but it makes the point: a pincer movement is the simultaneous coming together of two distinct but conjoined elements (two claws of the crabs one pincer, the smiths hammer and anvil) that serves to concentrate the right kind of power at the right point at the right time.
Now lets turn back to the situation facing the orthodox in America.
One claw of the pincer is the Anglican Communion. The Communion is determined to uphold the Windsor Report. Those who had previously doubted the Archbishop of Canterburys willingness to act have likely been surprised by the bishop of Exeters speech to the House of Bishops in which he unambiguously told the assembled that full compliance with Windsor is a non-negotiable if ECUSA wishes to retain her ties to Canterbury. The ABCs resolve is backed by 22 primates of 22 provinces who will also accept nothing less than full compliance. These are in turn backed, in institutional terms, by the now established decisions of all four Instruments of Unity. And, of course, these decisions are backed by the established teaching of the Church every where, in every time, and in every place both generally with regard to the authority of the bible and more specifically with regard to human sexuality. All of that historic, institutional, and political power will be brought to bear on the Episcopal Church at General Convention. That is one claw of the pincer.
I first wrote about the second claw here. The establishment of the Seventh Convocation, or the international Convocation of the Anglican Communion Network, has been, in my opinion, the most significant development in North American Anglicanism in the last three years (I want to say in the last 100 years but my lack of perspective is holding me back). Why? As I argued in the article linked above, the 7th convocation represents a de-facto parallel Anglican province. The American parishes that make up the convocation are both in full communion with Canterbury through both the Network and various international primates while at the same time operating within or parallel to ECUSA's various jurisdictions.
So what? The presence of 7th convocation means that the Episcopal Church is not the only legitimate Anglican game in town. There is a legitimate parallel North American Anglican entity committed to upholding the decisions of the Windsor Report, remaining true to Communion teaching in letter and spirit.
Hammer, meet anvil.
Here is the opportunity for which orthodox Anglicans have been sacrificing careers and collars for almost half a century: Communion discipline of the Episcopal Church combined with a new birth of legitimate orthodox Anglicanism in North America.
But what good is a pincer with only one claw or what good is a smiths hammer without an anvil?
Not much good at all except to be thrown out and trampled by men.
And what good is a Network compromise on Windsor? It would be an absolute tragedy.
Make no mistake, there is far more behind these developments than human design. Canterbury and Network leaders to be sure, did not get together and devise a joint plan to reform North American Anglicanism. I imagine that Network planners hoped that the situation would develop as it has and planned accordingly, but (speaking as an outsider) I dont think there has ever been any confidence that the situation would unfold as it has. Few thought the Windsor Report would prove powerful enough to unite the entire Communion behind orthodox North Americans while at the same time prove objectionable enough to drive revisionist ECUSA hierarchs to seriously consider walking away. And few, if any, seriously thought ++Rowan possessed the resolve to uphold it.
But all of these impossible things have come to pass.
What madness to surrender now!
God has, I believe, brought all of these impossibilities powerfully together at just the right time and at just the right point. It is painful and it means loss and sacrifice but God has called us to these things. And God is bringing something new and glorious and wonderful out of them. For some reason God has given us the opportunity to fight and suffer for his truth. But he has also, in his grace and mercy, given us a glimpse of a new and unexpected Anglican future; a beautiful promise for those who have the courage to possess it.
May we stand firm and may we prove worthy of our times.
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