Skip to comments.Sitting on the Porch [Anlgican]
Posted on 02/17/2007 6:15:37 PM PST by sionnsar
As North American orthodox Anglicans sit and stand on the virtual porch, nervous and irritable, waiting for news that will affect us deeply, pacing, yarning, squabbling, spinning out theories, Im going to toss out my own bit of speculation. Its an optimistic speculation: I have in reserve a really, really horrible speculation, grim as a frost giant, but Ill save that one. This is a long one. But we have a while until the press conference, so set a spell. Here comes a thousand words of raw speculation.
A very long time ago, I had an algebra teacher who would say to a kid stuck on a problem, Youre too close to the blackboard. Tells you that was a while back, eh? But Miss Spafford was right: being too close to a problem can distort your perception. And those of us who have been in one way or another involved in TECs long delinquency are maybe way too close. I think we are seeing one solution to one problem, when there well may be several problems and several solutions. A stroll through the through the comments on Stand Firm and Titusonenine shows that theres a lot of anger directed toward TEC, or at least its institutionalized and self-perpetuating current management. Nor is that anger unreasonable. Anger is the emotional analog of pain, a siren that warns of a wrong done, to yourself or to someone you love. People who have watched TECs slow drift toward becoming the New Age NeoPagan Inclusive Affirming Church, have watched their parish erode from within, who have watched the young families who should be the rising generation of the church go instead to Willow Creek, who have battled revisionist bishops intent on imposing their prophetic vision everywhere, are not unreasonably angry. Weve all developed a unified wish: TEC out and something else, In.
But maybe we should ask what a Christian communitys response to delinquent TEC should be. And there we have plentiful guidance throughout the New Testament. And if we ask how Rowan Williams might perceive the problem, and attempt to shape the discussion of it, we have even more. The man writes and speaks incessantly. So Im going to suggest that Rowan Williams sees at least two problems where we tend to see one. I think he sees one as the greater problem, requiring the greater subtlety and greater risk. The other problem is serious as well, but there are ranges of solution to it ready to hand.
The first problem is TECs delinquency. In this scenario, the Archbishop is well aware of the depth of the problem, the theological bankruptcy, the spiritual hollowness. The question is, what to do. And here, we can find clues as to Williams course in his abundant writing.
Williams opposes the death penalty, not out of reflexive lefty concern for perp over victim, but because it smacks too much of giving up. He has said that I believe the death penalty effectively says there is no room for change or repentance. In other words, the death penalty is a human closing of a door, a giving up. Most of us who proclaim that we are traditional, orthodox, reaffirming Anglicans should understand this position very well. In our own lives of repentance, we continually hope that God does not give up on us despite our repetitive horribleness. So Williams refuses to give up on TEC, continues to call for repentance, interprets its actions in the most favorable light in order to keep things going. I should point out that among the reappraiser blogs theres been some worry expressed that Williams extremely generous interpretation of B033, a resolution the reappraisers hate passionately, binds TEC to it. So in this scenario, I think Williams is striving to say that the Anglican family cannot give up on TEC, must offer without ceasing the opportunity to repent its delinquency, must embrace the faintest sign of change. And so he will not support an immediate field amputation of TEC from the Anglican body. And there are very good practical reasons for that, as well.
The second problem must not be neglected. What to do for the host of traditional Anglicans in North America? Here, I think, the solution is simpler in certain directions. A parallel jurisdiction for North America, organized and managed by North Americans, that brings together the alphabet soup of current alternative structures and attempts to reunify as much as possible the Anglican fractures here. This could be organized by and under the loose jurisdiction of the collective Primates - the balloon floating around about nominating three candidates of which one would be chosen as Primate, by the Primates reflects the notion that the new province would be mostly but not entirely self-governing, a cadet, a province-in-waiting, as TEC decides who it is. By keeping the cadet province under the jurisdiction of the collective Primates, they would be ensuring that if TEC repents, if TEC chooses to return to a healthier and sounder family life, the new structure could be the more readily reunified with the old. But if TEC declines to repent, decides that it must follow its current path regardless, the new jurisdiction can be set up smoothly.
An advantage that this approach offers is that it only works if TEC stops litigating and inhibiting everyone who disagrees with it. Parishes that wish to be join the alternative structure must be allowed to do so without penalty or interference. TEC must be willing to accept the consequences of its actions and to see what it would be to live in a diminished state. As the process drags along, tempers will calm. TEC can go about its mission of pursuing the MDGs and Full Inclusion of Everyone, and the alternative structure can go about its business of preaching the gospel. Property issues will recede. If the split occurs, if TEC decides to go it alone, the division will be easier, like two ships parting company. Right now, the ship would have to be sawn in half, and both might sink.
Frank Griswold liked to talk about riskiness. In Old High Griswoldian, that usually meant that whoever disagreed with him was a coward. If this scenario is at all accurate about the course that Williams is trying to steer, its a risky course indeed. There must be great but loving pressure put on TEC; and (to borrow the language of the left) a reasonable safe place must be established for North American traditionalists. This could fail spectacularly.
Is this Williams course? I dunno. It fits some of the evidence, it fits his understanding of the Church, I think, and his collegial leadership style. It allows him to use the more militant Primates led by Akinola as the grindstone to keep TEC on guard; it explains the otherwise inexplicably generous subgroup report; and it explains his encouragement over the years of the orthodox groups in North America. Of course, there are other explanations, but I think Ill keep those in my pocket unless they become needed.
The problem with scenario #2 is that it requires direct or indirect communion with heretics. For three years or so I have been reading these threads and I still fail to understand the Anglican tolerance for heresy in its midst.
K, we've discussed this issue many times as you know. Things move much slower in the Anglican world than they do in the Orthodox... but I will be blunt and say that as an Anglican I too "oppose scenario #2" (and more). This proposal goes well beyond our inherent Entish nature and into accomodation -- and I am quite surprised, given the source.
I hope this is nothing more than a misstatement by Mr. White, but I confess to having a grave concern over this.
You misunderstood the import of my post. I accept, if I do not understand, the Entish ways of the Anglicans because you and others have told me that's just the way it is. What I do not understand after three years of honestly trying is the tolerance for heresy that scenario #2 bespeaks. Its one thing to never give up hope, as scenario #1 indicates, though to my mind that is both scripturally and patristically flawed. It is quite another to agree to accept ongoing aggressive heresy at the same altar table with you while you try to bring the heretics around.
The Latin Church and Orthodoxy, while pretty much having moved away from damning each other as heretics, are in deep and extensive dialog about reunion, but our hierarchs do not concelebrate the Eucharist, do not receive the sacraments from each others' hands (and we believe them to be equally efficacious)and we, the lower clergy, monastics and laity don't, at least de jure and in virtually all places, either. We don't because our hierarchs are in neither direct nor indirect communion and we are in that situation because we do not believe the exact same things as a matter of dgmatic truth. The day may come when we do believe the exact same things and that will be the day for reunion and communion but not until then. Communion is a symbol of unity of dogmatic faith. The AC is in a far more dire situation. Within the Communion people do not believe the exact same things as matters of dogmatic truth. There is some dialog, but mostly mini schisms and lawsuits. And yet what seems to be of paramount importance is not the preservation and advancement of the Truth, which is of necessity indivisible within a church or Communion, but rather the preservation of a symbol of a non existent unity. That, S, is what I don't understand.
There was some basis for him reaching that conclusion.
So much of this has its roots in the Elizabethan settlement. Even within the old Church of England prior to the AC, there was a diversity of dogma which went beyond the interpretation of the 39 articles. By Orthodox standards, the Church of England never should have been in communion with itself, but was as the result of a political, rather than a theological settlement. We all got used to taking communion with who might not exactly share our theology, but it is one thing for an evangelical to take communion with a Catholic and another thing to take communion with a Wiccan!
As you know, being Anglican has never been entirely about theology, but a lot of it has been about (small "t") tradition. The tradition includes a highly effective global mission and ministry (hence the very existence of the AC and its high numbers in the Global South), combined with a literary/liturgical tradition that is second to none.
There is a desire to save the communion because there is a recognition of its strength, even in the current situation, and of its potential should it be restored. Sadly, much of the impetus to preserve the communion may be simply political as well.
K, I do not accept scenario #2. I will make a guess that the author was trying to reach a solution to the problem (in an Anglican fashion, if you will) without thinking it through. I have been reading his blog for years and this surprises me.
I agree completely. The author seems to forget the place of Church discipline, specifically commanded in the New Testament.
Moving towards and finally actual excommunication accomplishes one of two things: It either removes the infectious false brethren, OR (preferably) causes real backslidden brethren to repent...in essence saving their souls.
Either one of these results is a good thing, in the first, the Church is protected from wolves in the midst, in the 2nd, individuals disciplined are actually rescued from the precipice of Hell itself.
I don't understand why orthodox Anglican Prelates don't seem to get this...
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