Tuesday, July 01, 2008

I have my turn with Rowan Williams’ Response to GAFCON.

I’m hesitant to give yet another response to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s response to GAFCON. But you know how I am when provoked. So here goes. From Dr. Williams:

The Final Statement from the GAFCON meeting in Jordan and Jerusalem contains much that is positive and encouraging about the priorities of those who met for prayer and pilgrimage in the last week. The ‘tenets of orthodoxy’ spelled out in the document will be acceptable to and shared by the vast majority of Anglicans in every province, even if there may be differences of emphasis and perspective on some issues. I agree that the Communion needs to be united in its commitments on these matters, and I have no doubt that the Lambeth Conference will wish to affirm all these positive aspects of GAFCON’s deliberations. Despite the claims of some, the conviction of the uniqueness of Jesus Christ as Lord and God and the absolute imperative of evangelism are not in dispute in the common life of the Communion.

That last sentence is so absurd, I’m at a loss for words. How can he write something so utterly divorced from reality? I think one has to receive an Oxbridge education to be able to do that.

However, GAFCON’s proposals for the way ahead are problematic in all sorts of ways, and I urge those who have outlined these to think very carefully about the risks entailed.

A ‘Primates’ Council’ which consists only of a self-selected group from among the Primates of the Communion will not pass the test of legitimacy for all in the Communion.

But heretic bishops, about which you have done NOTHING, do pass?

And any claim to be free to operate across provincial boundaries is fraught with difficulties, both theological and practical – theological because of our historic commitments to mutual recognition of ministries in the Communion, practical because of the obvious strain of responsibly exercising episcopal or primatial authority across enormous geographical and cultural divides.

So geography is more important than orthodoxy? To you it apparently is.

Two questions arise at once about what has been proposed. By what authority are Primates deemed acceptable or unacceptable members of any new primatial council? And how is effective discipline to be maintained in a situation of overlapping and competing jurisdictions?

Sorry, Dr. Williams, but after inviting the unrepentant consecrators of Gene Robinson to Lambeth, you are in no position to lecture anyone about church discipline.

No-one should for a moment impute selfish or malicious motives to those who have offered pastoral oversight to congregations in other provinces; these actions, however we judge them, arise from pastoral and spiritual concern.

But . . .

But one question has repeatedly been raised which is now becoming very serious: how is a bishop or primate in another continent able to discriminate effectively between a genuine crisis of pastoral relationship and theological integrity, and a situation where there are underlying non-theological motivations at work? We have seen instances of intervention in dioceses whose leadership is unquestionably orthodox simply because of local difficulties of a personal and administrative nature. We have also seen instances of clergy disciplined for scandalous behaviour in one jurisdiction accepted in another, apparently without due process. Some other Christian churches have unhappy experience of this problem and it needs to be addressed honestly.

O. K., now this is just playing dirty – dredging up supposed scandals without using names so the targets can’t defend themselves. I’m sure someone could dredge up plenty of scandals and such in the Church of England. The point of such exercises in mudslinging is . . . . ?

It is not enough to dismiss the existing structures of the Communion. If they are not working effectively, the challenge is to renew them rather than to improvise solutions that may seem to be effective for some in the short term but will continue to create more problems than they solve. This challenge is one of the most significant focuses for the forthcoming Lambeth Conference. One of its major stated aims is to restore and deepen confidence in our Anglican identity. And this task will require all who care as deeply as the authors of the statement say they do about the future of Anglicanism to play their part.

They HAVE done their part and more. And you, sir, have been obstructing them every step of the way. The biggest reason the existing structures of the Communion are not working effectively is YOU.

The language of ‘colonialism’ has been freely used of existing patterns. No-one is likely to look back with complacency to the colonial legacy. But emerging from the legacy of colonialism must mean a new co-operation of equals, not a simple reversal of power. If those who speak for GAFCON are willing to share in a genuine renewal of all our patterns of reflection and decision-making in the Communion, they are welcome, especially in the shaping of an effective Covenant for our future together.

Again, you tell them to work for reform while you are the biggest roadblock to it.

I believe that it is wrong to assume we are now so far apart that all those outside the GAFCON network are simply proclaiming another gospel.

That is a straw man. I haven’t heard ANYONE saying that.

This is not the case; it is not the experience of millions of faithful and biblically focused Anglicans in every province. What is true is that, on all sides of our controversies, slogans, misrepresentations and caricatures abound. And they need to be challenged in the name of the respect and patience we owe to each other in Jesus Christ.

I have in the past quoted to some in the Communion who would call themselves radical the words of the Apostle in I Cor.11.33: ‘wait for one another’. I would say the same to those in whose name this statement has been issued. An impatience at all costs to clear the Lord’s field of the weeds that may appear among the shoots of true life (Matt.13.29) will put at risk our clarity and effectiveness in communicating just those evangelical and catholic truths which the GAFCON statement presents.

Oh. So we should keep on waiting while you keep on obstructing and dithering. We’ve played that game.

Game over.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have considered myself to be progressive, virtually all my life, but I have to agree with you. The ABofC, has, over time given silent approbation to what is in fact heretical. Did he even once use the same force to attack Gene Robinson, or others in the Anglican or Episcopalian hierarchy when they violated the letter and spirit of the faith.. no, not once.

Combine that with his rationales for the imposition of Sharia law in Britain, and you can't help but wonder if he truly believes in Christ. Combine that with the willingness to undermine the right of Christians to hold fast to Christ's teachings and the gospel, to to persecute, attack, lie and slander them. It's a clear sign to me that his true loyalties lie elsewhere.

Again, I am progressive, but that has not blinded me to the fact that extremists, whether on the left or the right have sought to exploit faith for their own agendas. He, Gene Robinson and Bishop Shiori (who I have no faith in because of a discussion I had with her regarding her selective attention to the realities) seem to be examples of those who are seeking to tear down the church from within.