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Archbishop of Canterbury Must Face Facts in Quest for Anglican Unity

Archbishop of Canterbury Must Face Facts in Quest for Anglican Unity
Two-Tier, Two-Track Communion is way forward, says Williams

News Analysis

By David W. Virtue

The Archbishop of Canterbury has spoken about the actions of GC2009 but what he says brings little comfort or solace to orthodox Anglicans across the world, especially congregations in revisionist dioceses under siege by equally revisionist bishops.

In an effort to keep the Anglican Communion from imploding, the Archbishop of Canterbury is proposing to re-conceive the Communion as essentially a loose federation of local bodies in a "two-tier" or a "two-track" model in an effort to hold the communion together rather than a theologically coherent "community of Christian communities".

Dr. Williams' response to The Episcopal Church General Convention's passage of two explosive resolutions endorsing the ordination of homosexuals as clergy and bishops and rites for same-sex unions that could bring about a de jure schism in the Communion was described by a VOL reader as so much "Ro-Babble - a Panglossian description of the blindingly obvious in 2,823 words."

Nothing is ever final with Williams: "Let's just hope that all will be well in the end, when everyone has signed the Covenant and then we can all hold hands and sing kumbaya.
It is Rowan acting as a pope. He will not allow anyone else to make decisions, and he will string it all along and spin it as much as he can along the way. He is still hoping that the whole Communion can be conned into following TEC's lead. Plant more facts on the ground and just give it time...."

An orthodox archbishop described William's response as "nuanced, offering no leadership in the present crisis."

Virtually all responses to the Archbishop of Canterbury's take on the two GC2009 resolutions have been negative or not at all.

To date, TEC's presiding bishop, the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, has not responded to Williams' letter.

Orthodox bishops in the newly formed ACNA (soon to be the AC-NA) are keeping quiet, preferring to let Williams stew in his own broth, and not wanting to hurt Williams any more than he is already being hurt by his obfuscations and whitewashing of the facts. A senior spokesman told VOL, "They don't want to embarrass him any further."

Following GC2009, ACNA Archbishop Robert Duncan stepped up to the plate comparing what happened at GC2009 to Jerusalem and Babylon. "The Episcopal Church, whose leaders met at Anaheim, California, from July 8th to 17th, blessed the values and behaviors of a re-defined Christianity: enabling a revisionist anthropology, budgeting litigation rather than evangelism, and confusing received understandings of Scriptural truth, not least concerning the necessity of individual salvation in Christ Jesus. At Anaheim, there were those who valiantly stood against the revolutionary majority, and their pain and grief at what was happening was heartbreaking for all who saw it, not least for their brothers and sisters in the Anglican Church in North America."

Peter Sprigg at the Family Research Council believes The Episcopal Church has committed suicide and wrote the church's obituary, "The Episcopal Church in the United States took another major step toward ensuring its own demise last week, by adopting a resolution endorsing the ordination of homosexuals as clergy and bishops. The resolution, adopted at the denomination's General Convention, said that "gay and lesbian persons . . . have responded to God's call and have exercised various ministries," and declared that "God has called and may call such individuals, to any ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church." The resolution was widely interpreted as abandoning a moratorium on the ordination of homosexual bishops that was adopted after the furor surrounding the appointment of Gene Robinson, a homosexual man, as the Bishop of New Hampshire in 2003."

Not even the unofficial TEC pansexual organization Integrity was happy with Williams' words.

Susan Russell (the Rev.) wrote, "Integrity regrets the Archbishop's categorization of TEC's commitment to full inclusion of the LGBT baptized as a 'rights' issue rather than a 'theological' issue -- believing that it falls sadly short of recognizing all the theological reflection that has both moved and motivated this church over the years.

"We are frankly tired of being told we haven't done the theology, when the truth is that there are those in our wider Anglican family who do not agree with the theology we have done. But what we can do is keep doing it. We can keep reaching out. We can keep working together with our communion partners on mission and ministry all over this Worldwide Anglican Family of ours with those who will work with us. And we can stay in conversation with those who won't."

The Rev. J. Philip Ashey, Chief Operating Officer and Chaplain of the American Anglican Council said, "The real question is which Communion will the ABC choose to work with? Which one will he try to build the future of Anglicanism upon? If he is genuinely interested in an Anglican Communion which has at its heart covenanted provinces with "intensifying relationships," will he continue to return to the false gospel of TEC and its proxies? When they show up to the councils of the Communion (as they most certainly will)-- to the Joint Standing Committee, the ACC, and inter-Anglican ministry networks-- will he welcome them? Will he allow them representation to continue to undermine the very Covenant processes he publicly champions? Or will he finally turn to the orthodox within the Communion and build upon their uninterrupted commitment to a vision of Anglicanism that is biblical, catholic and conciliar?"

"The false gospel of TEC presents a clear and present danger to the Anglican Communion. It is both a theological imperative of justice, and a cultural imperative of "manifest destiny," for TEC's leadership to spread this false gospel to the rest of the Anglican Communion. It has already infected, perhaps fatally, some provinces in the Global North. Jesus said, "let your 'Yes' be 'Yes' and your 'No,' 'No'" (Matt. 5:37) +Rowan Williams "Yes and no" will not stop the spread of this false gospel-- even and especially to the mother Church of England."

"The orthodox leaders of the "Confessing Communion" must now insist upon a robust theology of the Church that goes beyond the Ridley Cambridge Draft of the Proposed Covenant and beyond the Covenant processes-- a theology of the Church that will sustain Anglicanism for the next 100 years."

Covenant anyone?

In his soliloquy, Williams hopes that all the provinces will respond favorably to the invitation to Covenant, but even he expresses his doubts. "But in the current context, the question is becoming more sharply defined of whether, if a province declines such an invitation, any elements within it will be free (granted the explicit provision that the Covenant does not purport to alter the Constitution or internal polity of any province) to adopt the Covenant as a sign of their wish to act in a certain level of mutuality with other parts of the Communion. It is important that there should be a clear answer to this question." Indeed.

"If the present structures that have safeguarded our unity turn out to need serious rethinking in the near future, this is not the end of the Anglican way and it may bring its own opportunities."

And what sort of opportunities exactly is he talking about? What sort of a "structural differentiation" does he believe in that will hold the communion together?

GAFCON is the loyal opposition (at least for now) to the Lambeth Conference. The AC-NA stands in opposition to TEC and the ACoC while the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans is emerging as the orthodox lightening rod for change in the Church of England.

If Williams is talking about an alternative structure, it is already in place and growing by the day.

A two-tier or two-track railroad fails to deal adequately with the theological issue of sexual relationships lived outside of heterosexual marriage. The orthodox will never give ground on that not if the church survives another 1,000 years. That is clear from Lambeth Resolution 1:10 and the Jerusalem Declaration.

For orthodox Anglicans, sexual sin is a salvation issue and to compromise on that is to let people go to hell without warning them of the consequences.

And the consequences of sexual sin are being felt deeply within TEC as tens of thousands of Episcopalians leave the church. Hundreds of churches are closing or are about to close. Money is draining from the churches as parishioners flee and litigation costs dig deeply into TEC's understanding of "mission."

VOL is getting daily requests from individuals and churches asking for information about how to leave TEC and how to join the ACNA. We see no evidence that that is suddenly going to stop.

Williams' spiritual leadership of the communion is severely and fatally compromised. The truth is the Anglican Communion is leaderless and rudderless.

He writes, "It helps to be clear about these possible futures, however much we think them less than ideal, and to speak about them not in apocalyptic terms of schism and excommunication but plainly as what they are -- two styles of being Anglican, whose mutual relation will certainly need working out."

Nonsense, it is not about "two styles of being Anglican". That completely insults hundreds of Episcopal rectors and a number of bishops who have lost dioceses, churches and pensions, as well as thousands of Episcopalians who have poured their life savings into building churches only to walk away from it all at the end of the day in tears over the direction and apostasy of a church whose leader repudiates personal salvation and other Episcopal leaders gleefully uphold and bless abortion without reprimand.

It is about two theologies, two religions now coexisting uneasily together. That was manifest in Alexandria, Egypt, where the Primates got clarity about two understandings of the Christian faith that no amount of comprehensiveness could eliminate.

Does Cantuar Rowan honestly believe that GAFCON and the Lambeth Conference can be reconciled, that a Bruno or Chane can sit at the same table as an Akinola or Orombi and break bread? Revisionist American bishops have belittled, mocked and accused African Anglicans of being homophobic, narrow-minded, uninclusive and much more.

Does Williams perhaps fancy himself as the Oracle at Delphi? At what point will he admit that Affirming Catholicism has failed, that it is not going to sweep the Anglican Communion, and the Covenant is even less likely than waiting for Godot? Griswold is history, Holloway is history, and TEC is history.

The Communion is moving on leaving Williams behind scrambling in the dust hoping and praying that the words mene, mene, tekel upharson are not the words being written on the great wooden doors of Lambeth Palace by an unseen hand.


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