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DUBLIN:Word & Picture Commentaries on 2011 Primates Meeting Put up then Removed

DUBLIN: Word and Picture Commentaries on 2011 Primates Meeting Put up then Removed

From Barbara Gauthier
February 3, 2011

Dear All,

There have been several commentaries posted already on the 2011 Primates Meeting. Perhaps the most telling is something that was posted and then wasn't posted. Halfway through the meeting, the Anglican Communion Office posted a number of photo op pictures from Dublin. The group photo of the primates is still posted, but several others mysteriously disappeared a day later with no explanation. The blog sites that had picked up and posted these ACO photos of the meeting organizers, the primates of the Americas and the primates of Europe were contacted directly by the ACO and told to remove the photos immediately, which the blog owners did. However, the caveat about being careful what you post on Facebook also applies to the internet in general. The ACO did remove the photos from their own website and had them removed from those blog sites that had also posted them. But once something is launched into cyberspace it may very well become a permanent fixture, which is what has happened to these three photos, captured and preserved forever in Google cache.

One is tempted to wonder why these photos were banished by the ACO as soon as they were posted. A comparison of the 2009 and 2011 group photos may well illustrate the problem. The 2009 photo from Alexandria shows the primates gathered together. Half of them appear to be "people of color" and another half dozen of Asian origin. Western European types are a distinct minority:

http://www.dioceseofegypt.org/english/sites/default/files/Primates%20Meeting%202.jpg

17th Primates Meeting of the Anglican Communion, Alexandria, Egypt

Here is the 2011 group photo, with 1/3 fewer primates and now definitely skewed towards a more homogeneous racial makeup, mostly white and Asian.

Below are the photos that were posted and then quickly un-posted. I am assuming one of the reasons they were taken down is because of the questions begging to be asked -- questions that might be cast an unfavorable light on the meeting itself. This photo of the organizers is a case in point. There are fifteen organizers pictured here. Why does a meeting of 23 primates require15 organizers? What exactly were they organizing? Were they responsible for organizing the meeting itself or just the logistics? What kind of logistics would require 15 outside organizers, when the meeting is taking place at a retreat center, where presumably they handle meetings like this all the time (those in the photo who have been identified all work for the ACO and not for the Emmaus Retreat and Conference Centre). The photo disappeared within hours of being posted and those questions were never asked -- or answered.

The regional group photos would seem to have a similar problem. We have here a photo of the primates of the Americas, minus ++Touche-Porter of Mexico (illness) and ++Tito Zavala (matter of conscience), a somewhat smaller group than usual, but representative of the region. These 5 primates together represent 3.2 million Anglicans, roughly 5% of the global total.

Primates of North and South America The next regional photo shows the primates of Europe (minus ++Rowan Williams) -- very Western European, as one would expect. This tiny group represents an even tinier portion of the Communion: some 550,000 total, less than 1% of Anglicans worldwide.

Primates of Europe (minus Church of England)

So far, so good. But here is where the questions begin to surface. Where are the photos of the primates representing the bulk of global Anglicanism? Where is the regional group photo of African primates? Apparently, a photo of two archbishops standing together would serve only to underscore the absence of the nine other primates who aren't there. And the regional group photo for Asia? Half of their primates are missing as well. So, where are the missing primates and why aren't they there? These are questions that the ACO would probably prefer to avoid having people ask. Regional photos of primates from Africa and Asia would very likely have fueled some very embarrassing questions, regardless of what the ACO did. If the ACO chose not to post the African and Asian regional photos, people would have asked, "I see the group photos from the Americas and Europe. Why aren't there any group photos of the primates from Africa or Asia?" If the ACO posted the photos, people would have asked, "Where are the missing primates from Africa/Asia, who should be here?" Good questions, awkward answers. It may have seemed best to the ACO to thus remove all regional photos and thereby eliminate any photographic evidence that would inevitably point to the absence of so many Global South primates.

Bishop David Anderson has written a commentary that deserves reading. He points out that the previous "stress fracture" among the Global South primates appears to be healing. The real problem at the heart of the Anglican Communion, +Anderson says, lies with the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury. The head of the Church of England (and of the Anglican Communion) is appointed by the head of a secular government that is becoming increasingly hostile to Christian faith and practice. As long as the Church of England remains the established Church, it will ultimately be controlled by the British government and its secular agenda. Perhaps the time has finally come to look elsewhere in the Communion for effective Christian leadership.

Fr. Jonathan Clark, Chair of Affirming Catholicism, articulates quite accurately the current situation in his essay "Actions and Consequences." There is a dynamic of divergence in the Anglican Communion that is the direct consequence of actions taken by both liberals and traditionalists:

The thing which is the obvious gospel imperative for one side is for the other side an equally obvious sign of the opposite. Blessing same-sex relationships is an unavoidable call of faith - or a clear rejection of Christian values. Planting new churches is mere obedience to the call to proclaim the good news - or an obvious rejection of the body of Christ in the churches already present.

No wonder a moratorium can have no effect.

Perhaps at the end of the day, he says, the only thing left to do is lament together our inability to remain united.

Charles Raven likewise sees two very distinct groupings developing within the Anglican Communion, one bent on conversing as the ultimate goal and the other committed to confessing Christ above all else. Raven also questions ++Rowan's emphasis on "honest conversation.' When there are no common shared definitions for words and terms, then honest communication becomes impossible and the end result is little more than a Shadow Gospel. The Archbishop of Canterbury's chosen method of "journeying together in honest conversation" amounts to a "sophisticated redefinition of orthodoxy as a process of dialogue rather than faithfulness to a deposit of faith with its associated church order and morality." The time has come, Raven says, to challenge the dishonest conversation espoused by ++Rowan Williams, particularly in the Church of England, for the sake of a faithful Anglican future.

There are other reflections below as well, including a quote from retired Archbishop Greg Venables of the Southern Cone, who confirms the reasons given by ++ Mouneer Anis for not attending the Primates Meeting.

Barbara

Quote from ++Greg Venables (Southern Cone) http://www.kendallharmon.net/t19/index.php/t19/article/34617/

Speaking to The Times, Archbishop Gregory Venables, who retired in November as archbishop of the Southern Cone, but is chairman of the Primates' Council for the GAFCON conservative group, said: "There are two main reasons a significant number are not going. "There has been no real consultative preparation. In the past, we have been given a paper five minutes before a meeting and told to discuss it. The other reason is that there has been no responsible carrying out of what was decided in the past."

He said that the meetings, which are closed to the press, did not lend themselves to open debate, adding: "You go to these meetings and there is a kind of gagging gas in the atmosphere. It is almost like trench warfare. The gagging gas comes down, and it is as if people are unable to speak."

"All is not well in "Rowanland" -- Bp. David Anderson

http://www.americananglican.org/all-is-not-well-in-rowanland

Orthodox Anglicans experienced something of a fracture at the time of the Jerusalem Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON). Many bishops who attended GAFCON went on to boycott the Lambeth Conference later that year. Presiding Bishop Mouneer Anis did not attend GAFCON but did attend Lambeth, and the same was true of Archbishop John Chew of Southeast Asia. The fracture, not a break but a stress fracture, really had to do with two ways of approaching the besetting problem of the American Episcopal Church's (TEC) misconduct and the Archbishop of Canterbury's action or lack thereof.

Those who were aligned with GAFCON generally felt that Dr. Rowan Williams had failed in leadership, deceived the primates by promising actions that he never took or enforced following their meeting in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and would thus not do the right thing in the future. Some other bishops, led by John Chew and Mouneer Anis, felt that Archbishop Williams could be worked with and that he would finally come around for the salvation of the Anglican Communion. Williams, however, abused this additional chance afforded him by some of the orthodox primates, and there is now probably little differentiation between the GAFCON primates and those bishops led by Chew and Anis. A majority of primates within the Global South, those provinces south of the equator, are orthodox. However, some, certainly including South Africa, are very much supportive of TEC and aligned with the Archbishop of Canterbury. This divide in the Global South will have to be addressed at some point.

Of the 38 primates who could and should be in attendance at a legitimate Primates' Meeting, we understand some 15 are absent. The GAFCON primates AND Presiding Bishop Mouneer Anis and Archbishop John Chew are among those with more important things to do than attend a meeting and be manipulated by procedural rules that Dr. Williams will dominate. More important, because Rowan Williams structures the meeting to control the primates and disempower them from taking any action that he doesn't wish, and when their photographs are taken together, the Anglican Communion Office (ACO) uses that photo to announce that all is well in Rowanland.

Many of the primates have made their reasons for being absent very clear in public and private correspondence to Dr. Williams, who is the convener. However, the Anglican Communion Office, headed by Canon Kenneth Kearon, has concocted reasons for some of them that are simply disingenuous. Most of the primates have made it clear to Dr. Williams why they are absent and why they are frustrated and disappointed in his leadership. With this fact in mind, there is a question that begs to be asked; "Is Dr. Williams competent to lead the Communion?" You would be surprised if you polled liberal revisionists and orthodox conservatives to find that many on both sides would answer NO. It is time to acknowledge before the world that the emperor has no clothes, and the Archbishop of Canterbury has no competency to lead the Communion.

We do understand the formal process that led to the royal appointment/directive of Dr. Williams as Archbishop of Canterbury, but in practical, realpolitik terms, Williams was chosen by Prime Minister Tony Blair to assist in Blair's task of blending church and state agendas to the gay agenda. One should be able to ask why in the world the entire Anglican Communion should be subject to a manipulative prelate chosen by a politician elected by a secular government. If there is no way to replace a failed archbishop and restart with an actually spiritual (in a historical and understandable sense) archbishop, then those who can see failure and call it for what it is need to look elsewhere for leadership.

The Anglican Communion is a wonderful global family that has some real dysfunction, and as is often the case, the heart of the dysfunction sits in the center. The heart of the dysfunction is not TEC, nor Bishop V. Gene Robinson, nor Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori. That these have perpetrated grossly unbiblical misconduct and deserve to be severely punished is clear enough, but to posit the blame on all of them gives them entirely too much credit and feeds their sense of importance. The blame properly falls on the spiritual father who should have disciplined the miscreants and is now unable to act for the well being of both the miscreants and the rest of the family. To be effective, discipline needs to be clear, redemptive in nature, and prompt - all of which Dr. Williams is unwilling and unable to fulfill.

In a more perfect world we could announce, "NEXT." and pick a new one. As it is, the process will be unsure, open to failure, possessing unforeseen collateral effect, and take much more time. Will the Anglican Communion survive? Possibly, but most likely not in the form we have known. Perhaps there will be a healing of the orthodox Global South stress fracture, and a new way forward will be found. Fortunately, God is still sovereign, and the church still belongs to him, and in time he will set right what man has over turned.

As we go forward, may our Lord Jesus Christ walk this road with us.

Actions and Consequences -- Rev. Jonathan Clark

http://clarkinholyorders.wordpress.com/2011/01/26/actions-and-consequences/

Andrew Goddard has written an article with a similar title, commenting on the absence from the Anglican Primates' meeting of several of its members who will not meet with the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church (the list of who's there and who isn't, and the reasons, is here). Goddard sees the outcome as a vindication of the warning given by Fulcrum that Archbishop Katharine Jefferts Schori should not be invited; in his view, the actions of The Episcopal Church - most recently in the consecration of an openly lesbian woman as a bishop - have led to this latest fracture within the Anglican Communion.

Well in one sense he's obviously right, in that Bishop Mary Glasspool's consecration was a clear indicator that TEC weren't going to allow sexual orientation or practice to be a bar to ordained ministry at any level in the church - and it did breach one of the moratoria that they had been asked to observe. But actions and consequences flow in all sorts of directions; what I find difficult is Andrew Goddard's consistent line that the actions of the Episcopal Church are so much more important than those by other churches in the Communion - among them those who have absented themselves from the Primates' Meeting.

Communion may be ruptured in many ways. It can be ruptured by changing doctrine; one of the key arguments of course is over whether changing teaching concerning same-sex relationships is so central to Christian belief that disagreement means the end of communion. I don't think it should - but others disagree, and moreover see it as symptomatic of a wider theological drift that they don't want to be part of. But in a Communion with a geographical organisation, it is also and more obviously disrupted by moving into someone else's territory: setting up a church in competition with the one already recognised as the Anglican Church in a given area.

Both of these things have happened; the Communion has asked those on both sides to refrain; both moratoria have been ignored - the moratorium on setting up new churches more dramatically and consistently than that on ordaining gay bishops, which was observed for some years without any noticeable abatement in church planting from overseas in North America. Remember - the Anglican Mission in the Americas (affiliated to Rwanda) was, in 2000, already moving towards establishing a separate province, after the irregular consecrations of John Rodgers and Chuck Murphy. That's three years before Gene Robinson was consecrated as bishop of New Hampshire.

There's a dynamic of divergence in the Anglican Communion. It is absolutely clear to most people in the Anglican / Episcopal churches in North America that the gospel demands the full inclusion of gay people. It is absolutely clear to those who speak for most churches in the developing world (though not all) that this inclusiveness merely dilutes the gospel. It provides evidence that the churches in North America - and the UK is under intense suspicion as well - are falling into a decadent decline. They just can't be trusted; the only thing to do is to change the whole structure radically, either from within, or through a totally new structure. The first is preferable of course, as it means you inherit the resources; but either is preferable to the status quo.

The thing which is the obvious gospel imperative for one side is for the other side an equally obvious sign of the opposite. Blessing same-sex relationships is an unavoidable call of faith - or a clear rejection of Christian values. Planting new churches is mere obedience to the call to proclaim the good news - or an obvious rejection of the body of Christ in the churches already present.

No wonder a moratorium can have no effect. But what can anyone then do? Maybe giving up blaming the 'other' would help: no-one can be asked to act against their conscience, however misguided any of us might think it is. Instead of focusing on what those who are different from us are doing wrong, maybe all of us should focus quite rigorously on ourselves, aware of the difficulties of discerning the will of God, and the many temptations to substitute our own desires instead. Reconciliation would take a miracle, and miracles don't come to order. If the Anglican Communion is to continue to fragment, the one thing we should all be able to do together is to lament - theologically, like the psalmist - our inability to remain united.

Dublin and the Art of Dishonest Conversation -- Charles Raven

http://www.anglicanspread.org/?p=412

The Dublin Primates' meeting marks one more step along the road which is slowly but surely seeing the Anglican Communion evolve into two distinct groupings. As A. S. Haley observes 'The takeover of the Instruments of Communion by ECUSA, aided and abetted by the Archbishop of Canterbury, is now complete' . For instance, in sharp contrast to the ultimatum issued by the Primates after their meeting in Dar es Salaam in 2007, no word of censure or rebuke was evident in the 'statement of purpose' issued by the Primates on Sunday Despite the fact that just weeks before this meeting, two senior female clergy of the Episcopal Church were 'married' in a ceremony at Boston Cathedral.

So if the official Lambeth institutions are no longer worth fighting for, should orthodox Anglicans now simply let history take its course, get on with evangelism where they can and hope for the best? I believe not, because the Dublin meeting makes explicit a theological shift which is even more significant than the predictable institutional changes made to enhance Lambeth's control, such as the establishment of a Primates' Standing Committee. The essential common interest of Rowan Williams and ECUSA/TEC becomes clear, whatever their differences over the pace of change, in the closing paragraph of the Dublin Primates' statement where they affirm that 'In our common life in Christ we are passionately committed to journeying together in honest conversation'.

We might well ask ourselves what sort of Communion we are in when the chief passion of the Archbishop of Canterbury and those still willing to work with him is for 'conversation'. Why this preoccupation with interminable and inward looking dialogue? What about a passion for reaching the lost, for faithful teaching and preaching, for the glory and honour of Jesus Christ? However sincere or even passionate the Primates may feel themselves to be, this is actually 'dishonest conversation' which displaces the gospel and is spiritually dangerous. Fundamentally, this is because 'conversing' has come to replace 'confessing'. In my book 'Shadow Gospel' I demonstrate how Rowan Williams' methodology amounts to a sophisticated redefinition of orthodoxy as a process of dialogue rather than faithfulness to a deposit of faith with its associated church order and morality. As long ago as 1983, Dr Williams' wrote:

We may need to develop an understanding of 'orthodoxy' as a tool rather than as an end in itself, a tool for discovery rather than control. Like any language it is unintelligible without some idea of grammar - necessary rules and regularities. But it is there essentially as something both functional to the life of the community, and necessarily bound up with - grounding perhaps - the identity of a community. (What is Catholic Orthodoxy?' in 'Essays Catholic and Radical' ed. K. Leech and R .Williams p13)

In retrospect this can be seen as something of a programmatic statement and it is very clever - too clever - because it allows Western liberals to use the same terminology as their orthodox colleagues from the Global South, but in such a way that the 'new truths' so beloved by revisionists can gain a foothold. The cumulative effect of immersion in such a church culture is a gradual increase in the ability to tolerate the spiritually toxic - as the careers of number of formerly evangelical bishops in the Church of England sadly demonstrates.

Part of the art of this debased conversation is to use the language of domesticity with words like 'family and 'table' in the foreground. So Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi of the Anglican Church in Burundi said that the absences from the meetings were "very understandable. But what we have to understand is that the Anglican Communion is like a family." In the same briefing from the Episcopal News Service, Presiding Bishop Jefferts-Schori comments "Conversations can be difficult with anyone. If we're not willing to continue in conversation, there's not much opportunity for healing or reconciling. We need to come to the table." But those who by painful experience have seen through the Lambeth enchantment realise only too well that the 'conversation' much lauded by the Presiding Bishop has actually been a pretext for inaction by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the unrestrained abuse of many members of the 'family' - for instance, the abuse of their trust by the unremitting pursuit of a sexual ethic opposed to the plain teaching of Scripture, as affirmed by the Lambeth Conference of 1998 and subsequent Primates' meetings, and the abusive use of litigation against those who have stood their ground within TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada.

Such is the dishonesty of the conversation that at times it leads to a level of self-deception which is quite transparent, such as Rowan Williams' statement that the presence of two thirds of the Primates 'means that two thirds of the Communion at least wish to meet and wish to continue the conversations they have begun.' This is very misleading. The Anglican Communion Institute, until recently supportive of Dr Williams, has itself pointed out that the reverse is the case - that those absent represent two thirds of the Communion in terms of actual active members.

Despite the inexorable process of separation that is taking place, this 'dishonest conversation' must be challenged. It matters very much that as many as possible end up on the right side of the emerging divide and it matters that the faithful majority of the Communion are not portrayed as 'schismatic' while the real schismatics get to keep the Anglican brand. A fitting way therefore for the absent Primates to follow through their principled negative decision would be by the positive action of sponsoring the GAFCON/Global South equivalent of the Anglican Ordinariate in England itself, mounting a challenge to 'dishonest conversation' at its source in the mother church of the Communion itself.

And this would be much more than a gesture because the need in England is very great, but the crisis of orthodox Anglicanism in England is persistently underplayed, especially by evangelicals, many of whom seem to be stuck in the mindset of the 1960's and think that they can somehow turn things round from within if only they can get enough votes or ordinands or bishops. This is not wrong, but it is inadequate - it is the past which has got us to the desperate situation of the present, with a failing Archbishop of Canterbury who has allowed false teaching to tear the Communion and the very real threat that those opposed in conscience to the consecration of women as bishops will be forced out of the Church of England.

For the future, it is important to listen to the rising generation who have the greatest investment in that future and I am increasingly coming across and hearing about young men who want to be ordained as Anglicans in England, but have serious reservations about committing themselves to the Church of England. They realise, in a way that those who are more acclimatised tend not to, that it is not a safe place for the gospel and if we care about the future of Anglican witness in England a safe place needs to be established for them.

So the appearance of some kind of separate but indisputably Anglican ecclesial body is urgent both for England itself and for the development of the Global South as a body able to give truly global leadership, as urged by Presiding Bishop Mouneer Anis at last month's 'Mere Anglicanism' Conference. But this is not something the Global South can just decide to do. There needs to be a readiness in England to take action and for the sake of the re-evangelisation of England it is vital that Church of England evangelicals are not inhibited by institutionally conditioned attitudes. Within the network of larger evangelical parish churches it may just be possible to sustain a future, at least nominally, within the formal structures of the Church of England, but for many it will not be feasible with a good conscience and as the Communion undergoes its present convulsions it must be wise to make provision for a faithful Anglican future that is not subject to the institutions which are now exposed as serving the wider Communion so badly.

Archbishop of Canterbury Stresses Unity; Candle Lit for Absentee Primates http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=13885

A candle was lit and empty chairs were placed around the room to note the absence of some 15 Anglican archbishops from the meeting at the Emmaus Center north of Dublin. Simultaneously, some 23 archbishops bewailed the death of a gay man in Uganda, called for clarity over the role of primates, argued for the reduction of violence and pressed for peace on earth, but, ironically, could not find peace and unity among themselves.

For the first time in modern ecclesiastical history, only two-thirds of the Anglican Communion's body of Primates was present. Dr. Rowan Williams wanted even in a vacuum to continue the conversation of the past. Left unsaid was the fact that those present represent only 30% of the Anglican Communion. The vast majority of Anglicans were with no representation or voice. To correct this, Dr. Williams plans a "face-to-face, person-to-person" tour of Africa (Kenya) and South East Asia in an effort to shore up his base and engage in "detailed conversation". It's going to be a long task, he said.

I asked him directly at a press conference how he proposed to re-establish his credibility with the absentee Primates, and bring them back to the Primatial Table, bearing in mind that GAFCON and the Jerusalem Declaration are now a reality, and that they represent about 70% of the practicing Anglican Communion though with fewer archbishops. Dr. Williams replied that he might have a few words to say about the phraseology of "establishing credibility, which I think begs a few questions."

"The answer is, as I have already indicated, we hope that the new members of the Primates' Standing Committee will, all of them, be doing some work to re-establish local and regional relationships. And, as I said, I am myself, in very regular contact with all of them."...

The Primus of Scotland, David Robert Chillingworth said "There is no doubt we do have some challenges in the Anglican Communion, but I am heartened by this meeting that there is a real, real effort within The Communion, among the Primates to deal with the challenges we have, and to move The Communion on to a state, to a level, to a place where we can engage in a meaningful and creative conversation guided by the Holy Spirit. I don't think that we can be unrealistic, I think we must be realistic, that there will be differences and you know, as well as I know, that these differences in The Communion, aren't necessarily those that are generated, or came into being through the present human sexuality issue."

Asked by Church Times reporter Ed Beaven if TEC's continuing to ignore previous Anglican Communion communiqués on homosexuals in the ministry would affect the long term unity of the Anglican Communion, Williams replied, "I have no crystal ball about the future. Clearly that division is very real, nobody is denying that. The question is how we cope with it, how we argue with one another, whether we'll still able to sit in the same room and argue the case, and that's why I'm sorry these are those who are not here to continue that argument among us."

Williams went on to say that there is solidarity between the churches in the North Atlantic world, churches in Africa, the churches in Asia about a broad range of ethical and spiritual questions, some of which surfaced in documents from this meeting. "That is not NOTHING. Some people would say that is more that goes to the lifeblood of the Church and anything else."...

The Archbishop of Burundi Bernard Ntahoturi noted, "I think that you're right to ask [about] some of the members of the Primates' Meeting who did not attend, and a good number of them are from Africa, [Nigeria, Uganda, and West Africa] and the issues that they raised are as far as we are concerned very understandable. What we have to understand is that the Anglican Communion is like a family, and when in a family there are issues that come up people do not agree or do not see in the same way the well-being of the family some actions are taken and some decisions are taken.

"First of all, I would like to say that, they have not withdrawn from the life of the Anglican Communion. They are still members of the Anglican Communion, and when we met in August and also in October -- as Primates of CAPA -- we the decision that attending or not attending [the Primates' Meeting] would be decided by each Province individually. That's why you see Burundi and other Provinces from Africa have attended as a decision taken by the House of Bishops in Burundi. I talk about Burundi, but also other Provinces that are here (Central Africa and South Africa).

"Not attending, physically, does not mean you are not participating in the life of The Communion. I personally believe that, whether they are here or they're not in Dublin, their hearts and aspirations to see that the Anglican Communion develops positively and works together for the furtherance of the Kingdom of God.

"The issues are still there, and I think it was very good for us, who attended, that those issues were addressed in the sense that we believe and recognize that they're difficulties within The Communion. But if those difficulties and those issues and questions that we are being faced together and see how we solve them and see how we continue living together. So participation is a commitment to the future and to the life of The Communion where everyone is as a member of this large and worldwide family."

Anglican Futures -- Peter Carrell http://anglicandownunder.blogspot.com/2011/02/anglican-futures.html

There is simply no way that ++Rowan in the remainder of his tenure of office, even if that were for another twenty years, will achieve what reports of his end of Primates' Meeting interview imply, that a series of visits to absentee primates will build bridges, mend bridges across the chasm which yawns - it is getting a bit boring - through the Communion.

Eventually, after fifty to one hundred years we may see rapprochement and reunion. It has happened with the once split three ways Methodists in Britain and with the once split two ways Presbyterians in Scotland. But in the remainder of my lifetime we will not see this chasm overcome. The persistence in belief that 'this (and not that) IS the way of the Lord' on both (or more) sides is simply too strong for hopes to be realistic for an earlier achievement of new unity. (Though, in the Lord, I do not give up hope).

So expect the following for decades to come:

(1) There will be no theological, liturgical or ministry issue of concern to the wider Communion which will be engaged with by the Instruments of the Communion.

(2) There will be many statements issued by the Instruments of Communion concerning any issue in the world outside of (1) above.

(3) Global South will become the powerhouse of the Communion: it will represent the majority of all Anglicans around the world; life within Global South will develop with good self-discipline around the decisions it makes about common life; some Anglican dioceses outside Global South will be increasingly drawn to meet with Global South.

(4) The next Archbishop of Canterbury will be chosen for his or her bureaucratic, managerial skills. Theological acumen and visionary leadership will not be needed by the See of Canterbury for some time to come.

(5) The zenith of TEC's influence on the life of the Communion is now. Over the next few decades its declining numbers will expose the weakness of the hand it has played: progressive theology is not a theology of renewal of generations in a church. American money will keep the ACO afloat for a while longer, but eventually the financiers will understand that money is going down the drain on meetings of no importance.

ACNA may rise in strength but it needs to find leadership able to build and maintain bridges within its own ranks.

Response to Peter Carrell -- Rev. Mark Harris http://anglicanfuture.blogspot.com/2011/02/is-now-zenith-of-tecs-influence-on-life.html

Has TEC topped out in terms of its influence on the life of the Anglican Communion? Peter Carrell over at AnglicansDownUnder seems to think so... Carrell is a fine writer and his analysis of issues from an evangelical seriously south and down under perspective is always worth reading. Still I think he as over reached on this one.

Peter's comments, "Over the next few decades its declining numbers will expose the weakness of the hand it has played: progressive theology is not a theology of renewal of generations in a church."

Peter believes TEC is at its zenith for reasons not related to its declining influence vis a vis the Global South at all. He believes it is TEC's "progressive theology" that will do us in. We will be less influential because we will be smaller.

Peter's argument is not about our support and "influence" over missionary work abroad, or our support or influence over the ACO, arguments often used by the Global South. His argument is about TEC having a progressive theology, and such theology not being "a theology of renewal of generations in a church."

Well, we will see.

Perhaps progressive theology is not a theology of "renewal of generations," what ever that finally means. But what does it mean? Does it mean we progressives simply do not have enough children who we bring up in the progressive faith? Well to paraphrase someone well known to us all, "If they are not enough, the stones will become our children."

Progressive theology at its best does not renew generations, it renews hope for the hopeless and calls for justice to roll down like waters. It believes that God's future is known in the union of justice and mercy in the self-emptying of Jesus the Christ and as well in you and me as we are true to our calling as the anointed ones, being emptied for the health of the world. It turns out that that message, if delivered, will make for new peoples of faith where before there was despair.

Perhaps Peter means that progressive theology is not finally the stable faith once delivered to the saints, able to be transmitted through the generations without loss of clarity about its basis in the Cross and Resurrection. If that is what he is saying here, I think he is wrong.

But the warning is right: If progressive theology is not itself grounded in the reality of and faith in Christ Jesus there will be no generation of new peoples of faith. My sense is that Peter does not believe progressive theology does this, and I do.

As to influence, think of the early church. Not many were people of great influence, save that they knew themselves to be God's beloved. That was influence enough.

END

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