There is no via media between incompatible Convictions
A brief comment about Lambeth 2008
By Bp. John Rodgers
In the present, there seem to be three distinct groups in the Anglican Communion, each thinks out of a key presupposition, and believes that it is the true bearer of the Anglican Vision or Spirit. There are the Revisionists who interpret Scripture, tradition and institutional authority in the light of culturally dominated reason. There are the so called moderates or corporatists who accommodate their view of and interpretation of Scripture, tradition and reason to secure their supreme value of institutional unity, by seeking a middle ground and moderate change. And there are the historic Anglicans who view things in the light of the Apostolic Faith as set forth in Scripture, read in the light of the Catholic Creeds and the Anglican Formularies. Given these key assumptions, most of the actions of the groups are rather predictable, as is also the result of a gathering of all three i.e. the 2008 Lambeth Conference.
The truth of the matter is that these three positions are incompatible and the sooner that we in the Anglican Communion face that fact and take the responsible action to negotiate a godly and charitable separation, the better off all of us will be. To continue to be formally bound together, while struggling for dominance while calling it unity, fools no one, hinders each group from expressing its vision and from carrying out its mission, with whatever effectiveness the Lord of history will allow. It also kills serious ecumenical discussion with the Orthodox, Roman Catholic and faithful Reformation Churches. In addition, it spends a great deal of money, time and effort, which could be put to far more productive use.
As one reads the lengthy Lambeth 2008 Statement, with its stating the obvious, vagueness in key terms, additional commissions, utterly unrealistic demands (moratoria), and the lengthy approval process, one can only wonder and sigh at the slowness with which we Anglicans face the inevitable. Consider the protracted pain which the delay will cause, the loss of membership it will produce and the damage to mission that will ensue. To value unity above the revealed Truth of Christianity is, of course, utterly wrong, and aiming for unity between incompatible visions is entirely futile. There is no unifying via media between incompatible key convictions, even as there is no escaping our Lord's clear teaching that "a house divided cannot stand".
Surely the GAFCON Statement is correct. It is the historic Anglicans who bear the faithful Anglican Vision and who call all in the Communion to return to faithful Anglicanism. While it is a hard saying, I concur with the senior British Bishops who called for such charitable separations from the Anglican Communion as will save the Communion. Such an action would allow those corporatists and revisionists who have no interest in repenting to find their distinct place outside of the Communion. The problem is to envision how that could be done, and to find the willingness in all groups to face the inevitable, instead of trying to make compatible the incompatible. It may be that Primates at their next meeting will have wisdom from above for us. Let us pray that they do.
---The Rt. Rev. John Rodgers is a bishop with the Anglican Mission in the Americas. He is the former Dean and President of Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, PA.
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