Saturday, 21 June 2008

How It - This Schism - Can Happen

Though relating to a specific argument, the Ugley Vicar (John Richardson) is also showing how the Global Anglican (GAFCON) invasion can happen in the near future. This is surely well predictable.

He goes back to a Churchman article in 2001 by Nigel Atkinson. Atkinson is a Protestant Anglican minister who nevertheless in his parishes in Exeter called upon the oversight of the flying Bishop of Ebbsfleet, a traditionalist Anglo-Catholic, thus preserving the parishes from female oversight, on the principle of not just Protestants arguing for their flying bishops but using them. Atkinson said a Reform vicar would never have been appointed when he moved on had he not used the flying bishop. The point he was making is that the provisions to protect parishes from female ordination and a likely later female headship would always be temporary, and yet without internal arrangements the foreign oversight solution becomes necessary.

That's the point. Now he warned against the foreign oversight solution back in 2001 because Reform wanted to reform the Church of England. However, without such provisions, Reform isn't going to reform the Church of England. It will be attracted to foreign oversight.

I am one who does not want Reform to reform the Church of England, and this is a good reason for not extending the provision for alternative oversight with the coming of women bishops. Another reason is that even with oversight, the foreign option might now prove the more attractive, given the myriad of other reasons that Conservative Evangelicals might want now to run off to foreign oversight. The foreign oversight now is not perceived as a means to defend, but as a means to reform the Church of England from the outside - a means to attack.

So it seems pretty clear. They will probably go anyway, so the Church of England as it will be left to exist is freer to introduce a unified system of episcopal oversight of men and women, rather than some dogs dinner of looking both ways at the same time, with inevitably women being second class bishops, even if there isn't quite a cheesy Church of England full of holes with non-geographical dioceses tempted to become a third province (which is what the traditionalists really want - and would hand Global Anglicanism the means to infiltrate on a plate).

At least with the single unified and less messy episcopal ministry, the Global Anglicans will have to put some effort into their invasion: taking first all those who cannot stand women in leadership on top of those who can't stand gay people in relationships, and then campaigning against more Open Evangelicals who stay in the existing Church of England. The Church of England, as it comes under increasingly loud criticism that it is heretical and all the rest, in the manner of TEC and the ACC in North American now, will be shown the door and the key turned.

That's how schisms happen. A fork in the road on one or more connected fronts appears, and then a chain of actions and reactions take place that lead to there being one Canterbury Communion of loosely associated Churches including the Church of England, and the tighter (and likely internally schismatic) ship that will be this international oversight method of Global Anglicanism.

Let them get on with it; let the Church of England do what is right rather than what is expedient and let the Global Anglicans do what they want. It will all come out in the wash.

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