Sunday, 21 September 2008

Confused? It's GAFCON Again

One minute, when it comes to Anglicanism and autonomy, "nationalism" is a sin, but next minute we have:

The world has changed. People no longer allow their identities to be defined by others. We live in a world not of empires as in the 1860’s but sovereign nation states and individual autonomy.

This is the mind-world of Chris Sugden and his tortured wavy argument as he pens the way of GAFCON and the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans.

So now we have the equivalent of sovereign nation states and individual autonomy, then. Er, no:

In sovereign nation states, the will of the people is supreme. (But a church cannot have its doctrines determined by its members in the same way).

Right. So there has to be hierarchy - no will of the people in a Church (where the people make up the Body of Christ, presumably). However, then the argument turns again:

In forming a council the GAFCON primates took a step towards governance. They distinguish the work of developing the movement from the work of governance thus: "The Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans will function as a means of sharing in this great task [of defending and promoting the biblical gospel]. We invite individuals, churches, dioceses, provinces and parachurch organisations who assent to the Jerusalem Declaration..."

Ah yes, this Jerusalem Declaration. Was this not supposed to be the outcome of the Global Anglican Future Conference - a conference? Surely that was a form of autonomy and the equivalent of a constitution of a nation state? Was not the Conference gathered supreme?

Or was the Declaration written by some scribes in back rooms and only presented to the Conference? After all, it was leaked before the Conference made its approval. It had every sign of being as 'Religious Trotskyist' in method of production as the rest of the development towards GAFCON meeting in Jerusalem.

But no, apparently not. It is not about organisation! Not even a visible one!

Finding their identity in the faith rather than in the organization, they can move forward together in their orthodox ministries; ‘develop networks, commissions publications’.

Then we are told that this organisation that isn't, that is, is rather like a starfish. It is headless. So what is the Primates' Council then? How headless is that? This apparent headlessness is to be contrasted with the confused head of the Anglican Communion:
Those who identify with the institution and its head can only move as the head moves. If the head is paralysed between personal convictions contrary to the teaching of the church and his job description to maintain the doctrine of the church, then they are paralysed also.

There are two options here. Either Chris Sugden cannot string a consistent argument together, because he muddles metaphors and then neither knows whether this FCA is a hierarchy or not, or this is deliberately set to confuse, starting with muddled metaphors as part of the attempt at sending up chaff. As for the starfish being united, there is no way that traditionalist Anglo-Catholics can accept the Jerusalem Declaration neat, with its stress on the Thirty-nine Articles, the Book of Common Prayer, and selective scriptural literalism. Given the literalist mentality here this is a fundamental problem and far more so than simply the paralysis identified among GAFCONies on the issue of women and headship.

Meanwhile, someone is jumping the gun regarding the removal from The Episcopal Church and escape to the Southern Cone of Bishop Bob Duncan. The former Primate of the Southern Cone writes to the Archbishop of Canterbury for him to call:

a meeting of the Primates to give formal recognition to a new Province in North America, as desired by the Common Cause Partners Federation.

Might this be the reason, then, that Bob Duncan was swiftly removed - that he was removed before he could claim to take the family silver with him? Perhaps now he has been given the boot there is nothing to stop him setting up some competition.

The Archbishop had set out his plan. He will be organising a Pastoral Forum, an object of intervention that GAFCONies do not want and The Episcopal Church presumably would not tolerate.

If the Archbishop of Canterbury were to change policy so quickly from Lambeth 2008, he would be doing such without notice, backing those who have organised a schism against the Anglican Communion, with a different, er, hierarchy of decision making: its Primates Council (which has taken power to itself that the Primates Meeting does not have).

Anyway, why ask someone whose 'head is paralysed between personal convictions contrary to the teaching of the church and his job description to maintain the doctrine of the church'? That seems to be quite a confused action, if the GAFCONies and the Southern Conies are signing from the same hymn sheet.

1 comment:

Fred Schwartz said...

I would agree, the GAFCONies are indeed blind.