Saturday, 27 June 2009

More on the Creeping FCA

Previously here, and at Fulcrum (as an outside viewpoint), I have expressed the view that the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FCA) is entryist. Entryism is nothing to do with the innocence and joy of a group of evangelicals, if that is indeed their state. It is to do with how a group is formed, led and maintained. In the United States and Canada the strategy is replacement, but here it is entryist - though, in the end, entryism always has the long term goal of replacement. Once you have entered the host and corrupted it from the inside, the host is in the end left in a weakened position and starts to collapse, leaving the entryist body to take over its identity but in its own image.

I have made the argument about enthusiasm and membership drawing on types of people attracted into the Baha'i Faith. The argument goes like this. The Baha'i Faith has a shop window of modernity, equality, syncretism, worldly awareness and peace. The reality, for those who sign on the dotted line, is slavishness (eager or otherwise) to the actual words of Baha'u'llah, Abdul Baha and Shoghi Effendi, according to the translations of Shoghi Effendi, and - more to the point - obedience to the Universal House of Justice, the peak of the Administrative Order. That peak of nine people elected by those who know them best is male only. The syncretism is Baha'i interpreted only, that is authoritative interpretations of other faiths that these others don't necessarily accept, and the ideas of the Baha'i Faith are religious ideas emergent out of Persia and the east into the West at the time of formation all locked into infallible texts. For example, they have some odd interpretations of evolution which no evolutionist would accept, but the believer is absolutely obliged to accept them. The best example of intellectual mind bending is of course male only government (intended to be a world not just a religion's parliament) and, it should be said, hey ho, this faith is against homosexuality.

The thought was this. If the Baha'is attract fairly well educated and often middle class idealists, then surely that's how the thing will become. But it is not so. A member feels the pressure of the Administrative Order from the off, and for a very good reason: money can only be raised from members. Grand plans for expansion come from Haifa, and these cost, and of course there is a full calendar of activities. What happens is that people will break free of the social links that come with religious fellowships - and then they leave the faith. But what also happens, and evident on the Internet with just a little looking, is that many are ejected. Express an individual, heretical view and the believer might well suddenly find they are a Covenant Breaker. The Administrative Order operates structural censorship of ideas over its members so it is represented properly.

The point is it matters how an organisation operates. Now the FCA is not just another pressure group. There are plenty already. Nor is it a bottom-up association of free individuals. The key here is the historic divisions of Evangelicalism. This group is out to end that division but do it on its terms. It goes back not just to this self-selecting Primates' Council, but to the Conservative Evangelical writers and formers of decisions that lie behind even that, where the decisions are made first.

All you need to know about the viewpoint being promoted is to look at Anglican Mainstream and its website, and one thing that hits you between the eyes is its obsession with sexuality (for one thing). But the wider plot is there and has been fairly visible elsewhere, and the crux is that strategy delivery of Richard Turnbull some years ago. The first requirement is to stop the resistance that the evangelical division has caused, and that means first target is the so-called liberal evangelicals, and then that clears the way for the real target, which is all those identified as liberals according to this outfit.

There have been arguments recently about control and management of evangelical bodies; indeed Richard Turnbull was seen as cackhanded in forcing through his agenda and stood down from the Church of England Evangelical Council (CEEC), but any similar giving way won't happen with the FCA. And with the FCA in town, the other evangelical bodies won't matter so much anyway.

Let's be clear about the real nature of the FCA because of its connection with the Primates' Council and a particularly narrow form of Conservative Evangelism. Anyone joining that 'fellowship' will be associating themselves with the support for arrests of gay people in places like Nigeria and in the activity of criminalising homosexuality. Now no doubt some of the FCA people will even approve (after all, one of the ballast Churches does), but a great many individuals have some ethical sense about them.

But my point is that, in some groups, the ethical sense of the membership does not change the body; it is the authority system in that group that presses on the person who signs up. In my opinion, anyone who signs up to the FCA is signing up to a particularly nasty form of exclusivity.

Of course they have the talk that they 'love the Lord' and people like me don't. So I'll turn that around and use my freedom to say that this group is out to undermine structures and enforce its own agenda through these being weakened. And it comes with a very heavy ethical price. They 'love the Lord' and criminalise their neighbours.

Incidentally, just in case I am accused of the same entryism, as a heretic among Anglicans, I should say that I decided to deliberately restrict my involvement and participation: my views are as they are and I cannot seek and have no right to alter any structure or presentation that I may visit and participate in. Anything I do is on sufferance. This is not the position of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, which as far more ambitious - it is, by its own use of language, a revolutionary body and not one that would see its influence evolve. It is out to crack eggs. The host body had better decide to defend itself.

3 comments:

Grandmère Mimi said...

Wow! You state what the FoCA folks are about so plainly, Adrian. I knew all that you say about them, but it had not coalesced in my mind in a clear way. Thank you.

You can see the same sort of mindset in this letter from Bishop Mark Lawrence, (which I find a truly strange epistle) of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina, who is still technically part of the Episcopal Church, but whose heart lies with the ACNA group, who are, of course, beyond entryism and into replacement.

Anonymous said...

Hi, you state two things about the Baha'i faith which are factually incorrect:

False, Baha'is believe in Scientific evolution as explained by Science:

"For example, they have some odd interpretations of evolution which no evolutionist would accept, but the believer is absolutely obliged to accept them."

False, money, greed, and selfishness is not issues in Baha'i administration, and any funds given by members is done anonymously, and never to Baha'i even accept money from non-Bahais:

"If the Baha'is attract fairly well educated and often middle class idealists, then surely that's how the thing will become. But it is not so. A member feels the pressure of the Administrative Order from the off, and for a very good reason: money can only be raised from members."

Pluralist (Adrian Worsfold) said...

Abdul Baha's interpretation of evolution is not the same as the scientific, as they involve theistic intent, and Baha'is are obliged to regard his words as without error. Secondly Baha'i schemes for expansion rely on Baha'i only money. So on these I am correct.