Friday, 18 June 2010

Andrew Goodgod on that Letter

Reflections on the Archbishop of Anglicanism's
Pentecost Letter:

A pathway for Anglican spiritual renewal?
by Andrew Goodgod

It was back in the reign of Henry VIII that Anglicanism began, although it was not called that then. From Catholic beginnings...

[Note: this part of the original draft has been edited out]

So many weeks and so little time, in that three weeks back the Archbishop of Anglicanism issued his letter of utmost clarity and charity, writing to the bishops, clergy and faithful of Anglicans, as a man in his position is reet, might and mote to do.

Prior to that he had issued a private letter to the Presiding Bishop when The Episcopal Church had the cheek to ordain a male heterosexual bishop Doug Ian, who until then had sat on an Anglican Communion committee (and he might be replaced). The Archbishop asked her to remove herself from Anglican things and apparently she rang up the Archbishop and told him to "shove off".

Thus the Secretary General naturally followed up the Pentecost Letter with his letter removing The Episcopal Church from ecumenical forums as it no longer is a Church with Anglican views.

Both letters produced a storm of protest, so that my nutty brother Giles Goodgod wrote an open letter first giving approval to the Presiding Bishop Kathy Jefferson Shoreline and then disapproval to the Archbishop, the order of which showed just how much he has become my wayward brother. I think he hasn't got over the thrashing I used to give him in our bedroom when I stole his toys and he started crying.

She herself had her own Pentecost message in response to the Archbishop's Pentecost letter, in which she allied herself with the history of the Calvinist Church of Scotland. She went to Scotland to apologise for that to Scottish Episcopalians, and in a further sign of both regret and resistance carried her hat under her arm in Southwark Cathedral. What an appropriate place: the hotbed of liberalism since the days of John Robinson, known as the low point so far for the Church of England in its history according to Bishop New Testament Wrong, our Fulcrum hero, who has decided to retire into academia due to lack of influence.

Before she could go to Southwark she had to have a Criminal Records Bureau check and show who ordained her and where to the Archbishop's secretariat, who thought she might be an imposter.

Thankfully in America we have A Frame Reader and Christopher Shites to write endless pages showing why the Presiding Bishop is wrong and they are right. I am trying to write as much as they do, to give the impression of weight and seriousness (just as we tell our students to do the same).

This brings us more or less up to the present day, and so here my historical description has to end unless I get into futurology.

Sadly most of the Archbishop's Pentecost Letter had to address the Anglican dispute which excites so many of us, as we dream of pushing around the chess pieces of world Anglican politics and we make precisely no difference regarding anything.

Our far too patient Archbishop has arrived at where decisions cannot be avoided, since the lesbian bishop was concentrated in a swimming pool with a glass ceiling.

Decisions cannot be avoided, said the man and thus he has started excluding people.

He has been very clever, making it look like he is concerned with all three moratoria - gay bishops, same-sex blessings and border crossings of Anglican bishops - and only at an official policy passed level. Thus the Church of England can have same sex blessings, like the one coming with Colin Coward, but because it is unofficial it does not matter. So the Church of England is fine and gets off Scot free (ha ha!). And although Martin Mynns continues as a bishop of the Nigerian Church (to replace the Anglican Communion), no enquiries have gone that way but rather to the Coneman with the 99 Flake asking whether he is busy at present. Fortunately the Canadians recently passed a resolution saying that everything regarding same-sex blessings is good and localised, but the Church itself has no view, and so the Archbishop can concentrate on just removing The Episcopal Church and say clever Canada.

So duplicity is at the heart of the proposals, and in a very bureaucratic manner. And in this spirit the Archbishop will ask the Nigerians and Coneheads and others what more can be done to remove the Presiding Bishop and other representatives given the need "to confirm what the Communion as a whole has come to regard as the acceptable limits of diversity in its practice" according to the way the Communion finds out what these limits are.

What has the Archbishop not done?

1) In seeking to exclude, he has not followed a separatist and exclusionist approach. He is not frightened of GAFCON setting up in the UK, as it has recently in Chelmsford.

2) In using same-sex blessings and gay/ lesbian bishops as a form of outlawed heterodoxy against Anglican identity, he has not contradicted the sensitive Anglican concern for including minorities.

3) He is prepared to listen to those who are excluded and thus they become unable to talk in any place where he might hear them.

4) Thus he has deepened the conversation, to preserve relationships and exchanges, to take place outside the Communion.

5) He has not, as yet, removed the Presiding Bishop from her role at the Primates' Meeting or the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion because she told him to "shove off" when he did suggest it.

So the Archbishop has hardly acted at all.

Why has the Archbishop taken this action?

There are a number of weaknesses in his letter.

1) The logic of the Archbishop's decision is contradictory and utterly baffling, if it can be understood at all in his verbosity even as I try to learn his particular skill of communication.

2) There are some statements in his letter which are in cloud cuckoo land and bear no relationship to reality, but I am not sure what they are.

(3) There is one striking omission: sense. I give this below.

1) The stated logic: a rejection of Communion faith and order, which is very clear because they in America cannot be Anglicans and represent Anglicanism.

2) The Episcopal Church is a local Church and no more, whereas the Anglican Church is a big thing across the world with the Archbishop as boss. This has been established over the years, according to the Archbishop.

3) Rome. Anglicanism as a big Church is really a different form of Roman Catholicism that has Protestants in it.

4) The Episcopal Church carried official policy resolutions that fly in the face of the global Anglican Church and are thus local aberrations of the international curia and thus threatens the ecclesial identity and ecumenical activity of the Communion as a communion of Churches and amounts to a unilateral redefinition of the Communion.

This should not be allowed.

Some people think babies should be christened and some think they should not be, but the Anglican practice is set out worldwide and no one can change that. Thus no one should be able to change anything else that is not sanctioned by the worldwide Anglican Church. Who says women can be bishops? This was never passed either.

It would be eccentric to place such people of different views in a position where their viewpoints were implicitly acknowledged as one of a range of equally acceptable convictions among other viewpoints that might overlap. As A Frame Reader has pointed out: "We are right and they are wrong."

[The next twenty pages are edited out as they constitute repetition.]

Now conscience is not the supreme authority. Scripture is the supreme authority and the world wide Church has to make judgements about the extent to which people's consciences are properly informed by and consonant with Scripture. Given that it is obvious what Scripture says, we cannot have such deviations or deviants.

Then there is the issue of pumping up bicycle tyres, known as pneumatology. You cannot just invent the idea that there is a bicycle pump of a Holy Spirit following on from Jesus Christ, just because Jesus said farewell and there'll be a bicycle to ride later on. This is just nonsense. If we take the example of the Gentile woman who said to Jesus he'd feed the dogs better than her daughter, and he then changed his mind, and sent a healing bolt of lightning out yonder to her daughter, we thus know that Jesus never learnt anything or changed his mind. He never learnt to ride a bicycle: we know this. So the Holy Spirit is not going to change its mind either. Like Jesus, the Holy Spirit learns nothing, because both are perfect in every way, and therefore people of the same sex must button it.

But the Archbishop can see Christ in such wrong people. Still, he is overgenerous: he sidesteps the question of the nature and form of ecclesiastical discipline and giving such people a good whack, or imprisoning them as they do within Africa.

Fulcrum is now the centre of the Church of England and represents the opinion of the world wide Anglican Church. We now insist that our interpretation of the Bible is correct, and the Holy Spirit does not budge. We have mapped the Communion and written the history of Anglicanism umpteen times already. We fight off the Conservative Evangelicals and we isolate the Liberals. They thought they didn't mean it when we asked them for assurances and warned them of consequences.

The danger is that if the Anglican Communion is allowed to be represented by the local Church in any sense, then the world wide Anglican Church would have to be removed from the Communion.

The only alternative is a pluralism and confederacy that might not be Christian in a postmodern global fellowship of unbelievers in which levels of diversity and liberalism are bound to be high.

What is to be Done?

We need to sharpen the instruments. You can buy a Tesco Value bunch of knives in a wooden block for £4. It can be cheaper to buy a new set instead of one knife!

There is a clear lesson here for Anglicanism: let's sharpen up all the instruments and not just the one, the lonely Archbishop and his Secretary General.

He might invite more views, but we think the road ahead is obvious. Cut them out, keep them away, let TEC wither on the vine.

Kathy Jefferson Shoreline should not preach in Southwark ever again, indeed she should be stopped by the UK Border Agency and asked if she is really human at all.

When the primates get together, they should be asked if they are not actually apes. She might call their bluffs, but we know that bonobos engage in prostitution, homosexuality and cannibalism, and these are our nearest neighbours as primates.

Get the bonobos on the Standing Committee, as it signs up new primates with the Covenant signing on process. In the meantime, keep Doug Ian off it. And when the big chimps tea party takes place at Lambeth in 2018, let's keep TEC out, if it hasn't shrunk then to the ecclesiastical equivalent of a prune.

We have a marvellous Archbishop who is facing the destruction of the Anglican Communion, and he is doing as much as he can to bring this about. He will get this Covenant introduced, even if he is the first, last and only one to do it, whether the Church in England can legally have it or not. This is the only way forward because Fulcrum says so.


So forward with the Archbishop and the world wide Anglican Church! Hooray for Fulcrum! Hooray for verbiage!

Business as usual is not an option, which can be sunk into the Indaba process. What a wonderful idea that was. Sharpen the Instruments and cut out the cancer. Resuscitate Anglican Churchianity!

The Pentecost letter will surely be seen as having set a path which will assist the world wide Church's renewal in the Spirit. I'll end with a poem to the Holy Spirit and pneumatology:

I've got a bike,
You can ride it if you like;
It's got a basket,
A bell that rings,
And things to make it look good.
I'd give it to you if I could
Holy Spirit should.

Here's the kind of Church that fits in with my world,
It'll give you anything,
Everything if you want things.

I've got a cloak:
It's a bit of a joke!
There's buttons up the front,
It's holy black,
I've had it for months.
If you think it could look good
Then I guess it should.

Here's the kind of Church that fits in with my world:
It'll give you anything,
Everything if you want things.

I have a chance
To get hold of a manse.
The Archbishop?
He has a palace!
He's getting rather old
But he's more callous.

Here's the kind of Church that fits in with my world:
It'll give you anything,
Everything if you want things.

I've got a clan of bishop made men:
Here a man,
There a man,
Lots of bishops here then!
Take a couple if you wish:
They're on the pish.

Here's the kind of Church that fits in with my world:
It'll give you anything,
Everything if you want things.

I know a room of episcopal loons:
Some speak,
Some think,
Most of them are clockwork.
Let's go into the other room and make them work.

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