Saturday 15 September 2007

He's Surely Not for Turning Now

Remember the discredited document A Most Agonising Road to Lambeth 2008? It now features in the next bullying attempt to rewrite the agenda from Nigeria. To remind, see the archive of Thinking Anglicans and indeed here.

The latest attempt to change the agenda of the Archbishop of Canterbury via the form of an open letter is reproduced on Thinking Anglicans as well as numerous other places.

The reason that the document is discredited is that it was heavily written by the British born American, but Nigerian consecrated, Martyn Minns and further edited by English Anglican priest Chris Sugden. The Nigerian bishops find the document "most compelling", when it has been shot through and discredited by examination of the original Word document and its spin doctoring. It is not compelling, except to their own selves, but a one-sided presentation.

So now they want to use this letter to change the announced invitations of Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams to Lambeth 2008 (in the summer) and then the timetable of the Covenant process of discussion and consultation that would probably not be finalised (if it ever is) until 2012 - a Covenant about a process of communion wide management of change. About changing this the Nigerian bishops set out their "willingness and commitment to work towards that end". How good of them, but the approach as already set out was for the whole Communion. They assume a change is needed; they say they will work for their change - well, why not work according to the existing agenda? After all, the basis of the invitations to The Episcopal Church (TEC) bishops (in the USA) is according to the existing agenda.

The Nigerians do not want this: they want a change of approach. This is proposed via yet another open letter.

In it these bishops first divert from their own obsession with homosexuality by blaming the agenda on gay supporting protesters and British law - "the abuse directed towards those who hold to traditional views on matters of Human Sexuality". They list the "spate of hostility" in the UK, such as placard-carrying and leaflets-distributing campaigners at the last Lambeth Conference in 1998 distracting Bishops who had travelled "thousands of miles for fellowship". These protesters effectively shifted the focus of the conference to human sexuality.

Talk about pots calling kettles black - as if these railroaders of the 1998 Conference did not do this themselves? The list against the opposition goes on, in a way that can hardly be taken seriously.

It does remind one of the political operatives who, having their own agenda, go out and duffs up the opposition, to then blame the opposition and its violence for having to bring in the agenda. I'm avoiding mentioning the country, the movement and where it all led.

Then comes:
Recent attempts to mandate unbiblical views in the UK through force of law and the protests and attacks by activists determined to disrupt and intimidate any group that seeks to uphold biblical teaching.
In truth anyone who does not embrace revisionist views is a potential target. We know it is possible to provide some security to minimize such occurrences...
Somehow the bishops of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) are off their collective trolley. Perhaps the University of Kent ought to put up razor wire because the government introduced civil partnerships.

Because of this twisted analysis, and a questioning of the basis of the next Lambeth Conference for study, these Nigerian bishops want their own process. Postpone the Lambeth Conference, they say, which is too large and discussive for them (and Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda) to manipulate and have a primates meeting instead (which they can manipulate as they did when setting up their own headquarters at Tanzania in the primates meeting in February 2007 - Archbishop Akinola then consulting Martyn Minns and Chris Sugden). This meeting, rather than say the Archbishop and later the Anglican Consultative Council, would decide if The Episcopal Church has met its demands. This primates meeting would also decide to push ahead to "finalise" the Covenant, the Lambeth Conference being too large to do this.

Somehow this is supposed to allow "current tensions to subside". They don't seem to realise that there many other points of view. Such a change of approach now would probably cause tensions to boil even more.

The letter is signed off: "Bishops of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion)". That's what they call themselves, after the name-change, which assumes this Church is the core of the Anglican Communion, whatever it does.

The open letter is ostensibly an attempt to force the Archbishop to choose. They know perfectly well that he is not going to change tack at this stage, not when he intends to keep as many sides talking for as long as they can. If they know this already then they are setting him up - for blame.

Recently the Archbishop made an excellent lecture to Christians and Muslims (I thought it was); in the USA with TEC bishops he will open an interfaith based centre. In the previous Wilberforce lecture (April 2007) he made a distinction between public morality and private concerns (such as sexuality). He has laid out his path in interviews.

Of course he could about turn and do things their way. He would annoy so very many if he did. If he did so it would reverse everything he has been saying so far this year, and reverse his actions to date. It would be tragic and laughable. Strained credibility on all of this would be lost.

Open letters do not lead to such reversals. This open letter is a stunt. Watch how they are continuing to set up the Archbishop of Canterbury and declare him to be in league with The Episcopal Church leadership, thus declared heretical, and therefore produce the necessity to reroute Anglicanism via the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion). It is a justification for what will be their schism and that of a few others. Their hole is for them to dig and spades offered by them should be refused.

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