Wednesday, 28 November 2007

The Gathering Storm

Here we go with the latest swerve towards the Anglican motorway pile up.

Thinking Anglicans provides a connection between Conservative Evangelical Chris Sugden's latest piece of pre-organising the to-be-split Anglican Communion and a response by Open Evangelical Graham Kings. It's sad really because yet again it is the Open Evangelical response that does not seem to get it straight, despite the fact that in saying this I have more sympathy with them than I ever could have with such as Chris Sugden.

His piece in coupling the poor and some view of sexuality is nothing but exploitation and opportunism. The two are unconnected. I attend a church that gave money to a project for a few of the poor abroad. They sent photographs back of real, concrete assistance to the poor and practical life improvement that has taken place as a result. The church does not tend to express agreement with Chris Sugden's viewpoint, nor is his viewpoint or the church's view on sexuality relevant to the poor at all. In any case, such a viewpoint on sexual propriety is cultural - Africans can change their stance just as easily as Europeans and North Americans have. A bogus argument from top to bottom.

But let's look at what is the Open Evangelical response to the later half-nonsense from Chris Sugden in the same speech, about the Archbishop forfeiting the right to gather the Anglican Communion at Lambeth 2008 because he won't support or impose "orthodox" international intervention in The Episcopal Church and, presumably, now, into Canada.

For Chris Sugden, about half of bishops won't turn up at Lambeth 2008. Presumably they won't go nowhere, and they might meet somewhere else nearby, or perhaps far away, or before or after, to organise themselves. Rightly Graham Kings says, "We'll see." Chris Sugden is somewhat overplaying his hand.

Now a little while ago on Wednesday 21 November 2007 I said the situation regarding Bishop Don Harvey (illustrated) upping sticks from Canada from where he had retired and going down to the Southern Cone, to then become full time and work against the Church in Canada to organise the "orthodox" there at last made all the difference. Here was a situation about which the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, had to make a decision, partly because he had told Archbishop for Canada, Fred Hiltz, that Canada was approaching the same sex issue properly (unlike the Americans, who apparently should have worked out the theology first and then elected a gay bishop and had same sex blessings second - as if the electors and deciders are devoid of theologies) but also because (though I did not state it), that an invitation to Lambeth 2008 would have to be withdrawn, admission into which is in the gift of the "gatherer" of the Communion, the Archbishop of Canterbury. If he was firmly sat on the fence, watching events rather than guiding them, then now he'd have to either exclude Don Harvey or change policy - he excludes Martyn Minns and others. Even in the USA recently, where apparently they do things wrongly, he described interventionist bishops like Martyn Minns as "illicit" (a good Catholic word). He'd have to withdraw an invitation to be consistent. However, Rowan Williams did not have to act and withdraw an intervention because the formerly retired bishop would not, being retired, get an invitation anyway. As a full timer he would get one, but no effort is required in not sending one to another "illicit" bishop even though he is full time.

This is what Graham Kings says:
The irony of this is that the Presiding Bishop of the Southern Cone, Greg Venables, has been at pains to point out that he consulted with the Archbishop of Canterbury in September concerning the current events. At least he continues, it seems, to treat the Archbishop of Canterbury as one ‘who gathers the Communion’.
Well this cannot be so, can it? Rowan Williams cannot legitimise an intervention expressly opposed by an Anglican Church with its own bishops in situ, to have some outsider gather Anglicans against their geographical leadership. If he does, he is flying in the face of a Church he'd said was doing it properly, whilst excluding an illicit bishop intervening in a space of a Church which was not doing it properly (where an argument for intervention would be better made!)! Or, suddenly, Rowan Williams can chuck over the cliff all he has said about dioceses and bishops, including (as qualified) to the Bishop of Florida.

Either that or it really is a case of the bishops have their diocese and then it is straight past any national Churches to a curia or Primates and the Archbishop of Canterbury as a fallible Pope. It really is a new Anglican Church, not a Communion. But he did say that national Churches produce a unity of canon law - indeed, which excludes interventionist "illicit" bishops.

So Harvey, the new full time bishop, cannot be invited to Lambeth, and therefore no matter how much Gregory Venables has consulted the Archbishop, he is not "gathering" him or any of the others!

Graham Kings, by accepting Chris Sugden's view of "gathering", and to then say the Archbishop of Canterbury is in on it, via consulation, simply is not so in terms of "gathering". Indeed it continues that there remains no international intervention that is allowed within the Anglican Communion against another national Church.

Why not just be a bit more up-front and tell Chris Sugden to get on with it. Not so long back careful watchers noticed a case of cold feet in some quarters when Sugden and Minns were doing their schismatic planning via Archbishop Akinola of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican communion). They really do have to plan their own meeting, communion and the rest. Just get on with it, and let's indeed see if it is anything like a 50% absentee rate next summer.

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