Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Giles Goddard's Beacon

The correspondence that was stalled resumed between the unrelated Andrew and Giles Goddard. Giles Goddard (pictured) has produced, I think, a very powerful letter of 3 November that puts the issues of the future of Anglicanism very clearly.

There is a real possibility that a more generous Anglicanism can emerge from its continuing self destruction (if he is right), and a reason for this is a kind of self-destruction of the evangelical groups. They do tend to do this: as some of them lay the law down by their strategies, some get cold feet and others realise that the cost of following Conservative Evangelicals might be greater than the freedom of individuals. The Fulcrum position is both in the shadow of the Conservatives and trying to break free of the definitions being handed down and the actions they'd take.

The whole Lambeth 1:10 episode, and what has followed, is a disaster of manipulation and mess: the Open Evangelicals think that they can follow this disaster as a means to isolate The Episcopal Church and install some clearer doctrine. Instead they find themselves squeezed by their own making: the Covenant process is not about more doctrine anyway - it is a process. But they are squeezed between Conservative Evangelicals who are separatist or takeover in ethic, and the liberals who are inclusive in ethic. Fulcrum is buying the old idea that it can find some middle position by which to hold a much wider Church and a Communion together - but the middle does not work like this any more. Rather it is where the cut comes.

The Fulcrum position in being broader about evangelicalism is increasingly realising that, once again, the evangelical position is in a self-harming mess. As Giles Goddard says, a victor mentality has become a victim mentality.

He is right about Scotland and Wales and their movement, and that in England there are parts of a more generous approach.

Do I have any criticism of Giles Goddard's letter? Probably that we will end up with some sort of postmodern solution, that there will be splits and zones of similarity, and it may not be such a bad outcome. The point is that the change from victor mentality will remain a mentality of victim even afterwards. Confidence remains in generosity - that's the point.


George Day said...

You say "the Open Evangelicals think that they can follow this disaster as a means to isolate The Episcopal Church and install some clearer doctrine". This assumes all OEs think the same on this - they don't. A number of us (including some like myself who are in Fulcrum, even though this is not the accepted Fulcrum line) are accepting of same-sex relations. I personally have no desire to isolate TEC, even if I do have concerns about some of its approaches and attitudes.

So something a bit more nuanced than lumping all Open Evangelicals together would be good!

Of course, this raises the question as to how many OEs can accept the principle of same-sex relations. And also the question as to whether or not this may be a growing proportion, even if most official evangelical approaches (as with Fulcrum) are still opposed. I have no idea what the answers to these two questions are, but others may have some ideas.

Pluralist (Adrian Worsfold) said...

It's a very fair point, and the point is that Open Evangelicalism involves a spread. My point goes on to be that some Open Evangelicals would prefer to mix with liberals and some with Conservative Evangelicals, should they have to choose, and that the dividing line goes through them. There won't have to be a choice unless Conservative Evangelicals force it, or something highly restrictive takes place in Anglicanism.

None of this makes Andrew Goddard's piece any better.

I appreciate your comment, and its message is worth reinforcing.