Sunday 20 January 2008

Hobson's End

In the Guardian's Face to Faith column Theo Hobson has written that The Church of England's Gay Crisis Makes [it] Clear That [] Liberal Anglicanism is Finished.

The Modern Churchpeople's Union blog Only Connect puts it that:

Theo Hobson is no friend to liberals, and I'm sure someone will answer him in the next Face to faith & letters - but does he have a point?

Well, Theo Hobson does in so far as we have seen a succession of conservative moves which continue to reverberate, and the Advent Letter of the Archbishop of Canterbury must be one of the most illiberal epistles coming from an Archbishop - of neo-Roman Catholic centralisation based on a narrow piece of Protestant dogma.

The problem is that the letter has not worked, or not worked sufficiently. The GAFCON announcement followed, and this is unaffected, but GAFCON will not be uneffecting. Liberals have simply sat. They have sat and waited, and in various Anglican Churches they have made some progress. There are important moves in some Provinces now towards inclusion and equality, and they are also reasserting diversity and localism with co-operation. Responses to the Covenant show real limits to the Covenant. In other words, the Advent Letter was a failure. It oversold itself, and the Covenant process cannot produce this conservative outcome. This is why GAFCON will set up its own measures and standards, and will realise (if it isn't already planned) that it can only apply them if it forms its own Communion.

Theo Hobson simply hasn't looked at all the pieces on the chess board, nor where they are positioned. Evangelicals are past masters at realising defeat out of their intended victory. They are now hopelessly divided, and liberals continue to sit there, watching, and nudging things along.

Watch for that chess piece that says to the Covenant a number of moves down the line - "check mate". There is some play in the board left; there may be the odd push at Lambeth to impress the GAFCON crowd, who won't be impressed, as they were not with the Advent Letter. Then the Archbishop's whole strategy will fall apart.

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