Thursday 31 January 2008

Kings on GAFCON

Graham Kings has written a good summary of events regarding GAFCON so far, over at Fulcrum and originally at the Church of England Newspaper. It is also a good article in itself - until the last paragraph.

Yes, Chris Sugden's predictions regarding the Lambeth Conference have become less ambitious over time. This article makes a distinction between preparatory conferences as before 1998 and what it calls diverting conferences - this was a distinction that the Archbishop of Canterbury failed to make announcing the Lambeth Conference preparation (when I suggested he was in denial).

In my view the tendency to be militant (quoted in the article by Graham Kings) needs a capital M. The point is about method. Interestingly this article suggests that the wobble we have now seen about the Jerusalem pilgrimage and conference is not of any intention but logistics, and therefore the GAFCON team continue to drive ahead regardless of what anyone else thinks. Interestingly J. I. Packer's words are placed more in opposition to GAFCON than I had placed them: I just took them as off message without necessarily intending to be so, because he is a supporter of GAFCON; actually I think this treatment is better in that J. I. Packer regards Mouneer Anis's words as important in themselves whereas, for GAFCON, they are just another opposition to steamroller over.

Yes there is strength in opposition, and when it is gone so goes the strength. Will these Puritans be able to organise themselves, or will they be a constant raiding party. The latter, I suggest. A separate Communion they will be (if successful) but one based on taking people from the other one to theirs, one based on showing that the Canterbury Communion is not up to the job.

However, the Covenant is not vital to the health of the Communion. This Communion consists of many Provinces/ Churches that do not want it, or would have it only in a sense that it is minimalist and has no legal impact. It will not be able to do any job, never mind an evangelical job. It cannot stop progressive movements within Churches - otherwise the sensible thing would be to split, split after GAFCON has gone too. It is notjust GAFCON that, with less opposition as a driver, will divide its Conservative Evangelical and Anglo-Catholic extreme wings; with a Covenant trying it on, the Canterbury Communion could itself split. If such a wide body wants to stay together in any sense, then it had better stay loose. The Covenant would either have to be minimal or non-existent.

No comments: