Sunday 20 April 2008

More Wright and Wrong

Earlier in the week at Fulcrum and highlighted today on Thinking Anglicans it is clear now by reference to previous articles that by Super-Apostles Bishop Tom Wright of Durham was referring to the GAFCON leadership. It is still unclear from the Fulcrum lecture alone (at least to me) but not when all the comparisons are made back in the literature, so to speak.

Still no letters have gone out, and here Baby Blue Online said the operative word from Lambeth Palaces was "yet" (that is, they they exist but have not gone out), and I said the operative words were "whether and when" which means they, if they exist at all, may never go out. In fact Baby Blue on Friday started having a great debate about the letters. I think I'm rather better at mimicry, even if I say so (the word "gotten" would never pass his lips, and that's just to begin). This point about nothing sent has been focused upon by Charles Raven.

Well, apparently they will, according to TitusOneNine:

Bishops attending the Lambeth Conference will be asked to affirm their willingness to abide by the recommendations of the Windsor Report and work towards the creation of an Anglican Communion Covenant.

I've mentioned Charles Raven before, and it seems that as an ex-Anglican he is evidence of what happens when such an evangelical gets cut off: he now makes reference directly to Richard Baxter (both are of the Kidderminster area). Oh do be careful - so do the Unitarians even to this day refer to him on an invented tradition of a broader Puritanism, whereas I would say the Unitarians are in part the unintended consequence of the Puritans reliance on the Bible alone. It ain't so certain, that book.

The focus is on Paul and his pain in writing to the super-apostles, as in the wrong way around double letter called 2 Corinthians. The problem is, says Charles Raven, that the letters haven't gone out, and such does rather deflate the whole thrust of Bishop Wright's lecture, or at least it does in that the letters are to not the super-apostles but those on the theological left who would need to be disciplined in order to parallel Paul's pain. He also dislikes the association of GAFCON and false apostles (and it was why I thought, trying to observe evangelical-speak, that the super-apostles tag was being applied to the North American leaderships). It seems to me that Charles Raven would be more accurate than Tom Wright in this respect, regarding the super-apostles, if one was to follow evangelical-speak and the tortured connections that the arguments make between people who do no more than love each other and selective textual literalism.

The having a go at the GAFCON super-apostles by Tom Wright therefore remains, and clearly is still a hot topic for the evangelical world, and the Wright lecture focused then on the ownership of the title evangelical. There was, as Graham Kings points out, the brother of the Archbishop of Sydney, Phillip, who had said evangelicals to keep their credentials should not mix with those who might receive letters at Lambeth. Presumably if they receive the letters and stay away then the more extreme evangelicals might turn up at Lambeth. Bishop Wright, and those of the Fulcrum persuasion are, of course, going anyway.

Charles Raven puts it:

The attractions of a middle way are now a forlorn hope. The crisis in the Anglican Communion is such that only GAFCON has the potential to articulate the vision of a stable and united global Anglican Faith.

Well this is the case ever since Anglican Catholic traditionalism collapsed and was sidelined, and that the Church of England became a dyad of, basically, two wings with a yank to the theological right. For me, the Lent lectures by the Archbishop, and even the one on business and spirituality (though that was better) show how he has lurched to the theological right and parodies some of the historicisms of the evangelicals. The problem is that the broader Fulcrum position is not designed as a centrist position, nor do its arguments (such as indeed combining 1 Corinthians 15 with Romans 1) produce a position that draws in opposites. Rather it has a position roughly where the knife cuts between two evangelical wings. The Fulcrum position is the dividing point, and it has to decide whether it goes with the more critical spirit or the more doctrinal spirit. The difficulty now is that the Broad Church, Inclusive Church, and, more markedly than before, the Modern Churchpeople's Union, have become part of the left. Affirming Catholicism are now a form of spirituality with a tradition that allows a critique, which could play a centrist role, and would like to be, but even it is on the theological left given the recent shifts and decline in breadth.

People locally know that I have some strange viewing habits. I won't go into why. I watched a talk given by a certain David Pawson one evening, looking more elderly and emotional than his usual self-assured presentations, but still full of detail, who, speaking to a bunch based around Revelation TV, made a point about evangelicals becoming Marcionite, and thus he accused Steve Chalke. That was quite a hefty charge to make, and more than the usual one that he has given up on the bloody atonement. Evangelicals are very divided these days.

The tragedy of Tom Wright is that the more he fights, the hotter it gets. He has no sympathy from the liberals, from either what he says or from his approach to The Episcopal Church, and he has less and less empathy from such further out evangelicals. At some point the knife, or axe, will strike approximately where Tom Wright stands.

It may be that the Anglo-Catholics had split over women and now it is the turn of the evangelicals over gays. Except, for the most part, the evangelicals who are split from are as anti-gay (in ministry and blessings) as the others who are on a course outwards. Nevertheless, once the split has happened, the evangelicals within will be all the weaker, and they will be to the right of a shrunken Church - depending on how successful or not is GAFCON.

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