Tuesday 13 May 2008


At the same time as the Archbishop of Canterbury sends out his Pentecost Letter (see my slightly rearranged posting earlier, below), GAFCON issues its news about its conference. The Archbishop and others had better get used to this shadow play.

Notice who is included in consultations: Messianic Jews. Interesting. These are people seen rather more often than their numbers on the likes of Christian satellite television. They are Zionist Christians, right wing in politics, who wish to see Jews return to Jerusalem in order that the last days come and Christ returns in glory. They parody the rituals of Jews in order to identify with them, and even take the view among evangelical Protestants that Christianity is a development from the main trunk rather than a replacement. Palestinian Christians are rather different from these, as they are somewhat under the oppressive effects of Zionism of all kinds, but still shows the division with the 'others' of Palestinian Muslims who, of course, are especially in the way when it comes to the lands of Judaea and Samaria. I notice (as I do) that God TV at Pentecost is doing such parodying for its global prayer set around a makeshift altar around which its prayer styles partly imitate Jews at the Wailing Wall, the remains of the last Temple.

It's a one upmanship of sorts against Lambeth that GAFCON has consulted all these different ecumenical groups.

Note how the stress is back on to Jerusalem. It states:

GAFCON conference in Jerusalem

Like good (religious) Trotskyite types, they shift about under criticism, when they were asked to go to Cyprus, and attack their would be friends and critics (like the local bishop Sulheil Dawani), and as soon as they can they restore what they had intended anyway - a conference in the hothouse of Jerusalem (with only an initial stage now in Jordan?). In fact Jordan is not mentioned in the press release, but Jerusalem is.

The key aim is the third:

Prepare for an Anglican future in which the Gospel is uncompromised and Christ-centered mission a top priority.

This means structural, organisational, boundary-crossing, its own Covenant or similar, and probably, in the end, a non-Canterbury Communion. Most of the actual organisational action will have to happen after the conference in Jerusalem, but the effect of the conference coming first is to impact upon, even frighten, the Lambeth Conference into covering some of its territory. Some of the key people in GAFCON are then going to Lambeth, to make the point: especially Gregory Venables backed by part-timer Robert Duncan. They are not negotiating; I doubt they will want to lose themselves in indaba groups either.

A body that feels threatened by competition naturally tries to cover the ground of the competition. This is one reason why the Lambeth related Advent Letter was so restrictive in tone, both biblical and Church. This is likely again. The problem is simple. If Lambeth comes to a conservative conclusion in order to satisfy the push from some Africans and GAFCON's New Puritan leadership, then those Churches culturally sensitive to the West will be forced not to accept the result. Conservative Evangelicals are a minority, a tiny minority, in the West. This is their best shot. The tragedy would be respond in institutional fear.


Note the new and hostile comment regarding my position relating to Canterbury and GAFCON here, possibly because this other entry is linked at Ruth Gledhill's The Times blog. As I write, I shall add a reply.

No comments: