Thursday 22 May 2008

More Betting

Right, so we have the Lambeth as a kind of semi-Indaba-marshmallow, where "incarnate" face to face conversation of huge differences has no resolution, at least not produced in a clear sense for the world to see with participants' ownership over any decisions. Not without revolution in the ranks to overturn the method.

We have an ACI participants' message that without a Covenant the Communion divides, but the purpose of a Covenant is now to divide the Communion on more favourable terms for the doctrinaires.

We have a full blown conference in Jerusalem that could well lead to parallel structures that effect a division: Instrument? Common Cause Partnerships? More boundary crossings.

Now we have a bishop in the know adding that the Global South itself could split, as a northern (let's call it) New Puritan agenda drives GAFCON with its northern African and right wing American backing.

So what splits are likely now? The Anglican Communion is as near as dividing as it can be. It will be surprising if it does not. Northern/ Western Churches by and large will not accept a restrictive Covenant or one that goes beyond present Anglican formularies. Against this GAFCON, supposedly renamed, e.g. Instrument of Global Anglicanism, will become a kind of activist agent for the theological right. The Global South will, however, not only feel alienated from the Northern/ Western Churches, but will split with the Global South elements in GAFCON. Also split will be the Open Evangelicals either towards openness or evangelicalness about whether to go with GAFCON types or the Northern/ Western Churches - the Covenant for Northern and Western Churches either being dead or no more than a summary document. GAFCON will also split within, between Catholic and Reform.

No doubt too some Churches will fragment and divide off - losses and gains.

Also clear is that geographical monopoly is gone. There will be different Anglican Churches in the same town, even in the same street. One Covenant may lead to others, or a specific rejection: minimal, detailed, doctrinally heavy, doctrinal minimalism. There will also be gaps in provision, regarding each provider.

Quite a prospect. Once again, go back a few years. When an institution is spinning with centrifugal force the worst thing to do is introduce a policy to rivet its centre and force everything in by centralising. All that does is create a big explosion, if delayed, and then fragments. You have to relax it out and prevent those spasms and try to get the least worst situation that represents the reality of the dispute. Instead the result could be far worse: multiple schisms and much antagonism.

1 comment:

Doorman-Priest said...

I'm a Lutheran, of course, so I have a particular take on the value of schism.

Its primary value in your setting seems to me to be that you don't have to keep apologising for what "they" do any more.

I also suspect that "they" will make a hash of it and simply fade into irrelevance.