Saturday, 26 July 2008

What is Really Happening

I am looking at the liberal blogs tonight (like very late Friday but 1:32 am of Saturday 26 July) and it seems to me they are missing the main event at Lambeth.

It is this Windsor Continuation Group, the one that presents itself to the Lambeth Conference but will go on afterwards trying to impose itself on the Churches.

Now we have something in addition to the Covenant. We hear from Andrew Goddard that work has been done on this for some time. It is an Anglican Communion Commission on Faith and Order.

So the question is what to do when Covenant drafts that would centralise the Anglican Communion keep being doubted, questioned and rejected by the Churches that have bothered to reply? Well, centralise even more! As if they don't get it.

The idea is for some sort of international Canon Law that would apply across the Communion. Perhaps the reason for this is because Canon Law now defines the autonomy of Churches: it is the Churches that have Canon Law. So to overcome resistance to internationalising, Canon Law would also become international:

So: generally, Anglican canon laws are ambivalent to global communion. Yet, the canon law of each Anglican church should be a true reflection of global communion between Anglican churches. The canon law of each church has potential to develop communion: it is a means to an end, the servant of the church; it exists for facility and order; it is binding within the individual church; it already contains the materials necessary to enhance global communion; and its use is a normal human function, not a last resort. The canon law of each church could be more fully developed to enhance communion.

The man behind much of this is Norman Doe, as here.

Here is the intention of all the togetherness at Lambeth, first via the retreat and then the cut down Indaba groups. It is all togetherness, and thus as all are together there should be one Law - added to the Covenant.

Well, it is as if indeed they have not been listening to the responses, and also there does seem to be something of a yo yo effect here, in that the St. Andrews Draft moved matters to the Anglican Consultative Council whereas now the Primates seem to be more involved again as in the Nassau Draft.

On the ACC the Windsor Continuation Group says:

  • There are questions about whether a body meeting every three years, with a rapidly changing membership not necessarily located within the central structures of their own Provinces, can fulfil adequately the tasks presently given to it.
  • Not all believe that a representative body is the best way to express the contribution of the whole people of God at a worldwide level. There are many ways in which the voice of the whole body can be heard: diocesan and Provincial synods, networks, dialogues and commissions.

On the Primates Meeting, the Windsor Continuation Group says:

  • The Primates’ Meeting – recognising the need and importance for collegial consultation and support for the Archbishop of Canterbury, it is a body that could be called together as occasion requires in between Lambeth Conferences.
  • Recognising that different models of primacy exist, a great virtue of the Primates’ Meeting is that the Primates are in conversation with their own Hoses of Bishops and located within their own synodical structures. They are therefore able to reflect the breadth and depth of the conversations and opinions in their Provinces.

Some will surely find this a deeply worrying, anti-participatory and railroading development. Let us look at the situation, however, before panic sets in.

First of all, the Church of England cannot accept Law from outside itself, and that is the law. Plus its progressive elements may well block this (as it asserts itself over its autonomy regarding women and consecration). Secondly, The Episcopal Church has a polity that also cannot accept this imposition. Then this development is mirroring the FOCA or GAFCON Primates' Council in giving a bigger role to the Primates' Meeting. This will prove unacceptable to TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada given the newly intended Province of GAFCON in North America. Churches like the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Church in Wales, and the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, and the Church of Brazil at least will all find this unacceptable - these Churches will not and cannot abandon their friends the Americans and Canadians.

In the end these Synods and others would have to pass a regularising Canon Law, and they are not likely to do it. How long would it take anyway? Anglicanism has to work with autonomy, not by trying to close it down to a minimum, and (one again) Anglican Churches in their cultural settings have the right to innovate as well as to conserve. So called orthodoxy is turning into a lowest common denominator and it still centres around homosexuality.

The notion that a Commission on Faith and Order can decide a biblical hermeneutic - something contested among theologians - is perverse. Truths are not discovered by bureaucratic committees.

If the Covenant and a Commission on Faith and Order are attempted to be imposed by the Windsor Continuation Group then the Churches that value their autonomy must reject them. They must see that bishops can still meet, that relationships can still be made between Churches and these can be organic - disagreeing as well as agreeing.

Here is a different approach modelled on the Church of England and Old Catholic agreement; Churches could make such agreements themselves:

  • Each Anglican Church in this Agreement recognises the catholicity and independence of the other, and maintains its own.
  • Each Anglican Church in this Agreement permits members of the other Church/es to participate and preside in the Sacraments.
  • Such participation does not require from each Church the acceptance of all doctrinal opinion, sacramental devotion, or liturgical practice characteristic of each Church, but implies that each Church trusts that the other/s maintain the essentials of the Anglican approach to the Christian faith.
[Based on 1931 Agreement of Bonn as in Neill, S. (1977), Anglicanism, London: Mowbrays]

Such would be much better: a spiritual commonwealth that is flexible and based on organic friendship.

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