Saturday 22 November 2008

Here Comes the Attack Back

So the spillage from National Evangelical Anglican Consultation (NEAC) 5 (or NEAC 4.5 or NEAC 2008) continues its spread after the group in attendance at All Souls Langham Place rejected being bounced by the CEEC leadership into supporting a pro-GAFCON motion without the right of amendment.

Writing "personally" and not for Anglican Mainstream, Chris Sugden fashions his argument as a reply to Stephen Kuhrt (of 14 November) , though it clearly goes much further than that.

Why, Sugden asks, are there only three streams (of Conservative, charismatic and open, based on Graham Kings' watercourses)? If Fulcrum represents the centre, then what's the range? So wonders Chris Sugden. There is not one centre, he replies to his own question, but the difficulties of legitimate overlapping debates, such as how the ordination of women works out among Evangelicals.

Then he moves into an attack on Fulcrum. Affirming Catholicism came into the diocese of Rochester (the one with the GAFCOn supporting bishop) organising its and others' presentations. So did Inclusive Church, the Modern Churchpeople’s Union, Changing Attitude, WATCH - Women And The Church and Society of Catholic Priests. Fulcrum took part! Yet Fulcrum did not publish itself on taking part, so he wonders if it has various views on taking part (with such non-Evangelicals).

He thinks this three streams business, coming from Fulcrum, is a divide and rule business, as shown in British imperialism (GAFCON is incredibly obsessed with British imperialism - they liken it and the inherited position of the Archbishop of Canterbury, as if there is any working parallel). Divide and rule is applied to Evangelicals together by those who consort with groups who deny Evangelical identity (like Fulcrum).

This is exactly what the Jerusalem Declaration set out to deal with, he claims. It is not so much about pleas for reconciliation and unity on the one side as about hounding out loyal Anglicans as understood by those who support the Jerusalem Declaration.

So if there was no theological dispute at NEAC why the resistance? GAFCON via its renewing conference contains all Anglican Communion orthodox touchstones, but has opened the future in the way of structures; at the same time the likes of Fulcrum are retreating into the diminishing space in those old structures "given to the orthodox by liberal society", and as part of this Fulcrum pursues diversity in unity with non-Evangelicals. This is a compromised agenda. Fulcrum is more interested in this than the more legitimate diversity of those in the CEEC itself. Chris Sugden asks if this is coherent for Fulcrum.

There it was: a strong appeal at NEAC 2008 to support those in North America who, harassed out of their churches by those with an inclusive agenda (he claims), was not met. They have shown a firm and clear witness to the truth but NEAC has yet to do so: "They have. Will we?"

The spaces, then, of legitimacy and orthodoxy are laid down by Chris Sugden, and there he finds Fulcrum covorting with those outside these spaces in other spaces. It's a world of enemies within the institutions, who have to be defeated, because they end up harassing out the orthodox.

What he means is that he and others like him will press on because Fulcrum's legitimacy is weakened by association.

This is exactly as the Trotskyites in 1980s Labour behaved, and now Bishop Pete Broadbent (not a member of Fulcrum) sees this approach as how Labour itself used to operate against the Trotskyites and the Social Democratic Party (SDP). It is guilt by association, innuendo, doesn't know what it stands for, divide and rule and a hint of martyrdom. GAFCON does not have a monopoly on support for those Canadians and those in the United States, he says.

Let's go back to the Principal Dr Richard Turnbull speaking at the Reform Conference in October 2006.

By the way, he produced a four part definition:

  • Supreme authority of scripture in all matters of life and faith
  • The substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ
  • Our relationship with Jesus Christ as a personal relationship with a personal God
  • Bringing the gospel message of Jesus Christ to those ...95% of the people in this country facing hell

He said:

The identity of evangelicalism of course has broadened rather enormously in recent years and it has become rather convenient - even popular in some ways - to claim the name of evangelical.

And he said:

What I mean by that is this whole idea of what it means to be evangelical being broadened so that it encompasses everybody and everything. If the liberals seek to capture the theological colleges in order to exercise strategic influence, the first step will be to encourage liberal evangelicals to capture the evangelical colleges.

The implication of such dastardly behaviour, of course, is to take on such Liberal Evangelicals who are undermining the Evangelicals proper as a first stage of going for the Liberals proper.

It might just be that broader Evangelicals are seeing how these entryists operate and might want to do something about it.


Unknown said...

Just to clarify, I think you will find it was Philip Lovegrove of the General Synod, not Philip Giddings of Anglican Mainstream, who tried to 'apply the brakes' to Richard Turnbull.

It would also be more accurate to say that it was some (albeit the majority), of "the group in attendance" at NEAC 5 who decided not to vote on the motion presented to them, rather than "the group" simpliciter. It was, after all, a split vote, not a unanimous one.

It cannot, of course, be predicted which way the vote would have gone had it been put. There may well have been many who, if push had come to shove, would have voted in favour, despite preferring not to vote at all. Similarly, there may well have been others who wanted to vote, only in order to vote down the motion!

June Butler said...

I find this all somewhat confusing. I suppose it could be that it's an English thing, and I am but a humble citizen of a former colony.

The strictures of Turnbull's definition of evangelicalism are narrow, indeed.

If the English evangelicals see their counterparts in the US, who were "harassed out of their churches by those with an inclusive agenda", as one in spirit and practice, then they should continue to watch the series as the story unfolds. There may be more excitement than the English foresee.

Pluralist (Adrian Worsfold) said...

I'll correct this error. I'm sure I read it somewhere so I'd better not spread it further, assuming I did read it.

Pluralist (Adrian Worsfold) said...

Well the sense of it would not continue after a correction, so I have left the matter of 'restraint' aside by removing reference to the intervention regarding the vote at the time. Still, thanks for the correction.

Grandmère Mimi - I think there is plenty left in the North American drama.

I've submitted on this topic to Episcopal Cafe, with an opening line 'How does your GAFCON grow?', which is supposed to sound like 'How does your garden grow?' but this poetic is probably not obvious. It does look at both sides of the pond.