Saturday, September 30, 2006

My Thoughts on Camp Allen and the Kigali Communique

In typical fashion, I am lagging behind in giving my impressions on the BIG news of last week; big news for the Anglican world at least. But I like to let the dust settle on such things before I add my two cents.

First: The Camp Allen Meeting. For me, this was the most encouraging news I've heard in a long time, and I congratulate my bishop, +Don Wimberly, for his leadership. Simply put, the future of the Anglican Communion, not to mention any semblance of American Episcopalian membership in it, depends on a much broader coalition of dioceses and bishops than those that make up the Network. It is not that I wish to see the Network sidelined. They have an important voice that needs to be heard. But their voice is only one of many within the "Windsor compliant" camp. It is far better that they take a place at the table, than to presume that they can continue to go it alone.

Second: The Kigali Communique. That the meeting of the Global South bishops in Kigali occurred in the same week as, though quite independently of, the Camp Allen meeting of Windsor bishops was most unfortunate. This gave the false impression to many that they were coordinated events, an impression that gave way to early cries of treachery by some conservative commentators when it appeared that the letter from the Camp Allen meeting failed to acknowledge, or worse, amounted to a veiled dismissal of, the Kigali Communique (released just hours before the Camp Allen letter). Frankly, I'm not sure what to make of the Communique yet. It is surprisingly reserved and thoughtful, in contrast to what I expected. I am grateful that the Communique articulates the Global South's willingness to work towards solutions that seek to preserve the Anglican Communion, rather than constituting yet another subtle threat to unravel it.

What does concern me, however, is that the Communique has been twinned with another statement, "The Road to Lambeth", commissioned by the Primates of the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa (CAPA) in February 2006, and "received with gratitude" by the CAPA bishops on September 19, 2006. Admittedly, it was merely "commended for study and response" to the churches of the provinces in Africa. Nevertheless, its much stronger resolve to force the pressing issues or ditch the Communion altogether is what I've come to expect from Akinola and his camp. But there is another reason to be concerned. For all of the talk in "The Road to Lambeth" about how the Global South, and particularly the African provinces, have come of age, and no longer need the West to do their thinking for them, one of its main architects (and I suspect its primary author) is an AMERICAN -- Dr. Stephn Noll (currently serving as Vice Chancellor of Uganda Christian University in Mukono, Uganda). Dr. Noll's decidedly skeptical stance on the necessity or desirability of preserving a Canterbury-centered Communion is well-known.

Perhaps it would have been wiser for Dr. Noll to have recused himself from taking a leading role in the drafting of this statement. The revisionists have said all along that this whole affair had the smell of being orchestrated by American arch-conservatives who really have no desire to preserve a Canterbury-centered communion. Noll is just such an American. If CAPA wanted to avoid the appearance of taking their cue from American arch-conservatives, then the wiser course of action would have been to keep ALL Americans, and particularly those with strong anti-Canterbury views like Noll, away from the drafting of statements that presume to represent their voice.

Just an opinion.


wyclif said...

Stephen Noll, an arch-conservative?

If spoken in the context of TEC, I agree. But if we're talking about the wider Communion, that characterisation gets a bit more tricky. American evangelicals have deeper theological ties to the Global South and hence the wider Communion, and I would think that would at least be a mitigating factor compelling one to drop the 'arch-'.

lexorandi2 said...

Fair point. From my perspective, Noll is perhaps better characterized as a hardline Protestant, whose own stated position is that the current Canterbury-centered Communion is a vestige of Britain's colonial past that is hardly worth preserving if it means watering down Reformation doctrine. The Communion he envisions, and not so covertly lobbies for, is one set up along 16th century confessional (formularic) lines.

That may appeal to one who styles himself "wyclif," but not to one who aspires to be "catholic in the third millennium."

wyclif said...

I would never expect you to agree with somebody like Noll.

But the presenting question would then be, "if Communion-preserving Anglicans jettison English Protestantism, the Articles, and anything resembling Common Prayer, what binds said Communion theologically?" I reckon many would respond, "recognition and communion with Canterbury."

But that's problematic for American Anglicans, given the events surrounding the origin of TEC back in 1789, as you know.

So, shall we say that the *ne plus ultra*, the state of being unimpaired, of the received faith is communion with ++Cantuar?

What, in your opinion, is the way forward from here?

PS. I don't really style myself "wyclif"--it's the name of my domain and hence just a 'handle'--any more than you would style yourself "lex orandi/credendi." I've owned it for years- try snagging a six-letter domain name in 2006. Good luck. That's really all there is to it. I don't have any stock in perpetuating Wyclif's brand of theology, including his anticlericalism and his eucharistic theology.

Anonymous said...

This is just a small stab at a big problem, but what about this...

It seems to me that the sine qua non of Anglicanism is precisely its lack of distinctives (unlike Confessional traditions that tend to underscore what makes them unique among other branches of the Church)-- to put it another way, Anglicanism has little that is uniquely and solely hers (although it is the following combination of traits that, ironically, make her unique!); to wit, Anglicanismis that Branch of the Church that does not require anything ('require' in the sense of make necessary for salvation) that is not expressly taught in Scripture and to respect the precedents set by the Creeds and Councils of the Church, preserving the historic episcopate in communion with the See of Canterbury.

This allows for a protestant leaning form of Anglicanism as well as for more catholic leaning forms.

Bob Hackendorf