Friday, July 04, 2008

Restating a Third Mill Catholic Prophecy

Let me suggest that the GafCon response is a case of self-fulfilled prophecy. As ineffective as the Archibshop of Canterbury's leadership has been, it pales in comparison to the resolve of those who seized upon the opportunity of Rowan Williams' “dithering” to force a Protestant structural change upon the Communion in the guise of a Communion-wide solution to the revisionist agenda of TEC. Truth be told, a united conservative front had the voting bloc to make a real difference in the Windsor/Covenant process, despite a “dithering” Archbishop, but now those hopes are seemingly dashed. Impatient federalists have seized the day to take control of the conservative Anglican destiny and re-create it in their own image, and now we are more divided than ever. The recent blasting of N.T. Wright by the federalists is but scratching the surface of just how divided conservative Anglicans are. I said it before, I’ll say it again: In five years, perhaps ten, there will be two distinct communions, neither of which will be recognizably Anglican.

6 comments:

Death Bredon said...

Yep. I think we heading to (1) an "official," Liberal Anglicanism (which will still be capable of putting a good near medieval show for Royal weddings); and (2) a parallel Evangelic/neo-Charismatic Anglican Communion.

Which leaves the Anglicans faithful to the formularies and in the tradition of the Elizabethan and Caroline Divines rather a bit high and dry (no pun intended). Perhaps the Continuum?

Anonymous said...

Hi Dan,

Sarah here.

RE: "As ineffective as the Archibshop of Canterbury's leadership has been, it pales in comparison to the resolve of those who seized upon the opportunity of Rowan Williams' “dithering” to force a Protestant structural change upon the Communion in the guise of a Communion-wide solution to the revisionist agenda of TEC."

I still think that you are misinterpreting Gafcon. I don't think they are trying to "force . . . upon the Communion" anything. I think the opposite has happened.

They have realized that they cannot "force upon the Communion" anything at all and so they have formed their own group, and moderately so, with the Primates not leaving the Communion. I do think that they are determined to sculpt that small green isle of sanity that I keep talking about for their group. But I believe that they are resigned to the Communion doing nothing, ever, about TEC.

Once a person has come to that belief, then one asks "what now." If proposition A is true -- "Resolved: The Anglican Communion will not discipline itself" -- then inevitably people start looking around and saying "now what do we do given that we are in this situation."

I see Gafcon as one small group's answer to that question. I know it's not your answer, and it's not mine, but I do think that it is a bridge too far to say that they are trying to "force" upon the Anglican Communion something or other. Since the Anglican Communion has one person with the power of recognition, and that one person has pretty much proven that he'll do as he thinks best [which is fine, of course] I think others recognize that all is lost.

RE: "Truth be told, a united conservative front had the voting bloc to make a real difference in the Windsor/Covenant process, despite a “dithering” Archbishop, but now those hopes are seemingly dashed."

Well, they could certainly have expressed unified revisions. But ultimately the two bodies in charge of creating the Covenant are 1) the Covenant Design Group -- and I think you and I will agree that Ephraim Radner is far far outnumbered there, and 2) the ACC -- which has the same problem.

So yes, we could all have expressed unified hopes and wishes, but as with 1) the Windsor Report and 2) Dar, we can "win" as a "voting bloc" and still -- sadly -- have ABCs and ACCs decide to do something else entirely.

We've proven that we have a strong voting bloc when we desire to, but I don't see that it's done us a whole lot of good -- not at Lambet 1998, not through Windsor, and not at Dar.


Sarah

Roland said...

I agree with your analysis. These are the same conclusions I arrived at two years ago, which led to my decision to leave ECUSA for Antioch.

If conservatives had maintained a united front and lined up behind +Rowan's covenant proposal, they could easily have isolated the North American revisionists. But the evangelicals are trying to take advantage of the chaos to revive the old Puritan agenda, which official Anglicanism has rejected repeatedly over the centuries. Meanwhile, the Global South is trying to take advantage of the chaos to throw off (what they see as) the vestiges of British imperialism. There are too many competing agendas jockeying for power.

The only thing they all have in common is a willingness to abandon the traditional catholic ecclesiology of Anglicanism when it gets in the way of pursuing their goals. Therefore, Anglo-Catholics are destined to lose on the issue that matters most to them.

Third Mill Catholic said...

Sarah,

The fatal mistakes of GAFCON (fatal in the sense that if logically followed GAFCON must end with the break-up of the Communion) are as follows:

(1) The redefinition of Canterbury's role as merely "historic," and not essential to Anglican Communion identity (let alone any acknowledgement of Canterbury's role as an Instrument of Unity).

(2) The setting up of an alternative Primates' Council, effectively undermining the authority and relevance of the already-established Primates' Meeting as an Instrument of Unity of the Communion.

(3) The resolve of the GAFCON primates to recognize an alternative province in America, thus undermining and transgressing the Windsor Report/Process as egregiously as TEC's faux compliance with Windsor.

(4) The redefinition of Anglicanism as a confessional tradition via the Jerusalem Declaration, which I suspected from its issuance would be used to undermine the draft Covenant Proposal as a legitimate alternative for a future Anglican non-Canterbury-centered "Communion." (This was bourne out by the hasty and vacuous GAFCON response to the St. Andrews Draft, which was GAFCON's way of saying "Covenant? NO, not unless it's on our terms).

Frankly, those GAFCONites who attended Lambeth are either fooling themselves that there is still hope, or simply enjoying one last "historical moment" so that one day they will be able write in their memoirs or tell their children's children's children, "Hey, I attended the last Lambeth Conference!"

Anonymous said...

Oh, I certainly believe that the Communion will break up -- but not for anything that Gafcon did or didn't do.

I think that Gafcon is merely the consequence of the Communion's inability -- and I believe it to be unable -- to discipline itself.

For example, you state that setting up the Gafcon Primates Council undermines "the authority and relevance of the already-established Primates' Meeting" -- but of course it was already undermined and ignored and appears to have no authority at all, as Dar has now well-demonstrated.

It seems that we are debating the *causes* of the inevitable breakup of the Communion and I just can't see that Gafcon will have had much to do with it. I think that Gafcon's eventual -- and I think it is eventual in a long-term sense -- separation from the Communion will be a *consequence* of the fracture and dissolution of the Communion and not its cause.

There will be a long long long list of causes of the dissolution of the Communion and I don't think that history will record Gafcon as a major one, if at all.

Roland, you say "If conservatives had maintained a united front and lined up behind +Rowan's covenant proposal, they could easily have isolated the North American revisionists" and I have to laugh at what seems to me to be breathtaking naivete about the process.

Conservatives could have maintained a "united front" till the cows come home but again -- it is the ACC and the Covenant Design Group that determines what the Covenant actually is and whether it will be effective.

Of course -- there is still time. The Design Group meets after Lambeth for its next draft, and the ACC will get its mitts on the Covenant some time in early April of 09. It will then proceed to the provinces' for their individual approvals.

I personally believe that *all* the provinces, including TEC and Sydney, will sign on to the Covenant.

And so, by the end of 2009, we will be in the exact same place as we were in December of 03, with all the provinces of the Anglican Communion staring at one another, completely opposed in their two gospels, and with no discipline.

And a signed, approved Covenant -- with *all* the conservatives approving it -- won't, of course, solve any problems at all.

Someday, I'll probably leave the Communion. But saying that Gafcon is "causing the breakup of the Communion" sounds very similar to a person saying "when Sarah left the Communion, she caused its breakup."

I guess if you are operating under the assumption that if all conservatives, including Gafcon members, simply sat in the Communion and never did anything, that *then* the Communion would never break up, then I can see your point. But in that case, you seem to be advocating for all of us to simply sit still -- and the Communion will survive.


Sarah

Third Mill Catholic said...

Sarah, I'm flattered that you are taking time out of what must be a very busy Lambeth reporting schedule to chat with me on my humble blog. Seriously, it means a lot. (I'm also envious that you are in England and I am not.)

You're correct that the Communion is currently unable to discipline itself, but this is because the structures were never in place to do so. No one denies this, and in fact this is precisely what the Windsor Group originally reported.

So the question at hand is NOT, nor has it ever been, why hasn't the ABC (or the other instruments) done something to "discipline" TEC? There is no process to discipline. Rather, the question is what structures must evolve over the next few years to bring the Communion to the point where it is living together in "autonomy with accountability"? (As the Windsor Continuation Group has recently said). This implies that the Communion is working towards the accountability structures that will provide for discipline. We're simply not there yet.

GAFCON effectively is already a schism -- "Methodist-style" as I have argued in the past. Never in history has the "church within a church" strategy ever worked for reform, but has always ended in separation via estrangement.

The essential problem with GAFCON (as evidenced by the Jerusalem statement itself) is that its major movers and shakers (e.g., Akinola) are federalists. No less than a federal (and confessional) solution will please them. Akinola made his move long before GAFCON by changing his church's constitution to write Canterbury out of the definition of what it means for his province to be Anglican.

I think you know me better than to suggest that I advocate sitting still. I actually think we need a "refuge" of some kind for the disaffected in our province. However, this should be set up as an extraordinary "safe space" for conservatives, not as a first step towards "realignment" or separation (schism).

Indeed, I'm sure that this is precisely where you and I differ in our estimations of GAFCON. You see what has been done as essentially what I advocate in the paragraph above (i.e., safe space). I see these so-called "safe spaces" as hopelessly compromised (and dominated) by federalists who don't give a rat's ass for saving the so-called Canterbury-centered Anglican Communion (Noll and Rodgers for instance).

So if you wish to talk about causes, well there are plenty to choose from, indeed. But it's naive to give GAFCON a "get out of jail free card" on this one. The intellectual engine behind GAFCON is compromised by federalism, and there is nothing stopping that train now that it's rolling down the track.