Monday, June 30, 2008

Thinking about our Anglican friends

from w
It looks like the split is becoming very evident in the Anglican church after the recent Jerusalem meeting - the 'narrow path guys' and the liberals.
We had a herfuffle in the Uniting Church in Australia a few years back - and Resolution 84 was a compromise, though some groups, such as a Fijian group, left the Uniting church as regarded it as too liberal. Usually the Anglican world community is like an umbrella over a whole variety of people with different views, but recently the hard-liners have put their well-shod feet down!

I wonder where the Anglican church folk in Fiji fit in? Liberal or conservative?

Are the Anglicans quaking and shaking after the Jerusalem meet?
What are 300 Anglican clergy doing in Jerusalem? By Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz Correspondent
Some 300 bishops - a third of the Anglican bishops in the world - arrived in Jerusalem this week to attend the Global Anglican Future Conference, organized by the traditionalist wing of the church, which is opposed to ordaining homosexual bishops. GAFCON is being staged as a rival to next month's Lambeth Conference in London, the Anglican Communion's main event held every 10 years. GAFCON has drawn some 1,000 participants: bishops, clergymen, and activists from Anglican congregations in 28 countries, led by Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria.

The rift in the Anglican Communion occured in 2003, when its American wing, the Episcopal Church, ordained the openly gay Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire. That move also caused ripples among traditionalist Anglican bishops, many of them in Africa, who have long claimed that their liberal colleagues were evading the commitment to adopt a Christian lifestyle in accordance with the Old and the New Testament. The decision to hold a rival conference was reached at a gathering last December in Kenya.

Even though the archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, did not lend his support to Robinson's ordination, and even refused to meet Robinson during a visit to London, he angered the traditionalists when he invited the Episcopal Church leaders who had ordained him to the Lambeth Conference.

According to one of the organizers, the purpose of GAFCON is "to emphasize our connection to Jesus' life and the Bible, while we stand in prayer in the place where he walked."

And here's another explanation of the rift. From Rev John Davis, Melbourne.
The Anglican Church will split because the members approach important truths very differently…. The acceptable basis for fellowship is the 39 Articles of 1562, in their completeness.. Sad because Anglicanism has always embraced a broader understanding of being Church. Not surprising because the article is reflecting a similar sort of attitude to that of the Archbishop of Sydney in his declaring that neither he nor any of his bishops will be attending the Lambeth Conference… To the assertion that ‘historically, Anglicans have found their unity in commonly held beliefs… and expressed their unity in common prayer and worship, rather than in a particular single confessional response to a series of doctrinal propositions… Too much talk of truth and not enough of love….

The formularies of our Church are clear about where we need to look for guidance It is very hard to see how a boycott of the Lambeth Conference by some bishops from Australia and Africa can in any way assist in the working through of these difficulties. Lambeth happens only once every ten years. It is one of the four so-called ‘instruments of unity’ in the Anglican Communion. Another is the person and office of the Archbishop of Canterbury. A direct snub of two out of the four instruments is not a bad start towards complete breakdown; if that is the direction you want to go in.

I suspect however that ‘unity at any price’ is no longer acceptable to anyone. That is why it actually is a real possibility that there will be institutional division. Hard-liners at either end of the spectrum might bring this about. By not being prepared to talk or to pray or to worship together with all those who have found themselves in this Anglican tradition by choice or birth, they instead only find fellowship with that ever-decreasing number of those with whom they have complete agreement. That is sad for it leaves out either the Holy Spirit or, more broadly, God’s grace. It is to the grace-filled generosity expressed in Ephesians 1 that I would appeal. The thanksgiving and the joy are apparent. Grim disapproval is not.
Is there way forward? Perhaps it remains a matter of attempting once again, as ever, to discern what are ‘first order’ and therefore communion breaking matters of difference, and what are ‘second order’ questions, where we can agree to differ. That has been the Anglican way. If there is not consensus, it means that from time to time we lose the extremes, but the centre holds... Of course it is not tidy. It has never satisfied the rigorists. But it is a way to God that has been found to be inviting and sustaining and transforming for a wide range of people. It continues to be so.

No comments: