Sunday, 29 June 2008

GAFCON future: not quite Jerusalem?

Looking at the GAFCON statement from Jerusalem, it all looks fair enough to me. Very few faithful Anglicans will disagree with anything positive the statement affirms. It's pretty much what we all thought we were doing anyway. What disturbs is its claim to have the exclusive franchise on “orthodoxy” and what this implicitly denies about those it tars with the “heterodox” brush. Powerful Conservative instincts don’t equal truth. Mugabe-speak about “Colonialism” feels a bit rich, as it started from Lambeth’s refusal to weigh in and discipline former New England “colonists”.

From the Conservative side, I was very much struck by the clarity and sincerity of Sarah Hey. She compares being a Conservative US Anglican to being a daughter of dysfunctional parents, torn between loyalty to the family and collusion. I’m not sure I’d follow her all the way home, but I bet she’s expressing exactly how things feel for people who lost the ECUSA domestic debates on sexuality in the nineties.

I believe heaven is about far more than the current social mores of either Nigeria or San Francisco, but can be fully incarnate in both. My eyes fell on a letter of Hensley Henson from 12 July 1920:
No ideal of unity can satisfy us which fails in range or in quality, i.e. which leaves outside the visible church any genuine disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ, or which sets before the world a partial or distorted conception of Christian fellowship. Whether the attainment of that ideal would imply the organization of the visible church as a single polity is a point which neither the New Testament nor the experience of the Christian Society enables us to determine.

The true parallel to the spiritual society of Christ’s Church is not a single government, however effective and extended, but the human race. The Church is ultimately equivalent to redeemed humanity, and the nature of its unity will have its analogue in the unity of mankind.

History is continually revising the definition of the Catholic Church. We are called to recognize the teaching of history (i.e. the Mind of the Spirit disclosed in Christian experience), and to extend our definition of the Catholic Church until it covers the facts.


Anonymous said...

I noticed that Gafcon seemed to totally omit anything related to Hooker, specifically the "reason" leg of the three-legged stool. Tradition got short shrift, leaving pretty much just the "gospel". Nevermind that to my knowledge Jesus never even says anything relating to homosexuals. Isn't Galatians an epistle? I've always thought Hooker's Bible, Tradition and Reason were a bedrock part of being an Anglican. Aren't these the same guys that the Church had to work a special exemption for polygamy at a previous Lambeth Conference? Please. Show me the love. Vashti Winterburg

Jon said...

It's mostly fair, but the bits insisting on the authority of the 1662 BCP, Ordinal, and the 39 Articles has already raised some eyebrows in the US. The problem is that at the moment it isn't clear that any of those three are treated as authoritative here. They're more like interesting historical documents and good reminders of the history of the Communion, but the stories I've heard about the origens of the US BCP all connect it to Scotish BCPs which may not be quite the same.


Bishop Alan Wilson said...

What makes this statement distinctive is what it leaves out, not what it says. Somebody has scrabbled through the C of E declaration of assent naming the documents, but without particularly having read them. I very much doubt, for example, they really believe that no general council should be called without the consent of the civil magistrate. They are laying claim to the 39 articles, but actually use them as illustrative and historical exactly the same as TEC. Pragmatically, to take one example, Sydney is the province where there has been a sustained priocess of official revisionism affecting the universal Anglican understanding of who should preside at the Eucharist. As you imply, the use of the Bible is definitely Wakter Travers rather than Richard Hooker! But this is about ecclesiastical politicians using documents for political purposes. I very much doubt they actually believe that stuff. They're just trying to claim the Anglican high ground...

Jon said...

Yeah, they're definitely trying to claim the Anglican high ground, but trying to do so without paying attention to the details and the actual texts seems like a tactic that could easily swing around and bite them in the butt.


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