Am going to be away from my online connection for the next few days when meetings in Chicago announce the new North American province and then the GAFCON Primates meet with the ABC in Lambeth (presumably to ask the ABC to recognise the new province).
I am intrigued by the thought of a new province based on 'theology'. Ostensibly this gladdens the heart of an Anglican evangelical. But in an Anglican setting the question has to be asked, 'what theology?' and 'who rules over this theology?' Theology always involves difference of view - including in the New Testament itself. Theology requires judgement: is this theology acceptable? compatible with that theology? able to co-exist alongside another theology? The role of the church is to make that judgement. The question for any ecclesial body is who makes that judgement and how? I am simply unclear how the new province will proceed as a 'theological' province.
I am aghast at a comment reported from one of the new province leaders along the lines of 'if the ABC recognises us he will incur the wrath of TEC; if he does not recognise us he will incur the wrath of others'. What kind of language is this to use of the Archbishop of Canterbury? Why is he envisaged as being constrained to one and only one binary choice?
I am watching TEC closely, particularly through Mark Harris' Preludium blog (accessible off the sidebar here). It seems to me very clear that TEC is taking a hardline stance: good-bye not au revoir to the dioceses and parishes seceding from it; and, looking forward to General Convention 2009 when we can cement a few things in place (e.g. clarification of the role of the Presiding Bishop; commitment to GLBT matters). Ironically one of my questions re 'theology' as the foundation of an Anglican church is whether TEC is 'anti-theological' relative to the new province's 'theological' approach. (See note below).
Advice for the ABC: either recognise the new province alongside TEC and ACCan or suspend recognition of all North American Anglican/Episcopal churches until after GC 2009!!
PS Mark Harris is very observant and makes the point - to be noted by those who think the ABC should just recognise the new province and be done with it - that the new province incorporates an amalgam of Anglican entities and episcopal figures not all of which and whom are as well 'ordered' as others!
TEC's 'anti-theological' approach:
Here is a motion to the forthcoming convention of the Diocese of Los Angeles looking ahead to the General Convention (Hat-tip to Titus One Nine):
"Resolution regarding the 2006 General Convention Resolution B033
Resolved, that the One Hundred Thirteenth Annual Meeting of the Church in the Diocese of Los Angeles call upon the 76th General Convention of The Episcopal Church to abide by the canons of The Episcopal Church; to respect the responsibility of each diocese to discern prayerfully the will of God in calling leaders; to refrain from restricting the potential field of candidates on the basis of gender and sexual orientation; and thus to retract General Convention 2006 Resolution B033.
Submitted by: Mr. Jim White
Chair, Diocesan Deputation to General Convention
All Saints’ Church, Pasadena
In 2006 the 75th General Convention concurred in the adoption of Resolution B033, which “call[ed] upon Standing Committees and bishops with jurisdiction to exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion.” The language of the resolution was widely understood to refer to gay and lesbian persons with same sex domestic partners. Several considerations compel the retraction of General Convention 2006 Resolution B033:
1. In modeling Jesus Christ, as a Church and as Christians, we do not discriminate. “God is not one to show partiality.” (Acts 10:34-35) The gifts for ministry are given by God’s grace to all members of Christ’s body. (Romans 12:4-8, Ephesians: 4:4-16).
2. Because we are baptized in Christ, our gifts are the result of God’s grace given to us as members of Christ’s body, independent of other distinctions.
3. The Canons of General Convention (Title III, Canon 1, Section 2) prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation: “No person shall be denied access to the discernment process for any ministry, lay or ordained, in this Church because of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, disabilities or age, except as otherwise provided by these Canons.” General Convention 2006 Resolution B033, if interpreted to mean that a person living in a same-sex partnership should be excluded from consecration, stands in conflict with Title III, Canon 1, Section 2."
The 'anti-theology' here is the appeal to egregious error ("In modeling Jesus Christ, as a Church and as Christians, we do not discriminate" - yet Jesus discriminated, e.g. between disciples and would-be disciples, between those who believed in him and those who did not, between 'the Twelve' and the larger group of disciples); the absence of engagement with the possibility that holiness of life might also be determinative alongside consideration of 'gifts'; and the appeal to law (the Canons of General Convention) ahead of appeal to the whole of Scripture).