Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Why a walking apart will take place, even between TEC and the C of E

Building on some posts below, I attempt to explain why a walking apart between TEC and many Anglican churches, even moderate ones such as the C of E is likely. (I focus on the episcopacy because that is the area of church ministry where the Windsor Report called for restraint, and was the area in which TEC had committed itself, over the past three years, to a moratorium).

In essence what has been confirmed with resolution D025 is this: TEC has solved the problem of whether candidates for episcopal office in same-sex partnered relationships live holy lives by redefining what characterises a holy sexual relationship: a non-celibate candidate does not need to be in a marriage (between a man and a woman) but in a relationship marked by fidelity, stability, permanence, and love. Other Anglican churches either reject this solution outright, or remain as yet unconvinced of the validity of the solution, and continue to require celibacy or marriage of their episcopal candidates. Here then are two points of divergence in walking together: point 1 being TEC's assumption of authority, independent of the Communion, to redefine Christian doctrine on an issue that matters to the Communion; point 2 being the application of this authority to yield a different and, in many places, objectionable, standard of conduct for its bishops.

But the divergence is extended as observers realise that significant tracts of theological thinking within TEC challenge a variety of other points of orthodox Anglican theology - it is not as though TEC thinks the same as the rest of us, except in the one area of human sexuality. [Original sentences at this point omitted in light of comments suggesting I am misunderstanding things re a resolution on the uniqueness of Christ which was lost on a technicality and not substantively.]

Despite many concerns being raised over the years by other churches in the Communion, the leniency of the present Archbishop of Canterbury, inasmuch as he is argued to have undermined various resolutions of Primates' Meetings and the like in order to present TEC with 'yet another chance,' the sheer passage of time so that TEC might revise its revisions of common Anglican understandings of holiness in respect of the episcopacy, TEC has now - at last, many on all sides might say - made its definitive, utterly clear stand. It will not turn its back on Bishop Gene Robinson, and it is completely open through its processes to there being many more Gene Robinsons.

Even for the Church of England, even under the leadership of Archbishop Rowan Williams, this stand, I suggest, is too far from it's own approach for warm support, hand in hand walking together to take place with TEC in the future. This is now not just about ++Rowan placating the extremists, doing whatever he can to avoid schism. This is about the C of E identifying that a gulf in theology has opened up between the 'hard left' of TEC, and the 'centre-left' which the C of E is trying to steer along. Now ++Rowan need no longer play a 'wait and see what TEC's decision will be, it might be okay, folks'. No, the decision has been made and ++Rowan can be clear with his flock: our pathway will be this, not that. As well, he and his General Synod can seriously entertain dialogue with ACNA. The distance between the C of E and ACNA is now less than between the C of E and TEC.

Whatever we think about the decisions of this General Convention, whether we are passionate supporters or unrelenting critics, we should be able to agree that TEC has knowingly made a decision to walk a pathway which most of the Communion will not support at this time, and in the foreseeable future. Just what that lack of support will mean is something I do not wish, today, to guess at in respect of people not turning up to Communion meetings and the like. But I sense that it will, unexpectedly, mean that a warm welcome awaits ACNA from a number of Anglican churches. For ACNA now stands more closely aligned in doctrine with the majority of Anglican churches than does TEC. When sufficient churches make their welcome, ACNA will be included as a full member of the Anglican Communion.

In the meantime it might be helpful to ACNA's cause if it spoke nicely about TEC and the dilemma it has placed itself in.


Anonymous said...

As you are following the Convention so carefully, and blogging already four times about it today, you are unfair to your readers by not clarifying that
C069 was rejected on a technicality having to do with its referring to a Synod motion from the CofE. The substance of it, you will have followed, was not considered. You will also be following that a further very strong motion on the uniqueness of Christ in a multi-faith world is still to be debated. But possibly informing your readers of these things does not suit your purpose?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Anonymous
I shall look forward to the motion you foreshadow coming up for discussion.

I note on VirtueOnline that C069 did have some other reactions than being dismissed on a technicality:

"It was a bitter blow for Cook, a British-born evangelical and a priest for nearly 25 years in TEC. He told VOL that if the Church of England House of Bishops could pass a similar resolution in February 2009 affirming the uniqueness of Jesus Christ in a multi-faith world, then why couldn't the Episcopal Church do the same?

"The Evangelism Committee objected strongly to the resolution and said they thought it was the language of proselytism and exclusivism and they objected to any talk of Christianity superseding Judaism. I was blown away," Cook told VOL."

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the courtesy of correcting the text of your post. In your comment in response to Anonymous you confused the reporting of a priest about the Evangelism Committee with your own original reporting of this as an “example [of] the rejection of C069 by the House of Deputies, a resolution pertaining to the affirmation of the uniqueness of Christ in a multi-faith society (and, incidentally, a resolution which if approved would have aligned TEC with the C of E).” As you are now on your fifth post for the day on the Convention, I think it would show good faith if you yourself reported the passing of the uniqueness of Christ motion than having someone else once again highlight your disapproval of TEC as being prejudiced ☺ Alongside the other three blogs in Anonymous’s comment I would add