Howard Pilgrim has (gently) challenged me to comment upon a post by Mark Harris of Preludium entitled 'A Fourth Way Revisited'.
Howard himself sums up the essay, and extends the critique a little with these words which engage with my own remarks below about 'Anglican tragedy':
"that in the Anglican tradition, the largest effective ecclesial unit is the diocese around its bishop, and that beyond that, at the levels of Communion, and even within provinces, the relationships have always been based on hospitality rather than control. I tend to agree, the powers vested in general synods notwithstanding. For instance, here in New Zealand the diocese of Nelson has always exercised a considerable degree of independence, and that has been OK with the rest of us, as long as we are not expected to follow Nelson's lead. We all get to choose how far to recognize and embrace the faith and life of other dioceses. Even within a diocese, the unity generated by "canonical obedience" to their bishop promised by licensed clergy still allows for generous freedoms for parishes to differ.
"It is an interesting argument, and I would like to see your response (to him not me). If he is right, then there are no "rights" in conflict, only responsibilities carried out differently in our service to Christ. The lack of some international magisterium is no flaw, but the way we have always operated quite satisfactorily. And the only train crash in the offing is a mirage generated by all the hot air coming from those who demand we all do things their way or they will throw their toys out of the cot."
Just a brief response is all I can manage:
(1)I think doctrine, what Anglicans believe, matters, and that being the church is not simply a matter of hospitality, vital though that is. Hospitality is an expression of doctrine, not a replacement for it.
(2)Dioceses are not perfect; they can make mistakes. Is the wider church responsible for offering correction in such a situation, or is that beyond its brief?
(3)Yes, the Anglican Communion could be an ecumenical fellowship rather than something with aspiration and momentum towards becoming a world church. Would it not be in the spirit of ecumenicity to then invite all Anglicans to this ecumenical fellowship, including ACNA, AMIA, CESA, and other networks and churches currently debarred from the Communion?
In short, when Mark Harris draws attention in another post to the argument of Bishop Bruce Mcpherson, one of the so-called 'Communion Partner' bishops, that at this time it is not possible to be both provincially-oriented (towards TEC) and Communion-oriented, I find his critique deficient inasmuch as he offers no way forward for dioceses within a province that feel they have more in common with the Communion than with their own province, other, that is, than to put up. But a true ecumenical spirit would, I suggest, encourage fellowship in all kinds of ways within the ecumenical fellowship of Anglicans.
It is my view that in our church, ACANZP, we are a long way from any one of our dioceses feeling they have more in common with the Communion than with our own province!