Saturday, December 12, 2009

The future shape of the Communion, 1.0, or 2.0, or fractions?

Correspondence below on my posts, Stand By Your Man and A whirlpool about Glasspool, can be read alongside Andrew Carey's take on recent events-with-comments, published by Anglican Mainstream with the title, Liberals are playing dirty. His assessment of the Anglican Communion's future is this:

"So where does the Anglican Communion go from here? The Archbishop of Canterbury’s relatively mild reaction to Mary Glasspool’s election is a recognition that this appointment could still be halted if the bishops and dioceses of The Episcopal Church fail to confirm her election. However, it remains a highly unlikely prospect.

"The problem that the Archbishop of Canterbury faces is that the Anglican Communion will continue to fragment. The Covenant which he believes is a centre of unity around which the vast majority of provinces can coalesce is not even yet in its final form. Such is the polarisation of the Church of England, as a result of the Anglican Communion crisis, that there is now no guarantee that it can pass in the General Synod let alone in other more liberal western provinces.

"It seems likely that any Anglican future worth having will be radically different from the current shape of things. The so-called instruments and international meetings will become largely a thing of the past, replaced by networks, regional conferences and some tangential relationships to the Canterbury primate. It is a fragmented and difficult future, but one preferable to a constant state of hysteria and schism."

Communion 1.0 is being played out. Communion 2.0 could come into play upon the Covenant being agreed to. But TEC (as Kurt Hill points out in a comment) is unlikely to agree to the Covenant, and in that non-agreement it is likely to be joined by several other provinces. Arguments against the Covenant include those proceeding from belief that Communion 1.0 is not yet played out and could continue, though probably at the expense of those provinces for whom +Robinson and, most likely, +Glasspool, are a separating issue. Communion 1.0, in summary, is a communion holding together, however tenuously, and rent by division, through 'bonds of affection'. Communion 2.0 would be a communion held together by the Covenant.

But Andrew Carey, as I interpret his remarks, suggests a somewhat subtle future which is (1) more fractionated than either Communion 1.0 or 2.0 (the scenario for each in the future is that it would be a remainder of the past Communion, now divided into two parts), but (2) paradoxically perhaps still the Anglican Communion in name, but with its bishops never all meeting in the same room, and those bishops and other officers meeting together in the guise of an 'Instrument' having less and less authority and influence on the Communion. We could call this version of the Communion, "Communion (x+y+z+...)/1"!!

Regretfully, I think there is a lot in what Andrew Carey is saying. For many provinces it would be difficult to make a decision to formally cut ties with the Archbishop of Canterbury, and even cutting formal ties with (say) TEC might be difficult as long as Communion Partner bishops remain at work within TEC. But it would be comparatively easy to say 'No thanks' to invitations to some meetings (as many bishops did last year re Lambeth), and 'Yes, let's' to invitations to other meetings (GAFCON, Global South, regional networking meetings).

With regards to my own church, ACANZP, I cannot see any possibility of our General Synod agreeing to either cutting ties with TEC or with the Archbishop of Canterbury. We might just agree to the Covenant, but we would want to know that it's purpose was to hold the Communion together, not to divide it. We would always want to be in relationship with Australia, Papua-New Guinea and Melanesia; we have strong connections into south-east Asia; important connections with African provinces (especially Egypt and North Africa, Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa); and strong links with North America (TEC, ACCan and ACNA).

6 comments:

Revd Ivan Ackeroff said...

"Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery" (Mark 10 v.11)
No Evangelical would disregard Our Lord's teaching on marriage and divorce. Except twice-married Andrew Carey! A gay man can't 'marry' once. But a Carey can marry twice!

Peter Carrell said...

The relationship between this observation and Andrew Carey's insight into Anglican Communion futures is what?

Anonymous said...

If you can't refute the argument, attack the messenger.
Argumentum ad hominem.

Homosexuals can marry as mcuh as anyone.
But a homosexual partnership isn't marriage.
However, I agree that Andrew Carey should resign from his bishoprick.

(What, it isn't hereditary? Well, I never ...)

Revd Ivan Ackeroff said...

Carey intimates 'liberal' Anglicans have departed from Scripture, and uses this to condemn them. Does this man - who has married TWICE- realise how hypocrital he sounds? People in glass houses....

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ivan
From comments I have seen on another site Andrew Carey is well aware of this kind of response to his public writings on Communion matters. You will be aware that plenty of once married critics of liberal Anglicanism are available so why not focus on the content of the criticism than the supposed hypocrisy of one or two of the critics?

Anonymous said...

Ivan Ackeroff: I am sure you do know that evangelicals do not generally subscribe to the Roman Catholic idea that marriage is *intrinsically* indissoluble except by death. The fact that Eastern Orthodoxy recognises divorce and remarriage (though never as a simple matter of indifference)reminds us that there was a never a universal consensus on the Western Catholic view. And Matthew and Paul are usually read as allowing divorce where adultery or desertion have occurred. By contrast, the consensus against homosexuality in Bible and tradition is complete

Many evangelicals will readily agree that many if not all divorces are the result of sinful attitudes and behavior. The best book on the subject is by NT and Rabbinics scholar David Instone- Brewer.
In any case, whether or not Andrew Carey is a hypocrite, as you charge, doesn't diminish the substance of his argument.