Saturday, March 27, 2010

Where Fulcrum has got it wrong

Interesting to read responses to Fulcrum's stirring statement calling out TEC for its a-communion approach to belonging to the Communion and calling on ++Rowan to do something about it (reposted by me a post or so below). See also here.

Here are two paragraphs from Fulcrum's statement:

"The nature of the Communion’s structures at present is such that effecting this distancing will require clear and decisive action by the Archbishop of Canterbury. At the very least he needs to make clear that bishops participating in the May consecration in Los Angeles will thereby exclude themselves from being invited by him to participate in the Instruments or to represent the Communion in any form.

Unless he does this all that the Instruments have repeatedly said in relation to TEC’s conduct will be undermined. The sickness of TEC’s inability to say what it means and mean what it says to the rest of the Communion will then have infected the Instruments and will surely destroy the Communion. The fact the Presiding Bishop of TEC and Ian Douglas are on ‘The Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion’ (which according to the proposed covenant will have a crucial role in monitoring the covenant’s functioning) only highlights the need for decisive action if the Communion and the covenant are to retain any credibility."

We can agree with Fulcrum that there can be no misunderstanding of the bishops who consecrate Mary Glasspool, they are publicly aligning themselves with teaching which runs against the 'mind of the Communion', and we can agree that it is extremely difficult to envisage how ++Jefferts Schori and Ian Douglas can be on 'The Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion' and discharge the (proposed) role of monitoring the covenant's functioning.

But can we agree that the next move is 'decisive action' along the lines envisaged? The fact is that decisive action in this kind of situation must be fair and just, following some process in which both protagonist and antagonist have a chance to explain what the problem is, or, as the case may be, what the problem is not, and to reach, if possible, some agreeable solution.

The blogotariat may be convinced that TEC is wrong and that exile is the only sentence, but that is not any kind of agreed Communion process!

I also continue to think that the best form of discipline is to let TEC continue its life and allow God to bless or discipline it as God sees fit. As best I can tell, TEC is not listening to the voices of the Communion which are calling for discipline.

Nevertheless that does not mean that nothing is to be done about difficulties in relationship between TEC and the Communion as a whole.

My own suggestion is that ++Rowan write a stiff, public letter to ++Katharine and the House of Bishops requesting an explanation (with explanation as to why it is appropriate to make such request), and proposing a review of the relationship between TEC and the Communion. It might require an emergency meeting of the Primates to endorse such a proposal.

It is not rocket science to work out where such a review might head in terms of its recommendations, something like this from Fulcrum's statement: "if the Communion is to keep wrestling with integrity in relation to its teaching and practice on sexuality then, despite the financial implications, it must now proceed in its common life without TEC."

But the question still hangs there, given the muddled nature of the roles of the Instruments and of the timing of their meetings, how would the Communion make a decision to "proceed in its common life without TEC"?


Anonymous said...

RE: "I also continue to think that the best form of discipline is to let TEC continue its life and allow God to bless or discipline it as God sees fit."

I'm just fine with TEC leaders continuing their happy plunge into obscurity and irrelevance by following the latest societal trends. But not in an organization -- the Anglican Communion -- which finds TEC leaders' actions to be outside of the bounds of the Christian Gospel.

TEC leaders can continue outside of the AC just as easily as inside.

Further, Scripture clearly calls for church discipline there's no confusion about what Scripture says about false teachers and how to treat them.


Peter Carrell said...

I am not entirely disagreeable to your analysis here, Sarah, but I do not see how and where the AC can institute discipline on the basis of polity: it has little polity, mostly conferences and meetings which sometimes make relevant but non-binding resolutions ...

Anonymous said...

Well then I suppose it will be necessary for a new global Anglican entity to form with all those who will not be in Communion with TEC in it, and the rest in the original AC.

That's what happens when an organization declines boundary setting -- it's one of the rules of the universe.

When skeet shooters enter the tennis club and begin shooting skeet on the court next door, and the tennis players appeal to the Club authorities, and the Club authorities do nothing, then eventually the tennis players "go over there" to another tennis court association so that they can play tennis without the blast of guns next to their court.