Thursday, September 9, 2010

Is it too late for anything, Covenant, Magisterium, goodwill to hold Communion together?

Sombre, sober, sharp, sword-in-the-heart analysis of schism in the Communion at VirtueOnline as David Virtue recounts the ways in which the Global North and Global South are moving apart from one another (an ironic opposite to my experience this week of tectonic plates grinding together). Is it too late for anything to prevent the informal break up of the Communion becoming a formal break up, a divorce to end what some think began with another divorce? Stop smirking Reginald Pole and Thomas More in your graves!

Mark Harris at Preludium picks up on my posts on an Anglican Magisterium: while disagreeing with the idea, he recognises that the Communion is not in the place many of us want it to be: holding together rather than falling apart. Please read his argument for dispersed authority rather than centralised authority.

This is my comment in response to his post:

"Hi Mark,

I sense that we would both like to be in the same place, an Anglican Communion which holds together rather than fragments, but see different routes to that place. I wonder if a very slight advantage to my route is that I think I can argue that Anglicans have not really and truly tried it yet (i.e. it might succeed despite naysayers) whereas your route (I would argue) has been tried and, well, look where it has taken us!"
Back to Virtue: all ideas for holding the Communion together as currently constitutionally formed may be too little, too late. But remember, please, dear readers, as you might contemplate a future in which 'your' part of the Communion is freed from the dragweight of the other part, unless your part resolves questions of authority in relation to difference and diversity over doctrine, further schism will unfold, as night follows day. To fellow conservatives I simply say, if we think adhering to the 'Jerusalem Declaration' will hold us altogether, we are whistling in the wind: it is flawed, and it has made absolutely no difference at all to the propensity of one important part of conservative Anglicanism to push ahead with unAnglican decisions about order in ministry.
Forward then to mundane matters ... fixing broken church buildings and caring for traumatised people in our Diocese!


Andrew Reid said...

Hi Peter,

Virtue Online is a helpful resource for Anglican matters, and has excellent on-the-ground coverage of major events. However, David has a tendency to announce the death of the Communion every 5 minutes. His reporting of the CAPA conference is no doubt accurate, but his analysis tends towards black or white, with nothing in between.

Mark Harris may have a point about dispersed authority, but his diagnosis of the Communion is flawed:
The reason why the Anglican Communion is in trouble of cracking is not, I submit, primarily about doctrine or moral stances. It is mostly about the lack of mutual loyalty built on common counsel.

Our problem is 2 different gospels trying to exist in the same church - a gospel of inclusion, and a gospel of forgiveness.

I would argue we need to get to a common confessional stance - ie our core convictions - before we can look at dealing with other matters of doctrine and order. Whether that's through the Covenant, the Jerusalem Declaration, or some other process, we have to agree on the core convictions we share if we are to stick together as a Communion.

Peter Carrell said...

Yes, Andrew, I must take my Virtue pills with a grain of salt!

I agree that we (i.e. the Anglican spectrum as it runs through you, me, Mark Harris, and many others) is not facing squarely the issue of 'two gospels' and whether Communion is meaningful where there are two gospels and not one.

I also think you highlight the weakness in Mark's astute point about mutual loyalty: what does 'common counsel' actually mean? On what basis can we say there is 'common' counsel, and is 'counsel' a meaningful concept in relation to unity compared with 'gospel'?