I appreciate very much that some correspondents here are committed to a pure Anglican Communion of churches. By 'pure' I mean being faithful to a particular vision, so the inclusive TEC which ++Jefferts Schori has recently been promoting could be as pure an Anglican church as, say, the AAC of Bishop David Anderson (recently cited here). Their commitment is so great that sometimes they comment to the effect that if the price of this purity is that some current members of the Anglican Communion cease active, meaningful membership then 'so be it,' or, alternatively, if those committed to a certain purity of church life must leave the AC, then 'so be it.'
On certain days, as I survey the Communion via the blogosphere, it seems much more likely than on other days that sometime soon - it could be as early as February 2011 - there will be a final confirmation that the Communion is irretrievably broken into several entities. Whether this brokenness is the Communion minus TEC but not including ACNA with the Anglican churches in Britain and Ireland in an uproar, or the Communion minus a block loosely matching Global South, with Australia and the Church of England (at least) in an uproar, or even a Communion without both TEC and Global South, and churches such as my own deeply confused, matters little. The general historical claim that the Church of England enlarged into a global communion is worthy of entering into dialogue with Rome and the Eastern Orthodox churches as a sister church, a solid branch in the great ecclesial trunk, will be in tatters.
Oh, yes, some Anglicans will be very happy with this situation. 'The Anglican Communion is not a church' crowd will be happy. As will be the 'Anglicanism stands for inclusivism' group, and the adherents of 'True Anglicanism means being faithful to, indeed furthering the unique vision for a reformed church of the English Reformers.' Yes, quite a few Anglicans will be comfortable with a Communion in disarray, so long as their vision for purity has been fostered, forwarded, and unfettered from the millstones and dragnets holding it back.
But there are some Anglicans - it might just be me and a couple of others!! - who are not at all happy with what (today at least) looks highly likely: a broken down Communion consigned to the wrecker's yard, never to emerge again! So, again, I ask, what would it take for us to stay together?
On my analysis here it might mean that we resolve to give up our small ambitions about fostering our vision of pure Anglicanism. That we seek, instead, to ask what does an episcopal church look like which incorporates global diversity without being constrained by a papal-topped hierarchy, which seeks to be faithful to Scripture and its teachings, consistent with the orthodox tradition of the early centuries and resistant to the accretions of those centuries which led to the Reformation, and which seeks to be liturgically true to its orthodox faith, respecting both the great ancient liturgical tradition of the undivided church and the particular English tradition expressed in the BCP (1662). Then, of course, we would have to be resolved to find a way forward from this common commitment which holds us together rather than drives us apart into insignificant fragments. That way forward is costly.
Might it be worth paying?
If we will not have a pope to direct us in that way, could we have a grand church council instead?