There is a very good comment on the Fulcrum site where I mention my previous post. The comment is by Bowman Walton. I have emboldened some words which particularly strike me as illustrating the division in the Communion these last dozen years or so, why we will divide (formally, finally) absent a miracle, and why we might not understand how this will have come about:
"Some labels may change, Peter, and the path may be unpleasant at points, but all are going to get what they want in the end. Churches that love Anglican churchways and share global koinonia among themselves will keep both and maybe deepen them. Churches like TEC that love the churchways but viscerally fear that global koinonia will keep the former and will be released from the rights and responsibilities of the latter. The two sides may not like each other, but because they agree that they disagree on how strong a church or Communion should be, the long term outcome of this is not in serious doubt.
This result might be easier for some to take if we had a common narrative explaining how it happened that, at the same time that the Lambeth Conferences were becoming the cherished Anglican Communion in some places, those in other places were instead championing an idea that Anglicanism is the fundamentally the right to be left alone. Absent that narrative, neither side recognizes the legitimacy of the other. Some of us fail to see that the tacit norms we assume for global koinonia seem strange and menacing in churches with designedly weak governance structures such as TEC. The Anglican Communion Covenant proposed closer ties throughout the world than TEC had between Mark Lawrence’s South Carolina and Michael Curry’s North Carolina. Conversely, liberals gazing at all things through the lens of sex (eg in the Episcopal Cafe and Thinking Anglicans) cannot welcome any continuation of the koinonia story (eg Anglican Communion Covenant) as the missional outcome of a century-long process. Whether that reflects a taste for autonomy that rejects mutual subjection in Christ, or a disavowed yet visceral rejection of southern Anglicans, it comes to the same aversion to global koinonia. A common narrative could not narrow this chasm or make it less deep, but it could hold up a mirror to the two sides that they need to study."
In other words, what some have valued about the Anglican Communion has been that it has never deepened as a communion, it has been a meeting place for otherwise independent churches, but that is all, and (I imagine) the meetings have been pleasant affairs in sometimes exotic places and sometimes - Lambeth and all that - in historically significant places.
But what others have valued about the AC has been that it has been a promise of a deeper, tighter communion - the promise of all Christian communion, that we will be drawn deeper into the communion of the Trinity itself - which has not and now will not be fulfilled in the current form of the AC.
This misunderstanding of what the 'communion' part of the Anglican Communion means, according to Bowman Walton, that we have gotten to where we currently are without a common narrative to explain to all participants why this is so.
He also sees this lack of common narrative about what the Communion is/should become as determining the certain end of the Communion. (In my words) it is broken and it will break up. The break up will be into those churches which wish to be in a deep koinonia, where the koinonia is undergirded by common doctrine, and into those churches which wish to be in a light koinonia, where the koinonia is undergirded by anything and everything apart from doctrine (heritage, historical ties, bonds of affection).
Exactly which churches will be in which koinonia waits to be seen. Some are almost certain to be in one and not the other, but there might be some surprises among the Global South provinces, and Australia might find a way to be in both. NZ might too!
Whether the two (or more?) koinonia agree to relate together in a federation also remains to be seen.
There lies the rub. A significant contribution to the breakdown and thus to the break up Bowman Walton sees as inevitable is the inability of various churches/networks of churches within the Communion to compromise. Compromise is a dirty word in some quarters of Christianity but in the Anglican world it has generally been a way of moving forward, a way of agreeing to disagree while agreeing on what little may be agreed and thus on a new future. That future is always less than the promise each side would like fulfilled, but it is a com-promise, a different promise of a less than ideal future, but a future together rather than a stand off, let alone a schism.
Could the PM in January lead to as light a compromise as the communions within the current Communion transitioning to a Federation of communions? Will the meeting result in the formalising of the break up which the current breakdown foretokens?
Above I mentioned 'absent a miracle.' The miracle in January 2016 would be that the unwillingness to compromise becomes a willingness to compromise. A super miracle would be the renewal of the Communion as a communion (i.e. all Primates take the eucharist together, all commit to cajoling all their bishops to come to the next Lambeth). A minor miracle would be the retention of some federal relationship between current members of the Communion while acknowledging the existence of different communions within that f/Federation.
POSTSCRIPT: Has the divorce already happened? And are these the reasons why reconciliation is not on the cards soon?