"Authentic" might be the new cool word for Anglicans in 2016.
The GAFCON Primates have just met, and have issued a communique, with an appendix covering the recently concluded ACC-16 meeting.
The communique includes this sentence,
"We are a global family of authentic Anglicans standing together to retain and restore the Bible to the heart of the Anglican Communion."
See yesterday's post for the use of the word "authentic" at the conclusion of the FCANZ (i.e. branch of GAFCON) meeting in Auckland.
[This paragraph updated slightly in light of Malcolm Falloon's comment below]. The communique is interesting as it tells is that there are ten provinces represented at the meeting and two branches mentioned (Australia and, now, NZ) [but see comment by Malcolm Falloon below re how many branches there are]. That is GAFCON represents about a third of all members of the Anglican Communion. What would be more interesting would be GAFCON drawing in further members, from the Middle East and from Asia. On the whole, GAFCON looks like it represents the more conservative end of the Anglican spectrum and thus cannot (yet) claim to be the broad future of global Anglicanism.
The appendix is interesting because it claims what TEC claims for itself (see David Ould, here), that it defied the Primates' January 2016 exhortation for TEC not to vote on doctrinal and polity matters at meetings such as ACC. This tells us that American arrogance has put at risk the unity (or, if you are critical of the Primates' Meeting, "unity") of the Communion at this time.The question TEC was invited to consider was not whether it understood the technical law of relationships between the Instruments of Unity but whether it understands the importance of mutual respect and gracious consideration of each Instrument in order to deepen our fragile walking together. Just as GAFCON Primates meeting together and making statements bit by bit sets up an alternative "Anglican Communion" and de-constructs the present Communion, so TEC is destructing the Communion bit by bit as it imposes its understanding of "authentic" Anglicanism on the rest of us, an understanding that is at once legalistic and insular ("you can't tell us what to do").
Here is the thing: in the long run of Anglican history, authentic Anglican life has been the broad life of the moderate middle, considerately drawing along with it the more conservative and more liberal Anglican movements. Yes, all can claim to be "authentic" Anglicans as GAFCON has done and as I am sure TEC does too, but not all Anglicans can claim to be fostering a vision for the largest, most inclusive authentic Anglicanism.
Right now we cannot say "what the future of the Anglican Communion needs is such and such a vision of authentic Anglicanism" because the Anglican Communion today may have no future as an entity of some 38 provinces. The future may consist of two or more communions/federations.
I sincerely hope that ++Justin Welby understands that despite his best efforts, the Primates Meeting in January and now ACC-16 in Lusaka may be the calm before the storm and not the calm after the storm.