Saturday, January 26, 2008

This year in Jerusalem?

More and more appears on the internet about the proposed GAFCON (Global Anglican Future Conference in Jerusalem, 15 - 22 June, 2008 ... don't book yet: place and dates to be confirmed). Follow this link to a posting of Bishop Tom Wright on GAFCON. Its quite nifty because it gives a great cartoon and an article by +Tom which is only available through the Church Times site if you have a subscription.

The article and follow up comment represent the content and passion of the arguments raging on the evangelical side of debate over the future of the Anglican Communion. I am with +Tom on his arguments for participation in Lambeth. I suspect he is right about GAFCON but would like to know more about the proposed agenda for the conference before passing judgement myself.

My fear for the future of Anglican evangelicalism is that it will be driven by (if not divided by) a 'narrow' orthodoxy rather than a 'generous' orthodoxy. The narrow approach is represented in the critique of +Tom, charging into the debate on Pauline theology with the cry "+Tom has let us down", when it is more accurate to say, "+Tom has made us think." The generous way of orthodoxy might not - in the end - agree with +Tom on Paul, but it makes room for his contribution, appreciates the challenge it makes, and might even make some adjustments to allow for his insights.

But the big issue here is not - of course - +Tom's views as though the future of Anglican evangelicalism turns on whether he is right or wrong. The big issue is whether there is sufficient grace among Anglican evangelicals to (a) trust God (b) have patience (c) find all that is good and true and pure in the views of those they/we disagree with, and (d) be open to the possibility of being wrong. (An irony of the posting is that in the critical response to +Tom there is great certainty that Wright is wrong, but no acknowledgement that non-Wright might not be right! Truth might lie in the middle, or even somewhere else!) If sufficient grace is present then some kind of united conservative (both narrow and generous) orthodox group of Anglican bishops might be able to be the much needed counter balance to the liberal group of bishops which threatens to sweep through Lambeth like a tsunami. As usual Ruth Gledhill sets all this out with customary verve ...

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