Thursday, February 4, 2010

Salient points

The Anglican Communion Institute is characterized by its critics as "four men and a website". Well, I am not sure whether it is the four men or the website, or both, but they must amount to something, otherwise why the vitriol? (I amount to one man and a blog, but no one bothers with me -:) The reality, of course, is that the ACI has the ear of significant leaders in the Communion, so I imagine some of their critics think they may have undue influence. Except the point of the ACI's post, drawn attention to in my previous two posts, is that they do not have undue influence: some aspects of the Covenant have reached a point where the ACI feels the need to point out the influence of others has been "undue". My cursory survey of the blogosphere is that the ACI has a point: in the midst of a welter of 'when will they (ACI, Mouneer, many other conservatives) stop whinging and whining about not getting their own way' there are observations that all may not be well within the (possibly) shadowy world of Communion bureaucracy.

As a matter of my own evaluation I do not think ACI etc are whinging and whining! What is going on is an attempt to openly discuss the present version of the Covenant and its merits, offering critique of argued deficiencies. If the critique is wrong, argue back and praise its efficiencies rather than mount ad hominem attacks (some of which are involving schoolboy boorishness ill-befitting followers of Christ).

Ephraim Radner (one of the four) has risen to the defence of the ACI, albeit with a personal rather than collective response. I note the following salient points:

"When the Covenant’s fate was given over to groups, like the ACC and its Standing Committee, that were disproportionately made up of those whose stated convictions were anti-Covenant, not so much as to determine the content of the Covenant itself as to control its dissemination and adoption process, there was every reason to be concerned and certainly vigilant. When the outcome to this adjudication has been procedural chaos (at the last ACC meeting) punctuated by autocratic resolution, the insertion of new processes based on committees and rules whose provenance is either unknown or questionable, that is cause for disturbed dissent. For the “process” to which the Covenant is now thereby consigned is one that is inevitably shaped by the Covenant’s own enemies. And when that process is itself veiled, only partially declared in its authority, necessarily misunderstood and mistrusted by many, it is faithful common sense to resist it. So I do."

"Thinking through matters in this light and making such proposals is hardly a matter of either attempting to stage a coup or playing footsy with corrupt powers. Rather, I believe it to be a responsible path to follow in what we all know to be a longer, more challenging, and difficult journey in our Communion’s vocation. I do not reject the ACC or its members and leaders; I will question vigorously those of their actions I think are ill-advised; I will resist strongly actions that appear to be improper. But the ACC are not my enemies; they are a part of the church of which I am a part. I do not reject the Archbishop of Canterbury. He is in fact someone whose heart and mind I deeply respect in Christ. I will question vigorously, however, judgments he makes or actions he takes that I think are ill-advised; I will even resist those that appear to be improper, as I would any within the church. But he is someone, quite apart from my personal views, whose role I honor in my very office as an Anglican priest. I do not reject the leaders and members of FCA – among them are individuals I do indeed respect and, out of a similar bond of ecclesial affection and shared ministry, I honor. But I will resist vigorously judgments and actions that seem ill-advised; and I will resist ones that seem improper. I do not reject TEC itself, of which I am formally a member and in whose ordering my ministry is placed. But I do maintain the calling of honesty, necessary dissent, and active resistance where called for."

It is important, if possible, that we Anglicans get these things right. My final observation from Radner concerns the alternative if we do not find a way, however long, to adopt the Covenant:

"throw out the continuities of our common life on the front end, and the hope of reconstituting them at the back end is vain."

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