Saturday, January 15, 2011

++Rowan Williams' Fan Club Dissolves Itself?

That is one interpretation of the very latest ACI epistle entitled 'It's Broken. Fix It!' This time all four ACI pillars are bulwarking for the truth (Radner, Seitz, Turner, McCall) and their battering ram is aimed squarely at ++Rowan Williams. They highlight his feigned powerlessness to change the course of the Primates' Meeting.
There is no official or unofficial ++Rowan Williams' Fan Club (that I am aware of). But if there were it looks like it is dissolving itself. (I am less than happy myself, by the way, with the seeming passivity of ABC leadership at this time).

Still, there could be a trick up his sleeve. An unpredictable move which shows that we have all given up too soon. :)


Suem said...

He tries to please everyone, he wants us all to get on, he would like us to overcome our problems with love and grace and being reasonable.

We don't get on, we are deeply divided, we don't have much love and grace, and those at the extremes are unable to be "reasonable" about the issues at stake.

Of course he is not popular.

Doug Chaplin said...

Peter, this really is the silliest thing I've seen come out of ACI.

If there is an Anglican Council of the Church, it's always been Lambeth. The proportions of those staying away from the Primates' meeting are similar to those who boycotted Lambeth.

Given no consensus around scripture and tradition, interpreted by reason and experience, that could take things forwards, the only other option is some form of democracy. Something like 75% of Primates seem to want to meet. +Rowan is hardly being autocratic in convening such a meeting.

In so far as people have rejected the "decisions" (I would say direction) of past meetings, the GAFCON rejection of the covenant process even without provincial discussion is as big as any and bigger than most.

In short, it is hard to see this ACI contribution as anything other than self-serving and blindly partisan in its characterisation of things, and unChristianly nasty to +Rowan. That surprises me, since they have tended to a more reasonable and moderate conservatism in the past.

Fr. Bryan Owen said...

I agree with Suem!

It appears that ++Rowan Williams' leadership style presupposes levels of trust, goodwill, and a willingess to be subject to one another in love that, sadly, don't necessarily exist - and especially (as Suem notes) among those at the extremes. Some blame the current Archbishop of Canterbury for this, basically arguing that we need a "stronger" and more "forceful" leader (i.e., someone who takes up the cause of one of the extremes).

But if Philip Turner is right to recently argue that "the polity of the autonomous churches of the Anglican Communion, which is conciliar in nature, rests upon the primacy of charity," then the problem lies squarely with the extremes who steadfastly refuse to practice the kind of "mutual subjection within the body of Christ [that] creates the possibility for Anglicans both within and between provinces to maintain communion even in the face of widespread differences in theological and ethical conviction."

Just like ++Rowan Williams, the primacy of charity and mutual subjection are not popular. But if Turner is right, they are not only deeply Christian, but also at the heart of how Anglican polity works.

Brother David said...

I am less than happy myself, by the way.

That is pretty ambiguous Peter. What are you unhappy about?

Again four guys and a website produce another emission. The Primates Meeting is a retreat for fellowship, sharing, study and prayer, to which all primates of the AC are invited, but to which none are obliged to attend. That is the Meeting's work. There is no work of a more profound nature concerning the AC, to which the Gang of Four always allude. The Meeting is no more diminished by the absence of the primate of a tiny province than by the absence of the primate of a mega-province, because they are not there to represent anything more than themselves. They are not there to reap more than what might have been made manifest by each one's presence.

I guess the deepest and most profound loss to the AC is the Christian example which they might have demonstrated as they welcomed and communed with one another in humility and in recognition of the 10,000 angeles who precede each primate crying, "Make way for the image of the eternal God."*

*Adapted phrase borrowed from Katie Scherrod, Episcopal Diocese of Ft. Worth, TEC and lay deputy to General Convention.

Peter Carrell said...

Excellent discussion. Thank you!

My question re the ACI article is: if it is inexcusably nasty about ++Rowan, what is driving such reaction to what he is doing or not doing? Is there something they are not saying which is making them anxious? Or (my guess): the possibility of TEC changing through Communion pressure is now about 0.01and if the Primates' Meeting ends with an "All is Well" memorandum than the possibility moves to 0.0001.

The point of ACI's existence might then be at an end?

Unknown said...

In my view, regarding the crises in the Anglican Communion, Rowan Williams has simply acted in a way consistent with his theology in general and his soteriology (doctrine of salvation) in particular.

In summary, he believes that salvation is to be found individually in the 'rejected other' (I think Open to Judgement is the book to read). This is why, he says, that for the people of Jerusalem and the Jewish leaders there was "salvation in no other name" than Jesus - the one whom they had rejected.

But for you and me, it is in the one we would reject - the Liberal must thus 'find salvation' in the Conservative, and vice versa.

There is an agenda here, but I suggest it is not what people often think.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi John,
You know the English scene better than me ... I am familiar with that particular theme in ++Rowan's theology, influenced, I believe, by Gillian Rose ... but would ++Rowan really be bound to lead the Communion by such a line, known to few but himself?

I suppose it must be possible. And ACI are tired of it!

Unknown said...

Peter, I would argue that it may well bolster his approach when he may be asking himself should he act differently. It also means he is unfairly criticized by those who think he is sacrificing principle for expediency.

Peter Carrell said...

You have it the nail on the head, John. When he should be talking to you and to me, ++Rowan is talking to himself.

Do you think he reads blogs?

Suem said...

I don't agree with you, Doug, that ACI have been moderate in the past, but I agree about the self serving comment. Right from the start there have been veiled threats from ACI. I blogged on this when I read their document "The Anglican Covenant, shared discernment for all" back in 2009.

In that they wrote,
"without effective proceedures in Section 4 others will emerge but they will not be accepted by all."

I felt that that had to be a barely veiled threat to break off/ challenge William's authority unless he did what they wanted.

We are simply seeing what was always going to be their line and behaviour.

I think it is important to remember that ACI are only a piece in the jigsaw that looks like a train wreck of a communion. There are so many positives in our Church and Communion, let's not lose sight of what we should be doing - spreading the gospel- and who knows what picture may eventually emerge.

Ephraim RAdner said...

I do your read your blog, Peter, with much interest and gratitude, and am often challenged and isntructed by it. Thank you, and thank you also for your good will and witness as to how discussion can be pursued with integrity and charity within the Body of Christ.

In this case, there seems to be some confusion about our posting, so let me try to clarify a bit. We had no intention of attacking Rowan Williams; we were characterizing different views being held about him, not offering our own. On that basis, we were simply saying that, whatever view one might hold, it doesn't amount to an accurate assessment of matters (or perhaps even of mature Christian leadership) to act as if the Archbishop of Canterbury is an immovable force and supreme power with respect to something like the Primates' Meeting. Whatever one thinks of his motives and purposes, he is not that. And given that the Primates do in fact have an important role to play in the Communion (one might say that this role is a divine responsibility, in an ecclesial sense) -- whether they go to Dublin as a group or not -- they must figure out how to play that role constructively and credibly. So far, there is no indication that anybody has a plan for how to do that, and little witness to the rest of us even that they care about this. This is a scandal, in a Christian sense.

I might add that ACI members -- however many guys with the laptop we may constitute -- continue to hold Rowan Williams in great respect -- for his intellect, his piety, his Christian hopes. Amongst ourselves, I think it fair to say that there is some diversity of evaluation about the nature of his ecclesiology that may inform his decisions, but that this diversity of opinion does not alter this common respect. Fuurthermore, all of us believe that Canterbury, as a "focus of unity", is extremely important to the Communion's ongoing witness, and have no desire to see it thrown over. "Fan clubbing" is not, nor has it ever been, an element of our own approach to Communion matters. Where we disagree with decisions, apparent strategies, and so on, we have said so and tried to say why we believe so. The notion, that some have suggested, that such stated disagreements and arguments amount to "disloyalty" -- whether they be directed at Canterbury or, in our case, at leaders in TEC or elsewhere -- is not only untrue, but the product of fallacious moral and ecclesial reasoning.

Ephraim Radner

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ephraim,
Thank you for commenting on a post which was a direct reflection on an ACI post.

I certainly do not detect disloyalty in your recent posts re the forthcoming Primates' Meeting but I (but other readers too) detect in our reading of what has been written a disenchantment with where things have gotten to under ++Rowan's leadership. I note carefully your comment here that amongst the guys+laptop, some diversity of evaluation of the situation is present ... perhaps readers' responses here and elsewhere are picking up on that diversity!