Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Sinking like a stone, without a trace

ACC-15 has undoubtedly been a roaring success. Let's count the ways. Everyone who came had a good time. Lovely dinners (I have followed their progress on Facebook)! No fracas. Pleasant times across gatherings hosted by our three tikanga. The ABC ended his time as ABC on a good note (contrast the ending of ACC-14). Further, he said some fine things up there and down here (see now his Sunday 9 am sermon). Some upstanding and worthy resolutions were passed. One of which (15.25) includes a job which I could be interested in. What is not to like. Oh, that's right, our mean government. (Did someone forget to tell ACC the stories of people impersonating church officials in order to illegally enter NZ?)

ACC-15 is just as certainly a complete failure. Six days from now, let alone six years from now, no one will remember a thing it has achieved in respect of the development of the life of the Anglican Communion. That is because it achieved nothing. It made 41 resolutions, for instance, but not one says anything substantive about the Covenant. The key to the development of our life is the acceptance (or, but the development will head in another direction, rejection) of the Covenant. Not a resolution even marking its progress. What does that say? I would say it means the Covenant has sunk like a stone into oblivion. 41 resolutions, but not one addresses the crises of the Communion. (Though, utterly intriguingly, have a look at 15.09 and the Charter for the Safety of People within the Churches of the Anglican Communion and match that charter with the treatment of conservative Episcopalians!).

Yet the ACC felt bold enough in 15.34 to amend one of the famous marks of mission. Actually the wording does pertain to our Anglican crises. I wonder if anyone in Auckland saw the irony of agreeing that the fourth mark should now read, "To seek to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and to pursue peace and reconciliation". (I wonder what happened to the attempt to strengthen the set of marks by an explicit statement about the importance of worship for Anglicans?)

Let us, indeed, in our Communion life, pursue peace and reconciliation. To do so would be to engage with our crises.

One shudders, however, to think what will happen if any Kiwi Anglicans take this revised mark seriously when it says "to challenge violence of every kind": rugby, rugby league, even netball, certainly sports stars boxing each other to raise money, all gone by lunchtime. Tiddly-winks and Scrabble may be allowed as sports in our church schools. Likely attempts to fight just wars, and possibly even to supply chaplains to the military will be banned by those who treat these marks like fundamentalists treat the Bible!

Where some real progress could have been made is in how we read the Bible and how we let the Bible read us. But, as already noted here in an earlier post, the report on the Bible in Anglican life is something of a sinking stone because it just does not challenge us as Anglicans to allow the Bible in the life of the church to be a means by which God speaks authoritatively to us. It is descriptive rather than prescriptive. It is weighted towards our reading contexts being as important for determining the message as the message itself. You can download it from here - it is 20 Mb so best to go to that link and choose whether to download or not. (I have more to say about the report in the next post).

Let me know when you have read it! At 674 pages it is a rather heavy stone :)

In the meantime, Anglicanism meanders, oblivious to the ironies within its life but if the reports out of Auckland are anything to go by, there is a certain joi de vivre in the meandering. More wine? Another canape? Aren't these Kiwis splendid hosts!


MichaelA said...

"ACC-15 is just as certainly a complete failure. Six days from now, let alone six years from now, no one will remember a thing it has achieved in respect of the development of the life of the Anglican Communion."

Unfortunately that would appear to be true. ++Williams candidly admitted after ACC-14 that it was a "glorious failure", and a similar admission may be in order here.

I didn't have high hopes to start with, but the failure to pass a resolution condemning religious persecution (after an impassioned plea from the moderator of the Anglican Church in Pakistan) floored me.

If your main objective is to avoid controversy, then you end up avoiding relevance.

Father Ron Smith said...

Peter, as a Kiwi Anglican, I am ashamed at your adversarial view of the ACC15 Meeting. It seems that you and David Virtue have gotten together to be as destructive as you can be.

I don't see this post as at all helpful to others - either here in N.Z. or in the wider world - in their efforts to discern what may, or may not, have occurred at ACC15.

My own opinion is that - apart from the people from Uganda and Kenya - who have trotted out the GAFCON party-line on their endemic dis-satisfaction with the rest of us - the meetings were conducted in a collegial, conciliatory and eirenic atmosphere of wilful co-operation, and a desire to continue in dialogue with one another.

I'm sorry this did not meet with your requirement - for action that would dispossess TEC and other more liberal Churches in the Communion of their legitimate right to 'Be Church' in their own context and situation - but then, you do seem to prefer the vitriolic tenor of the more 'virtue'ous amongst us.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
You must have been misreading what I wrote and are ashamed of something I did not say.

The simple point of my post is that there are crises in the Communion which were not addressed by the lovely and wonderful meeting which has just been held.

To address these crises there are a number of possibilities. I do not see, and have not seen for a long time now that dispossessing TEC etc is one of them.

Citing Philip Ashey on VirtueOnline makes the simple point that a little plain speaking about the non-address of the problems is virtuous. Gushing about how nice everyone was to each other as apple pie and motherhood motions were agreed to is not virtuous.

Anonymous said...

Since when do Liberal "churches" have the special right to engage in theological and ecclesiological anarchy?

No such right exists. There is no such right in the NT, and none in the Anglican tradition. Such a notion is totally at odds with any reasonable understanding of Catholicism.

The ability of Liberals to invent non-existent "rights" out of thin air is impressive.

MichaelA said...

I would be interested to know what ACC-15 actually accomplished.

I accept that for the participants it was a personally spiritually uplifting meeting. And also that the ABC's visit to the area was an important historical event.

But what did ACC-15 actually do, as a meeting?

Anonymous said...

It generated a lot of hot air, and little else.