One reason why Anglican conservatives are Anglican conservatives is that other forms of conservative Christianity have their downsides.
The extraordinary story of the growth of the Mars Hill churches under the leadership of Mark Driscoll - an example of one man bandist conservatism?- has now become the story of ballooning growth followed by sudden deflation as the network announces it is dissolving itself following Pastor Driscoll's resignation.
An obvious virtue of the "mainline" denominations, slightly boring though they may be in the face of Mars Hill type stories during their growing phase, is that they never fall over when one person resigns or retires.
But what is the future of Anglican conservatism both locally (your patch or mine) and globally? Is the direction Rome is heading towards provoking conservatives to think carefully lest we get "left behind"? And I am not talking about the Rapture!
Consider. Under Francis as Pope the direction of Rome is towards being a church which both holds on to formal doctrine and extracts as much freedom within that framework to express mercy in the practice of the church's life, with special reference to fellowship at the Lord's Table. Let's call this direction "truth-and-mercy."
Is this a direction Anglican conservatism is heading in? Locally and globally?
Somehow, you see, Francis is managing to offer a text which says 'truth is unchanging' and a sub-text which says 'nevertheless I am going to work for mercy in its application.' Under his papacy Rome is attempting to speak about 'truth and mercy.'
A question we Anglicans should ask (IMHO) is whether the 'text' we offer is truth and the 'sub-text' conveys mercy or whether we offer a 'text' about truth which has a 'sub-text' which shows no mercy.
I find myself these days listening to fellow conservatives saying things re matters such as 'what the Bible teaches on human sexuality' (not terrifically different from Rome), 'if the church changes formally what is teaches through canons and constitution then ...' (i.e. locally, the Motion 30 debate in ACANZP), and 'we love and welcome gay and lesbian people in our congregations' (again, very similar to Rome).
Textually I understand what is being said, it is pretty much what I say myself, and it is consistent with the "truth" part of "truth-and-mercy."
But I wonder about the 'sub-text' of such talk.
If Anglican churches here and elsewhere, in the end, announce a 'text' concerning departure from established national/trans-national Anglican churches such as ACANZP because something changes about freedom to conduct blessings of same sex partnerships, what will the sub-text be?
No matter what the words of the 'text', will the sub-text of an announced departure be, "Gays and lesbians not welcome here"?
Or, will all be well?
All my questions here are questions for discussion. I am not a foreseer of the future. But my personal hunch is that I and other conservatives will not be departing because we cannot see how departing expresses mercy.