Friday, September 18, 2015

GAFCON Primates Going to Miss the Bus?

Unfortunately the GAFCON Primates' response to ++Welbys' Communion to Federation initiative - see below - does not, on the face of it, look promising:

"It is on this basis that the GAFCON Primates will prayerfully consider their response to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s letter. They recognize that the crisis in the Communion is not primarily a problem of relationships and cultural context, but of false teaching which continues without repentance or discipline.
Consistent with this position, they have previously advised the Archbishop of Canterbury that they would not attend any meeting at which The Episcopal Church of the United States or the Anglican Church of Canada were represented, nor would they attend any meeting from which the Anglican Church in North America was excluded.
It is therefore of some encouragement that the Archbishop of Canterbury has opened the door of this meeting to the Primate of the Anglican Church in North America, Archbishop Foley Beach. He has already been recognized as a fellow primate of the Anglican Communion by Primates representing GAFCON and the Anglican Global South at his installation in Atlanta last October and he is a full member of the GAFCON Primates Council."

On the other hand, they will 'consider'. And you can bet that the ABC has previously been in contact so he probably already knows whether they are coming or not.

PS Andrew Brown gives a racing commentary on the matter along with a gallop through the history of the AC.


Father Ron Smith said...

It really is worth reading Andrew Brown's quick summarization of the trajectory of the Anglican Communion. What becomes blindingly obvious, is that its origins grew out of a dispute in African 'Anglicanism'. It may be the case that it is by the insistence of African Conservative Anglicans that the present crisis will break up the Communion - leaving Anglican Churches around the world (including Gafcon Churches) to rejoice in their contextual situations to carry on with the Great Commission, to bring the Good News of OLJC to ALL in their area.

Bryden Black said...

The money quote for me in all of this is the conclusion from the GAFCON Primates:

“In the end, our confidence is not in any structural reorganisation, useful though it may be, but in the saving grace of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and in the abiding truth of the Bible. That is what empowers us and this is the assurance we bring to our broken world.”

As Bosco has pointed out, the key to any understanding of ‘things’ AC - I continue to use this phrase for the moment - from our own subsidiarity world of ACANZ&P is our tie to the ABC, our “communion with the See of Canterbury”. Yet, hot on the heels of this supposed key is this: “sharing with one another their life and mission in the spirit of mutual responsibility and interdependence.”

To which I have to ask: what is the basis of that life and mission? What sustains our life and mission? What form does our life and mission take? Etc. From GAFCON’s point of view, it would appear to be the case that answers to such questions derive readily from “the saving grace of [the] Lord Jesus Christ [and] the abiding truth of the Bible.” There is also a deliberate playing down of the structural/organizational tie to the ABC. For “responsibility” is first and foremost not so much “mutual” but is primarily to the Lordship of Jesus as depicted in the witness of Scripture. Associated with this stance therefore would seem to be the call for “repentance” and “discipline”, for a perceived form of life and mission which resonates with a particular Biblical understanding. The horizontal "mutual" is itself a function of any due vertical.

Consequently, even should there be a high percentage take-up of the ABC’s invitation to this ‘gathering’ of Primates, in the hope of some Spirit-led next step, longer term essential differences among the global Anglican churches would seem to be heading down a road/the roads of sundry federating constellations. And what might that look like?! And how might other churches and denominations engage with such a motley bunch?! On verra ...

MichaelA said...

The Gafcon statement says nothing new so it shouldn't have come as a surprise.

Nor should it be a surprise that some other provinces, mainly Global South, will do exactly what they have done before - neet with TEC and ACoC, but make it clear that they don't agree with their stance on homosexuality or Christian teaching. In March this year, the CAPA Provinces issued a communique which included this:

"7- We are deeply concerned about the divisions within our beloved Anglican Communion. These divisions emerged when some Churches in the west allowed the worldly cultures, to reshape the message of church to the society especially in the area of marriage and human sexuality. These issues not only contradict the traditional teaching of the scripture but also impede our witness to the Gospel which is the reason of our presence in this world. We believe that the church is entrusted with the message of Gospel in order to transform the culture not the other way around. We do accept diversity but not diversity on the expense of the truth. Therefore we call upon these churches to refrain from making unilateral decisions which will further the divisions between the provinces of the Anglican Communion.

8-We, by God's Grace, continue to uphold the traditional biblical teaching in regard to human sexuality and marriage and affirm Lambeth Resolution 1:10 in its entirety. We believe that this is the only way to safeguard the life of the Christian families and we should resist the pressures of the secular western cultures to alter God's purpose in creating Man and woman."

None of the Provinces that assented to this was a Gafcon province.

MichaelA said...

Sorry, here is the link to the CAPA communique:

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Michael
I think some of us in the West do not appreciate how important it is for some Anglican provinces to belong to all other provinces in the AC even when there is severe difference. I happen to be writing this from an unnamed non-Western province where it's conservatism in faith and practice is both undoubted and unlikely to change anytime soon but it's situation is such that connection with the Western provinces is important to its future because that future will be helped by its solidarity with a global communion. Being part of GAFCON or GS (I won't be more precise than that) is helpful in that regard but so is connection with other provinces.

September 20, 2015 at 9:17 PM

Bryden Black said...

I sense Peter two things need to be unwrapped here in the way you couch the issue(s).

Yes; it is certainly the case that some Anglican churches in some parts of the world are heartened and in need of that encouragement (koinonia) by being associated directly with a larger body. Yet; the kind of very strength is also a function of the nature of that body to which they are linked. For should that body become so diffused in nature and kind, that too will impact the sorts of encouragement and support they are able to both discern and actually receive.

One can readily imagine a regime disregarding any formal tokens of support for the ‘local church’, if the source of those tokens is too contradictory in the eyes of the regime - either in reality or in the regime’s perception. For how can that “source” carry through its support, if in some cases its own perception(s) of “life and mission” has/have an inherent self-contradiction. And finally, while it might be nice for the ‘local church’ to be associated and so ‘strengthened’, I can also imagine cases where they might very well say, “thanks, but no thanks”, to the “source” - “we can do well/well do without you, thanks!”

For at root, far more might just be at stake thanks to the “association” ... I can well imagine the future going forward for members of the old AC is going to be acutely complex, and that at many levels of association, precisely on account of (the desires for) association. Nor will it be a simple matter of trade-off, between swings and roundabouts: back to my distinction previously between the “mutual” at the horizontal level and the vertical. Much to do with the Gospel comes with a cost ...