Thursday, January 7, 2016

And ... it's Anglican Communion Quiz Time (new questions every day ...)

1. Which two Anglican churches are sending two primates to the forthcoming Primates' Meeting, beginning 11 January 2016?

PS The answer is not "North America"!?!

As far as I can tell the answer is "the Church of England" (who send the ABC and the ABY) and (... drumroll ...) the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia (as you can see in this press release).

2. Supplementary question Which Anglican News service is seriously wrong in its understanding of ACANZP's three tikanga structure?

PS The answer is not "Anglican Down Under".

I reckon the answer is "Anglican Ink" (and any other agency relying on it). In its article about two primates going from our church, it says this:

"Alone among the churches of the Anglican Communion, the ACNZP [sic], is divided along racial lines into separate but equal churches with three co-primates."

Rather oddly the article begins with a photo of an American-African bishop, but let's pass by that oddity and deal with the myth-information around the use of the word "racial": our church is structured along cultural lines, not racial lines. I'll put this in bold type: any member of any race may belong to any of our tikanga. Pakeha (European or other non-indigenous extraction) belong to Tikanga Maori, ditto for Tikanga Pasefika (which is multi-racial because the Anglican church of the South Pacific islands includes Fijians, Melanesians, Indians, Tongans, Samoans, Chinese as well as expatriate Kiwis and Aussies and anyone else.

3. Why are we sending two of our three Primates, given that even England only gets to send two because the ABC is busy chairing the meeting so the ABY steps up to represent the CofE?

Well, that's the big question, is it not? Let's see what emerges in the media in the run up to the beginning of the meeting on 11 January 2016.

In the meantime, let's be praying for this meeting which may just be the "make or break" meeting about the future of the Anglican Communion. Will it be a "Communion" or a "Federation" or a "something a little bit the same and quite a bit different"? Will there be a commitment to making a next Lambeth Conference work?

4. Monday 4 January's question: Which usual suspects are reported as intending to walk out of the Primates' Meeting (but they might not, or maybe they will, or ...)?

Clue: starts with G and ends with N, but it's not "Gene Robinson".

Answer here.

5. Tuesday 5 January's question: Who has the most to gain and who has the most to lose from the Primates' Meeting?

Answer: you are most welcome to work out your own answer to the question but a very, very interesting answer is here. (H/T Thinking Anglicans) In this answer Christopher Craig Brittain analyses the situation with Game Theory. I think this leads - in the end - to the possibility noted in a comment below by Bowman Walton about the possible triumph of the centrists.

I very much like what Brittain has to say but think his analysis may overlook a couple of points. For instance, if the Anglican churches in some African countries are losing ground to Pentecostal churches, then that might be a stronger pointer to those churches maintaining rigorous conservatism than wishing to maintain present status quo Communion links. Also, Game Theory analysis begins and ends with the present Communion structure and winners/losers relative to that, but what if ++Welby's underlying agenda is to change the structure, for instance, towards "federation" rather than "communion", might all be winners in such a structure compared with the possibility that an unchanged Communion post-Primates would necessarily mean "winners" and "losers".

Think of it this way: each Primate needs to go back to his (or, in our case, their) home province and assure the province that (a) it remains Anglican (b) it is in relationship with the ABC and other provinces which matter in the eyes of the home province (c) no ground already attained in the spectrum of commitments re human sexuality has been given away. Assurance (b) is consistent with a speculated GAFCON (+/-) primates "walk out", and a "walk out" now or refusal to countenance another Lambeth Conference might be required if TEC/ACofC do not "repent" in respect of (c). But a new "federal" structure would permit (a) and (c), and (b) would be met if this structure permitted groupings of provinces according to differing commitments under (c).

Now, of course, my paragraph above itself is speculative, so ignore it if you please!

6. Wednesday 6 January Will the primates listen to each other?

Answer: That is something we should be praying for as we pray for the meeting!

For instance, will certain African primates hear (mark, digest, inwardly reflect) on the concern many Anglicans have that they have implicitly or even explicitly supported criminalization-with-excessive-punishment of gay and lesbian citizens?

And, will certain Western primates hear (mark, digest, inwardly reflect) on the concern many Anglicans have that they have supported or are contemplating supporting changes to understanding marriage which fundamentally disrupt common Anglican understanding of marriage since at least the time of the English Reformation? 

Which leads me to another question, which I will pose tomorrow ... Stay tuned!

7. Thursday 7 January What is the role of Charles Raven in GAFCON?

Answer: He is the writer of this thoughtful article published on the GAFCON website, 16 December 2015, on the importance of the Primates' Meeting. Charles works in Kenya after many years of ministry in the Church of England. He is described both as "adviser to the Most Revd Eliud Wabukala, Primate of Kenya, who is Chair of the GAFCON Primates’ Council" and as "the Archbishop of Kenya’s Officer for Anglican Communion Affairs." He is also responsible for the development of GAFCON communications.

Bonus question: Did you know the Primates' Meeting has its own website?

Answer: I am guessing you didn't know that! You can find it here.

PS If you do not like my set of questions, there is another set here.


Father Ron Smith said...

It seems, Peter, from the latest T.A. reports, that ther Gafcon Pooh-Bahs have threatened to walk away if TEC does not rescind its policy on the inclusion of Gays in its province.

I can only hope that the ABC will not respond favourably to this inter-Provincial bullying.
My response would be like a certain TV ad. in N.Z. : "Just walk away" We would all benefit.

Anonymous said...

The recent missives from Peter Jensen sound as though it is GAFCON rather than the Anglican Communion that is on the verge of losing members. Why?

Anyway, from the report in the Mail, it sounds as though some GAFCON primates might be attending to get something before walking out. What? Recognition for ACNA?

Bowman Walton

Anonymous said...

Ron, the latest TA reports are direct quotes from that eminently reliable source 'The Mail on Sunday'. This si the Sunday affiliate of the 'Daily Fail' that we're talking about here.

As far as I can tell, no GAFCON bishop has said that they will walk out on the first day of the meeting. And GAFCON bishops don't tend to be backward about saying the kind of things, if they're true.

Maybe I'm wrong, and a walkout will take place. I'm just saying, consider the source, and don't bet the house on it.

Tim C.

Peter Carrell said...

My question, Ron and Tim, would be whether the DM reporter (who does have a quite a long track record in reporting Anglican matters) has been directly in touch with the GAFCON primates or whether he is working on what "some" are saying the GAFCON primates will do. On the whole it strikes me as uncharacteristically ungracious of the primates to plan such a pre-emptive strike and thus I am inclined to disbelieve the piece.

Anonymous said...

The stakes in this meeting are perceived to be high. Those at the extremes like Martyn Percy and at least some GAFCON primates fear that it will succeed in some centrist way that dilutes their influence. Naturally, then there is maneuvering to avert that outcome by influencing the tone, opening a back channel, pushing the ABC off balance, etc.

But three facts remain--

(1) Resistance to TEC does not require the breakup of the Communion. Other options: allow churches to recognise ACNA instead of TEC; allow churches to recognise TEC provinces or dioceses rather than the General Convention; allow churches to attenuate their ties to TEC without breaking communion with every other Anglican on the planet.

(2) Those who truly care about homosexuals need the Communion more than the Communion needs them. No other communion with comparable reach and influence has given the concerns of the 3% anything like the consideration that Anglicans have given them, and even where same sex marriage is unlikely in the near future, there are other urgent issues that even those opposed to SSM could support: decriminalization, dealing with teen suicide, supporting families that struggle with homosexuality, etc. Once this hard-earned social capital is thrown away, it can never be replaced. And it will be much harder for Christians in other communions to raise these issues if Anglicans who raised them are seen as brats who forced a breakup because they were too self-absorbed to see a larger picture. If one truly believes that homosexuality is a phenomenon that affects humanity everywhere, then there is a duty to demonstrate patience and loyalty to keep the Communion together.

(3) Those who favour a fully scriptural theology of marriage gain nothing for that theology by abandoning precisely the provinces that most need it. Moreover, the failure even to consider and critique with care the TEC and ACC reports on the scriptural basis for their actions gravely disrespects the authority of scripture central to all real Anglicanism. Peter Jensen, whose rhetoric about the North grows stranger every year, is the Jonah of our time. Little ACNA notwithstanding, future evangelicals-- people who will admire house churches in China, persecuted Christians in Iran, etc-- will look back on GAFCON as the first evangelical body to trumpet retreat from a mission field out of sheer purple envy.

People have a way of not seeing the realities that limit their importance, and in the run up to the coming meeting, we have seen that in both extremes. At least some leaders of both have been agitating for empty gestures that have a cost to their constituencies in long term influence and important principle. God willing, this may have empowered centrists to be the serious churchmen now, both in the meeting and in the more important aftermath to come.

Bowman Walton

Stephen Jacobi said...

Grace and peace to you Peter in this new year. Thanks for your coverage of these issues. Just one question arising from the discussion of the poorly informed reporting of Te Pouhere by Anglican Link. I agree we are structured along cultural rather than racial lines but it seems to me that as individual Anglicans we do not "belong" to any one tikanga except to the extent that the worshipping community of which we are part may operate under the authority of a bishop who identifies with one of the constitutional structures. At one level we "belong" to Christ (no need for me to belabour this point, especially to you); at another we can be understood to "belong" to all three tikanga under Te Pouhere which operates as one of the "bonds of affection" which bind us all together in this church as the body of Christ in Aotearoa NZ and the Pacific. That understanding of "belonging" at differing levels - to our Lord, to our worshipping community, to our national church and to the wider Communion is something that our global leaders meeting in far off places (while we worship in the beauty of nature at the beach) might ponder !

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Stephen
I largely agree with you but think that "belonging" to a tikanga is stronger than you say. Consider the following:
- an application for funding an individual scholarship or a diocese/other body's ministry by the SJCTB requires that individual or body "belongs" to one of the tikanga (who via bishop or ministry council review/affirm/recommend the application, upon recognition of that belonging) [with a few exceptions via GSSC];
- a member of one tikanga caucus at General Synod is normally not welcome in the caucus of another tikanga (unless invited): one belongs to one and not to the others!
- to be elected a member of a tikanga caucus one is normally recognised as belonging to that tikanga and not to one of the others.

Andrew Reid said...

I'm afraid I stopped reading that Game Theory article at the line:
"In essence, this is not a dispute over homosexuality, the authority of Scripture, or the uniqueness of Christ: it has become a power struggle over how the Communion is to be governed."
If you think this debate is only about power and not about deeply held convictions, you've misunderstood the Communion and the debate entirely and the rest of what you have to say will be drivel.
Of course there will be political groupings as participants advocate for their positions but to say this is a Game of Thrones / House of Cards power play alone is to misdiagnose the situation entirely.

Andrew Reid said...

Can I commend this site which has news and prayer points for the Primates Meeting?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Andrew
Yes, the Game Theory article - helpfully provided for the world by your own ABC!! - has its limitations re its presuppositions. Nevertheless I think the author makes a good point: some options for the primates are win-win, some win-lose, some lose-lose (or variations thereof, such as lose-lose ... [36x] - win [for just one]). In turn, that means that those hoping for certain outcomes should be more realistic and those ready to pounce with condemnation for (some kind of) wishy-washy/centrist conclusion, might consider whether any other achievement was ever going to be possible.

My bonus question today picks up on the site - good to know someone "up there" in the AC firmament is working on communication!

Anonymous said...

Peter, my comment above appeared this morning in revised form--

Obviously, I think that Christopher Craig Brittain's Stag Hunt scenario approximates the ABC's strategy and deserves a better hearing than it is getting, and that Charles Raven, although one-sided, is close to framing the obstacle to that scenario clearly. I think that this obstacle can be removed.

Bowman Walton

Peter Carrell said...

Thanks Bowman
Will follow the article and comment up in my question for today!