I read an article when I was at Knox Theological Hall in the mid '80s and now have only a vague notion of its title etc but it went something like below (and I recall one or two other articles and books through the years which have proffered similar notions):-
In the first century there were several strategies in Palestine for either coping with or even keeping at bay the onslaught of Roman rule and Graeco-Roman culture. Handily (and this is why I remember the article) the writer found a series of "i" words to characterise the strategies, though I am not confident I have got the word for the Sadducees correct.
Zealots tried insurrection - military rebellion, violence - and failed miserably.
Pharisees tried insulation - hedging themselves in communities with various rules while also remaining in the wider society - a relative degree of success, indeed this was a strategy which many Jewish groups since have used effectively.
Essenes tried isolation - a step beyond the Pharisees (for the Essenes had some rules too) because the Essenes took themselves as far as practicable away from the Romans, residing in the desert - a limited degree of success, or even, they simply, in the end, failed and their community ceased to exist.
Sadducees tried integration - you cannot beat the Romans so why not join them by working hand in glove with them? Was integrating themselves (ingratiating themselves?) with the Romans easier because they rejected the idea of resurrection or because they came from that strata of society which rather liked to lead?
Christians tried incorporation - and succeeded rather well, because eventually the whole Empire became "Christendom." That is, while here and there, perforce of circumstances, Christian communities embraced aspects of insulation and isolation, they generally worked to a longer term and large vision for their strategy, one which was about "offence" rather than "defence."
Ever since reading that article I have appreciated that in any given situation in which a group interacts with another, different group, one or more of the above strategies is employed, consciously or unconsciously.
I suggest, below, that, when we consider possible responses to the Final Report (assuming, hypothetically, that GS passes in toto its recommendations) three of the strategies above are relevant as we consider possible structural (or quasi-structural) change.
The Final Report: against isolation, soft support for insulation, offering incorporation?
If any member of our church (or ministry unit or episcopal unit) wants to be Anglican in a different way because the report and its recommendations are implemented, there are three different ways on the table or dropped off the table, according to the Final Report's evaluation.
Extra Provincial Diocese (EPDio): as I understand this possibility, a group of parishes would be formed as a diocese which was not part of the "province" of the Anglican church of these islands but was part of the Anglican Communion. Some EPDios exist, though I am not aware of any within the Communion which are the result of leaving an existing province while remaining within the territory of that province. The Final Report rejects this option and gives cogent reasons for doing so (p. 14).
Forming an EPDio would be a strategy of isolation. The parishes so gathered together would be isolated from ACANZP in at least this sense: they could claim to be no longer part of a body which had agreed with the recommendations of the Final Report. There are advantages to this strategy (as there were for the Essenes), particular in respect of preserving (what I will call here) purity of doctrine.
Alternative Episcopal Oversight (AEO): for some Anglicans (in various provinces, in recent decades) having an alternative bishop to relate to, whether for pastoral oversight or for sacramental duty, has been a help in remaining a part of a church which has made a decision or decisions which are almost but not completely impossible to live with.
It appears some Anglicans in our church feel that they can live with the kind of decision a GS implementing the Final Report's recommendations would be making, providing they could insulate themselves from (some of) the effects of the decision. That is, by being able to relate juridically to a diocesan bishop who disagreed with the decision, if need be, by pastorally and sacramentally relating to a bishop other than their diocesan bishop. The stronger step represented by a EPDio would not be required, according to this thinking.
The report offers what I am describing as "soft support" for this possibility, on p. 11 and at the foot of p. 14:
"[B2] [p. 11] The WG recommends that the House of Bishops consider developing guidelines for the provision of alternative episcopal oversight in situations where relationships in dioceses or amorangi become impaired."
The WG thinks this will greatly assist in safeguarding those of differing convictions while ensuring that the role and rights of bishops are respected. "
"[H1] [p. 14] [having rejected EPDio] ... We note however, that should faithful Anglicans in this Church wish to consider other ecclesial arrangements, it would be appropriate for this Church to consider how best to embrace this challenge with the same grace and spirit as is reflected in Motion 29; seeking to find ‘breathing room’ for one another; to live out our commitment to each other in the light and life of the gospel."
This is "soft" rather than "strong" because it is not a recommendation to GS for legislation its members vote on but for the HoB to "consider" the development of guidelines.
Nevertheless, it is on the table for discussion.
Christian Communities: The Final Report, having moved on from a stumbling block in the Interim Report re Religious Orders and Religious Communities, is focused on and supportive of the idea of Christian Communities (pp. 13-14). In fact it
"recommends recognition of Christian Communities in this Church ... bound by common bonds of affection and theological conviction; being able to remain involved in the life of a parish, the diocese and this Church."
Note that this language means Christian Communities could be formed by conservatives or progressives on the matter at hand, but also for other reasons (e.g.) proponents of the exclusive use of the Book of Common Prayer, parishes which believe the purest form of eucharistic worship is a carbon copy of the Roman Mass, etc. I am thinking of forming a Christian Community for those who commit to only using the NZPB for services :)
Psychologically this option could be helpful to those feeling isolated by proposed changes or who wish to insulate themselves from the rest of the church but structurally this option is utterly mainstream within the continuing structure of ACANZP:
"... members of the Christian Community continue to be part of this Church."
That is, while adhering to the specific constitution of the Community, members would continue to be subject to the discipline both of the wider church through canons and the Constitution and of the local diocesan bishop. There is not necessarily a connection between Christian Communities and AEO.
A strength of this proposal is that it gives those who believe their view of things (see examples above) the opportunity as a united and recognised group to advance that view across the wider church - an opportunity for a strategy of incorporation, that is, of remaining inside the church in order through time to win over the church to a particular understanding of a holy, blessed life.
On GLBT matters, if conservatives are ultimately correct, let's see that view incorporate the rest of the church through the next decades. If progressives are ultimately correct, let's see ... you get my drift!
A further strength of the proposal is that it should prevent SSB being thin end of the wedgist. That is, for conservatives like myself who are open to SSB being permitted but unable to see how changing our doctrine of marriage is consistent with our constitution, the formation of a Christian Community around this view would be an ongoing signal to General Synod that resistance to changing the doctrine of marriage itself is a characteristic of our church's life.
Readers will have various views on this analysis and differing preferences for the future structure of our church to which they (and their ministry units, episcopal units) wish to belong.
What do you think?
Has the Final Report got the options re structure (a) right, and (b) well reasoned?
If you prefer EPDio, do you think the rest of the Communion would agree to it?
If you lean towards AEO, is that a personal preference or also a preference of your ministry unit?
Are you interested (might your ministry unit be interested) in forming a Christian Community?