The article concerns the nature of the church and the investment God makes in the church as the instrument of God's plan for the world.
Now, to be sure, the specific locus of the article is the events of the recent TEC General Convention and of the recent GAFCON 2018 conference in Jerusalem and much technical detail in the article derives from these major Anglican events of 2018. And that provides an overwhelming temptation to keep arguing That Topic (which is carrying on quite nicely, thank you, here).
Please resist that temptation (e.g. by continuing to comment there).
What I am interested in are your comments on what it means to be "church" and to be "Anglican church" with respect to matters such as "catholicity," "authority", "order", and "visible communion." How can we Anglicans be a global communion when we present ourselves both as GAFCON and as "Anglican Communion." We are scarcely in that territory where outsiders will spontaneously say, See how these Anglicans love each other!
Consider these paragraphs from Wells' article (my bold):
"If God still has a vocation for Anglicans the world over, bound in love as one family to hasten wider unity and reconciliation within the one Church, praise the Lord. Just this hope should be our aim; that is, we must not fail to place even the steps of a General Convention within the comprehensive, world-historical frame of the gospel. Our church — I speak as an Episcopalian — is a very small part of the movement of Christ-followers across time and space, but it may still serve as a site for the formation of evangelical and catholic disciples. When we lose our way, repentance, conversion, and re-initiation should be sought! And this is a good word for us now: to pray for pre-catechumenal humility, in the hope of learning the way of wisdom and following it.
To be clear, I am not asking, like some of my friends, “Is the Episcopal Church a true church, or part of it?” Yes, and yes. Given that God has placed me here, where I can still serve with real affection for my fellows and for our broadly Anglican tradition of holy teaching and saintly sacrifice, my question concerns how we may non-idiosyncratically answer the call of Catholic truth and unity, holding the two together. And how can we respect those with whom we disagree — and, respecting them, learn to enjoy and love them, not wishing they were other than they are — while at the same time giving one another sufficient space for potential “flourishing,” should the Lord desire it (1 Cor. 3:6)?"
"Faced with Donatist heresy, Augustine simply urged return to the visible communion of the Catholic Church for all seeking salvation — not because outward membership in the Church guarantees eternal life (it does not), but because “outside the Church there is no salvation”: broken communion is surely a deal breaker (see On Baptism 5.27.38–5.28.39).
Had St. Augustine attended the recent GAFCON Assembly in Jerusalem, he could have agreed to its impassioned warnings against false teaching, and he might have spoken in favor of councils of the Church designed “to consult, to decide, and if necessary to discipline.”
He would have blanched, however (supposing that an Augustinian understanding of Anglican ecclesiality is imaginable), at GAFCON’s encouragement “to recognize confessing Anglican jurisdictions” willy nilly, absent wider adjudication and authoritative consensus about visible boundaries. If the hand of God is indeed “leading us toward a reordering of the Anglican Communion,” as GAFCON’s “Letter to the Churches” asserts, it will be orderly, as an agreement about the Catholic faith by the instruments of Anglican communion. “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth” (John 16:13), truth and unity being identical in God.
And we should say something more. 1,600 years after Augustine and downstream of countless divisions, we have learned to accept that the Church is wounded, with semi-permeable bounds. In a Roman Catholic idiom, multiple “communities” may faithfully bear their members unto salvation, though they be in less than full communion with one another. How so? Baptismal unity has grasped us, which bestows a character, and commonly shared faith follows. So far, so Augustinian.
But because, “often enough, both sides were to blame” for our unhappy divisions, the sin of schism is transposed into separated brethren doing the best they can with what they have inherited (Decree on Ecumenism 3; Catechism of the Catholic Church §817). The communion of the Church is impaired, therefore, but we might say only in the sense that the normal rules of Catholic life apply (see Lumen Gentium 48). On the one hand, “there have to be factions [lit. heresies] among you, for only so will it become clear who among you are genuine” (1 Cor. 11:19).
On the other hand: “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you,’ nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you’” (1 Cor. 12:21). The work of inter-ecclesial reconciliation is the work of intra-ecclesial reconciliation, and vice versa — a providentially imposed both/and to aid picking up the needed “discipline” that may save us from final “condemnation,” “but only as through fire” (1 Cor. 11:32, 3:14). A gracious, cruciform regimen, therefore, for formation in holiness.
In this familiar Corinthian situation, Anglicans and others may find again an opportunity for imaginative charity in discernment, including discernment about faith and order, which require boundaries, permeable and otherwise, and a readiness to teach confidently about Christian things. Resolution B012 secured something of this in its ecclesial layering, called by the Communion Partner bishops a “helpful space of differentiation, set within the wider communion of baptism and faith that we continue to share, however imperfectly” (“Austin Statement” §9). GAFCON is right to seek common counsel and common standards in accord with Scripture, in service of the Church’s unity and orthodoxy, which go together (just as heresy and schism are finally indistinguishable). None of this is optional for any Christian church seeking apostolic authenticity. GAFCON is wrong, however, to try to button things up too neatly — even within the one universal Church, and all the more within the Anglican Communion — in lieu of the Lord’s subsequent sifting. “Let both of them grow together until the harvest” (Matt. 13:30)."
So Wells drives forward to a somewhat complex solution re global Anglican futures (which I won't cite here - you will have to read the whole article).
Is it too complex? Is being Anglican in the 21st century too hard? There is something admirably straightforward and (in the best sense of the word) simple re both GAFCON's vision for future Anglicanism and that progressive vision which drives TEC foreword, a vision which has no fear of marrying gospel with (the best of) liberal culture.
(BUT PLEASE NOT A RE-RUN OF "THAT ISSUE". We can discuss Wells' ecclesiology in general terms rather than particular. His great question concerns how the church lives with difference and disagreement. The issue at stake here, from my perspective, is how we do that with ANY ISSUE? How do we do that in an ordered manner, with respect for due authority (what is due authority?) while continuing visible communion?)