Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Anglican Communion: alive and, it appears, quite well [UPDATED x2]

UPDATE (2): ++Venables has a some what different understanding of what went on, here.

UPDATE (1): insight and questions here ...

ORIGINAL: A week or two ago I put down this marker for a first post:

While not intending to blog until later in January, I am happy to put down a marker towards that anticipated post by noting this press release about the forthcoming Primates Meeting in Jordan, noting that 36/40 primates intend being there ... which seems pretty significant in the year of Lambeth.

How significant remains to be seen ... perhaps the aforementioned blogpost might reflect thereupon and thereunto!

Actual first post ...

The recent Primates' Meeting in Jordan appears to have gone quite well ... certainly no hiccups or speed bumps on the way to Lambeth 2020. On the one hand, "the usual suspects" chose to stay away (and a few others could not make it) and on the other hand, a large majority of Primates turned up (33/40 provinces represented).

The Living Church has a report here.

The official communique is here.

The report has a few bits to chew on, coming out of a press conference, relative to the situation we Down Under Anglicans are in ...
- an intention not to dwell on the negative of a new Anglican church being established;
- a hint that various doors are open to (so to speak) better futures.

But, the marker in the sand is pretty clear re doors to new futures: the Anglican Communion is what it implies on the tin: a communion of those in communion with the See of Canterbury.

For myself, I fail to see how a definition of Anglican (whatever else it includes) can exclude communion with the See of Canterbury if it is to be a definition which accords with the history of being Anglican which is always about the Church in England (pre H8) and the Church of England (post H8).

Speaking of what it means to be Anglican, ++Cranmer in his blog makes an interesting point or three as he segues from an observation of ++Rowan's ... here.

Relating to all such matters Anglican, however, is a critical matter, as the Jordan reports and communique bring out: within the communion of Anglicans in communion with the See of Canterbury, there are differences, and these differences can be lived with ...

At this current time there appears to be a resolve to live with differences, at least by 33+/40 provinces.

Is this resolve stronger than in 2008?

So, all in all, in the run up to Lambeth, I think we can say that the Anglican Communion is alive and, it appears, quite well.


  1. I wonder if any of the GAFCON-involved Prelates will turn up for the Jordan meeting - ostensibly to discuss preparation for the this year's Lambeth Conference.

    I cannot see how, if the GAFCON Primatescontinue with their expressed determination to hold their own Primates' Conference beforehand, any of them could be expected to join the Canterbury-friendly Primates at Lambeth. The very idea of a GAFCON-only Primates Conference is already a strong signal that they consider themselves 'different' from the other Primates of the Anglican Communion, so what can they gain by attending Lambeth - except, of course, to express their disaffiliation from the Church that hosted their individual ordained ministries?

    Does the Anglican Communion need to expose itself to such further embarrassment that could occur by providing a forum for GAFCON's grandstanding on issues of gender and sexuality? The damage that was done at a previous Lambeth Conference by certain African prelates insisting on an attempt at exorcism on one of the SSA attendees is still being experienced by members of the Church of England present on that occasion. Does there need to be another such opportunity given to GAFCON prelates for them to be considered persona non grata in a Church that values all comers as children of God?

    Perhaps the Jordan Meeting will once and for all decide upon who is and who is not amenable to the Inclusive call of Jesus Christ, that is in accord with Jesus' call of Sinners to redemption (for that is what we all are, whether we like it or not).

  2. Post the Primates Meeting, it now seems to me, Bishop Peter, that those who actually DID attend were convinced by the Holy Spirit that the diversity of Anglican Churches around the world - connected to the See of Canterbury (as we are and ACNA is not) - is no barrier to a continuing ecclesial relationship, in Christ, as fellow Anglicans. Our Unity is 'en Christo' and is a very special bond with the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Lambeth Conference. I personally, am thankful for the privilege of 'belonging' to the Church of my Baptism and Ordination.

  3. "Tribalism is community for lonely narcissists." -- David Brooks


  4. Happy New Year, Father Ron!

    The advantage of having a patriarchal see like Canterbury is that, since one knows that meetings with it are the magisterial ones, it does no harm to have other meetings for clubs like GAFCON. In fact, if the Lambeth Conferences were not already so expensive for dioceses, it might be desirable to have after-parties for bishops at the earth's four corners (eg Christchurch, San Francisco, Dublin, Cairo) to work through regional agendas, bible study, local liturgy, etc. No sects, please God, but the more clubs the merrier.

    Your basic concern, I think, is that GAFCON is a tribe bound together by a militant aversion to those with SSA rather than a sort of subcommunion-- if that can be a word-- unified solely by a Spirit-filled love of God. Given their origin several years ago, your concern is not at all unreasonable, but I am inclined to take it lightly today.

    Presumably, GAFCONians do love God as he gives them the grace to do so, and whatever their present beliefs about the biological origin and course of SSA, they need not inspire animosity toward anyone. (Did even those exorcists at the Lambeth Conference actually hate anyone?) Concretely, a GAFCONian could believe exactly what you do about the physics of SSA, but still not see any path from the practice of the apostles to a rite for SSB.

    After all, some minds far more liberal than any that we have seen here at ADU long ago reached a strikingly similar conclusion: no permutation of scripture, tradition, or reason, they said, will ever give Christians an authentic *religious* perspective on SSA. They themselves thought that SSA was a plainly marvelous thing, and that even we benighted traditionalists might come to see that someday. But they also thought that, even if we did, our religion lacked the raw materials to make SSA meaningful as procreation is meaningful. Have they not seen that TEC has a rite for SSM? Yes, but their question is: unless it makes some Resurrection sense, what is the Christian point of it?

    To those observers, what inhibits us from praising the Lord for SSA is not the shadow of the Six Texts, but the Judaic brilliance of other texts that speak in awe of procreation (eg 1 Timothy ii 15), even of God himself being borne in the womb of the Theotokos and emerging from it to know YHWH as his Abba. What TEC's proponents of SSM saw as an unjust but reparable inequality was, from that point of view, just an ancient and everlasting silence that Episcopalians were too stubbornly pious to accept. Perhaps the Vedas have more to say about this?

  5. And anyway, science slithers on in its zigzag way, and babies are born every minute. Here up yonder, a generation has risen in nurturing churches under GAFCONian bishops, and they can read the research articles as well as anyone else. When they unpack their bags in a divinity school, what do they think that their tradition teaches about the binary?

    They certainly do not think that say the intersexed are rebels shaking their fists at God any more than Jesus thought that about the man who was born blind. As citizens, they have a millennial's easy empathy for all sexual minorities, and if they have studied science as undergraduates they have probably heard in passing of the embryological hypothesis about SSA. But as Christians, often married with children, they still think that the binary, like seeing, is something good from God.

    Not to put too fine a point on it, you agree with at least some young GAFCONians more than their primates probably do. But although they are too young to be the hysterical defenders of the binary that some frightened by feminism have been, that calm has not given them a reason to agree with TEC over against ACNA on SSM. And as children of today's secular pluralism and identity politics, they are also a bit slower to assume that a civil maxim-- eg relationships are good-- is relevant to their call from the biblical God.

    They are not quite like the founders-- every movement evolves-- but GAFCON has a second generation that, in time, will reshape it. Perhaps that is what their primates met to talk about ;-)


  6. Thanks, BW, for your continuing conversation. The only comment I have at this moment is that both marriage and sexual attraction are only gifts of God for THIS LIFE, and therefore of little importance in the Life Eternal - towards which all humanity is eventually heading. What we all need to understand - while still in the flesh - is that 'all flesh is as grass and fades like the flowers of the field and suddenly it is gone'. As Saint Paul reminds us: there is no giving or being given in marriage in heaven. Out ultimate union is with God. We can practise that union here and now in the Holy Eucharist. Deo Gratias! All loving is preparation for Eternal Life.

    I'm off with Diana for a cruise in the South Pacific, so no comment from me in the meantime.

  7. Yesterday, 26 January, was Australia Day with our cousins across the Ditch. Yet for some who live on that Larger Island and whose forebears have been doing so for millennia, it’s not exactly a day of great rejoicing. In fact, it’s a day of mourning, and one requiring radical reorientation on behalf of many of us in the 21st C. I’m referring of course to most Aboriginal folk.

    Equivalently, your comment Bowman of 21 Jan @ 10:07 digs more deeply into time’s passage, even as it also nods at current scientific hypotheses on how the genetic dispositions of folk interact with gestational, behavioural, societal, and symbolic factors and dimensions of human being. And of course I take up now the last two you notably invoke from the Great Tradition of the Catholic Church: that the Marriage of YHWH and Israel, and that between Christ and his Church are reflected, however dimly, in that unique conjoining of a man and a woman in that time honoured and near global institution of marriage (in whatever form). And clearly the essential difference between these two parties is similarly reflected in the essential differences between the human sexes, and all reflected in the sheer fecundity of the Creator God who IS LIFE - both for now AND eternally.

    And all this too to say that as time passes and the generations of church folk seek to navigate their ways culturally via the Gospel among the Six Continents, I suspect the likes of Tom Wright’s “crowning achievement” (John Cottingham of now NTW’s History & Eschatology) will be re-enacted not just on the subject of “natural theology”, the required theme of the Gifford Lectures, but especially on the perceived nature of human being during the period 1700-2020 (parallelling Wright’s time-frame not coincidentally). For just as “natural theology” has itself been subject to serious cultural entrapment, as has “history” as a category, so too has “human being” via whatever form of anthropological theology might have taken one’s fancy. Not least, in all spheres western, the resolute dualism Tom identifies as deriving from a revived Epicureanism during his designated time-frame.

    Though of course that work has yet to be undertaken! Our own western cultural biases and their consequences demand the sorts of interactions and evaluations now arising from both Aboriginal folk in Australia (not least re forest management) and the likes of a NTW with their respective gifts and insights.

    And so, it’ll be fascinating to watch what not only 2020 brings but also the entire decade. And I suspect again some of it might be not especially congruent with what’s now fashionable, just as the fashions of natural theology have changed over time. Yet, brought back towards the founding narrative of the Gospel as witnessed to in Scripture, so matters thereabouts are now proving far more interesting! Thank you once again Tom Wright! Mutatis mutandis our anthropology ... After all, Christian Theology IS resolutely Incarnational - or so the Great Catholic Tradition avers.

  8. In strict constrast to the report of ++Venables, Peter, I enjoyed the sane and balanced views of 'Cranmer' whose view of the Church Catholic is that it must always be open to contextual change and diversity - to meet with the needs of an ever-changing world situation. Static spirituality may be a sign of a moribund Church. I believe that the views of both John Hind and Rowan Williams are a valuable pointer to the authentic movement of the Holy Spirit in successive ages of the Church - which has to do with the sanctification of Sinners, more than the self-congratulation of the Sinless. (fromm the heart of the Pacific Ocean).

  9. Very strictly speaking, Tertullian was not a Father of the Church. He was a layman. And if never the Montanist heretic that some think that he became, his later writings nevertheless sound their characteristic note of unpastoral rigour. Nevertheless, his early letter Ad Uxorem gave his wife antiquity's most lyrical prospectus of marriage in the Body. As such, it is also a glimpse of the everyday practice of an observant lay Christian of the late C2.

    "How beautiful, then, the marriage of two Christians, two who are one in hope, one in desire, one in the way of life they follow, one in the religion they practice. They are as brother and sister, both servants of the same Master. Nothing divides them, either in flesh or in spirit. They are, in very truth, two in one flesh; and where there is but one flesh there is also but one spirit.

    "They pray together, they worship together, they fast together; instructing one another, encouraging one another, strengthening one another. Side by side they visit God's church and partake of God's Banquet; side by side they face difficulties and persecution, share their consolations. They have no secrets from one another; they never shun each other's company; they never bring sorrow to each other's hearts.

    "Unembarrassed they visit the sick and assist the needy. They give alms without anxiety; they attend the Sacrifice without difficulty; they perform their daily exercises of piety without hindrance. They need not be furtive about making the Sign of the Cross, nor timorous in greeting the brethren, nor silent in asking a blessing of God. Psalms and hymns they sing to one another, striving to see which one of them will chant more beautifully the praises of their Lord. Hearing and seeing this, Christ rejoices. To such as these He gives His peace. Where there are two together, there also He is present; and where He is, there evil is not."


  10. Thank you, Bryden, for your 4:50.

    I hope that you will someday expand on your thoughts about mourning aboriginals.

    Richard Feynman, in the closing pages of his Character of Physical Law, ruminates that although the web of physical causation was discovered in the West as a set of inflexible rules about essential things, that same web could have been articulated as a principle unfolding in time, if the origin and growth of philosophy and mathematics had taken a different path. Conversely, one cannot help wondering, as one reads Joseph Needham's Science and Civilization in China, what stopped investigators in the Middle Kingdom or South Asia or the wider Islamic commonwealth-- places where philosophy and mathematics actually did take other paths-- from finding more of the web than they did. But Thomas Nagel in Mind and Cosmos seems right that the practice that did find the web of physical causation is not adequate to the *the hard problem of consciousness* and by implication intention, meaning, and value, so that, if indeed any path leads to its solution, it will be another one. So ended naturalism, at least as high moderns knew it.

    But there is, not just a barricade, but an escarpment dividing merely public reason (eg anybody's Gifford Lectures), and the interior knowing of the Body (which is often splendidly articulated elsewhere by Gifford lecturers). One can get from the floor to the top, but only by climbing.

    In the long eighteenth century, there were indeed Latitudinarians who drifted closer to Epicurus than they should have done. To use a word that you often use where I would not, they were very intentionally *fashionable*. But Epicurus's star-- like Constantine's-- was soon to fall from its zenith. Scarcely any Christian reads them today; today we read Jonathan Edwards, who also read the modern books, of course, but was thinking more seminally about nature as creation because he was thinking with the Body.

    Which, in this aeon, is all that any of us can do.