Anglican Communion, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England, General Convention, Ruth Gledhill's Blog, TEC, TEC Conflict

ABC responds to GC09

The blogosphere is alive with the sound of typing… The ABC has finally put into words his response. If you haven’t read it all already, read it here.

What has really struck me, as I’ve been wading through the pages upon pages of responses to the ABC, is how the responses have fallen to one side or the other of the Atlantic. It appears that major responses on this side of the pond have ranged from hesitantly hopeful to overtly so. As one might expect, on the other side of the pond, blogs like StandFirm are less than pleased. (And I would tend to agree with them.)

However, I did truly appreciate the translation Peter Ould did of the ABC’s comments, though I believe he is too optimistic in response. There comes a time when words, however well crafted, are simply that – just words. I can sense the pleasure many commentators have gotten deciphering the intent and subtleties of Archbishop Williams’ words. But when will it end? Only God knows… But it appears that there is no impetus by the ABC or TEC to rush or push this forward. Moreover, I tend to agree with a commentor¬† on Ruth Gledhill’s blog about +Cantuar’s suggestion of a ‘two-tiered’ Communion.

I don’t get this at all. How is it a COMMUNION if there are two tiers? With all do respect, Archbishop Williams, you are a learned theologian and you know that two tiers do not make for one communion in any sense of Christian ecclesiology. You clasp onto TEC and try to keep them in the communion while TEC is delighted in a subdued fashion to see her conservative members leave and offer no such hand of pastoral affection. My Lord, this is not a paradox! This is a contradiction!

Posted by: Richard | 28 Jul 2009 06:06:19

In the end, for me (personally), I do not see how a Covenant or any other possibility short of expulsion from the Communion, will address the actions of TEC sufficiently. As a priest in the CofE who is American, I am bewildered at the lack of understanding on this side of the pond in regard to what is taking place in North America. I am all for reconcilliation and the gospel imperative of forgiveness. I too have read the wheat and the tares, the sheep and the goats, etc. But we are beyond these. We have a church which espouses a ‘doctrine’ which contravines Holy Scripture, and here I am not speaking about sexuality. When does a church cease to be a Christian church?

I had a conversation once with someone on this very issue. We were discussing the whole situation in North America. The argument arose that sexuality was a second order issue, but we could at least agree on the essentials. I responed by asking: ‘What were those essentials?’ The response came, Well, the creeds for instance. ‘But this is the problem.’, I said, ‘We have a church which no longer believes the Creeds as they have been handed down. So where does that leave us?’ And the response to this was: So why haven’t we done anything about this? All I could do was shake my head and say: ‘I don’t know.’

And I still don’t know why we won’t act. The time has come, and some would suggest, that it has gone. Because of this people have acted in their own capacities to address the issue. I am not suggesting one ‘strategy’ over another. I have friends who are in all ‘three camps‘, as Sarah Hey has noted. I am not advocating one over the other. We must all discern our own call and in the process not denegrate each other.

This being said, there comes a point where we must do something. Is this not the acusation leveled at the Christian church today, when people say that the Church is irrelevant to contemporary society? Moreover, is this not the internal critique made by neo-monastic communities/fresh expressions/emerging communities? Are they not trying to overcome this inactivity? By not acting, are we simply caught up in the Enlightenment understanding of propositional theology being the endall/beall of doctrinal significance?

There does come a time to act. And if now is not that time, then when? I have a tendency to agree with David Ould when he states:

…Canterbury is vitally important, evidenced not least by the profoundly negative impact that Williams’ inaction has had on the Communion. So a call now for Williams to go, in the light of his inactivity, is not to undermine Canterbury but, rather, to hold it in a very high place. For the sake of the reputation of his very high office he must vacate Augustine’s Chair.

I would be very hesitant to go as far as David Ould does, but what are the other options? A two-tiered Communion? As already noted, that is no Communion at all. It is a contradiction. I hope and pray that the Communion will come to some sort of conclusion. Yes we do live in tension, in a Kingdom of now but not yet. However, is this what that truly means? Heresy in tension with the gospel? I cannot agree with that assessment. I pray that the ABC is not left behind due to inactivity. It would be a truly sad day if that were to ever be the case. My concern is that the ABC will be left at the table with no one with which to talk. Both sides will have left and the ABC will be left alone sitting at the table. What a sad day that would be….

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