Thursday, July 30, 2009

Bishop N.T. Wright comments on post-Episcopal General Convention statement from the Archbishop of Canterbury

Note the Bishop Wright also numbers his paragraphs, just as Rowan William did. From here:


1. In the two days since the Archbishop released his ‘Reflections’ on TEC’s General Convention, they have already generated widely differing responses. We always knew, say some conservatives, that the ABC was a hopeless liberal, and this has confirmed it. Not so, declare many horrified radicals: he has obviously sold out to the conservatives. Some have warmly welcomed the statement and hailed it as paving the way forward. Cautious voices in between are trying to discern strengths and weaknesses. In my view, there is much to welcome, and much whose implications need further unpacking. The two main sections of this paper deal with these two aspects.

2. I have tried to bear in mind that the Archbishop is himself not only an Instrument of Unity but the one which has to hold on to everything at this moment. Lambeth 2008 didn’t say much (apart from what the ABC himself said); the status of ACC and Primates are under question in various quarters; it is up to him. He therefore has an obligation to maintain as broad a conversation as possible, and that is continually to be seen in his statement. As often (for instance in his poems, and in his recent book on Dostoevsky) the Archbishop’s writing challenges its readers to pause, to ponder, to think things through. One commentator has suggested that he employs a characteristically British habit of inviting the reader to draw the really important conclusions and giving them the space to do so. This piece is an attempt to take up that challenge and invitation.

Points to Welcome

3. The ABC rightly indicates that the Communion is indeed already broken. In (2) he speaks of ‘the broken bridges [from TEC] into the life of other Anglican provinces’ as the existing reality, and stresses that GenCon 09 has done nothing to repair these broken bridges. Though his explanatory clause ‘very serious anxieties have already been expressed’ is (perhaps deliberately) imprecise, the whole passage indicates, as the Primates did in 2003, that the breach has already occurred. We are not, then, looking now at TEC choosing for the first time to ‘walk apart’, but at the recognition that they did so some time ago and have done nothing to indicate a willingness to rejoin the larger Communion. This is all the more the case if it is indeed true, as the Presiding Bishop has said, that the new Resolutions were ‘descriptive’, that is, stating what is already the case: that is a way of saying, in fact, what some of us thought at the time, that the supposed ‘moratoria’ of GenCon 06 were never binding. This is what the ABC means, in the penultimate section of the whole document, by saying that the different priorities identified by different parts of the Anglican family ‘are bound to have consequences’. For too long TEC, and various other parts of the Communion, have spoken and acted as though there were no consequences. The ABC has now made it clear that this is not the case.

4. Once we penetrate the complex language, the ABC is also eventually clear that the great majority at GenCon voted, in effect if not in so many words, against the two relevant moratoria. ‘The repeated request for moratoria . . . has clearly not found universal favour’ is a roundabout but ultimately unambiguous way of saying ‘the majority voted against the moratoria’. This puts in a different light the reference in the first paragraph to ‘an insistence at the highest level’ (i.e. a letter from the Presiding Bishop) that the relevant resolutions ‘do not have the automatic effect of overturning the requested moratoria’. That may be true in a strict legal sense, though many will see this as an example of typical TEC behaviour, a grandmother’s-footsteps game of creeping forwards without being noticed. But the resolutions that were passed clearly had the effect (a) of reminding people that the way was in fact open all along to the episcopal appointment of non-celibate homosexuals, and (b) of reminding people that rites for public same-sex blessings could indeed be developed. The ABC is now clearly if tacitly saying, throughout the document, that there is no reasonable likelihood, at any point in many years to come, that TEC will in fact turn round and embrace the moratoria ex animo, still less the theology which underlies the Communion’s constant and often-repeated stance on sexual behaviour. Nor is there any reasonable likelihood that TEC will in fact be able to embrace the Covenant when it attains its final form a few months from now. That is the reality with which the Reflections deal.

5. Section 2 of the ABC’s Reflections addresses the presenting double-headed issue of same-sex blessings and the ordination (not simply the consecration as bishops) of non-celibate homosexuals. Here he basically reaffirms the church’s traditional stance, articulated in Lambeth 1.10 from 1998 but universally held, prior to that, whenever the point had been raised. First, the church cannot sanction or bless same-sex unions. Second, since the ordained ministry carries a necessarily representative function for the life of the church, those who order their lives this way cannot fulfil this representative role – cannot, in other words, be ordained. This is perhaps the strongest statement that the ABC has yet made of the Church’s position, and it should be noted carefully that he refers to the whole ordained ministry, i.e. deacons and priests and not just bishops. This has of course always been the official position of the whole Anglican Communion, repeated again and again by Lambeth Conferences, ACC and Primates and never overturned, for instance, in the Church of England’s General Synod. The ABC’s clear statement indicates once again that the two moratoria here expressed (with the second one actually strengthened) should be explicit prerequisites of Covenant membership. However much people may protest – and they have and will – that in some cases this is honoured more in the breach than in the observance, that is not an argument that the position is wrong, but a challenge to the way the church’s order and discipline currently functions. Creating ‘facts on the ground’ which fly in the face of the church’s well-known official teaching does not, as some suppose, generate a moral high ground; it is a form of dishonesty. If people want to object, they should argue the point, not assume it.

6. An aside at this point: some in TEC insist that their theological position has in fact been argued, and that the rest of the Communion is ignoring these arguments. As far as I can discern, there are two main arguments routinely used.

(i) First, the supposed modern and scientific discovery of a personal ‘identity’ characterised by sexual preference, which then generates a set of ‘rights’. The Archbishop has commented on ‘rights’ in this connection. Without entering into discussion of the scientific evidence, it must be said that the Christian notion of personal identity has never before been supposed to be rooted in desires of whatever sort. Indeed, desires are routinely brought under the constraints of ‘being in Christ’. This quite new notion of an ‘identity’ found not only within oneself but within one’s emotional and physical desires needs to be articulated on the basis of scripture and tradition, and this to my mind has not been done.

(ii) This leads to the second point, the appeal to baptism. It is now routinely said in TEC that all the baptised should have access to all the sacraments, on the apparent grounds that baptism indicates God’s acceptance of people as they are. This appears to ignore the New Testament teaching about baptism, that it constitutes a dying to self and sin and a rising to new life with Christ, specifically characterised by a holiness and renewed humanity in which certain habits and styles of life are left behind. From the first century until very recently it was universally understood that this included sexual immorality, and that that included homosexual behaviour. To try to use a supposedly ‘baptismal’ theology to overturn the universal Christian tradition of the meaning of baptism, and with it the universal and biblically-rooted appeal for sexual holiness, is a bold move. Most theologians will think that the first argument above (the proposal of an ‘identity’) is not strong enough to justify it. God’s welcome is always a transforming welcome, as the ABC has elsewhere stressed.

7. Section 2 contains strong and important warnings against personal prejudice and bigotry. The ABC does not spell out the difference between prejudice and bigotry on the one hand and a principled, thought-out moral stance on the other, but he clearly indicates that the two must be sharply separated. It is most welcome that he indicates the Church’s calling to a genuinely prophetic lifestyle: ‘if society changes its attitudes, that change does not of itself count as a reason for the Church to change its discipline’. No indeed. One of the most astonishing volte-faces in my lifetime has been the change from a liberalism which sought to be counter-cultural, anti-establishment, ‘agin the government’, protesting against the drift of society, and the present would-be liberalism which insists that because society has now drifted in a new direction the church should follow where that culture, the new ‘establishment’, and now even the government, are going. The ABC is far too good a theologian to be taken in by that.

8. Section 3, on the global and local decision-making processes, is a great strength.

(i) Though the ABC does not say so, this is basically a combination of the very heart of the Windsor Report and the one really good section of the Kuala Lumpur Report (Communion, Conflict and Hope, para. 104). At this point the ABC is simply articulating what the Windsor Continuation Group had said clearly before, during and after Lambeth 08.

(ii) The ABC here does three vital things and then homes in on the key point. (a) He insists that this is not (as is often sneeringly said) about bureaucratic or centralized ‘control’; (b) he warns against churches becoming ‘imprisoned in their own cultural environment’ (cognate with the point at the end of my previous paragraph); (c) he broadens the question so as to make it clear that this applies equally to issues such as lay presidency or inviting the unbaptized to receive Holy Communion.

(iii) The key point then is this (his paragraph 13): though some things can indeed be decided by a local church, the decision as to which things can be decided locally is not itself one that can be taken locally. And the criteria upon which the global church can decide this all-important question are (as in Kuala Lumpur) ‘intensity, substance and extent’. This really needs spelling out, but within the ABC’s document, and for that matter the present one, this can be left for another occasion.

9. Within the same section, the ABC makes the vital point that in our ongoing ecumenical work is it vital that our partners know ‘who speaks for the body they are relating to’. If many Anglicans don’t see why these presenting issues should matter, the same is not true for our ecumenical partners, particularly among the Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox. What is at stake, as well as Anglican identity and ecclesial density (i.e. being a church with a high doctrine of Communion, rather than a loose federation), is ecumenical credibility.

10. Many will not regard the language of a ‘two-track’ Communion as a strength. Some have objected that this is forcing apart what ought to be held together. Others, conversely, have sneered that ‘two-track’ sounds like a vote for pluralism pure and simple, a kind of ecclesial version of ’70s pop-psych ‘I’m OK, you’re OK’: you go your way, we go ours, and we’re both just fine as we are. But the ‘two-track’ option is not intended as an indifferentist, shoulder-shrugging thing (though no doubt some who find themselves in the incipient Track Two will want to see it like that). To say ‘two-tier’, as some have done at earlier stages in the discussion, implies that the two are still ‘tiers’ of the same thing, whereas ‘tracks’ may be going in quite different directions. And it is one ‘track’ rather than the other which will possess the coherence to work together in full solidarity, not least in ecumenical relationships.

11. Finally, the ABC recognises that one of the most urgent questions concerns those within TEC who have remained loyal to TEC itself and yet fully intend also to remain loyal to the rest of the Communion. Having already mentioned in paragraph 2 ‘a significant minority of bishops’ who have clearly said they intend to remain within the Communion’s consensus, he returns to them towards the end. His paragraph 25 is tantalisingly brief where many will want it to be elaborated and explicated, but there can be no doubt that here he holds the door wide open for such people ‘to be free to adopt the Covenant’. How this might work out we must consider below.

Discernment and Further Questions

12. Sex and ‘rights’. In relation to Section 2, someone, sooner or later, needs to spell out further (wearisome though it will be) the difference between (a) the ‘human dignity and civil liberty’ of those with homosexual and similar instincts and (b) their ‘rights’, as practising let alone ordained Christians, to give physical expression to those instincts. As the Pope has pointed out, the language of ‘human rights’ has now been downgraded in public discourse to the special pleading of every interest-group. The church has never acknowledged that powerful sexual instincts, which almost all human beings have, generate a prima facie ‘right’ that these instincts receive physical expression. Indeed, the church has always insisted that self-control is part of the ‘fruit of the Spirit’. All are called to chastity and, within that, some are called to celibacy; but a call to celibacy is not the same thing as discovering that one has a weak or negligible sexual drive. The call to the self-control of chastity is for all: for the heterosexually inclined who, whether married or not, are regularly and powerfully attracted to many different potential partners, just as much as for those with different instincts.

13. The depth of the problem.

(i) Apparent Caution: We should be careful to read the ABC’s cautious words in paragraphs 22 and 24 in the light of the crucial paragraph 2 (see above). The ABC says ‘it would be a mistake to act or speak now as if those decisions’ [i.e. on signing up to the Covenant] ‘had already been made’; and he warns against speaking ‘in apocalyptic terms of schism and excommunication’. He also speaks of the ‘twofold ecclesial reality’ as a ‘possibility’ in the ‘middle distance’.

(ii) The Reality: But, as he himself has indicated, key decisions have been made (obviously not yet in terms of voting on the Covenant, but certainly in terms of taking stances which will lead directly to such votes); schism has already happened; and not just a twofold, but a confusing and pluriform ecclesial reality, is not just a middle-distance possibility but an on-the-ground and in-your-face fact.

(iii) Confrontation Already Exists: Warning against ‘a competitive hostility between the two’ tracks may seem somewhat unrealistic to many in TEC and Canada who have lost churches, livelihoods and in some cases their Holy Orders – and, we should in all fairness stress, to others who, though theologically orthodox themselves, have been sniped at or sneered at by those who use the ‘orthodox’ label as a pretext for personal gripes or power-games. Speaking of an ‘ideal’ whereby both ‘Tracks’ ‘should be able to pursue what they believe God is calling them to be as Church, with greater integrity and consistency’, will sound idealistic at best when several loud voices in TEC are saying that what God is calling them to is to spread the ‘gospel’ of ‘inclusivity’, and several other voices are saying that God is calling them to resist precisely this.

(iv) Mutual Respect? Pleading for ‘mutual respect for deeply held theological convictions’ will seem straightforwardly unreal both to those who are fed up being called hopeless liberals by unthinking conservatives and to those who are fed up being called hopeless conservatives by unthinking liberals. ‘Deeply held theological convictions’ of course characterize plenty of other groups, not least (for instance) serious Muslim theologians. I respect such convictions, while still believing it proper to argue against them. This kind of plea could simply park the question, insisting (in good Anglican style) that we treat everyone as being in reality what they are in profession, but seeming to ignore the call, to bishops in particular, to guard the faith, teach the truth and refute error. Did Athanasius respect the ‘deeply held theological convictions’ of Arius and his followers? Perhaps he did; certainly he took them seriously enough to refute them vigorously. If the separation of two ‘Tracks’ generated, at last, a full-scale theological and exegetical discussion of disputed points, rather than emotive sniping, we might all be better served in the long run.

14. Representation on Ecumenical bodies. In paragraphs 9, 15 and 23 the ABC speaks of certain people being unable to represent the Communion’s voice in ecumenical encounters. He does not say who he means or how this is now to be worked out (as it must be very quickly if major ecumenical work is to proceed). Presumably the end of paragraphs 10 and 14 are a reference to the dangers inherent in TEC’s position, but again he does not spell this out (no doubt because it isn’t only TEC that faces this danger). In particular, the membership of the newly constituted international Faith and Order Advisory Group raises some questions, particularly (see below) if this group is to advise on the future role of the Instruments and the future structural shape of the Communion. So, too, the Joint Standing Committee as presently constituted includes people who, according to the Archbishop’s own analysis, have gone with the decision to move away from the rest of the Communion.

15. ‘In Communion’? A pressing question in all of this must be: who, both during this process and at its end, will be ‘in Communion’ with whom? Once Tracks One and Two have been identified, will there be mutual recognition of ministries? Presumably not if Track One is committed to Paragraph 8 of the Archbishop’s paper while Track Two is committed to demolishing it. Will communicants be welcome across the gap between the Tracks? If the Covenant becomes the gold standard, and if ACNA sign up as they may well, will the rest of the Communion (including of course the C of E) be ‘in communion’ with ACNA? These are difficult and uncomfortable questions. But they will certainly emerge; there is already a motion on the subject slated for General Synod in February 2010, though by then all sorts of things may look different.

16. No Delay. As this process continues to unfold, there is one major problem with a proposal to put all the eggs into the Covenant basket. (I had always understood that the Covenant was not designed to deal with the post-2003 problem, but rather to head off quite different problems that might arise in the future. I remain wary of trying, now, to put all the weight for the full sorting-out of the 2003 problem on to the Covenant, especially on to one brief, dense and inevitably controversial section of it, and particularly when the final drafting of that section is in the hands of a very small group, albeit then reporting to the ABC.) Now that GenCon 09 has happened, even if the Covenant is completed within a few months TEC will assuredly say that it can’t consider it until 2012, and that such consideration could only be preliminary, looking to a more definite decision in 2015. This delaying tactic – twelve years from 2003, when the crisis really began! – must be seen for what it is, and headed off. The obvious way to do this is to declare that ‘Track One’ is open, right away, to Covenant signatories, and only Covenant signatories. How precisely that could be done (granted that the Joint Standing Committee, for instance, includes some from TEC and other sympathetic provinces) remains a question. But it needs to be done, and done quickly. I offer some suggestions on all this in the conclusion below.

17. Section 4 of the Covenant. Picking up the point just made: Section 4 of the Covenant needs to proceed swiftly to its final form. This process is far too important to be left to a small group advising the Archbishop. When the Archbishop receives the group’s work, he should consult with key Communion representatives to ensure that there are no remaining hidden problems. In this process, any reduction or limiting of Section 4 (clearly the hope of the majority in TEC, not least those who pushed the ACC to postpone a decision) will be a large step away from the mind of the Communion as the ABC has himself expressed it, and would have the effect of nullifying all that he has said in his Reflections.

18. Retuning the Instruments? A further problem, not too far down the line, is contained in the ABC’s brief references to a restructuring or reworking of the Instruments themselves.

(i) New Cross-Track ‘instruments’? In paragraph 24 he speaks of hoping and working for ‘the best kinds of shared networks and institutions of common interest that could be maintained as between different visions of the Anglican heritage’. What might these be? Clearly not the Lambeth Conference, the ACC and the Primates. They, we must assume, will be Track One institutions; if they are not, the whole point (not least the whole ecumenical point) will be lost. So do we need some new institutions to enable the two tracks to talk to one another and to work together on shared ‘mission and service’ projects? This would constitute an unprecedented kind of internal ecumenism, fraught with frustrations and bad memories; yet perhaps it needs to be attempted.

(ii) The existing Institutions: And what about the existing Institutions? Paragraph 26 speaks of the present structures needing ‘serious rethinking in the near future’. This, presumably, will be a task for the newly constituted international Faith and Order Advisory Group – though, since some of that Group come from parts of the Communion which now appear likely to be in Track Two, that raises other difficult questions. (Why was the group chosen and named just before General Convention?) But the thought of the complex discussions that might swirl around any reshaping of Lambeth, ACC and Primates, and any ‘covering-both-tracks’ new institutions, is daunting. We already have a highly confusing situation both globally and nationally, with the ACO and Lambeth sitting uncomfortably side by side and with the shape and role of the existing Instruments remaining unclear. We need, if anything, to simplify and clarify, not to create more complexity. Complexity simply hands power to those with time on their hands and with well-developed skills in political manipulation.


19. Having worked very carefully through the Archbishop’s Reflections several times, having read what several others have said, and having had various conversations, I can understand the frustrations of those who wanted something more obviously crisp and clear. Yet at the heart of this document are two things which the Communion has badly needed to hear, hedged about with all kinds of assurances which make it clear that this is neither a knee-jerk reaction nor a mere statement of prejudice: a strong reaffirmation of the Anglican position on sexual behaviour, and a strong insistence on the Windsor point that global issues cannot be decided locally – and that the decision as to what is global and what is local cannot itself be decided locally. The ‘so what’ of all this needs now to be drawn out, and in my view this needs to happen more or less at once, not postponed until Section 4 of the Covenant is redrafted and ratified. In particular, the Communion Partner bishops, and parishes and individuals who take that stance, need to be assured that what is said rather briefly in paragraph 25 does indeed apply, and will indeed apply, to them, and that ways will be found very quickly to turn that into a reality.

20. How then can this ‘so what’ become a reality? We remind ourselves again that the ABC has no juridical authority outside his own Province, and that he is aware of himself being involved in the danger of trying, as a local Primate, to decide things for the whole Communion. Yet, as Archbishop of Canterbury, he carries within the whole Communion immense moral and pastoral authority, rooted in his exposition of scripture and articulation of the whole Christian tradition; and this, as he himself has insisted, is the real heart of all authority within the body of Christ. Too often in recent times legal and juridical ‘authority’ has been used, and perhaps abused, in the place of the genuine apostolic authority of the word of God and prayer. It is thus up to the Archbishop himself to move swiftly to implement what he himself has said, counting on support from bishops around his own Province and the whole Communion. The Covenant (which the ABC has repeatedly affirmed as the new instrument of our unity and common life) needs to be completed and offered to all Anglicans for signature. Those within TEC who sign it need appropriate Communion recognition and relatedness – if bishops, a Primatial relationship, if parishes or individuals, an episcopal relationship. Ways by which this can be done have been worked out by the Communion Partner bishops, and it is with them, first and foremost, that the Archbishop must work towards the necessary and urgent solutions. What now follows are some suggestions for how this might be attempted.

21. A Way Forward?

(i) How do ‘Communion Partners’ sign on? The question presses, as in the ABC’s paragraph 25, as to how dioceses, parishes and individuals within TEC will be able to sign the Covenant and thus not only align themselves, but be recognised by the wider Communion as aligning themselves, with that wider Communion itself. The ABC is certainly here referring to the ‘Communion Partner’ bishops, and to the parishes and individuals who take the same line that they do. As the ABC says, ‘there should be a clear answer to this question’, and actually the ABC himself is now the main person, if not the only person, in a position to give a clear and authoritative answer. But some proposals here may perhaps help.

(ii) The Anaheim Statement: In his second paragraph, the Archbishop notes that a substantial minority have indicated their dissent from the position taken by TEC as a whole. The document they have produced (‘the Anaheim Statement’) could now form something of a bridge between the present confusion and the not-too-distant future when the full Covenant will be available for signature. Some reports indicate that bishops who voted with the majority in Gen Con are now realising the predicament they’ve put themselves in and are starting to sign up to Anaheim instead.

(iii) What about Parishes and Individuals? But here’s the problem: it is one thing for bishops and their dioceses to be ‘Communion Partners’, recognised by Lambeth and the wider Communion as full ‘Track One’ members. (That carries its own problems, but if the diocese is the primary unit, as the ABC has insisted, it is clearly possible.) But how a parish in a non-signing diocese, or an individual in a non-signing parish or diocese, can become a ‘Track One’ Anglican, recognised as such globally, remains to be seen. Many in that position neither want nor intend to join a movement like ACNA, nor should they be put in a position where they have no other option. But a way forward must be found.

(iv) Getting from Here to There: Covenant Sections 1-3. The Covenant, when completed, will provide a line in the sand. However, we do not need to wait until Section 4 is redrafted. The first three sections are already completed and agreed, and they (especially Section Three) already prohibit the kinds of things which General Convention has done, and which many TEC bishops are doing. These three sections could be signed and adopted right away by CP bishops and dioceses as a signal of their intent.

(v) Getting from Here to There: Anaheim. The Anaheim Statement itself could also function as a preliminary rallying point around which more may gather than had initially been supposed. Perhaps, indeed, signing this statement, along with Sections 1-3 of the Covenant, could function, ahead of the availability of the final version of the Covenant, as a prerequisite for participation, from this moment on, in representative Anglican functions and bodies and, not least, in bodies that deal with the Covenant itself and the future of the Instruments. That would give actual and practical expression to what the ABC has now said. Indeed, unless something like this is implemented at once it will be hard to sustain trust in the ongoing process.

(vi) Interim Structures? We need some interim structures to get us from where we are to where we need to be – and not only in TEC, but also in Canada and perhaps elsewhere. But we need these now, not in six months, let alone six years. The Communion Partner bishops should perhaps restate their willingness to provide, with the permission of the relevant Diocesan, alternative episcopal relationship and cover for parishes in Dioceses whose bishops might find their relation to the wider Communion to have changed. The now largely discredited ‘DEPO’ system (‘Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight’) may have been a signpost, albeit one that didn’t seem to be capable of working well at the time, towards some kind of a solution. Issues of polity should, if possible, be dealt with at a provincial, not a global, level.

(vii) Urgent meetings? Ideally, the CP bishops, and perhaps some of the Rectors, should meet with the Archbishop to discuss some kind of a revived DEPO. The ABC could then invite others, including both representatives of TEC leadership on the one hand and ACNA on the other, to further meetings to work out agreements that would avoid future confusions or accusations. There is a need, perhaps, for a call to mutual respect, and maturity of decision-making, in recognition of where things now stand. There is no point pretending things are otherwise than they are. We have come to the tipping point, and wisdom suggests that all involved take counsel in recognition of that.

(viii) What about ACNA? All this raises, then, the question of ACNA itself (and, indeed, other would-be Anglican bodies). Without some kind of clear steer on the issues just raised, we can expect that ACNA will continue to attract individuals, congregations and perhaps even dioceses. This is, indeed, already happening. However, though the situation on the ground is often confused, ACNA has expressed a clear willingness to work with the Communion Partner bishops towards whatever greater good may come. And ACNA itself has shown itself eager to sign the Covenant when it is complete. All this will go into the melting pot of whatever new alignments the Communion will discover over the coming months. It is important that bridges, not fences, be built during this period.

22. These are only suggestions, designed to help those on the ground not only to think through the issues but to take concrete and immediate steps. I have said many times that, for all those involved in this whole messy situation, the main priority at the moment is prayer. That remains my conviction and my plea. Prayer for the church; for our beloved Communion and the many other Christians with whom we seek to deepen fellowship; for Archbishop Rowan; for wisdom, courage, clarity and vision; for God’s glory, the extension of his kingdom, and the power of the gospel and the Spirit at work in hearts, lives, communities and throughout our world.

Read it all here. Fixed the fun typo in the headline. Write is now Wright which of course is right.


Anonymous said...

I hate say this, but the language relating to the ACNA is awkward and understandably so. By acknowledging that TEC has and is walking apart from the Communion, How can you, then, argue that the ANCA is separate from the Communion (unless you ignore the FCA's primates solution which led to the creation of the ANCA in the first place)? I do understand that places the CP in awkward position vis a vis ACNA, but let's not pretend or suggest that it is the ANCA which is standing in ambiguous position in the communion. Clearly if you follow the Logic of +Wright and + Cantuar relating to TEC then the ACNA standing precisely where it should be - with the AC.

RMBruton said...

It remains to be seen what influence, if any, the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans may have on the future. Initially Bishop Wright seemed opposed to FCA, so I am not surprised that he doesn't include some sort of alternative within the C of E. For those who are not presently members of ACNA, TEC or Communion Partners, but who do identify themselves as being Anglican, hopefully time will tell.

Dale Matson said...

Canterbury Anglicanism is not far behind TEC's brand of Anglicanism. The infection is systemic. I would argue for ACNA and the Global South finding a new center for Anglicanism. Bishop Wright, in attempting to explain the ABC, has lost his usual clarity and now sounds more like the ABC.

Observer said...

Seems like an opportunity for ACNA, GAFCON, Communion Partners all to stay in the AC....because revisionists are walking apart.....why not take the opportunity? Time to build bridges, I think

An Anxious Anglican said...

As you know, BB, I am a big fan of the ABC, but even I worry about his will to carry through on +Wright's observation:

Yet, as Archbishop of Canterbury, he carries within the whole Communion immense moral and pastoral authority, rooted in his exposition of scripture and articulation of the whole Christian tradition; and this, as he himself has insisted, is the real heart of all authority within the body of Christ. Too often in recent times legal and juridical ‘authority’ has been used, and perhaps abused, in the place of the genuine apostolic authority of the word of God and prayer. It is thus up to the Archbishop himself to move swiftly to implement what he himself has said, counting on support from bishops around his own Province and the whole Communion.

And yet, if Canterbury-based Anglicanism is to survive, that is what must happen. Back to praying!

Waiting in Jerusalem said...

If a Covenant is to have any remedial effect, it must possess specificity and precision, clearly and exactly defining the standard of what is expected of signers and what the consequences are for departure or lack of conformity to those standards as well as a just and disinterested and empowered group with a will to execute those consequences.

The Anaheim statement is an example wherein voters for homosex priests and biships, and homosex unions may be ordained and consecrated were allowed to sign.

The inanity and deception of the whole rigamarole is that those who have homosexualized disoriented identities and emotional responses, who claim these the identity and exemption from Scripture's proscriptions, and practicing homosex acts, already have been ordained and consecrated...for 30 years.

In some ways, Anglicanism is like a huge and glorious expensively and exquisitely produced fantasy, farce or a charade, a reflection of the the British Monarchy and the near collapse of the British government and economy, indeed of the West itself.

Bob said...

I am most troubled by the fact that there are so many "voices" who are trying to explain what the ABC meant. This fact alone is troubling, the fact that there are so many different version of what he meant is doubly troubling. If the ABC meant to sound a note for clarity, it appears to have failed. Or else there is a new sort of "game" in town whereby the bloggers try to "capture the narrative."

Dale Matson said...

I believe N.T. Wright's explication of the ABC is greater in length than the ACNA Constitution.