Saturday, June 28, 2008

Some GAFCON Buckshot

In a few hours, we should be able to have a look at the final GAFCON communique. Since my last post four days ago, the vibes I'm picking up seem to suggest a swing back in the direction favored by the more hard-liners, some of whom would like to see a con-Canterburian sort of post-Anglicanism come into being, but not all the way back in their direction. There are apparently some strong moderating voices--I know not whose they are, but will be interested to eventually learn--that are pulling back on the centripetal forces. For that much I, personally, am grateful.

It is also apparent that what is emerging is driven not merely by a conservative Anglican mindset, but by a conservative Evangelical Anglican mindset. I'm not sure this dynamic has been sufficiently accounted for in the various taxonomies of contemporary Anglicanism, which have tended to parse the landscape along Reasserter-Reappraiser (on sexuality) and Federal-Communion (on ecclesiology) polarities. There may be some correspondence between Evangelical-Federal and Catholic-Communion on the ecclesiology spectrum, but not consistently so; reality is way more complex than that.

So, as Catholic Anglican, I am left wondering where my team fits in with a GAFCON vision that is veering toward an overt confessionalism, something Catholics have tended to be standoffish about, and includes the likes of Sydney Archbishop Peter Jensen among its inner leadership ranks. Dr Jensen is an ultra-Protestant who once said he would rather go to Hell than attend Mass. His diocese is also spearheading the movement to allow unordained persons to preside at celebrations of the Eucharist, which is anathema to Catholics. Yet, committed Anglo-Catholics like +Jack Iker, +Keith Ackerman, and +John-David Schofield are all now in Jerusalem. I will be wanting to hear more on this.

Finally, a word on expectations seems in order. Since the latest iteration of this crisis commenced five years ago in Minneapolis, many on the starboard side of the boat, at least, have been searching for a sort of final resolution. The next Primates' Meeting, the next General Convention, the next statement from this or that commission, the next move by Canterbery, etc. etc.--all have been seen as potential watershed moments that would chart the future of Anglicanism one way or that other. Each of these potential turning points has ended up disappointing those who have had such expectations. GAFCON will be no exception. Is it important? Yes. Very important. Is it a sign of Game Over? No. It will nudge the process in whatever way it nudges the process. And we won't know just what way that is until the next generation, or the one after that, looks on it as history rather than current events. The inherent character of Anglicanism is evolutionary, not revolutionary.


jason miller said...

I am certainly far from the same page as Peter Jensen and the hard-core Reformed group, especially those who advocate lay presidency. Yet, fundamentally, I am much farther from those who put VGR into the bishop's seat.

Why do we concern ourselves with these secondary issues (it hurts for me to call sacramental issues secondary, but God is not restricted to the sacraments, as the scholastics said) when the primary issues such as the Lordship of Christ set a much wider gulf between orthodox and revisionist Anglicans?

Malcolm+ said...

Seems to me the self-selecting Council of Primates (how to avoid "good cop, bad cop" references?) constitutes something of a line in the sand. If the Communion accepts it (a prospect I cannot envisio), the "conservative," evangelical, reasserting, communion-skeptic GAFCON leaders "win."

If the rest of the Communion says "no, you can't appoint yourselves as vigilante / posse," then I don't see how they have any means to stay.

That's the problem when you draw a line in the sand.