Saturday, September 16, 2006

The Anglican Communion Institute Critiques the Spread Document

September 16th, 2006 posted by kendall at 4:33 pm

Two other critiques of this [Traditionalist/Pragmatist] group are also made and are also flawed. One is that ‘armed with a resolution to protect the territorial boundaries of bishops obtained on the last day of the 1998 Lambeth Conference’ (22), George Carey set about protecting the control of revisionists in their home dioceses. This gives the impression that the resolution was some sort of novelty and fails to note that the resolution on territorial boundaries simply reaffirms longstanding Anglican and wider catholic ecclesiology. The other critique is that only a ‘relatively small number of Primates…have actively sought to enforce Resolution I.10’ (23). The only evidence for this is the failure of Rwanda/AMiA to gain the support of even orthodox primates at Oporto for their disregard for the tradition of respect for jurisdictional boundaries in the Communion.

While there are undoubtedly some who would fit the description of this grouping, the evidence that they are a large group, that George Carey is among them and that support for the listening process post-Lambeth is a sign of membership within it are all much more dubious claims. In particular, it is totally unwarranted to claim that the former Archbishop and (by implication) all those who claim to oppose same-sex blessings but do not support Akinola and the appeal of the petition are to be viewed as in this group and hence do not believe the Church is subordinate to the sovereign authority of Scripture but rather that bishops ‘are free to find God’s Word wherever they may feel inspired to look’ (25) and ‘may favour or oppose the Church’s approval of same gender sexual relations on whatever grounds they may consider fitting’ as ‘they are free in their own minds to pick and choose which commandments and teachings of Scripture they will obey and teach and which ones they will disobey or not teach’ (26).

The analysis offered in the petition is therefore seriously flawed. It creates three categories (only one of which is genuinely Anglican, the other two of which true Anglicans ‘cannot go together with’ (28)) and then forces people into them in order to serve the petitioners’ divisive political ends. In so doing it disregards the evidence concerning the present and former Archbishops’ views and powers, twists the wording of Lambeth I.10 and fails to understand the complexities of the current disagreements. In particular, and most significantly, it fails to address the Windsor Report or see differences in ecclesiology as a fundamental factor at work. This is perhaps because the authors lack a proper biblical and theological understanding of the nature of communion and, paradoxically, have an understanding and are proposing a course of action that is a mirror-image of what they so resolutely oppose in North America . Given the real dangers that aspects of Western Anglicanism’s breakdown of teaching and discipline poses to the Anglican Communion, we need to look elsewhere than to the Petition for guidance.

Read it all and the Spread document is there.


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