Wednesday, July 22, 2009

What Will Rowan Williams Do?

The silence from Lambeth Palace since the end of The Episcopal Church General Convention has been deafening. The Archbishop of Canterbury has been humiliated and snubbed by the Episcopal Church leadership and all his efforts to bend as far as possible without breaking in order to prevent a schism in the Anglican Communion have been thrown back in his face by the revisionists of TEC. Now what will he do?

Bishop N. T. Wright, a strong supporter of Williams, the Windsor Report and the Anglican Covenant, has spoken out clearly in an article in the Times of London stating that the Americans know this will end in schism and (presumeably) don't care. He writes:

"Both the bishops and deputies (lay and clergy) of TEC knew exactly what they were doing. They were telling the Archbishop of Canterbury and the other “instruments of communion” that they were ignoring their plea for a moratorium on consecrating practising homosexuals as bishops. They were rejecting the two things the Archbishop of Canterbury has named as the pathway to the future — the Windsor Report (2004) and the proposed Covenant (whose aim is to provide a modus operandi for the Anglican Communion). They were formalising the schism they initiated six years ago when they consecrated as bishop a divorced man in an active same-sex relationship, against the Primates’ unanimous statement that this would “tear the fabric of the Communion at its deepest level”. In Windsor’s language, they have chosen to “walk apart."

These are strong words and they have apparently struck fear into the revisionists' hearts. Especially worrying to the TEC leadership was the strong hint that the Church of England and the Archbishop of Canterbury might very well now recognize the newly formed Anglican Church in North America. If that were to happen, then the exodus from TEC would likely become a flood as it would now be clear that one need not remain in TEC in order to be in communion with Canterbury and the wider Anglican Communion. That would leave the Revisionist leadership free to expand its own "mini world-wide Liberal Anglican Communion and its pseudo-Gospel of Western individualism in fancy clothes, but that is already the case now. Instead of conquoring the world, a more likely possibility would be the slow death of TEC - perhaps staved off only by a merger with the Lutherans, Church of Christ and possibly the Unitarians.

The Presiding Bishop and other TEC leaders have now written two letters in two days to the Archbishop of Canterbury "explaining" that the votes didn't really mean that they were abandoning commuion and walking apart. But the Anglican Communion Institute website contains insicisive articles analysing these letters, setting them in their historical context and coming to the conclusion that TEC has chosen to walk apart and cannot fudge the reality of what they have done. Schism is here. I quote:

"We deeply regret yesterday’s decision by the House of Bishops to repudiate the Anglican Communion’s moratorium on the consecration of bishops living in homosexual relationships."

The article goes on to quote the words of the Archbishop of Canterbury at the close of the recent Anglican Consultative Council:

"Speaking at the close of the Council’s meeting, the Archbishop of Canterbury anticipated yesterday’s action and spoke directly to The Episcopal Church on its place in the Anglican Covenant when he said “Action to negate that resolution [the moratorium] would instantly suggest to many people in the communion that The Episcopal Church would prefer not to go down the route of closer structural bonds and that particular kind of mutual responsibility.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury flew all the way to California at the start of the TEC General Convention to reiterate this warning publicly and clearly. It was ignored.

Noting that TEC is already out of communion with the majority of world Anglicans, the Anglican Communion Institute calls, as Wright does, for a way to be found to allow orthodoxy dioceses and parishes in TEC to remain in communion with the wider Communion. The presupposition of this statement by both Wright and the ACI is that TEC will not be in communion with the rest of the Anglican Communion after its schismatic acts in Anaheim. But until Rowan Williams confirms this fact with clarity, it is still possible that the rug will be pulled out from under his loyal, Evangelical followers.

What will Rowan Williams do? Will he announce that he will support the recognition of ACNA and the orthodox dioceses and parishes in TEC? Will he fail to recognize ACNA and seek to find a way to recognize the orthodox in TEC? Will he declare Canterbury to be in a state of impaired or broken communion with TEC? Will he declare support for recognizing ACNA and his intention to work through the Covenant process to maintain communion with orthodox member of TEC? Only time will tell. We should pray for unity in the truth of the Gospel for Anglicans and all Christians worldwide.

Here is an excellent article by David Virtue addressing this question: "Rowan Among the Ruins: What Should the ABC Do Now?"


Nathan said...

I have to say I find it ironic that Anglicans are so worried about maintaining communion with one another. When it comes to schism, the cat has already been out of the bag for almost 500 years.

Craig Carter said...

In one sense that is of course true. But any true Protestant - as opposed to a sectarian - believes that the Reformation is temporary. It cannot be permanent; it won't exist in heaven for sure. So in terms of future prospects for reunion, the Anglicans have always been the great hope as the "bridge" between Catholicism and Protestantism.

Unfortunately, the events of the past 30 years beginning with the illegal ordination of women in the 70's, have pushed the Anglican Communion further and further away from Rome. And the RC Church is not standing still, but going in the opposite direction. Now it looks like the Pentecostals and Baptists will be in communion with Rome long before the Anglicans are - and that is kind of like the sinners and prostitutes entering the Kingdom ahead of the Pharisees - shocking.

Andy Rowell said...

Jordan Hylden analyzes Williams's written response.

Rowan Williams and the Anglican Future
Jul 28, 2009
by Jordan Hylden
First Things On the Square Blog