(Anglican Ink) Canterbury concedes Anglican Communion has become “corrupted”

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Archbishop of Canterbury has conceded defeat in the battle over the Anglican Covenant. In a 2 Dec 2012 Advent letter to the primates, Dr. Rowan Williams said the Anglican Communion had become “corrupted” and could no longer be considered a communion of churches but a “community of communities.”

Dr. Williams’ somber appreciation of the state of the communion today, contrasts with his past letters to the leaders of the Communions 38 provinces. Nothing now bound the church together apart from good will....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal- Anglican: AnalysisArchbishop of Canterbury --Rowan Williams* TheologyEcclesiology

10 Comments
Posted December 5, 2012 at 4:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. MichaelA wrote:

The links that bound the Anglican Communion were always rather tenuous - this was the inevitable result of Archbishops of Canterbury insisting over more than a century that the Lambeth Conference and other organs were consultative only, i.e. CofE and ABC were not subject to any decision by them.  It automatically followed that neither was anyone else subject to them in any final sense.

Nevertheless, the links based on goodwill and the acquiescence, respect and agreement of millions of Anglicans all over the world were still very real.  This was the great strength of the Anglican Communion - at the same time very strong yet very fragile.

From the time of Donald Coggan, successive Archbishops of Canterbury lost sight of this essential reality, and tried to use AC to achieve their desired ends, but without comprehending the way that millions of Anglicans could see what they were doing, and the lack of respect they were showing.  The game the ABCs were playing required subtlety, and that is what they lacked.

There was a fundamental fissure of disagreement in the Anglican Communion which was apparent from at least the 1980s, and successive ABCs thought they could avoid confronting it.  They were warned time and again, yet they ignored those warnings, and now ++Williams is facing the reality.

December 5, 6:56 pm | [comment link]
2. MichaelA wrote:

“The networks that have bound African and Asian Anglicans to Anglicans in the developed world have not focused on works or issues, but upon doctrine, African leaders tell Anglican Ink.”

Yes, the very dimension that ABC and other ‘moderates’ like him have tried to treat as negotiable.

December 5, 6:58 pm | [comment link]
3. dwstroudmd+ wrote:

The ABC has the results of his choices.  When he kowtowed to the EcUSA, the die was cast and results in the Anglican Communion body’s lack of grace.  “Hath God said…?”

December 5, 8:18 pm | [comment link]
4. Cennydd13 wrote:

Well, I don’t think one has to be a gold-plated rocket scientist to guess where the corruption got started, does one?  I’ll give you all two guesses…...and the first one doesn’t count!  Do the words “TEC” and “zeitgeist” look familiar?  They should!

December 5, 8:45 pm | [comment link]
5. mlester82 wrote:

ABC says this, KJS says that, Mark Lawrence says something else. All in all, who cares? I mean, really? What has happened, has happened and we are where we are. We can assign blame here, there, and everywhere, but where does it get us? Right here, right now. The question to ask and to which the answer should be prayerfully sought is this, “where do we go from here?”

Many have watched this disintegration over the course of years and have pleaded “somebody, do something!” Well, in fact, people are “doing something,” and have been since at least the 70’s, they have gone off on their own and created their own little Anglican Communion in communion with no one but themselves. I heard there have been about 40 splinter “Anglican” groups formed since the 70’s. 40 - forty, that’s a lot. Those groups continue to be formed as one clump of people or another band together to form a new group as we are seeing in the Diocese of South Carolina right now.

There is another option, but most readers will pre-judge this option before finishing this comment (and that’s OK). I strongly recommend fervent prayer and actively listening for the answer. As part of that action I recommend stepping back and looking at the landscape of Anglicanism. Regardless of your desire, it is changing daily. Look into what is being offered in the various places where Anglican liturgy will be offered and decide which is best for you. ACNA, TEC, and a host of others, one of which has an informational session this coming Sunday evening hosted at the Church of the Holy Communion, Charleston, 6:30 PM.

December 6, 8:04 am | [comment link]
6. Br. Michael wrote:

Williams has the Communion he worked hard to create.

December 6, 9:07 am | [comment link]
7. New Reformation Advocate wrote:

Well, at least ++RW partially admits the truth, which is more than can be said for the nefarious PB and some of her reprehensible ilk, like +Ian Douglas who serves on the ACC and its infamous Standing Committee.  MichaelA in #! is right that while the links that bound the Communion together in the past were always tenuous, they weren’t insignificant.  However, the faultlines were always there, long before the time of ++Donald Coggan, and it was pretty much inevitable that sooner or later increasing pressures along those theological and social faultines would produce a massive earthquake.

I won’t try to argue fully the case here, but I’ll content myself with simply stating once again my frequent claim on various T19 threads that the current crisis within Anglicanism shows beyond any reasonable doubt that the past system that we’ve relied on to hold Anglicans together is fatally flawed because it left an intolerable vacuum of authority at the very center and rested on obsolete Christendom assumptions that have gone the way of the Brontosaurus.  Contrary to ++RW’s most basic assumptions, endless dialogue without any means of truly resolving fundamental conflicts is simply an untenable way of running a worldwide fellowship.  The buck has to stop somewhere and there MUST be a way of adjudicating severe conflicts in a binding and authoritative way.

As I’ve repeatedly said, the real danger we face as Anglicans isn’t that we’ll morph into some pale version of papal tyranny.  Although TEC is indeed displaying that grim tendency on a national scale, there is no realistic danger at all that such tyranny through unprecedented centralization will be created at the international level.  Quite the opposite.  What’s killing us is unchecked Protestant anarchy.  Or to cite the biblical text I’ve quoted so often on this blog, we find ourselves as Anglicans today in the lamentable situation of Israel in the pre-monarchical days of the Judges, when every man (or province or diocese) did what was right in his own eyes (Judges 21:25).

When all due credit is granted to the precious religious freedom won at great cost by the Protestant reformers in the 16th century, and when full allowance is made for the bold claim advanced by Alastair McGrath in his fine book Christianity’s Dangerous Idea that the essence of Protestantism is the absence of any final arbiter who can authoritatively settle disputes about biblical interpretation and doctrine, etc., the fact remains that no coherent body of Christians can long survive without some means of authoritatively settling basic disputes over fundamental matters of core doctrine and discipline.

That doesn’t mean we have to create some milder form of the Roman Curia.  Eastern Orthodoxy shows one way of using dispersed but very real authority by archbishops to maintain unity in doctrine, discipline, and worship without a pope.  There are other possible models that haven’t yet been created that would be more democraatic.  Here I again suggest that the best place to start would be to create the equivalent of an international Anglican Supreme Court that could render final and binding decisions on disputed matters and impose true discipline on rogue provinces and dioceses that engage in unbiblical and heretical actions the way that TEC and the Canadian church have done.  That would amount to making Anglicanism truly conciliar at the international level.  For a true church council (or synod) worthy of the name is able to make binding decisions and issue canons, etc.

To put it bluntly and provocatively, as is my wonted style, I contend once again that the danger is NOT that Anglicanism will move in the direction of becoming too centralized and “too Catholic.”  On the contrary, the real problem is that Anglicanism is way too Protestant and far too incoherent theologically and canonically.  Or to put it another way, the problem is that the venerable old Elizabethan Settlement has become obsolete in a post-Christendom world, and we simply MUST move beyond our past way of wedding Anglican provinces to national governments and cultures and morph into a true global Church with branch offices around the world.  Not a family of independent national or regional churches, but a single, unified worldwide Church, led by an elected group of primates that truly reflects the post-colonial reality that the vast majority of the world’s Anglicans are orthodox and live in the Global South.

Rather than continuing centrifugally in the present direction whereby the Anglican Communion is degenerating into a mere federation of loosely-affiliated provinces that are fully autonomous, what is called for is a bold move in the opposite direction, i.e., centripetally, by strengthening the center so that it has enough gravitational pull to hold all faithful Anglicans together.  But that means squarely facing the necessity of separating the sheep from the goats, the biblically faithful Anglicans from the unfaithful heretics and schismatics, and doing so forthrightly and authoritatively.  Without that, Anglicanism simply can’t survive.  And without it, it doesn’t even deserve to survive either.

David Handy+

December 6, 11:47 am | [comment link]
8. New Reformation Advocate wrote:

P.S.  Although it’s probably obvious, let me clarify that our dilemma is that Anglicanism is riven by multiple theological faultines, not just a single primary one.  The most essential faultline is between Anglicans who are orthodox and those who aren’t.  But of course that begs the question of who determines what orthodoxy is, but for now all I mean is the primary faultine divides those who maintain the classical understanding of Anglican doctrine, discipline, and worhsip from the corruptions introduced by the revisionists who have fatally fallen for a false gospel based on relativist assumptions.

However, since 1833 and the Catholic Revival that started at Oxford, a secondary faultine that goes to the very heart of Anglicanism is the one that separates those Anglicans who are fundamentally Protestant (“liturgical Protestants”) from the minority of us who see ourselves as “biblical catholics.”

Daavid Handy+

December 6, 11:58 am | [comment link]
9. New Reformation Advocate wrote:

P.S.S.  Sorry to hog this thread, but please let me correct a few glaring typo’s and add one final comment.
First, the typo’s.  More than once I misspelled “faultline,” and I also flubbed up McGrath’s name.  I should’ve said the evangelical Anglican’s first name is Alister.  Sorry, it was due to haste.

Now for the final comment.  It’s all well and good for the departing ABoC to express a WISH that we’d stay together, but unfortunately, he continues in denial (or refuses to admit) his own major part in sabotaging attempts to turn that wish into reality.  Such as his notorious and inexcusable scuttling of the plan worked out by the primates in Tanzania or his perhaps even more infamous manipulation of the Lambeth Conference in 2008 to ensure that no real discipline would be meted out to TEC and the ACoC to our north.

I had to smile at his timely and winsome reference to the persistent (majority) Anglican desire for the Anglican family of churches to be more than distant relatives who send each other Christmas letters. 
A nice rhetorical touch, but alas, he himself has to bear a major share of the blame for the Anglican Communion degenerating into a travesty that’s rather like that.

David Handy+

December 6, 4:24 pm | [comment link]
10. MichaelA wrote:

Br Michael at #5 - that is a very astute observation!

December 7, 6:23 pm | [comment link]
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