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.
December 6, 11:47 am | [comment link]