The End of the Anglican Communion As We Know It

News analysis

By David W. Virtue
www.virtueonline.org
May 18, 2010

In chess it is called the “end game”. It refers to that stage of the game when there are few pieces left on the board. The end game positions are solved by finding a win for White when there is no obvious way of winning. In the end game, the stronger side tries to exchange pieces (knights, bishops, rooks, and queens), while avoiding the exchange of pawns. This generally makes it easier for him to convert his advantage into a won game.

Thus it is with the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion.

It should be noted at the outset that the Episcopal Church has more than 300 bishops – active and retired – (for a church with a mere ASA of 700, 000) and a handful of queens but no knights in shining armor, and the pawns (the vast majority of laity) have had their brains so scrambled by liberal priests with their “gospel” that they wouldn’t know truth if it hit them in the face. The end game is now taking place in the Anglican Communion.

This was signaled by no less a person than lesbian elitist and Integrity star (the Rev.) Susan Russell who posted the text to the hymn “The strife is o’er, the battle done” on her blog, following the elevation of lesbian Mary Glasspool to the episcopacy, once again raising the middle finger to the universal Church. Queer is as queer does.

“I sang that hymn in my head over and over yesterday in Long Beach as the Diocese of Los Angeles — my diocesan “family of origin” — helped the Episcopal Church take another step forward on the full inclusion of all the baptized in all the sacraments with the ordinations of Diane Jardine Bruce and Mary Douglas Glasspool as the 1044th and 1045th bishops in its 221 year history,” wrote Russell.

It was and is a hollow victory – the liberal pansexual élite stamping their feet and clapping their hands to the sounds of a Mariachi band and the deathwatch beetle.

What happened this weekend in Los Angeles is TEC simply walking one more step on the road away from the cross and towards self-glorification, wrote a UK Anglican blogger. The real question now to be asked is what the rest of us will do about it.

I am told from a Communion Partner bishop that the Archbishop of Canterbury is preparing a statement for the Anglican Communion about this heretical consecration. We wait with baited breath.

Of course, there are those who trumpet that an Anglican Covenant will save us all, if TEC can, in full conscience sign off on it. There are rumblings from the left that that is not going to be easy and perhaps will not happen at all. Both New Zealand and Canada provinces have expressed misgivings about the Covenant especially Section 4 which acts as a chastisement to those disobedient to the Covenant’s demands.

The twin peaks of authority and autonomy are red flags to liberal bulls like The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church in Canada who will concede their authority to nobody and demand absolute autonomy for themselves, bowing to nobody including the Archbishop of Canterbury. So what sort of Covenant is one that is non-binding?

It should not be lost on anybody that TEC changed its name from ECUSA to The Episcopal Church with PB Jefferts Schori reminding us that TEC is in 16 countries with 110 dioceses. If push comes to shove, she can start her own little (unholy) communion without worrying about those nasty fundamentalist African Anglicans who represent 80% of the Anglican Communion of 61 million Anglican souls.

Another response to the crisis is to see both TEC and the ACofC placed into “a second-tier status in the larger Anglican Communion.” However that was proposed once before and never got off the ground. It won’t play now.

Liberal lay Pittsburgh Episcopal blogger Lionel Deimel and Episcopal Café offer up the old saw that it is time for TEC to consider withdrawing or disinviting itself from the various instruments of unity until there is clarity about the situation. Perhaps even that Williams should disinvite them. Their suggestions are too little, too late. The die has been cast.

It was cast in 2009 in Alexandria, Egypt, where the Primates met and concluded that there are two gospels, two different understandings of repentance and final clarity about the two religions that inhabit The Anglican Communion.

Southern Cone Archbishop Greg Venables made it clear to a small group of orthodox journalists following the meeting that one side confesses a gospel of obedience and faith; the other makes it a gospel of inclusion. Two stark views of repentance are on display. One is clearly biblical and faithful, recognizing our sinfulness by act and by nature. The other side sees repentance for not including non-celibate homosexuals to the church’s ranks.

The two irreconcilable positions have only hardened since 2009. There is no reason to keep fudging a faux unity. That day is over. We can now go forward with the church’s true mission, said Venables. “There is nothing to stop or hinder us.”

The other side has a different gospel, which as St. Paul said, is no gospel at all. (see Gal. 1:7)

They concluded that the Anglican Communion is irretrievably broken. It cannot be repaired. There are two religions in play. The GAFCON Primates of the Global South have seen the light and they won’t play in the darkness, any more.

“We were under no allusions about how to solve the problems.” The communion is divided, said Ugandan Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi at that time.

The situation has no long-term resolution. It would take a miracle to keep it together. Dr. Rowan Williams understands that. He will try and keep it together for as long as he can under his watch, noted the two archbishops.

“As we finished we felt that what happened here was worthwhile and things are clearer than it would have been were we not here. The liberal Primates made things a whole lot clearer. We were upfront about what we thought and what they think. There was no pretending about anything,” said Venables.

The Anglican Communion is broken beyond repair. It can never be repaired, was the message these primates gave.

“It is divided because we don’t agree. We found ways to set up to see if we can talk to one another. We found theological definitions about why we don’t agree. There is no denial that we are not in communion,” said Venables. There is the real possibility that some orthodox Primates will not attend future Primates meetings because clarity has been reached.

The Most Rev. Gerald Ian Ernest of the Province of the Indian Ocean confirmed that there were now two irreconcilable religions existing side by side in the Anglican Communion.

There was no talk of a federation that apparently is not going to happen. It was not even on the table. The Global South Primates held together as one. There was no compromise. The “listening process” that focused almost exclusively on homosexuality, was seen as a sop to homosexuals.

The Future

Everyone is in a broken state. It was recognized that there are lots of Anglicans out there who are true Anglicans, but who do not belong to the Anglican Communion. The Covenant was another way of discovering that we are not in communion.

As Anglican Mainstream writer Dr. Chris Sugden observed, the real issue is not the Covenant, but the Archbishop of Canterbury. His track record in protecting and including TEC is obvious – namely reneging on the agreements at Dromantine (so that TEC was present at the ACC in Nottingham), inviting the consecrators of Gene Robinson to Lambeth and undermining the debate at the ACC in Jamaica, which would have mandated a covenant with sanctions, said Sugden.

The belief that an improved version of the covenant will be adequate to deal with the challenges of TEC is misplaced. Improving an instrument while handing it to the same person and expecting him to use it for the goals you have is being naïve. Williams has unfailingly demonstrated that he will use whatever instruments there are for his purposes. These include the continuing inclusion of TEC and a rejection of any sanctions for those who flout communion resolutions.

“Gracious restraint” ended with Glasspool this past week, finally and irrevocably. For orthodox Anglicans who make up 80% of the communion, GAFCON/FCA is the way forward. In the US and Canada, it is the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) that is the authentic branch of Anglicanism as recognized by GAFCON, but not by the Archbishop of Canterbury or ACC. They don’t care.

Writing about the situation as he saw it, retired Eau Claire Bishop William Wantland made this observation: “The African bishops who provide most of the leadership of the Global South see Alexandria as the most important See in Africa. One idea floated is to establish an international center for orthodox Provinces in Alexandria (Egypt). A bishop would be named or elected who would be the head of these orthodox Provinces. He would be the “Anglican” Bishop of Alexandria, not unlike the Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem, who is one of many bishops and archbishops of Jerusalem.”

Ironically, Alexandria was the birthplace of Origen, a theologian, philosopher, and devoted Christian of the Alexandrian school. He famously castrated himself so he could tutor women without suspicion, an act singularly unnecessary in the case of Mary Glasspool. Alexandria was also the birthplace of St. Augustine and St. Clement. History and numbers are on the side of the Global South not on the side of a dying north that long since lost its way.

“The important thing to remember,” said Venables, “is that being in communion is about the integrity of the gospel. There needs to be an answer about how we move forward and it is coming and we will get there. Ultimately it is all about the gospel.”

In Los Angeles on Saturday, the Glasspool consecration was the nail in the proverbial coffin of belief in the possibility to “reform” TEC back into a Christian organization, wrote another blogger.

It is over. Whatever the Archbishop of Canterbury proposes by way of compromise will fail if he does not expressly delegitimize TEC, uninvite them to future primatial gatherings and recognize ACNA.

The time has come to recognize that the solution is not the covenant.

The only remedy, and one that has already started with GAFCON/FCA and ACNA, is to continue to marginalize and isolate TEC and the ACoC, tainting them with illegitimacy. This was reinforced recently in Singapore at the Fourth Global South to South Encounter. There 130 archbishops, bishops, clergy and laity affirmed what Anglicanism stands for and rejected the theological and moral innovations of TEC and the ACoC making it clear there will be no compromise with either province.

From the perspective of Scripture, we have been warned about false prophets and false teachings, and the dangers of associating with those who promote the same. So long as the Presiding Bishop and the majority of TEC bishops believe their actions and innovations are “prophetic” and driven by the Holy Spirit, they not only endanger their own souls but ours also. The way forward is the way back.

END

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