Obama and Williams Losing their Authority as Country and Church Become More Polarized

COMMENTARY

By David W. Virtue
www.virtueonline.org

Two leaders, one a president and the other the titular head of the Anglican Communion are watching as their respective authority diminishes and their constituencies become more polarized.

A president who ran on a ticket of “Hope and Change” now finds a large constituency that doesn’t like his changes. His ticket of “Yes we can,” now finds that, “No he can’t.”

An archbishop, who is looking to find a middle way between Western acceptance of pansexuality and Global South resistance and rejection of same, finds that he is being rejected by both sides. On the one hand he is being viewed as a compromiser by Western pan-Anglican liberals, while the other side is deeply suspicious that he is in fact a liberal in morals (and therefore in theology) and cannot be trusted to lead the communion any longer.

One is a liberal Democrat with a growing restive public that now believes things are not getting better in America, the other is a socialist who finds his nation’s leaders pushing a “Big Society” drive to empower communities that he rejects and sees as a cynical betrayal of the poor.

Both men are trying to negotiate their way out of problems at a time when their respective publics want them to be declarative about what they really believe, offer solutions, and to refrain from looking for an impossible middle ground or Third Way.

One is a lawyer the other is a poet/theologian. Both believe that compromise will end the impasse in their respective constituencies – a nation and a church – both are wrong.

Both men and their world views are out of touch with the basic values of their cultures and constituencies.

A president is out of touch with basic social and spiritual values that drive Middle America on issues like abortion, homosexuality and marriage, and what constitutes the good life. An archbishop does not articulate a clear understanding of the gospel that makes the vast majority of his constituents who are Evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics deeply suspicious as to what he really understands the gospel to be. His Liberal wing is atrophying and dying, his orthodox wing is growing by leaps and bounds. A third of his primates who represent two-thirds of the Anglican Communion no longer believe he speaks for them.

A president is watching as the nation grows more polarized between the haves and the have not’s; what the definition of right and wrong is, and an Archbishop is watching as his liberal constituency shrinks and shrivels, redefines marriage, while a vigorous orthodox Global South knocks at his door demanding that they are the real heirs to the Anglican tradition.

A president finds the armored tanks of a strident and reinvigorated Republicanism and Tea Party knocking at his White House doors, while an Archbishop finds GAFCON/FCA, the AMIE and an ORDINARIATE telling him, in no uncertain terms, that he is out of touch with reality, while he quietly hides behind Lambeth Palace doors ignoring the obvious and hoping they will go away. In neither case is that going to happen.

This country and an Anglican Communion of 70 million which are at war with themselves need leaders more like Winston Churchill rather than Neville Chamberlain.

Both men seem paralyzed as they watch a country and a church become more polarized while they are being driven by the intellectual positions of post-modernism and Hegel.

An archbishop recently watched helplessly as his country’s major cities exploded in riotous lawlessness and he offered nothing but platitudes as a palliative. If Lambeth Palace closed its doors only to open them for Royal weddings and the occasional funeral would anybody notice, would anybody care?

If this president loses the next election the country will go on for good or for ill. If the Archbishop of Canterbury cannot articulate what it is Anglicans believe and proclaim a clear unalloyed gospel to a country where more than 95% no longer care what the Church of England believes then the devastating consequences of prevarication and unbelief could, in time, force his church into irrelevance and ultimately closure.

One has political consequences that can be resolved in time, the other has spiritual penalties and consequences for millions of people for all eternity and that is scary beyond all human imagination.

END

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