2/09/2005

The Problem with the Five Primates' statement, "ON WHAT IS OUR ANGLICAN UNITY BASED?"

This note was written in response to a statement on the Windsor Report, by five Primates. Text can be found HERE.

The article is far too clever. It follows realities of the brokenness of the church to a place of no return. The writer's arguments for the validity of intervention across diocesan boundaries ends up damning the whole mess. It makes much of Anglican messiness re jurisdictions which has mostly been the result of historical accident and the attempt to draw dioceses into the Anglican Communion. It fails almost completely to address the reality of the multiple overlapping jurisdictions of episcopal authorities (at least as we would recognize them) all over the place based on theological and political conflict. I speak of course of our separation from Roman and Orthodox jurisdictions.

The writers say, "Temporally, the world no longer has one Christian denomination or is one organizational church." They are right, of course, except in so far as one can argue that there never was "one Christian denomination or one organizational church." It is not "no longer." It is "never was."

In the past many who have objected to the direction taken by the Episcopal Church have argued that if the Episcopal Church did not conform to the "voice" of the Lambeth Conference, we would simply become a "sect" or denomination. Now we have these five Primates precisely admitting the fact that we all ARE such entities. The writers think their article justifies "rescue" across diocesan lines, denominational or even world church boundaries. But for rescue to be justified they have to show that the rescuing bishops or churches in fact represent the true faith. That they can not do, except in relation to other Anglican Churches (which means the bonds of affection are central) or by appeal to the "true faith" which is not in any way bound to the Anglican Communion.

The split that this article proposes is between the holders of the essentials of the faith - across denominational and church lines - and the holders of false doctrine, defective discipline, and degraded authority (which of course is all churches in the brokenness of the body.) . But that has nothing to do with the rescuing various parishes, individuals, dioceses, etc, FOR life in the Anglican Communion at all. It has to do with purity FROM this and every other denomination.

If Archbishops Dirokpa of the Congo,Kolini of Rwanda, Malango of Central Africa, Nzimbi of Kenya, and Chung of South East Asia can state the obvious, that "temporally, the world no longer has one Christian denomination or is one organizational church" then they must deal with the fact that they speak only with their own authority outside the bonds of affection that holds the Anglican Communion together. If they act outside such bonds they become, as with any foreign bishop, persons who have no authority in any realm outside their own. Their authority in any interior discussion in the Anglican Communion is a product of mutuality, a mutuality which they are renouncing. Their authority in any interior discussion of the doctrine and discipline of the Episcopal Church or the Anglican Church of Canada or any other church of the Anglican Communion is minimal.

Without that fellowship, the bonds of affection, they become simply another denomination or organizational church voice, and no longer part of the Anglican Communion, which holds that it is a fellowship within the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. As such they are free to establish any sort of missions they want wherever they want. Tragically, they simply become Christians who are separated from us in fact...de facto. Their actions become further confirmation that "the world no longer has one Christian denomination or is one organizational church."
Fine... but sad.

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