The Primates eschew mere meetings and go for control.

Various Anglican Communion documents refer to four "instruments" of the Communion's life – The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lambeth Conference, the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates Meetings. The Anglican Communion website consistently refers to the Primates Meetings (plural) and to them as one of the instruments of communion.

Those meetings are described as follows:

"The Primates' Meeting was established in 1978 by Archbishop Donald Coggan (101st Archbishop of Canterbury) as an opportunity for 'leisurely thought, prayer and deep consultation' and has met regularly since."

It is increasingly apparent that neither the name of this instrument, "The Primates Meetings" nor the description given to it are true to current realities, and far from the role increasingly ascribed to them in various documents.

Reports from the last two meetings (Northern Ireland and Tanzania) have indicated anything but "leisurely thought, prayer and deep consultation." Instead there has been high tension, broken prayer, and deep consultation not necessarily by all with all, but involving sub-groups situated nearby and within the larger group. What may have been understood to be a time away to think, pray and consult – something like Jesus getting away with the disciples – has turned into an ecclesiastical arena for struggle and contention.

But more importantly, these meetings have become increasingly the context for decision making by the Primates, so that in the end it is not the Primates Meetings that are an instrument of communion, but the Primates themselves. Making the body of persons called the Primates the instrumentality is to ascribe to them that which was part of their meeting, not their persons. This seemingly small point is at the center of what is increasingly seen as a group exercise of power where there was otherwise a vacuum.

One sign of this group acquisition of power is the willingness of the Primates to come together not for regular scheduled meetings, but for extraordinary or emergency meetings. They did this, at the request of the Archbishop of Canterbury, shortly after the 2003 General Convention. That meeting made the decision to call for a special commission and that commission produced the Windsor Report. The Commission was called the Lambeth Commission and the report the Windsor Report quite deliberately to give to both the commission and the report memorable titles related to the sources of power in the Church of England – namely the Archbishop and the State itself. But neither the committee or the report actually relied on those those powers. The names evoked power, but the power came from the authority given them by the Primates, particularly at the Northern Ireland and Tanzania meetings.

The October 2003 extraordinary meeting of the Primates resulted in a communiqué, in which they stated, "As Primates of our Communion seeking to exercise the "enhanced responsibility" entrusted to us by successive Lambeth Conferences, we re-affirm our common understanding of the centrality and authority of Scripture in determining the basis of our faith." The notion of "enhanced responsibility" then became the basis for the assumption of authority.

The 1988 Lambeth Conference first referred to this notion of enhanced responsibility. It stated (Resolution 18):

The Conference, "Urges that encouragement be given to a developing collegial role for the Primates Meeting under the presidency of the Archbishop of Canterbury, so that the Primates Meeting is able to exercise an enhanced responsibility in offering guidance on doctrinal, moral and pastoral matters."

Concerning this, the Conference stated in a note: "We see an enhanced role for the Primates as a key to growth of inter-dependence within the Communion. We do not see any inter-Anglican jurisdiction as possible or desirable; an inter-Anglican synodical structure would be virtually unworkable and highly expensive. A collegial role for the Primates by contrast could easily be developed, and their collective judgement and advice would carry considerable weight."

Lambeth 1988 did not consider the Primates to be an "inter-Anglican jurisdiction" "an inter-Anglican synodical structure."

Lambeth 1998 reconsidered that disclaimer of jurisdiction and synod and reaffirmed the 1988 statement, and to that added the following:

"b: asks that the Primates' Meeting, under the presidency of the Archbishop of Canterbury, include among its responsibilities positive encouragement to mission, intervention in cases of exceptional emergency which are incapable of internal resolution within provinces, and giving of guidelines on the limits of Anglican diversity in submission to the sovereign authority of Holy Scripture and in loyalty to our Anglican tradition and formularies;

c. recommends that these responsibilities should be exercised in sensitive consultation with the relevant provinces and with the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) or in cases of emergency the Executive of the ACC and that, while not interfering with the juridical authority of the provinces, the exercise of these responsibilities by the Primates' Meeting should carry moral authority calling for ready acceptance throughout the Communion, and to this end it is further recommended that the Primates should meet more frequently than the ACC;

d. believing that there should be a clearer integration of the roles of the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates' Meeting, recommends that the bishops representing each province in the Anglican Consultative Council should be the primates of the provinces and that -

  1. equal representation in the ACC from each province, one presbyter or deacon and one lay person from each province should join the primates in the triennial ACC gathering;
  2. an executive committee of the ACC should be reflective of this broad membership, and;
  3. there should be a change in the name of the Anglican Consultative Council to the Anglican Communion Council, reflecting the evolving needs and structures to which the foregoing changes speak."

We might note that none of the subsections of "d" have been developed, and the name has remained the same – it remains a "consultative" council.

The matter of consultation with relevant provinces and with the Anglican Consultative Council has not been a feature of the most recent communiqués of the Primates.

The drift to a Primatial synod that has both judicial and synodical powers is happening, quite without approval or engagement of the Provinces and their several governments. The earlier denial of binding authority has been superseded by the claim of "moral authority calling for the ready acceptance throughout the Communion." That claim to moral authority is now slowly turning to the claim of authority to act without the full acceptance of either the governing bodies of the various provinces, and in particular the provinces where intervention is proposed, and without the approval of or consultation with the ACC.

The Primates, in other words, are out of the box. They are assuming the power to move from moral persuasion to moral authority to authority.

The Archbishop of Canterbury made a telling comment when he stated in a conversation with Bishop James Kelsey, ""When asked what would happen after the Sept. 30 deadline set by the primates' communiqué, and who would decide about the adequacy of the response of The Episcopal Church to its demands, Rowan Williams responded that it would not be he who would decide since, as he said, 'I'm not a pope; that's not how our system works... I'll take it to the primates, and they will decide'." (reported in the Living Church online.)

The Archbishop has taken the bait: "The adequacy of the response of the Episcopal Church to its demands" could rightly be regarded as within the responsibility of the party making the demands (in this case the Primates) but the Archbishop easily gave way to the Primates decision to impose a September 30th deadline. He determined that "what would happen" was not in his hand either, but in the hands of the Primates.

What is beginning to be apparent is that the Archbishop of Canterbury is no longer the focus of unity, and indeed perhaps not even an instrument of Communion, but in reality the titular chair of a body of Primates who have de facto BECOME the central decision making body in the Anglican Communion. The ACC, Lambeth, and the Archbishop of Canterbury are in secondary roles in this emerging scheme.

All of this, of course, is happening without any reference to an emerging Covenant that might or might not actually address matters of governance. The current draft does propose the Primates as the final judge and jury of inclusion or exclusion from the Communion, but that may not stay in any future version of a covenant.

It is also increasingly clear that many in the Communion want no part of this realigned Anglican Communion, with the enhanced role of the Primates as juridical beasts.

The House of Bishops made it clear that "the meaning of the Preamble to the Constitution of the Episcopal Church is determined solely by the General Convention of The Episcopal Church." That statement of essential autonomy is echoed in a variety of other settings, including the Church of Nigeria's constitution that makes its own system the arbiter of what its canons and constitution mean, and the Church of England's canons that set out its own definition of what constitutes the Anglican Communion, namely the churches it lists as the Anglican Communion at the end of the Canons.

So we have moved from having Primates who meet on a regular but not too frequent schedule for some time away to Primates who get called together with increasing frequency to DO something – to make decisions, call for studies, make statements that carry moral authority and command the respect of the Communion, to determining what happens next.

There very well might be an extraordinary meeting of the Primates following the September 30th deadline. If so, we will no doubt see an attempt to pass judgment on the actions or inactions of The Episcopal Church, this by a body that as yet has no mandate from the Provinces of the Communion. George Conger, no slouch in such matters, reports the possibility of such a meeting in his recent article in the Living Church.

The stunning communication to the Episcopal Church from the House of Bishops meeting in March included in it a clear warning that the Primates may not assume to act in the context of The Episcopal Church without its explicit approval and that such approval will not be forthcoming. About the assumed power to put in place a "Primatial scheme," the bishops had a lot to say, one point of which is, "It sacrifices the emancipation of the laity for the exclusive leadership of high-ranking Bishops. And, for the first time since our separation from the papacy in the 16th Century it replaces the local governance of the Church by its own people with the decisions of a distand and unaccountable group of prelates."

They were of course speaking of the Primates, no longer a meeting, but a political force interfering in the life of the Church in ways that molest and do not serve.

Time to get clear: usurpation takes many forms, but has one end – dominance.


  1. This is all too readily apparent: whatever they may say, it is clearly what both the Global South Steering Committee primates and Canterbury want (if perhaps for different reasons). This is why I would question the recommendations Dr. Grieb made to the House of Bishops. She suggested Episcopal bishops choose not to attend Lambeth (a position I have also suggested); but has also suggested temporarily withdrawing from the ACC and from Primates' Meetings. If we are to see any instrument of communion, then we must support and participate in it; and the ACC seems the most congruent - perhaps these days the only one congruent - with our ecclesiology. If we believe there is value in some communion of churches in the Anglican tradition, we do not do well to simply stand off, see what someone else shapes, and decide whether we want to participate. We must choose our battles, but we must commit to fight the battles we need.

  2. ++Williams' remark is truly disconcerting, however, I wonder about the context in which it was made? Was it an off-hand remark not thought through. He is a theolgian not a politician or an atty. He spoke these words before the HofB met. He may not have understood either how they would be interpreted in the "democratic" provinces or that they might be interpreted by others to his accession to the usurption by this instrument of communion. The primates too in their hasty accession may not have understood how their actions as a group would impact their authrity with their own bishops in their own provinces. Did the and ++Rowan think this through. regarding their own provincial autonmy. The HofB response, if nothing else, should focus their attention on the implications and precedent this new role for primates as magisterium will have. +Akinola's degree from VTS is in the political area, an MTS, not theology. His doctorate D.D., although often noted by Ruth Gedhill and others, for example is unearned. ++Rowan's is, but maybe a sitdown with ++Rowan and a quick earned MS in political science would help.

  3. Marshall, I wish I could agree, but I don't see how we in the Episcopal Church can continue to work with this organization that calls itself the Anglican Communion.

    I think we need a sharp break. No attendance at any of its functions, and, importantly, no funding for any of its activities, for perhaps five years. As suggested, we could term this a "fast period" and make the fast renewable indefinitely.

    We can then spend the first five years making bilateral agreements with such member churches as are congruent with our ecclesiology and are willing to live in Communion with us.

    I think it safe to assume that, without our funds to support it, the organization presently calling itself the Anglican Communion will have collapsed in five years' time. That will be a fruitful and productive collapse, leaving room for a better organization of churches in the Anglican tradition to take its place.

    On the other hand, if we continue to bumble along with the thing that calls itself the Communion now -- well, it turns my stomach to think of the scenes that will be taking place at the next dozen or so emergency Primates' meetings, and the scandal to Christianity and stumbling-block to faith those spectacles will offer. As it is, I am so utterly disgusted by the Primates' shenanigans that I am beginning to find it hard to believe there is any truth in Christianity whatsoever.

  4. I agree with Charlotte that we ought not to finance these shenanigans. Let the IRD keep buying bishops instead, as Bp. Mwamba of Botswana has indicated. And may the price continue to rise; foreign bishops are sadly inexpensive at present.

    It's interesting that the resolution-creep from Lambeth '88 to '98, which Mark has detailed here, coincided with the implementation of IRD's longterm plan to "renew" all American mainline Protestant churches according to its theocon formula. The buying and selling of bishoprics has been going on for longer than there have been bloggers.

    No one in the United States elected these foreign pointy-hats and we need not submit to them. The emancipation of the laity is the best thing we've got going for us. It is by laypeople that we shall be led; clergy have a built-in conflict of interest, called a paycheck. We need all three orders to govern ourselves correctly.

    Ecclesiology aside, we must not overlook the complete moral bankruptcy of our opponents. Armstrong in Colorado is accused of accepting hundreds of thousands off the books. Williams' recent meeting with the Bishop of Harare ought to have resulted in a public demand for Malanga's immediate resignation - but it did not. Malanga is a known extortioner and suspected of inciting the murder of his own diocesan clergy and parish wardens. Williams' silence in the face of such scandal shows his utter acquiescence. Then there is the Manipulator of All Nigeria, desperate to pass a bill in Parliament to imprison Gay and Lesbian citizens for the mere possession of a human rights pamphlet.

    We can resist this; and thanks to the leadership of laity and clergy, bishops and bloggers, we are resisting it. But we need to go further; we need to expose, agitate, organize, write, talk and pray.

    Polity is not a defense, only a means that courageous women and men can use to fight for their Church. This argument will be won or lost in the streets, in the pews, in hearts and minds. We are far stronger than we've ever been before.

    I'm reminded of various Prayer Book Rebellions in Cornwall, Scotland and elsewhere: prelates may decree whatever they like, but it's the people who decide; we have the power of the purse.

    We must act quickly; Williams has never been more vulnerable. The Covenant plan is suddenly shaky. Secessionists are in panic, South Carolina can't get a bishop, Nigeria is in political uproar - and Davis Mac-Iyalla may soon be coming to the United States to finally tell the truth about the Archbishop of Abuja.

    Isn't it funny, sad really, how the naming of prelates, reports and communiqués gets used to manipulate the followers of Christ. That is the English class system - the state - at work.

    We however are Americans, and I fully expect a woman to rise up, Prayer Book in hand, and aim it straight for these archbishops' heads.

    Josh Thomas

  5. Please excuse my error: I wrote"
    +Akinola's degree from VTS is in the political area, an MTS, not "theology". I meant to write "scripture" I wonder is the Americans could best spend their money by underwriting the hermeneutics project. I fear its implementation will disappear like the rest of Lambeth 1.10 and the "listening project". If TEC is to be chastized, what concern about The Curch of Nigeria and Uganda?

  6. If it is usurpation you are concerned with, then why are you not concerned with the General Conventions usurpation of the role of guardian of the faith. GC claims to have the authority to change the faith in its essentials rather than its expression.

    If TECUSA had not forced this innovation on the communion, I doubt very much if the Primates meeting would have taking the juridical turn it did.

    Phil Snyder

  7. For plsdeacon? I am baffled by your thoughts regarding the need for the intervention of the primates in TEC governance based on "theology". How has the decision to consecrate +Robinson forced such on Nigeria or Uganda or Singapore? Has TEC forced The Church of Nigeria to ordain women? For that matter, has TEC forced San Joaquin or Ft. Worth to ordain women, loci where TEC arguably could exercise such authority if it wished to. And, of even more consequence, has TEC intervened in Central Africa? Has it sent missioners to "wayward" African provinces where polygamy is still tolerated if not affirmed. What provisions has the primate of Nigeria made for those in the "minority" in his country who may wish women clergy? It's not about the attempt of New Westminster or TEC to impose their theology on other autonomous provinces. It is an attempt by a new magisterium/curia to impose the theology and polity of 38 people (or maybe as little as 20 people using a simple majority) theology and polity on autonomous bodies. Having read the Westfield Response, can you believe that Tanzania happened without +Akinola being fully briefed on the legal implications in the US? They met here in Chantilly in November. The first signature on the document was that of the chancellor of Pittsburgh. Sadly, I suspect that ++Rowan had no clue as to how he was being maneuvered. Did he learn nothing from Dromantine? I dearly hope he is now putting it together. Forgive me, but my undergrad majors were History and Poli Sci. This isn't about Theology. This is about power. +Duncan understands it. +Akinola surely does as does +Minns. ++Rowan is playing catch up. Does he have time?

  8. christopher+5/4/07 10:10 AM

    I certainly understand and identify with the disgust at the treatment of the Episcopal Church by those who would seize power and redefine the essentials of the catholic faith as drawn from the Holy Scriptures and expressed in the Creeds.

    One thing we all might want to consider, though, is that not all primates - perhaps even not most primates - really want to take part in a "coup d'eglise." Some certainly do, and though they might package this lust for power and control in pious language of love and interdependence, their goal is increasingly transparent. Remember, though: Even the Presiding Bishop of TEC signed the recent primates' communique, not because she necessarily supported it's proposals, but because it was the best they could come up with under pressure of time and church politics. The primate of Canada offered not to sign it, but Bishop Katharine encouraged him to do so, so the meeting would reflect the highest possible level of achievement.

    The question is: How many other primates don't really like the increasing claims of power made for them on their behalf? I imagine there are quite a few of them. And how many provincial synods will really support - and cede authority to - an all-powerful group of primates? I really don't think many will.

  9. As long as you are rejecting stuff, here is another thing to consider rejecting.
    Just another HATE study ! ! ?

  10. With all due respect, Phil, I remain unconvinced that General Convention addressed essentials in confirming the election of Bishop Robinson or in saying, "Yes, we're aware that some folks are exploring how to bless GLBT unions and believe they're good Christians and good Episcopalians in the process" - which is in fact all General Convention has done. I am aware some have also raised arguments with the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, and I do think that is a better point to argue whether "essentials" have been changed (although I remain unconvinced from those arguments, too). Even our Canadian siblings, who has said these raise doctrinal questions, have said those questions are not matters of "core" (i.e. credal) doctrine.

    No, the doctrines affected are ecclesioligical, not credal; and the innovations, at least from an Anglican historical perspective, are the moves toward centralized authority of a small group whose processes of selection/election are varied and inconsistent. We continue to say and mean the Creeds, albeit with some variation in interpretation. We continue to read and trust Scripture, albeit with some variations in hermeneutic. We continue to be governed by councils of bishops, albeit with some variations of their authority and the partipation of lay, diaconal, and presbyteral orders in those councils. We continue to offer two Sacraments, using the words used by Christ in Scripture, albeit with some variation in the words that shape the liturgies around them. Those variations are not new in the Anglican tradition. It is the drive to centralize, to specify, to codify that is the innovation; and it is the Primates - more specifically, the Primates of the Global South Steering Committee - who have chosen to innovate.

  11. Nature abhors a vacuum and that is what TEC has had for decades. Having divorced itself from both catholic theology and its reformation roots, it professes surprise when the vacuum gets filled by others. Do your new thing, by all means! But why should anyone respect the roadblocks you are trying to put in the paths of those who are not willing to watch you self-destruct.

  12. John-Julian. OJN5/4/07 12:37 PM

    Mark, we owe you (and Jake and Jim) such a debt of gratitude! It is only when all the wheels and cogs and levers have been brought together in one place that we can actually see where the machine is going.

    Lambeth remains a question. As someone mentioned elsewhere, the invitations would usually have gone out in January, and they haven't. Someone else suggested +Rowan plans retirement before the end of the year.

    Methinks TEC should simply proceed as it has always proceeded. That way WE take no divisive actions – leave that up to THEM. (But if +Gene doesn't get invited, I would hope NO TEC bishops would go!)

  13. Malcolm French+5/4/07 12:38 PM

    It is interesting to note that, whatever "mission creep" there may have been between Lambeth 88 and Lambeth 98, the 98 resolution still clearly rejects a juridical role for the Primates.

    Regarding the possibility of "pre-emptive withdrawal" from Lambeth, the ACC etc., I suggest this would be a significant tactical error. It is important that the eventual (and perhaps inevitable) schism should be started by the schismatics (ie, Akinola, Gomez et al).

    If the American and or Canadian Bishops pre-emtively decline to attend Lambeth, if our Churches continue our withdrawal from the ACC, if our Primates skip the Primates meetings, then we accept responsibility for the schism.


    Instead, let the schismatics push us out the doors. And if our bishops aren't invited to Lambeth, let them travel to England anyway and stand outside the doors fasting.

    Let responsibility for schism remain with the schismatics, with Akinola of Nigeria, Duncan of Pittsburgh et al.

  14. Phil says - "If TECUSA had not forced this innovation on the communion, I doubt very much if the Primates meeting would have taking the juridical turn it did."

    Which innovation is that? Divorce.? Ordination of Women? Or the current cause celeb - the gays?

    The GS Primates have been egging for a realignment long before Lambeth 98 and VGR. And with them Bishops have been conspiring to split TEC. Bishop William Wantland states in 1997 that the reason for his attempted coup was -

    "We have been concerned, however, with the recent threats by Primates of Anglican Churches in Africa, Asia and elsewhere to seek the ouster of the American Church from the Anglican Communion. In view of these very real threats, we were concerned to be sure that there remained in this country an Anglican Church still associated with the rest of the Anglican Communion."

    The GS Primates have been against all "innovations" of any kind. And have wanted to transform the AC into their personal agent to prevent all such innovations for over a decade.

    They just finally found the right monied partners in the U.S. and the right "innovation" to bring the AC to heel.

  15. christopher+5/4/07 1:45 PM

    I agree completely that TEC and the ACoC should not simply withdraw from the "councils" of the Anglican Communion, despite the shameless, one-sided handling current issues have received on the official level, thanks to the work of a few primates. I am personally unsure how US bishops should respond if one of them is singled out for non-invitation to Lambeth, but there is certainly no need entirely to break fellowship for our part. I sincerely doubt that most provinces and "instruments" want to see TEC and ACoC excluded, so we shouldn't assume that this will actually happen either.

  16. "let them travel to England anyway and stand outside the doors fasting."
    Perhaps some of them might even pour gasoline over their heads and threaten to light a match. You might find some volunteers.

  17. John-Julian (whose writings I have never properly expressed my gratitude for -- and I still have not!):

    I'd also wondered, when I heard about ++Rowan's "long-planned" sabbatical, whether this wasn't going to be the prelude to a retirement somewhat ahead of schedule.

    There are many in Britain who have been deeply disappointed with ++Rowan's performance as Archbishop of Canterbury, and there have been rumors that he would step down after Lambeth 2008.

    However, I've read enough British history to know that the view from Whitehall can be very narrow. Tony Blair is about to step down as Prime Minister. He is now very unpopular, while his successor, Gordon Brown, lacks charisma. It is not certain that Labour will win the next General Election.

    If the next Archbishop of Canterbury is to be appointed by a Labour government, then, that appointment must come soon.

    ++Rowan's failure to maintain control of the agenda at Tanzania, and the Americans' threatened split, may have moved the item up everyone's agenda.

    Three months gives time for the candidates to be brought forward and vetted. If ++Rowan resigns just after the September 30th deadline has passed, it will be possible to "delay" the Lambeth 2008 meeting for plausible reasons, giving a new Archbishop time to take hold and begin to restore order within the Communion.

  18. "I think we need a sharp break. No attendance at any of its functions, and, importantly, no funding for any of its activities, for perhaps five years. As suggested, we could term this a "fast period" and make the fast renewable indefinitely.

    We can then spend the first five years making bilateral agreements with such member churches as are congruent with our ecclesiology and are willing to live in Communion with us." Charlotte

    Thank you.

    Yes, it's time to say NO to the codependent abusers of fellow Christians/Anglicans at the Body of Christ...NO means NO to extremists Akinola, Orombi, Duncan and their exclusive lynch mob!

    The ugliness and pattern of righteous thieving is way beyond reasonable conversation in an atmosphere where illmannered Anglican bigots will (or can) LISTEN to anything other than the sound of their own emotionally disturbed and damning (to others) voices.

    This is the reality of what's going on at OUR Church and it would be the healthiest thing for everyone if we say NO to the arrogant/spoiled abusers.

  19. Somewhere, I am not sure, the right wing has come up with the idea that there is a right to win. They seem to me to expect that as they know what God should do, if only God had their knowlege and intellect, that the Spirit will lead the bad liberals to their conclusions. If that does not happen, the fact that there were more than just two or three gathered in His name does not matter.

    So, SC can dismiss the work of the Spirit in the Robinson election and affirm it in the Lawrence election. They can deny the work of the Spirit in the consents of 03, and the lack of them in '07, but they certainly were operative when the incumbents of Dallas, Fort Worth and San Juaquin were the subjects.

    So, we have a new principal. It is OK to vote, if the homophobes win.

    It simply is not gonna work that way in TEC and of that we should be proud.

    Back in 2002, several who post here now from time to time and I agreed that what we were seeing was the right seeking a jurisdictional level at which it could win. The right saw that as the work of the godly, I did not. Now they simply announce that the "primates" as trumped up a jurisdiction as I have ever seen or heard of, is in charge. Why? Because given a craven ABC, they can win there.

    England did not create the
    Anglican Communion -- Cananda and the US did. It was our bishops who convinced Canturbery to call the first Lambeth, our money and ideas that created the ACC. As a priest I know observed recently, we created one, we can create another.


  20. Emily and Marshall,

    TECUSA is changing the essentials by requiring the Anglican Communion to agree that blessing homosexual relationships is adiaphora. They believe that sexual morality (indeed, all morality) is essential to the faith and not something that should be changed by one or two provinces. This is a decision that the whole communion should have made, not just TECUSA or ACC.

    If we can change this, can we change other things, such as allowing theft if the person from whom we steal is rich enough and doesn't give to the poor voluntarily? Can we change the moral teaching to make promiscuity OK - so long as both parties (or all parties) are OK with it when the promiscuity starts such that no one is harmed?

    Decisions that affect the whole church should be decided by the whole church.

    Phil Snyder

  21. Phil Snyder writes:

    "TECUSA is changing the essentials by requiring the Anglican Communion to agree that blessing homosexual relationships is adiaphora."

    Show us this requirement, Phil. Show us where TEC has demanded any such thing.

    Put up or shut up.

    Josh Thomas

  22. obadiahslope6/4/07 12:39 AM

    "Show us where TEC has demanded any such thing."
    The election of +NH challenges the Anglican Communion to accpt him at lambeth. you might feel this is a good challenge, but it is a challenge none the less.
    As for blessings, the primates have asked TEC (via its bishops) to make it clear whether or not it will have gay blessings or not. At the moment there appears to be a fuzzy local option system and the primates want to know what TEC intends to do. Up till now the TEC position appears to have been adiaphora - but clarity is being called for. At the very least TEC's "demand" has been that SSBs is a mattrer of adiaphora.

  23. adiaphora - meaning essential to the faith? Is that how the term is being used here? It is odd that TEC is being accused of taking a position that SSBs are somehow essential to the faith. TEC has determined that a an admonition against all homosexual behavior is NOT adiaphora. And such behavior is not the basis upon which one is to be excluded from the church. It is the GS Primates that are making such an admonition an essential of the faith.

  24. For Phil..plsdeacon..As to what is/is not "adiaphora", to suggest that TEC has "changed" the definition of essential doctrine and made it second or even third, fourth even fifth tier away from core, implies that the doctrine WAS and REMAINS core. As you may contest that TEC had no right to "change" it, can the GS then be challenged equally by asking: What right have you to define it as essential? This bris up the whole question again of whether or not TEC is to become a "confessing" church vs a credal one. The GS Steering Com seems to want to lead the Communion in that direction .

  25. christopher+6/4/07 10:04 AM

    Sadly, this appears to need repeating - again, and again, and again:

    The essentials of the faith, as traditionally understood by Anglicans, are clearly listed in the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral, BCP pages 876-878 (in TEC). These essentials of the faith (and aspects of order), which include acceptance of the Holy Scriptures (without, of course, trying to outline every single interpretive issue) and the Creeds (as "the sufficient statement of the Christian faith," in the case of the Nicene Creed), are the basis for church unity, as traditionally seen by Anglicans worldwide. Shared acceptance of these essentials makes full communion possible.

    Anything else is simply NOT an essential of the faith, important as it might seem or actually be. Anything else is just about people figuring out how much diversity of thought and practice on secondary issues they can tolerate, which is fair enough - but by no means essential to their faith or anyone else's faith.

    For any Anglican to attempt to make selected - indeed cherry-picked - issues of sexual morality essential to faith in Christ Jesus is to raise additional biblical interpretations to the level of the Creeds themselves. Imagine if, in the past, Anglo-Catholics or Evangelicals had attempted to make either of their approaches to sacramental theology - clearly a very important, biblically oriented issue - binding on all and equal in importance to the Creeds!! I trust no thinking person really wants to do this now either, passionately committed as they might be to particular biblical interpretations.

  26. obadiahslope6/4/07 6:32 PM

    adiaphora means "matters that are indifferent". That is, something about which a church feels more than one view is acceptable. Such as that brand of wine used in communion. The Windsor Report contains a detailed definition if you want more.

  27. obadiahslope - Thanks for repointing me. It helps to understand what exactly is being argued, but it still comes down to a discussion of what is considered essential to the faith.


OK... Comments, gripes, etc welcomed, but with comment moderation but with some cautions and one rule:
Cautions: Calling people fools, idiots, etc, will be reason to bounce your comment. Keeping in mind that in the struggles it is difficult enough to try to respect opponents, we should at least try.