3/11/2008

More Predictions fulfilled.

On January 2nd, 2008 I raised a variety of predictions. Several have become reality this week:

"
The Global South Anglican group will recapture its initial vision as a gathering of Anglicans from countries whose political, economic and social systems are in serious flux and development, a gathering for the purpose of mutual mission strategy."

This week Dr Michael Poon of Singapore, theologian working with the Global South group wrote a detailed history of the rise of the group and made a plea for its return to its initial vision. Read it HERE.

About GAFCON (The Global Anglican Future Conference) he had this to say:

"
GAFCON holds before the Communion a new and unfamiliar utopia that is post-modern to its core. Webmasters and web bloggers render synodical processes irrelevant. They preside over web blogs in the virtual worlds of their own fabrication. Its power in shaping public opinion on ecclesiastical authorities simply cannot be ignored. A communion that is no longer dependent on patient face-to-face encounters and governed by geographical proximity: it is a Gnostic gospel that renders the Cross in vain."

His essay requires a careful read.

Then there was this prediction from my blog:

"By virtue of hard work by a number of progressives there will be further work on a theology of Grace in creation that will contribute to an understanding of full participation of all baptized persons in all vocations to holy living for the healing of the world, a Gospel agenda."

A group of theologians and writers have just finished work at St. Deiniol's Library in England on a major new work on issues to be titled, Rebuilding Communion.

In task is described as follows:

"
No one can deny that homosexuality is a key issue in contemporary Anglicanism; it is one of the causes of the present fracture in the worldwide Communion. St Deiniol’s has a tradition of providing a space for the discussion of issues confronting church and society. On one level, that is all we are doing. I hope we can approach the issue in new ways. For instance, the final section of the book looks at the issue from the perspective of human rights legislation, the African concept of ubuntu, conflict resolution in Bosnia and pastoral need in Canada.All the contributors to the book are committed Anglicans, not all of us are gay. We all want to see Anglicanism renewed and revived - we are passionate about this.

Most of us are Anglicans because we are attracted to its inclusive nature and its careful sifting of scripture, tradition and reason. For many of us, the ‘untidiness’ of the Anglican Communion is part of its attraction. We know that the health of our planet depends on the maintenance of our biodiversity. The same may well be true of Anglicanism. Our tradition is one of expressing faith through the cultures of our people. Consequently, our theology and ethics have often been shaped by pastoral care and concern. In a worldwide Communion, this is bound to lead to diversity and to suppress this diversity is to inflict a high cost on the freedom of the human spirit."


Then I wrote a series of predictions that have all been lumped together in the finality of the non-invitation of Bishop Robinson to Lambeth. It turns out that the inability of Lambeth to reconsider plays into several observations I made.

Let me say at the outset that Bishop Robinson's statement at the House of Bishops stands as a profoundly spiritual response to a very difficult situation. Read it in full HERE.

For the moment, however, I look back to my predictions:

"Bishop Gene Robinson will be at Lambeth whether or not he is physically present inside the walls. Not to invite him in is absurd." It turns out he will indeed be there, but in no way compromised by the degrading proposal that he set up camp in the Marketplace (an area set aside for the buying and selling of religious garb, ideas, books and so on). He will no doubt visit the Marketplace and speak in various venues. He says,

"
I think I will go to Lambeth thinking about gay and lesbian people around the world who will be watching what happens there. I will go to Lambeth remembering the 100 or so twenty-something's I met in Hong Kong this fall, who meet every Sunday afternoon to worship and sing God's praise in a secret catacomb of safety - because they can't be gay AND Christian in their own churches. I will be taking them to Lambeth with me. They told me that the Episcopal Church was their hope for a different, welcoming church. They told me they were counting on us. Yes, the things we do in the Episcopal Church have ramifications far, far away - and sometimes those ramifications are good."


I observed, "not to invite him is absurd." That's no prediction. That's a fact.



Later I said,


"The Archbishop of Canterbury will not stop believing that the Windsor Report is an item in the Anglican portfolio that has continuing merit. He will be wrong." It turns out the Archbishop is bound to the Windsor Report with all the tenacity of a true believer. Hospitality takes second place to the call of the WR to exclude Bishop Robinson.

I also said,

"The icon of solidarity in the Anglican Communion (Canterbury focus) will be the Anglican Covenant, at least during the tenure of the incumbent Archbishop of Canterbury." The Anglican Covenant, now in its third draft is still the door that opens into international Anglican canons. That way lies the worse of Rome, where forgiveness of wrong decisions can take four hundred years. But for sure the Archbishop is stuck.


And then I predicted that,

"Progressives will try to live without icons but will be tempted to think of justice as an icon. They will have to work at overcoming this temptation. Justice is not an icon, it is an anvil on which the pretenses of our prejudices disguised as morality are finally annealed." I must confess that this was more of a hope than a prediction, but Bishop Robinson's amazingly precise statement to the House of Bishops avoided making him an icon. Rather it called everyone within earshot to consider the matter of justice in a new light, in the light of a rather large family that is trying to grow into the full stature of Christ.

So it's off to Lambeth. There the bishops will meet their greatest hopes and worse fears. It will turn out that Bishop Robinson is among the great hopes. That's a fact, not a prediction.


9 comments:

  1. Is it really hospitality to deny one's self-understanding? It seems more like cheating both the guest and the host even if the self-understanding is mistaken, and it appears to be so whether we are talking about an individual's self-understanding or a communitees self-understanding.

    Jon

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  2. I was deeply saddened, again, by the ABC and his non-offer to the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson that he could be a side-show at Lambeth rather than a full participant as a member of the body of Christ. Gene's statement asked for prayers, and he has mine. And I do pray for the ABC that he might one day come to see God in all of His children, and that the Church, the Communion, will quit dwelling on the "bright shiny objects" and get back to God. Grant us all that strength and courage!

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  3. The ABC has said many times in the last FIVE years that Lambeth 1.10 represents the mind of the communion. His decision is no surprise. He wants order. TEC rejected his cal and that of all the Primates in 2003 with making Gene Robinson a bishop..... but that does not change the fact the the ABC still wants order. He will not be forced to change the teaching of the Communion by the actions of one province....even if he personally may have no problems with Gene Ronbinson being a bishop. The ABC has always been clear.....being part of the Communion means accepting the discipline of the communion.

    FIVE years of divisions....because TEC wants to stay in the AC club?

    - Why not go it alone and let others around the world join a new liberal Anglican church?

    - Anyone really think the AC is going to be persuaded to accept Gene Robinson and Integrity's agenda?

    - Is it worth splitting the AC or is it better for TEC to lead a global liberal Anglican church?

    Why stay in the club and be a source of division when TEC could be doing something much more productive??

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  4. The worst of it is that the ABC probably would like to have Bishop Robinson in attendance but is hopelessly ensnared in the web of church politics that characterizes the entire discussion. Understanding his role to be one of maintaining unity, he is - sadly - willing to sacrifice one for the perceived sake of many.

    It seems very odd, though, that this is all up to the Archbishop of Canterbury anyway, whoever he or - eventually - she might be. Why should one person get to decide which Anglican bishops are welcome amongst all Anglican bishops? If the Anglican Consultative Council manages the so-called Schedule of Membership in the Anglican Communion (notably by province, not diocese), then surely it is infinitely more appropriate for the spiritual head of the Communion simply to invite all bishops in good standing in their respective provinces. Why, in a diverse, global fellowship of provinces such as ours, is the decision on who gets to engage in broad, episcopal dialogue still left to a single prelate in England?

    christopher+

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  5. Anonymous...

    By staying in the AC we insure that the powerless have a voice. We insure that the weak are represented. We insure that the cause of justice remains on the table.

    I am disheartened by the ABC's statement, and when it came out I felt a pang of "Sigh...once again...we are told to be quiet, to behave ourselves, to not flaunt who we are." We are children of Christ, children of a loving God whose glorious diversity is worth celebration, not exclusion.

    We will remain.
    Faithful.
    Committed.
    Graced by God's love.

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  6. anon, I believe your question was adequately answered over at Jakes place earlier this morning.

    "It will turn out that Bishop Robinson is among the great hopes. That's a fact, ..."

    That's a fact, Jack, er, um, Mark!
    cheers

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  7. Nice try, Anonymous. But it is your GAFFEPRONE friends who are walking out the door to establish their own denomination.

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  8. Anonymous wrote:

    Anyone really think the AC is going to be persuaded to accept Gene Robinson and Integrity's agenda?

    Zwo thoughts on this. First, I repeatedly hear about the "gay agenda" as if there is somehow some conspiracy afood to undermine basic Christian doctrines and that the "gay agenda" must therefore be rejected at all costs. As one of my gay friends remarked "my agenda is to get up, go to work, come home, have dinner, pay my bills, and go to bed." Sounds a lot like everyone else, does it not?

    Second, I do actually expect that the AC will eventually at least accept that there are gay bishops, priests, deacons, and laity who are committed Christians and faithful Anglicans. Even if you look at the Primates, who by no means speak for the Communion, the majority are in no hurry to kick TEC out of the Communion. I'd say 1/3 are liberal, 1/3 neutral, and 1/3 conservative. It just happens that the conservative Primates have the loudest voices.

    So, if by "Gene Robinson and Integrity's agenda" you mean the full inclusion of GLBT Christians in the life and ministry of the Anglican Communion, then yes I suspect that it will happen sooner or later. Just like women's ordination, it will become a non-issue.

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  9. Hello Wayne

    You say "By staying in the AC we insure that the powerless have a voice. We insure that the weak are represented. We insure that the cause of justice remains on the table."

    I don't see it. By staying in the AC, I see principles compromised (BO33 and now accepting the unfair exclusion of Gene Robinson), I see division in TEC and I see division in the AC.

    Someone has to call time on this.
    Someone has to say, "Rowan, sorry, but it just ain't possible to reconcile these two contradictory positions and keeping people together for the sake of the institution is hurting everyone."

    Wayne...a global, liberal Episcopal church which could be joined by parishes all over the AC who agree with its stance (and want Gene Robinson as a bishop) would do all the things you hope for without the damage to us all of the current "unity" in the AC.

    Let nobody be deceived....holding people together when they have contradictory views which are never going to be reconciled is all about preserving an institution.....and there is a huge human cost, as well as compromised principles, involved.

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