The Archbishop's statement has a wind up for the pitch He begins with an affirmation of "The ‘tenets of orthodoxy’ spelled out in the Jerusalem Statement, and supposes they "will be acceptable to and shared by the vast majority of Anglicans in every province, even if there may be differences of emphasis and perspective on some issues. I agree that the Communion needs to be united in its commitments on these matters, and I have no doubt that the Lambeth Conference will wish to affirm all these positive aspects of GAFCON’s deliberations."
Barring this simply being a give away prior to the big swing, this statement is overripe. The "tenets" in the statement include adherence to the 39 Articles, the 1662 Book of Common Prayer and includes this phrase concerning Holy Scripture, "The Bible is to be translated, read, preached, taught and obeyed in its plain and canonical sense, respectful of the church’s historic and consensual reading." The phrase "the plain sense of scripture" once again makes its way to the fore as a litmus test of so called "orthodoxy." The Archbishop surely does not believe that "the vast majority of Anglicans in every province" will find these three "acceptable."
He then says, "Despite the claims of some, the conviction of the uniqueness of Jesus Christ as Lord and God and the absolute imperative of evangelism are not in dispute in the common life of the Communion." Thank you.
Having wound up the pitch, he then throws, warning the GAFCON Primates that the game is not going to be easily won. "However, GAFCON’s proposals for the way ahead are problematic in all sorts of ways, and I urge those who have outlined these to think very carefully about the risks entailed." He then speaks to the details of his concerns: (i) A self appointed Primates Council has no claim to legitimacy across the Anglican Communion, (ii) there are problems as to how Provinces are included in or out and (iii) there is the question of overlapping jurisdictions. How is the claim that there are pastoral reasons for beginning work in a jurisiction of another Province? How is that distinquished from reasons that have another agenda? Dismissing the structures of the Anglican Communion and the work of particular Provinces on the basis of colonialism denies the possibility of working beyond the moment as a world wide community of churches is too quick and a false solution. The charge that some Provinces preach a different gospel denies the reality of faithful witness that can be found everywhere in the Communion.
The Archbishop ends up with a cautionary note: "I have in the past quoted to some in the Communion who would call themselves radical the words of the Apostle in I Cor.11.33: ‘wait for one another’. I would say the same to those in whose name this statement has been issued. An impatience at all costs to clear the Lord’s field of the weeds that may appear among the shoots of true life (Matt.13.29) will put at risk our clarity and effectiveness in communicating just those evangelical and catholic truths which the GAFCON statement presents."
All in all a good sound critical but respectful commentary. Ruth Gledhill in her comment titled, "Summer of Schism: Cantuar slams Gafcon." sees the Archbishop's comments as a challenge to the leadership of GAFCON. Good for her.
With summer movies in full swing, the promise of a move where a Cantuar slams a Gafcon is almost too much to miss. Some see "Summer of Schism," "Cantuar and Gafcon in bloody duel to the death. Using only rolled up copies of pronouncments as their weapons, watch the two giants strike blows for the greater uber-land that lies beyond the Anglican Communion. "
Meanwhile the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Bishop Katharine, has issued a statement, short and pithy enough to be reproduced here:
"Much of the Anglican world must be lamenting the latest emission from GAFCON. Anglicanism has always been broader than some find comfortable. This statement does not represent the end of Anglicanism, merely another chapter in a centuries-old struggle for dominance by those who consider themselves the only true believers. Anglicans will continue to worship God in their churches, serve the hungry and needy in their communities, and build missional relationships with others across the globe, despite the desire of a few leaders to narrow the influence of the gospel. We look forward to the opportunities of the Lambeth Conference for constructive conversation, inspired prayer, and relational encounters.
The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church"