In case anyone thought otherwise, the core of the matter at GAFCON and certainly in the eyes of the completely Western Bishop of Pittsburgh and Moderator of the Common Cause Partnership, concerns power.
In the middle of a long presentation given to the 100 or so persons meeting in Jordan in the warm up to GAFCON, Bishop Duncan said this:
"Archbishop Williams remarked at the beginning of the Dar es Salaam Primates Meeting:
“It is all a question of who blinks first.”10 Neither the American orthodox, nor the Global
South Primates, nor history would blink. Not then, not now. The so-called “blink” has
taken place, but it has taken place in the re-definition of the Lambeth Conference as a
place of managed conversation, not conciliar decision, and in the recognition that to call
the Primates Meeting together ever again would be to confirm that the Communion’s
engine has shifted to the South. Re-defining the Lambeth Conference and not calling the
Primates Meeting are exercises of colonial control. But the inexorable shift of power
from Britain and the West to the Global South cannot be stopped, and some conciliar
instrument reflective of the shift is bound to emerge as the Reformation Settlement gives
way to a Global (post-colonial) Settlement."
This is instructive on several levels: (i) the "who blinks first" strategy supposedly stated in front of the four bishops from the US invited to speak to the Primates at Dar es Salaam is, if true, appalling. (ii) The Moderator supposes that the realignment crowd and history itself did not "blink," rather the Archbishop of Canterbury blinked in redefining Lambeth. (iii) The Moderator raises for the first time (at least in my reading) the notion that "not calling the Primates Meeting" is somehow an exercise of colonial control. (The request for a special meeting of the Primates is not in and of itself a matter of colonial control, although it may be a matter of power,) (iv) the historical certainties (in which the Moderator finds some hope) means that " the inexorable shift of power from Britain and the West to the Global South cannot be stopped, and some conciliar instrument reflective of the shift is bound to emerge as the Reformation Settlement gives way to a Global (post-colonial) Settlement."
So the matter is about power and about the "inexorable sift" of such power.
Reading the whole of the Moderator's essay I am struck by two things: (i) His recitation of Anglican history, mission development, and ecclesiology is at best a biased read. At worse it is banal. (ii) The essay is a plea for what in some circles would be called historical inevitability. It is a plea most recently used by the radical right and left to block out the power of actual people doing actual things in the world. Historical inevitability only works for really large issues - say the Lordship of Jesus Christ or the Final Judgment or the greatest of these, Faith, Hope and Love, the greatest of which is Love. It is entirely unclear and an overreach to believe that there is historical inevitability related to whatever happens to the Anglican Communion.
But for those who read the power runes predictions run wild. Power made inexorable is still power exercised by people who want it. Take care that power does not corrupt even more than the supposed sins of the churches of the West.