The Moderator of all Common Cause Partnership land, soon to be the Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America, has pulled the birth-right card, a card played skillfully only by a very few who can practice one-upmanship with British abandon.
He said in an interview with the Church Times,
“I’m a cradle Anglican. My grandfather was a boy chorister. . . My theological views haven’t changed. The problem is that folks who have become the leadership of the Episcopal Church in the United States have pulled the rug out from under me. The person who is our Presiding Bishop, she didn’t begin as an Anglican. I did. She represents something very different. I don’t think I’m a breakaway."
Ah, I'm a cradle Anglican. The Presiding Bishop is not. And?
The Moderator later says,
“You really have two religions. You have one that believes as Anglicans always have believed, that Jesus is the only way to salvation, and you have another led by our Presiding Bishop of TEC [the Episcopal Church], who says ‘That would be to put God into a small box.’ One is classic Christianity. One is actually not Christianity, at least not in the way that classic Protestantism, classic orthodoxy, or classic Catholicism would recognise it. "
Well, there you are.
The Moderator believes wrongly that his being a birth-right Anglican / Episcopalian gives him some edge. Tell that to the majority of Episcopalians who come from other denominations.
He believes that his being a birth-right Anglican / Episcopalian adds anything at all to what he might say next.
If that were true what would he do with the fact that I am a birth-right Episcopalian / Anglican? Or that roughly sixty percent of those meeting in the Chicago Consultation on full inclusion are birth-right Episcopalian / Anglican? It adds nothing.
About his second statement, which has to stand apart from his comments about the Presiding Bishop being a late comer to Anglicanism, there are of course others things to say.
Among them being that being saved by God in Jesus Christ is not the same as believing that "Jesus is the only way to salvation." The first is what God is up to and will work out however it needs to be done - it is part of the Mission of God. It is an action that is outside every box and every church, being as it is the action of the loving Creator, active in the world, for the world. The second is a doctrine based on a particular understanding of several New Testament passages, most particularly, "I am the Way and the Truth and the Life, no one comes to the Father except by me." Jesus being both the source of all and the gate, and the door, and the way in and out, etc, and drawing all people to himself, one might think the Way might be open even to those who found following him or believing him impossible. The problem with the passage is not that Jesus is the Way, but that some are very sure they know just how Jesus is the way.
I would not dare put words in either the Moderator's mouth or the Presiding Bishop's, but perhaps having played the birth-right card badly the Moderator might think again about his statement that "The other is actually not Christianity."
The argument by ACNA needs to be that the leadership of TEC is not Christian, that they have lost their way, that real Anglicans are about keeping the faith whole and entire. Real Anglicans can't bridge the gap with Rome or the Orthodox, lost the Methodists, killed Quakers and Presbyterians when they weren't absorbed by them, and generally have kept the faith about as well as others have, but not better.
So ACNA and FOCA have become friends. Great. But they need to find better reason for friendship than mutual dislike for TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada. Common enemies do not guarantee long friendships.