The Inter-Anglican Standing Commission for Unity, Faith and Order (IASCUFO) is a big deal in Anglicanland, big enough that when it came to the Archbishop of Canterbury cleaning out house of all those nasty Americans who might taint the work of unity discussions, the person from The Episcopal Church was reduced to consultant status. Of course since the IASCUFO is only consultant to the member churches of the Anglican Communion, and knowing the person reduced to consultant, one might suppose that Professor Katherine Grieb will be heard anyway.
Anglican Communion News Service reporting on day four of the Primates Meeting noted the following, "Chairman of the commission, Archbishop of Burundi the Most Revd Bernard Ntahoturi...told fellow Primates that the December meeting of IASCUFO in South Africa saw the members work in four groups: one studying the definition of ‘church’. Archbishop Bernard said, “We are asking: ‘Is the Anglican Communion a Church or a communion of Churches?’” The second group is looking at the Anglican Communion Covenant and resources for studying it. The third group is studying the Instruments of Communion, their theological meaning and how they relate to one another. The fourth group is considering the topic of ‘reception’, that is how the work of the Instruments and of ecumenical dialogues is communicated and understood at all levels of the Anglican Communion."
Surely IASCUFO is about harder work that this. Let us image a quiz based on the charge to these working groups of IASCUFO:
Anglicanland quiz #1:
1. Is the Anglican Communion a Church or a communion of Churches?
2. What are the resources for studying The Anglican Covenant?
3. What is the theological meaning of the Instruments of Communion and how do they relate to one another?
4. How is the work of the Instruments and of ecumenical dialogues communicated and understood at all levels of the Anglican Communion?
Please respond in three sentences or less per question. When you are finished turn in your paper and leave quietly. Try not to laugh.
Here are my answers:
1. A communion of Churches. Anything else is at most a hope and one not held by all Churches in the Communion.
2. There is the primary resource, the text itself. And given the mish-mash of Anglican sentiments on a variety of matters presented in it, the Covenant Text is most helpful in studying why it should not be adopted.
3. The theological meaning of the Instruments of Communion / Unity is derivative from the theologies that abound in the churches of the Communion. We should be particularly suspicious of any claim that the Instruments share in the unity that is the community of the Trinity, and such blather.
4. This question is a ringer: "all levels of the Communion" betrays a wrong answer to #1 above. The communion does not have "levels." It is a horizontal communion of Churches. And "reception" of the work of the Instruments and ecumenical dialogue groups is a matter of receiving a gift of work done, not receiving directives to be understood and incorporated into the work of each church.
Well, there are my answers, what are yours?