5/13/2011

Are there, de-facto, two Anglican Communions, or is GAFCON Anglican at all?

 Thinking Anglicans the Pluralist have all picked up on the GAFCON statement growing from the meeting of eight  Archbishop types in Nairobi, in which among other things, GAFCON Archbishops have decided to set up a Chairman's Office (sort of an Archbishop of Canterbury Lambeth Palace thingy, except without the Palace) and an Executive's Office (sort of an Anglican Communion Office.)  The Chairman's office is apparently wherever the Chairman is. The Executive Office will be in London. No matter how much the GAFCON crowd talks about not needing to be in England in order to be Anglican, there they are.

Why?  Why should GAFCON have a London office?  Well, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Anglican Communion Office will find out.

GAFCON has made a big deal out of being disappointed with the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Anglican Communion Office, not to mention the Church of England. And to make that disappointment clear they are sending their attack puppy, Bishop Martyn Minns, to chew at the heels of the establishment. 

Let us remember that Martyn Minns has a long history of gnawing the Anglican bone. He as been part of the two front strategy of the "Faith once delivered of the Saints"  crowd for a long time. He was part of the meeting with the Archbishop of Canterbury following the ordination of Bishop Robinson in which the Anglican Communion Network (later to become the Anglican Church in North America) was cooked up, he has been part of the one legged stool crowd that has made the rounds, being "helpful" to various Primates at Primates meetings, and generally planting strategy where ever he goes. 

Once upon a time Martyn Minns was an Episcopal Priest. Then he determined that his vows as a priest in this church were relatively secondary and moved on, first to become bishop in the Church of Nigeria and then to take the parish where he was Rector into a new missionary thingy of the Church of Nigeria located in the US. He of course took the keys to the building, the goods and such, and most of the people, and claims to all that Truro Church had to offer. 

Now to be honest, the Executive, Bishop Martin Minns, late of Virginia, the Episcopal Church, and now of CANA, the Church of Nigeria, and the Anglican Church of North America, hales from England. Perhaps it is just a English thing, having headquarters in London. But don't bet on it.

GAFCON does its strategy with some consistency, having learned that strategy from Minns, Duncan, Anderson and the like.  The idea is, on the one hand do what you want and at the same time deflect the enemy's attention from your actions by making them defend again and again really stupid variations on questions similar to "have you stopped beating your wife yet?"

The big deflection is to constantly harp on just how the western churches, particularly the CofE, The Anglican Church of Canada and, of course, The Episcopal Church are on their way to perdition, are loosing so many members that they will die out anyway, and that they no longer hold the faith once delivered to the Saints, and, oh yes, that this is because they are terrible revisionists believing that women and gay people are proper subjects for inclusion in various sacraments. Garbage is thrown and the reaction is to try to dodge the scraps.

So GAFCON will go ahead and is setting up its own seemingly Anglican international franchise, and no one is raising much of a snit fit. This is primarily because too many are working too hard trying to address the accusations about being dead, irrelevant and revisionist. We ought not get defensive about the garbage. We ought to get out in front of this and tell it like it is: these people have become something other than Anglican.

The point, however, is that all that stuff is a distraction so we don't see that the pea has been removed by slight of hand from the shell game. While good people are defending their actions as Christians, others are moving along nicely to set up new organizational structures, making the claim that they are the new improved Anglican Communion.  The problem is that the GAFCON is neither Anglican nor orthodox. GAFCON is revivalist. 

GAFCON has seven regular primates of Anglican Communion member churches. Assuming (and it is a big assumption) that they truly represent their churches and people, they are a sizable community, estimated at 35 million people.  

The eighth primate represents a community of people about the size of the Diocese of Virginia and somewhat smaller than the Diocese of Haiti.  It's primate is proclaimed primate by the church he belongs to and shaped. Neither he nor the ACNA has any formal relationship to the Anglican Communion as currently constituted. The Primate is a deposed bishop from The Episcopal Church, and a product of a long term scheme put together by a small group of Americans to produce an alternative "province" in North America and barring that province being recognized by the Anglican Communion, to provide an alternative context in which being in an Anglican Communion could be accomplished by replacing the instruments of unity with some alternate set of such instruments. 

So GAFCON replaces the Anglican Consultative Council, GAFCON Primates replaces the Primates Meeting, GAFCON Bishops will eventually replace Lambeth, and the Chairman will replace the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The idea is for GAFCON as it moves forward to become the "real" Communion and let the North and West, and their companions in other parts of the world, drift off into irrelevance.  It is not necessary for this new communion to "locate" in a particular place, it is not necessary for it to have a specific Archbishop or See be the "focus of unity."

But it is apparently necessary to have a London office, the better to be close to the real Anglican focus of unity, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and nip away at gaining either recognition for ACNA or bite the Church of England in the leg for distraction's sake.

Now with the Archbishop of Kenya as Chair and the Bishop of all CANA as Executive GAFCON is poised to carry on its work establishing a second Anglican Communion while all the while claiming to be only real Anglican Communion.

When will the Anglican Communion come to its senses and call these people for what they are: confused and increasingly not engaged in the spirit of Anglicanism, or for that matter its practice and polity.

If the division is between there being two Anglican Communions and GAFCON not being Anglican at all, I sense it is the second that prevails. GAFCON is not Anglican at all.

12 comments:

  1. No matter how much the GAFCON crowd talks about not needing to be in England in order to be Anglican, there they are.

    Thanks for the belly laugh, Mark.

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  2. I think this citation would be used well by GAFCON as critique of the Communion:

    "confused and increasingly not engaged in the spirit of Anglicanism, or for that matter its practice and polity."

    But there you go. You do not think GAFCON is Anglican. I think two Communions are emerging from the one Communion and the question of their being Anglican or not is missing the point. The point is whether the ABC etc have steered their Communion on the right course or not.

    Most passenger ship captains losing half their passengers en voyage would face some interesting questions from the shipping line's owner!

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  3. Just because GAFCON and their little group of deposed priests in the USA call themselves Anglican does not mean they are. To call themselves such may give their ego's a boost, but it does nothing to further honesty or clarity.

    I have a Southern Baptist friend who likes incense and "high church".....does that make him an Anglican also?

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  4. I think the genius of Anglicanism is its ability to express the Catholic faith in ways that are authentic in very different contexts. The problem,IMV, with GAFCON is that it is attempting to make what may be an appropriate expression of the faith in some contexts universal.

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  5. Short interview with David Ould at Eternity, which is edited by John Sandeman. Additional post by Ould at Stand Firm makes clearer where he wishes to see things going.

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  6. Mark - I agree with your analysis of GAFCON and their intentions. I suggest, however, that there are, de-facto, three "Anglican Communions" claiming to uphold the "real Anglicanism." 1.) The Archbishop of Canterbury led Anglican Communion; 2.) the GAFCON Communion; and 3.) those who advocate for something like an international "Episcopal Communion."

    While at 815 a few years ago, I heard the proposal from one of the officers that we form the world-wide "Episcopal Communion." This gentleman's proposal would severe our relationship with the ABC, if he didn't go along with us, so to be independent and live out "true Anglicanism" in opposition to the GAFCON-like groups opposing us.

    Over the last several years, I've heard increasingly people and deputies (clergy & lay) at General and Diocesan conventions and in the general media of our Church declare the Anglican Communion and the ABC to be irrelevant and that we don't need him or them. This usually pertains to things like the Covenant or when the ABC doesn't do what they feel he should do.

    This group within the Episcopal Church USA sounds just like those GAFCON folks in the U.S. Both groups want their own way and are willing to divide the Canterbury-centered Anglican Communion to get their way. I don't see either side acting particularly "Anglican."

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  7. Revivalist---oh that gives me a laugh. Right on point. A whole 'nother meaning to "big tent" too!

    If I could cartoon, I know how I would draw Mr MInns. Perhaps the Pluralist will do it.

    Edit, please:
    Neither he nor the ACNA has no formal relationship

    ;-)

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  8. Perhaps.... perhaps +Minns is relocating because he wants back on the English health care system...

    ....OR he has a suspicion that the current phase of the trial for properties in northern Virginia will not go his way this time... so the move is a wicked ploy to prove he is part of the 'same' church to retain the property...

    Or he is giving up on the property in Virginia and moving back to start over and wreak havoc in England....

    whatever it is... it is probably wicked... just sayin'.

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  9. Going to the garage won't make you a car. Going to London won't make you an Anglican.

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  10. I think we might be dealing with a different slight of hand here....the one communion, two branches argument. As argued by the CANA lawyers in the the VA litigation, one branch led by Canterbury, the other, Nigeria. I am assuming that the strategy is the two will exist in parallel structure for a time, then London will supplant Canterbury and we will have only one again, still led by an Englishman but by GAFCON/Lambeth has chosen as legitimate? Of course, by 6 pm tonight, local time whatever your location, all this speculation will be irrelevant?

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