8/13/2012

Global South screws around with Lambeth Conference idea

The Primates of the Global South evangelical alliance, aka "The Global South Anglican Provinces," wrote the Crown Nominations Commission with some thoughts on the appointment of the next Archbishop of Canterbury.  Several choice tidbits from this advisory letter are of interest to those who believe as I do that the GS evangelical alliance is out to radically change the nature of the Communion.

They write:
 
"At a time when the Christian faith faces challenges from other religious as well as secular worldviews, the new Archbishop of Canterbury must be committed to uphold the orthodoxy of the Christian faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints' (Jude 3).  To fulfil his calling and vow as Guardian of Faith, he must have the capacity to collectively put into effect the decisions taken at Lambeth Conferences and Primates Meetings, especially on issues that have led to the present crisis in the Communion."

No doubt there are "decisions taken at Lambeth." Decisions about when to meet next, how to order the life of the conference, even decisions to take back to the churches certain ideas, programs and even theological concerns are all appropriate to the Lambeth Conference. But the Archbishop of Canterbury and / or the Lambeth Conference itself have no business making decisions that are to be put into effect by the Archbishop of Canterbury or anyone else. 

But the GS evangelical alliance would just as soon we gloss over this bit of advice to the nominations commission. 

The GSEA also supposes that "He (the Archbishop of Canterbury) has to be able, together with his fellow Primates, to more effectively restructure the Anglican Communion Office and the Anglican Consultative Council to better serve the Communion."

They would suppose that the Primates and the ABC have some sort of power over the ACC to dictate its form and function, and that restructuring should be under the direction of the Primates - with the ABC as chair."

All of this of course is crap. But never mind... they will go on saying this sort of thing in the hopes that after a while no one will bother to correct them, and then after a bit more time everyone will think, "well of course, the ABC and the Primates really do have powers to restructure the Anglican Consultative Council and they do have the authority to implement decisions made at Lambeth, etc.

There is one bit of foolishness here that is not the GSEA's doing, but it is so bad that it gets picked up in passing. The title "primus inter pares" has been around a while. Good King Archbishop George made this title more or less the norm in Anglican Circles.  

This "primus inter pares" thing is a really bad idea. It starts out as a really democratic sounding thing..."first among equals," but soon enough it is realized that as in Animal Farm, some are more equal than others.  Roman dictators sometimes hid behind this seemingly benign notion to hide the reality of power. But worse, "first among equals" is about equality among peers, so the notion is that the Primates are somehow "peers" with one another. That is manifestly false, given that the primates of the Anglican Communion are sometimes Archbishops, sometimes Prime bishops, sometimes Presiding Bishops, and in the case of the union churches moderators. Their roles and authority are varied. More, when they come together they come as colleagues not as power equals. First among equals is mostly about equals in power. But the Primates Meeting is about equals in place (heads of churches). 

The whole of the GSEA Primates letter reeks of really bad ecclesial understandings and their advice to the Crown Nominations Committee is so skewed as to make the letter an example of what not to expect or desire in a next Archbishop of Canterbury.





1 comment:

  1. If, instead of the current forms of Lambeth and the Archbishop of Canterbury, they want Ecumenical Councils to define faith and morals (male only, as in the Roman Catholic Church?), a Pope with powers to excommunicate and speak Ex Cathedra on matters of doctrine, a Curia, a Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith/Inquisition to investigate, root out, and censure the heterodox, then it seems to me that the Global South GAFCON group should seek help from Rome and explore an ordinariate.

    I left the RCC in opposition to these very issues and I came to TEC to escape that kind of medieval governance. I'm actually surprised it is even offered as a viable alternative for the 21st century when we see how the RCC is imploding with light speed.

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