Possible outcomes of the Convention:
- It will be the end of the (Anglican) world as we know it.
- The genius of the Via Media will preserve the Anglican Communion.
- The conservatives will leave.
- The liberals will leave.
Though The State insists on quoting the Diocese of South Carolina’s Canon Kendall Harmon rather than me ( in spite of my superior qualifications as a theologian) for an objective view of the future of The Episcopal church, I will weigh in. (Brad Warthen, are you out there?)
The Anglican Communion is already rent asunder and it wasn’t the liberals who did it. It was the conservative factions who allied themselves with schismatics like Peter Akinola, the Nigerian Primate who equates gays and lesbians with zoophiliacs (those who practice bestiality) and who has promoted a return to the pre-Christian Mosaic penalty for homosexuals: the death penalty. Akinola believes that the Christian Church, in order to compete on the mission field with Islamo-fascism, needs to adopt its own version of sharia law. Because that will win people to Christ.
Akinola’s province announced last week that it had changed its constitution to create a legal split with the Anglican Communion. Clause 3.1 of the original constitution stated that “the Church of Nigeria shall be in communion with the See of Canterbury and with all dioceses, provinces and regional churches which are in full communion with the see of Canterbury.” The amended version deletes reference to Canterbury, and replaces the rest with “all Anglican Churches, Dioceses and Provinces that hold and maintain the historic Faith, Sacrament and Discipline of the one Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church”.
For five centuries, the See of Canterbury has been the locus of unity in those churches which found their historic roots in the English church. That unity was based on a shared ethos and a commitment to work together in spite of real differences, not on statements of faith that went beyond the ancient Nicene and Apostles’ Creeds. Now, to define real Anglicanism, Akinola and his American acolytes have added something else.
Of course, since the Protestant Reformation, there have been untold numbers of confessions, church covenants, statements of faith, and outlines of belief. Even those churches which claim to be non-creedal (like the Southern Baptists) outline what makes them different from every other Christian body. Anglicans, taking strength from the fact that they proclaimed only the ancient ecumenical creeds, were different. That difference allowed us to welcome people into our communion without demanding that they be “rebaptized” (as if such a thing were possible) or that they believe anything other than what the ancient councils declared as the fundamentals of the faith. It allowed us to be Catholic and Protestant, Orthodox and Evangelical, Charismatic and Full Gospel.
But now, Anglicans will only be Evangelical, American-style. We will choose who are in and who are out. Not waiting for the angels, we will separate the sheep from the goats, the wheat from the chaff.
And it really doesn’t much matter who the new Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church is. It doesn’t matter whether General Convention “regrets,” “repents” or calls the whole thing off. Peter Akinola has seized the mantle of John Calvin and wants to recreate 16th century Geneva, replete with heresy trials and burning stakes.
Forget what happens at General Convention. There is no Anglican Communion any more.
And the liberals didn’t do it.