The Lambeth That Went No Where – Which Is Exactly Where +Rowan Wanted It To Go And The Anglican Communion Is Probably Heading Elsewhere

Listen to +Rowan’s words at the final press conference.

Essentially, this is what +Rowan wanted. It kicks schism down the road; allows the Anglican Communion to die of a thousand cuts and no one bears actual responsibility. +Rowan likely wants to be seen by history as a reconciler – whether reconciliation succeeds or not.

No one is particularly happy, based on what I am reading.

The Reflections document is unwieldy; the final Presidential address was nothing new.

The requests for moratoria are, in short, a ridiculous suggestion at this point. If, after four years of requesting moratoria, someone thinks just because Lambeth kinda sorta endorses the same means these things will happen, that person is crazy.

In short, there is no discipline in the Anglican Communion, and perhaps there never was. However, there is no longer collegiality that bears anything on forbearance of action, which means the collegiality is non-existent. All we have is the dead letter of what +Rowan calls “gracious restraint” that we ought to have but don’t.

Our hope as Anglicans must rest on Jesus Christ, not on gracious restraint. Truly, I tell you, that hope is being manifested. The resounding success of GAFCON compared to the Lambeth Conference will continue to resonate, and that it is far more productive for the church to agree on the basic truths of the scriptures and the person of Christ than it is to disagree; maintaining a traditional breadth of Anglicanism being the middle way between Catholicism and Protestantism, rather than becoming a middle way between the earth and Mars theologically speaking.

Moreover, in my own parish, our two new priests, both relatively new from seminary, are decidedly Anglo-Catholic in their theology, and their sermons reflect that and it is wonderful. Fr. Michael preached a sermon today that talked of people as supposedly smart and educated as Episcopalians simplifying our faith, grasping onto the faith that we either had or should have had as children in Jesus Christ, while preaching on the miracle of the loaves and fishes, which indeed did happen, but more importantly points us to how Jesus Christ provides for us spiritually, as he provided redemption for us on the Cross. While this sermon’s delivery was not fiery, or emotional (which I tend to like), it was counter-cultural and probably outright demanding in asking for what Jesus Christ wants of us. It was probably one of the best sermons I have ever heard preached at St. James in my lifetime of membership there. Moreover, Fr. Michael is absolutely right in his assertion that it does the Gospel far more good for people whom society supposes great intellect to tell society that they believe in the Gospel, indeed, believe in Jesus’ miracles and his birth from a virgin, than to deny these things but say it is alright to come to church anyway. Even +Rowan said that once to Bishop Spong about the Virgin Birth, but then he turned around one Epiphany and said the three wise men coming to visit Jesus, well, that didn’t matter if that didn’t happen.

Many people have told me that Bishop Spong, Crossan, Borg, and theologians of that ilk have done great work in bringing members of what are called the church alumni society (ie those who quit the church because they didn’t believe) back to church. I think then about what Archbishop Deng of Sudan said at his press conference regarding the Church not bringing non-believers into church to testify why or what they don’t believe. If the Church is to be about the Gospel, salvation through Jesus Christ and bringing the Kingdom of God into being through the increase in justice and mercy in the world, then having people who just don’t believe that to teach in it, much less to lead it, is just plain counter-productive. It is stupid. If people can’t believe in such things as the Virgin birth or the resurrection of Jesus Christ, then how are they to perform the greater miracles that Jesus promised?

I am all for bringing non-believers into the Church. I’ve worked for that on numerous occasions. However, I think the Church and indeed individual believers have a right to expect that people who actually commit to the Church also believe.

Now, I don’t want my particular church running around with an inquisition on their hands. If someone says they believe in what the creeds say, I can take that at face value and then leave the matter up to God, as He is the one to judge faith, not me. But, when people just plain out and out deny and indeed publish books that say they don’t believe things in the creeds, we just need to say, look, you obviously aren’t a believer, and I will not be in fellowship with you. No hard feelings, but that is that.

It is a shame that sexual morality became the real watershed event in Anglicans coming to their senses about these things. These things should have happened when Bishop Pike wasn’t defrocked, and Bishop Spong wasn’t even tried and Archbishop George Carey invited him to Lambeth 1998.

Moreover, if sexual immorality is a sin, and I believe even most liberal Anglicans think it is, then you can’t just change the definition of the same that has been around since the Noahide laws that apply to all mankind. At least, not without some pretty severe scientific, theological and historical documentation. However, homosexuality is a losing argument on the historical end, in that the statement that the ancients just didn’t understand the loving nature of a same sex relationship basically ignores the literature and history of the ancient times. They knew full well about homosexuality; it is no different from today’s understanding.

What is even more ridiculous is that the Church would listen to tortured arguments such as the sin of Sodom being inhospitality. When I hear this I think I am on crazy pills here. Why don’t they just say that the sin of Sodom was rape, not consensual homosexuality (even though that has some serious logical and theological problems as well)? That, at least, makes some kind of sense, yet at the Lambeth conference they were listening to and even trotted out at the press conference an Australian theologian who said precisely that.

Largely, I think the problem with the boundary crossings is that they don’t happen much in San Francisco (Diocese of California) or Newark (although the Dioceses of San Diego, Los Angeles and Virginia were precisely where they needed to be) as much as they happen in South Carolina, Central Florida, Mississippi, Dallas, and other Dioceses that have bishops and synods that have not denied the faith nor undertaken any action to undermine it.

So, what is correct about what GAFCON is doing? They are going about the business of the Gospel, despite, instead of because, of the Anglican Communion. If the Communion Partners initiative is to succeed, it must do the same. It will mean the same things that happen now – redirection of funds away from 815, showing up at meetings but not taking Communion from people who outright deny the faith, and creating partnerships (in the mere sense of a joining of people together) to further the work of the Gospel.

If the Gospel is being furthered, then the Lord Jesus will bless this and it will thrive. It will ultimately dwarf the broken institution that will not and cannot thrive.

What does this mean in practical terms as far as other interactions with the problematic structures of the institutional church? Well, you have to pray and discern about where it is profitable or worthwhile for the Gospel to go to this meeting or that. While politics can’t be ignored in our reality, it mustn’t control a Christian’s Christ centered reality. In a strange way, we need to take a lesson from the liberal contingent within Anglicanism. They show up at the meetings, they often ignore what the meetings say and expect that politics will eventually catch up to them because they are sure they are right. Certainly, people who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and the authority of his Word can do the same.

This week I will be taking part in a prison ministry conference, and I can definitely say that I will be doing some further reflecting on what has gone on at Lambeth and what the future holds for Anglicanism, but I will mostly be focusing on prison ministry – bringing incarcerated men and women to Christ – which is what I am supposed to be doing anyway.

11 Responses to “The Lambeth That Went No Where – Which Is Exactly Where +Rowan Wanted It To Go And The Anglican Communion Is Probably Heading Elsewhere”


  1. 1 One Small Voice August 3, 2008 at 11:31 pm

    Brad

    Unfortunately you are right on. I wasn’t at Lambeth but I was at Gafcon and I came away from Jerusalem renewed and reinvigorated for the fight which lies ahead – standing up for Jesus and proclaiming the gospel he preached, taught, and lived. I give thanks to God that I have the oppotunity to do just that in the diocese of WLA.

    Canon G+

  2. 2 Oscewicee August 3, 2008 at 11:36 pm

    Thanks for the story about the good sermon in your church – after this depressing Lambeth, it is good to hear that good things are still happening in TEC churches, despite the national “leadership.”

  3. 3 left coast priest August 3, 2008 at 11:39 pm

    God bless you, Brad. Keep on doing what you are doing for Christ.
    I hope you make it to Anaheim next year to “speak truth to power”, call bs on the progressive agenda, and generally let it be known that we don’t all go along with the party line. You and the rest of the loyal opposition are in my prayers.

  4. 4 Stu Howe August 3, 2008 at 11:53 pm

    Brad,

    This is a short note as an initial reply to one of your points.
    You were making a point about the lack of boundary crossing in the Dio of Cal and very revisionist dioceses. I can speak to the Dio of Cal as I grew up there. I hate to say this, but after the last 40-50 years, those that would ask for rescue, have already left. +Pike started this trend and it has continued with each additional change. So at this point, what you have left are groups that are at best neutral, to the current direction of TEC. There are some other interesting demographic shifts that don’t help, taking place as well.
    I’ll post some more later.

    Stu

  5. 5 David+ August 3, 2008 at 11:55 pm

    The Gafcon Council of Primates will now step up and fill the power vacuun in the Anglican Communion. ++Rowan will soon be nothing more than “another” Anglioan Primate with the President of the Council being first among equals. And TEC’s time of influence is only days or months away from being put to rest for good. And for that I Praise God!

  6. 6 John Robert August 4, 2008 at 1:59 am

    Brad,

    While I agree with many of your points; you fail to grasp the preultimate point of +++Rowan’s first Address to Lambeth, i.e. Elizabeth I’s Settlement was a prunning-hook for those on the far extreme of things. While +++Rowan’s call for “gracious restraint” might be too little too late for many, such is reasonable considering where we are as a Communion, i.e. in need of reconciliation = big-time!!

    The good statement of the COMMUNION PARTNERS Initiative @ Lambeth makes my heart glad; while the GAFCON Statement @ Jerusalem makes my heart sad. The first is reasonable, while the second is not.

    Although a Conservative, I find the idea of Schism anathema!

    John

  7. 7 pendennis88 August 4, 2008 at 1:36 pm

    It seems that William’s goal was to have nothing blow up while at Lambeth. In that he seems to have succeeded. But I don’t know why that was a laudable goal, if it only makes things worse in the communion overall. Indeed, after the next set of TEC depositions and litigation, overlayered with a proliferation of SSBs, I suspect that the question of whether his attitude was wise will be posed even more sharply.

  8. 8 EP August 4, 2008 at 8:59 pm

    “I think the problem with the boundary crossings is that they don’t happen much in San Francisco (Diocese of California) or Newark (although the Dioceses of San Diego, Los Angeles and Virginia were precisely where they needed to be) as much as they happen in South Carolina, Central Florida, Mississippi, Dallas, and other Dioceses that have bishops and synods that have not denied the faith nor undertaken any action to undermine it.”

    Agreed 1000%. This is why the Angican Mission in America, as a “missionary order,” is so intriguing. Three parishes in Massachusetts? Three in California? One in D.C.? Eleven in North Carolina? Not a lot, but they represent a beginning.

  9. 9 descant August 4, 2008 at 9:09 pm

    EP:

    It started in South Carolina, however, which was wrong to do, and began by occupying a church that was previously an Episcopal Church.

  10. 10 Canon Gregg L. Riley August 5, 2008 at 4:23 pm

    So did the civil war

  11. 11 Alice C. Linsley August 6, 2008 at 1:21 am

    Brad, the Anglican split happened before Lambeth. Outside observers who are experts in Church History say it was signaled by GAFCON.


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