Thursday, January 31, 2008

GAFCON: The Gaffes Go On

To be quite honest with you, I have little interest in the Lambeth Conference, let alone the "alternative Lambeth" dreamed up by a handful of extreme consertives and given the unfortunate name of GAFCON. But others seem to think it is important to watch these shenanigans, and maybe they are right.

You can find the background regarding the previous gaffes of this GAFCON group here. Apparently, Chris Sudgen of Anglican Mainstream got together a few Primates and hatched the idea of a global conference for "real" Christians of the Anglican persuasion. Those of more questionable pedigrees would be excluded, of course. And what better place to hold it than Jerusalem? Images of a pilgrimmage to the Holy land, the Council of Jerusalem, etc. are all expected to come to mind. So, on Christmas Eve, they go public with what I'm sure they imagined to be a simply brilliant move.

But, they forgot to consult with anyone beyond their little group, it appears. Acting unilaterally without sufficient consultation with the larger church sounds like a very familiar accusation, doesn't it? Where have I heard that before? Oh, nevermind. I'm sure it's not very important.

Except in the case of GAFCON, it appears that such a slight was indeed rather important among some of those whom I'm sure this small group anticipated would be their allies. Dr. Michael Poon, a prominent voice among the conservatives in the Global South, spoke out against the idea of GAFCON, for which he received an angry response from an unnamed Primate, which could be boiled down to consisting of two words: "Shut up."

But then Abp. Mouneer Anis, Primate of Jerusalem and the Middle East, spoke up, and suggested that maybe the timing and the venue for this "conference" was not such a good idea. And then we discover that the Bishop of Jerusalem, the host of this shindig, had not even been consulted before the invitations went out. When hearing about the plans through the press, he voiced his reservations about holding such a conference in Jerusalem. Oops.

So, the Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem, Suheil Dawani was recently visited by two of the most extremely conservative leaders in Anglicanism, Bishop Peter Jensen of Sydney, Australia, and Nigeria Archbishop Peter Akinola. They pressured the Bishop of Jerusalem to change his mind. Minutes of their meeting can be found here. As you can see, Jensen and Akinola were not successful. Even if we believe that parts of these minutes were cut out, as some of the extremists claim, the clear mesage at the end of this meeting remains; Bp. Dawani does not want this "conference" happening in his backyard. If the claim that at some time during this meeting he made comments suggesting he thought that it was a good idea are true, they do not really change his bottom line. His answer was no.

But who does this Bishop think he is, anyway? Who is he to stand in the way of a global mission to save Anglicanism from the evil and apostate Americans, who have the audacity to claim that God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that WHOSOEVER believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life? We cannot let such heresy flourish in the Church, can we?

So, the invitations to the "conference" (or pilgrimage?) went out anyway. And who sent those invitations. None other than our very own Bp. Duncan of Pittsburgh. I hope by now you recognize his name. If not, let it suffice to remind you that Bp. Duncan has recently been charged with abandoning the Church and breaking his ordination vows. It seems to me that his leadership in attempting to get this "alternative Lambeth" off the ground might be added to the already long list of evidence against him that will most likely result in him being deposed by the House of Bishops this Fall.

But, what to do with the troubling Bishop of Jerusalem who doesn't want to host this conference/pilgrimage? How about launching a smear campaign? But it appears that even this ploy was prone to numerous gaffes. The former bishop who was used to make rather lame accusations against Bp. Dawani was not exactly squeeky clean himself, and so the mud thrown back at him appears to have more sticking power than the original onslaught. You can find links to the texts of the accusations being tossed back and forth here.

So, yesterday, Abp. Akinola decided to hold a press conference in which he would make everything clear about the purpose of GAFCON. Nothing we haven't heard from him before. Lots of half truths and generalizations to cover his real issue; how to keep the gays who produce hooligans out of HIS Church.

If you want more detailed commentary of Abp. Akinola's latest pronouncement, go visit Mark Harris. Mark's conclusion is worth repeating:
...GAFCON is about forming a new Communion of bible-belt Anglicans.

The fourth point of the Lambeth Quadrilateral speaks of the historic episcopate locally adapted in the methods of its administration. It turns out that "locally adapted in its methods of administration" has come to include ripping out the leg of reason, trimming the leg of tradition, both of which have a large dose of "modern culture" to them, and sitting on the post of scripture. Well, so be it. When the Archbishop dozes off, he will fall over. When he gets up, the Archbishop will no longer be an Anglican...

Since this group seems to no longer put much value in being Anglican, why not drop the Jerusalem idea, and just come to the New Jerusalem of all former Anglicans? Since Bp. Duncan is already playing the role of host by sending out the invitations, just relocate to Pittsburgh. We'll even greet you upon your arrival. With signs and colorful chants, of course.

J.

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