Wednesday, April 19, 2006

From The New Yorker

A good summation of the current situation in the Anglican Communion is offered by Peter J. Boyer in a piece entitled A Church Asunder. Here's a few excerpts:

...The traditionalist Episcopal rebellion over the elevation of Gene Robinson would not on its face seem likely to have much effect on the national church; Duncan and the bishops who joined him in protest represent only a small percentage of the episcopacy. Their purpose, however, is not to persuade the Episcopal Church but to replace it.

The conservative strategy turns on an audacious twist on the old concept of religious schism: forcing a divide within the Episcopal Church that would render the main church, rather than the dissidents, the schismatic party. This depends on convincing the worldwide Anglican Communion that the Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States of America, or ECUSA, as the national body of the church is called, has already departed from the faith, and that an alternative body of orthodox Episcopalians should be recognized as the true church in America. The old Episcopal Church, it is envisioned, would drift away into irrelevance, a shrinking sect of aging white liberals...

...The traditionalist Americans see men like Akinola and Orombi as their natural allies, and, of course, as invaluable leverage. Global South church leaders have been inclined to help the efforts to supplant the Episcopal Church as the official Anglican body in the U.S. They have opened mission churches in the United States, and have offered episcopal oversight to those dissident orthodox churches wishing to leave ECUSA while remaining within the Anglican Communion. They are, for the Americans, the key factor in the effort to pressure the world church into recognizing an alternative American church body or persuading ECUSA to repent...
What is being described here is The Attempted Coup, which has been dismissed by some as nothing more than a paranoid conspiracy theory.

...Griswold suggests that it is problematic to try to understand the meaning of the Bible plainly, because the authors of Scripture were, as we are, captives of their time and place. “St. Paul very clearly assumed that everyone was, by nature, heterosexual,” he says. Therefore, in Paul’s time, homosexuality was a willing choice made by the wicked against God’s natural order. Our current understanding, he says, has been altered by God’s unfolding revelation of truth.

“Let’s talk about truth,” he says. “I’m struck by the fact that in the Gospel, in John, Jesus says, ‘I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when the Spirit of truth comes, the Spirit will draw from what is mine, and reveal it to you.’ Now, when we look at how we have come to understand the cosmos over the centuries, how we’ve come to understand the complexities of our physicality, and have seen advances in surgery and medicine and all the rest of it, we can say to ourselves, ‘Why didn’t God simply plant the fullness of this knowledge in us at the beginning? Why has it taken us centuries to be able to cure fatal diseases that existed in the Middle Ages? How unkind and thoughtless of God not to give us all the information at the outset.’ And yet, we’ve been structured in a universe in such a way that truth is progressive”...
This resonates with the writings of Irenaeus on Human Progress and the thoughts of Charles Gore regarding "the movement of God." Being a "Progressive Christian" is to stand in good company among the saints of God.

...On the central point of contention, the consecration of gay bishops, the commission is expected to urge the Church to proceed down the path taken by Gene Robinson only with “extreme caution.” That is the sort of phrasing that might placate conservatives, and could provide convention delegates with the typically Episcopal opportunity to kick the problem down the road, getting them safely past the Lambeth Conference in 2008. In this case, however, evasion may not be possible. The Diocese of California is scheduled to elect a new bishop next month, and three of its seven candidates are openly gay. If California elects a gay bishop, and the General Convention withholds its consent, the Episcopal Church will face a new revolt, this time from the left. At least one church official has already begun to ask whether the Episcopal Church’s most prudent course might not be voluntary withdrawal from the worldwide Anglican Communion, thus taking a stand as a church pledged to human justice...
Plenty of other quotable bits in this article, including a quote from Jim Naughton, communications director for the Diocese of Washington and facilitator for the Blog of Daniel. What leaped out at you?


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