Friday, April 27, 2007

Illiberal Winds

The Rev. Canon Marilyn McCord Adams, Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford University, has offered an address entitled Leaven in the Lump of Lambeth. Simon Sarmiento, writing in the Church Times, offers a summation. Here's part of it:

In an address to the annual conference of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement in London on Saturday, she questioned the legitimacy of the Windsor report on a future structure for the Anglican Communion, and accused the Primates of seeking to exercise “dictatorial powers”. She also called for a General Synod debate on the proposal for an Anglican Covenant.

Reviewing recent Anglican history, she noted: “None of [the] instruments of union or their pronouncements had any legally binding legislative or juridical force.” The Windsor report was nevertheless “written in a tone of presumptive legitimacy”, and set forth “a new authoritarian polity for the Anglican Communion.

“The Windsor report has not yet been passed or covenanted to by any national Church, and so as yet has no de jure force.” Despite this, it had extended that same principle of presumptive legitimacy to other study documents, for example Issues in Human Sexuality and Lambeth Resolutions — none of which had any legal force, either, she said.

Now “a clear and present danger arises” from “‘the Windsor process’ that has been accelerating with alarming speed”. She said that the Primates at their meeting in Dar es Salaam had interpreted this new polity so that “the Anglican Communion is to be governed by a collective papacy: an international college of Primates exercising dictatorial powers.
At the conclusion of this address, Canon Adams spells out what we need to do:

First and foremost, stick to the Divine Detachment Process: live into Divine good pleasure and be true to yourself.

Second, create taboo-free zones, safe places outside the Church and (if possible) subcultures within the Church, where we can cheer lead one another and assess one another’s experiments in constructive ways.

Third, get the covenant issue on the floor of General Synod...One way forward might be a private member’s motion that challenges the nature and purpose of the covenant--one that urges the Church of England not to be party to anything that goes beyond the old Lambeth Quadrilateral.

Fourth, if Lambeth 2008 occurs and emphasizes small groups, work to set up small group processes in which ‘testimonies’ and ‘stories’ can be exchanged. This might be done either in collaboration with the canon in charge of Anglican communion listening processes, or in satellite sessions that might attract some of the more malleable participants.

Finally, oppose illiberal polity changes within the Church, wherever and however and by whomever they are suggested, because illiberal coercion--both power-hungry and fearful--is the spirit of this present age!
Please refer to Canon Adams' complete address to understand the recommended Divine Detachment Process.

I would add a sixth recommendation, drawn from an article by Elizabeth Zivanov. Let us also honestly evaluate the effectiveness of the leadership of Dr. Rowan Williams, and then ask the difficult question; is it in the best interests of the Communion that he continue as Archbishop of Canterbury?


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