So what does it mean?

Following the House of Bishops' response to the Primates last week, the Joint Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates has issued a report making recommendations to the Primates and to the Archbishop of Canterbury.

First is an acknowledgement of the hard work and due diligence of the House of Bishops, and I must agree. Given the diversity of opinions, and the sheer weight of individual agendas, for them to have come to some agreement (though not unanimous) is a blessing. Despite what others may say (such as one blogger who is convinced that the HoB is demon possessed - no link provided on purpose), the HoB is trying to do its best with the difficult situation here in the Episcopal Church.

Second is an outright acceptance of the work. Yes, that's right - read it.

"By their answers to these two questions, we believe that the Episcopal Church has clarified all outstanding questions relating to their response to the questions directed explicitly to them in the Windsor Report, and on which clarifications were sought by 30th September 2007, and given the necessary assurances sought of them."

The JSC accepts the work that we have done, accepts the moratoria and the apologies that we have made, and commends it all to the Archbishop, to the Primates, and to the whole Communion by extension.

But wait, there's more:

For the first time the JSC acknowledges the hardships placed upon us by the "incursions" of foreign bishops into the jurisdiction of the Episcopal Church.

"We feel obliged to note that the House of Bishops makes a point here which needs to be addressed urgently in the life of the Communion. In appealing to the statements of Lambeth Conferences and the Ecumenical Councils of the Church, the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church is reminding all Anglicans that we are committed to upholding the principle of local jurisdiction. Not only do the ancient councils of the Church command our respect on this question, but the principle was clearly articulated and defended at the time when the very architecture of the Anglican Communion was forged in the early Lambeth Conferences, as well as being clearly re-iterated and stated in more recent times as tensions have escalated."

But, as though that needed clarification - because obviously it does! - the report goes on to cite several examples where the primates in their own words, and the Windsor Report, clearly calls for the incursions to cease. And as if that wasn't clear enough, the report uses their OWN words against them:

"As a Joint Standing Committee, we do not see how certain primates [read, Moses Tay of South East Asia, Emmanuel Kolini of Rwanda, and Peter Akinola of Nigeria] can in good conscience call upon The Episcopal Church to meet the recommendations of the Windsor Report while they find reasons to exempt themselves from paying regard to them. We recommend that the Archbishop remind them of their own words and undertakings."

Finally, of some interest, is a second call from the Anglican Communion for the current litigations to be suspended. Why?

The answer, my friends, is that the Gospel calls us to reconciliation. Say it with me: rek-uhn-sil-ee-ey-shuhn.

In the original communique from Dar es Salaam, the Primates asked that both parties give "assurances that no steps will be taken to alienate property from The Episcopal Church without its consent or to deny the use of that property to those congregations."

And the JSC writes, "Unless some measure of reassurance and security is given to those congregations, parishes, bishops and dioceses ... there will be no reconciliation either within The Episcopal Church or within the wider Anglican Communion."

Yes, folks. They're talking about putting down the guns, calling a truce - or at least a cease fire - and continuing in the apostles teaching, fellowship, in the breaking of bread and in the prayers. And we can do this without agreeing with one another!

Recently, Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburg opened the "Common Cause Council of Bishops" meeting by saying, "Our shortcoming is not 'right Faith.' Our shortcoming is 'right Order' and 'right mission.'" - addressing, of course, a group of people whom he was comfortable agreeing with - other evangelicals.

Of course he's going to say that "right faith" isn't as important as "right order" and "right mission."

But I wonder - what would our current situation have been like if they had taken this approach from the beginning? What if they could deal with the tension of unlike beliefs (not discordant faith), and instead work for "right order" and "right mission"?

I find it hard to accept their words at face value. And I guarantee that the rhetoric will change from this point on. Now that we've conceded and apologized - placing a stand-still on future actions, waiting on the Holy Spirit to bring about a deeper consensus on these issues - they have nothing to fight with us about... unless they change the arguement.

They won't put down their guns. They won't call a cease-fire. They have too much to lose: Bishops have been made (Minns) and power has been grabbed, and they fear losing that.

1 comment:

Malt Viquor said...

Good summary, Disorder! At last I have internet access again and can catch up with the e-world. Speaking of putting down guns ... see next post up.