Thursday, January 14, 2016

The Anglican Communion or Surprised Once in a Blue Moon

Anyone who cares will have read that the Anglican Communion has disciplined the Episcopal Church of the United States of America (ECUSA) for changing their canons and doctrine on allowing homosexuals to be married and having their marriages blessed by the Episcopal Church. Frankly, nobody saw this coming.  The ECUSA has failed to even offer any statement on this as of yet, which is a show of being taken off guard.  For those who are not aware of the backstory:

The Anglican Communion has slowly been falling apart.  Much, but not all, of the controversy revolves around the official branch of the Anglican Church in the United States openly allowed active homosexuals to be clergy, then married homosexuals to be clergy, then allowing priests to be the celebrants of "gay weddings". The major branch of Anglicanism that were crying fowl were the African Anglican bishops.  The African bishops even attempted to form a Continuing Anglican branch in the United States, called the Anglican Mission in the Americas (AMiA), aimed at re-evangelizing American Anglicans. So, with the U.S. showing no sign of discretion to uphold classic Christian teaching on sexuality, the Anglican Bishops have been apprehensive to participate in Anglican gatherings alongside the ECUSA.  They even refused to attend the tradition Lambeth Conference, to which Archbishop Welby (Archbishop of Canterbury) cancelled in order to allow time for healing and dialogue first.  Now a conference was scheduled for the Communion to discuss the disagreements amongst themselves.  Every major commentator was expecting this to be the last meeting the African bishops would attend before declaring themselves out of the Anglican Communion.  Except, by a surprise turn of events, the Communion recognized that the ECUSA has finally gone too far and has now sought to discipline the U.S. Church.

I really expected Canterbury would rather watch Africa leave than attempt to touch the United States. While Africa has the numbers, America has the money.  The ECUSA has a history and major influence in the communion, one that appeared to many to be untouchable.  I have to say, I am impressed Welby allowed it.  It seems that England tries to not have opinions about anything regarding the communion as a whole. Yesterday, I had a chance to listen to the BBC4 Sunday episode. To discuss the conference, they had two evangelical Anglican clergyman on, Stephen Ruttle and Andrew Atherstone, to discuss the mediation needed in this discussion. Their opinions seemed to be the standard of the rest of progressive religious diologue, that we can continue to exist in a state of disagreement and not "resort to hatred of each other". Unfortunately, that doesn't take the issues at hand very seriously and acknowledge why the African bishops are so angry.  It was seemingly telling of how things were to go.

Now that this is done, what might happen?  I highly anticipate the response from the ECUSA will be nothing but golden.  Some have wondered if this will lead to the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA) to be recognized by the Communion. Don't hold your breathe.  That is likely never going to happen. Again, even though the ECUSA was disciplined in this way, they will NOT allow the Communion to recognize anyone but them as the official branch in the United States. Canterbury is not going to risk a schism (afterall, isn't that why they resorted to disciplining ECUSA in the first place?) and cause further frustration than they feel necessary. Plus, it isn't their M.O.  Canterbury will continue to "dialogue" with those who want to do what they want anyways while everything falls apart around them.  Be honest, the Communion is dead already. Continuing Anglican bodies, like the Communion will grow smaller and smaller, until they need to rethink their existence altogether.  Many serious Anglicans, in their desire to find tradition while avoiding Rome, have jumped out of Anglicanism completely, while the ones who care about their traditions have gone to Rome. Continuing Anglicans would do well to consider Rome.  All the beautiful traditions of Canterbury are now in Rome thanks to the formation of the Anglican Ordinariate in the Catholic Church. If these beautiful traditions are really worth keeping, would you join Rome to keep them?

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