Seven of the "G"S Primates have refused to share in the Holy Communion with the rest of the body. They have issued the following statement, which I submit for your consideration.
Aside from the appalling self-righteousness, and the utter inversion of the principles of repentance and forgiveness (that is, it is only in one's own power to repent and forgive -- to demand either of others is not a Gospel value!), I suspect this may be the outline for any coming departure from the Anglican Communion to form some new coalition of national churches. The Anglican Communion, represented by the remaining Primates, will continue to do the hard work the Gospel demands -- which is to remain together in spite of our differences, as members of a body whose head is Christ.
I have observed elsewhere that the far-right coalition, both in the US and in the Anglican Communion, have missed or misunderstood the nature of our disagreements all along. They see the book as closed, as far as same-sex relationships are concerned -- they want repentance not so much for having breached the bonds of affection, but for having breached what they believe to be God's eternal and everlasting laws of nature. They are unwilling to see these supposed "laws of nature" as cultural artifacts, not universal values -- that even though they are "biblical" they represent cultural beliefs of particular times and places and peoples -- and they have been unable to prove otherwise, to a growing number of people throughout the world.
They do have the inertia of tradition on their side, and this has held the field in some quarters. Anglicans treat "tradition" with some significant suspicion, and are loath to give it the persuasive power to stand unexamined by reason. So it is that the Windsor Report itself envisions a possible eventual acceptance of same-sex relationships in certain contexts, as the church continues to explore and discuss the issue. Hence the use of such terms as "moratorium" -- which is a temporary suspension. The WR also alludes to changes in consensus, including, most importantly the lack of a current consensus on these matters as a reason for cautious dialogue rather than final action one way or the other (143); the Report also refers to the "current teaching" of the Communion, as an indication that such teachings can, and do change (69).
Indeed, if the book were closed, why would even Lambeth 1.10 have called for listening and dialogue? The Windsor Report goes even further not only in leaving the door open, but demanding that it remain open: "...[D]ebate on this issue cannot be closed whilst sincerely but radically different positions continue to be held across the Communion. The later sections of Lambeth Resolution 1.10 cannot be ignored any more than the first section, as the primates have noted." (149)
This is not what the "reasserters" want to hear. They do not want debate to remain open, but to be closed. For them the issue was settled by Leviticus, and sealed by Romans. But what they fail to see is the growing reasonable reassessment of these texts, placing them in a cultural context that is no longer applicable to our present day. They remain stalwartly unconvinced by these reevaluations. But a sea-change is happening, and the tide is against them. Or perhaps they do see it, and are as keen as Canute in seeking to hold it back.
Meanwhile: Here is the unsuprising news from Tanzania: (From the Globalsouth Website, reported at Stand Firm)
SITTING AT THE LORD'S TABLE
Statement from Global South primates
A number of the Global South primates have not shared in the Holy Eucharist today with their fellow primates. They include Abp. Peter Akinola, Abp John Chew, Abp. Benjamin Nzimbi, Abp Justice Akrofi, Abp. Henry Orombi, Abp. Gregory Venables, and Abp. Emmanuel Kolini. They represent more than 30 million faithful Anglicans. They have released this statement:
"We each take the celebration of the Holy Eucharist very seriously. This deliberate action is a poignant reminder of the brokenness of the Anglican Communion. It makes clear that the torn fabric of the Church has been torn further. It is a consequence of the decision taken by our provinces to declare that our relationship with The Episcopal Church is either broken or severely impaired.
Scripture teaches that before coming to sit with one another at the Lord's Table we must be reconciled. (Matthew 5:23-26
We are unable to come to the Holy Table with the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church because to do so would be a violation of Scriptural teaching and the traditional Anglican understanding, "Ye that do truly and earnestly repent you of your sins, and are in love and charity with your neighbours, and intend to lead a new life, following the commandments of God, and walking from henceforth in his holy ways; Draw near with faith" (Book of Common Prayer)
This is a painful decision for us and also for our host and brother, the Most Rev¹d Donald Mtetemela. He understands our painful dilemma and accepts our decision. Pray for the Church."
Friday, February 16, 2007
White Sands Hotel, Jangwani Beach, Tanzania