June 25, 2008

One More Time (Not) All Together Now

The Telegraph is reporting that GAFCON, instead of going for a full split and the creation of a new ecclesiastical body for "Orthodox" Anglicanism, will instead continue to work for change as a "church within the church."

This is not the first time this language has appeared upon the Anglican/Episcopal scene. In fact, this has been the language of Puritan (and puritan) movements from the very beginning: the separation of a portion of the church, the "true believers" from the bulk of the less-than-perfect members.

Not all of these efforts were born of failed schism — some were based more on piety and asceticism, and it was a fairly common usage for some of the more austere religious communities of bygone days to refer to themselves by the sobriquet ecclesiola in ecclesia — the little church in the church. Of course, such groups, unlike the radical puritans and protestants, were kept from going off the deep end by their particular devotion to the church catholic — with an emphasis on their own "littleness" and being "in" that larger church.

In more recent times (1989), the phrase reappeared in the language of the Episcopal Synod of America and its successor Forward in Faith / North America, both styling themselves as a "church within the church." This language has now been picked up by some of the folk at GAFCON. As time goes on it remains to be seen if disappointed or unwilling schismatists will, like the good catholic Cistercians, take cognizance of their place within the larger church, or like the sectarian puritans try to have as little to do with the whole church as possible, and attempt to fortify the boundaries between them and it while stopping short of complete separation — for the time being. But I fear the tendency is not to be at the center, but rather centrifugal, and when enough energy is built up, to launch out into the emptiness.

Tobias Haller BSG


Country Parson said...

In an odd way I'm disappointed, not simply that I called it wrong but that the schism would have relieved Anglicans of an irritating burden and left us to continue being Anglicans. Now I have to learn how to walk in love with someone who does not want to love or walk with me but won't go away. It reminds me of something in the bible. Hmmm, I wonder what it is?

June Butler said...

1. The Anglican Communion is not a church.

2. I wondered if GAFCON was the anti-Lambeth or the alternative Lambeth, and Abp. Akinola answered my question. It is the alternative Lambeth.

3. If certain GAFCONites (GAFCONians?) cannot attend Lambeth and sit at the table with certain other members of the Anglican Communion, (which is not a church) then how will they still be a part of the AC?

4. But I've heard that some of the GAFCONites will be attending Lambeth.

I'm not really asking for an answer to my question. I'm simply trying to work it all out. It's quite confusing. Maybe that's the point of GAFCON, to confuse the rest of us and keep us off balance.

Or else, the GAFCONites themselves don't know where they're going.

And then there's the rotisserie. (See below.)

It's late, and I'm probably making no sense.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

CP, the problem here, it seems to me, is that the GAFCON party, even while not "going away" also doesn't want to "walk with." Some of their number have actually walked away -- they've left or are in the process of leaving not only TEC but the [real] Anglican Communion, to go off to join the pseudAnglican Communion (the "Continuum" of splinter churches). Then there are the parAnglican entities like AMiA or CANA or San Joaquin (ANglican) -- connected via the episcopate to some province of the real Anglican Communion, but in violation of canon and custom. None of these want to have more to do with TEC than they absolutely have to. It is not we who are unwilling to walk with them -- as they have made abundantly clear, via mouthpiece Akinola who never ceases to quote it: "Can two walk together unless they agree." (Relying, per usual, on the KJV mistranslation of Amos -- the actual meaning of "agree" is "come together" -- that is, "Dan two walk together unless they first meet." Ironic for one who shuns a meeting (Lambeth).

As I have always maintained -- and you can search it out on this blog -- I would welcome Akinola at my altar, but he would not do the same. I can only remain open to his willingness to engage, but I cannot force him, or his fellows, into fellowship. Those who walk apart rather than together have to take responsibility for their own actions. (See my post Feb 07; the situation hasn't changed much since then.)

Mimi, the cited post shows we're still on the same beam. Your questions and comments are astute, and do represent the problem very well. In a way, the current word from GAFCON (with the exception of the departure of the most angry and unhappy) is the "separate bedrooms" model of matrimony. Better than divorce, but less than a marriage. And I think the next step will be the "moving out." Time will tell...

bls said...

Hi Fr. Tobias:

Not at all on-topic, but I just wanted to say how wonderful the "Chicago Consultation" website is (posted this a.m. at EC)!

It's terrific to have all your articles there; having everything centrally located at a "Making the Case" page is exactly what's needed at this point, IMO, and I can't wait to see what else goes up on that page.

The videos are great, too.