David W. Virtue writes:
MINNEAPOLIS, MN-The common wisdom now is that a separate orthodox province for biblically orthodox Episcopalians is the only way forward for the theologically and morally fraught Episcopal Church.
For the church's Anglo-Catholic wing this would be the fulfillment of a long-hoped for dream. They even have two candidates, Fr. David L. Moyer
and Fr. William Ilgenfritz waiting in the wings, ready to be consecrated to provide such cover for traditionalist parishes caught in such revisionist dioceses like Pennsylvania, Washington, Maryland and Massachusetts.
They have been arguing for a separate provincial jurisdiction for themselves for years and this was reinforced again at their Forward in Faith convocation in Philadelphia recently.
Several bishops including Keith Ackerman (Quincy); Jack Iker (Fort Worth); Bill Wantland (Eau Claire ret.) to name but a few, believe this is now the only way forward in a denomination so heavily and unevenly divided along theological, liturgical and moral lines.
On the other hand, Biblically-orthodox Evangelicals in ECUSA who have accepted such innovations as women's ordination and the '79 Prayer Book, would prefer the reform and renewal of ECUSA, with several bishops still believing that is possible.
But at the 74th General Convention of The Episcopal Church in Minneapolis this past week, the wind shifted again, and a consensus emerged that if the Archbishop of Canterbury was prepared to authorize such a province then they would not stand in its way.
At this point in time all faithful orthodox believers in The Episcopal Church now accept that this is a fait accompli because two significantly new lines were drawn in the sand that makes staying together under the one umbrella, now impossible.
The approval of Gene Robinson, an openly homosexual man to be the next Bishop of New Hampshire was the final straw for orthodox believers. Some 20 bishops publicly protested his nomination in a prepared statement read by Robert Duncan (Pittsburgh) and then walked out of the House of Bishops. Almost a 100 clergy and laity deputies in the House of Deputies also walked out in protest to these new innovations.
The second innovation, which is just as bad as the first, was the free exercise of local option to allow the blessings of people in same-sex relationships though no formal liturgical rite was offered them. That too was a bridge too far.
ECUSA's pansexualists got half a loaf, but we all know that at the next General Convention, if there is one, that such rites will be passed. Nothing shall be allowed to stop the revisionist juggernaut.
And so we have reached what looks to be the end of the ecclesiastical road for a divided denomination.
If, by some miracle, Gene Robinson decides to do a Jeffrey John (the wannabee Bishop of Reading) and withdraw his nomination, this would indeed avert a crisis, but at this point in time there seems little likelihood of that happening, as Robinson has put his name forward at least three times to be a bishop in other dioceses in ECUSA, and he has made it very clear that he does not hold himself responsible for those who leave the church because he was elected to New Hampshire. He has worked for this day and feels he is owed it.
In fact he goes one step further, he blames the orthodox for leaving the church, not his own immoral behavior for causing the division. What he doesn't get, or doesn't want to get, is that the revisionists not the orthodox, are the ones who have moved away from 2,000 years of church teaching. It is the moral innovations of ECUSA, not the church militant that has caused the problem.
But this has always been the tactics of the church's revisionists. First whine about the need for acceptance of some sexuality or other, then start twisting arms in the name of a false inclusion, then broker it into the church by making it optional, then make it mandatory, and finally put the thumb screws on those who don't agree with you.
Hitler and Stalin both employed those tactics, the only difference being that those who did not conform were put to death.
But ECUSA's innovations finally hit a brick wall this past week. ECUSA revisionists tied a noose around their own necks, and they will hang themselves by it, if the Primates declare themselves out of communion with the ECUSA.
Either the orthodox will roll over and accept the inevitability that anything goes and that the Episcopal Church is now little more than a Unitarian body reciting the creed that no one believes in, while on occasion choosing to meet in a field with Sufi Rumi, or that those who do believe the message must now disassociate themselves from the moral and theological chaos and go their own way. There can be no more compromises.
Enter the Archbishop of Canterbury. The man whose views come under the umbrella of something called Affirming Catholicism. They are a tiny group in the Anglican communion, almost as small as the vociferous and vocal pansexualists.
They wield power out of all proportion to their real size. The three most notable Affirming Catholics are Rowan Williams, Frank Griswold (ECUSA) and Peter Carnley, Primate of Australia. Affirming Catholicism is also known as Progressive Christianity.
This group tries to play it down the middle by affirming some high church aspects to their worship, but fudge on moral and doctrinal issues in order to accommodate to the prevailing mood of the times. They are treated with real suspicion by biblically orthodox Anglicans who see them as loose on Scripture, and by Anglo-Catholics who see them as faux high churchmen.
Rowan Williams is one such Affirming Catholic. He genuinely believes, because of his position and theological education, that he can hold up the Anglican umbrella so all can seek refuge under it when the thunder clouds roll.
But he recently learned a very hard lesson with Jeffrey John and found that that was not true.
For all his vaunted brilliance, the Church of England's Evangelicals put a rope around his (and Richard Harries, the Bishop of Oxford's neck) and tightened it to the point that he surrendered.
Faced with a major revolt that would have split the C of E, he pulled his man, Jeffrey John, out of a potential bishopric for the sake of peace and unity...and the continual flow of two hundred million pounds into C of E coffers. Now he is again faced with a similar dilemma.
The American branch of the Anglican Communion is threatening to come unglued with a core group ready to slip out from underneath the umbrella and, on top of that, the hitherto quiescent Global South bishops are flexing their muscle, making such pointed statements as "we don't need to go through Canterbury to get to Jesus."
One hopes the archbishop of Canterbury doesn't need a hearing aid or interpreter. One also hopes that he does not suggest to the Two Thirds world bishops that the problems in the communion can be resolved by a visit with Sufi Rumi in some field or other where notions of absolute right and wrong have morphed onto some new spiritual plain. If he does he'll get a personal introduction into something called black African flight.
Dr. Williams must face the truth that if he doesn't offer a way out for ECUSA's orthodox faithful he will face a revolt not only from them, but also from dioceses like Sydney and provinces like Southeast Asia, Central Africa, Nigeria, Uganda, the Southern Cone and the Bahamas.
If that happens he will then have lost control of the Anglican Communion, and those provinces might just disassociate themselves from him, leaving him with nothing more than a handful of whinny sodomites, angry lesbian women, feminized parish priests and numerically dying provinces. Now that's a real crowd to lead.
At the end of the day, Rowan Williams will be forced to face the untenable truth that he is no longer in control of the Anglican Communion, and what was once a communion is now a loosely knit federation.
Bishops, by reason of apostolic succession are still bishops whether they are in communion with Canterbury or not.
And I have been reliably informed that The Roman Catholic Church stands ready to receive them with their own rite should they want to flee in that direction. But the vast Global South are predominantly evangelicals driven by the Good News about Jesus and proclaiming it to all people.
There is absolutely nothing stopping them forming a whole new Anglican Communion. They have the numbers, and in time would get the money. Everything is now in the hands of Rowan Williams. Some biblically orthodox bishops will undoubtedly balk at the notion of two separate provinces (one apostate, the other orthodox) recognized by Canterbury, but that might be the price the orthodox have to pay to stay in the Anglican Communion.
Ultimately the Primates will look to him, as will Griswold, as he has said publicly he is in relationship with Canterbury and NOT his fellow Primates. If the Primates don't like his answers they may think the price is too high to stay in the present setup. There are salvation issues at stake here, and heaven rejoices over one sinner that repents, and the Primates are hoping it will be Frank Griswold.
This article is taken from Virtuosity