July 6, 2008 [LINK / comment]

GAFCON vs. Lambeth conference

Can the Anglican Communion stay unified? That is the biggest question as traditionalist bishops from around the Anglican world have met in Jerusalem in a challenge to this year's Lambeth Conference, which begins ten days from now. The most contentious issue is over the status of homosexuals in the church, and whether they should be ordained as priests and bishops. There are many other differences as well, however. The traditionalist "Global Anglican Future Conference" (GAFCON) report declares: "We want unity, but not at the cost of re-writing the Bible to accommodate the latest cultural trend." See BBC. GAFCON has created a "Primates Council" to oversee the creation of Anglican missions within the jurisdiction of existing diocese, as has happened here in Virginia. (See my Feb. 1, 2007 post.) This crossing of boundaries is what is considered so subversive by the mainstream Anglican bishops, who are mostly of a modern liberal inclination.

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams called the GAFCON proposal "problematic," which by the standards of typical English underspokenness is rather strong language. See Episcopal Life Online. Archbishop Williams has counseled the Episcopal Church U.S.A. to proceed with caution in its liberal reform agenda, fearing that it would precipitate a global schism. In that respect, he is a unifying figure. The Archbishop himself is considered a liberal on most social and political issues, however. For example, he actually suggested adopting elements of Islamic Sharia law in Britain, to placate Muslims; see my Feb. 7 blog post.

Speaking of the Anglican Communion, I just noticed that the Classical Anglican Web site went out of commission a few months ago, mainly because of a malicious hacking attack. As a partial replacement, one of the main bloggers at that site, Rev. Kendall Harmon, has set up a new domain for his blog: Titus One Nine. That is how I found the GAFCON Web site.

Even though I am inclined toward the traditional, conservative side on most social and religious issues, I am appalled at the idea of breaking up the Church over such issues. The Anglican Communion, and the Episcopal Church in particular, has always been open to a variety of interpretations of the Bible and of what the mission of evangelism calls upon us to do. Indeed, the three fundamental tenets of Anglican theology are: Scripture, Tradition, and Reason. That implies that the religious laws and guidelines we follow are subject to reconsideration over the centuries, but likewise that any reinterpretation thereof be very deliberate, based on widespread consensus. Somehow, some people have got it in their heads that they alone are carrying out God's will. I pray dearly that those on both sides will reconsider their headstrong attitude before it is too late.

Church Web site

On a related note, I recently set up a new domain name for our local congregation in Staunton, Emmanuel Episcopal Church: www.emmanuelstaunton.org. (I became Web master and revamped that Web site last September.) It includes photos I took of the stained glass window that was recently restored.