29 August 2008

The Donatist Six finally speak

I am having major problems with the HTML today; it will not let me format correctly. I apologize for the appearance of this post.

Well, the Donatist Puritan Six (DP6) has finally spoken. Guess what, it is the same stuff different day. The most noticeable thing is that the curia is shrinking – it is now down to five archbishops and one presiding bishop. Also, Venables is now the number two man and Akinola is still on top.

The communiqué begins by establishing that they are out to establish a new organization:

The twofold task of the Council is 'to authenticate and recognise confessing Anglican jurisdictions, clergy and congregations and to encourage all Anglicans to promote the gospel and defend the faith.' The Primates have therefore laid the basis for the future work of both the Council and the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FCA). The GAFCON movement continues its advance.

There are no “confessing Anglican jurisdictions.” The Anglican Communion is a creedal church, not a confessing communion. Therefore, they want a new organization – a single church structure, not a communion.

The Communiqué then goes on to give us more of why these super Anglicans are trying to destroy the Communion. First of course is because of the North Americans and their sinful actions. Notice the bit in bold – it will come in hand to remember that later on.

We maintain that three new facts of the Anglican Communion must be faced. We are past the time when they can be reversed.

First, some Anglicans have sanctified sinful practices and will continue to do so whatever others may think.

Second, churches and even dioceses affected by this disobedience have rightly withdrawn fellowship while wishing to remain authentic Anglicans. So-called 'border-crossing' is another way of describing the provision of recognition and care for those who have been faithful to the teachings of Holy Scripture. [Emphasis added.]

Third, there is widespread impaired and broken sacramental communion amongst Anglicans with far-reaching global implications. The hope that we may somehow return to the state of affairs before 2003 is an illusion.

Now, they are going to contradict themselves; notice this emphasized bit:

GAFCON remains a gospel movement. It is far from saying that its membership are the only true Anglicans or the only gospel people in the Anglican Communion. We thank God that this is not the case. But the movement recognises the acute spiritual dangers of a compromised theology and aims to be a resource and inspiration for those who wish to defend and promote the biblical gospel. [Emphasis added.]

Now, correct me if I am wrong, but first they say that they were not the only authentic Anglicans and then they say they are. Which is it? Either this group (or whoever wrote the document) is really stupid, or they are telling a lie. Given that this has the watermark of Minns on it, I know it cannot be stupidity. They are trying to attract the widest possible base by not overtly offending anyone by telling calling everyone else apostates.

Notice whom it is that they wish to attract:

The Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans will function as a means of sharing in this great task. We invite individuals, churches, dioceses, provinces and parachurch organisations who assent to the Jerusalem Declaration to signify their desire to become members of the Fellowship via the GAFCON web site or written communication with the Secretariat. The Fellowship will develop networks, commissions and publications intended to defend and promote the biblical gospel in ways which support one another.

At the same time, the Council and its Advisory Board will seek to deal with the problems of those who have confessed the biblical faith in the face of hostility and found the need on grounds of conscience and in matters of great significance to break the normal bonds of fellowship in the name of the gospel. For the sake of the Anglican Communion this is an effort to bring order out of the chaos of the present time and to make sure as far as possible that some of the most faithful Anglican Christians are not lost to the Communion. It is expected that priority will be given to the possible formation of a province in North America for the Common Cause Partnership [Emphasis added.].

There it is again – we are not saying we are the only true Anglicans, but…we are the most faithful Anglicans. I had to laugh when I read that bit. The leadership of the fundamentalists really is funny. Sometimes I feel as if I am watching a Three Stooges movie when I read their actions.

Also, take note of the word ‘parachurch.’ Parachurch ‘ministries’ operate outside the command structure of the local church and cut across denominational lines. This means the DP6 are trying to woo all those who have left TEC during the past 100 years in addition to all those ‘poor, suffering righteous people’ who are stuck in apostate organizations.

They then move on to Lambeth Conference and state they are pleased that the infamous non-doctrine of 1.10 is still upheld.

Noting the reference to building bridges with GAFCON in the Archbishop of Canterbury's concluding Presidential Address at Lambeth, and that the Lambeth Conference itself made no decisions about the future of the Communion, we are grateful that there is an acknowledgement that Lambeth 1.10 of 1998 remains an authentic expression of the mind of the Communion. We also note the renewed call for moratoria on the consecration of bishops who are homosexually partnered and the blessing of same-sex unions as well so-called 'border-crossing'. Likewise there is mention of the creation of a 'Pastoral Forum' to look after disaffected parishes or dioceses and continued work on an Anglican Covenant.

Notice that there is not a single word about the condemnation of border crossing. They forget the part of Lambeth 1998 that condemned the GAFCON actions. I have a friend who calls such acts “Convenient Alzheimer’s.”

As far as the fundamentalists are concerned, there was only 1.10 that came out of 1998. Never mind that it has at least ten points, only 1.10 is doctrine to be obeyed. That is because only 1.10 can be used to their fundamentalist benefit by demonizing TEC and the ACoC. Never mind that many other provinces of the Communion are not treating 1.10 as if it were actual doctrine. Only TEC and the ACoC are to blame. Most of Lambeth 1998 condemns the fundamentalist activities.

Then Minns, I mean, the primates, go on to bash TEC and justify the fundamentalist schism by the sinful acts of TEC:

But the Communion fractured in 2003 , when our fellowship was 'torn at its deepest level.' It seems that the facts which we have identified as the new reality have not yet been recognised as such, and we are therefore continually offered the same strategies which mean further delay and unlikely results. Indeed, delay itself seems to be a strategy employed by some in order to resolve the issue through weariness. The Anglican Covenant will take a long time to be widely accepted and may have no particular force when it does. The idea of 'moratoria' has never dealt with the underlying problem as is shown by the equivalence of cross-border care and protection with the sexual sins which have caused the problems. In any case, some North American Bishops appear to have indicated already that they will not keep to them. It appears that people living in a homosexual unions continue to be ordained in some dioceses in contravention to Lambeth 1.10. In principle, this is no different from consecrating a bishop who adopts the same pattern of life, or indeed, of blessing same-sex unions. The idea of the Pastoral Forum has only now emerged but has never been discussed with those actually affected by the innovations which have created the problems with which we are trying to deal (see appended letter). If the Panel of Reference did not work, it is unclear how the Pastoral Forum will succeed.

There it is again. “We are only doing this because of those apostate North Americans who won’t swallow 1.10 as doctrine are forcing us to do this.” The fundamentalists accept no responsibility for any of their schismatic actions.

They then state that
[E]ven though many of their colleagues from the Global South have “strongly commended the Windsor Process to us, we are reluctant to say that it cannot work, but there is nothing new here such as to make us hesitate from the course we are taking…”

Ah, yes, we are the Anglican Inquisition a we don’t stop for nobody, not no how, not no way, not never.

As I said at the beginning, we have heard the same Donatist rhetoric for years: “Poor us, we are so persecuted.”

The usual suspects signed the communiqué: Nigeria, Southern Cone, Rwanda, Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda. Noticeably absent is the signature of Jensen. But, the rumours are that this had to be released before they could “contact one bishop.” I wonder who that might be.

Mark Harris has a good take on the communiqué.

In all of this we might note that

(i) the number of Primates buying on has not grown,
(ii) the request received for development of a new Province recognized by the Primates is from their own bishops in North America,
(iii) The Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans is a membership organization in support of the Primates Council and its actions (a kind of GAFCON continuation popular front for the liberation of the Anglican Communion, etc.), and
(iv) there is no longer talk of this being the work of the Global South.

Goodbye Global South, goodbye Lambeth, goodbye Archbishop of Canterbury. As far as the Primates Council is concerned, "the Anglican Communion as a communion of ordered churches is at the probable brink of collapse." Will these Primates meet with the others at the next Primates Meeting? How will they dare?

This Communiqué on the one hand says nothing not already in the works at GAFCON. It simply puts in place the various pieces. But it has become divisive in its own house. There are notable realignment provinces missing from this group and for good reason. This is not about saving the Communion. It is about replacing it, and if that is not possible, about starting something else entirely and recruiting from the Anglican Communion as it can.

And there you have it, folks. Make sure to read Preludium by clicking on the link on the right column.