Monday, August 4, 2008

Is there Kool-Aid in the chalice?

When I see a document from the Global South Primates who attended Lambeth 2008 I anticipate some recognition of what a colossal failure it has been.

Not so fast.

The first paragraph begins with the traditional fluff and then we get this:

In the midst of the current critical crisis in the Communion we strivefaithfully
and honourably to ensure the Communion remains and continues steadfast in and to
the faith once delivered to the saints.

That seems nice. One might expect some concrete details or at least a sketch of a plan how they will ensure this. One would be mistaken. But wait, there's more:

In this, the Holy Scripture – which, as the testimony to God’s workgiven by the
Spirit of God is the written Word of God – is the final authority for Christian
belief, teaching, life and conduct. Authentic traditions of doctrine and
practice acknowledge its supremacy. It underpins all bonds of affection,
expressions of fellowship and shaping of structures in the Communion.

Wow. That seems strong. But, wait a minute. Aren't they aware that American and Canadian liberals pretty much reject that authority? Might one expect that subject to be addressed? Alas, one would be disappointed.

The second paragraph has two statements: fond greetings to the absent GAGCON bishops and “solidarity” with the suffering orthodox in the heterodox west. Might this mean a sympathy and “solidarity” for the more than verbal assistance given to these same orthodox by the GAFCON bishops? (he asked wistfully and oh so foolishly). I am all a tingle to find the answer to that question.
Paragraph three is the standard babble about what was heard and liked, without being specific as to content or reasons for liking anything.

Paragraph four is pretty much a kiss blown to Rowan and Lambeth (though a different kind of kiss comes to mind. Why are they “encouraged” by the ABC's first address when the Communion is “at the brink of collapse”? [Stop asking questions, you fool!] Sorry, sorry, I forgot).

Paragraph five indicates that they have some belief that the “Windsor process” is still actually processing somewhere and they are backing the “Pastoral forum”. Would that be a forum in the sense of an academic roundtable where the actual merits of ideas and actions are reasonably debated, or is it more like a community chat room where everyone get to “tell his story” blah blah blah? When I hear the term pastoral these days I am less reminded of a shepherd guiding his sheep with a staff and maybe a handy sheepdog, than I am of a pasture, a blissful meadow wherein one may take ambling walks to nowhere and frequently step in cow pies.

When I come to the next paragraph I am puzzled:

We expect the Lambeth Conference, as a significant instrument of unityof the
Communion, to give vital leadership towards resolving the present crisis over
faith and order.

WHEN was this written? By this wording I would expect that it was written BEFORE Lambeth 2008, when there was still the possibility for the kind of hope that the Present always has for the Future. But now Lambeth 2008 is Past. How anyone with a scintilla of concern for orthodoxy could, afterwards, call Lambeth “a significant instrument of unity” or think that it would lead to any real resolution of this crisis is beyond me.

What is their idea of resolution, or leadership toward that end. “My advice to you is to start drinking, very heavily”? I've tried that before. It is a tried and not-really-true method. Sure, it helps one forget one's troubles, but in the morning the troubles are still there, along with a splitting headache and sometimes dim memories of embarrassing things done the night before. And what is there to do in that situation, sober up and deal with the problems, or have another drink. I fear this WGC process is just some hair of the dog.

That they embrace the ABC's and the WGC's false equating of gay ordinations and SSBs with border crossing without making any acknowledgment that the border crossing came in response to the first two, as well as to the abandonment of Scripture and creedal orthodoxy in TEC and ACoC, which is the underlying cause of those symptoms (something GAFCON noted and addressed) makes me think that they don't really understand the position of the orthodox in those institutions, despite their claim to be in solidarity with them. What do they mean when later in paragraph ten they state their intention to “work together...with all orthodox groups in the United States of America and Canada”? Will they not work with the heretics? Will they in any way oppose the heretics' claim to authority and power over the orthodox there? If so, how is that significantly different from border crossing? If not, how is it any help at all?

Paragraph seven is simply a justifiable complaint of bad behavior, yet without any threat of negative consequences for it. Been there. Done that. Got the T-Shirt, made in China by slave labor.

There are some nice things embedded in the next paragraph, implications that they see their churches growing because of orthodoxy, which would offer hope that eventually orthodoxy will re-emerge as liberalism dies of its own sterility, that is, if it hasn't destroyed everything of value in the Communion in the process. Two difficulties with this:

1. Why not be more clear in stating what seems to be the subtext? Is there really any virtue in obscurity these days?

2. Their description of themselves as having a “prophetic and priestly a precious gift to the Anglican Communion”, is problematic. First, as to prophecy, are they claiming to possess that spiritual gift, because they have yet to show in this document that they can speak or write like the prophets? Furthermore, the idea of a prophetic ministry within the church has been much abused, and that on behalf of the very same heresy that they are fighting against. it does not seem wise or prudent to justify the flippant use of that term.

Secondly, I suspect that the use of “priestly” is not well thought out. Priests are those who intercede for sinners. They stand as the bridge between God and those who need to be reconciled to Him. The church has always been seen as having a priestly function, but that is by its interceding for the world, not for itself, or parts of itself. Are these bishops claiming that there are elements within the church that need intercession by the Global South churches? Would that not be tantamount to an admission that some in the church aren't really of the church? I would applaud that admission, but how does one practically live out that belief without altering one's ecclesiastical relationship with those in but not of the church?

Paragraph nine is just more needless verbiage, this time about what “encourages” them, as if it were a pressing concern on the church's part to know how it's leaders were feeling.

Having noted the disconnect that paragraph ten has with the preceding I will only add that the saying that they commit to “listen together to what Lord Jesus says to his church today” is poorly worded in that it leaves open the idea that Jesus might say something new, precisely the wedge that the heretics use to justify abandoning revealed truth.

I wish this statement was anything other than the wishy washy Anglican pablum that it is.