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United We Fall: the falling apart of the Anglican Communion?

11 August, 2008

One grows weary of yet another article on the state of the Anglican Communion and, in particular for those of us here in the UK, the Church of England. I’ve read a number of English bishops’ opinions expressed on some of their blog sites. Apparently, Lambeth 2008 ended up surprisingly wonderful: there was a wonderful sense of “listening” and “learning to value differences”. Yet the more I read these bishops’ expressions I cannot help think they are really working hard to convince themselves of the “wonderfulness”. It doesn’t seem others are buying their take on things. I know they have commendable desires to find a “better way” but I am less than persuaded they are dealing with the hard, sad and painful realities. Perhaps, one or two of them might respond to the line of argument expressed in this recent article in the Economist. See United We Fall

On the other hand, I am pleased to see that Bishop Tom Wright and 18 other bishops responded to the Times’ flawed journalism that reported Archbishop Williams’ alleged claim that gay sex is equally valid to heterosexual marriages. See The vital importance of working together

The Times article and even worse headlines were astonishingly careless and injudicious. Yes, Williams has for a long time distanced his own personal “thinking aloud” as a theologian from orthodox teaching. (Just as an aside I always find this line of justification a non sequitur. With what possible justification are teachers free from moral accountability concerning what they teach, say and write? Yes, civil liberties must protect and ensure the allowance of free speech; but such liberty does not excuse teachers from moral responsibility and even accountability to our communities — in Williams’ case, the Church. The New Testament, I think, does not divorce teachers from church leaders. I suspect this separation is only something occurring over the past 150 years or so) Nevertheless, the Times made it seem like Williams’ opinions are “news”. The truth is they are old stuff: from private correspondence some seven to eight years old. The 19 bishops are right to challenge this shoddy journalism and question the motives of such.

Still, when one reads both articles together it is hard to see how — at the moment anyway — the Anglican Communion is heading for anything or than a ‘falling apart’.

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