Christians should be truthful people, but there is a danger that if the Archbishop of Canterbury’s meeting of global Anglican archbishops next week goes south, orthodox leaders could find themselves on the end of some New Labour-style spinning.
It appears to have already started. An unnamed ‘senior Church of England source’ close to Archbishop Justin Welby has been briefing The Guardian:
‘Welby is said to be phlegmatic about the prospect (of orthodox Archbishops walking out of the meeting), believing he has done everything possible to offer the opportunity to forge a new, looser relationship, which hardliners may choose to reject. “His mood is not ‘Crisis, what crisis?’ but ‘Crisis? Well, what’s new?’,” said the source.’
Note the term ‘hardliner’ in that off-the-record briefing. But the truth contra the accountability-zilch spin is that if orthodox archbishops from the two-thirds world walk out of Archbishop Welby’s meeting next week because pro-homosexual ‘marriage’ Churches in the United States and Canada are not expelled from the Anglican Communion, then that would be very far from the intemperate, precipitate, ‘hardliner’ action that some CofE spinners might wish to insinuate.
The leader of the orthodox primates (as the heads of Anglican Provinces are called) is the Archbishop of Kenya, Dr Eliud Wabukala, chairman of the steering group of the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON). His officer for the Anglican Communion is an English minister, the Revd Charles Raven. In December, Mr Raven with his characteristic lucidity explained the background to January’s meeting in an article on the GAFCON website – To mend the net?:
“For these (orthodox) primates, the decision of the Dar es Salaam Primates Meeting of February 2007 must be one of the great ‘What if’ moments of recent Anglican history and they might well want to revisit it. What if Rowan Williams, then Archbishop of Canterbury, had stood by the primates’ collegial mind to subject TEC (the US liberal Anglican Church) to discipline if it failed to give assurances by 30th September 2007 not to authorise Rites of Blessing for same sex unions nor to consecrate persons in such relationships as bishops?
“As it happened, Rowan Williams set aside the primates’ decision by inviting the TEC bishops to the 2008 Lambeth Conference before the deadline. This led directly to the utterly unprecedented withdrawal of over two hundred bishops from the conference and to the first Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) in Jerusalem, out of which the (orthodox) Anglican Church in North America was birthed.”
So the Canterbury meeting next week is the culmination of a long process of derogation from a clear collegial decision reached by the majority of Anglican Communion leaders at Dar es Salaam back in 2007.
It is actually very gracious of the orthodox Anglican primates even to turn up. They are giving the Archbishop of Canterbury a last chance to stand up for the loving biblical truth of the Lord Jesus Christ and, in line with the promises Anglican bishops make in the Book of Common Prayer, “to banish and drive away all erroneous and strange doctrine contrary to God’s Word”.