Tuesday, July 01, 2008

GAFCON

I've been slow to write anything on this for a few reasons - mostly, I've been largely ousted from the computer, so I've been using the time I DO get to read the news and comments of other people on the events in Jerusalem. But it's also partly because I feel that now that the revolution is underway, and it's taking such a decidedly Protestant direction, I really have nothing very pertinent to say.

I read the Jerusalem Declaration, but not 'The Way, The Truth and the Life', and see at once that that the Anglo-Catholics of the Episcopal and Anglican churches have no place in this new order. Dean said, "Well, the evangelicals need a place to flee to, too," and that pretty much sums up what has happened. It's good for them, but protestantism was never of any interest to me, so I find myself taking less and less interest in the future shape of their movement. I'm sure it will be very nice, and it's going to be a lot better than what they've had to put up with in the last few years, but it's not my thing. To me, all Protestants are pretty much the same.

What will become of the Anglo-Catholics is not clear. At the moment, the exhilaration of the Jerusalem meeting is carrying people along, and there are many assurances that there will be no problem at all remaining an Anglo-Catholic in a "39 Articles" church, but I can't see that lasting. The best discussion of the way the ACs have fallen between the stools is by the poster LP on MCJ. As he says, they should gracefully leave for one of the Continuing churches or go to Rome, but of course it won't be that easy - it never is. There are going to be reproaches that THEY suffered along with the evangelicals during the dark days, and now that the latter have found their way to safety, the poor A-Cs are shut out in the wilderness yet again. It's too bad, but it's a fact - they're a minority in this new GAFCON organization, the way they were a minority in TEC. If they can resign themselves to forever being an alien element in a protestant organization (if the majority will tolerate them), then they'll have to get used to perpetual doublethinking - "Yes, we SAY we believe and follow all the 39 Articles, but what we really MEAN is..." Much the same way the revisionists tapdance around the difficult parts of the Creed.

Whether the GAFCON group was wise to remain unsevered from Canterbury and the rest of the Anglican Communion is something they'll have to answer, and no doubt time will tell. Myself, I think it would have been better to leave outright, but then I have a rather peppery nature, and I like things to be cleanly categorized and separated. In the course of my Chesterton readings this month, I came across this:
Most Englishmen say that these anomalies do not matter; they are not ashamed of being illogical; they are proud of being illogical. Lord Macaulay (a very typical Englishman, romantic, prejudiced, poetical), Lord Macaulay said that he would not lift his hand to get rid of an anomaly that was not also a grievance. Many other sturdy romantic Englishmen say the same. They boast of our anomalies; they boast of our illogicality; they say it shows what a practical people we are. They are utterly wrong. Lord Macaulay was in this matter, as in a few others, utterly wrong. Anomalies do matter very much, and do a great deal of harm; abstract illogicalities do matter a great deal, and do a great deal of harm. And this for a reason that anyone at all acquainted with human nature can see for himself. All injustice begins in the mind. And anomalies accustom the mind to the idea of unreason and untruth...When people have got used to unreason they can no longer be startled at injustice. When people have grown familiar with an anomaly, they are prepared to that extent for a grievance; they may think the grievance grievous, but they can no longer think it strange.

Or, as Dr. Johnson put it, so much more succinctly, 'My dear Sir, never accustom your mind to mingle virtue and vice. The woman's a whore, and there's an end on't.' Like the mingling of vice and virtue, this mingling of Christian and non-Christian does no one any great credit. But I can't help regarding everything from a Catholic standpoint, and I suppose that does make all the difference. When one doesn't regard "communion" as a real, organic thing, a Godly thing done with God by our bodies and to our bodies, and connecting us as tightly as a finger is connected to a hand, then it can dissipate into a sort of positive-thinking sentiment that is bestowed upon those who are "with" us. But then, it makes no more sense to me to talk about the Anglican Communion of those "communers" than it does to talk about a Protestant Communion of everyone who believes Jesus is Lord. If that's what you see as a Communion, then sure, you can bestow it here and remove it there, because it seems to me mostly a matter of sentiment. A Catholic could never consider that a real communion, though.

Anyway, there will doubtless still be things to watch - the responses from the "excommunicated" are already rolling in, including the typically crude remarks of the Madwoman of Second Avenue. If I can find time to read them all, there may even be a few Braxton's Lears appearing in the coming weeks.

6 Comments:

Anonymous WannabeAnglican said...

I really don't think it is that dark for ACs. If GAFCON is good enough for Bishop Iker, it should be good enough for other Anglo-Catholics.

And even the uber-Protestant ++Jensen held out an olive branch to ACs. GAFCON isn't at all interested in shutting out ACs. Quite the opposite.

10:26 pm  
Anonymous Toral said...

I can see the dilemma of the ACs very clearly, and I also think LP's posts set them out fairly. ACs have some very distinctive beliefs which mark them out, not just from Anglican Evangelicalism, but from ordinary orthodox Anglicanism. They must be asking themselves..."well, if we're going to split from TEC/ACoC...why go a structure in which we're going to have to sugarcoat our beliefs to be accepted? Isn't that what we're fleeing from?"

I shouldn't strategize for ACs, not being one of them, but if +Iker is onside, it's probably good. The majority of seceding *dioceses* in USA are Anglo-Catholic, so it's quite unlikely that the new North American province will adopt anything that ACs can't accept.

In the long run there will be a split, over WO if nothing else, but in the short run unity among the orthodox is valuable.

Such is my view. Call it strident if you will.

2:47 am  
Blogger The Bovina Bloviator said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

10:56 pm  
Blogger The Bovina Bloviator said...

...the poor A-Cs are shut out in the wilderness yet again. It's too bad, but it's a fact - they're a minority in this new GAFCON organization, the way they were a minority in TEC.

And they were a minority 163 years ago in England when Newman sadly realized Protestants cannot be Catholics and embraced the full faith. That is why, Wannabe, I cannot fathom Bishop Iker's purposes signing on with the GAFCONers, good people that they are.

GAFCON, if nothing else, firmly established, once and for all, Anglicanism as Protestantism and not a bad thing either, removing at last the hopeless dithering and ambiguity that has plagued Anglicanism for centuries. For +Iker, however, who professes to be "Catholic," it makes no sense to join forces with the GAFCONers, they cannot be "good enough."

You can no more be somewhat Catholic then somewhat pregnant. +Iker surely knows this and I can only surmise GAFCON will serve as a safe but temporary harbor for him and his flock. They will, however, have to weigh anchor soon and sail on lest the old Catholic-Prostestant divisions raise their ugly head once again. I have long argued +Iker and his flock should steer for Rome and GAFCON does nothing to dissuade me from that position.

11:15 pm  
Anonymous Sibyl said...

Just when I think perhaps I should swim the Tiber, I remember Veronica's veil, Louisa Piccaretta, the creepy relics with jewels pasted in their eye sockets, no adult education past RCIA, poor preaching, ...and few lively thriving parishes...and the unbelievers, radicals, progressives, heretics, apostates even among the religious I have known.

6:33 pm  
Blogger Dr. Alice said...

I'd love to get a better handle on this issue. I was brought up very Protestant and came to Episcopalianism late. I'm now trying to figure out what to do and where to go; can you point me to some reading sources that might clarify the issue and/or provide some history of Anglo-Catholicism, the 39 Articles, and so forth? All suggestions welcomed.

11:02 am  

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