Monday, August 4, 2008

Reality Bites

The Rev. Rob Eaton has left a very insightful comment over at a post on Stand Firm which I am copying below.
There were two realities that hit the reappraiser side of TEC and Canada, etc., fairly hard, I think. I use the word reappraiser here in the original from Kendall, as it refers to the larger issue (or deeper issue, if you like) of biblical authority and what that phrase refers to in divine inspiration and commendation.

First, reappraisers at Lambeth came to the chilling conclusion that even without the large Provinces and all their bishops not in attendance, the Anglican Communion is still - using the bishops as the measure - a reasserting Communion. That in and of itself is something to give thanks to God about, and to hold onto as a balance of hope. Because of that, GAFCON still has a place of influence : no matter how you define the purpose or message of GAFCON, its greatest strength was to underscore the high priority of biblical authority, and thus there is no separation in that regard.
I realize that is not much consolation to those of us in TEC who are looking for the same. But that should not diminish the reality of what reappraisers at Lambeth suddenly had to come to grips with.

And God bless the Indabas, because that is the vehicle through which this awareness became apparent. I’m not convinced yet that was the purpose of the indabas, but it was a byproduct if nothing else. I am willing to attribute that serendipity to the Lord Jesus Christ and the working of His Holy Spirit. If Lambeth had used the previous Lambeths’ procedure of papers and discussion, and some sort of legislative format, I do not believe the still-remaining reasserter essence of the Anglican Communion would have been heard, or if heard, conceded, which reappraising bishops had to concede. But in the basic principle of the indaba, all must be listened to. Reappraising bishops could not refuse, since that has been one of their self-identified playing cards for at least 10 years.

Second, the protest of the decade (and I know something about what it takes to make public protests withIN the venue) was the statement made by the Sudanese Episcopal Church bishops via their Primate. Bishops know “connections”, and the Sudanese have powerful connections with US TEC funds. For the bishops of that Province to zero in on +Gene Robinson of New Hampshire as the bishop whose consecration was the precipitating cause of Anglican Communion destruction and “tearing”, including life and death ramifications in their Province (not that it started with him, mind you), and yet who has been the over-bearing ministry cause of the majority of the TEC House of Bishops, the bishops at Lambeth knew that the Sudanese who are indeed desparate for external funds had placed biblical authority ahead of connections-for-the-sake-of-funding. It was a moment of principled integrity, and biblical conviction.

The immediate response from those who were stung by the statement, protest and demand for +Gene to resign, was all they could muster in such surprise, “Yeah? Who says?” But the bishops themselves - including the reappraisers - knew what this all meant to the reappraiser agenda. Given only a short time of reflection (because they are smart people), we heard the reappraising bishops say what they had to in order to maintain Communion, “We will not stop sending funds.” In effect, the “all or nothing” folks, with Bp Robinson as their figurehead, had to take a step back. Some of them may have felt undermined, or even betrayed in that moment of allies reassuring continued “connection.” It was also at that moment that people began noticing that the reappraising bishops had become quiet, and that +Gene Robinson himself was off the radar - for a while, anyway.

So? If nothing else - if +Gene does not resign, and the House of Bishops continues to be co-opted to “his” cause - what happened was the proper and public articulation of how the MDG’s should be considered, in relation to the Lordship of Jesus Christ as witnessed to by the breadth of the Old and New Testament. This was a bucket of cold water. I expect to see more bishops saying much more clearly that the MDG’s - and any humanitarian aid - are to be seen as a part of the larger priority of proclaiming that Jesus is Lord. This will beg the question, “How do we know? Because the Bible tells us so.” And that statement leads to the very uncomfortable, even dangerous questions of what else does the Bible tell is so, or not so?

It certainly is the case that nothing will be “solved” without the conclusive discussion centered on Jesus is Lord, and the authority of scripture. These two realities from Lambeth provide room and impetus for that REAL indaba to take place. Reasserters can make use of these two Lambeth realities to press forward and witness to that incredibly necessary solving discussion.

For those in TEC and Canada, etc., what will you do to go forward in this way?
[33] Posted by Rob Eaton+ on 08-04-2008 at 01:34 PM


Allen Lewis said...

I am a great admirer of Fr. Bob Eaton, but I think he is overly optimistic here. TEC still has it's agenda, and it is not going to stop.

Until the Anglican Communion gets some backbone, that is the way it is going to be.

In the meantime, look for more membership losses in TEC.

Perpetua said...

Hi Allen Lewis,

Of course, for the orthodox in TEC, it is still a "long hard slog ahead".

But I do think we need to focus the MDG conversations to mesh with orthodox biblical morality. See for example, the conversation on Child Marriage in the comments of this Anglican Scotist post.

Robert said...

Sister Perpetua, this is some great stuff you're posting! I just missed kibbutzing at Lambeth, returning to the States just as it was cranking up, so thanks all the more for this wonderful, concise, report on such things as the Sudanese brother's holy audacity.

Keep up the great work, and don't be a stranger!

Perpetua said...

Hi Robert,

Thank you and best regards.