George Pitcher writes in the Telegraph that the retirement of Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali of Rochester may be "emblematic of the decline of a political force in worldwide Anglicanism, which as recently as last year threatened to tear our Communion apart."
For such a significant figure of conservative evangelicalism to be throwing the episcopal towel in at this time shows just how far the Church has travelled over the past 12 months. Again, it's important not to read too much in to Dr Nazir-Ali's resignation itself. He has had the See of Rochester for 15 years; at not yet 60, he has another career in him yet. But can anyone seriously suggest that, had those biblical traditionalists of the southern hemisphere, known collectively as the Global South, prevailed last year in overthrowing the authority of Canterbury in favour of an African-led Communion, he would have abandoned his important foothold in the English Church?
No. Dr Nazir-Ali, scourge of homosexual liberalism and what he sees as the Muslim threat to Christendom, pitched his tent with the African rebels, under the flag of the unfortunately named Gafcon, but now finds that army dispersed and demoralised....
...Where is it now? Some 230 bishops, including Dr Nazir-Ali, boycotted the decennial Lambeth Conference at Canterbury last summer, many of them expecting the old order to fall. Yet at last month's Anglican Primates' meeting in Alexandria, not one primate was absent for doctrinal reasons. Importantly, the Archbishops of Uganda and Nigeria were present and correct.
The traditionalist schism has fizzled out....
...Those who seek power in the Anglican Church seldom win it. There is much to celebrate in Dr Nazir-Ali's ministry. But his failure to form an alternative Anglican Church is to be celebrated too.
It is hard to know if Pitcher is right. Nazir-Ali's resignation could mean that the liklihood of a split is abating, or that it could be that it is now more likely because he may be in a position to assume another see and lead the breakaway movement, or none of the above. He may simply be ready for a new call. Whatever happens, we imagine that Nazir-Ali will not give up his fight for his vision of an evangelical and orthodox Anglicanism.
While on the one hand, the GAFCON is largely inactive and their allies are losing court cases in the US, it is also true that ACNA plans are proceeding a pace, Nigeria has recognized them and as long as CANA keeps the Virginia properties they will have an institutional and geographical base to become at least a small denomination in the Americas. Whatever is going on, Pitcher's main point is that GAFCON may have peaked in its influence and the Communion is moving on.
Read the rest here.
See, also, Ekklesia:
At one stage, Dr Nazir-Ali was seen as a possible contender to lead a breakaway Anglican body, but he is believed to have disliked the tactics and tone of some with whom he sided theologically on what is described as the conservative wing of the Church. The bishop has retained a personal admiration and respect for Dr Williams, even in the midst of disagreement.
I will miss him because he was one of the few principled conservative intellectuals in the House of Bishops; while I thought he was wrong about almost everything, he spoke from a lot of knowledge and a real sense of tradition. But I don't think anyone need miss him for long. He is only 59, and energetic. He is connected to rich backers, both in the diocese of Sydney, which funds Gafcon, and in the US; he also has what is in the circumstances the advantage of not being American. He could well become a global figurehead of Christian opposition to Islam and to certain forms of multiculturalism: at present the post is vacant (the pope certainly doesn't want it) and there are plenty of people who believe it needs to be filled.