Rebooting the Anglican Communion

The Rev. Dr. Michael Poon, Asian Christianity coordinator of the Centre for the Study of Christianity in Asia, Trinity Theological College, Singapore, writing in The Living Church reflects on the future of the Anglican Communion:


In whatever ways we justify and reinterpret the Communion instruments of the Anglican Communion, it is clear the instruments no longer unite Anglican churches worldwide. Canterbury, the Lambeth Conference, the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates’ Meetings have become obstacles rather than means of healing the Communion ills.
...
They have now become part of the problem, and have lost their legitimacy in the new conditions of the new century. For one, international conferences are expensive exercises, which are hardly sustainable in present-day economic conditions. More important, there is a worrying disconnect between what happens at Communion levels and what occurs at local levels. The faithful in their parishes are expected to remain loyal Anglicans week in and week out. To them, the Anglican disputes are irrelevant. Many of them perhaps have not heard about the Anglican Communion Covenant. Churches of weaker numerical strength and in more fragile conditions are sidelined as well in a high-stakes and wasting religious war.
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Today’s issues, however, have become intractable, and are fast plunging the Anglican Communion toward breakup. Polemicists from different sides of the disputes have not really addressed the deep-seated powerful currents that are twisting the ways we connect with one another...
To Church leaders in sub-Saharan Africa: Do strong protests against Western decadence in fact reveal a deep anxiety about ecclesial identity? ...

Is GAFCON the only valid expression of Anglican evangelicalism, and especially the only way to keep faith with John Stott’s legacy in today’s world? ...

Are North American Christians in fact using the churches worldwide as theaters for their domestic religious wars? ...

Comments (3)

I don't normally consider myself a fan of Dr. Poon, but I think he raises important questions. In some cases I wish he were a bit clearer: when he says, "In what ways should American Christians moderate their imperialist ambitions to set standards and offer solutions to the rest of the world?" exactly whom does he mean? I'm not aware that the "liberals"(whatever that might mean) in TEC/ACC have made any effort to export new insights into sexual/marital morality to other parts of the world, other than decrying the persecution of LGBT people. But perhaps he means the North American schismatics who have been trolling for support in the Global South.

I've been around long enough to remember when the Anglican Communion was about mutual support and shared mission, not about international administrative (power) structures. "Rebooting" the Communion may be just what we need (or even reinstalling the OS!). It sometimes works on our PCs!

Some facts:

1) The Instruments do not unite the Communion.

2) The Communion has never been "united" but is a loosely structured fellowship of autonomous churches.

3) the Communion is only "ill" if you ignore (1) and (2) by imagining a state you think it ought to be in rather than how it actually is.

Poon is writing about the Emperor's new clothes as though there were in fact clothes.

The ++ABC, Lambeth, Primates, and the ACC were defined as Instruments of something via FIAT in the Virginia Report and subsequent blather about how them having some greater role in uniformity and conformity would be a good thing.

As will all convenient fictions, reality gets in the way. What the proposers of this fiction wanted all along was rule by the Primates. Invented by the "Anglican Communion Institute": five guys with a web page and no endorsement by any Anglican body, the Instruments were really meant to be the Instrument.

When the ACC and the ++ABC proved unwilling to cede their invented and fictional authority, suddenly the very people who proposed 4IU wanted them reformed in it midst of the very process that would have affirmed them among the provinces!

This is amazing fiction, but the reality is so farcical that I simply do not understand how any serious person can take the Poon comments, or those of any other pundit on the need to reform the 4IU seriously.

Easier just to acknowledge that it was a power grabbing gambit from the get go. That it failed so spectacularly that its own proposers now denounce it.

Figure it out. This is a Primates driven power grab to make the Communion "Orthodox" and punish TEC and Canada and anyone else who dare to be inclusive of gays and women.

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