Boycotting bishops nothing new

Since its beginning, it seems that every Lambeth Conference has had its boycotters and non-attendees. A report from Ecumenical News International says, "When the first Lambeth Conference opened in 1867, only 76 of the Anglican Communion's 144 bishops accepted an invitation by the Archbishop of Canterbury to attend because of disagreement among them about the way the church was shaping-up in British colonies."

The impetus for the 1867 meeting came from the Anglican Church in Canada, concerned about the activities of the British-born bishop of Natal in South Africa, John Colenso. He was tolerating polygamy among African converts to Christianity, and questioning traditional doctrines about the Eucharist and eternal punishment.

HT to Ekklesia.

What is new is blogging bishops.

Comments (2)

I always say that unlike Boethius, who wrote of "the consolation of philosophy," I think it's history that is consoling. Thank you.

This is an interesting but inverted comparison. In the first case, there had been no previous Lambeth Conference in which all were expected to participate; no standards or precedences had been established; there was no widespread attendance until the third Lambeth gathering (incidentally, they met at Lambeth because the request to meet at Westminster Abbey was refused) where the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral was adopted.

The issues with Colenso were over the interpretation of Scripture and originated in what had been a colonial area (Canada), not in England, and questioned the bona fides and orthodoxy of a British-born bishop. The lack of agreement that a gathering was necessary is not easy to sort out for many reasons. Nonetheless, there are certain resonances with former colonial area bishops again raising questions about the authority and interpretation of Scripture, except this time the questioners are not inviting but staying home.

What goes around, comes around, it would seem.

Phillip Cato

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