Oh no, not “change from within”

If Ruth Gledhill has it right today (in the final eight paragraphs of this story), the leaders of GAFCON now seem to have embraced a strategy aimed at creating “change from within.” This is a significant, encouraging, and, for them, no doubt galling development because Peter Akinola, Martyn Minns and Co., had previously scorned such a strategy, arguing that the sins of those who support the blessing of same-sex relationships were so great that true Christians could not keep company with them. (That, indeed, is the entire rationale for laying claim to parishes in other provinces and ordaining border crossing bishops.) They continue to speak in these terms—the rhetoric from Jerusalem is as vitriolic as ever—but their actions suggest a reluctant accommodation with reality.

GAFCON’s high profile leaders don’t have the strength to force the schism they yearn for. Too few provinces are on board, and not all of those provinces are united in their desire to leave the Communion. Indeed, the people I have spoken to at the conference suggest a wide range of opinion on the issue of schism, even among those devoted enough to fly to Jerusalem to talk about it.

So the leaders of GAFCON are attempting to dress up strategic failure as the dawning of a new phase of their march toward victory, hoping that the media will bite. After five years of schismatic maneuvering, they have said, in effect, that they will associate closely with some Anglicans while trying to make life miserable for others–a state of affairs in no way different today than it was last month, last year or last decade.

Akinola and company are making a great deal of noise to distract us from the fact that little is happening.

Updated: the Anglican Scotist has similar thoughts. As does Tobias Haller.

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Category : The Lead

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  1. Bill Carroll

    I don’t necessarily see this as encouraging. The weakness of these forces, yes. But nothing would be better for Anglicanism for this weak, isolated group of heterodox Anglicans to go their separate way. If they choose to stay, perhaps they should be shown the door.

  2. Bill, I think it is encouraging because it will, I hope, lead to a loss of credibility in the media and elsewhere–as will yesterday’s disastrous press conference on homosexuality.

  3. What I find discouraging about all the reports about Gafcon is that there is no mention of the hungry, thirsty, ill, disenfranchised, etc.

    For years now I have been appalled by the amount of money that has been invested in the The Great Debate over The Issue of who may love whom.

    Jesus said not one word about homosexuality btu he said a lot about our duty to the poor. How much longer is the Anglican Communion going to allow money to be diverted from the hungry, the sick, the naked, the abused and violated?

    The Episcopal Church alone has the financial resources to end world poverty if only every one of us tithes that 10%. Can you imagine what would happen is every member of the WWAC tithed and we pooled our resources? Instead of wasting it on schismatic conferences.

  4. John B. Chilton


    The fact is that the conservatives feel powerless to stop the liberal tide, and their statements betray this desperation. There is in effect little that they can do, and also little that Dr Williams can do because of the autonomous nature of the various churches in the worldwide Communion. But their boycott of this summer’s conference and their attacks on the pro-gay moves in the Church have pushed them to the fringes of the communion and damaged their image in the eyes of wider society.

  5. This insight doesn’t originate with me, but I wanted to pass it on. Now that Peter Akinola and Martyn Minns have decided not to split from the Anglican Communion, does the whole Virginia court proceeding have to come under review? Have they just recanted much of what they said about the situation within the Communion to get the favorable ruling that they got?

  6. Yes, Jim, all eyes will be on Virginia when this sinks in… If there is no “division” in TEC or WWAC, and they are not a separate church, there is no justification for the property shift under the Division Statute. As the judge decided, “division” had to mean more than a mere disagreement. This will be seen as betrayal of the cause.

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