Anglicanism and Globalization



Christopher Sugden writing in the Evangelicals Now August 2007 edition has some thoughts on the effect that a rising tide of globalization will have on Anglicanism. Up till now most of the Provinces of the Anglican Communion have been coterminous with their respective national boundaries. (The Episcopal Church based mostly in the United States is a signal exception.)

This close identification with the nation state has some implications according to Sugden:

“The Achilles’ heel of the Anglican Communion is that it is more likely to go with the grain of the culture and the politically powerful than against them. Its origin in the concerns of Henry VIII to have all state institutions in the nation subject to him is one factor here.

But it is no longer possible to subject all state institutions in one geographical area to one jurisdiction. International companies, the internet, international networks such as the European Union are an expression of the globalisation that has rendered boundaries that were set by how far people could conveniently travel obsolete.

Geography is no longer the sole consideration when thinking about the space that we occupy. We live in global and universal space which is occupied by networks of people with values and commitments. In the church, we are now experiencing the church as envisaged in Acts 15, where Gentile and Jew ( different races and classes) are engaged closely together.”

Sugden goes on to claim that the rise of the Global South as pan-national coalition in the Anglican Communion is partly an attempt to deal with this particular problem, which he sees most clearly exemplified in what he judges to the be the apostasy of the Episcopal Church (a phrase he uses after claiming warrant from the Chair of Design Committee for the proposed Anglican Covenant, Abp. Drexel Gomez).

It is particularly interesting to read Fr. Sugden’s words in light of the new remarks by the Archbishop of York today.

Read the rest here: Anglican Mainstream » An end to Nationalistic Anglicanism

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3 Responses to "Anglicanism and Globalization"
  1. some thoughts --

    There is not a single case in which the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society (The Episcopal Church corporate name) has brought suit without or even prior to the local diocese's filing. In every case DFMS has come in as an amicus, to help the local diocese's case, and at the request of their Bishop.

    2. Anglican Mainstream seems to forget that, first of all, no matter how "global and universal" they may imagine themselves to be, the fact is everybody's got to be from somewhere and stand someplace, physically, politically and culturally.

    3. re: globalization - that is sort of a dirty word among the 2/3 world where it is associated with the onslaught of US culture and businesses.

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  2. In her new book, Anglican Communion in Crisis, Miranda Hassett distinguishes between two kinds of globalization.


    Concern for provincial autonomy [liberal view] and global accountability [conservative view] are foundational to the respective views of globalization. ... [At Lambeth 98] many Anglicans endorsed what I call _diversity globalization_, founded on principles of tolerance within a federation of loosely unified provinces. ... Conservative Northerners articulated a vision of the Anglican Communion founded on what I call accountability globalism. ... Many Northern liberals expected to have their views on homosexuality heard and tolerated, just as they saw themselves, as good diversity globalists, as hearing and tolerating others' culturally informed views. ... Northern conservatives asserted that provincial autonomy and a local orientation are things of the past, and that the communion has entered an era of global interconnectedness.


    Of course, Northern conservatives use the tools of globalization (low-cost and rapid communication and travel) to amplify the effect of the Northern liberals on the rest of the world.

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  3. Globalisation involves so many layers it's easy to use it as an enemy in itself. But (major global recession excepting) it's here to stay and the Anglican Communion is not immune.

    Amongst its effects / expressions:

    1) Ease and speed of communications leading to real non-geographic communities.

    2) Americanisation: economic & political model - and American realpolitik; increasing rich/poor divide (across and within countries); cultural hegemony (Hollywood's just business); and the export of America's divided civic society.

    3) Complex reactions from non-Americans: a desire to share the wealth but to avoid political subjugation; a welcome to techology but opposition to cultural subordination. Or: we want to share the benefits of globalisation and to negotiate our terms of doing so.

    No church can ever reject its culture. What it can do is choose a dominant (political) attitude to aspects of culture: to welcome or oppose selected elements of the world around it. Most pick and choose all the time.

    The benefits of integration include standing in the community, strength, wealth and continuity. The costs are complacency and loss of focus and purpose.

    Benefits of opposition include more internal coherence and stronger identity, maintenance of focus (against a clear enemy), and self-righteous assurance. The costs are a peripheral place in society and virtue untroubled by engagment with the complexities of life.

    Globalisation is key, but blaming it to make oneself feel better is no help to anyone.

    Accepting the reality of globalisation won't tell you how to respond to it. But it is a starting point with the potential to envisage solutions to our present divisions which side step the simple answer of one 'side' or the other 'winning'.

    In a hundred years time, whatever happens, Anglicanism will have adjusted, painfully, to globalisation. Its history and origins will still be discernable but Anglicanism won't look much like the way it does today - some other issue will be its headache then.

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