Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Lambeth Conference

I have been encouraged by what I am hearing from US bishops who are attending the Lambeth Conference, as well as by the comments of Brian McLaren who addressed the bishops on the challenge of making disciples. (Susan Russel has posted on her blog Bishop Kirk Smith's comments on McLaren's presentation.) There appears to be a recognition, even a celebration, of the diversity of the bishops of the Anglican Communion.

What is discouraging is both the exclusion of the Bishop of New Hampshire and the boycotting of the Conference by leaders of the GAFCON movement. Bishop Robinson has been taking his exclusion with his usual graciousness. The GAFCON response to the presence of US bishops who consented to or participated in Bishop Robinson's consecration has been far from gracious. Not only have many of the bishops involved in GAFCON boycotted the Conference, others who are attending refused to receive Communion at Sunday's Eucharist. Both actions are quite literally communion-breaking.

Andrew Goodard of the Anglican Communion Institute has written a scathing critique of the GAFCON response to the proposed draft of the Anglican Covenant. After reading Dr. Goddard's analysis of the GAFCON response, I have come to the conclusion that the leaders of GAFCON have no interest in a covenant that would help to hold the Anglican Communion together, but only in creating an “Anglican Communion” that is confessional - with a confession that is reflective only of their theology and understanding of Scripture.

I pray that I am wrong about that, as I value my relationships with Anglicans from the Global South, with Anglicans from all over, especially with those with whom I disagree. I value being part of a Communion that is not theologically monochrome, a Communion where we can disagree in love about important matters. If there are those who are unable or unwilling in such a Communion, I pray that they will find a place where they can grow in Christ, but I believe that the Anglican Communion will be poorer without them, and I suspect that their lives will be poorer without us.

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