Friday, 22 February 2013

Choosing the right tools for the job?

Much has been made of the decision of the new Archbishop of Canterbury to appoint a "Director of Reconciliation" in an attempt to achieve something which has eluded his immediate predecessors on the Throne of St Augustine, namely the healing of the rifts within the Anglican Communion.
VirtueOnline reports these comments from 'African sources' which may cause him to reconsider what seems to be the developing strategy: 
"At the heart of our Anglican difficulties is not relationship breakdown, but the undisciplined descent into moral and doctrinal incoherence. It is nonsense for the Archbishop of Canterbury to appoint a 'Director of Reconciliation' while at the same time the House of Bishops of which he is chairman embraces a policy which allows de facto gay bishops thus further alienating those very Global South Primates he wants, presumably, to reconcile."
David Virtue goes on to comment:
....In fact, the title "Director of Reconciliation" gives the game away. Reconciliation is a central part of any Archbishop or Bishop's ministry as an extension of gospel ministry. The appointment of a "specialist" implies that reconciliation is now seen as a matter of technique and particular skills, rather than something that is essentially theological. Therefore it is not about gospel ministry at all.
Until the issue of false teaching is addressed, as identified by the Jerusalem Statement and the Declaration of 2008, there is no theological way to heal the tear in the fabric of the Communion. There must be a willingness to repent of false teaching and reconciliation strategies which avoid this question earn the scathing rebuke of Jeremiah, "they treated my people's wound superficially, telling them, 'Peace, peace,' but there is no peace'." Jeremiah 6:4).
Although there is a new Archbishop of Canterbury, the underlying strategy of Lambeth Palace remains exactly the same - to conflate doctrinal breakdown with relationship breakdown. Obviously the two are connected, but to see everything as soluble by technique is a recipe for short term thinking and theological superficiality.
The leader of the Anglican Church of Canada had a "just say no" message to new Archbishop of Canterbury-elect Justin Welby in discussions on the Anglican Church in North America when the two men met recently.
Archbishop Hiltz is petrified that the new evangelical archbishop will recognize Archbishop Robert Duncan and the Anglican Church in North America as an emerging province thus diluting the influence of both the ACoC and The Episcopal Church USA. He and Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori both maintain their jurisdictions are the sole legitimate expressions of Anglicanism in North America.....
Read the full article here 

The new Archbishop will need all the intellect and personal relationship skills with which he is credited even to attempt to square this particular circle> He won't be helped if he continues (again, like his predecessors) to be the prisoner of those who patronisingly (there is another word, but I won't use it) pour scorn on the biblically orthodox Global South's supposed primitive 'fundamentalism' while themselves holding intolerantly fundamentalist liberal views which not only many of their fellow Anglicans but also our Orthodox and Roman Catholic ecumenical partners (not themselves conspicuously lacking in theological sophistication) regard as inimical to the Christian tradition.
Archbishop Welby needs our prayers.


  1. For "Director of Reconciliation" read, "Director of efforts to persuade those who disagree with us to change their minds"

  2. Oh dear... The man isn't enthroned yet and already he can't bloody win. Why not give him a chance before writing him off?

  3. There is certainly no intention here to write him off. I'm sure the new Archbishop is far more aware of the difficulties of the office than any outside observer.
    I repeat: Archbishop Welby needs our prayers.

  4. My exasperation was not directed at your measured comments, Michael!


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