The Church of England Newspaper reports:
THE LEADERS of the traditionalist pressure group Anglican Mainstream have pressed the Archbishop of Canterbury to clarify his Advent Letter to the Primates, saying his prescriptions for the healing of the Anglican Communion do not take into account the causes of the disease. In a Jan 8 letter given to The Church of England Newspaper, the Rev Canon Chris Sugden and Mr Philip Giddings applauded Dr Williams’ commitment to resolve the Anglican crisis, and for exercising strong leadership in a difficult time. However, they questioned a number of Dr Williams’ suppositions that underlay the call for dialogue. There appeared to be no consequences for the repeated bad actions of the Episcopal Church. The invitation to invite to the Lambeth Conference those bishops who consecrated Gene Robinson contradicts the â€˜clear assertion of the Windsor Report’ in paragraph 134 which asked that they â€˜withdraw from representative functions’ in the Communion.
Dr Williams had also preordained the outcome of any dialogue by stating the Episcopal Church â€˜should remain part of the Anglican Communion fellowship.’ Because the Episcopal Church is not a â€˜monochrome body’ on the issue of gay bishops and blessings, â€˜external interventions are not justified’ because of the continuing â€˜presence within it of those who actually are “Windsorcompliant”,’ Dr Williams said. Such an argument is not intelligible, Canon Sugden and Mr Giddings argue, as it suggests the American church’s continued place within the Communion is conditioned upon the survival of its persecuted minority.
The statement in full:
A response on behalf of Anglican Mainstream to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Advent Letter.
We identify ourselves as those who,Â withÂ orthodox Anglicans worldwide,Â are committed to the life-transforming call to follow Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, and therefore to go into all the world and make disciples of all nations, teaching them to observe all he has commanded us.Â We understand ourselves to be brothers and sisters with them in the faith once delivered to the saints.
WeÂ hadÂ been hoping and praying that the instruments of the Anglican Communion, of which we are gladly members, would be able to affirm that this biblical faith is central to the Communion’s life, teaching and behaviour. The Windsor Report and the PrimatesÂ ’Â Communiques,Â from Dromantine and Dar-Es-Salaam, all pointed to this end, affirming the biblical teaching and recommending protection for those who seek to proclaim and demonstrate the transforming power of the biblical gospel for all.
We recognise with gratitude positive aspects of the Archbishop’s letter and commend the in-depth discussion by JohnÂ Richardson (http://ugleyvicar.blogspot.com/2007/12/leadership-and-lambeth-dr-williams.html). We agree with him that “to be a leader is to lead, and it is surely better for an organization to be led imperfectly than not to be lead at all”. Nonetheless we respectfully seek to differ with the Archbishop on the followingÂ fiveÂ points:Â Â
- a) The Archbishop says that “we need to honour the hard work done by the bishops of TEC… and determine a way forward.” In other words, he accepts that TEC is not going to change and therefore, apparently, should not be required to change. It follows that, if the rest of the Communion are to be able to continue to receive TEC in some way as part of their Christian fellowship, it is the rest of the Communion who will have to change. And yet to accept those who promote immoral behaviour is contrary to biblical teaching and practice which withholds fellowship and commends instruction for the purpose of repentance and restoration to fellowship. (Matthew 18: 15-17; John 8:11; 1 Cor 5: 9-13; 2 Cor 7: 8-11; 2 Timothy 2.25; Titus 1. 9-11; 2 John 10-11). This would not be acceptable.
- b) The Archbishop accepts that those who consecrated Gene Robinson to be a bishop will be present at the Lambeth Conference, in contradiction to the clear assertion of the Windsor Report (para 134), that those who took part in the consecration of Gene Robinson should withdraw from representative functions.
- c) The Archbishop accepts that TEC should remain part of the Anglican Communion fellowship. He also holds that, because TEC is not “a monochrome body” in its current approach, external interventions are not justified. Paradoxically this is, for him, due to the presence within it of those who actually are â€˜Windsor-compliant’ and who do conform their lives and their preaching to the biblical deposit of faith and have “distanced themselves from the prevailing view in their province”. Yet, TEC not only deposes many of these orthodox pastors but also pursues them and their congregations in the courts. We stand with these orthodox Anglicans, even though the Archbishop, while stating that “they are clearly in fellowship with the Communion”, offers them no protection. Â Rather, he regards those who have offered protection by welcoming them under their oversight as equal transgressors ofappropriate Christian behaviour.Â This is to equate emergency measures with the immoral behaviour which precipitated them.
- d)Â The Archbishop maintains that genuine ministry and mission can survive even where the reading of Scripture is so defective that other parts of the Communion find it to be no longer recognisably â€˜Christian’; and thus that serious difference in views on the interpretation of scripture on first order issues does not affect shared fellowship in Christian mission.Â This does not make sense.
- e) Instead of calling the Primates, who are representative leaders of their provinces tomeetto consider TEC’s response to Dar-es-Salaam, the Archbishop has himself decided not to meet them and has substituted a hand-picked team of supposed specialists to determine the future life of the Communion in all its representative bodies. He is acting alone in this.
Note:Â Â Â Para 134Â of the Windsor ReportÂ reads: “pending such expression of regret, those who took part as consecrators of Gene Robinson should be invited to consider in all conscience whether they should withdraw themselves from representative functions in the Anglican Communion. We urge this in order to create the space necessary to enable the healing of the Communion. We advise that in the formation of their consciences, those involved consider the common good of the Anglican Communion, and seek advice through their primate and the Archbishop of Canterbury.”Â Â
Philip Giddings and Chris Sugden on behalf of Anglican Mainstreamï¿½