Credit goes to Sydney Anglican media for putting up audio clips of some of yesterday’s Chapter House meeting, and giving prime position to a lecture by Mark “Duck” Thompson on “The Anglican Communion”. That this has been made public shows Sydney is at least committed to maintaining some degree of transparency: as I’ve already said, credit to them for this. But just remember that’s the only credit anyone deserves; it's a truly nasty piece of rhetoric: that it purports to have been delivered in Christ’s name is a blasphemy.
Certainly, in one sense the talk is hilarious: does everyone know that the current problem began back during the restoration of the English monarchy in 1660? That, you should understand, is because "the re-establishment of the Church of England... ...was never a determined return to the reformed evangelical version of Archbishop Cramner" (01:40 – these numbers refer to the time-stamp at which the quote occurs in the clip, lest anyone accuse me of making this stuff up). So everyone’s been dancing to the wrong tune for the past 348 years. Wanting to roll back the clock is one thing, but isn’t this just a tad excessive?
Nor is it not explained how Sydney’s high-church GAFCON buddies are going to appreciate learning that even though this crisis began in the 17th century, “the seeds of the problem we face now lie in the 19th century: John Henry Newman’s infamous Tract 90” (02:12). So as good old sectarians have been screaming for more than a century, it's all Newman's fault. He paved the way for Gore’s Lux Mundi and Robinson’s Honest to God? Thompson’s reading list mightn’t be all that contemporary, but damn the boy enjoys painting with a wide brush!
Yet once I stopped laughing, which happened fairly early in the monologue, it became hard to keep from exploding with anger. In the Duck’s twisted logic those of us who see the Gospel as inclusive and empowering are the schismatics. Rather than mention such charming examples of pastoral love as +Schofield’s Christmas-morning email sacking one of his clergy, we’re told “ecclesiastical bullying of the orthodox has reached epidemic proportions in the Episcopal church, in Canada, and in other places as well” (27:18). And by "orthodox" the Duck means those who've decided to reject traditional Episcopal structures while still calling themselves "Episcopalian" - not those who are deternimed to take seriously God's love for humanity as revealed in Scripture and made manifest in Christ.
Indeed, it was long before the half-way point that I wasn’t sure I’d be able to last the distance. Half-truths and straw-men abound, and the faith of many, many deeply Christian men and women is consistently misrepresented.
The most nauseating aspect of the whole thing, however, is the Duck’s complete inability to consider the possibility that he may in any way be mistaken. About anything. In his world it’s those like him who are the victims – not the Gay and Lesbian people who’ve been systematically bashed, killed, vilified. It’s the fundamentalists who are being excluded and driven from the church, not those who’ve dared to make a stand for the God who brings wholeness and acceptance through Incarnation, Death and Resurection. When he says “the confiscated property remains in the hands of the heretical institution” (29:42) he’s ignoring century old notions of property and title, and even the U.S. legal system itself. For the Duck and his followers it’s theirs by right because the are right. And everyone, absolutely everyone, else is wrong. Period.
Listen for yourself if you’ve got the stomach to handle it. Just while you do so please remember that for us here in Sydney this isn’t some minority wingnut speaking: this is the head of the group which rigidly controls our Synod, and through it all appointments and spending. This is the Academic Dean of Moore College, where Sydney Clergy are almost exclusively trained: this is someone who lectures in systematic theology and church history. So please, pray for us here, and for all who are harmed by this kind of crap.
Please pray also that God might be merciful to the Duck and his cohorts, and by the Spirit’s power and grace lead them forward into a more authentically Biblical faith.
And for all those of you who’ve just started frothing at mouth because of the previous paragraph, here’s a little picture of your new best friend +Akinola to cheer you up. He's wearing the kind of “gospel” vestments you can expect to be seeing a lot of at GAFCON. Unlike Sydney, where obsessive fear of anything “popish” like chasubles has led to their prohibition, most of the “orthodox” to whom Thompson referred are quite fond of donning the occasional sacred bonnet and gown. Of course wicked "liberal Anglo-Catholics" like me don’t have any problem with it – but then again we’ve long been used to not being allowed to inject a little colour and wonder into our liturgy. Wonder if your new friends are going to be pushed around quite so easily?