Saturday, 15 March 2008

Stop laughing; he's serious.

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?


Brian R said...

Thanks for the summary, I do not think I could stomach listening myself. Their belief that they are right and there is no room for discussion is what I find so objectionable. Both Bishop Farran of Newcastle(NSW) and Bishop Browning of Canberra and Goulburn (now retired) have commented on this in recent statements. If I, with no theological training, find it hard to take, I can only imagine how these theologically learned men find it.

Boaz said...

Thanks for the suggestion to listen. I did and I've got to say by the end of it I was convinced. The summary of the progression of the acceptance of homosexuals was quite convincing. Stange that it doesn't convince the speaker.

I wrote down his five points and a couple of little notes and it was just like the old days. Only thing I didn't follow was this person's name kept popping up. Who is he? "Evan Jelical".


Alcibiades said...

I believe he's Ivan's Australian cousin ;-)

Doorman-Priest said...

I think you need to be more forthright.

Alcibiades said...

Yeah; after listening to the Duck again, and reading some of the other speaches, I think I was a bit soft.
I promise to not hold back so much next time; I beleive the bilblical term is "smite".

Lapinbizarre said...

It is becoming clearer why these people & their co-conspirators (Duncan was at it a few months ago) have been proclaiming the end of the Elizabethan Settlement. The Elizabethan Settlement is entirely too inclusive for them - but then, inclusivity was one of the principal points of the ES, wasn't it?

Cranmer & Latimer's reformed protestantism ceased to be the dominant factor in the English Church with the death of Edward VI - it was dead when C & L still lived.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Alcibiades, I confess that I didn't listen. I've listened and read quite enough over here on the other side of the globe, "up over" I guess you could call us, if you're "down under".

Wonder if your new friends are going to be pushed around quite so easily?

Somehow, I don't think so.

Alcibiades said...

Grandmजre": more than a few people I know didn't listen, and to be frank I don't blame them. You've heard that kind of stuff once, you've heard it a million times, and I certainly find it really does get depressing after a while.

lapinbizarre: You're quite right about Cramner et al. To me it's always seemed entirely abitrary to see Cramner's 1552 as the Anglican paradigm, as opposed to Elizabeth's middle ground of 1559 or, if precedent is the critera, Henry VIII's of 1534. Embracing the one closest to your theological inclinations is one thing, but claiming that your preference is the "real" Anglicanism to the exclusion of all other variations is just a sloppy appropriation of history to justify one's own position.