LAMBETH: The Communion is Broken. Lambeth has Failed
By The Rev. Todd H. Wetzel
August 3, 2008
From the beginning, numerous voices here at Canterbury have been saying that this was the Archbishop’s show – start to finish – his to win or his to lose.
He’s functioned admirably as teacher and retreat leader. His lectures were excellent. He succeeded in keeping everyone here talking. Meanwhile Canterbury has added the weight of history. This is the mother church of the Communion.
The Communion gathered here at Canterbury is broken.
The Episcopal Church has run helter skelter through its ranks and left devastation – a rogue elephant that simply will not be reigned in. The problem is it’s a very wealthy rogue and the trail of money is everywhere. The Communion is in large measure dollar dependent. How do you reign in the independent stubbornness of a church determined to be culturally relevant but lacking a studied appreciation for the fundamentals of the Christian Faith and keep the dollars coming at the same time?
The Archbishop articulated his desire to recognize and preserve the autonomy of each of the constituent provinces and to strengthen the Communion at the same time. As though full autonomy and community were the thesis and antithesis in some Hegelian dialectic.
But no family, no village or town, no nation can survive where the full autonomy of the individual is maintained. Community develops when individual “rights” are surrendered for the sake of others. Some individual independence is surrendered so that interdependence, which is the principal building block of community, may be achieved.
The ends of full autonomy and full community are not resolvable this side of Heaven.
This professorial erudition spoken in passive voice with never ending emphasis on process and not devoted to the statement of solvable problems, will result not in a kinder, gentler Communion but a deepening crisis.
The Community gathered fragmented and broken. Already divided. Triage was required. The patient has once again been heard but sent on her way with assurance that, given the gravity of the wounds, the doctors will try and gather tomorrow to further discuss the puzzlement of her case.
Leadership exhibiting vision, clarity, and decisive action were required. These have been sorely lacking here in Canterbury.
This failure stands in stark contrast to GAFCON. In Jerusalem, unity was not a goal.
It was the gift readily apparent as people with demonstrated submission to the Gospel of Christ came together. The primary Authority of Scripture was not debated it was celebrated.
At Gafcon, it took five days to achieve a statement of remarkable clarity and a declaration of principles to which there was unanimous acclaim. There the Christian Faith was proclaimed, elucidated and celebrated. There was community demonstrated. Mission superceded self-centeredness. The prophetic spirit remained submitted to the Word of God. Charity emerged out of submission to Christ.
GAFCON saw itself serving the needs of the Gospel and Christ’s mandate to evangelize and disciple a sinful and broken world.
The stark contrast with GAFCON demonstrates the failure of this Lambeth Conference.
The lecture was well delivered, the call to reflection heard and engaged in. The plea for unity saluted. The patient will be leaving here today painfully and politely applauding the efforts of a beloved professor but still dying from her wounds.
The question is now. Will the various provinces now turn to GAFCON for leadership or the rogue elephant for money? Lambeth has failed.
---The Rev. Tod Wetzel is president of Anglicans United. He is based in Dallas, Texas.
On the Mainline
Worship with us:
Sundays at 4:00pm.
210 S. Wayne Ave, Wayne, PA