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Anglican Communion's next Secretary General says Church is about Community

Anglican Communion's next Secretary General says Church is about Community

News Analysis

By David W. Virtue

The new secretary-general of the Anglican Communion Canon Kenneth Kearon, told a BBC interviewer recently that "churches are essentially about community and building community. And community is not only about positive things, but they also sometimes have their tensions."

Now the buzzword "community" has become the liberal mantra of failed hopes, when the church has no discernible gospel to preach. It is right up there with words like "conversation", "vulnerability" and "listening", all words designed to lull the orthodox into a state of glassy-eyed insomnia while the revisionists ransack the cathedral looking for non existent silver linings to justify their existence.

Frank Griswold talks endlessly about community, even as the House of Bishops is coming apart at the seams.

Liberals love community. What they want is for everyone to sit in a giant hot tub called community and share a bottle of wine and loaf of bread...and mellow out. Don't be too dogmatic about what you believe or you will be labeled "fundamentalist"; don't knock homosexual behavior or you will be called "homophobic" and don't push exclusive thinking about the atonement or you will lack "diversity".

Revisionists don't want the orthodox to be dogmatic, but they themselves are VERY dogmatic - in stages - of course. First tolerate women's ordination without doing any theological homework, then accept it, then make it mandatory, then stamp out the opposition. In time the same will happen with the sodomites. Firstly it is sinful behavior, then it is an alternative behavior, then it is a behavior that must be accepted because a few psychologists say so. Then denigrate the biblical accounts or say they don't mean what they clearly say they mean, and then broker it in. Then call people who disagree with you homophobic and then consecrate an openly homoerotic bishop, and finally make the ordination of non celibate homosexuals mandatory. If you don't agree you will never have a prayer of being made a bishop.

But the notion of community, now being pressed by Canon John Peterson's successor, is a model that has been sanctioned in the church for years. However it is not biblical. Scripture is clear that the model it understands best when talking about the church is that of the family, not community, and the reason for this is that a family more radically and accurately depicts our relationships with each other and with God. It also points up the inherent flaws in relationships and demands a depth of commitment that cannot be found in a community.

A son remains a son whether he conforms or is a prodigal. In community, sonship does not exist and anything goes. It also means that one does not have to be ultimately responsible for another, unless you choose. Or if you do, you can take it or leave it or you can do it for altruistic reasons. You cannot do that with a family. In community you can be absolved of your responsibilities for whatever reason you or they choose.

A gated community, for example, is not a family. It is a group of people who can afford to live a certain lifestyle. They may get along because they are genial, sophisticated, play tennis and are nice to one another, even agreeing to shovel each other's driveways over
winter. But it is not a family. Families are messy, and that is why God calls us into a family as adopted sons and daughters - because we are messy and sinful and need redemption. A community will never do this; it is far too weak a notion. It can never offer redemption. We are heirs and joint heirs with Christ, and that can only happen in a family, not a community.

And that is why the new secretary general is dead wrong, and his concept of community will not work.

The well of the Anglican Consultative Council has been poisoned as a Church of England newspaper editorial observed recently, and the notion that Canon Kearon can find a spiritual antidote for the years of poison his predecessor John Peterson poured into the Global South well is totally futile.

The truth is Canon Kearon won't change a damn thing. He will continue the failed policies of Canon John Peterson, and the alienation of the Global South will only continue. The Anglican Communion is too far gone for the palliative care of the Anglican Communion Office in Paddington, London.

Furthermore the priest comes from the already poisoned well of Irish Anglicanism that has the smooth talking Robin Eames as its Primate, and whose job it is to put on a happy face on things even as the Anglican Communion implodes in his face.

The truth is "community" is a liberal palliative pill that offers not one salvific hope for mankind nor will it rescue the Anglican Communion.

Eighteen million Nigerian Anglicans did not create "community". The church there was ordered to go out by its former Primate Joseph Adetiloye and preach the gospel and make disciples, and to do it immediately.

So Nigerian evangelists went into animist and Islamic villages and told nominal Christians the Good News of God's love and invited them to repent and believe in the gospel...and millions did. They did not attempt to create something called "community" with Islamicists or animists. Had they done so no one would have been converted and the status quo would have been maintained. The Anglican Church in Nigeria would be in as big a mess as the Church of England and the American Episcopal Church is today. Mercifully they did not heed the call to community. They went out with the Good News of the Kingdom on their lips and preached repentance, out of which communities of faith were born. And the family of God was expanded.

The idea of "community" is a flop house of failed hopes and expectations. The truth is junkies can create "community", alcoholics have a community, but the church IS a family of faithful people who have made a commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord and savior, and then to one another. They must be prepared to lay down their lives for another. No one in a community will necessarily do that. A community can be artificially drawn up by a committee where annual dues are paid, but one may never talk to another person, and that's it.

Kearon says communities have tensions. Really. A brilliant observation like this should get him an honorary DD from EDS.

Yes there are tensions and the question has to be asked; Who created them? Certainly not 18 million faithful Nigerian Anglicans or remnant Anglo-Catholics and Evangelicals in
the West? The tensions were not created by the Anglican Communion Network or AAC either. The tensions were created by bishops like Pike and Spong and heightened by Griswold and Canon John Peterson.

Those are the guilty parties who created tension. The orthodox just went along doing what they were supposed to be doing, carrying on a rich tradition of 2,000 years...preaching the gospel and making disciples. It was the revisionists who came in with "another gospel", causing all the problems.

The notion of community is a fallacy

In the BBC interview, Kearon was asked about the current Lambeth/Eames Commission (Lambeth Commission on Communion) and he had this to say. The Commission is a "process that's engaged currently in listening and engaging with the people who have very strong opinions on either side of the issue. The more you listen to people and engage with people who have deeply held divisions of opinion on this issue, the more you realize just how complex the issue is," he said.

Come October and then February when the Primates meet, that "listening" and "engaging" process will be over, and it could be over for the whole Anglican Communion, and if that happens Canon Kearon's concept of "community" and the ACC will disappear with it.


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