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ROWAN WILLIAMS: Anglican Communion is no more, we are now an Anglican Family

ROWAN WILLIAMS: Anglican Communion is no more, we are now an Anglican Family

News Analysis

By David W. Virtue, DD
October 2, 2019

The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams told a gathering of Episcopalians in the Diocese of Los Angeles recently, that the Anglican Communion is "fractured" and we are now an Anglican family.

"The Anglican 'family' is less about problem-solving and more about creating opportunities for mutual gratitude, connection and understanding," Williams said.

"I am saying 'Anglican family' rather than 'Anglican Communion' because we're a very fractured communion but we're still family -- like so many families, quarreling till the cows come home," he said. "What gives us our family solidarity is, of course, that dependence on God's call, God's welcome.

VOL: The Anglican Communion is "fractured" precisely because Williams first embraced and then went along with Western progressive Anglican attitudes on homosexuality which caused the Global South to rise up in anger and frustration with him. This, in turn, brought about the current schism! This was neither God's call nor God's welcome.

Williams refused to heed the warnings of Scripture about homosexuality and God's specific "male and female created He them". He chose post-modern attitudes on sexuality, bringing about a crisis in the communion which, far from healing since he left office, has only worsened under Archbishop Justin Welby. Welby, it seems, is just as conflicted as Williams over homosexuality and probably more so.

Williams' siding with Western pan Anglican sexual attitudes totally alienated the Global South, who not only repudiated Williams (see Nigerian Archbishop Nichola Okoh's rip here: https://virtueonline.org/nigerian-anglican-primate-rips-archbishop-williams-he-flees-lambeth-palace) but alienated and finally brought about the rupture that continues to this day!

The terrible net effect, which western Anglican pansexualists will not talk about, resulted in Nigerian Islamist radicals like Boko Haran and Fulani Tribesman killing African Anglicans because of Williams' pro-homosexual stand!

Okoh did not spare Williams. As he left office in 2012, the Nigerian Primate tore into Williams saying his sudden resignation announcement will leave behind a Communion in tatters: highly polarized, bitterly factionalized, with issues of revisionist interpretation of the Holy Scriptures and human sexuality as stumbling blocks to oneness.

"When Dr. Rowan Williams took over the leadership of the Anglican Communion in 2002, it was a happy family. He is leaving it with decisions and actions that are stumbling blocks to oneness, evangelism and mission all around the Anglican world." Okoh went so far as to say that it was like being "crucified under Pontius Pilate".

The leader of the world's most populous Anglican Province (20 million) said the lowest ebb of this degeneration came in 2008, when there were two "Lambeth" Conferences -- one in the UK, and an alternative one, GAFCON in Jerusalem, Lambeth at Canterbury saw more than one third of the Anglican Communion's bishops as "no-shows". In 2020, this will be repeated with even more absentee bishops.

The Nigerian archbishop said that because Williams did not resign in 2008 over the split at the Lambeth Conference, he should have worked assiduously to "mend the net" or repair the breach, before bowing out of office. He didn't. Okoh also blasted the covenant proposal saying it was "doomed to fail from the start", as "two cannot walk together unless they have agreed."

So now Williams says we are a "fractured" family. Nonsense. Families divorce, they separate, and for many, a separation might just as well be a divorce if the two sides never reconcile.

Based on the current state of affairs the schism, separation, or call it what you will, looks to be permanent. How could one see it otherwise? There is the Lambeth Conference and there is GAFCON and the twain will never meet while Welby continues to run the show. He is even more conflicted about pansexuality than Williams, even though he rode into the job on the pony express of evangelicalism which Williams did not. Williams got the job as an Affirming Catholic, a category of Anglican that bewildered the Global South.

WILLIAMS: We are, at the moment, in the middle of a period of colossal uncertainty in the life of our Anglican family, he told the gathering of about 150 people at the Cathedral Center of St. Paul in Echo Park. There is uncertainty, division, a measure of suspicion still and a sense that our conventional and inherited ways of being Anglicans together across the world have come under almost unmanageable strain.

VOL: And who caused this "colossal uncertainty" and "strain"? In 2002, the bishop of the Diocese of New Westminster, one Michael Ingham found himself at the epicenter of an international controversy within the Anglican Communion when he decided to bless same-sex unions. Several orthodox provinces in the Communion, particularly those in Africa, severed relations with the diocese over the issue and Williams did nothing to alley their concerns. Worse was to follow.

In 1998, the Lambeth Conference rejected homosexuality as incompatible with Scripture and overwhelmingly approved Resolution 1:10 affirming sex only between a man and a woman as the only Biblical option. Clearly that did not sit well with Williams. He never accepted it. His sympathies lay on the other side of the great divide.

WILLIAMS: I had to make uncomfortable adjustments at both ends of the spectrum, liberal and conservative, north and south to keep everyone at the table. Williams said he believes a problem-solving-by-committee approach no longer effectively addresses current challenges. Traditional unifying elements within the communion, like the Anglican Consultative Council; the Lambeth Conference, the every-ten-years' gathering of bishops; and the Primates' Meeting of Presiding Bishops, originally intended for mutual support and counsel, over time shifted into problem-solving mode.

VOL: These Instruments of Unity had long ago served their usefulness, and were later publicly repudiated by GAFCON primates, who would establish their own instruments of unity, instruments that angered ACC Secretary General Josiah Idowu-Fearon.

WILLIAMS: That is one reason why, in 2008, I decided we would not have resolutions at the Lambeth Conference, simply to take our minds away from an obsession with trying to solve problems and instead to see what we could do to build relationships, to come together to consult, to pray, to support. Other contributing factors include fragmented theological education, and a huge range of global social, political and cultural tensions and shifts, which have localized into "a kind of ongoing standoff" within various provinces of the Anglican Church over the marriage, ordination and full inclusion rights of LGBTQ persons.

VOL: Since when was "LGBTQ rights" ever an issue or a question? Sodomy is not a right it is a behavior and Scripture expressly forbids it. The deeper truth is we have very few rights at all. If we all claimed our rights, there would be no Christian martyrs.

WILLIAMS: The expansion of inflexible Pentecostal Christianity in parts of Latin America and Africa and the resurgence of Islamic extremism in Sudan, Nigeria and Uganda, as well as sometimes bloody conflicts between the Christian and Muslim community have resulted in "a sense which a good many of our Anglican brothers and sisters feel that they are being measured by standards of other communities. When they feel their witness is in some way being compromised by Anglicans elsewhere in the world, they feel it acutely.

VOL: Pentecostal Christianity in Latin America is a reaction to dead, cafeteria Catholicism. Pray, pay and obey Catholicism has worn thin for millions of Brazilian Catholics who see in Pentecostalism a revival of personal faith in Christ. As a result, it is now being said that half of Brazil will be evangelical by 2050. Churches are appearing as rapidly as one church per day. The growing movement in Brazil traces its roots to the Azusa Street Revival in 1906 in Los Angeles. It is not homegrown.

WILLIAMS: The spectacle of a church vigorously tearing itself apart over just how exclusive it can afford to be is not one that makes the world feel grateful. Oddly enough, the spectacle of a church divided but faithful, does give the world something to be grateful about.

VOL: The claims of Christ are exclusive, and the reason evangelical churches are growing in the US and UK is precisely because they stake their claims on the exclusivity of the Christian message. Liberal and progressive churches are dying because they have compromised themselves on the 'faith once for all', for a mess of ecumenical pottage.

WILLIAMS: Those from the Episcopal Church who have continued, sometimes in very difficult circumstances, to travel to South Sudan to maintain educational and development work while the local diocese is pressured to resist their help, or those who spent time in Rwanda, Tanzania, simply building recognition, simply creating environments in which it is possible to see that face turned toward Christ in one another.

VOL: This is called manipulation. Subtle, devious, but manipulation nonetheless. There is always a quid pro quo with The Episcopal Church. Just ask Albany Bishop William Love what would happen if he relented on resolution B012. He would be showered with more honorary doctorates than he could paste on a wall. He would be called a man of enlightenment, a true prophet of our times. He won't, of course. Furthermore, no true evangelical or Anglo-Catholic is going to look into the face of Gene Robinson and "see Christ". They see a man who destroyed them and stole their churches in the name of inclusion.

WILLIAMS: While in transition, we can't know what the unity of the Anglican family will look like 50 years down the road, it is not given to us to know the future. But it is demanded of us that we be faithful today. Faithfulness today requires ... trying to get closer to the heart of what we mean by the Body of Christ.

VOL: I think we do. Demographically and morally the Western churches are in free fall. Within one to two decades the ACoC and TEC will be out of business save for a small handful of dioceses and parishes. There are no young people coming forward. In the North, the average age is in the mid 60's; in the Global South, the average age is in the early 30's. That should tell you everything you need to know.

WILLIAMS: What interests me again and again in the life of our Communion is not so much what we do to get institutional conformity and harmony, but what we do to witness to the fact that the church of God does not exist because we decide. It exists because of God's invitation.

VOL: The issue was never about "institutional conformity," it was about theological conformity. It is about conformity to "God's word written". It is about to conformity to the moral order outlined in the Ten Commandments and later revealed by Jesus himself.

WILLIAMS:Sooner or later we're going to have to come to terms with those other people God has invited. Whether we identify ourselves as traditionalist or liberal ... the rest of them are not going to go away.

VOL: If those "other people" presumably homosexuals, though he does not say so, don't repent, they will only force orthodox Anglicans out of their churches because they know that God's Holy Spirit will not be present. There will be no spiritual fruit where unrepentant sin reigns. It is why GAFCON exists and will not go away and why the Lambeth Conference, over time will.

"And even now is the axe laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire." --Matt. iii:10.


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