Headline understatement d’jour
This just in, from the Melbourne Anglican (via Thinking Anglicans). The headline in question is “Bishops’ meeting will send ‘wrong signals'”. This refers to the upcoming secessionist GAFCON meeting of conservative Anglican bishops in Jerusalem.
The article elaborates:
Bishop [Suheil] Dawani told TMA that he is nervous about the impact of such a controversial conference in an area which is already beset by violent disputes and hardship. The Diocese of Jerusalem, made up of twenty-nine parishes, covers five countries – Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, and Palestine, all of which are familiar with division and hostility. Thirty-four institutions of the Anglican Church provide vital health care, education, aged care and disability care to the region, as well as care and hope to people who are traumatised by the uncertainty and violence around them, particularly in Palestine…
…The GAFCON gathering, he believes, may undermine the Anglican Church’s credibility in setting this example, and he said he was disappointed that the GAFCON organisers did not seem to listen to his concerns, although GAFCON organisers have since split the conference between Jordan and Jerusalem, with the Jerusalem component called a “pilgrimage”.
“In Jerusalem, we face so many problems, we are challenged on a daily basis to be with each other, and that’s why we are so involved in ecumenical and interfaith activities. These things [at GAFCON] will be misunderstood by people, and will give the wrong signals to people in Palestine and Jordan. It is very controversial, it is the wrong time and the wrong place.”
“I hope that at Lambeth we can witness a new era of coming together and put our differences aside,” he said. “If we have differences, we have to discuss it internally in good spirit, because our people are looking to us. If our people see division, and we are not coming with a good spirit, it will affect their spirit, and their lives. We don’t want to be an obstacle for our people. I hope that Lambeth will get a new spirit for Anglicans all over the world.”
The next Lambeth Conference will be the defining meeting for Anglicanism for the next couple of decades. If the African secessionists stay away, the Anglican Communion will lose their vital spiritual witness. American bishops will lose the chance to hear first-hand what effects recent ECUSA decisions have had. If the so-called Global South coalition showed up, they might realize that Americans, in fact, are not web-footed, horned heretics. So this meeting will either redefine Anglicanism as a narrow, confessional church, or it will reaffirm the Anglican heritage of comprehension. Sadly, it looks like we’re headed toward a narrow Anglicanism. We’ll be narrow because we lose the breadth of spiritual witness that comes from Nigeria, Uganda, Tanzania, and so forth. Or we’ll be narrow because we yield to fear and adopt a doctrinal confession that can be used to force out some provinces.
So, yes, I think the headline is an understatement. The GAFCON meeting sends wrong signals. It sends signals that are antithetical to the reconciling nature of God’s grace. To paraphrase St. Paul, these GAFCON bishops have no right to say to others, “I have no need of you.”