Friday, October 07, 2005

Anglican Analog to the ABC Crisis?

Elaine Spencer, writing in the Christian Post, reported today on an interesting lecture series delivered this week by a senior Anglican archbishop. Although much that Archbishop Robin Eames said touches upon issues relevant to Anglicans specifically, some of his remarks relate to the conflict over homosexuality in several mainline denominations.

A senior Anglican archbishop suggested Wednesday that the division within the worldwide communion has more to do with politics and issues of authority than gay rights and homosexuality.

During his two-part lecture series titled “Anglican Communion: A Growing Reality," at the Virginia Theological Seminary this week, Archbishop Robin Eames of Ireland suggested that the 77-million-member Anglican Communion had to create a stronger central authority to mediate disputes between the liberal North and conservative South.

He also questioned the “real” issues that lie behind the sexuality debate. “Has the Anglican obsession with sexuality been merely the tip of an iceberg hiding other deeper issues which will ultimately dictate the future of the Anglican Communion?” he asked.

“This is not a struggle between two North American provinces and other provinces. It is not a struggle between 36 provinces and 2 on how to 'discipline' the 'wayward,’” he answered. “Rather it is a struggle to discern how to meet conservative concerns for proper biblical interpretation and liberal consensus for justice and inclusion for minorities who claim they face prejudice and discrimination.”

Note the bolded quote at the end. It corresponds to remarks already familiar to readers of “His Barking Dog” from numerous previous postings. In the Anglican communion, as in the ABCUSA, for those on the right the issue is not homosexuality, but “proper biblical interpretation.” Those on the left see the matter in terms of justice and inclusion of minorities. This difference is one of the major reasons why Dr. Roy Medley faces such a daunting task in attempting to build a bridge between the left and right banks in the ABC. No one has yet been able to articulate a way of understanding the AWAB position without seeming to assault biblical authority; no one has yet made a case for the ABE position that does not leave those on the left feeling that it is merely window-dressing for bigotry.

Arguing over the polity of "soul liberty" does not advance the argument much, primarily because of the stark contrast between the left's use of it as a slogan justifying their latitudinarianism vs. the right's similar Shibboleth of "biblical authority" to explain their rejection of homosexual practice. At the heart of the matter, each side holds some very cherished values. And, like the crowds lined up the day after Thanksgiving at the Best Buy, everyone seems prepared to trample the competition in order to have it their own way. In the ABC, both left and right polarities feel that their opponents are trammeling sacred core beliefs in a hurry to proclaim their own views.

In this connection, it might have been helpful had wiser heads in the ABC raised the issue Archbishop Eames addressed relating to the twin issues of proper biblical interpretation and justice concerns several years ago when it still might have made a difference in the keeping the ABCUSA united.

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