Friday, August 31, 2007

Oh no! It could happen HERE!!

Andrew Carey, son of the former Archbishop of Canterbury and a leading evangelical within the Church of England, has written a piece for the evangelical "Church of England Newspaper" he calls Anglican Chaos where he bemoans "a further three consecrations of Americans to African provinces."

From my perch it is dawning on English evangelicals that they have a tiger by the tail!

"Oh no!" they are crying, "it could happen HERE, too!"

Having initially sought to support the Neo-Puritan Global South bishops' narrow theological perspective it has occurred to these evangelicals that incursions could happen in Blighty as well. Notice Andrew Carey's comment in his piece that "there continues to be talk about incursions by Nigeria onto English soil."

This represents a major problem for the evangelical wing of the English Church because it threatens their claim to broad support within that province. They clearly fear that any support they have from the "mushy middle" and the Anglo-Catholics will dissolve if there is interference in the affairs of the Church of England.

This fear is especially sharp since that interference is by foreign Primates from the evangelical wing of the Communion. Such a narrow interference would be very destructive of the coalition that Evangelicals have crafted, especially since it is becoming obvious that these persnickety prelates are more than willing to hold others accountable to their standards but do not even understand the meaning of 'reciprocity', let alone appreciate the founding and fundamental theological generosity of the Anglican fellowship of Churches worldwide.

The result would be the collapse of any semblance of a common front in England, whose province would then dissolve back into the three traditional groupings - the Evangelicals, the Anglo-Catholics, and the Middle.

No longer able to claim that England speaks with one voice the Evangelicals would lose much of their influence within the Communion.

Carey also identifies a similar problem within the Global South itself: "We are therefore left with the distinct impression, that far from being a united coalition the ‘Global South movement’ is itself subject to divisions. While most leaders share a common view of human sexuality, they nevertheless disagree about its importance, and mostly they disagree about tactics."

I'm sure these icebergs on the horizon are at least some of the reason for the greatly increased hysteria - with its concurrent increase in bluster and noise - now coming from our Conservative brothers and sisters.

It also promises a time of real possibility, for it is only when these conservative evangelicals realize that the situation has become too complex for simple answers that they will be willing to engage in conversation.

This is good news for our own province, and for the future of the Communion.