Friday, July 25, 2008

A question for the GAFCon primates and the CCP

I'm confused.

I mean, I get it that you want to have an alternate North American jurisdiction and all that. And I get it that you don't intend to break communion with the Anglican Communion as such. ("Our fellowship is not breaking away from the Anglican Communion").

But in the Declaration of Jerusalem you say:
We reject the authority of those churches and leaders who have denied the orthodox faith in word or deed.
And you count PEcUSA among these churches, for you speak of:
the manifest failure of the Communion Instruments to exercise discipline in the face of overt heterodoxy. The Episcopal Church USA and the Anglican Church of Canada, in proclaiming this false gospel, have consistently defied the 1998 Lambeth statement of biblical moral principle (Resolution 1.10).
Which is why you say:
We recognise the desirability of territorial jurisdiction for provinces and dioceses of the Anglican Communion, except in those areas where churches and leaders are denying the orthodox faith or are preventing its spread.
... and why you want the CCP to form the basis of a new jurisdiction. Okay so far.

But now we read that the CCP has requested that +Duncan be made a primate of the new jurisdiction:
The intention of the CCP Executive Committee is to petition the Primates Council for recognition of the CCP as the North American Province of GAFCON on the basis of the Common Cause Partnership Articles, Theological Statement, and Covenant Declaration, and to ask that the CCP Moderator be seated in the Primates Council.
Which has been explained thusly:
What Common Cause is doing is asking the GAFCON primates council to recognize us as having similar status to the other provinces (Uganda, Nigeria, etc) that participate within the movement. This is clearly very meaningful as we relate to that portion of the Anglican Communion that is part of GAFCON. We recognize, however, that it does not necessarily change our relationships with that part of the Communion that is not part of the GAFCON movement.

Hang on a sec.

At the moment, +Duncan is part of PEcUSA, a heterodox and apostate body you no longer recognize, and whose divisive actions (along with the Communion's failures of discipline) have created the crisis in the first place. And, by his formal membership in the H.O.B., he is canonically and institutionally in communion with, and in the same jurisdiction as, the rest of PEcUSA's bishops. It is in that capacity that he's currently at Lambeth. He may disagree with them theologically. He may not like them personally. He may not worship together with them. Everyone may be expect that, by the end of the year, he'll have disaffiliated or been thrown out. But, as things currently stand, HE'S STILL IN PEcUSA!

Which means that you're nominating as primate a bishop who is a member of a body the jurisdiction and authority of whose bishops you reject. And you're also claiming that this proposal isn't changing your relationship with non-GAFCON parts of the Communion. (Do you include PEcUSA in those parts -- it is, after all, still officially part of the Anglican Communion you're also committed to continue being part of.)

In other words, you're undermining your own fundamental statement of principles and order... starting to create precisely the same disjunction between "agreement" and "implementation" (even if in a smaller way) as we see with the Windsor report.

Wouldn't it, at the very least, make sense to ensure that your candidate for primate is first qualified to represent the principles of GAFCon and the CCP (i.e. by ceasing to be a member of an apostate and condemned heterodox ecclesial body) before you nominate him to lead the alternative?!!!


Alice C. Linsley said...

Welcome to the blogosphere! I wish you success in this newly launched blog.

Fr. J. said...

Congrats on your new blog.

This post makes very logical sense. But, to give GAFCON the benefit of the doubt, it seems you are using a juridical argument for what is essentially a movement within Anglicanism, a movement which has no juridical force as of yet.

From the GAFCON POV, I would think Duncan is taking a specific seat in a movement which is becoming a juridical reality. Many in this movement, even the majority of the CCP are still in TEC. That Duncan is still in TEC is a matter of timing, not theology.

From the AC POV, I would think, GAFCON is a movement absolutely without juridical standing, so Duncan's participation in this non-recognized entity is officially inconsequential.

If GAFCON really wants to become a juridical reality in its own right and not just a movement, it ought to at least come up with a name for itself and a head.

A Musing Anglican said...

"That Duncan is still in TEC is a matter of timing, not theology"

That's certainly understandable. And while GAFCon is issuing its documents and making its plans, it's no surprise that there are some ambiguities during a period of transition.

However it seems to me that if they want people to take their statements of principles seriously (indeed, if they're going to take them seriously itself), then when they start taking jurisdictionl action they need to abide by their own rules.

Sure, lots of PEcUSA members were at GAFCon. No biggie. But it seems to me that any one who wants to officially join the new GAFCon alliance (be it by individual, diocese or province) ought to be required to break off communion with the apostates, as the Declaration of Jerusalem envisions.

And this goes doubly so for its leadership.

If a new provincial structure is formed (whether or not it is recognized by Canterbury) with +Duncan as its primate before he has officially left PEcUSA and its HoB, then I think the whole movement will lose a lot of theological and ecclesiastical credibility.

Fr. J. said...

One thing's for sure. If Duncan is head of a new province and his diocese has not left by that time, it would be disasterously confused. If that was your initial point, I am in full agreement.