Wednesday, November 02, 2005

When Primates Meet

Fr. Jake, commenting on Barry Wales evaluation of the primates' meetings:

As I have said previously, I think the issue of authority is emerging as the primary concern in discussions within the Anglican Communion.

Authority is not the problem. Discipline: that is the problem.

See, the problem with a polity that allows almost anything is that it allows actions which "break" that polity. This is reflected on both sides of the current struggle. Ordination of women, Piko-Spongian apostasy, and the current changes in the sexuality teachings of the church all took advantage of the inability of conservatives to bring the polity of the church to bear, both in General Convention but also in ecclesiastical trials which ruled, in essence, that the denomination has no theological limits. A tradition of theological tolerance meant that the conservatives could not preserve their own positions, because they were forced to tolerate liberal positions being increasingly being written into the canons.

And now the same process is being used against them. The lack of any kind of reciprocal control over the various churches means in effect that the communion churches are empowered to act in concert to change that. It's impossible to stop the primates from seizing power, because there is no power there now with which to stop them. As the primates are independent agents-- at least, independent of each other's churches-- there is nothing stopping them from changing the basis of the relationship except the power that each church has over its own primate.

And that explains the actions in Nigeria. That church is being freed internally to make whatever changes it may decide are required externally.

American liberals do not want to be subject to the discipline of a larger communion which disapproves of their actions: that is what the maneuvering around the Windsor Report comes down to.

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