Skip to comments.Williams Not 'Absolutely Confident' Anglicans Can Get it Together
Posted on 06/08/2007 8:45:04 AM PDT by fgoodwin
Williams Not 'Absolutely Confident' Anglicans Can Get it Together
By Lillian Kwon
Christian Post Reporter
Fri, Jun. 08 2007 10:56 AM ET
The spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion is hopeful, but not "absolutely confident" that the global church body, which many say is on the brink of division, can stay together.
"Anglicans should remain Anglicans ... I don't think schism is inevitable," said Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams in an interview with Time magazine.
The Anglican head added, however, "If you're asking am I absolutely confident that we can get it together after the Lambeth Conference? No. I'm not absolutely confident."
Weeks before the interview, Williams had sent out invitations to the Lambeth Conference - the Anglican decennial meeting scheduled for July 2008. Excluded from the invitation list were the Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, whose consecration in 2003 as the first openly gay bishop in The Episcopal Church (TEC) widened rifts in the global denomination, and the Rt. Rev. Martyn Minns, missionary bishop of CANA (Convocation of Anglicans in North America) an orthodox Anglican splinter group and offshoot of the Church of Nigeria.
Williams explained that he has to reserve the right to withhold invitations from bishops whose appointment has caused "exceptionally serious division or scandal" within the Anglican Communion. Plus, if the two bishops attended, the Lambeth Conference would risk being just about them, he said to Time.
There has been little talk on what would happen if the communion does break apart.
If it does break apart during his spiritual leadership, Williams told the magazine he would be able to sustain the blow "because I trust my God and I believe that whatever mistakes I make and whatever disasters may occur, there is always grace."
The Rt. Rev. Dr. John Rodgers, newly appointed interim President of Trinity School for Ministry and a bishop with the conservative splinter group Anglican Mission in America, predicts there will be a major division of the Anglican Communion and rather than a total collapse of The Episcopal Church, "a lingering death," he told VirtueOnline, a voice for global Orthodox Anglicanism.
However, the problem is not only in The Episcopal Church, Rodgers noted.
"What is now apparent is that the crisis is not only in TEC but in the Anglican Communion itself," he said. "The Western Provinces and the provinces that they have deeply influenced are as compromised as TEC. I suspect that the issue over attendance at Lambeth 2008 may be that point.
"Perhaps the fact that TEC is so clearly unrepentant and the continuing loss of members in Churches where the biblical faith is truncated or contradicted may help both us and the Global South take the needed action," Rodgers added.
The Episcopal Church has until Sept. 30 to respond to requests made by Primates (Anglican leaders) in February to make an unequivocal pledge not to authorize same-sex blessings and confirm another openly gay bishop.
"I think it's a rather dramatic picture painted there," Williams told Time. "Making decisions that will lose you friends, compromise people's perception of your integrity that's very hard. On the other hand, that is only part of the reality. First and foremost, I'm a priest and a bishop."
After Williams excluded Minns from next year's global meeting, Nigerian Primate the Most Rev. Peter J. Akinola and his country's bishops threatened to not attend the decennial meeting. The Church of Nigeria is reportedly the largest province in the Anglican Communion.
"The task Ive got is to try and maintain as long as possible the space in which people can have constructive disagreements, learn from each other, and try and hold that within an agreed framework of discipline and practice. It feels very vulnerable," Williams said. "It feels very vulnerable and very fragile, perhaps more so than its been for a very long time."
When asked if he was optimistic, the archbishop opted to use a "safer" word: "I'm hopeful."
Please ping the Anglican List.
Perhaps the best result could be the complete disintegration of this organization. If each congregation was freed to make completely autonomous decisions, the local Believers could better require and enforce accountability to the Bible, and the church would better reflect the New Testament church.
Traditional Anglican ping, continued in memory of its founder Arlin Adams.
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Speak the truth in love. Eph 4:15
No thanks, we are NOT congregationalist.
Quite frankly I’ve seen first hand how poorly congregationalism works and I would NEVER EVER get mixed up in it.
Please define what you mean by “congregationalism”.
Anglican polity, or Church organization, is the opposite of congregational. Following (very) ancient Church practice of having bishops, with certain supervisory control over individual churches, is essential to Anglicanism.
Congregationalism, is as you defined it, namely “each congregation was freed to make completely autonomous decisions” which to most people’s reading of the New Testament is NOT what was present then. In the NT times, the Apostles had clear authority over individual churches, and, if we are to believe Irenaus (AD 120s) St. John at least appointed pastors of pastors...namely bishops. Bishops too seemed to be important in fighting heresy—which very nearly overcame the church in the first 4 centuries (a majority of a congregation is not necessarily biblically or morally right).
Specifically, the NT speaks of Church elders running things, called “presbyters” (where we get the word presbyterian, and priest too, actually), not straight democracy, as in congregational churches.
In any event, the NT church can be found having elements of congregational, presbyterian (elder run), and episcopal (bishop run) church government systems. From the 2nd Century on to the 16th Century though, and, the majority of churches world-wide today, are run using an episcopal (bishop run) style of governance however. Congregationalism, where congregations are independent from each other, and have a majority rules governance, seem to too-often have little-dictator pastors—and characteristically have constant splitting... (as a friend of mine joked, he wanted to start a church called “The Last B_ptist Church”...).
Christian living in scripture seems more about inter-dependence than independence, in my opinion, anyway. Asking Anglican/Episcopal types to become congregational, is like trying to elect a Baptist pope.
It ain’t gonna happen.
Thanks for the clarification. I will accept your definition of “congregationalism”. That is not what I’m proposing.
I propose that every church limit its leadership positions to the two offices of elders (aka presbyters, bishops, overseers) and deacons, and that any man willing to serve be judged carefully alongside the Scriptural requirements. The various ministries authorized by Scripture for the new testament church - preaching, teaching, evangelizing - would be overseen by the elders (sort of like a Board of Directors), and administered by the Deacons. Although the participants in the ministries could very well be other members of the congregation.
Each assembly would be autonomous, assemblies could and are encouraged to communicate one with another. Since there are no more Apostles walking the earth, the only reliable Authority is Scripture; each church should rely solely on Scripture for its doctrine and guidance.
If the early believers thought the writings of the so-called “early fathers” (Matthew 23:9 please) were so important, then they would have included them in the Scripture.
As to reading historical writings, literature and philosophies, by all means! It shouldn’t be confused with authoritative doctrine.
Whose "interpretation" do you trust?
Then again, why interpret at all? Why not simply read and understand what is written? If people actually read the Word regularly, they might be surprised to find that it is far less contentious than some make it out to be.