The Anglican Debate Sharpens: Lessons for the Whole Church
- Friday, March 11, 2005
Therefore, Williams' observation that any permanent solution would require one side or the other to say, "Yes, we were wrong," amounts to something like a resignation to reality.
As for the Americans, Griswold isn't about to apologize, much less to admit that he and his church acted in a way that violates Christian truth, contradicts the clear teaching of the Bible, and will likely lead to the breakup of the Anglican Communion. Just after the Primates' action, Griswold told the British Broadcasting Corporation that the consecration of Bishop Gene Robinson--the openly gay man elected bishop of New Hampshire--had been "right and proper." Griswold went on to say, "I continue to feel that way about the decision and the action--recognizing that it is extremely problematic and difficult in many parts of the world."
Griswold squashed any anticipation that he and his church might admit that they had acted wrongly. "I can't imagine a conversation saying we got it wrong," Griswold asserted. "I can see a conversation saying we should have been more aware of the effect that the decisions we took would have in other places."
Griswold would not even predict whether his church would accept the directive from the other Primates, explaining that he would have to consult with the other bishops in the United States in order to make a decision. In the meantime, he has made clear that he will continue to push an agenda toward the full normalization of homosexuality and full acceptance of homosexual unions and homosexual clergy.
For their part, conservative Anglicans expressed appreciation for the Primates' action. "We are thankful for the work of the Primates of the Anglican Communion in addressing the complicated issues for them this week," read a statement from the American Anglican Council and the Anglican Communion Network. "This is a pivotal moment in Anglican history in which Biblical faithfulness has been reaffirmed. At last a clear and unequivocal choice has been presented to the Episcopal Church USA and the Anglican Church of Canada. Being asked voluntarily to withdraw, the two provinces have been effectively suspended from the Communion until at least July 2008 in order to consider their place within that body. They must choose between repentance marked by compliance with the Windsor Report or continued theological innovations that separate them from the teachings and life of the Anglican Communion. We applaud the pastoral sensitivity with which the Primates have addressed the concerns of those who feel betrayed by their church leadership as well as those of homosexual orientation."
Ellis Brust, spokesman for the American Anglican Council claimed that the action had effectively taken the American and Canadian churches "to the woodshed." He further characterized the action as "a repudiation of the revisionist trends in North America and the upholding of biblical teaching and historical teaching of Anglicanism." One unnamed observer simply quipped: "The Primates have handed the North Americans a pearl-handled revolver."
The Reverend Dr. Kendall Harmon, canon theologian for the diocese of South Carolina and a well regarded Anglican figure, described the current controversy as "Anglicanism's greatest crisis since the Reformation." As he explained, "While the clash over sexuality makes the headlines, it is only the tip of the iceberg; underneath the debate about non-celibate same-sex relationships works the deeper issues of the authority and interpretation of scripture and the way authority is dispersed in the Church." North American liberals, he laments, "have embraced a new theology creating a third category of human existence other than single or married, and remain defiant in response to the calls of the Windsor Report." Looking toward the future, Reverend Harmon warns that a split in the Anglican Communion is "a risk that ought not to be minimized."
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