Thursday, June 25, 2009

Perhaps, the end of the beginning

He was speaking about something else entirely. And no, in quoting Winston Churchill, I am not intending to compare North America's newest protestant denomination with certain nasty folk in central Europe at the middle of the last century. But I do believe that this little bit of Churchilliana applies:

"Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."

Several groups of schismatics, cranks and naysayers have gathered themselves together in Texas and founded a new protestant denomination. Like several newly minted protestant denominations of the 1970s, they claim to be Anglican. They aren't - at least not in any meaningful sense. They also pretend to be Orthodox - but since they cannot bring themselves to affirm the fifth, sixth and seventh ecumenical councils, the're not that either.

They are a small protestant denomination calling themselves the Anglican Church in North America. Since they are not recognized by the Anglican Communion, the name might best be described as false advertising - or perhaps identity theft. Given their creative approach to legal questions of property, one should not be surprised.

They are not, it appears, united in what they believe but in what they reject - and what they reject is uppity gays and uppity women. Mostly uppity gays. Uppity women are a distant second. Well back in third place is any sort of independent thought on theological questions. Genuinely synodical government appears to be somewhere back in fourth since they seem to prefer the rule of prince-bishops.

This has, in some ways, been a long time coming. Several of the leaders of this new protestant denomination have been plotting and scheming for decades. Having failed to take over the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada, they have chosen to establish a new protestant denomination in the hopes that the Anglican Communion will suddenly declare that they are the official holders of the Anglican franchise.

"Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end." This attempt to overthrow North American Anglicanism has some serious financial backers from the extreme political right in the US. These wealthy extremists have also bought and paid for several Anglican leaders in the two-thirds world. (Or, as the Primate of Uganda puts it, "they give us money. Oh they give us money. Since we began to relate with our orthodox brethren they have given us much more money, much more money, oh yeah, much more money. They have given us more money.") The new protestant denomination hopes that their two-thirds world clients will force the Instruments of the Communion to recognise them as the official replacement for both the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church (that is the real Anglican Church of Canada, not the protestant denomination masquerading as an Anglican Church.)

No, this is not the end. It will drag on for another several years - years full of further identity theft, further simony, further sturm und drang.

It is, perhaps, the end of the beginning. Now that the willfully destructive have departed, perhaps the rest of us can get on with the work of the gospel.

Aren't you glad i didn't use a different Churchill quote, like this:
Lady Astor: Winston, you're drunk!
Churchill: Madam, you're ugly - and tomorrow I shall be sober.


Tim Chesterton said...

Several groups of schismatics, cranks and naysayers have gathered themselves together in Texas and founded a new protestant denomination.

I wish them well, though I don't sense any call to join them. But I do have some friends at that gathering, including the previous rector of the parish I now serve.

He is definitely not a crank or a naysayer. As to whether or not he is a schismatic, I suppose that is in the eye of the beholder. Personally I think it's a bit rich for mainstream Anglicans to use that term for the folks in ACNA. After all, by the same logic, we ourselves are a small schismatic denomination which claims to be catholic but is not, in any meaningful sense (i.e. communion with the Pope), descended from the C of E which absconded in the 16th century with all the property that rightly belongs to the true Catholic Church...

Country Parson said...

Indeed Tim, we are schismatics, and, as you well know, the historical roots of that schism are complicated. Moreover, the 16th century language used to vilify each other makes us look pretty tame. Having said that, the "new denomination" appears to me to have far more in common with conservative evangelical, bordering on fundamentalist churches, than they do with what I understand as Anglican tradition. I too wish them well, and I don't think it will take long for them to come up with another name. It will be a name that will be agreeable to others of like mind elsewhere in the world, notably parts of Africa. We Anglicans will be left alone, a bit smaller but steadfast in our proclamation of the gospel well anchored in the Anglican tradition of progressiveness.