Saturday, June 21, 2008

Bishop Duncan's Speech At GAFCON

Since I waded through all 14 pages of Bishop Robert Duncan's opening address to GAFCON (Global Anglican Future Conference), which is - what? - the anti-Lambeth, the alternative Lambeth, I decided to write a bit about it and probably bore you to death. One goal of the folks gathered at GAFCON seems to be to take Anglicanism back to a nebulous gilded age when the one true church of Jesus Christ manifested itself plainly for all to see. Bishop Duncan mentions the church of the early centuries of Christianity but then suggests that the shared prayer of Anglicanism today should be a version of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer.

The groups represented at GAFCON are: Network, Anglican Mission in America, Reformed Episcopal Church, American Anglican Council, Forward in Faith North America, Anglican Province in America, congregations in Kenya, Uganda, and the Southern Cone, Anglican Network in Canada, and Federation of Anglican Churches in America. One major "challenge" facing the group as they come together is that they do not agree on the ordination of women to the priesthood. Other "challenges" may arise as they continue to seek to come together in a body.

One question from Bishop Duncan startled me. He asked, "What will it take to restore the Holy Scripture as "ultimate rule and standard" among us?" Ultimate rule and standard? That seems a tad, just a tad idolatrous to me. Of course, I could be wrong, since I am neither a learned theologian nor a learned Scripture scholar. "Anglicans are 'under the Word'," says Bp. Duncan. The Word made flesh or the word in a book?

He speaks of the proper role of the Anglican Communion as a bridge between the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches on one side and the Protestant churches on the other. One way that he sees the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada going astray is that they are rather trying to be a bridge between the church and the world. I wonder if the doctrine of the Incarnation could have implications here.

Bishop Duncan says, "But the inexorable shift of power from Britain and the West to the Global South cannot be stopped, and some conciliar instrument reflective of the shift is bound to emerge as the Reformation Settlement gives way to a Global (post-colonial) Settlement." That statement led me, along with others, to ponder why a white man is moderator of the gathering.

I think that's enough.

39 comments:

Lapinbizarre said...

Bishop Duncan may be beginning to realize that in terms of Schismatic leadership he has missed the boat, pre-empted by the Central African consecrations and the Southern Coneheads. Incidentally, has anyone else noticed that we haven't heard a great deal of late from Jack Iker? Could be coincidental, of course, or might it be that he's keeping his head below the parapet until he has a better sense of how things are going to work out.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Lapin, I simply cannot believe that things are working out the way any of the members of the alphabet soup envisioned. There's sure to be a power struggle, and it won't be pretty. Large egos are operating here. They don't seem to lack money. If I were Iker, I'd keep my head down. Probably others are having second thoughts about making a go of it outside the Episcopal Church.

johnieb said...

Lawzie, Mimi! Why'dja do that to yersef?

Grandmère Mimi said...

I don't know, Johnieb, I must be a glutton for punishment. I thought it might help me know what makes them tick.

What else could have gone wrong for them? And there's Duncan talking about proselytizing Muslims in Jerusalem. The poor bishop of Jerusalem. To say nothing of the gay pride parade coming up while they're there.

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

The Bible as the "ultimate rule and standard"??? One of the reasons I'm attending TEC is to get away from that type of Christianity. What ever happened to the famous three-legged stool as the basis for the Anglican faith?

Grandmère Mimi said...

Ruth, according to Duncan, there is no three-legged stool:

Our greatest theological thinker, Richard Hooker, gives Scripture the primacy, just as we do: there is no three-legged stool here - there never was. We interpret the Scriptures with reference to how Christians in the early centuries understood them (the Tradition) and we bring all the tools of scholarly undertanding to bear on them (Reason), but finally Holy Scripture must have the last word, on its own terms.

Laboriously copied, because I don't know how to copy and paste from a PDF file.

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

When you're reading a PDF file, there should be a bar up at the top. Over at the right is something labeled Tool Mode with four boxes. If you click on the "A," you should be able to highlight and copy.

At least, this is how it works on my computer.

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

Oh, and I'll stick with the three-legged stool no matter what Duncan says.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Ruth, I don't see that tool. I have two sets of directions on how to, but both are complicated, so I haven't tried them out, yet. Is the tool visible when you click on my link to the speech?

Anonymous said...

Grandmere Mimi --you are a better woman than I. 3 pages was all my temperment would allow at this time.... I guess with your synopsis, I won't bother with the remaining 11.

--blessings, margaret

Grandmère Mimi said...

Margaret, don't bother. I did the hard work for you.

themethatisme said...

"Our greatest theological thinker, Richard Hooker", a man with only one leg on his stool.

Jane R said...

The Word made flesh or the word in a book?

EXCELLENT question! Thanks for this, Mimi. I haven't got the patience to wade through all that and I loved coming by here and getting a precis.

Fredrica Harris Thompsett gave a wonderful talk on Hooker at this event a few years ago. To bad the article doesn't offer more than a couple of paragraphs about what she said. She probably published it somewhere, though. (Note: at same event, the speaker who talked about African perspectives, though very interesting and valid, utterly neglected the perspectives of African women theologians on such things as polygamy, and there is plenty published.) It's interesting to re-read that report now, three and a half years later, and see what continues to be useful and where things have moved in world Anglicanism and in the U.S.

Thanks again, Mimi.

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

Oh, I didn't click the link, so I didn't realize that it was an on-line PDF. I was talking about a downloaded PDF. Sorry for the confusion. However, I always just highlight and copy text on the Internet just the way I do word files. I use a Mac. I don't know if that makes any difference.

The Rural Rector said...

Sorry to use deep theology here, but don't one-legged stools fall over?

Grandmère Mimi said...

Ruth, I was trying to copy the pdf into Blogger, and it would not work, but when I tried in WordPad it did. Just highlight, copy and paste and then paste into blogger. Yay! Thank you.

TheMe, RR beat me to it, but he said it an elegant and scholarly manner. "That stool gonna fall over," is what I would have said.

Jane, thanks. Dissonance abounded as I read the speech. I'll check out your link.

Muthah+ said...

Ultimate rule and standard? That seems a tad, just a tad idolatrous to me. Of course, I could be wrong, since I am neither a learned theologian nor a learned Scripture scholar. "Anglicans are 'under the Word'," says Bp. Duncan. The Word made flesh or the word in a book.

Yes, Mimi you do have it right. Anglicans have never subscribed to the modernist bible thumping that +Robert adheres to.

Luther was the one who subscribe to Sola Scritura--but his understanding was that the Word was the INCARNATE WORD, Jesus himself.

+ Duncan is merely a very poorly prepared man consecrated for a position that was beyond him. It makes one want to look hard at the Lutheran understanding of bishops.

The Rural Rector said...

Grandmere, I could never "beat you to it." Rather that I am a simple precursor to what you are going to say!

Paul said...

Talk about works of supererogation! Dear Mimi, you must have some spare merit badges to pass on to us sinners. Be that as it may, thank you for doing the dirty work so we don't have to. You are a kind soul, though rather a daring one.

Your questions, as usual, are pertinent and important ones.

As I recall my seminary days (though I have not waded all the way through my copy of Hooker), Hooker spoke not of a stool but of a triple cord not easily broken. Trying to emphasize scripture at the expense of tradition and reason would not be likely to please Hooker, though he gave it pride of place.

A primary reason I am an Anglican instead of a Baptist is that I could no longer tolerate the bibliolatry that was rampant in Protestant evangelical circles. I mean, which Person of the Trinity were they going to replace with a book? (All three is the answer, alas.)

I do hope you are going to do something especially nice for yourself after this sacrificial endeavor.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Muthah+, maybe one day you can explain to me the Lutheran understanding of bishops, but not the 14 page version, if you don't mind

You are a kind soul, though rather a daring one.

Paul, at first I misread "daring" for "darling". I think I liked my mistake better. I'm reading selected excerpts from Hooker now in short bursts, probably not the best way to go, and I read aloud. I find that it's easier to get into the flow of the Elizabethan language by reading aloud. I warned Grandpère that he would hear a voice.

susan s. said...

Oh Mimi, you are both daring and darling. And reading out loud in Olde English! How very brave of you!

I think that surely the one legged stool would work only so long as the occupier kept perfect balance. Is that possible? I certainly wouldn't want to try it!

susan s. said...

Oh, Mimi! I found
this over at Culture Choc.
Even though it appears to have nothing to do with the current AC troubles, I bet you would like it!

Caminante said...

"Since I waded through all 14 pages of Bishop Robert Duncan's opening address to GAFCON"

Lordy, you are either a masoschist or a martyr. (I have not read the other comments yet.)

Grandmère Mimi said...

Susan, that was hilarious.

Caminante, I am trying to understand them, and I did gain insight from the speech, but at great cost. They want certainty in a world that is changing rapidly, and they won't find what they seek, but they are blind to that truth.

Ann said...

Grandmere - you are a saint - no Lent for you next year - you have done yours. Thanks for the precis - I was not going to read it but am happy to read your thoughts - and you are a theologian - one who thinks about God and God's relationship with us.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Whoo-whoo! No Lent!

Gallycat said...

best way to balance a stool with one leg is to put the flat side down. However, this does pose some challenges for anyone wishing to actually use it as a seat.

Ann said...

Oh gallycat -- and on Sunday -- giggling going on here.

Kirkepiscatoid said...

Well, and if you don't do it gallycat's way, and try to sit on a one legged stool with its one leg on the ground, well...you CAN do it, but if you don't put your focus on balancing it 100% of the time, you are gonna end up on your ass!

Boaz said...

I notice, Mimi, that Bishop Duncan is also keen on the Book of Common Prayer and he rather laments it's "decline" last century. (Page 13).

Well that won't make him popular amoungst the evango-fundies here in Sydney. They use an A-4 sized photocopied service sheet, folded in two (or should I say meeting sheet), which they hand out to the congregation.

Oh there's going to be some good old cat fights amoungst this lot. It's gonna be great to watch the fur fly.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Naughty, naughty, Gallycat.

Kirk, no matter what you do, you'll eventually end up in trouble on a one-legged stool.

Boaz, photocopied sheets! Horrors!

Ormonde Plater said...

So Duncan "suggests that the shared prayer of Anglicanism today should be a version of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer." Interesting. A eucharistic prayer that many scholars today consider defective, without an epiclesis and ending with the words of institution.

Doorman-Priest said...

You waded through 14 pages? You need to get out more woman.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Ormonde, I had to look up the word "epiclesis", but now I've learned something new. I see many hard compromises facing the motley crew gathered Jerusalem, if they are to come together.

DP, you're right, but now I can say that I've read something that a lot of folks have not read, so that makes me the expert, right?

Ann said...

Folded service sheets? I thought they used projectors and power point like at Falls Church.

Boaz said...

Ann I think you're right. Certainly I've been to one (for a baptism) that used PowerPoint.

Most use folded sheets. I know we all use them for notice sheets but these are also for the service with no Prayer Book or hymnn book in sight.

Interesting bapitism. I was a God parent and I had to earnestly counsel the father to stand up as well. He said he wasn't sure if he "believed" anymore. (By which he meant evango-fundie beliefs). I said, "You believe in God don't you?!"

"Yes, but I'm not sure who he is."

"Oh mate! None of us know who he is!" See these are the knots evango-fundies get themselves in. Can't enjoy God because they are not sure of the fine details.

Grandmère Mimi said...

PowerPoint for a Baptism? Never have I seen that.

See these are the knots evango-fundies get themselves in. Can't enjoy God because they are not sure of the fine details.

Ain't that the truth, Boaz.

Dan Porter said...

Grandmère Mimi at Wounded Bird gives us the theologically wonderful quote of the day:

He [=Bishop Robert Duncan] speaks of the proper role of the Anglican Communion as a bridge between the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches on one side and the Protestant churches on the other. One way that he sees the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada going astray is that they are rather trying to be a bridge between the church and the world. I wonder if the doctrine of the Incarnation could have implications here.

Just two paragraphs earlier, she wrote: "Of course, I could be wrong, since I am neither a learned theologian nor a learned Scripture scholar."

Oh, but you are, Grandmère Mimi -- more than you think. Come to think of it, "gifted" is seen from what is written whereas "learned" is all to often an excuse for what is written.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Dan, you are too kind. I feel as though I make it up as I go along, but I know that I am indebted to many wise folks in the formulation of my "theology".