In the name of the F, S, and HS. Amen.
Last week the Primates of Global Anglicanism met together to discuss the end of Anglicanism as we know it. I did not have high hopes for this meeting, I must admit. I thought that Conservatives represented in the Global South would saunter in Wild West style, hands on their hips, ready to pull iron at the slightest twitch and shoot Anglicanism dead. They made their demands prior to the meeting—if the meeting did not force the American Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada to repent of their evil doing (the decision to change its canons and its liturgy to allow for ‘gender neutral marriage’) then they would storm out and then decide how best to disassociate themselves from Canterbury.
The meeting was private so all we could do was sit back and wait for the mushroom cloud to appear. But Monday came and went and nothing happened—the Anglican Communion remained. But it was released that the first day was dedicated to prayer and fasting, which was probably forestalling the inevitable. But Tuesday came and no fireworks. Then it leaked on Thursday that not only had they remained together but they decided by an overwhelming majority to suspend the Episcopal Church for a period of three years.
- The traditional doctrine of the church in view of the teaching of Scripture, upholds marriage as between a man and a woman in faithful, lifelong union. The majority of those gathered reaffirm this teaching.
- In keeping with the consistent position of previous Primates’ meetings such unilateral actions on a matter of doctrine without Catholic unity is considered by many of us as a departure from the mutual accountability and interdependence implied through being in relationship with each other in the Anglican Communion.
- Such actions further impair our communion and create a deeper mistrust between us. This results in significant distance between us and places huge strains on the functioning of the Instruments of Communion and the ways in which we express our historic and ongoing relationships.*
A Very Un-Anglican Thing To Do
Who knew that the Holy Spirit was alive and well in the Anglican Communion? I must admit that I was genuinely shocked to discover that there may just be hope for this thing called Anglicanism yet. They did a very un-Anglican thing—they took a stance. Now I really like when we take stances such as this for it means that we are unafraid to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
This means that there is more to the faith, more to this thing that we do here—than simply going along with what the culture wants. Because, let’s face it, we want things that are bad for us. St. Paul puts it best in his letter to the Romans:
“For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.”
I applaud the Church for taking a stance for Jesus.
But Wait There’s More…
Yet this is not the only stance they took. They also took a stance of family. The desire of the Conservatives was for the Episcopal Church and the Church of Canada to openly repent or be removed. The stance that was taken for the Conservatives was to say, “Here is the truth, if you cannot accept it, there is the door.” But the mind of the group was to place the ball back in the court of those who have offended saying, “Here is the truth, now what are you going to do with it?”
It would have been great to see more action—we are Americans after all, we like action. But we cannot force others to accept the truth about this matter anymore than we can force people to believe anything else. The Anglican Communion has had an intervention with the North American Churches and said look what is happening around you. This is what your actions are causing, and then left them to make their own decision.
The Truth Shall Set You Free
Charity without truth is mere sentiment. What the progressives are professing is love. “All you need is love” is a constant refrain. But love without the truth is just a happy feeling that can fade as easily as it came. The truth of the Gospel is needed to show the depth which true love requires. True love is mounting the cross for to take away the sins of those who put you there.
“God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Without Love, I Am Nothing
Yet on the flip side, truth without charity can become cruelty. Without the love of God toward those around us, the pursuit of truth can easily devolve into something that represents the Inquisition—truth at all costs.
“Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”
We Are In This Together
Like it or not, we are in this mess with those whom we see as trying to destroy it. But from their point of view, we are stifling the love that God has for his people and presenting barriers to their inclusion in that love. I encountered this many times during my time in seminary during CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education): “We need to meet people where they are.” This is a great truth. We cannot expect the people we encounter in the world to perfectly hold the truth. Why would I hold a non-Christian to Christian ideals? They have not yoked themselves to that, so I cannot hold them to it.
However, this is where the progressives stop (ironically). Jesus met people where they were, it is true, but he never left a person where he met them. Whether they chose to follow him or rejected him, they encountered the truth. He loved them.
“Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.” Even Judas had his feet washed by Jesus.
And Now We Wait
Three years from now will be the Episcopal Church’s General Convention where they will officially make their answer. And so now we wait. The truth has been presented— the traditional doctrine of the church in view of the teaching of Scripture, upholds marriage as between a man and a woman in faithful, lifelong union. Now we have still chosen to walk with our brothers and sisters as long as they are willing to walk with us. We cannot force them to accept us, but isn’t that the nature of love? It cannot be true love if the recipient has the ability to reject it. Love is love, but only that which has the truth of God in it has the ability to endure. Pray that true love wins out.
In the name of the F, S, and HS. Amen.