Much has been made of ++Akinola's comments in Pittsburgh about the need for North America's Anglicans to decide whether they are "ECUSA or Network". First of all, as I've admitted before, ++Akinola seems never to miss an opportunity to vituperate. Unlike some, though, I find him charming; and I think his bombasticisms are more trenchant than they are anything else.
The most interesting comment among the following are those from the Bishop of Springfield. Rome has a very serious opportunity here to repair a major breach in unity and reach out to, I dare say, thousands of Anglican clergy and laity. She may, though, opt not to damage her relationship with ECUSA (and Canterbury, if it comes to it). But at some point Rome will have to acknowledge the fact that it is the Anglicans, led by ECUSA, who have delivered the heaviest body blows to that front of eccumenical dialogue, first with the ordination of women, also with GC 2003, but more generally and significantly, with its contented, decades-long slide into secular humanism - indeed, in a number of high profile instances, I don't think 'atheism' is too strong a word. At some point, Rome will have to acknoweldge that ECUSA is no longer recognizably Christian, and that ECUSA certainly has nothing but a superficial commitment to catholicity.
More moderate liberals than Spong will haved to acknoweldge that it is his ideological program, his view of authority, the autonomy of human reason, and the privileging of the natural and social sciences over the Revelation at the center of Christian doctrine and practice which has fueled the moral victories the more moderate liberals claim for their own party. Make no mistake: it is (at best) a vague and vaguely benevolent Unitarianism that is winning the day in ECUSA. I cannot tell you how many ECUSA priests I have heard and heard of expressing incredulous condescenscion at the suggestion that Christian belief outght to be bound by the Nicene and Apostles' Creeds, or even such basal notions as Christ's divinity. The most rudimentary Christian doctrine is regardeed by clergy as an anachronistic threat to the self-evident trappings of civilized society: most usually the interchangeability of the genders and libertinism with regard to sexuality.
Make no mistake. Today we are moral conservatives faced wth a choice between conclusions incompatible with the faith of our spiritual fathers and mothers, a faith we purport to share with them. Tomorrow the same choice will have to be made by others, as other conclusions are drawn from the premises underlying the new morality: premises mostly about the epistemic priority of the social sciences over Christian Revelation and the interpretive authority of the Church Catholic. Today it is the Christian gay lobby who exploit the findings of Psychology sans God. Why, tomorrow, should it not be the Polygamy lobby or the apologists of 'open marriages'?
"Choose this day..." indeed.
Read the whole thing here.
Outspoken Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola, leader of the global Anglican Communion's most populous province, drew a standing ovation at the 2,400-strong "Hope and a Future" Conference in Pittsburgh when he said: "Bishops of the Network must realize time is no longer on their side…This is your kairos moment to make up your mind exactly what you want to do. Many of you have one leg in ECUSA and one leg in the Network…We here have all broken communion with ECUSA,” he said, referring to six other Anglican primates (provincial leaders) on stage with him. “If you really want the global South to stand with you, you must let us know exactly where you stand: Are you ECUSA or are you Network?"
"To be sure," he added, "several congregations have departed, and several others will depart sometime before General Convention in 2006. I would not hazard a guess on what will happen after that [convention]--especially because nobody knows what votes will emerge. As [the Rev. Canon] Kendall Harmon [of South Carolina] has warned repeatedly, Network congregations must plan for the likely scenario in which General Convention sends very mixed signals and does not explicitly reject the Windsor Report."
“I think to a large extent [Akinola] was reinforcing the fact that the Episcopal Church has voted itself into irrelevance,” said Quincy Episcopal Bishop Keith Ackerman, a bishop of the traditionalist Forward in Faith, North America (FIF-NA), which forms a non-geographical convocation in the Network. “Its failure to repent and its willingness to proceed with a business-as-usual mentality has caused conscientious primates to recognize that [ECUSA] has separated itself from mainstream Anglicanism. Those Americans who do not want to be part of a protestant sect as opposed to being a part of a worldwide Communion have to make a decision,” Ackerman told TCC.
“I’m not completely sure what Archbishop Akinola meant,” said Springfield (IL) Episcopal Bishop Peter Beckwith, another prelate aligned with the Network. “If he believes we should all leave now, I would disagree as I think it would be premature. We need to stay at least until after General Convention 2006 and probably until after [the 2008 Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops]—mainly because that was the timetable the Windsor Report established. And though I would have had that timeframe be much less, there is good reason to be patient. On the other hand, I…made a decision a long time ago to go with the ACN. At best, my communion with ECUSA and Frank Griswold and company is impaired. I do not support him or `815’ in any way…
“After ’05 or ’08, if ECUSA chooses to continue to `walk apart,’ I would expect the ACN to be the official Anglican presence in the USA,” Beckwith told TCC. “If Canterbury and/or the primates do nothing in response to ECUSA’s inappropriate action or inaction [at General Convention], I would expect the global South to leave the Anglican Communion. At that point I will have a choice to make, and I believe my decision would be to go with the global South.”
“But just to add another possible significant dimension: What would happen if Rome would offer an Anglican Rite with the same basic polity and theology we have now?” Beckwith asked. “Isn’t it possible God will use this mess for greater unity in His Body?”
In his concluding remarks on Saturday, Bishop Duncan described the overarching theme of the conference as "Choose This Day" (whom you will serve).
"The choice is for Jesus Christ, True God and True Man," he said, as opposed to something less or counterfeit, as he believes ECUSA is offering. The choice is for "truth over accommodation, accountability over autonomy, mission over sullen inaction," Duncan told the gathering of Episcopalians/Anglicans from 77 dioceses and several extramural bodies.
The choice, he said, is one of "sacrifice and self-oblation" and "courage." He asked his listeners if they were willing to abandon their plans and agenda, to give up "homes, relationships, identities and influence" for the sake of "God's plan for us.”
“The plain sense of the archbishop’s words was the old exclusive franchises are no more. A new day is dawning,” Duncan said.