No one cares what the Anglican Communion Council is doing, ever since the debacle that was ACC-14 showed how it was so easily misled as a group. (The definitive critique of the ACC's inherent inability to represent the "Communion" as a whole remains this post.) They have now announced that ACC-15 will convene in 2012 in Auckland, New Zealand, but reactions to the current meeting have ranged from "Irrelevant!" to "What Do they Think We Are" to "Not One Dime for Support." I would say that the Anglican Communion Council has talked (indabaed) its way into obscurity -- which is shown by the most recent news that, before making any unsettling recommendations (pace, Fr. Harris -- that's all the SC can do, is make recommendations), its "Standing Committee" will wait for the results of the continuing indaba discussions to be held in various quarters across the "Communion". Those discussions, of course, are being designed so as minimize and deflect the "divisive content" of hard scriptural passages such as Romans 1:24-27 and 1 Corinthians 5:1-13.
Once, when we had spent four days in Venice, and were leaving on the train to return to mainland Italy, I explained to my seven-year-old daughter that if she ever returned to Venice as an adult, it might not be the same as she had seen it on this visit -- and indeed, that unless smart people found a way to stop it from sinking into the Adriatic, Venice might not be there altogether. Her response was classic. Looking back at the diminishing skyline of Venice, she said: "Ah, Venice is sinking. Well, X-off Venice." Mutatis mutandis, we now could say: "Ah, the Anglican Communion is sinking. Well, X-off the Anglican Communion."
And indeed, why should anyone any longer care? The Anglican Communion has devolved from a State-church led union of national churches, sharing common doctrine and worship, into a cacophony of scattered voices, the loudest of which proclaim "doctrine" which would make Archbishop Cranmer despair that his own noble witness to the Anglican cause (as it then was) had been utterly in vain. As others have observed, there is today no longer a "Communion", but a "Dysunion."
The-Communion-that-was has, through its Orwellian-named "Instruments of Unity", given up the Geist to the Zeitgeist. There can be no turning back, but only a continued devolution, because the Zeitgeist is defined by the Zeit, and not by the Geist -- Heilige or otherwise. (For the non-German-reading visitors, "geist" means "ghost", "zeit" means "time", or "age", and "Heilige Geist" is the "Holy Spirit".) The tragedy of our age is that the nominal leader of the "Anglican Communion", one of the most brilliant theologians in the Church, has thus far been incapable of resisting the invasions of the Zeitgeist. This age calls, sadly, not so much for a ++Rowan Williams, as a ++Thomas Cranmer, who well knew -- and superbly emulated, in his liturgies for the Book of Common Prayer -- that tradition to which he recognized his Church was indebted.
There will be today no dramatic burnings at the stake, for witnessing to either truth or lies. Instead, the Anglican Consultative Council, once a more or less democratic institution that is now replaced in legal function by its undemocratic "Standing Committee", will become a largely irrelevant group of member-trustees who are alien to the least sort of risk (financial or evangelical), whose days will be occupied in reviewing summaries of indaba groups, and in affirming meaningless and toothless resolutions. The aforesaid "Standing Committee" will morph into a conveniently newsworthy synecdoche for the Communion itself -- which is to say that all the relevant news about the "Anglican Communion" will soon be encapsulated in reports of the Committee's comings and goings. And people will very soon forget that there is any kind of parent organization. The word "Anglican" itself will cease to have any referent, and the word "Communion" has already become an oxymoron.
There will be a significant vacuum thus created: what will fill it? Turn your eyes to the Global South and its leaders. There is a new "Communion" aborning in the wings -- the communion of all those whom ECUSA has marginalized, rejected, and calumniated, and to whom +Cantuar, by failing to lend it sufficient support, has become functionally obsolete. That new Communion will define future Christianity within the Anglican tradition, while ECUSA and its supporters will just as plainly define the "Church of Me", or what should be termed "Egonanity." Egonanity (or maybe it should just be "i-nanity") will compete with Global South-led Christianity, and the former will atrophy as the latter flourishes.
There is no mystery to this: it has been ever thus since the days of the Apostles. The Gnostics, the Arians, the Nestorians, the Marcionites -- they have all flourished in their time, and then succumbed to their own in-directedness. That is to say, instead of relying upon an eternal God to whom they submit themselves in the faith of Christ, and from whom they draw the sustenance of the Holy Spirit, the various heresies of the past depended primarily on the resources which they themselves brought to the fray -- and as history repeatedly has demonstrated, those resources do not last. (These are the limitations of the Zeitgeist again on display. It can do nothing other than appeal to the resources of its own age from which it springs and sustains itself -- for a while.)
Today we are engaged in seeing whether a new heresy -- the heresy that declares equal all forms of creaturely love -- can long endure. The outcome of the conflict cannot be in doubt, although the endpoint is yet blurred and indistinct. What Saint Paul warned Christians about so long ago was not a temporary phenomenon, peculiar to that age. The one who claims so is the Zeitgeist speaking, and not the Heilige Geist. How can I be sure? The answer is simple: Paul was delivering a message that had been revealed to him, and on which he staked his own life. If you think that Paul spoke only to his contemporaries, then you are making Paul a servant of the Zeitgeist, and not of the Heilige Geist. And you thereby marginalize Paul for all subsequent believers, which is to deny the timeless essence of Christianity.
No, there is no passage in the New Testament which records Jesus explicitly condemning same-sex acts. To grant that fact, however, is not to succumb to the message of the Zeitgeist. To the contrary -- if you deny or attempt to marginalize Paul's testimony, by arguing it was addressed only to his contemporaries, you take it upon yourself to transform Paul from a founder of Christianity into just a first-century interpreter of its timeless message. And with that transformation, you have transformed the timelessness of the message into the current Zeitgeist, which privileges itself to decide anew, in each age, the fraction of the original message which it will take to heart as true.
I thus declare an anathema upon the Zeitgeist. No longer will its anemic representations of the human spirit be sympathetically received or entertained on these pages, except only for the purpose of contrasting and exposing its follies with the acid of truth. I am done with trying to convince, through reason and logical argument, those whom it misleads. A good example is the best sermon. That means speaking the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth -- so help me God.
Honi soit qui mal y pense.