Sunday, January 10, 2016

Consolation on the Loss of Communion

Contrary to what you may have read elsewhere, the meeting starting in Canterbury tomorrow is not a meeting of the Anglican Communion. It is not even a meeting of the Primates of the Anglican Communion, because it includes the Most Rev. Foley Beach, primate of the Anglican Church in North America -- and ACNA is not a constituent member of the Anglican Communion.

But it will be a milestone in the demise of that Communion.

In a sense, the times have passed the Anglican Communion by. It is no longer equipped with structures that are able to deal with the circumstances facing Protestant churches in the twenty-first century. The Primates' Meeting, as we see, is being bypassed in favor of a gathering of primates; whether another Lambeth Conference will be called is doubtful; and no one particularly cares whether or not the Anglican Consultative Council continues to meet, because it has lost its constituencies in the debacle over the Anglican Covenant.

In short, the fabric of the Anglican Communion is torn, exactly as predicted by the primates in 2003 before ECUSA took the step which the Communion asked it not to take, and consecrated V. Gene Robinson to the episcopacy. It is useless dreaming to hope that the fabric will ever be mended. The real question is: what, if anything, will succeed the Anglican Communion?

To begin with, it is entirely safe to say that birds of a feather will flock together. ECUSA and the Anglican Church of Canada are joined by apostasy, and will never repent or confess error. Even while being instrumental in its death, they will continue to trumpet their membership in "the Anglican Communion."

Likewise, the GAFCON primates are united by their traditional orthodoxy. ACNA is part of GAFCON, and will continue to be. They, along with a majority of the 38 provinces of the former Anglican Communion, may organize under a different name, but one which still has the descriptor "Anglican" in it. Or they may continue to meet, without either the apostate provinces or the Archbishop of Canterbury, and still consider themselves the true "Anglican Communion." Only time will tell.

The remaining provinces will stay with ECUSA and ACoC, but some only for as long as financial support continues to flow in their direction from those churches. If their overhead and trips to group meetings cannot be subsidized, they will cease to attend.

The big question is: what will the Church of England do? For as long as the Queen of England governs the Church, it will follow the Queen -- but she may not continue to govern it for long. And if Parliament forces the Church to offer same-sex marriages, then the Church will splinter, and parts of it will become disestablished. The Church of England as we know it will (especially under King Charles III) cease to be.

And without a Church of England, how will it be meaningful to speak of an "Anglican" Communion? Churches using derivatives of the Book of Common Prayer may continue to call themselves "Anglican", but as each proceeds to revise its BCP to remove the last vestiges of commonality, the term will lose meaning as a descriptor, and will remain only as a marker of history and origin. Over time, "Anglican" will come to mean about as much as "Accadian" does today.

This is the future the Gene Robinsons and Mary Glasspools of the church have ordained for us. For them and their identities, it is simply a matter of justice -- that is to say, full equality of treatment and opportunity.

But what does the larger picture tell us? Full equality, to be sure -- but at what cost to the Anglican Communion, if full equality entails its extinction? Does that not point to the heresy that was the Communion's undoing?

To those who would say "Better that the Communion perish, than that it perpetuate inequality and injustice", I respond: "What you call 'inequality' is a confusion of categories -- it is true that apples are not the 'equal' of oranges, and that only oranges may make orange juice. God, not man, made oranges that way. Likewise, the inability of apples to make orange juice is not a form of 'injustice.'

"Scripture makes it clear that a bishop is to be 'the husband of one wife,' and those terms do not admit of your modern redefinition of them, any more than an apple can be said to be an orange. Throw out Scripture, and you have doomed the Church to extinction. So your demand for 'full equality' is really a demand to throw out Scripture, and hence to wreck the Church. And I would say that thus far, you have been doing a pretty good job of it.

"If you had been content to be a sinner among all other Christian sinners, the Church could have continued to do what it was meant to do: to show God's love and forgiveness for all sinners -- so long as they repent and try to keep from further sin. But you wanted more. You demanded that, in the name of equality, the Church bless your sin and perpetuate it -- and in the process, blaspheme our Lord. The Church that agrees to do that seals its own fate, as we are witnessing this very day."

For ECUSA and its followers, the Church's continuation has become inextricably intertwined with their identities, so the above line of argument (or anything similar said to them by the GAFCON primates) will not cause them to repent or even change course. That means that, as surely as the sun will rise tomorrow over Canterbury, so it will soon set on the breakup of the Anglican Communion.

At the risk of misplacing the object of my worship, I may still turn to Shakespeare's Sonnet LXXIII for consolation:

That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruin'd choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou seest the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west,
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death's second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see'st the glowing of such fire
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed whereon it must expire
Consumed with that which it was nourish'd by.
This thou perceivest, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.


  1. As we have seen, TEC can do whatever it wants, even things which are specifically forbidden under its bylaws. When it doesn't want to do something, it invokes the General Convention card. The PB says s/he can't possibly sign or commit TEC to such an action; only the GC can do that. I have my own ideas, but I wonder if GAFCON has a plan in mind to counter the usual ploy?

  2. The Anglican Communion is broken down,
    broken down, broken down,
    The Anglican Communion is broken down
    Over the gay thingy

    1. A sad smile and a bit of a chuckle. All good humour is based upon truth.

  3. My dear Curmudgeon, your loss grieves me. As I suspect you may be aware, my wife and I were received into the Catholic Church in 2009, at a Dominican Parish in Seattle's University District. Since that happening we have relocated to San Antonio, TX, partly for economic reasons, but also because San Antonio is the home of the founding parish of the Anglican Use Rite in the Roman Catholic Church in the USA,( We are enrolled at that parish. Should you find yourself in proximity to any of the Anglican Use parishes, I commend them to you. Failing that I shall keep you and family in my prayers that God will lead you to a fully faithful parish.

    Pax et bonum, Keith Töpfer

    1. Might that parish be one that uses the 1928 BCP?

    2. David, The Anglican Use parishes in the U.S. are part of the Catholic Church, who are now being combined into the Ordinariate established by Pope Benedict XVI as the realization of Anglicanorum Coetibus. Although their liturgy does use substantial portions of the language of the 1928 BCP (Prayer of Humble Access, Post Communion Prayeret al, because the Anglican Use liturgy is only recently introduced under the guidance of the appropriate dicastery (IIRC that would be the Congregation for Divine Worship) so there may be some slight differences which I have not yet recognized. However, I can attest to the unchanged inclusion of the Confession of Sin from Holy Eucharist I, and the Comfortable words. I will attempt to obtain a copy of the full text of the Eucharistic liturgy and transcribe it, either here in a comment or on a separate web page that I will establish for that purpose.

      Pax et bonum,
      Keith Töpfer

  4. Dude, you just throwed some heavy prose! It matched well the reality of the destruction wrought by those that demand no sin where sin is Doctored.

    1. Precisely. Churches, especially Orthodox, used to be, and should be considered Hospitals for the Soul. We are all ill.

  5. I Corinthians 10:21 : Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of devils; ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table and the table of devils." KJV That table of devils is most certainly the worship at the Baal / Ashtoreth altars. This strong word of warning is given for our instruction , to bring us to repentance and to the true Faith in a loving God who sets for us the standard of holiness whereby we must adhere to, if we so wish to commune with our Lord Jesus Christ at His Holy Marriage Table in a Holy heaven.

  6. Jocelin of Furness, a contemporary of Saint Aelred, gives the following account of the saintly abbot in his Life of St Waldef:

    “He was a man of fine old English stock. He left school early and was brought up from boyhood in the court of King David with Henry, the king’s son, and Waldef. In the course of time he became a monk, afterwards abbot of Rievaulx. His school learning was slight, but as a result of careful discipline in the exercise of his acute natural powers, he was cultured above many who had been thoroughly trained in secular learning. He drilled himself in the study of the Holy Scripture and left a lasting memorial behind him in writings distinguished by their lucid style, and wealth of edifying instruction, for he was wholly inspired by a spirit of wisdom and understanding. Moreover, he was a man of the highest integrity, of great practical wisdom, witty and eloquent, a pleasant companion, generous and discreet. And, with all these qualities he exceeded all his fellow prelates of the Church in his patience.

    This just reminded me of Pope Jon of Lost Angels!
    How the mighty have fallen.
    Jim of Olym
    How can a person steal the bank accounts of a parish under him unless he is a thief? He should be in jail!

  7. One necessarily shudders at the mere mention of the name of HH Charles, Prince of Wales, especially when it is realised that the prince might well outlive his mother. Being HRH King Charles III would allow someone who is making a shambles of the monarchy to also humanely put the Church of England and the wisp of the last glowing coal of the Anglican Communion as it was known "to sleep".
    What a horrid thought to have that poor, dull slug sit on any throne save for one that might be involved with plumbing. My understanding is that there is quite a successful play with the title "Charles III". It is something like "West Wing" (I've never watched it") I understand, but much more complex. It is based upon probable intrigues involving the Royal Family, Parliament, and other English/British quirkiness when the time comes after HRH Elizabeth's departure.