In my last posting, one of the characteristics I used to describe the schismatics was this:
They will turn on their "own" in a nanosecond if they think a person has "betrayed" the cause of patriarchy. These events are not pleasant to witness.
Well, darned if they didn't provide a perfect example of this in the last couple of days. I urge you to pay attention to these developments if you care about the future of The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion.
Those of you who have been following the drama "As The Anglican Communion Turns" during the holidays will be aware that a few of the Global South primates announced a conference to be held in Jerusalem prior to Lambeth 2008. It bears the unfortunate acronym of GAFCON, which stands for Global Anglican Future Conference. This is apparently not to be protrayed as the "anti-Lambeth" they threatened to hold, but as a "retreat" to prepare them to take over the Communion.
You think I exaggerate?
All this has been reported on the Episcopal Cafe here.
Please also read the stories that are pointed to in their report.
You will learn that Dr. Michael Poon, described as "a respected voice of the Global Anglican South leadership," asked some questions about the proposed conference. For this, he was promptly slapped down by "a prominate Primate". To quote the Episcopal Cafe, "The trail of editing seems to indicate that the rebuke came from Archbishop Akinola in Nigeria, but was written in large part by an American based bishop connected with CANA (as reported on Thinking Anglicans) Suggestions as to the American bishop's identity include Bishops Minns or Bishop Anderson."
Which led one wag on the Thinking Anglicans site to comment:
Q: How can you tell Martyn Minns is talking?
A: Peter Akinola's lips are moving.
But this really isn't funny at all.
When Dr. Poon posted an expression of his shock and dismay at the rebuke on the Global South [GS] web site, it was promptly removed by the site managers. But Thinking Anglicans had already captured the note and published it for us all to read.
[Keep your hand on your mouse -- this drama is taking place all OVER the Internet.]
Here is part of what Dr. Poon wrote in his response to the rebuke from the GS Primate [I have added emphasis in bold] as posted on Thinking Anglicans:
"In particular, the Primates have commissioned the Theological Formation and Education Task Force to produce a draft of the theological framework for an Anglican catechism. The committee with Primate-representatives from Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, and South East Asia, alongside corresponding members from Northern churches endorsed by the Primates, has been working very closely together (and very hard) for the past year on this project. We have taken great care to produce a unitive and building document for the whole Communion, that it would complement the GSA theological input to the Anglican Covenant processes. We took particular care in defining orthodoxy in the Anglican Communion in the document.
"The 60-page Interim Report Anglican Catechism in Outline (ACIO), with Key Recommendations—that has received unanimous endorsement from all members— has important ramifications for Christian discipleship throughout the Communion. It will be submitted to the GSA Primates very soon. The GSA Primates who went to China in October 2007 saw an earlier draft and have commended on its work in their communiqué. They “urge [their] dioceses to make it available to all strata of leadership in preparation for its formal adoption in the first quarter of 2008”.
"According to agreed plans, it will be released it by mid February 2008, if not earlier, to the whole Communion for feedback. The Final report is due to be released by June 2008. All these plans were agreed by the Primates at least six months ago. The GSA Chair and General Secretary have received the successive drafts and were consulted on all major decisions as the draft was amended and re-crafted.
"The drafting committee met in Singapore from 11 to 14 December 2007, I believe it was in the same week as the Nairobi meeting took place. Archbishop John Chew was with us throughout the meeting and gave us vital leadership. I do not think any of us meeting in Singapore knew about the Nairobi meeting.
"I hope this sets the scene in explaining why I was shocked and saddened by the GAFCON Statement.
"I ask pose your questions gently back to you: Did you and those in Nairobi consult all GSA primates on such an important conference on Anglican future? Could there be better coordination between Global South Anglican initiatives and that of the GAFCON organizers? Are you setting up a new structure (Global Anglican) other than GSA to move the Communion forward? Would you not think given the publicity that GAFCON has attracted (quite aside from my humble questions) as splitting the Communion, how would others in the Communion perceive the ACIO Interim Report that is meant to build up the whole Communion upon the authority of the Holy Scripture when it is released? (Have you seen the document?) Would they not be prone to dismiss it off hand as another radical proposal from the Global South? This would be a great pity and great setback to the good work of the Global South Movement."
Poon's note does many things -- It makes clear that many sincere people are working very hard to bring the Communion to the view of scripture they hold as authoritative. It makes it clear that the right hand often doesn't know what the left hand is doing among the Global South organization. It asks if the GAFCON organizers are setting up a new structure [Global Anglican]. It also makes it clear that the Global South is not only writing the Anglican Covenant that they hope to impose on the entire Communion, they also are writing an Anglican catechism that will further define 'Anglican orthodoxy."
All this should concern anyone who values historic Anglicanism and its unique ability to embrace a wide spectrum of theological interpretations. The clear goal here is to freeze the entire Anglican Communion into a narrow, very conservative interpretation of scripture. This is a posture with which many in the Dioceses of San Joaquin and Fort Worth already are familiar.
Another site the Episcopal Cafe story will point you to is the blog of the Pluralist (Adrian Worsfold), who writes from England. His analysis of the methods of the schismatics is excellent. Here are some excerpts:
"Michael Poon obviously thinks he is talking to open, honest and clear Christians according to expected high standards of behaviour. The slap-down turns that against him."
The Pluralist's point of reference is the activities of Militant Tendency -- an offshoot of the Labour Party -- in Liverpool in the 1980s.
"The revolutionary approach is to tell something of what they are doing, but not all. Let's be clear with eyes open - GAFCON is the launch of a different Anglican Communion. It is not some sort of pastoral initiative for the downtrodden orthodox. That is some chaff for naive people, who expect high standards of honesty and openness. The only other function of these words of underplaying the event is to have a fall back position if they fail in the launch. However, to be clear, GAFCON will connect several African provinces and Sydney, and will set up its own Covenant or equivalent, its own organisation and its own structure. We see that in Akinola's reply to Anis revealed on Virtue Online.
"GAFCON's whole point is to stir it and get things moving, so that others have to follow on. GSA either fall in or get squeezed, as the "liberal evangelicals" are to be squeezed and indeed cut into. GAFCON would like the respectability of other bodies following on, and indeed James I. Packer gives some respectability, but following on means not dictating terms but accepting what already exists. The Militant Tendency always keeps control, no matter what official body (for example, GSA) thinks it is doing when it joins itself to some initiative already set up.
"The other point about Militants is that, actually, they love you to know what they are doing. It could be their weakness. Whilst they have subterfuge, they also want praise for being the people who made the difference. . . .So these Anglican equivalents will let you know what they are doing, leave trails - but they are also careless because of the Militant arrogance of self.
"Understand that it now suits GAFCON for Lambeth 2008 to be more liberal, for the policies announced to be compromised and reversed, and for the whole of Lambeth 2008 to be a mess.
"The reason Michael Poon received such a nasty reply is to be found in understanding the Militant Tendency approach. When friends complain, give them a punching, and they will withdraw hurt, and then come along nicely afterwards. Show your friends who is the boss."
As we enter 2008, those of us in Fort Worth and San Joaquin obviously will be following these developments. But all the rest of you who love The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion need to be staying on top of these developments.
Its not easy or fun, but it comes with loving God with your whole heart, your whole spirit, your whole strength, and your whole mind.