Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Way Forward For Canterbury Anglicanism

Fr. Dale Matson
There is an old saying that poses the question, “Do great men make history or does history make great men”? It is time for a great man to say to God, “Here I am Lord, send me.” (Isaiah 6:8b). Great men are incarnational. They carry within themselves miraculous charisms that when applied to intractable situations provide unexpected remedies.

Canterbury Anglicanism and the Church of England are in crisis and need such a man. The Primates don’t wish for the historical See of Canterbury to fail even though it is inevitable that there will be schism within Anglicanism. The question will be then, “Will the See of Canterbury remain the focal point of 21st Century Anglicanism”? It can remain the center of Anglicanism but Canterbury must represent more than the historical roots of Anglicanism viewed through the blurred lens of contemporary culture. It must represent the heart of the faith also. This is what is missing. Canterbury needs a heart transplant. In order to do this it will depend on the willingness of a great man of God to say, “Enough”. He must be willing to be hated. He must be willing to die.

The current Archbishop of Canterbury and head of the Church of England Rowan Williams has demonstrated that he does not reflect the mind of the communion and is no longer trusted by the Primates that represent the vast majority of Anglicans to defend their orthodoxy. The attendance at the Primates meeting only represents about one third the members of the Anglican Communion. This is essentially a vote of “No confidence” for Rowan Williams. Other leaders such as Pope Benedict XVI have seen the plight of disaffected Anglicans in England and offered refuge via the ordinariate. The danger to the established Church of England is not disestablishment which could untangle it from the politically correct secular government. The danger to the Church of England is that it could be banned because it would not be tolerated by an eventual majority Muslim population. Christianity in England must be robust enough to evangelize Muslims.

The next Archbishop of Canterbury must first heal the rift within his own Church of England. A politically correct appointment will only postpone the current decline but will eventually culminate in England no longer being a Christian nation and will not reconcile the absenting Primates. One need only read the press to see the anger toward the Church of England even by non-Muslims. Neither Christ nor pagans have patience for lukewarm Christianity.

For the sake of both a Christian England and Canterbury Anglicanism Rowan Williams should be asked to step down as the Archbishop of Canterbury. I believe the former Bishop of Rochester the Rt. Rev. Michael Nazir-Ali is the man that God has called to lead the Church of England and the Anglican Communion. He has credibility with the orthodox Primates, knows Islam from the inside, is respected by Pope Benedict and could be the transitional figure for a non-colonial Anglicanism. He has dual citizenship in Britain and Pakistan. His academic credentials are impeccable yet he communicates with uncomplicated clarity unlike Rowan Williams.

Canterbury Anglicanism can be saved and is worth saving. If it is not saved, the Anglican Communion will endure even after schism but England will not survive as a Christian nation. If God has spoken to Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, I pray that he would respond to this call. I have said these things with a heavy heart.

“Almighty God, you proclaim your truth in every age by many voices: Direct, in our time, we pray, those who speak where many listen and write what many read; that they may do their part in making the heart of this people wise, its mind sound and its will righteous; to the honor of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.” (BCP, p. 827).


Katherine said...

Fr. Dale, I think you are right about both Rowan Williams and Michael Nazir-Ali. Unfortunately, appointment to the See of Canterbury is under the political control of the British Parliament and the Church of England bureaucracy, despite recent changes giving more power to the Church in the matter. What you propose is highly unlikely. With God, all things are possible, and we must pray for England and for the Church of England. What God will do is up to Him.

Dale Matson said...

Katherine, I appreciate your comment. It is easy to see this as a purely political decision but this was written as a prayer offered in faith.

Anonymous said...

You are of course, dreaming.

The question will be then, “Will the See of Canterbury remain the focal point of 21st Century Anglicanism”?

That question has already been answered decisively.
GAFCON is the focal point of 21t Century Anglicanism.

England no longer being a Christian nation

England is no longer a "Christian nation" in any accepted sense of the term.

He must be willing to be hated.

Oh its pretty clear Williams is willing to be hated.
And Williams does remain the only Anglican bishop anywhere ever to impose an actual sanction to stop a gay clergyman gaining preference.