Monday, February 7, 2011

The Anglican Communion Institute: For Whom Do You Speak?

Fr. Dale Matson
I would like to begin by quoting portions of the ACI’s most recent response to the events in Dublin entitled “Dublin Post Mortem” which appears under multiple authors. (

We are left with a grouping—one can no longer say “communion”—of three dozen or so autonomous churches, many of whom are not in communion with others, without any effective Instruments of Communion to bind them together. This is made no less heartbreaking by being the Communion’s obvious trajectory for several years.

This is quite an accurate statement about what has transpired but the last sentence puzzles me because I do not recall before this, that the ACI has stated this “obvious trajectory” conclusion. It seems rather that, until recently they have defended the instruments of unity and the Archbishop of Canterbury steadfastly and criticized those who have not done so. There is still an unwillingness to be directly critical of the ABC for his being manipulative and untrustworthy.

But we can only proceed from where we are. The first task for those who share a Communion ecclesiology is to begin to re-constitute working Instruments of Communion. These will necessarily be provisional at first, but if the Communion is to survive they must evolve into Instruments that actually work to unite the member churches of the Communion.

This statement is confusing. Do they mean here that they would like to see the instruments of unity restored for that is what reconstituted means? Do they think Canterbury Anglicanism can be salvaged? The first task for the Communion is not agreement on ecclesiology. It is more basic than that. A communion must share a common Gospel. It is more a matter of a common faith and less an agreement on structure. We cannot remodel. The Communion must be torn down to the foundation. The cornerstone is Christ. The following statement should be a lesson learned for the Anglican Communion.

If church history, including our own recent experience, teaches anything it is that neither confessions without instruments nor instruments without common faith and order are sufficient to preserve unity.

Finally, I would like to offer a suggestion to the ACI about their structure. On most websites, an organization has a tab called “About Us”. Under this heading the organization usually includes some type of unifying statement of philosophy and history of the association. A philosophy serves as an organizing principle and may also include mission and goal statements. Who do you represent? To whom are you speaking? My own impressions are that the ACI is long on literature review and less so on conclusions and recommendations. There seems to be mixed signals and disagreements emerging among you. Scolding is not visioning. The responses to the ACI articles have been frequently unkind, sometimes unfair and at times accurate on moderate and conservative blogs. First, tell us who you are and who and what you represent. If you are the ACI, let's hear more about a vision for the Anglican Communion. It may be a vision that does not include TEC. Then make peace with us so that we may work together.

1 comment:

Tom Brisson said...

Hard to disagree with any of what you've written.

I hope we can get it back together somehow, even if it means starting over.

A smaller, more cohesive group would be better in many ways.

But we need to speak unequivocally to make a difference, at least on global issues.