Friday, September 27, 2013

Archbishops Welby And Duncan: The Future of Anglicanism Contrasted

Fr. Dale Matson

Recently both Archbishops spoke about the future of Anglicanism. For Archbishop Duncan, the talk was primarily about the future of Anglicans in North America under his leadership.
Archbishop Welby talked about the future of the Anglican Communion under his leadership.

As someone who navigates his way in the wilderness, I set a way point on my GPS at a known location before I begin. This allows me to find my way back as I begin my mission. It is interesting that both ++Welby and ++Duncan use ‘way points’ from which to navigate the future. ++Duncan used Scripture in general and this verse in particular as a means of orienting his pilgrims. “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” (1st Peter 2:9, ESV) This is the ACNA missiology.

++Welby referenced the Lutheran theologian “Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s ideal of the Church as ‘Christ existing as community’ as his guide.” He also pointed to the second paragraph of a 1963 statement of the Toronto Anglican Congress.
The final sentence states, “They prove that the ideas, the pictures we have of one another and of our common life in Christ, are utterly obsolete and irrelevant to our actual situation.” The final paragraph of section IV states, “In substance, what we are really asking is the rebirth of the Anglican Communion, which means the death of many old things but-- infinitely more--the birth of entirely new relationships. We regard this as the essential task before the churches of the Anglican Communion now.”

Is this really the starting point? Is this the context the leader of the Anglican Communion will use to orient; to begin the future? ++Duncan sees things differently. While ++Welby believes that Christ exists as community, ++Duncan would say that the community exists in Christ. “Jesus is the Life, and the Way and the Truth.” In his homily on “How It Holds Together”, He laid a foundation on Jesus Christ. His anthropology was based on church tradition. “We are under the Word of God. Our ancestors wrestled with what it means to be human. We need to pay them heed [my emphasis]. What has happened in 2,000 years matters to us.”

++Welby noted that the issues of the church needed to be examined through the lens of theology, anthropology and ecclesiology. Who is the God we serve? Who are we? What is the church for? He answered the last question by saying that the purpose of the church is growth through reconciliation. He did not answer the former two questions he posed. ++Duncan used the traditions of the church, particularly the creed, to state that the church is “One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic.” ++Duncan’s comment on the work of the church was, “We are converted individuals, multiplying congregations, fueled by the Holy Spirit.”

To be fair, ++Welby’s Skype talk was only about eight minutes but he seems to be reaching for a starting point. For ++Duncan, it was obvious that his starting point was with Jesus Christ. “What holds it [the local church] together? What is our coherence? How would you make sense of us? It all holds together in Jesus Christ.”

++Welby noted, “We have a vocation to bring people together.” ++Duncan noted that we have tools that hold us together. “The Word of God, The Book of Common Prayer (the Bible arranged for worship), our new Catechism” He noted that it is lengthy but that is because we are living in a post Christian society.

It is interesting to me that Archbishop Justin is apologetic to the modern culture about the traditional Anglican world view and Archbishop Robert believes a desperate and pagan society is clamoring for what we have to offer. Both have a similar mission as leaders. ++Welby and ++Duncan want unity. Each is using different way points. One sounds like someone from human resources using reconciliation and one sounds like a bishop using truth.

1 comment:

The Underground Pewster said...

While I insist that ++Duncan do something about those eyebrows lest he freak out the kiddos, the AboC reminds me of the scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz.

Dorothy: Now which way do we go?
Scarecrow: Pardon me, this way is a very nice way.
Dorothy: Who said that?
[Toto barks at scarecrow]
Dorothy: Don't be silly, Toto. Scarecrows don't talk.
Scarecrow: [points other way] It's pleasant down that way, too.
Dorothy: That's funny. Wasn't he pointing the other way?
Scarecrow: [points both ways] Of course, some people do go both ways