Venables on why Lambeth is becoming an irrelevance
In what might be an unprecedented discussion, an Anglican Primate has been blogging with a number of bloggers on attendance or non-attendance at the Lambeth Conference. Archbishop Venables (++GV) was at home in Buenos Aires with grandchildren crawling over him while discussing with bloggers on Stand Firm. His major contributions are found here. The thread can be found here:
++GV says: You seem to have laid out several examples of why Lambeth attendance is imperative. If the game is still afoot and the possibilities that you have described are still in play, is there not an obligation for the orthodox to endeavor to bring these things about? Don’t these possibilities simply dwarf even the best possible outcomes of every HOB, GC and Primates Meeting to date?” If you really believe it crucial that key orthodox primates attend Lambeth please pray seriously because there is pretty well no possibility at present
Having given much time and energy to the debate and seen how little things have changed they are now getting on with the mission of the church where they are. Hence the silence from several for some months now and the planning of the conference in the Middle East next June. Lambeth is no longer a priority whereas the gospel is. Canterbury and the western leadership believe we still are part of one body and just need to find out how to live with that and that’s why there is talk of professionally facilitated dialogue.
Contributor: We are not of one mind about whether the inside or outside strategy is the right one…
++GV: which is why we have made such an effort to provide alternatives for the moment.
Don’t be under any illusion, the liberal agenda is after the communion franchise and since, as I said above, the western leadership believes we are part of the same body albeit in disagreement, they are well on the way to gaining it especially given that the non western leadership has pretty well given up on Lambeth and is concentrating on the mission.
GAFCON is not an abandonment of Lambeth. It allows for both sides and those perhaps still undecided. But yes, some have clearly given up on Lambeth, hence the request for prayer.
Contributor: I continue to maintain the position that TEC’s attendance at Canterbury would essentially end any hope of final discipline until 2018 even if a very strong covenant is passed and ratified. Unless and until something is done about the power of invitation, TEC will retain a legitimate claim to membership until such time as they are disinvited to the councils of the communion by the TEC. Since they have been invited to this council, then it is already a loss and defeat. TEC remains a full constituent member until the next council. Nothing that occurs there can change that except perhaps a Canterbury sanctioned expulsion (a majority of bishops is not enough, it must be canterbury and since he has already made his decision with regard to Lambeth there is little or no chance of that happening). So, no I do not think it imperative to be at Lambeth. As ++Venables said, Lambeth is no longer the priority. It is good if your bishops go. It is good if they do not. I hope most GS bishops do not go for reasons expressed above, but I know that many will.
++GV: Thanks. That’s exactly it!
It’s not a case of walking off cheerfully – that is no way the case and a mockery of the heartsearching that has gone on. It’s just that there is no more trust in the Anglican system.
The absence of trust in the Communion is the fruit of our experience. Also, the consciousness that this is a western driven agenda which is paternalistic and has little if any understanding of other cultural styles.
The problem is there have been too many ” just this once” occasions.
There is a disillusionment with the system and Canterbury, born of experience and interpreted as betrayal and a not very subtle paternalism. Therefore several have decided that it’s no longer worth going down that road. There is no alternative plan other than the discerning of God’s will. Neither is there a group identity other than being brethren (or whatever that is in politically correct language) either to make this decision or to act together afterwards. The Global South has no defined membership. Yet being God’s people we know he is guiding us even if we have no real sense of what that might mean in the future. Part of our problem has been to do with well-intentioned westerners trying to help us with a western agenda.
Contributor: Is there any action that could be taken at this point by the Archbishop of Canterbury or others that would change the minds of those who have decided not to attend Lambeth
++GV Little is expected from that quarter since so far it’s been disappointing. There is no more trust, a sense of betrayal and a sadness at the paternalistic tone to everything. There is no desire to resign membership of the Anglican Communion or to walk away but simply a sense that Lambeth will be more of the same and therefore not worthwhile. Non attendance at Lambeth cannot be taken as resigning. I share your pain re the implications but it will be difficult to change the decision, which was taken long before all the recent things had been written or said.