A S Haley-Analysis of the State of Play headed into the Meeting of Anglican Primates in January 2016

notice how similar the final outcomes of all of the last three scenarios are. The UK charity that represents the “Anglican Communion” as such will remain in place, because it is a perpetual corporation, and it is under the more-or-less permanent control of the minority revisionist provinces. The Archbishop of Canterbury is the legal head of that charity, and so will remain in formal relation with it, no matter what the majority of Anglican provinces decide to do. And since that majority will decline to play any part in an organization in which the revisionist minority are also members, they will also have to organize as a new entity, regardless of what the revisionists do (short of repenting, which will never happen).

I conclude from this analysis that the Anglican Communion is almost certainly headed for a formally divided future — one that reflects in fact the pro forma division which has been in existence ever since the Windsor Report and Dar-es-Salaam. Whether or not it remains a single but two-tiered entity, or becomes two entirely separate organizations (the old one, controlled by the minority, and a new one formed by the majority), will be up to the GAFCON / Global South Primates and how much they value an ongoing relationship with Canterbury. And that outcome will probably be determined by how well Archbishop Welby manages the first few hours of the meeting next January.

Either way, it looks like it is curtains for your Curmudgeon. Just as I am done with ECUSA, I will not have anything to do with an ongoing Anglican entity which allows ECUSA — in all its blasphemous ugliness — to be a member. And as I mentioned, if the minority retains the legal right to the control of the British charitable corporation, the new organization will probably not even call itself “Anglican.” I may not even bother to cover the demise, if it follows the most likely path sketched above. But stay tuned for a while longer, because the whole scenario is in God’s good hands.

Read it all.


Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary, --Justin Welby, Anglican Primates, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Global South Churches & Primates, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

29 comments on “A S Haley-Analysis of the State of Play headed into the Meeting of Anglican Primates in January 2016

  1. Luke says:

    From Haley: “(2.) c. In response to the GAFCON Primates demand (see 2.a above), Archbishop Welby refuses so to discipline the renegade provinces. The gathering will then definitely split up, and [i] the majority of the provinces present will depart for home.[/i] Those remaining (the twelve or so provinces described in 2.b. above) will continue to meet, and may meet as often as they wish in the future, but without the majority of provinces ever again attending. The minority will claim control of the organs of the Anglican Communion, and so will keep that name. The majority will organize under a new structure, with a modified name. Whether they will maintain any kind of relationship with the see of Canterbury is extremely doubtful, in my opinion — what would be the point, once he made it clear that he would not do what they asked?

    See italicized phrase above: This is what ACNA’s leader told me directly last week.

  2. Geofrey says:

    This is great analysis. Too bad it vanished from Stand Firm.

  3. Katherine says:

    #1, that’s the most likely outcome, and I am very happy to learn that is what is intended.

  4. cseitz says:

    When one is in the majority, better to stay. “All those who wish a Communion with accountability and historical continuity, join us in Room A.” Let others decline in the name of their own conception.

  5. New Reformation Advocate says:

    I agree that Counselor Haley’s analysis is incisive and cogent. And I’d agree also with Luke and Katherine that the most likely outcome, the orthodox primates walking out, is actually not a bad thing (contra Dr. Seitz). Whether you regard such a parting of the ways as discouraging or not depends on your overall perspective.

    I would agree that it is tragic, but I’d also argue that it is, and long has been, inevitable, given the stubborn intransigence of our unrepentatnt heretical and schismatic foes, who have been duped into believing a false gospel by the Father of Lies. As we are on the verge of the 498th anniversary of Luther posting his famous 95 theses on the Wittemburg church door, let me again call attention to the apt phrase of the late, great Jaroslav Pelikan. His pithy assessment of the (original) Protestant Reformation was that it came down to being “a tragic necessity.” Far more tragic than most Protestants are willing to concede, and also far more necessary than most Catholics are willing to concede. I’d say that the same applies in our day, with the breakup of the Anglican world.

    However, I once again suggest that we need to start distinguishing much more clearly between “the Anglican Communion” and Anglicanism. The two are no longer even close to synonymous.

    The handwriting has been on the wall for years now. “The Anglican Communion” has been torn apart by the reckless actions of our unrepentant foes, who are caught in the grip of powerful cultural currents they are powerless to resist, since their embrace of theological and moral relativism leaves them captive to the Zeitgeist. But the demise of the old institutional wineskins of Anglicanism by no means spells the end of Prayerbook religion. Anglicanism is in many ways flourishing as never before, despite the defection of countless former Anglicans in the Global North.

    I trust the orthodox primates will stand firm and stop playing the useless games that ++Rowan Williams and now ++Justin Welby have been foisting on the global Anglican leadership for years. Oil and water simply don’t mix. Never have and never will.

    But if you thought that the fight over brand identity was fierce in SC when it came to retaining the name of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, I think that the fight over who gets to claim the title deeds to Anglicanism will make that fight look like a small and short-lived skirmish in comparison.

    FWIW, here are a few thoughts on that score.
    1. It is absolutely essential that we on the orthodox side not concede that our liberal foes have any legitimate claim to being true Anglicans. They are not only pseudo-Anglicans, but they are pseudo-Christians.

    2. However, Haley is right that the very term “Anglican” is now increasingly tainted and misleading in a global fellowship of Christians whose roots may historically lie in the CoE, but who are no longer dependent on any links to the English establishment today. It is high time to put to death some of the remaining Colonialist habits that still persist. Prayerbook religion has been successfully transplanted in Africa, SE Asia, and other places where it thrives among people who don’t use English as their native tongue, and who no longer imagine that English culture is superior to their own. The lingering English cultural sensibilities in the Anglican world are fading away, like the Cheshire Cat that Haley aptly invoked as a parallel. In that sense, I myself wouldn’t mind giving up the name “Anglican” as it has become quite misleading, as long as our foes are denied the name.

    3. There will have to be a complete re-organization of orthodox prayerbook religion at the global level. That may take a long time, for such things tend to evolve slowly. But the GAFCON/GFCA movement already shows the potential that exists for forging a wholly new style of Anglican inter-provincial relations that is squarely based on agreement on core doctrine, and not merely on common liturgy or common polity structures. But ++Rob Duncan was absolutely right in insisting, as he did many times, that the venerable old Elizabethan Settlement is defunct and moribund. It will have to be replaced (not just renewed or reformed but replaced). Above all, this is due to the obsolete Erastian and Constantinian roots of the CoE that allowed Queen Elizabeth to call the shots back in 1558 and following. It will take something like the Constitutional Convention by which the Episcopal Church was re-organized in 1789, and the similar founding convention by which the ACNA was organized in 2009, for global Anglicanism to come up with a new Settlement that owes nothing whatsoever to the English monarch, to Parliament, or to English nationalism at all. Potent new wine demands new institutional wineskins. Trying to patch up the old wineskins only leads to disaster, as our Lord warned us (Mark 2:22).

    The fight over the title to the Anglican name and legacy has only begun. And the sordid legal battles and rank bitterness we’ve seen in the USA as TEC has sought to pretend that it has exclusive rights to the Anglican franchise in the US is only a warm-up to the real civil war that is about to begin in earnest in England and elsewhere. If you think things got nasty in SC, just wait. Things are going to get even nastier in England, I’ll bet.

    But unlike the admirable Mr. Haley, I’m not discouraged by all this. Yes, the old Anglican Communion is virtually dead, but Anglicanism, as an ism, as a distinctive Protestant-Catholic hybrid, is very much alive and well. Indeed, as I see it, the New Reformation has barely begun. January’s gathering of primates may well be the last of its kind. But the best days of prayerbook religion are still to come.

    David Handy+
    Eternal optimist

  6. cseitz says:

    Why would the majority Primatial bloc, representative of the largest proportion of Anglicans, leave their own meeting? Let them declare the terms.

  7. Katherine says:

    They can declare their own terms as to their participation in any meetings they choose to attend, and as to their communion or not communion with anyone. As Mr. Haley points out, they will not be in control of the “official” ACO and ACC unless the Archbishop of Canterbury agrees to their terms. This would mean, I suppose, that the ABC could continue to operate those fairly useless groups if he so chooses, but that the majority of Anglicans would simply ignore them.

  8. MichaelA says:

    I agree its good analysis, and the sort of thing that is needed in the Anglican Communion. Thanks Curmudgeon for hosting a discussion on this topic.

    Re this:
    [blockquote] “(The Archbishop of Canterbury cannot legally operate the formal mechanisms of the British charitable corporation called “the Anglican Consultative Council” — with its corresponding role in the Anglican Communion — without them, however, and so he will most likely stay in a formal relation with them through that body.)”[/blockquote]
    There is a rather subtle error in this passage – let me explain: The ACC became a registered British charitable corporation in 2010. That means that it is entirely responsible for the administration of its own internal finances and affairs. But it is important to note that that status doesn’t grant it any power or role in “the Anglican Communion. The AC is an unregistered, unincorporated entity. Insofar as it has any organs, they are what its members have previously decided they are, e.g. via Lambeth Conference, and they are probably not binding on them (i.e. most unlikely that a court would intervene in a dispute about its membership). Converting the ACC into an incorporated charity didn’t change its status in regard to the AC.

    In other words, if the orthodox Primates want to continue claiming that they are the real Anglican Communion, they may do so. The legal status of the ACC makes no difference to that.

    It means the orthodox Primates can also assert that ACNA is now a member of the AC if they wish. The only legal status of the member list held by the ACC is it indicates who are the member-trustees of that particular charity.
    [blockquote] “The UK charity that represents the “Anglican Communion” as such will remain in place, because it is a perpetual corporation, and it is under the more-or-less permanent control of the minority revisionist provinces. … And since that majority will decline to play any part in an organization in which the revisionist minority are also members, they will also have to organize as a new entity, regardless of what the revisionists do (short of repenting, which will never happen).” [/blockquote]
    I don;t think they do need to organise as a new entity, because the Anglican Communion has never been either registered or incorporated. The ACC is a registered and incorporated charity called “the Anglican Communion Council”. Its internal affairs are regulated by its own governance rules which are created in accordance with UK laws on charities, but that doesn’t of itself give it any status vis-a-vis the Anglican Communion.

  9. MichaelA says:

    [blockquote] “The minority will claim control of the organs of the Anglican Communion, and so will keep that name.” [/blockquote]
    How? “Claiming” doesn’t give any legal rights to a name. If they want to register it as a business name or a trade mark, they can try, but they will face all sorts of legal hurdles trying to do that (a) because those systems are designed to protect trading names which this clearly isn’t, and (b) because of a long history of prior usage by many entities.

    And what legally are “the organs of the Anglican Communion” anyway? They certainly aren’t anything recognised under the law of incorporated associations and its very hard to pin down what they are under the law of unincorporated associations either. For example, the Archbishop of Canterbury has a clear legal status in relation to the Church of England, but none that I can think of in relation to “the Anglican Communion”.

    I could just as easily claim ownership of the name “the Christian Church”. But it won’t mean anything.
    [blockquote] “The majority will organize under a new structure, with a modified name.” [/blockquote]
    Sure, they can if they want. Why do they need to?

  10. MichaelA says:

    [blockquote] “But ++Rob Duncan was absolutely right in insisting, as he did many times, that the venerable old Elizabethan Settlement is defunct and moribund. It will have to be replaced (not just renewed or reformed but replaced).” [/blockquote]
    Fr Handy, there is a lot of sense in that, but in the context of the current discussion, I question how applicable it is. That is, if we are talking on the level of worldwide Anglican relations – I just would have thought that the fact that each constituent province is legally independent from all the others, rather takes away any effect analogous to the Elizabethan Settlement?

    On the other hand, if we look at the national level rather than the international level, I agree that the ES is alive and well in many ways in England. Arguably, it is so bound up with the legal status of the CofE that it may never be possible to completely eradicate it (although someone with more knowledge of English constitutional than I might consider that it is).

  11. pendennis88 says:

    Re: comments nos. 4 and 6, if past (Dromantine, Dar es Salaam) is prologue the ABC will try his best to avoid setting up an occasion for the global south primates to have any input other than on tangential matters (climate change, perhaps). He may hope to claim everyone was together for the important part of the meeting, declare it “Mission Accomplished”, and then let the orthodox walk out only at the end when he can claim the meeting was over anyway. And recalling the Kingston ACC debacle, the ABC may simply try to run roughshod with procedure over the colonials. Who knows if he would even offer them another meeting room? It seems not unlikely the orthodox primates would have to practically force the microphone from his hands with the first minute in order to accomplish anything they want to accomplish, and if that is necessary, walking out instead might well be the better solution. After all, it is not as if they do not meet independently periodically already.

  12. jamesw says:

    Mr. Haley,

    I would agree with the spirit of most of what you have written. I have two quibbles.

    First would be with this statement “The majority will organize under a new structure, with a modified name. Whether they will maintain any kind of relationship with the see of Canterbury is extremely doubtful, in my opinion—what would be the point, once he made it clear that he would not do what they asked?”

    I doubt very much that the Global South primates would take any direct action to formally leave the Anglican Communion. I think that if option 2c happens, we will revert to a more determined pursuit of the current options – that is, the Global South primates ignoring the formal AC structures, while pursuing their own structures but with closing some of the doors with the liberal provinces (e.g., those doors which allow the liberal provinces to export their heretical ideas).

    Second would be with the statement “His goal will be to work out the terms for a “two-tiered” Communion, with the one tier consisting of those not in communion with ECUSA or the ACoC, and other tier consisting of the remaining provinces.” I know that this is a fairly commonly supposition, but I don’t see where the advantage is to the ABC for even raising this up, given the other considerations at play. We see clear evidence that Welby has given David Porter the job to broker some acceptance of same-sex relationships into the CofE on a more official footing. We also know that the liberal provinces have shown no evidence that they will back track. A two-tier communion has (as you mention) only two options – one is for the ABC to align with the Global South as the primary tier, and the other is for the ABC to align with the liberal provinces as the primary tier. The latter option is the current status quo. For Welby to align primarily with the Global South would require him to do a complete turn around on his Porter plan, which I just don’t see. And that leaves for the ABC to stay primarily aligned with the liberal provinces, and that outcome will only upset the Global South, leading them to put greater distance between them and the ABC. And so my question is – why would Welby initiate this meeting if the ONLY reasonable outcome is a less advantageous version of the status quo?

    There has to be another goal on Welby’s part. I think that the two-tier Communion concept is smoke and mirrors. I think that Welby fully understands that there can be no resolution at this point, and thus he has no intention of pursuing that. What Welby could conceivably buy himself is more time. This is exactly the strategy pursued by Rowan Williams and the ACO. Why time? Welby knows that the trajectory of the Anglican Communion is to split between the liberal provinces and the Global South. Welby knows that both he and the CofE are going to align with the liberal provinces (again the evidence for this David Porter). Welby knows that when both his and the CofE’s alignment with the liberal provinces becomes clear, the Global South will become much more open to supporting an ACNA-like jurisdiction in England, which would do serious damage to the CofE.

    I think that Welby also knows that the greatest risk to the CofE will be right when the changes actually happen. If there is a way to delay any action for a year or two (think boil the frog slowly), the danger of an ACNA-like jurisdiction in England declines. And so from a political perspective, there is a very real advantage that Welby can gain from buying time.

    Buying time would fall under option 2d above. I think that Welby will need to have a credible plan to “buy time.” Enter his already existing “reconciliation” concept; his teasing with ACNA recognition; the new TEC primate who is no longer afraid to say “Jesus”. And so, I think that a few avenues are clear. One will be to showcase Michael Curry as someone who might have “different theologies for his context” but someone who is reasonable and nice. Another will be vague promises or hints of possible recognition of the ACNA but these promises of POSSIBLE recognition will be tied to everyone “playing nice” and working towards “reconciliation.” And the last will be the idea of “reconciliation”, and this will be pitched as a “process” and I am sure that the tiered communion concept will play in here.

    So I think that Welby’s plan will be to offer some sort of “Plan” to study the possibility of reconciliation which will include the concept of a two-tiered communion and possible recognition of the ACNA in some capacity. That will be the goodies. The cost will be that Welby will insist that during the process, there will be some principles of reconciliation that will require that everyone must work within the jurisdictions that they are in now and that those jurisdictions must be respected. That’s my guess.

  13. Robert Atkins says:

    I tend to agree with Professor Seitz that there is no reason for the Global South Primates to walk away from any meeting in which they would appear to be in the majority. In fact, my understanding is that Cantaur asked them to submit items for the agenda of the meeting. Presumably, if they were wise, they will have at least included an “AOB” which would allow them to propose, second and pass any motion that they want.

    I think the concept of a two-tier Communion is probably a non-starter, since, based on numbers, the primary tier is probably not going to be the one aligned with the ABC, at least not as long as he remains head of the Church of England which is clearly going down the same road as the rest of the western churches.

    The word “Communion” is obviously a major stumbling block. Short of repentance of the western churches, which is clearly not going to happen, there can be no Communion between the “proposed” two tiers.

    On the other hand, I do see the possibility of a reformation of the Anglicans along similar lines to that which occurred when the British Empire evolved into the British Commonwealth; an alignment of nations which had individual autonomy, but accepted historical ties to a titular head (the Queen of England) who had no specific authority over any of them.

    I think Canterbury, through it’s association with Thomas a Becket and associated pilgrimages, could lay a reasonable claim to be an historic Anglican site that all Anglicans might accept as a shrine to their faith.

    So the Primates could vote to recast the Anglican Communion as an Association/Federation/League of churches with historical ties which share communion on an individual basis. And if the ABC wanted to remain titular head of such an association, he could disassociate himself from the Church of England by transferring primatial power for the whole of England to Ebor.

    Of course, the probability that any of this would actually happen is close to zero.

  14. MichaelA says:

    “which share communion on an individual basis.”

    Robert Atkins, I think that is what Cantuar wants. Whilst I can’t put my finger on it right now, I am sure he or one of his close confidantes has proposed just that, recently.

    “And if the ABC wanted to remain titular head of such an association, he could disassociate himself from the Church of England by transferring primatial power for the whole of England to Ebor.”

    Would that have the desired effect? If the object is to distance him from matters in the Church of England that offend the orthodox, then the problem is that he wears two hats: He is Primate of All England, and he is also Metropolitan Archbishop of the Province of Canterbury. So even if he cedes being Primate of All England to York, he remains directly in control of (and therefore responsible for) the operations of 30 dioceses out of 42 dioceses in England.

  15. tired says:

    [13] I’ve been speculating along similar lines. An association of Anglicans that does not implicate communion would solve some problems for the ABC. The determination of communion on a provincial basis (or even sub-provincial, in some cases) merely accords with the current practice and state of the communion. I’m not even certain that membership within the association would require communion with the ABC.

    It would be a sorry accommodation to sinfulness and false teaching – one that would reflect the unfaithfulness of the ABC. However, it would nominally appear to achieve a form of ‘unity.’

  16. Robert Atkins says:

    MichaelA, you bring up a good practical point, but I was assuming that in order to make this work, Cantaur would have to set Canterbury apart. He would need to transfer all the other dioceses to York and cease to have day to day control over Church of England matters, in the same way that the Queen has no direct control over day to day governance of England.

    From a practical point of view, in order to preserve historical ties to as many provinces as possible, Canterbury would probably need to present the most orthodox front it can, preferably with a return to the 1662 prayer book (or earlier).

    However, I doubt Cantaur would be willing to go this far.

  17. Publius says:

    Mr. Haly’s analysis is superb. Let me offer a possible option 2(e), which combines elements of comments 6, 12, 13, 14, and 15.

    The ABC proposes to restructure the Communion as two groups of provinces. The provinces within each group would be in communion with Canterbury, but not necessarily with the provinces in the other group. There will be no instruments of communion common to both groups. So there will be no Primates meetings, nor Lambeth conferences, nor meetings of an ACC, attended by representatives of all the provinces. Instead, each group will be free to establish whatever instruments of communion it likes. There will be no “tiers”, no “inner” tier nor “outer” tier, within the Communion. Instead, there would be groups of Provinces, each of which stands in equal “standing” relative to the ABC. The members of each group would be in communion with each other, but each province would be free to be as close to or distant from provinces in the other group. The ABC would be the sole link between both groups.

    In this model, TEC and the ACofC would be free to associate with each other and other provinces who wish to be in Communion with them. The GAFCON provinces would be likewise free to be in communion with each other, and with other provinces who wish to be in communion with them. Both groups would recognize the ABC, but Canterbury’s role would be determined by how much authority each group yields to it.

    It seems that this Option 2(e) has some advantages. It recognizes that:

    1. TEC and the ACofC will not repent;

    2. GAFCON and the Global South will not accept TEC’s new theology;

    3. The Communion’s Instruments of Communion, including the ABC, cannot solve or mediate this disagreement;

    4. The Anglican Communion, as it existed before TEC’s and the ACofC’s new theology, no longer exists;

    5. The Instruments of Communion, including the ABC, cannot survive in their current form.

    6. Each group will establish instruments of communion among themselves as they like. Canterbury’s role as an instrument for each group will depend on what each group decides.

    The foregoing speculation recognizes reality and, I think, is fairly modest. It does not rely on imposing anything on any provinces, which has failed. It does not assume, as do many commenters, that Archbishop Welby is maneuvering to impose TEC’s agenda on the rest of the Communion. As I have said on other threads, such a course would definitely end the ABC’s ability to have any role with the majority of the Communion for the rest of his tenure as ABC. I don’t think that Archbishop Welby wants that result, or thinks that he can “trick” orthodox Anglicans into accepting TEC’s agenda.

  18. jamesw says:


    That would be a simple solution for sure, and, I think, has some merit. My question though, concerns what Welby would get out of such an agreement. Specifically:
    1. How would such a re-structuring fit in with his approach to “reconciliation” which to date have been characterized more by what might be expected in a secular political deal-making process? To date, Welby hasn’t encouraged people to “each go your own way” but rather has sought to paper over differences under the guise of some greater “Christian unity.”
    2. How would such a re-structuring fit in with the very specific scenario unfolding in the Church of England, in which Welby’s hand-picked man David Porter is tasked with brokering in same-sex relationships formally into the CofE? This would almost certainly put the CofE solidly into the liberal axis and would open the door for the orthodox axis to launch a replacement jurisdiction in England (which I predict would have a much more immediate and devastating an impact than the ACNA had in North America given that the CofE is starting from a much weaker position)?

    I think that whatever Welby is planning to propose will fit with these two area of consideration.

  19. tired says:

    I can easily see the formation of groups as a sort of end-state, but possibly not as part of an initial proposal by the ABC. In other words, it is a likely consequence of reducing AC membership to that of a member within an association, and with communion determined on an individual provincial basis.

    IMHO – for the ABC, (i) downgrading the AC to an association, and (ii) removing full communion as a requirement to membership in the AC, might solve several issues.

    First, *if* a majority of provinces are willing to be (remain?) a part of such an association – then it gives an appearance of unity (i.e., though communion in name only). To the world, the AC may appear the same, and its staff and activities (mission?) might continue on behalf of the association. Second, the ABC can argue that this is merely a recognition of the existing status – so that the members can move on. Third, I think it provides the ABC an opportunity to offer (or to appear as if he is offering) something to ACNA – the association need not be (fully) geographically exclusive if communion is determined on provincial basis (how modern?). TEC and its pals simply would not extend communion to ACNA. Fourth, so long as his office retains some role in the management of the association, but not as CoE – then he need take no immediate action impeding the sinful direction of CoE.

    Thus, there may come a day in which the CoE is out of communion with a majority of Anglicans – this structure would accommodate that outcome, so long as the role of the ABC with respect to the association is carefully circumscribed.

    While a replacement Anglican effort in England may be a real risk – it is a real risk today. If CoE must choose between geographic exclusivity and its sinful path, it appears to be poised to choose the latter. Perhaps the ABC believes that he is equal to the challenge, the institutional protections are substantial, or that any substantial ill effects will occur after his time. Perhaps he will attempt to broker a role for the ABC in the acceptance of new association members…

    The question in my mind is whether the ABC or such an association has much to offer reasserting provinces.

  20. Publius says:

    Hi Jamesw,

    Thank you for your response. Here are my answers:

    1. By all accounts Abp. Welby is very intelligent, and has also visited each Primate in person, in private. As a result of those meetings, I would think that it is now clear to Abp. Welby that “reconciliation”, i.e. papering over differences in the name of “Christian unity”, is no longer possible. Tactically, I would assume that Abp. Welby would have asked the Primates whether they could accept any deal in which the Communion could proceed as currently structured, and that the answer was no. It is clear that TEC will not repent, and the GAFCON/Global South provinces will not accept TEC’s new theology. I think that it was necessary for the ABC to establish this in order to abandon “reconciliation” and proceed with a Plan B. I think that Abp. Welby likely outlined his ideas regarding what Plan B might look like during those same meetings with the Primates. All this is certainly speculation, but I do think that it is significant that all the Primates agreed to attend. If Abp. Welby were offering only to Options 2(a)-(d), then I doubt that all the Primates would have agreed to attend. Note well that Abp. Welby had to fly to Cairo to give further assurances in order to persuade the GAFCON/Global South Primates to attend. After their experiences with Rowan, I don’t think that the Primates will now be easily fooled, and so it is reasonable to infer that this Primates meeting would be different.

    2. I agree with you that if the COE joins the TEC/ACoC block then the ABC cannot function as even a symbol of unity for the whole Anglican Communion. What you said about David Porter is also certainly true. I speculate that perhaps Abp. Welby may back away from having the COE follow TEC. I wonder whether the recent UK election, which eliminated the Liberal Party from the Government, reduces pressure on the COE to follow TEC. I am not in the UK so that speculation may be entirely wrong. But, and the state church, the COE has political factors to consider that non-state churches avoid.

  21. MichaelA says:

    Publius writes at #17: “Let me offer a possible option 2(e)…”

    What follows appears to repeat exactly what the Archbishop of Canterbury stated publicly as his desired outcome two months ago, so there really is no need to be coy! I assumed that everyone writing in this thread was already aware of it, and what we were discussing was the extent to which the orthodox Primates would allow themselves to be drawn into the ABC’s proposal.

    It was all over the media at the time, but here is a link to just one of the articles, in the Guardian dated 17 September 2015: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/16/archbishop-of-canterbury-urges-breakup-of-divided-anglican-communion. This sums up the flavour:
    [blockquote] “Justin Welby has summoned all the 38 leaders of the national churches of the Anglican communion to a meeting in Canterbury next January, where he will propose that the communion be reorganised as a group of churches that are all linked to Canterbury but no longer necessarily to each other.” [/blockquote]
    The rationale behind it is also made clear:
    [blockquote] “Both [groups, i.e. liberal and conservative provinces] will be able to call themselves “Anglican” but there will no longer be any pretence that this involves a common discipline or doctrine.” [/blockquote]
    So the issue has not changed – Welby wants a looser communion with multiple bilateral lines of communion between ABC and each province, which in practice will lead to two separate groups; through this device, he hopes to be able to continue as titular head of the Communion without TEC/ACoC being required to repent of their apostasy. The precise details may differ, but the methodology has Rowan Williams written all over it.

    The big question is whether the orthodox primates at the meeting will agree. Their language so far suggests they have no intention of doing so, but let’s see.

  22. MichaelA says:

    A couple more fun quotes from the Guardian article I linked to at #21:

    The first quote points out that the ABC’s course is based on the belief that CofE will indeed go down the same path as TEC, and fairly soon:
    [blockquote] “The Rev Sally Hitchiner, one of the most prominent gay members of clergy in the church, said: “The churches now have the opportunity to relate like grownup siblings. This is a positive move for all sorts of reasons. We can’t hold together from a place like England – where an archbishop of Canterbury could be in a gay marriage, possibly in my lifetime – to somewhere like Uganda, where they want to imprison people for gay sex.” [/blockquote]
    Obviously Sally has a particular view, but the important point is that she is willing to accept this arrangement because she genuinely believes that it won’t be long before we see a practicing homosexual as ABC.

    The second quote reinforces the point that I and others have made, that the Anglican Communion has no legal status:
    [blockquote] The bishop of Buckingham, Alan Wilson, said: “He can’t be planning to break the thing up because there’s nothing there to break up. It is all independent churches.” [/blockquote]
    But what this also means is that there is nothing to stop orthodox Primates continuing to describe themselves as the Anglican Communion, if they wish to do so. They don’t need the Archbishop of Canterbury to do that, although in January he will do his best to convince them otherwise.

  23. cseitz says:

    Is any of this in doubt?

    1. The largest bloc of Communion Provinces want to retain the historic Communion, including recent decisions re: enhanced authority for the Primates;
    2. There is a progressive grouping that prefers to speak of independent national churches and laissez-faire associations — an anglican league or federation;
    3. +Welby attended the GS meeting in Cairo and knows the mind of group #1;
    4. If this Communion bloc intends to maintain itself and its self-understanding, nothing prevents that happening: they either call for the question at the January meeting and see who wishes to maintain this Communion, on the terms of mutual accountability; and who prefers understanding #2.

    Much of the above involves speculation about +Welby’s own stance and goals and that is fine so far as it goes. But clearly people have different views (though why Hitchens and Wilson might be relevant is not clear at all when it comes to his own position).

    I suppose the question is:

    If the largest bloc maintains the historic Communion on terms of mutual accountibility; and a small bloc of progressives opt out in favor of a loose association; so long as the former has what it wishes, the role of Canterbury seems less decisive anyway. One supposes he could decide he wants to inhabit both groups, in some role. But if the Communion bloc want a Communion, he would have to maintain his role on those terms.

    But for all this resolve and leadership at the meeting will be crucial.

  24. New Reformation Advocate says:

    Dr. Seitz,

    You may be right about what the majority of Anglican primates an provinces want. After all, the orthodox majority are profoundly conservative, not just in terms of upholding classic Christian theology but also in terms of seeking to conserve as much of the customary Anglican style of polity (at the gobal level) as is possible.

    However, I think you gravely underestimate how problematic and obsolete are those inherited forms of provincial inter-relationship. There is nothing sacrosanct about the ad hoc, minimalist, colonial arrangements that have gradually evolved since the invention of such consultative groups as the Lambeth Conference, the ACC, and the Primates’ Meetings. The classical structuring of the Church’s ordained ministry in terms of the three orders (bishops, priests, and deacons) is deeply rooted in the ancient church, going back to the second century, and is rightly regarded as normative and binding. Not so with our makeshift forms of international polity, which are gravely flawed and peculiar to the Anglican world. They can claim neither the sanction of Holy Scripture nor of Antiquity.

    So I reassert the sort of seemingly extravagant claims that I advanced in #5 above. It is time to take the bull by the horns and fully face the heavy responsibility that this grave crisis has thrust upon us. It is no good trying to patch up the old worn-out institutional wineskins of prayerbook religion at the global level. They are kaput and defunct, not least because they are merely consultative in nature. It is high time for us to evolve into being a truly conciliar Church (singular), not a motley crew of autonomous provinces (i.e., a family of national churches, plural) with an incoherent blend of traditions when it comes to Doctrine, Discipline, and Worship.

    We must dig down to the root causes of our present unhappy state of chaos and confusion and deal with those fundamental problems. And one of those root causes is our lack of a central magisterium that can IMPOSE real discipline on wayward, rogue provinces. We can no longer afford the luxury of going without such a central, binding authority. We just have to find a way of creating one that minimizes the danger of tyranny by building genuine checks and balances into this new system. And I again contend that the best place to start is by creating a wholly new Anglican judiciary that can render final, binding decisions on disputed matters. “Mutual accountability” sounds nice, but it must have real teeth to work. Real church councils don’t just gather to discuss problems or renew bonds of affection, they issue canons and when necessary they issue creeds or confessions that pinpoint specific heresies that have to be excluded decisively.

    There is no sense pretending that we can set the clock back to Lambeth 1998 (or Lambeth 1930 or 1888 or any other point in the past). The massive problems and stern challenges we face in a post-Christendom era in the Global North won’t be solved or met by the minimalist sort of changes (largely just seeking to preserve “the Anglican Communion” as we have known it heretofore) that the ACI has consistently favored since its inception.

    A new day is dawning for prayerbook Christians. Liberated from the shackles of those old, colonialist, inherited forms of provincial inter-relationship that amounted to almost no real relationship at all, much stronger bonds are being forged in the heat of battle in our time. But we still have a long, long way to go, if we are going to redesign global Anglicanism for the Third Millennium.

    So I say once again, forget about saving “The Anglican Communion.” It has died (that parrot is truly dead, not just stunned, as in the famous Monty Python skit). Instead, let us seek to save Anglicanism, which is something else entirely, a unique Protestant-Catholic hybrid. The kernel must not continue to be confused with the chaff, the precious wine with the old, venerable wineskins. Freed from the Erastian straitjacket of our former connection to the English establishment, the Ecclesia Anglicana can become what it should be, a truly global and truly conciliar Church.

    That is my dream. Perhaps it is “an impossible dream.” Many reasonable observers thinks so. But I refuse to give up on it. The New Reformation has barely begun. The demise of the former “Anglican Communion” is sad indeed. But like the Phoenix, Anglicanism can rise from the ashes of this consuming fire, with renewed youth and vigor. And the New Anglicanism will be better than the old. May it be so!

    David Handy+
    Dreamer of bold dreams

  25. cseitz says:

    I’m not sure what the point of this genre of writing actually is (“impossible dreaming”).

    Anticipating the January meeting: Who will read this proposal; agree with it; bring others alongside; promote it and see to its furtherance? Is there a Primate you have in mind who knows your proposal and believes it is the way forward?

    “I think you gravely underestimate how problematic and obsolete are those inherited forms of provincial inter-relationship.”

    I don’t think the question is under or over estimating anything, but rather seeking to understand what is presently possible given realities. I prefer that mode of analysis to exuberant expressions of what, on your own account, are theorizings with no present agents to effect them.

    But by all means dream of the New Reformation!

  26. New Reformation Advocate says:

    Thanks, Dr. Seitz, for a thoughtful and kind response to my provocative post. I appologize if it seemed pointless or rude.

    You asked what the point of such idealistic brainstorming is, so let me try to clarify what sort of genre my post belongs in, at least as I see it.

    In a nutshell, it comes down to two things, which I think are actually quite practical and useful.

    First, and foremost, I am calling for a deeper, more searching and rigorous post-mortem analysis of just what has gone wrong so badly with global Anglicanism. Clearly, any program we might undertake for setting right what is wrong with the current state of Anglicanism depends on prior agreement on the exact nature of those wrongs. What is the root problem, the primary ailment from which we have been suffering? How in the world did we ever get to the point where the kind of grossly unbiblical teachings and practices that now characterize TEC and the ACoC were even conceivable, much less widely accepted? How could we have ended up in such a terrible mess?

    A proper treatment plan depends on the proper diagnosis. Essentially, what I’m suggesting is that the conventional wisdom in orthodox circles is inadequate, because it fails to perceive just how seriously flawed our inherited Anglican ways are, and how deep and radical a remodeling of Anglicanism is called for today, especially in the post-Christendom Global North. In my opinion, we are still largely just treating some of the more obvious symptoms of disease within Anglicanism and not addressing the root problems. In other words, you can’t come up with the right answers until you start asking the right questions.

    Second, you and the other noble gang of brave defenders of orthodox Anglicanism in the ACI team are obviously committed to working “within the system,” whereas the whole point of my long tirades here at T19 is that the whole traditional Anglican system is fundamentally flawed, so much so that a drastic overhaul is necessary and overdue. Apparently, for you, and for the vast majority of conservative Anglican leaders, the inherited paradigm is still workable and plausible. For me, it stopped being plausible long ago. The whole point of the outrageously tendentious posts that I continually make at T19 is precisely to get orthodox Anglican leaders to start questioning the viability of that venerable old Anglican paradigm that served us well for centuries, but which I firmly believe is now both obsolete and counter-productive. You’re an academic, so you ought to recognize the genre here, I’m proposing a whole new paradigm for what it means to be an Anglican in the Third Millennium of Christianity.

    If it seems that I’m pursuing some sort of idiosyncratic, delusional fantasy of the Don Quixote type, jousting with imaginary windmills, well, so be it. And that’s where the phrase, “impossible dream,” comes from. This year is the 50th anniversary of the opening of the great Broadway remake of Cervante’s classic story in the musical [b]Man of La Mancha[/b]. The best and most famous song in that hit Broadway musical was “[i]To Dream the Impossible Dream.[/i]” It’s still one of my favorite Broadway hits of all time, because something inside me resonates so strongly with it.

    Martin Luther King, Jr., had a great dream, immortalized in his “[i]I have a Dream[/i]” speech from the March on Washington in 1963. Today, over 50 years later, we still have a long way to go to achieve the sort of just society he dreamed of so fervently. Some “realists” would say that King’s dream amounts to an impossible dream, and that racism can never be eliminated from America. Perhaps they are right, but his lofty dream remains powerfully inspiring just the same, and it motivates many to work hard toward overcoming racism as much as possible.

    In a way, I see myself as trying to do something similar. I’m proposing a new vision for what a renewed, faithful Anglicanism might look like in the 21st century, after the dust from the New Reformation has settled. I am sharing my dream of a truly global, truly conciliar, truly biblical Anglicanism that has emerged from the outdated wineskins of our Erastian, colonialst, Anglo-centric, Constantinian, and overly Protestant past.

    It remains to be seen if others will be able to catch that vision and embrace it. You ask the very reasonable question: what primate or province supports such a utopian dream? Well, he is no longer the primate, but the best example of a visionary primate who seems to share at least some of my revolutionary ideas is the former and founding primate of the ACNA, Bob Duncan.

    David Handy+

  27. MichaelA says:

    Fr Handy, you don’t appear to have answered Dr Seitz’ question.

    Your post re-states your arguments above, voluminously, and lavishes praise on your own ideas. But it doesn’t explain what practical relevance this has to the January meeting, i.e. whether a single other person besides yourself is concerned with this.

  28. New Reformation Advocate says:

    OK, MichaelA,

    I grant your objection that my last post only indirectly responds to Dr. Seitz’ perfectly reasonable retort. So I’ll attempt a briefer response along a different line, and I hope it may be clearer.

    1. My pleas for a radical rethinking of how we orthodox Anglicans should approach setting things right and repairing the torn fabric of global Anglicanism are not intended as a practical suggestion for how the orthodox primates should approach the January meeting at Lambeth Palace. I wasn’t addressing the primates, but the readers of this blog. I was brainstorming.

    2. How the primates should handle the specific issues that will be on top of the agenda in January appear to me to be a tactical issue, whereas I was suggesting a radical rethinking of our overall strategy. I was trying to take the long view and delve down to the root issues that I think are still being neglected, at our peril.

    3. Put another way, I don’t want our golden opportunity for a radical overhaul of our beloved Anglican tradition to be missed. These sorts of chances for a radical makeover of Anglicanism don’t arise very often. Basically, they only arise in times of grave crisis, when returning to the status quo is simply impossible and widely perceived as such. Let’s not waste the best opportunity we’re likely to have in centuries (if the Lord continues to tarry and return during that time) for redesigning our Erastian, Anglo-centric, overly Protestant heritage, so that it can flourish as it should in our radically new cultural context in a global, post-colonial, post Christendom world.

    Of course, if you don’t agree with my diagnosis of the fundamental flaws in our inherited and cherished form of prayerbook religion, then you will find my proposed solutions not only unnecessary and irrelevant, but downright foolish or even dangerously distracting and confusing and divisive.

    David Handy+
    A voice crying in the wilderness

  29. MichaelA says:

    Thanks Fr Handy, that’s very clear, particularly the distinction between tactical and strategic level reasoning.