The current power struggle is about redefining and recasting the faith of the historic Anglican Communion. Post-colonial Great Britain’s influence declined rapidly after second world war but it took longer for the dominant influence of Canterbury to wane. And it has now waned in the Anglican Communion. The Episcopal Church has tried to occupy that centre of influence in order to shape the communion according to its vision of the Christian faith, untethered from the authority of scripture. Canterbury under the previous leadership allowed TEC space and even support with its Communion Changing agenda. We expect the present incumbent to resist that agenda and pressure and to restore the role of Canterbury in leadership of the Communion. The battle is not primarily about a theological or ethical issue. It is really about resistance to a section of the western church who are redefining the faith of the Communion in order to be relevant in their context and acting like those who wish to erase and rewrite history; they are reinventing the faith that was protected and preserved historically so that it might be drawn on for the flourishing of the Church and its public witness.
Our call is to Canterbury to recognise that it still has a historic role and, rather than preside over endless confusion, to take a firm stand and move forward. The leadership of the Communion cannot deal with this challenge as a political issue in the way politicians might address it. We are a Church, the Body of Christ that is both part of history and also transcends history. The Church has sought to live out transcendent realities in history and offer to every historical context these realities as its public witness. It cannot allow culture to replace its historical witness. The leaders of the Church must act prophetically, not politically. They must uphold what has been tested in history as their public witness.
The temptation for the African, Asian and Latin American Churches will be to cut themselves adrift from what they sometimes read as an embarrassing past and a compromised present. There is the real possibility that the Communion could split between TEC and its dependencies (often financial) and allies, and the churches of the Global South unwilling to have what they see as TEC’s heresies thrust upon them. The result will be chaos, the end of the communion, and increasing independency among the churches. This temptation must be resisted. Read it all.