What are the causes?
Again, the media likes to keep it simple ”“ this is a split over attitudes to homosexuality. Yes there are differences over sexual ethics, which can sometimes spill over into unwarranted accusations, for example that conservative Christians don’t like gay people. But underlying what we think about homosexual relationships can be seen very different understandings about the nature of the church and its relationship to society, what it means to be a human being, the meaning and authority of Scripture, and ultimately how we view salvation and God himself. And accusations of ”˜hating’ are either based on misunderstanding, or deliberate attempts to silence those with a different view. Serious disagreement with my neighbour’s ideas and actions is not incompatible with love and concern for him or her.
But inevitably history and ethnicity play a part in the tensions and divisions as well. Leaders from African and Asian countries have perceived the traditional ”˜corridors of power’ of global Anglicanism, based in London and funded from America, to be impenetrable, controlled by an Anglo-Saxon liberal elite, and patronizing in a way that has not quite shaken off the sense of imperial superiority. This is despite the outreach and reconciliation efforts of recent Archbishops not personally tainted by racist attitudes.
What are the potential outcomes?
An article on the GAFCON website calls for “action by the Archbishop of Canterbury and a majority of the Primates to ensure that participation in the Anglican Communion is governed by robust commitments to biblical teaching and morality.” Could this happen? Humanly speaking, it would be more likely if Archbishop Welby felt he had a clear mandate from the Church of England leadership to pursue a clear orthodox path, and reject revisionism ”“ which he does not. So the Canterbury meeting will see Primates with fundamental differences of opinion, hardening over the past decade, coming together in a format facilitated by David Porter, using techniques for encouraging listening and reconciliation….