The Global South Primates are meeting their promise. It is a promise, not a threat. But as faithful members of the Anglican Communion, they can no longer wait for the Archbishop of Canterbury or the status quo structures to cure themselves. In fact, at least three of the four Communion structures or “instruments” are at war with each other! Consider the Anglican Consultative Council’s repudiation of the authority of the Primates over matters of doctrine and order at their April 2016 meeting in Lusaka (Zambia), and Canterbury’s deafening silence.
Since the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Anglican status quo cannot heal the wound, the Global South will apply healing balm through a recovery of “enhanced ecclesial responsibility.” What will these new structures look like in keeping with “faithful Anglican membership”? How will the intensification of relationships around these new structures impact relationships around the current broken Instruments? What charm offensive will we see from Canterbury to disrupt this work by the Global South?
Finally, the Global South Primates comments about the Church of England are also pointed. They rightly praise Bishop Julian Henderson of the Diocese of Blackburn for coming over and reporting on “the challenges facing orthodox Anglicans in the Church of England.” But it is noteworthy that they not only call upon faithful Anglicans to stand firm, but also to “speak up” for the central place of Scripture in the life of the Church. Bishop Henderson came over and did so – but where are the other Bishops in the Church of England? What does it mean to be an “evangelical” bishop in the Church of England these days if not to boldly speak up for the clarity, authority and centrality of the Scriptures in the life of the Church? What challenge have the Global South Primates laid down to the Bishops of the Church of England in these carefully chosen words?
Oh, and by the way, who is “failing to walk together” when, as the Global South Primates note, the conditions for “walking together” were nullified by the Archbishop of Canterbury himself, in his failure to see that the restrictions on The Episcopal Church were observed and respected?
As the Canterbury Primates meeting October 2017 draws near, how many more Primates will say, in the same spirit as Nehemiah did when facing dilatory meetings, “My work is too important to stop now and go there. I can’t afford to slow down the work just to visit with you.” (Nehemiah 6:2-3)