Lately, there has been much hullabaloo about the issues dividing the Anglican Communion. The communion has been wounded by high profile defections and Episcopal re-alignment, but the demise of Lambeth strikes a death blow to the Anglican communion. Ostensibly, the Lambeth Conference is a significant event held every ten years to which the Archbishop of Canterbury invites the bishops of the Anglican Communion in order to build up fellowship and deal with issues which need to be addressed.
Well that is what it is supposed to be. But in reality, Lambeth has been the favorite weapon of the progressive wing of the Anglican Communion. Every ten years, after a decade of progressive innovation and the consequent orthodox outrage, the progressives demand that the orthodox come together at Lambeth to have dialogue. After said dialogue, the progressive bishops return to their dioceses for another decade of undisturbed innovation (read heresy).
Many of the more orthodox minded Anglican Bishops have finally awoken to this fact and decided, enough is enough. They have decided to boycott Lambeth and have their own conference in Jerusalem (GAFCON). Many of the progressive Bishops are straining their vocal chords screaming “Disloyalty! Disunity! It’s an offense!” in order to dissuade other Bishops from boycotting Lambeth and attending GAFCON. One by one, they have been making their decisions.
It is in this context that the Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Peter Jensen, has finally ended speculation and announced, “with regret”, that neither he nor the five Sydney regional bishops will attend the Lambeth Conference this summer.
The Right Reverend Brian Farran, Anglican Bishop of Newcastle NSW, is horrified by the decision and urged Archbishop Jensen to reconsider. He urged Dr Jensen to change his mind because “the only way to address issues of ‘deep difference’ in the Church is to ‘come together, pray together, study together, study the scriptures together and speak openly with each other.’
Bishop Harry Entwistle of the Traditional Anglican Communion says “Don’t you believe it!” He ought to know. Over two decades ago when the progressive issue of the day was not homosexual ordination and gay rights, but female ordination, a group of Anglicans rightly protested the innovation as a radical departure from the Apostolic faith. They were invited to ‘come together, pray together, study together, study the scriptures together and speak openly with each other’ only to be “vilified, persecuted and marginalized by some of the key leaders who will be at Lambeth.”
Bishop Entwistle says that Bishops boycotting Lambeth rightfully “refuse to collude with the view that the appearance of Anglican unity is more important than God’s truth.”
There is one place where you can have both unity and truth. That is why Bishop Entwistle and the Traditional Anglican Communion are seeking “full, corporate, sacramental union” with the see of Rome. I for one hope that they get it. That will send a message to other orthodox Anglicans that there is still a place where truth and unity exist.