Senior UK Anglican Delivers Warning on Future of Anglicanism

A senior Anglican cleric issued a stern warning Wednesday on the future of world Anglicanism and said the core conflict over homosexuality in the church stems from a deeper clash of ideas over authority that began centuries ago.

|TOP|“Am I alone in thinking that at the root of those clashes ... lies the failure of succeeding generations of Anglicans to accept that there are parameters to divergence in scriptural interpretation?” Archbishop Robin Eames of Ireland asked on Wednesday as he delivered the 2005 Pitt Lecture at the Berkeley Divinity School at Yale, USA.

Division has marked the 77-million-member Anglican Communion since 2004, when the Episcopal Church U.S.A. ordained an openly gay bishop and the Anglican Church in Canada allowed the blessing of same-sex marriages. Anglicans in the more conservative South rejected those actions and has since broken ties with their North American counterparts.

More recently, the Anglican Church in Nigeria – the largest province in the communion with 17 million members – amended its constitution and threatened to break with the See of Canterbury – the historic head of the communion – should it also condone homosexuality.

What originally stated, “the Church in Nigeria shall be in communion with the See of Canterbury and with all the dioceses, provinces and regional churches which are in full communion with the See of Canterbury,” was changed to state that the Church would be in communion “with all Anglican Churches, Diocese and Provinces that hold and maintain the historic faith.”

In addressing this break-up of “World Anglicanism,” Eames said the change threatens the nature of the Anglican structure since it would give authority to each individual province on deciding what is right and wrong rather than being united under the Archbishop of Canterbury.

|QUOTE|“Am I alone in interpreting such wording as the removal of established bonds of communion and their replacement by a Provincial-only wide authority which will set its own criteria for whoever or whatever it considers worthy of a communion relationship?” Eames asked. “Is the real question about authority rather than sexuality?”

He concluded that there are three possible solutions for the church: the path of reconciliation, the path of compromise, and the path in “which acknowledged agreement is impossible and that the important issue to then emerge is how such a fracture of relationships can be managed with the highest degree of human dignity.”

While acknowledging the concerns of both liberals and conservatives, Eames implied that unity and reconciliation is of a greater priority than internal differences.

“Perhaps my final plea as I look to the road-map for our Communion is one other aspect of the 'big picture,’” he said. “What is all our division and argument doing to the first priority given to the Body of Christ – the witness to a Gospel of salvation, compassion and care for a world of desperate need? At the end of the day if that priority suffers, much more will be at stake than internal differences among those who ‘would seek the face of Christ.’”

Elaine Spencer
Christian Today Correspondent

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