Ruth Gledhill’s TimesOnline blog extensively quotes NT Wright, The Bishop of Durham, on the upcoming Dar es Salaam, Tanzania meeting of the Primates (head bishops) of the Anglican Communion, and his thoughts on the way forward:
His outlook is pretty bleak. “Almost everybody involved with this question recognises that there is no way forward from here without pain. It is painful for everybody. There are not going to be winners and losers. There are going to be losers catergory one, two, three, four and five. When there is some kind of parting of the ways it is always painful for everybody. But I do think there is hope that the rootedness of the Anglican Communion in Scripture and tradition, that by doing its reasoning work wisely, this will enable it to come up strong after this crisis. Even if it means a bit of pruning, the plant will be healthier for it. And I rather hope that anything that needs pruning will not be lost but grafted back on sooner or later.”
He quoted Romans 11:11-26, about the pruning of the olive tree, and John 15: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch of mine that bears no fruit, he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” Dr Wright continued: “I rather hope that anything that needs pruning will not be lost, but grafted back on sooner or later.” It is significant I think that he does not think TEC will be cut away, merely pruned back a bit. He said: “There are some people in The Episcopal Church who dig themselves very firmly in and talk about rights and justice in the gay lobby. I do not see any way they can be reconciled with those in the Windsor position firmly committed to the truth by which Anglicanism lives today. My sense is that there are a lot of people in America, ordinary folk in the churches who have not really caught up with what is going on. Part of the difficulty is that there is a myth about in some circles that historic Anglicanism has no particular doctrine and is just a matter of worshipping together and believing what you like. If you go back to the 16th and 17th centuriesm who will find them arguing in great detail over the Articles of Religion which became the Thirty-Nine Articles. They were hugely important. The idea of doctrinal indifferentism is a very recent idea which has sprung up in some parts of America.”
Bishop Wright is wise, his hope firm and his words measured by the Word. I fear we are coming to the end of this immediate crisis in the church, and that none of us will be joyful in the result. I pray that healing will be the eventual result, wrought by the Lord in and through us, and that we would each become more transformed, more like Christ as a result.
Join in praying for the Primates gathering at the Lent and Beyond prayer blog.