Wednesday, August 25, 2010

It's All About Relationship

All too often I have heard or read about how everything in the church should be about "relationship." There are variations to this catch word such as, "living in relationship" and "right relationship," and I suppose these terms should make us more accepting of others when we disagree. Being of a suspicious nature, I wrinkle my forehead whenever I hear the word "relationship" used by people in priestly garb because lately, I always seem hear this when a disagreeable idea or doctrine comes along. Why can't they just say what they mean, which is, "Tough luck pewster, we have moved on, and you have to live with it." Like a spouse whose mate has announced that he/she has taken on another lover and is asking the injured half to either "move on," or to "put it behind us," or worse, "I want an open marriage." IMHO, the previous relationship has been destroyed, and no amount of "living in relationship" will make it right. I have seen numerous broken relationships where one party appears blind to the fact that they are wrong but expects the other to "move on," or cannot see the shallowness of his/her apology and cannot understand why the offended party remains upset. When one party is in the wrong, true repentance of that party must be demonstrated and maintained over time in order to establish a new (albeit different) lasting relationship.

Of late, I have been thinking about the relationship of the Episcopal church to the Anglican Communion. This past week the Archbishop of Uganda had the following to say, h/t StandFirm,
The Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, Henry Luke Orombi, yesterday said the Anglican Church today faces many challenges which have made it dysfunctional.

“What I can tell you is that the Anglican Church is very broken,” Bishop Orombi said.
“It (church) has been torn at its deepest level, and it is a very dysfunctional family of the provincial churches. It is very sad for me to see how far down the church has gone.”
“I can assure you that we have tried as a church to participate in the processes, but they are dominated by western elites, whose main interest is advancing a vision of Anglicanism that we do not know or recognise. We are a voice crying in the wilderness...” - original article by Ephraim Kasozi

 Time and time again, T.E.C. General Conventions, Bishops, and even the Presiding Bishop herself present themselves to the majority of the Anglican Communion as an unrepentant adulteress. Nothing in the structure of the relationship between the churches seems to be able to rein in the wayward church. The past year has brought forth developments such as the Anglican Covenant, and more recent changes to the Anglican Consultative Council which thus far have done nothing to repair or to rebuild a healthy relationship.

The Anglican Covenant appears to be a rather straight forward agreement for churches "in relationship" with one another to sign in hopes of remaining "in relationship."  There has been a whole lot of talk about this covenant and how, in its final form, there appears to be no real agreement for churches to accept discipline (Section IV). My best guess is that even in such a watered down form, the Episcopal church as a General Convention will not agree to sign on, and the idea of a covenental relationship will fade into history.

The Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) is another ineffectual part of this flimsy structure called the Anglican Communion. A recent analysis of the dysfunctional relationships in the ACC was posted by the Anglican Communion Institute Inc. (ACI). Point 7 sums it up,
7. To summarize, Canon Rees’ remarks only underscore the extent to which proper debate on these pressing issues has never occurred. The final text was not seen even by the member churches until disclosed last month by the Registrar of Companies. The proposed Articles were never posted for public comment and debate at any point in the process. The effect of equalities legislation enacted in the last year was not considered at all. Technical matters related to charity law have dictated decisions about the structure and governing law of one of the Communion’s Instruments. The intended scope of the new Articles with respect to the other Instruments remains murky at best. And the relationship of the new Articles to the Anglican Covenant has been discussed by the ACC’s standing committee, but the results of that discussion have not been disclosed to the member churches that are considering adoption of the Covenant. We urge the Communion as a whole, but especially its constituent churches, to begin considering these important issues as a matter of priority. To have the structural coherence it needs the Communion requires a broader focus than the management of UK charitable assets.
As far as the relationship of the Episcopal church to the Anglican Communion goes, the analogy of the unfaithful spouse seeking an "open relationship" seems to hold up pretty well, and as long as there is no coherent structure to the Anglican Communion, no discipline, no place where the buck ultimately stops, and no real "marriage," the Episcopal church should be happy. You see, living "in relationship" is great as long as you are free to sleep around.

For how long will the rest of the world keep its harlot wife?

T.E.C., thou art the daughter of Diblaim.

Is it any wonder why we are a communion in chaos?


  1. Great post, UP -- the scriptural references to Hosea are apt. The Episcopal Church is acting not only like an unfaithful wife (or daughter) to the Anglican Communion; she is attempting to raise up its other children in her same, corrupt mold.

    The reactions among the Episcopal faithful to the pictures and text of Archbishop Duncan's participation and recognition at the CAPA assembly are especially telling. They try to taint the picture by claiming that Trinity Wall Street financed the assembly with one of its grants; now even that claim is being rejected by ++Orombi.

    There may indeed -- judging from ECUSA's reaction -- be no human construct so bitter as a church rightfully scorned.

  2. Obviously, all I know about TEC is what I read here and other places. Nonetheless, it seems apparent that the leadership is hell-bent on driving the flock off the cliff, regardless of whether the flock wants to go. It's a sad day.

  3. A.S. ,

    I have not read any of the backlash against Archbishop Duncan's attendance at CAPA.

    Carrying the unfaithful analogy a bit further reminds me to bring personal protection along on Sundays.

  4. Randall,

    T.E.C. leadership appears quite convinced that they are driving the herd up the cliff.