Of Orthodox Anglicans Still On-Board the Sinking TEC Ship
Sarah Hey at Stand Firm has published an essay for those traditionalists still inside TEC who are looking for a "third way" between departure for ACNA and working with the ACI and the Communion Partners to reform TEC from the inside. These folks have determined to remain inside TEC and not leave, yet they have given up strategizing to reform the national church.
They also recognize the following facts to be true. They:-- have recognized for some years now that the Instruments of Unity have failed and will not provide relief or establish any sort of common order ever
-- wish to "engage in strategic, thoughtful action within TEC," not to "reform TEC" but to work within various local contexts for numerous possible goals and outcomes
-- have no interest in "patient and enduring witness" only without massive differentiation and strategic action
-- wish to be differentiated from the national structures of TEC in a more significant and apparent and compelling and communicative way than simply affirming the three Windsor moratoria
-- do not believe that an "Anglican Covenant" based on the corrupt Joint Standing Committee and zero spelled-out consequences will be at all effective in reigning in future chaos and division
-- do not believe that the Instruments of Communion are "the effective means of ordering the common life of the Communion" -- they are not effective and they do not order anything at all, much less "common life of the Communion"
-- recognize that the current Archbishop of Canterbury will not do what he needs to do in order to solve the chaos and disorder that is in the Anglican Communion -- this necessarily means that action must take place within TEC and among traditional Episcopalians to differentiate and "bring about desired future states" through other arenas and channels.
RWF resumes: I’m afraid I still don’t quite understand precisely what the goals of this "third way" are. If they are primarily interested in defending their local parish/diocese and preserving it's orthodoxy, that is admirable but surely ultimately doomed to failure. Their next bishop is going to have to get consents from the increasingly radicalized majority of TEC before he can be consecrated. I doubt he will be as solid as the present incumbent, in any case. And the bishop who follows after him will surely be even more “moderate.” Sooner or later, these orthodox “stayers” cannot endure.
To me it’s like TEC is a large, ocean-going vessel that has developed a massive breach beneath the waterline. Water is pouring in. It is becoming increasingly clear to most of those traditionalist Anglicans on-board that the hole cannot be repaired, though a dwindling number of hands are still furiously trying to do so (ACI/CP and those still striving to reform TEC from the inside). A significant part of the passengers and crew are convinced repair is impossible and have abandoned ship (ACNA). They are still alongside the sinking vessel and are pleading for their shipmates to jump into the lifeboat with them before it’s too late. Finally, there is a third group (those traditionalist “stayers” of whom Sarah speaks) who are steadfast in their determination to insure that their particular cabin stays free of the rising waters but who no longer believe repair of the ship is possible (I assume this since they are not actively working to reform TEC nationally from the inside any longer). They have barricaded themselves in an interior room and sealed the watertight doors. Due to their constant, valiant efforts at plugging leaks no water can get into their room, but as the ship as a whole passes under the waves they will surely perish along with everyone else still on-board. It is only a matter a time, unless they make a run for the deck and jump—and soon.
I truly don’t mean this to be harsh. I just don’t see a long-term survivability inside TEC for those who recognize that internal reform of TEC is impossible and that neither any of the Instruments of Unity nor the Covenant can retrieve the situation. No matter how orthodox their parish or diocese is today, they are at most two future bishops away from disaster as long as the majority of TEC must approve of their future episcopal elections. Remember Neuhouse's Law: "once orthodoxy becomes optional sooner or later it will be proscribed." Sixteen years ago it was still just barely possible for a bishop-elect who stood for the all-male priesthood to receive a majority of consents and be consecrated (i.e., Jack Leo Iker). No one can possibly imagine such a candidate would ever be approved today. In the same way, it is just possible a candidate who opposed ordaining non-celibate homosexuals and blessing same-sex unions could be approved today. I cannot believe this will be true in a decade.