Following our exchange of thoughts, may I share some of my concerns with you about the reception, amongst evangelicals and other would-be orthodox Anglicans, of this forthcoming Windsor Report of the Eames Commission, due on October 18?
I fear that too many people who are not fully aware of the POLITY of the Anglican Communion of Churches may not recognize that this Commission has no canonical authority and is providing only advice and suggestion; as such it may of course bear moral authority in most Anglican circles.
Even if the Archbishop of Canterbury agrees with it, and even if a majority of the Primates agree with it, whatever it recommends can only have real force in the Communion if and when all the Provinces through their Synods actually approve it.
Now all this will take time – for there to be a meeting of the Primates and of the Anglican Consultative Council, then of regional bodies and most importantly of provincial synods will take months if not a year. The only real authority (under God) are the Synods of the Provinces; and the most that the Archbishop of Canterbury or any Primate can do in the short term is to exercise a moral leadership and suasion.
Where a provincial synod has authorized a Primate or Regional Meeting to speak for it then in those case there can be immediate reaction, but a considered response to this Report from the whole Communion will take more like a year than a month or two.
Let us be prepared for this and pray for patience and discrimination.
Then also, consider,
First of all, it is most doubtful whether it will come anywhere near recommending what strong-minded African bishops are demanding – requiring open, public repentance by the leadership of the ECUSA for their supporting the homosexual innovations and also the stepping down of Bishop Gene Robinson, who is the focus of the innovations.
Second of all, even if it were to recommend that the ECUSA be required publicly to repent and set aside its homosexual [and other] innovations, then this has to be approved by the Provinces and further, it has to be received humbly by the ECUSA bishops (who may well be encouraged by Bishops in the North/West in other provinces not to do so!).
To think aloud, as it were…
Perhaps the chastisement of the Lord is so heavily laid upon the Anglican Communion that it is now set for a period of greater crisis and pain than has occurred over the last year.
Or perhaps this Report, with all its weaknesses, will be a sign of the blessing of God upon the Communion and will offer the means for genuine renewal in sound worship, doctrine and discipline and a turning to the LORD, the Holy & Beautiful & Glorious Trinity.
I hardly dare hope for the latter!
The Rev’d Dr Peter Toon, October 6, 2004