On August 3, 2007 David Anderson wrote an article (Why the Archbishop of York got it wrong) excoriating the Archbishop of York for daring to suggest that there were actually faithful Christian people in the American Episcopal Church loving Jesus and serving the Gospel.
Arun Arora, a member of the Archbishop's staff, quickly responded (August 5, 2007) with a clear rebuttal (Why Canon Anderson Got It Wrong) which included this quote from York himself: "the thing that unites all Christians is our faith in the God and Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ, and what makes us Christians is that we participate in the death and resurrection of Christ."
And I commented in my own reflection (Why Arun Arora got it right about David Anderson getting it wrong about the Archbishop of York getting it wrong) "I'm TOTALLY good-to-go with ‘what makes us Christians is that we participate in the death and resurrection of Christ.’ I'm GREAT with Christ at the centre (or ‘center’ on this side of the pond!) of doctrinal statements. I even schlepped all the way to Nottingham a few years ago with a bunch of other Episcopalians to ‘present our case’ to the Anglican Consultative Council. Remember? It was the apologia entitled To Set Our Hope On Christ -- not good enough for Anderson and the AAC bunch but then, at this point most of us have recognized that nothing we can say or do will be.
And on it goes. Today's (August 17, 2007) edition of the Church of England newspaper includes yet another rant by Anderson charging the American Episcopal Church with Apostasy and the Archbishop of York with Naiveté. Entitled "An Appalling Lack of Orthodoxy" Anderson asserts that Arora had "missed the point of the article" -- and then proceeds to drag out yet-another laundry list of what he considers assaults on Anglican Orthodoxy by the Anderson List of Usual Suspects.
David Anderson is entitled to his opinion on whose theology does or does not rise to his standards of Anglican Orthodoxy. What he is not entitled to is to continue to hold the whole Communion hostage to his obsession with making the American Episcopal Church toe a line that he and his conservative fringe allies have drawn in the sand. It is time to reject their insistence that hysteric Windsor Compliance trumps historic Anglican Comprehensiveness. And it is long past time to call “game over” on the kind of Theological McCarthyism that inspires statements such as, “… the American Anglican Council could provide additional quotes from TEC bishops in the USA to show the lack of orthodoxy.”
Enough already. If anyone has “missed the point” it is David Anderson. The Archbishop of York’s original statement referenced a common “understanding of God” as the place for Anglicans to come together as we wrestle through the very real differences we face as members of a world-wide Communion of Faith. And he found in his conversations with Canadian and American Anglicans encouraging common ground.
It seems that York wants to put God in the center of the debate -- which is precisely where Anderson wants to put his version of “orthodoxy.” And we’re the heretics? Please!
Incorporating a Native American smudging ceremony into an Episcopal liturgy might not be David’s cup of tea but it has nothing to do with a common understanding of the God who is Creator of us all.
Asserting that +Jon Bruno was “instrumental” in the election of the current Presiding Bishop says a lot about David’s issues with his former bishop and absolutely nothing about the kind of core values the Archbishop of York is trying to draw us in to conversation about. (And for the record, Anderson is wrong about that one anyway.)
Finally, one can’t help but wonder what Anderson was thinking when he attributed to an English Archbishop (or a member of his staff, for that matter) the assumption “… that anyone who is retired from a major position has lost influence and fallen out of importance in the shaping of the … Church mind.” I have just two words for him on that one: George Carey.
Rather than an appalling lack of orthodoxy I believe what we are dealing with here is an appalling abundance of hubris as Anderson et al continue to inflict on the church-at-large the debate they want us to have rather than the dialogue we are choosing to have. The Archbishop of York has offered a fine example of choosing the better portion – of shifting the focus to those things that truly are core values of our shared inheritance as Anglican Christians. It is time for us to go and do likewise – to claim our power to reframe the debate by focusing on the things that unite rather than the things that divide. How about this for a start:
Christ has died.
Christ is risen.
Christ will come again.
Works for me!