Charles Raven in an article entitled ‘England: the Final Frontier?’ has referred to the Clergy Consultation report on Sexual Ethics (Raven wrongly calls it a Changing Attitude post) http://www.anglican-mainstream.net/?p=8328#more-8328. He connects the phrase ‘occasions of grace’ with Rowan Williams’ essay ‘The Body’s Grace’ published by LGCM.
Rowan Williams is guilty, says Raven, of ‘the systematic blurring of truth for church political ends’. In his concluding Lambeth Presidential Address Dr Williams wants us to see in each other, including the North American bishops gathered at Lambeth, ‘the same kind of conviction of being called by an authoritative voice into a place where none of us has an automatic right to stand.’ These bishops, says Raven, ‘have persistently rejected or marginalised the clear teaching of Scripture on core Christian doctrine and ethics’. The conservatives can’t stand with the North Americans as Rowan Williams wants them to.
Neither can they stand with the majority in the Church of England. Surely the Church of England is not to be compared with TEC or the Anglican Church of Canada, Raven asks. There are many signs that England is on the same trajectory, he says. Where conservatives disagree with the church on homosexuality or have been blocked in planting new churches they should ‘qualify for the protection and encouragement that godly oversight can bring.’
Language controls thought, says Raven, quoting Orwell. Yes it does, and Raven does abuses language by repeating the falsehood that there is a new religion emerging in North America behind the façade of Anglicanism. There isn’t.
Raven wants Primates to intervene in England to rescue ‘orphan congregations’. Overseas Primates should sponsor alternative episcopal oversight in England as part of a project to reform the whole Anglican Communion. A group of churches aligned with the globally orthodox could form the nucleus of a revitalised Anglican Church in England. There is a need for godly Primates to boldly go where no Primate has gone before – and for leaders in England to be bold enough to invite them.
Alarm bells rang for me some months ago when the bishops of Blackburn, Chester, Chichester, Exeter, Rochester and Winchester issued a statement in support of Bob Duncan when his deposition was proposed. I suggested they were giving tacit support to those who want to replicate in England what is happening in North America – seek alternative Primatial oversight for conservatives with the ultimate goal of replacing a Rowan Williams led church with one more ‘orthodox’. Understandably, the bishops of Exeter and Winchester were outraged at my suggestion.
But that is the underlying project being pursued by ACNA and GAFCON – a new Anglican Province, not only in North America but in England where those barely committed to the Anglican way fantasise about introducing a new, supposedly orthodox, supposedly traditional church.
I think the tide is now strongly against them, but there were moments in 2008 when I feared that the Anglican Church in England might have been launched. That’s what Charles Raven is still dreaming.
[Charles Raven is the Director of SPREAD – the Society for the Propagation of Reformed Evangelical Anglican Doctrine – http://www.anglicanspread.org/. Peter Selby became Charles Raven’s nemesis when he was bishop of Worcester and Charles was in Kidderminster]