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The New "Anglicans"?

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When I was in seminary (2002-2005), Gene Robinson was consecrated the new Bishop of the Diocese of New Hampshire. I don't believe this was any kind of "political move" or a decision by the diocese for reasons of political-correctness, but the people of the diocese voting for a priest they knew, had faith in, and considered to be faithful to the Gospel. The fact that he was gay and had a partner didn't keep them from voting for him. There are, of course, lots of opinions about him, the diocese, and act of consecrating him a bishop in The Episcopal Church.  A whole lot has happened since then.

One aspect of the outcome has been the leaving of many Episcopalians to other Christian bodies and the creation of the Anglican Church of North America - a place where disaffected Episcopalians could flee and where some of the other "Continuing Anglican" bodies could affiliate. The hope was/is that this new church would replace the Episcopal Church as the official Anglican Provencal institution. This hasn't happened. IMHO, many of the actions taken by the four dioceses, the parishes, clergy, and people who left the Episcopal Church and their motivation proves to be very American, but not very Anglican.

One such new institution is the Anglican Mission in America (AMiA). This group actually left the Episcopal Church earlier, over women's ordination, I think.  They ended up being under the authority of the Anglican Church in Rwanda.  The Rwandan Church consecrated new bishops to oversee this new church institution.  The Rev. Church Murphy, former Episcopalian, was one of these new bishops.  He now leads/led this group of churches.

So, now, some things have happened between the House of Bishops of the Rwandan Church and now-bishop Murphy that raises the ire of Murphy and some others in the AMiA.  The Primate of Rwanda went about disciplining Murphy, which, of course, Murphy didn't like.  An ultimative was give to Murphy and the consequences for non-compliance were spelled out. A couple days ago, Murphy and the other AMiA American bishops affiliated with the Rwandan Church have announced that they are splitting with the Rwandan Church. Who knows what will finally play out, but it seems that Murphy and company may end up creating yet another Protestant denomination in the U.S. - another sect.

When I moved out of American-Evangelicalism and into Anglicanism (via TEC) in the mid-1990's, I recognized that there was a great deal in common between American-Evangelicalism and Anglican-Evangelicalism. One issue that wasn't really dealt with in my parish was the difference between the two. I've come to learn the difference. There was a real failure among priests to teach "Anglicanism" - whether Evangelical, Anglo-Catholic, or Broad Church - and how it is distinct and different (yet similiar) to the other traditions. I think this is an underlying issue among a lot of folks who left, who stayed, who broke-off, etc. It is my opinion that this is a primary reason underlying the actions of Murphy and others.

Anglican-Evangelicals are Catholic! American-Evangelicals (within which I was raised) are not.  As a matter of fact, they are often anti-Catholic (both in polity and with respect to the Roman Catholic Church). I think many American-Evangelicals who came into Anglicanism through the Episcopal Church, like myself, never learned the difference between Anglican- and American-Evangelicalism. When the going got tough within the Episcopal Church, many of us reacted just like American-Evangelicals, which means there was no issue or problem believing we could simply break-off and start our own thing, since to divide is the time-honored American-Evangelical way of "solving" or avoiding problems. They, we, I, didn't act like Anglican-Evangelicals, who because we are Catholic, simply don't separate, break-off, or form a whole new church. There are times when conservatives are in the ascendency and times when liberals are, but it seems to me that a fundamental difference within Anglicanism is that we suffer through if we have to because the Church is the Church Catholic, period, and cannot be divided.

Chuck Murphy and those of the AMiA who now spurn Rwanda are simply following the path they set out on and doing the very American-Evangelical thing. It is expected.  That is how American-Evangelicals react to so many of the interpersonal and authoritarian problems. I say this not out of anger or bitterness toward my former tradition, because I am very glad of it, but out of a real desire to be authentically "Anglican."

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This page contains a single entry by Bob Griffith published on December 7, 2011 12:51 PM.

What does it mean to - include? was the previous entry in this blog.

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