Fr Geoffrey Kirk offers this penetrating analysis of the American Anglican scene from across the pond:
It is strange that Americans, with the glaring example of the Civil War in their own history, were not more circumspect about the consequences of democratic self-determination. Its ultimate result is secession. For who is to determine (except arbitrarily) at what level or in what forum finality resides? Is it the Union, or the States? Is it the National Church or the dioceses or the parishes? And since a democratic vote is merely the aggregation of individual consciences, what place does the individual have in this economy?
In recent times The Episcopal Church has placed a high value on individual autonomy, allowing, for example, the continuance in office of plainly heretical bishops from Pike to Spong. More recently the case of Dr Ann Redding has highlighted this issue. Redding claimed to be 'following Jesus' into Islam. Now her bishop, Geralyn Wolf, is disciplining her for 'abandonment of communion' (the very accusation against those who have left TEC for the Southern Cone).
I have to say that I have a great deal of sympathy for Redding. Her only offence is to fail to take the creeds literally. 'We Christians, in struggling to express the beauty and dignity of Jesus and the pattern of life he offers, describe him as the 'only begotten son of God'. That's how wonderful he is to us. But that is not literal.' If this is an offence, then it is a very Episcopalian offence. And Bishop Wolf is being inexcusably picky.
In short, it is a strange Church which can tolerate Jack Spong, eject Ann Redding and depose Bob Duncan - in the same breath and for the same reasons. It is a very strange and wholly inconsistent Church which will not extend its tolerance of individuals to dioceses or parishes; and which acknowledges the plenary self-determination of its General Convention, but will not allow the secession of its constituent diocesan Conventions.
What is happening in The Episcopal Church is the gradual unfolding of the implications of Provincial Autonomy. What is remarkable is that no one seems to have noticed the fact. And can it happen here?
Click here to read his entire essay.