24 May 2007

Seeing the invitations from the other side

Most of what I've been reading is about the lack of an invitation for +Gene Robinson. But, of course, he's one of ten Anglican bishops who are not invited. Andrew Gerns has a thoughtful analysis of the invitation scene from the Akinolite point of view.

Gerns says the conservatives have not done well in the invitation list:
Remember, Akinola did not simply demand that Robinson be expelled from the Communion, he wanted all the Bishops who consecrated him expelled and even the whole Episcopal Church for consenting to his election and ordination. He wanted the Episcopal Church out and the conservative parishes under his care and their allies invited instead. Akinola, and many others, began to see Lambeth as the test of true Anglican identity based on a narrow notion of biblical interpretation and confessional orthodoxy.

Williams has rejected that notion, and in terms that the conservatives set up for themselves, has explicitly ruled that CANA is not part of the Anglican Communion. They have no seat at Lambeth because they have no legitimate jurisdiction. That was true of AMiA ten years ago and it is true of CANA today. In short, Akinola's brainchild has been rejected out of hand.
All eyes will now turn to Abuja to see what's going to be done:
So...Robinson is invited as a guest (out of deference to those of weaker conscience) and Minn is not. Robinson is real bishop in a real jurisdiction while Minn may or may not be a real bishop but he is not part of a valid, recognized Anglican jurisdiction. He was enthroned to nothing.

It seems to me that the ball is now in Peter Akinola's court. All eyes are on him to see if he will make good on his threat to organize an alternative Lambeth for Global South bishops. It has been clear that his support was wavering, and while he may have won the day in Dar es Sallem, he lost the war when numerous primates expressed discomfort with the solution and supported the HOB when they rejected the hastily gathered pastoral council. Notice, as the Bishops gather in September with the Archbishop, that rejection of that hastily devised scheme did not mean the Episcopal Church was dis-invited from the Communion.

If Akinola goes to Lambeth, he will be going to a place where he and his bishops would be voices among many. He will go on Canterbury's terms.

If Akinola stays away and forms his own meeting, he frees the rest of the Communion to deal with Bishop Robinson and to take on the listening process without further delay. If he stays away he will have taken himself out of the game.
+Peter Akinola has already said (through a statement) that if one Nigerian bishop (e.g. +Minns) is not invited, the whole House of Bishops from Nigeria isn't invited. So while we Americans have been wailing and gnashing our teeth, perhaps the big story is really going to be how this pushed Nigeria away from the Communion. Could Akinola be absent at Lambeth? Rumor has it that he's already book a venue in London for a shadow conference. If that's true, he'll make lots of news, but reconciliation in the Communion will not be achieved.

I'd like to see Nigeria (and New Hampshire!) as full participants in Lambeth. Perhaps Peter Akinola won't change his mind about LGBT Christians, but there are other Nigerian bishops who might be more open to a church where we model radical love, Anglican graciousness, and Christ-like compassion.

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