The deadline for bishops to respond to their invite to the Lambeth Conference has been extended, according to a report in the Church of England Newspaper tomorrow.
The extension comes after Sydney's six bishops told the Archbishop of Canterbury that they could not reply to the invite until they knew the response of American bishops to demands made by Primates in February at Dar es Salaam.
Let's take the "worst case" scenario. Suppose the ECUSA House of Bishops does not comply with the requests of the Dar es Salaam communique at the September meeting. It seems to me that rather than shunning those with whom we disagree, it would be better for people to speak with one another face-to-face. Jesus invites us to be reconciled, and we can't do that when we're pouting in the corner. Reconciliation requires engagement.
My own country has perfected the art of the either-you-are-with-us-or-against-us stand. High handed unilateral behavior is never the path to peace. It saddens me that this tactic has been adopted by others in the world, and it grieves me that our church is devolving into many sects of theologically "pure" believers, unwilling to look into the faces of their sisters and brothers in Christ.
My understanding is that many bishops of diverse points of view have accepted the Lambeth 2008 invitations, and that even bishops whose primates are part of the so-called Global South are planning to come. That's surely a good thing, and I hope it helps ECUSA understand how our actions have been hard for others. I hope it helps others see that ECUSA is full of faithful people, seeking to be disciples of Jesus Christ. I don't imagine that ECUSA has all the answers, nor do I imagine that the criticisms coming from +Akinola are all wrong. I hope the dissenters could admit that they might have some room in their hearts for conversion, and that they might be willing to share their perspective with ECUSA and Canada.
The only way it makes sense to stay away from Lambeth -- or to threaten to stay away -- is if one imagines one is 100% right and that the direction of the Anglican Communion is 100% wrong. The Gospels should provide ample warning to anyone who imagines they have all the answers. God help us all when we think we can no longer grow in Christ, and may God give us the grace to help others grown in their discipleship.