Well, if there is one thing that Liberals and Traditionalists agree on in the Anglican Church, it is that we should ‘expel the immoral brother’. The trouble is, they disagree totally as to what qualifies as ‘immorality’.
Is it immoral for the Church of Nigeria to support the criminalizing of same-sex relationships (as used to be the case in all Western societies until very recently)? Or is it immoral for the Church in North America to sanctify those relationships (and at the same time to shift the boundaries of what may be believed doctrinally so as to threaten any connections with the church’s received faith)?
The truth is, it hardly matters any more as far as the Communion is concerned. St Paul’s warning has finally come true: “If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.”
The sad truth is that, even if the Church of Nigeria might need to hear a word of correction, Western Anglicanism is hardly in a position to deliver it. Why should anyone listen to a Church which scarcely has any theological coherence whatsoever? And similarly, how can the Western Church expect to be listened to by the Church in Nigerian, given that it is unwilling to listen itself to a rebuke from that quarter?
In any case, a brief flick through the usual suspects in the blogosphere suggests to me that the last thing anyone wants is for the ‘enemy’ to act out of character. How terrible it would be for us if the opposition failed to live down to the expectations we have of them!
One of the striking things that has been said about the possibility of a resurgence of violence in Northern Ireland is that there are some people who miss the bloodshed and the hatred. The same is surely now true of Anglicanism. There are too many people now who relish the fight.
Love your enemies? Do good to them that hate you? Bless them that curse you? Of course we will. Provided they are not Christian enemies, provided they are not brothers and sisters that hate us or whom we hate, provided they are not fellow Anglicans that curse us or that we still haven't got round to cursing. For them, there can be no mercy, nor forgiveness, only judgement and condemnation - and don’t we love to judge and condemn?
For of course, they deserve it!
Well, I truly believe Jesus has a word for us:
Remember the height from which you have fallen!
Repent and do the things you did at first.
If you do not repent,
I will come to you
and remove your lampstand from its place.
Revd John P Richardson