Lionel Deimel: Has Rowan Williams done us a favor?

Lionel Deimel wonders whether the Archbishop of Canterbury has done our church a favor by kicking Episcopalians off of Anglican ecumenical bodies:

Rowan Williams has expressed concern about our partners in ecumenical discussions knowing who speaks for the Communion. He doesn’t want to confuse our sister churches, and he doesn’t want Episcopalians expressing views to outsiders that misrepresent the mind of the Communion.

It is important that we unpack this point of view. First, it presumes that there is a mind of the Communion, at least in the sense that the Anglican Communion has an agreed-upon mechanism to articulate such a thing. This has not been the understanding within the Communion heretofore, and anyone advocating such a thing now—Rowan Williams, for example—is trying to implement a radical innovation under the guise of defending the status quo.

Also implicit in the archbishop’s position is the radical and destructive notion that Anglicanism is all about creating doctrinal uniformity, rather than providing space for exploring theological possibilities under the guidance of the Holy Spirit that might lead to a fuller understanding of God’s plan for our world.

If, in ecumenical discussions, we do not represent the Anglican Communion as being characterized by a certain theological diversity—which is what the Archbishop of Canterbury is trying to accomplish by banning Episcopalians from those discussions—we are either misrepresenting the Communion or conceding its transformation into a collection of conventional, confessional churches—not what the world needs us to be, I would suggest.

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