When I became a Christian, the final decision was simple. I felt like the thief on the cross with nothing to offer but sin, no recourse to good works to fall back on and, thus, no hope of earned salvation. I knew I was doomed without the only salvation that was on offer – the one from Jesus. There were no trappings, no liturgical requirements, no formularies, rituals or recitations, just a “remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
In the current Anglican strife, what has become apparent is the desperation of each party to be included in the category “Anglican” while convincing everyone that the opposition should not. It is so pervasive that it raises the suspicion that being Anglican is more important than being Christian – perhaps because Anglicanism as it is practised in the West has become a buffer against the exigencies of real Christianity.
The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada are determined that the ACNA not be recognised by the Archbishop of Canterbury and they are busy trying to sabotage the private member’s motion asking the CofE to recognise the ACNA. Such recognition would help confirm the “Anglicanism” of the ACNA, a confirmation TEC and the ACoC are determined to derail at all costs.
For my part, I think the meanderings of Rowan Williams have the aroma of an institution long dead and now in an advanced state of decay; the vitality in the institutional Anglican Church is centred in Africa where to be Anglican also means to be Christian.
A similar parochial obsession is in evidence in the Archbishop of York’s declaring that ex-Anglicans who join the Roman Catholic Church as part of the Pope’s Ordinariate Scheme will not be “proper Catholics” – a contention roundly repudiated by at least some Catholics – as if such a thing bore the weight of eternal significance.
To solve the “who are the real Anglicans” problem, it might be best for Christian Anglicans to leave Western Anglicanism to bury its dead and take a new name: Aflicans, perhaps.
So who are the real Anglicans? Who cares.