Ephraim Radner’s Open Letter

The Rev’d Dr. Ephraim Radner wrote an “open letter” to the Bishops gathering at Lambeth. A really great letter which I hope and pray will give the Shepherds of the Church something to actually accomplish. The responses are interesting as well.

Read it all here. (HT to Kendall.)

What you are called to do

You must pray, you must reflect, you must listen. You must also act. Let me suggest four central actions you must come to a common mind about. In all these cases I use the term “must”, not because I am absolutely certain of these matters, but because I believe that God is indeed calling you to act, and this belief is buttressed by the discernment of countless others around the Communion.

1. You must state clearly that the actions of TEC as an official body, and of certain Canadian dioceses, are unacceptable to you as bishops of the Communion. And you must decide, resolutely, that those bishops from these churches who are in agreement to press forward in ways the Communion has now clearly and consistently repudiated no longer partake in your common councils. I am not eager to state this; but I know of no other reasonable course to take at this point. This is not a matter of punishment, or even “discipline” in any technical form: it is a matter of common Christian sense. TEC (to use this example) has demonstrated clearly, and with increasing hard-heartedness, that it does not wish to respect the common recommendations and pleas and even hopes of the Communion as a whole. Not only that, TEC’s enacted wish to go her own way has caused chaos in our midst.

I do not deny that a part of that chaos has involved reactive responses by other provinces and bishops in the Communion; and that, in a merely pragmatic way, some of these responses have sown an extensive amount of confusion that requires disciplined resolution (see below). But the root cause of all of this has been, without doubt, the uncompromising insistence by TEC’s leaders that they must go their own way. In March of 2007, I was present when a proposal was made to TEC’s House of Bishops that TEC take 5 or 10 years “break” from the Communion; it was a proposal that was greeted with much applause by the bishops. Now is the time to take this proposal up among yourselves, and formally accept it with deliberated application to your own common life.

You can still be friends; you may still choose to cooperate in this or that matter. But the disagreement between TEC and the Communion’s members as a whole has become too great and too destructive, and “walking together” (Amos 3:3) is not only no longer possible; it has long ceased in any substantive way.

2. You must call back into your midst those who have stayed away from this Conference, not simply as a sign of continued fellowship, but in order to meet face to face again to resolve and heal the breaches that are widening among you month by month. There is much speaking of the truth, repentance, and reconciliation that needs to be done among you and with them. But it is not right simply that declarations be made or statements offered or private counsel kept in the face of the present estrangements, irregular episcopal acts, and hostile words. There is scandal on every side: confront it and heal it among yourselves, armed with powers of Christ’s spirit.

3. You must come to a common and directive mind on how you will recognize and work with those Anglicans in North America especially – bishops, dioceses, congregations, and clergy – who have remained faithful and wish to remain faithful to the common agreements of our life in the past and those upon which you are ready to embark (and yes, this includes many who do not accept the ordination of women; they cannot be forgotten). You cannot, of course, resolve or expel the litigious spirit so deeply and scandalously embedded among Americans of all theological stripes. But you can state clearly what your communion in Christ constitutes and with whom, and you can agree on how you will do this in a single and common way. Do not be afraid to do so, thereby giving hope and a foundation for continued witness in our lands.

4. I pray that you will state clearly your commitment to the expeditious formulation and application of an Anglican Communion Covenant, one that will be faithful, concrete and adaptable to the mission entrusted to us. We have done good work thus far, but there is more to do, and beyond that the daunting vista of how we might put such a covenant in place so as to be both effective and capable of including all who are willing to commit to its common vision. Help show us the way, and do not simply stand on the sidelines and watch this project either float or sink of its own accord. Its purpose and character are yours first of all.

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