By any criteria, it has become one of the most disastrous and devastating ecclesiastical battles since the formation of the Anglican Mission in the Americas (AMIA) and the later birth of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). It may well be the greatest single spiritual blot on the emerging landscape of North American Anglicanism.
The genesis of this battle between Bishop Charles “Chuck” Murphy, leader of the AMIA, and the Most Rev. Robert Duncan, archbishop of the ACNA, goes back two years. It has escalated to the point that it now involves three African Anglican provinces (Rwanda, Kenya, Congo) and indirectly affects two Primates from the Church of the Province of South East Asia. As a result of the continuing war, positions have so hardened that reconciliation now seems virtually impossible.
I have covered this issue before; I find it very disturbing. Although such things are a part of human nature (Patristic students will think of Jerome and Rufinus, or to a lesser extent Jerome and Augustine) there are two factors specific to the situation that have turned a tricky situation into a real disaster.
The first is the metastable situation into which the ACNA was born to start with. American Anglicanism was formed under the apostolic umbrella of several Anglican provinces (mostly African) and putting them together, with all the positional and structural complexities that go with that, wasn’t going to be an easy job. It could have been accomplished–or at least done better–with patience and skilful negotiation.
But that leads to the second problem: Boomers are neither. Having made a mess out of our existing structures, be they political or otherwise, this generation has turned around and screwed up a fix to one of the sorriest legacies of their own revolt, the 1960’s and revisionist Main Line churches.
For me, a humorous way of looking at this is to recall a comedy routine in our own church by a Lee University faculty member (who is, BTW, now a part of a Charismatic Anglican church). He describes an “Inflatable Camp Meeting” which is like these inflatable playgrounds. It includes, of course, campground, chairs, and stage. On that stage are “general officials” who, in the routine, have “egos inflatable to any size”! (Little wonder he had to make an exit from the church! Long time readers will note that I have used this illustration before, in this situation and others).
Perhaps he’ll put together an “Inflatable Cathedral”. Sad to say, the egos will be there as well. They certainly have been up to now in the real thing.
It would be really funny if it weren’t so sad and destructive. Our generation has a lot to repent of; this is but one thing. But we are too full of ourselves to realise it.