This week the media will likely go into overdrive reporting the unhappy news that global Anglicanism is dead. Why even the Archbishop of Canterbury admits it! The communion is damaged beyond repair and so he has called a meeting in which the split is to be finalised. Doubtless it will be painful and messy, divorces always are.
That there is a schism is therefore beyond question. What is less clear, for those interested in truth over polemic, is what is actually causing the split. So it is here I urge you to be careful when reading your newspaper of listening to the radio. A wilful distortion is bound to arise as the powers spin the news to suit their political agendas….
I predict the death of global Anglicanism will be presented to us as a cause celebre for political correctness, secular values and cultural Marxism. We will be led to believe the division centres only on homosexuality; with enlightened liberal goodies on the one hand, and intolerant conservative baddies on the other. If so a great disservice for truth will be delivered. Because what is really going on is much deeper and more concerning than that.
Understand the division within Anglicanism, which is alive and pressing within Catholicism too, is not about any one particular moral or doctrinal issue. Disagreement might be obvious when such questions arise are but they are only symptomatic not causal.
What is really ripping apart the body of Christ is a deeper, more fundamental issue. That which centres on the very claims of Christianity itself. A heresy has arisen which causes profound difference of belief not just opinion. And it goes all the way from grass roots to the upper echelons of every major Christian denomination today. For that reason it is a serious problem indeed.
What we really have then are conventional Christians on one hand. Those who hold to the clear teaching of scripture and historic doctrine and who believe that our faith is the same yesterday, today and forever. A group of orthodox believers who believe Mary really was Virgin, that Christ really was God incarnate, that the miracles did occur, that heaven and hell are realities. These people can be summed up as believing that the world should conform to Christ.
On the other hand are modernists. Those who have been secularised, in truth, who have lost their faith but do not wish to lose their Christian culture and identity. Many do not believe Jesus was God, they explain away miracles and the Virgin birth. These people would not conform the world to Christ but the church to the world! They want us to listen to the values of modern society not to the faith and values of the historic church. They do not really believe in heaven and hell and so they want to water down the revelation and change what scripture plainly says.
The orthodox are, of course, the true face of the church. The ones who stand by the martyrs and saints in all ages. A group who are in the minority amongst the liberalised and declining Church in the West, where power is held for historic reason. But who tend to be in the majority where the faith is actually blossoming, amongst the poorer nations of African and Asia. The blossoming amongst the more orthodox is no coincidence. God blesses that which is faithful.
So do you now see why African Anglicans no longer wish to do business with modernist counterparts in Canterbury? Do you also see why this situation of an African/European standoff is mirrored in Rome; just witness the war of words between Cardinals Sarah and Kaspar during the Synod on the family! Modernism, spurred on by the powerful media and governments of the secular culture it champions- is grappling with those who still cling to the faith of the ages. And it is this battle which rages in our day.
And it has to be a battle. For the two views are diametrically opposed. Like train tracks heading in different directions the gap increases all the time until anything attempting to hold them together must be pulled apart. And yet ‘trying to hold it all together’ was the foolish but favoured tactic of both Anglican and Catholic prelates throughout the 20th Century. Time and again promotions went, not to energetic and zealous soldiers of Christ, but to inoffensive bureaucrats whose dullness would cause no offence, thereby keeping the institution together. At least that was the plan…it hasn’t worked. Hence the threat of schism throughout the Christian world.
Within Anglicanism the modernists have now all but taken the Church in the West. And they consider the loss of Africa an acceptable price to pay for ushering in gay marriage, women bishops and all other badges of honour for a church of cultural Marxist values.
In Catholicism we are not at that stage…yet. But the modernists exist and, because they tend to be of a certain generation, wield enormous power and influence. These being the drivers of the “Spirit of Vatican II”- that which was not what the council anticipated or ordered but which nevertheless occurred in the wake of that synod. A school of thought which dislikes firm belief, uncompromising values, devotions, altar rails et al but who delight in ‘the community’, political activism etc.
As stated the schism has now landed in Canterbury. So we must pray for our Anglican friends. As we do so we must also pray for Rome. For schism looms here too and it could be even more divisive and messy and is perhaps, barring a miracle of God, already almost certain.
Understand the miracle we must pray for is not that the church will somehow hold together. For these different beliefs have no business being being together in a spirit of mutual respect. As stated they oppose each other. The miracle we need is that the church will wake from slumber, stand for truth and refute error. A hammer of heretics, as St. Dominic was once called, is needed. But what hope of that is there when so many bishops seem part of the problem not the solution and masculinity seems so out of vogue?