Does Canterbury Own the Anglican Communion?

Jan 31, 2019 by

by David W Virtue DD, VOL:

Eugene R. Schlesinger has written a piece for COVENANT Magazine in which he argues that the only authentic Anglican is one who is in communion with Canterbury.

In an article titled Against Anglican Myopia: GAFCON, Canterbury, and Lambeth, (TLC) he writes; “At one level this myopia is exemplified in a growing consensus within GAFCON, recently restated by Archbishop Nicholas Okoh of Nigeria, that a church need not be in communion with the See of Canterbury to be authentically Anglican. This statement is patently wrong, at least on one level. As long as there have been Anglican churches, communion with Canterbury was not regarded as optional or dispensable.”

He accuses the Global South Provinces, particularly those aligned with GAFCON as suffering from “myopia” because they refuse to attend Lambeth 2020. GAFCON leaders say the reasons are profoundly theological in nature and have nothing to do with racial, cultural or ecclesial differences. Profound differences over human sexuality, including the consecration of homosexual bishops in the US and Canada and the open promotion of homosexual marriage are communion breaking issues, precisely because they are salvation issues.

Not for Schlesinger. While acknowledging that the “turmoil only seems to deepen”, he fails to provide any theological litmus tests for the Anglican Communion staying together.

He argues that remaining at the level of Anglican identity risks thinking of Anglicanism as an end in itself, as something ultimate. This is the case when GAFCON seeks to redefine Anglicanism by insisting the Anglican Church in North America or the Anglican Church in Brazil are provinces, while suggesting a future without Canterbury. It is also the case when these attempts at redefinition are met with nothing more than a reassertion of Anglicanism’s identity markers.”

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