In the Anglican Communion, at the heart of the devastating conflicts is the demand by activists that their agenda be blessed by the institution. The core of the agenda is about the right to declare what is good and what is holy. Sadly, that prerogative rests with God alone. Anyone can claim it, but it does not make it so.
The basic rebellion of self-determination is writ large in many of the pursuits of revisionism: departures from the revealed nature of Christ, eschewing the path of redemption, and refusing the authority of Scripture. Not only are we asked to endorse changes to the faith, they demand that we bless that which God seeks to redeem and cannot be blessed. While it is true that everyone should be treated with kindness, the understanding of what is kindness actually is at question. It is not kindness to let people perish.
Christ’s law of love is violated when we encourage behavior that shortens lives or leads them away from Christ. Thoughtlessly endorsing behaviors which are proscribed by Scripture is just another face of the same rebellion of doing what we want to do and asking (or in many cases demanding) that God bless it.
What God is clearly blessing in the Anglican Communion is Biblical fidelity, Gospel mission, and Kingdom transformation. The Provinces that are pursuing those priorities are growing, even in the midst of what are sometimes extremely challenging circumstances. The Provinces that are pursuing their own agenda and asking/expecting/demanding that God bless it are dying. They are not just stagnant, they are shriveling and dying. Even worse than that, they are plummeting headlong away from Christ and into Hell with their foot firmly on the accelerator.
While that is grievous and extremely unsettling, there is good news. The good news is that the Good News is still being proclaimed––most notably in the GAFCON/FCA Provinces. The decision to have a GAFCON-2 meeting in Nairobi is a huge encouragement. It is a demonstration that the center of gravity for the communion has moved from the North to Africa. As the Jerusalem Declaration makes clear, there is still great appreciation and affection for the Gospel coming to Africa from the North.
But I do have reservations about equating God’s blessing with growth and numbers. That’s because some of the little ministry efforts I come across that seem to me to be most Holy Spirit-inspired are poor, never sure where their money is coming from except through divine providence, yet still doing amazing works of God in great worldly uncertainty. They are certainly not dead by any means, but they are not popular either. Augustine College comes to mind. And so does our marvelous and mighty little Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Ottawa. Oh, and Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Academy. I’m sure I will think of more.