A Tacit Liberal Triumph at Tanzania
My opposition to the Communique is based on the moral turpitude of scapegoating homosexual Christians, and follows from a Scriptural case consistent with the general strategy of canonical criticism popular on the right. Here I would like to see myself in medieval terms, carrying on their transformation project (hat tip to Wolterstorff) with respect to blessing SSBs, i.e. transforming mere belief into knowledge a la Augustine and to a lesser extent Anselm.
But that opposition has limits drawn by an overriding pragmatic consideration: bringing SSBs into the liturgy of the BCP, here and throughout the Anglican Communion, and even further abroad in the formal worship of all our Christian relations, so that we might see some day a Pope presiding over same-sex blessings. Argument has its place, yes, and we are obliged to carry on in part for the sake of those who are open to argument but also for those who are closed; it is not for us to decide, and we would be unable to tell anyhow. In any event, even if the soil proves too rocky and the birds too hungry and the weeds too many, we can see argument at least as part of a more modest transformation project among ourselves.
For the moment,I am awfully impressed by what seems to be an utter rout in the Anglican left's favor, one that has not been sufficiently attended to, and which may point the way forward on SSBs. I mean the place of women in the Anglican Communion: the fact ++Schori was seated, remained seated, celbrated Eucharist so successfully at Zanzibar, and entered a high office of the Communion pretty much shows that opposition to women's ordination is functionally dead in the Anglican Communion. Strident FIFNA-types will continue to protest, but their battle is lost. With ++Schori enfolded, there is no discernible future for resistance in the Anglican Communion to women's ordination. Before Tanzania, there might have been a question; a slender opening remained to the opposition if ++Schori could be turned away for some reason. Now her presence is an ongoing repudiation in praxis where it counts, laying the foundation of precedent and setting up facts on the ground enabling still further gains elsewhere. That is indeed a great victory for the left, if not the victory they were hoping for most of all.
Note several things about the victory. It didn't really have a whole lot to do with theological argument. Yes, more or less heavy theology did go on for and against WO, but its relevance to ++Schori's acceptance was peripheral. Practical considerations in the Communion led to now probably irreversible results favorable to ++Schori and WO. The same might work to normalize SSBs and ordination in the life of the AC: find a greater danger to distract and unify against. Maybe there is some X against which homosexuals could gain? Or maybe there is some other effective realpolitik strategy? The point is, there is reason for hope for change that has nothing to do with convincing the recalitrant and obstinate. Who knows? Maybe the Spirit favors subtle blindsiding to full fisted arguments? The Communion just moved mightily to the left in spite of itself, and it could be made to do so again.
And the victory is to a large extent, but not by any means wholly, ours: a victory of the Episcopal Church. The entire Communion has just been made to benefit--at our expense--insofar as women everywhere have ++Schori's shattering example as a precedent. And ++Schori's example came at great expense to the Episcopal Church in terms of international outrage and internal division. But this victory is also a vindication of what ++Schori refrerred to recently as our charism, our prophetic ministry to the Communion. Nobody should have any doubt as to that ministry's concrete reality and its potential for surprising and even unexpected success. That is, there is reason to believe some similar success is in store for our advocacy of blessing SSBs and ordaining homosexuals to the episcopate; the for-all-we-know real accessinility of such success gives excellent reason for hope if any were needed.