Bishop Stephen Pickard writes: In 2023 a number of concerned Anglicans from around Australia formed the National Comprehensive Anglicanism Network (NCAN). At the heart of this initiative was a concern for the church’s unity and witness to the gospel in a time of controversy, fracture and division. With this in mind NCAN has been established to support communication across local churches, agencies and individuals; to encourage grass roots Anglicans through resources relevant to Anglican life, spirituality and mission; to facilitate responses on a range of issues that concern the well-being and unity of the Anglican Church of Australia.
We live in times of significant transitions, increasing complexity and for many, disturbing uncertainties. One consequence of this is increasing conflict between different approaches to respond to this context. Progressive and conservative elements clash, new alignments emerge, and a tribal mentality quickly takes hold. These dynamics are a feature of our social, political and religious environment. This is the larger context in which Gafcon was invented in 2008: a radical effort from conservative forces to control the direction of the Anglican Communion.
Developments at the global level of Anglicanism are reflected in the Anglican Church of Australia. Most recently this concerns disagreement regarding same-sex relationships. In an earlier generation the focus was on the ordination of women as priests. And even now there are myriad matters (e.g. climate change, asylum seekers, racism, human sexuality, poverty, inequalities, technology, care of children, war and peace) that press in on the Body of Christ. NCAN has been set up to encourage responses to such matters that draw upon the rich traditions of Anglican Christianity that prize diversity, intelligent and reasoned argument, and a commitment to working together rather than apart. This includes our commitment to the Four Instruments of Communion that bind the world-wide Fellowship of Anglican Churches together as the Anglican Communion. ...
The Editor - The Rev'd Dr. Nicholas Henderson writes: Democracy is the de jure status of the world with only Saudi Arabia, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Brunei, Afghanistan and the Vatican not claiming that system.
The question must therefore arise as to what democracy really is? Increasingly, with a tightening of centralised state control, bringing the judiciary under governmental oversight and electoral manipulation, democracy appears more like a veneer of legitimisation for what are otherwise autocracies. We might initially cite as examples former communist states such as China or Russia but more worrying are countries such as Turkey, or even in the European Union, Hungary and Poland where the drift towards autocracy is growing.
The term democracy is from the ancient Greek δημοκρατία. This can be broken own into dêmos (the common people) and krátos (force or might). Under the ruler Cleisthenes in 508 BC we first have Athenian democracy. Since then the freedom of the people has been hard fought both for and against. In truth the default position for most of human history has been autocratic rule by monarchs and dynasties. Democracy is a fragile flower that is always in danger of withering and reverting to autocratic rule. ...
The Rev'd Jonathan Clatworthy concludes: I therefore believe the Church of England’s leadership is trying to do the impossible. No institution can be run on the basis of the two competing epistemologies we have inherited from the Reformation. Either it can be run on the basis that biblical texts, read literally, determine what all true Christians must believe, or it can be run on the ‘classic Anglican’ basis in which the Bible, the Christian tradition and the reasoning powers of the current Church all play a part. It is impossible to run the same church in both ways at once. What the Church of England needs now is not better management techniques or better reconciliation processes, but better theology ...
The Very Rev'd Professor Martyn Percy writes: I am grateful for this opportunity to reflect on what is known as ‘Sydney Anglicanism’. Grateful, because I am not sure it has much to do with Sydney, being Anglican, or even Evangelical. As any social anthropologist will tell you, labels are simultaneously relative, subjective, absolute and objective. At least, that is, to the person deploying the terminology. Very few denominational labels were adopted by the group they now refer to. Anglican, Baptist, Methodist, Episcopalian – these are all nicknames used by others. The subject just gets stuck with the label. But they rarely help you to understand or accurately categorize a group. What is true, false, dangerous, safe, clean and unclean are wired into our shared worldviews, social functioning and mindsets ... Humans cannot avoid making a whole variety of judgment calls – every few seconds.
The Bishops of the Church of Ceylon write: We note with deep concern the deterioration of the state of our economy and the sheer sense of apathy with which those in power are approaching the plethora of problems faced by the people of our land.
The Rev'd Marc Billimoria - Warden of St. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia, Ceylon.
This Article is based on the text of an address delivered at a public meeting held in 2018 to commemorate the bicentenary of the arrival of CMS Missionaries in Ceylon.
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