The evidence grows that Rowan Williams is itching to revision the historic comprehensiveness of Anglicanism into something tidier and more manageable. In his Advent Letter to the Anglican Primates -- a thinly veiled opportunity to bemoan (once again) the lamentable communion-wide resistance to the ill-conceived proposed "Anglican Covenant" -- Williams asks:
"If the moratoria are ignored and the Covenant suspected, what are the means by which we maintain some theological coherence as a Communion and some personal respect and understanding as a fellowship of people seeking to serve Christ?"Seriously? The question coming from the Archbishop of Canterbury this Advent 2011 is how do we "maintain theological coherence?" And the answer is a moratorium creating sacramental apartheid for LGBT Anglicans and a covenant that institutionalizes a profoundly un-Anglican response to the classically Anglican dilemma of living into our historic ability to hold in tension the challenge of being a both/and people (catholic and protestant) in an either/or world?
If "theological coherence" had been the presenting goal for our Anglican forbears there would have been no Elizabethan Settlement and the Tower of London might at this very moment be full of heretics waiting for their turn at the stake.
Maybe the lectionary cycle is different across the pond -- but I can't help wondering this morning if the Archbishop would have written the same Advent Letter if he'd heard the reading from Matthew 25 we heard on the Last Sunday After Pentecost ... the one where Jesus gives "the final exam" where the essay question is NOT "did you maintain theological coherence" but "did you minister unto the least of these?"
And don't get me wrong. I'm all FOR "personal respect and understanding as a fellowship of people seeking to serve Christ" ... which at the end of the day IS a hallmark of classical Anglicanism. What I'm NOT so keen on are the efforts of the Archbishop of Canterbury (and others) to throw out the baby of Anglican comprehensiveness with the bathwater of global Anglican politics.
You cannot achieve "personal respect and understanding as a fellowship of people seeking to serve Christ" by scapegoating LGBT Anglicans within the church and leaving as strangers at the gate the LGBT un-churched yearning for a spiritual community where they can live their lives in alignment with God's love, justice and compassion.
The Great Anglican Experiment -- for all that it is untidy and at times somewhat unmanageable, disorganized and downright messy -- remains for me a desperately needed "both/and" light shining in the darkness of an "either/or" world. And "maintaining theological coherence" seems a pitiful bowl of pottage to trade for our Anglican birthright.