Friday, August 03, 2007

A Response to Ephraim Radner

On Stand Firm, Greg Griffith has commented on the Rev. Dr. Ephraim Radner's resignation this week from the Anglican Communion Network. To say, as Greg does, that Ephraim Radner's resignation was done clumsily is too generous. His "resignation" was nothing less than an unwarranted public attack on Bishop Robert Duncan. Radner acts as if the direction the Network is taking is due to Bishop Duncan alone. Bishop Duncan is not a Pied Piper leading naive children. The members of the Network Council who met this past week are bishops and elected representatives of the several dioceses that comprise the Network, along with representatives of regional convocations composed of several thousand Episcopalians and other Anglicans in parishes that are not in Network dioceses. These elected leaders are members of diocesan councils and standing committees, deputies to the Episcopal Church's General Convention--delegates with many years of experience at all levels of the Episcopal Church. These bishops and diocesan leaders re-elected Bishop Duncan as Moderator of the Network by acclamation. Dr. Radner, on the other hand, was elected by no one and speaks for no one other than himself and possibly the other scholars of the Anglican Communion Institute.

I agree with Greg Griffith in my appreciation for Dr. Radner and the ACI's courageous and visionary efforts in the past. If I were to fault them for anything it would be this: I fear that these gentlemen live in their heads so much that they cannot appreciate the anger and frustration of many grass roots Episcopalians who have grown weary of endless meetings, faithless leaders, and "dialogue" designed to keep conservatives occupied while liberals consolidate their gains.

Dr. Radner criticizes Bishop Duncan for saying the See of Canterbury and the Lambeth Conference are lost. It is worth reading what he actually said, in context, here.

When Rowan Williams opened the Dar Es Salaam meeting by presenting a ridiculous report suggesting that TEC had done enough to comply with the request of the Primates, it was the last straw for many conservatives. It was also at that moment that several of the Primates determined there was no hope in Canterbury and that they should go home and do what they have since done in designating new bishops to be consecrated for work in North America. Can Dr. Radner read that report, and look at the aftermath of Dar Es Salaam, and not see that the Archbishop of Canterbury has lost his way?

Many of the Global South Primates and a growing number of bishops in Rowan's own province have come to the conclusion that the Lambeth Conference may be lost as well. And if it is ultimately lost, it will be for no other reason than the ineffectual leadership of the present Archbishop of Canterbury.

Dr. Radner and the members of the ACI may want us to believe there is some hope in waiting until September 30. If so, they are expecting us to trust in a process and in leadership that have thus far proven themselves unworthy. They should not be surprised that there are those of us who think their optimism is just as unwarranted as their criticism of the Network leadership.


James Gibson said...


Unknown said...

I don't think Dr. Radner+'s comments were prompted by any sort of optimism, but rather by a combination of his ecclesiology (laid out in great, not to say inordinate, depth in his many books) and the realization that however we may personally feel and however desperate may be the particular situation of individuals and parishes facing ECUSA repression, it is nonetheless true that the action of the Primates after Sept. 30 will have an enormous effect on the status of orthodox Anglicanism in North America. And it is equally true that, given the recent turnover in the Primates, the leanings of the ABC will in turn have an effect on the decisions of the Primates.

Over the last several months +++Rowan has appeared to be increasingly under the influence of the thoroughly revisionist Anglican Communion Office, which at this point appears to be running the show. But he may yet be brought to his senses, and simply writing him off -- as +Duncan appeared to, though it seems he was misquoted -- is at best premature and at worst monumentally counterproductive.

I agree that Dr R+'s statement was (uncharacteristically) rash and uncharitably worded. But I also believe that some such action on his part was necessary -- particularly given that the ACI's audience since its inception has not been American orthodox, but rather the Primates and the ABC.

So optimism has played little part in this affair; if anything, it is perhaps more Dr R+'s pessimism, based on his extensive study of institutional fragmentation within the Church in the past -- the Nonjurors, the Jansenists, the French church, and so on and so on nearly endlessly.

Townsend said...

While I would never have attacked Bishop Duncan in the way that Fr. Radner did, I must confess that I understand his frustration. When I made my read of Bp. Duncan's comments, I couldn't believe my ears. I also thought the comments were inflammatory would only serve to divide, and not unite.

I have not had time to go back and reread the Windsor Report or the Primates Communique from Ireland, but I was under the impression that we were asked to be patient and hang tight until Lambeth 2008, and I thought that if things did not happen by then, then it would be time for some serious upheaval.

While I understand the anger and the frustration that many, including myself, feel (I am a refugee seminarian whose parish was forced to leave TEC because of a bishop who acted in a heavy handed manner), I thought that we were supposed to patiently endure our suffering, as Jesus did, until the appointed time.

I am seeing two things among the orthodox right now that are frustrating me. The first is an impatience and an unwillingness to suffer. The second is a giving up on the Anglican Communion, and this can be seen in the African Primates who are boycotting Lambeth 2008. It seems to me that, if they do this, they are just handing over the Anglican Communion to the liberal faction that will remain when the Africans don't show up. It sounds like saving the Anglican Communion has already been completely written off, and it sounds like it is the easy way out. While I think TEC may be lost, I do not think that Anglican Communion is lost. IMHO, attacking two of the Instruments of Unity (especially the Lambeth Conference before it even happens!) is not going to do anything toward saving our beloved communion.

But like you, I agree that Fr. Radner should not have said what he said. By doing so, he committed the same act that he was deploring about Bishop Duncan. It's really sad that things are coming down to this.