The proceedings of the 2008 Lambeth Conference were overshadowed by the growing schism in the Anglican Communion over homosexuality. The liberal wing of Anglican bishops (including the Episcopalians in America) overwhelmingly favors the ordination of gay bishops and the consecration of gay unions. The conservative minority does not. The basic issue is whether the Bible’s teaching on these matters is authoritative. Obviously, the conservatives think that it is, and the liberals think that it is not.
One would have hoped that the Archbishop Rowan Williams might speak a prophetic word into this swirling morass of error, but once again the Archbishop disappoints. In his sermon given at the concluding Eucharist observance of the conference, he indicates that talking about theological disagreements is better than resolving those disagreements. He writes:
“In these last two weeks we’ve often spoken, both in the bishops’ and in the spouses’ conference, about telling our stories. It’s almost a clichÃ©, isn’t it? In a good and properly organized Christian meeting we tell our stories. And that is right and proper, because one of the most significant things any believer can ever do is to say, ‘Come, and I will tell you what he has done for my soul.’ . . . perhaps we can go back to our local apostolic ministries . . . to tell the story of this meeting, this Lambeth Conference, in such a way that it becomes itself a story that makes things happen. We can ask God to strengthen us and enable us, so to talk about what we’ve received here that something shifts and grows and deepens in the Christian communities to which we belong. We can try to tell the story of the Lambeth ’08 Conference so that something happens, so that Christ comes alive in others.”
I’m not trying to be cynical. But I hardly think that the bishops’ talking to their parishioners about how they talked to one another at the Lambeth Conference is going to set the world on fire for the gospel. What is needed from the bishops (including Archbishop Williams) is a clear word about what the word of God says about the gospel and its implications for all of life (including the issue of homosexuality). Until that happens, the prospects for renewal in the Anglican Communion are dim indeed.