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Divided We Stand: North American Evangelicals and the Crisis in the Anglican Communion

  • Jason Bruner

Abstract

This paper discusses the development of the Anglican Communion’s ‘crisis’ regarding the place of gay and lesbian persons within the tradition. It presents a social and theological contextualization of this crisis within the Episcopal Church, USA, in the second half of the twentieth century. It argues that the origins of the Anglican Communion’s crisis regarding gay and lesbian persons within the Communion are best understood in continuity with the broader North American evangelical movement of the second half of the twentieth century. The implications of this contextualized study serve to critique an understanding of the current crisis, which juxtaposes a decrepit, liberal ‘North’ with a vibrant, ‘orthodox’ ‘Global South’.

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1.

Jason Bruner is a Ph.D. candidate at Princeton Theological Seminary. He would like to acknowledge Ian Douglas, Ph.D., and Margaret Guider, O.S.F., Th.D., for their generous contributions and guidance in the researching of this article.

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2. I will use ‘ECUSA’ in this essay to refer to the Episcopal Church in the United States, since the scope of the essay does not extend to 2006, when it was renamed The Episcopal Church.

3. The Episcopal Church Annual 1967 (New York: Morehouse-Barlow Company, 1967), p. 21; The Episcopal Church Annual 1981 (Wilton, CT: Morehouse-Barlow Company, 1981), p. 19.

4. Soper, J. Christopher, Evangelical Christianity in the United States and Great Britain: Religious Beliefs, Political Choices (Hong Kong: The Macmillan Press, Ltd., 1994).

5. Soper, Evangelical Christianity in the United States and Great Britain, p. 36.

6. Booty, John, The Episcopal Church in Crisis (Cambridge, MA: Cowley Publications, 1988), p. 79; Dennis J. Bennett, Nine O’Clock in the Morning (Plainfield, NJ: Logos International, 1970).

7. Prichard, Richard W., A History of the Episcopal Church (Harrisburg, PA: Morehouse Publishing, 1999), p. 265.

8. Wells, David, ‘On Being Evangelical’, in Mark A. Noll, David Bebbington and George A. Rawlyk (eds.), Evangelicalism (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994), pp. 389410 (396).

9. Wells, ‘On Being Evangelical’, p. 396; Beckwith, R.T., ‘Keele, Nottingham, and the Future’, in D. N. Samuel (ed.), The Evangelical Succession (Cambridge: James Clark, 1979), pp. 101110 (106).

10. Bebbington, David, Evangelicalism in Modern Britain: A History from the 1730s to the 1980s (Winchester, MA: Unwin Hyman, Inc., 1989), pp. 204–5.

11. Bebbington, David, ‘Evangelicalism in its Settings’, in Mark A. Noll, David Bebbington and George A. Rawlyk (eds.), Evangelicalism (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994), pp. 365388. (372).

12. Williamson, Wayne B., Growth and Decline in the Episcopal Church (Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 1979), pp. 141, 142.

13. Faber, Dorothy A., ‘An Open Letter to the Bishops and Priests in the Anglican Church in North America’, The Christian Challenge 17.7 (1978), p. 15.

14. Booty, The Episcopal Church in Crisis, p. 93. J. Christopher Soper offers the statistic that by 1960 evangelical missions groups provided approximately 65 per cent of the total number of foreign missionaries, while by the early 1990s they provided roughly 90 per cent. Soper, Evangelical Christianity in the United States and Great Britain, p. 104.

15. Jenkins, Willis, ‘Episcopalians, Homosexuality and World Mission’, Anglican Theological Review 86.2 (2004), pp. 293316.

16. Hooper, Emmanuel, ‘The Theology of Trans-Atlantic Evangelicalism and Its Impact on The East African Revival’, Evangelical Review of Theology 31.1 (2007), pp. 7189 (75–77).

17. Hooper, ‘The Theology of Trans-Atlantic Evangelicalism and Its Impact on The East African Revival’, p. 78.

18. Stanley, Brian, ‘The East African Revival: African Initiative within a European Tradition’, Churchman 91.2 (1977), pp. 620 (13).

19. Jenkins, ‘Episcopalians, Homosexuality and World Mission’, p. 294.

20. Prichard, A History of the Episcopal Church, p. 284.

21. Hassett, Miranda K., Anglican Communion in Crisis: How Episcopal Dissidents and Their Allies are Reshaping Anglicanism (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006), p. 36.

22. Prichard, A History of the Episcopal Church, p. 268; Grenz, Stanley J., Welcoming but Not Affirming (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Know Press, 1998), p. 2.

23. Prichard, A History of the Episcopal Church, p. 269.

24. Prichard, A History of the Episcopal Church, p. 292; Shiftlet, Dave, Exodus: Why Christians are Fleeing Liberal Churches for Conservative Christianity (New York: Penguin Group, 2005), p. 29.

25. Shiftlet, Exodus, p. 30.

26. Krumm, John M., Letters from Lambeth (Cincinnati, OH: Forward Movement Publications, 1988), p. 4.

27. Krumm, Letters from Lambeth, p. 4.

28. Krumm, Letters from Lambeth, p. 6.

29. Krumm, Letters from Lambeth, p. 98.

31. Kimball, Cook, ‘The Revival of the Episcopal Church: 1961–1999’, Episcopal Evangelical Journal 1.11 (1999), pp. 711 (7).

32. Samuel, VinaySugden, Christopher, Lambeth: A View from the Two Thirds World (London: SPCK, 1989), p. 124.

33. Theological Resource Team of the Global Anglican Future Conference, The Way, The Truth, and The Life: Theological Resources for a Pilgrimage to a Global Anglican Future. (London: Latimer Trust, 2008), pp. 33, 34. This booklet provides less of a chronological development of the conflict as it details the theological and biblical principles at stake and for which certain conservative factions are willing to fight to uphold. It is a better source for describing the theological issues at stake in the present conflict than it is for ascertaining a historically-nuanced perspective of the progression of the events and activity through which the conflict developed.

34. Samuel and Sugden, Lambeth, p. 121.

35. Krumm, Letters from Lambeth, pp. 55, 56.

36. Samuel and Sugden, Lambeth, p. 133. See also Resolution 120 from Lambeth Conference 1958: http://www.lambethconference.org/resolutions/1958/1958-120.cfm, and Resolution 23 from Lambeth Conference 1968: http://www.lambethconference.org/resolutions/1968/1968-23.cfm.

37. Gitari, David, ‘The Church and Polygamy’, Transformation 1.1 (1984), pp. 310. See also David Gitari, ‘Rethinking Polygamy: Jesus Spoke Against Divorce, not Polygamy’, The Other Side 24.3 (1988), pp. 42, 43.

38. Krumm, Letters from Lambeth, p. 91.

39. Samuel and Sugden, Lambeth, p. 126.

41. Prichard, A History of the Episcopal Church, pp. 289, 290.

42. http://www.ekk.org/ (accessed 15 March 2008).

43. Prichard, A History of the Episcopal Church, p. 291.

44. Hassett, Anglican Communion in Crisis, pp. 51, 52.

45. Hassett, Anglican Communion in Crisis, p. 58.

47. Hassett, Anglican Communion in Crisis, p. 60.

48. ‘The Dallas Statement’, Transformation 15.1 (1998), pp. 3032.

49. Douglas, Ian, ‘Lambeth 1998 and the “New Colonialism” ’, The Witness 81.5 (1998), pp. 812 (11).

50. Douglas, ‘Lambeth 1998 and the “New Colonialism” ‘, p. 11.

51. Jim Naughton, ‘Following the Money’, http://www.edow.org/follow/(accessed 20 February 2008).

52. Naughton, ‘Following the Money’, p. 4.

53. Naughton, ‘Following the Money’, p. 2.

54. Hassett, Anglican Communion in Crisis, p. 210.

55. Hassett, Anglican Communion in Crisis, p. 237.

61. Hassett, Anglican Communion in Crisis, pp. 113, 114.

62. Hassett, Anglican Communion in Crisis, p. 114.

63. Hassett, Anglican Communion in Crisis, p. 126.

64. Jenkins, Philip, The Next Christendom (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002), p. 204.

65. For the sake of consistency, I use the term ‘dissidents’ in this essay to describe those within the ECUSA who were dissatisfied with the trend of the denomination’s leadership toward more liberal ecclesiastical policies, specifically with regard to the role of gay and lesbian persons within the ECUSA. I understand that many within this movement would not necessarily apply this term to themselves but may prefer to speak in terms of ‘authentic provinces’ and the formation of non-geographic dioceses. I use the term ‘dissident’ in this essay without any sense of value judgment upon the actions taken or beliefs held by persons within such groups. I employ it only in the sense that they disagreed with the prevailing actions taken by the ECUSA’s leadership in the later decades of the twentieth century.

66. Jenkins, The Next Christendom, p. 5.

67. Hassett, Anglican Communion in Crisis, p. 3.

68. http://www.acn-us.org/about/ (accessed 20 January 2008).

69. http://www.theamia.org/experience/rec-reading (accessed 15 January 2008).

71. The Way, The Truth, and The Life, p. 33.

72. Jenkins, The Next Christendom, p. 14.

73. Hassett, Anglican Communion in Crisis, p. 175.

74. Jenkins, The Next Christendom, p. 204.

1. Jason Bruner is a Ph.D. candidate at Princeton Theological Seminary. He would like to acknowledge Ian Douglas, Ph.D., and Margaret Guider, O.S.F., Th.D., for their generous contributions and guidance in the researching of this article.

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Journal of Anglican Studies
  • ISSN: 1740-3553
  • EISSN: 1745-5278
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-anglican-studies
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