The current situation is a twofold crisis for the Anglican Communion: a crisis of doctrine and a crisis of leadership, in which the failure of the “Instruments” of the Communion to exercise discipline has called into question the viability of the Anglican Communion as a united Christian body under a common foundation of faith, as is supposed by the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral. Due to this breakdown of discipline, we are not sure that we can in good conscience continue to spend our time, our money and our prayers on behalf of a body that proclaims two Gospels, the Gospel of Christ and the Gospel of Sexuality….
In light of the above, we have concluded that we must receive assurances from the Primates and the Archbishop of Canterbury that this crisis will be resolved before a Lambeth Conference is convened. There is no point, in our view, in meeting and meeting and not resolving the fundamental crisis of Anglican identity. We will definitely not attend any Lambeth Conference to which the violators of the Lambeth Resolution are also invited as participants or observers. (Emphases in the original)
While we know that to be received by a meeting of the Global South Primates is not the same as expressing commitments of all the Global South Primates, this raises the possibility that more African Provinces might follow suit.
I’ve suggested in several venues that Archbishop Williams is committed to the Communion, but is practicing brinksmanship by stalling until we all see who loses patience and leaves the table. I have described this in places as an ecclesial game of “Let’s You and Him Fight,” a “game,” or unhealthy pattern of behavior, described in Transactional Analysis.
Now, in light of the current announcements of departure (and, yes, I know that announcements are not yet actual departures), I’ve decided a different game describes it better. The game is Bull Poker, a novelty event that is a part of some American rodeos. A table is set in the middle of the rodeo arena, and participants take their places at the table. Sometimes they even play actual poker. While they sit, a fighting bull is released into the arena, with the expectation it will charge the table and the players. There is a cash prize, and it’s won by the last person brave enough (or perhaps stupid enough) to sit at the table. You can hear a participant describe the game, and watch a video of it here.
Now, my point is not to analyze the metaphor too closely. I haven’t decided whether the bull is the conflict incarnate, or the issues of the conflict (which certainly won’t go away), or some individual. I do think it is a reasonable metaphor for the current news. And I am sure of two things: no one will come away from the table unscathed; and Canterbury still establishes the game.