OPINION PIECE BY AUTHOR
While I was filming from the Last Lambeth Conference I added a bumper to each video titled "The Last Lambeth". This was me editorializing on what I was observing on the grounds of Kent University in Canterbury, England. I was watching a conference which was first called to deal with heresy and lawsuits at its genesis in 1867 turn into a meeting where the shepherds of the Church were called together to deal with nothing and talk about everything.
It would seem the theme of the “Last” has been picked up by the Weekly Standard
The Archbishop of Canterbury is going to resign next year. At least that’s the story making the rounds of newspapers in London, and the interesting part is not that the 61-year-old Rowan Williams should be willing to give up another decade in the job. Or even, if the Telegraph is right, that the clergy and his fellow bishops are working to push him out.
No, the interesting news about the looming resignation is how little attention anyone appears to be paying to it. The Church of England just doesn’t seem to matter all that much, fading from the world’s stage only slightly more slowly than the British Empire that planted it across the globe.
Theological consequences will follow the dwindling of Anglican identity—the claim, ever since Queen Elizabeth I, that the Church of England represents the great middle way between Protestantism and Catholicism. Ecclesiological consequences, as well, will follow the end of Anglican unity: the disappearance of a coherent, worldwide denomination, led by the Archbishop of Canterbury, for those who hold a certain moderate form of Christian belief.
In fact, the Weekly Standard has really been paying attention:
The rise of the African church could have made Canterbury an important player in international relations—not exactly a rival to Rome (Catholicism’s one billion adherents make that unlikely) but at least a second European center with which Africans would have felt a relation and to which they could have looked for intellectual and ecclesial authority.
Instead, hardly anyone notices when the Archbishop of Canterbury is about to be replaced and the unity of Anglicanism is about to be shattered. The job of the Archbishop of Canterbury has always been something of a high-wire act, delicately balanced between the Protestant impulses of the church on one side and its Catholic impulses on the other side. And, from time to time, various archbishops have lost their balance (notably when John Henry Newman slipped away to Catholicism in the battles over the Oxford Movement in the 1840s).
Don't let this article freak you out too much. We have certainly seen the Last Lambeth in its present form, and we have witnessed the Last Days of a Canterbury Church -- but Anglicanism can't be stopped -- it is a Spirit-driven expression of of God's love for us and His Church.
Read it and please add your comments below. Is Rowan the last Archbishop of Canterbury?