Commentary by Robin G. Jordan
To those who are hailing February Primates’ Meeting as a victory for conservatives in the Anglican Communion, I say look again at the Communiqué that the primates issued at the conclusion of their meeting.
 Nowhere in their Communiqué do the Primates say that the blessing of homosexual couples and the consecration of a bishop involved in a homosexual relationship are contrary to the Word of God. This is one of the flaws of the Windsor Report and like the Windsor Report the Communiqué studiously avoids drawing attention to this fact, much less affirming that both practices are clearly at odds with what holy Scripture teaches.
 Paragraph 6 acknowledges that “these developments within the Episcopal Church (USA) and the Anglican Church of Canada have proceeded entirely in accordance with their constitutional processes and requirements. This statement, however, is not entirely true because the preface of the Constitution of the Episcopal Church commits that body to upholding and preserving the historical Christian faith. With its confirmation and consecration of a bishop involved in a homosexual relationship and its sanctioning of the blessing of homosexual couples, the Episcopal Church - as has been repeatedly pointed out - violated its own Constitution.
Paragraph 6 speaks of homosexuals as “human beings whose affections happened to be ordered toward people of the same sex,” suggesting the view widely held in liberal circles in the Anglican Communion that God made gays and lesbians the way that they are and that their adoption of a homosexual lifestyle is not a question of moral choice. It goes on to assure homosexuals that “they are children of God, loved and valued by him, and deserving of the best we can give of pastoral care and friendship.” The language of this passage is misleading. All human beings are children of God only in the most indirect sense. God made Adam and Eve, the first man and woman, and they can be viewed as God’s children and therefore we as their descendants might be viewed as his children. On this basis and Jesus’ reference to God as Father theological liberals extend the status of children of God to the entire human race. The biblical view, however, is that we are God’s creatures and God delights in what he created, enough to send into the world his Son that all who believe in him may not perish but have eternal life. We become his children only by adoption through faith in the One whom God sent. Faith involves repentance and repentance involves active turning away from sin. In the choice of language in this sentence we have an example of the theology of radical inclusion which asserts that God accepts everybody as his children just as they are and does not require faith or repentance upon their part. Of course, gays and lesbians deserve the best we can give of pastoral care and friendship but this does not include ordaining practicing homosexuals, consecrating them as bishops, or blessing their relationships. This, however, is invariably what theological liberals imply when they use these or similar words. What we are reading here are code words just like those that Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold used in his sermon at St. Ann’s on the Sunday before the Primates’ Meeting. The Communiqué was written jointly by theological liberal and conservative primates so the intrusion of this kind of language into the Communiqué is not surprising.
 Paragraph 15 states:
In order to protect the integrity and legitimate need of groups in serious theological dispute with their diocesan bishop, or dioceses in dispute with their Provinces, we recommend that the Archbishop of Canterbury appoint, as a matter of urgency, a panel of reference to supervise the adequacy of pastoral provisions made by any churches for such members in line with the recommendations in the Primates’ Statement of October 2003 (xii).
How will the “panel of reference” once appointed go about supervising the adequacy of these pastoral provisions? What powers will it have to ensure compliance with the recommendations in the Primates’ Statement of October 2003? Since the primates acknowledge in their Communiqué that the Anglican Communion has no international jurisdiction that can override provincial autonomy, the only power that the panel of reference will have is that of moral persuasion. We have already seen in the period leading up to the 2003 General Convention and since then, how deaf the Episcopal Church’s revisionist bishops are to moral persuasion. The recommended measure will leave those groups in serious theological disputes with their diocesan bishops and those dioceses, with their provinces at the mercy of the diocesan bishop or the province as the case may be. A number of bishops in the Episcopal Church USA have refused to accept any diminishment of their authority in their dioceses. They are not only hostile to the idea of alternative Episcopal oversight but have threatened clergy and congregations in their jurisdictions with retaliation if they seek this oversight. Some of them have carried out this threat. A new set of disciplinary canons have been proposed for the Episcopal Church that would make it much easier for diocesan bishops in such disputes to take heavy-handed action against those with whom they are involved in a serious theological dispute. Further the proposed disciplinary canons permit the disciplining of Episcopalians who seek redress in disputes with their diocesan bishop in the civil courts.
Paragraph 15 goes on to state:
Equally, during this period we commit ourselves neither to encourage nor to initiate cross-boundary interventions.
In the three years between the February Primates’ Meeting and the 2008 Lambeth Conference the global South primates pledge not to intervene in the jurisdictions of the Episcopal Church USA and the Anglican Church of Canada. This gives the two provinces three years in which they can proceed with the further implementation of their doctrinal and moral innovations with the global South primates binding themselves not to do anything. To whom can groups in serious theological disputes with their diocesan bishop turn? They must suffer at the hands of their diocesan bishop or leave the Episcopal Church or the Anglican Church of Canada to join other churches and to loose their Anglican identity. Most of these groups are orthodox in their Christian faith and thoroughly Anglican in their identity. What has gotten them into trouble with their bishop is that they are committed to preserving and upholding the historic Christian faith and the Anglican tradition.
 Paragraph 18 in its choice of language suggests that the standard of Christian teaching on matters of human sexuality expressed in the 1998 Lambeth Resolution 1.10 is provisional and is subject to change at some future date. It states, “In reaffirming the 1998 Lambeth Conference Resolution 1.10 as the present position of the Anglican Communion…” However, the Anglican Communion can have only one position on matters of human sexuality and remain a fellowship of churches with a historical, orthodox understanding of biblical Christianity. That position is the position of the Bible itself. Paragraph 18 further suggests that the Anglican Communion’s leading bishops have been somehow amiss in not taking “positive steps to initiate the listening and study process which has been the subject of resolutions not only at the Lambeth Conference in 1998, but in earlier Conferences as well.“ The inference is that the conservative primates have been blocking a process that could eventually lead to a quite different position in matters of human sexuality – one more permissive of homosexual practice.
Before we begin to slap each other on the back and sit down to celebrative dinners, we need to recognize that the primates have been persuaded to postpone action upon the Windsor Report and its recommendations until the 2008 Lambeth Conference. The caution with which the Archbishop of Sydney Peter Jensen received the Communiqué has much to commend it. The primates have called for only the voluntary withdrawal of the Episcopal Church USA and the Anglican Church of Canada from one of the so-called instruments of unity – the Anglican Consultative Council. They have asked the Anglican Consultative Council to organize a hearing at its June meeting and have asked the two provinces to send representatives to that hearing to present the thinking behind the recent actions of each province. I do not believe that we should read anything more into these requests. What remains to be seen is how the Episcopal Church USA and the Anglican Church of Canada react to the Communiqué and how they act in the next three years – especially those bishops who have been aggressively promoting the homosexual agenda in their dioceses. A lot can happen in a space of three years.
The revisionists in the Episcopal Church USA and the Anglican Church of Canada can be expected to exploit this postponement. Three years will give them plenty of time to regroup and restrategize. Their hope is that they will gain a wider and more sympathetic hearing at the 2008 Lambeth Conference from which they have not been asked to withdraw. The revisionists have successfully used the process of dialogue, listening, and study in the past to wear down their opponents, to weaken their resolve, to turn public opinion against them, and to bring its pressure upon them. The revisionists are also hoping that the united front that the global South primates displayed at the February Primates’ Meeting will crack over a period of three years. While they may not have won the primates to their cause, they hope to win individual bishops in the global South provinces. For a very small church the Episcopal Church USA also has a large number of bishops. A past complaint from the global South provinces has been that the Episcopal Church USA is overly-represented in the Lambeth Conference. The revisionists firmly believe that time is on their side and eventually the Anglican Communion will come around to their way of thinking.
Episcopalians in the United States and Anglicans in Canada who are committed to the pure teaching of the Bible in matters of faith and morality need to pray for each other and to support each other more than ever. The American Anglican Council, the Anglican Communion Network, the Anglican Mission in America, the Anglican Province in America, Forward in Faith North America, and the Reformed Episcopal Church need to expand and strengthen their working relationships at all levels. Let us remember that our Lord has promised to abide with those who abide in him. Those who abide in the True Vine will bear much fruit. God will be glorified in them. Those who do the will of our Father in heaven are the real brothers and sisters of Christ, the Church of our Lord and Savior.