A comment on my original post from an ACoC priest who claims to be orthodox prompted me to consider this further and, rather than cram my response into the comments, I thought I’d reply in a post. Here is the comment:
I keep hearing about the ACOC and the TEC in this pit of Apostasy and that conservatives staying for the money and pension . Well can’t speak for all conservatives but the ones I know are staying because they can preach the gospel without repercussions.
This is a common argument given by conservatives who remain in the Anglican Church of Canada. Between 2008 and 2010 I chatted with George Sumner, principal of Wycliffe college, John Bowen who taught evangelism at Wycliffe and Alan Hayes, professor of church history at Wycliffe. One way or the other, they all justified their continuing in the ACoC because they were still allowed to preach the Gospel.
The undercurrent here, of course, is the unstated follow-on, which begins: “in spite of”. I would claim in spite of the ACoC no longer being a Christian denomination. They would not have gone that far but, I think, all would concede that the ACoC had strayed from the Gospel.
However one characterises it, it is akin, to borrow an idea from Malcolm Muggeridge, to being a piano player playing hymns in a whorehouse in the hope that it might distract the clientele from the business at hand.
I think Messrs. Sumner, Bowen and Hayes were deceiving themselves.
The problem is this. Their continuing presence in the ACoC lends a legitimacy to the enterprise which it does not deserve. The fact that there are still some orthodox Christian priests in the denomination might lead the unwary to conclude that the denomination itself is still a Christian Church – an illusion it is desperate to maintain.
There is no polite or easy way to address or remedy the rot which is eating away at the ACoC. I recall a synod in my former diocese where a number of priests walked out over the decision to allow same-sex blessings (at the time, assurances were given that same-sex marriages would never happen). A liberal priest – a rather pompous and bombastic specimen, I might add – stood up, spluttering that, by walking out, the conservatives were declaring him not to be a Christian. Well, I know that was not their intention, but I think the histrionic cleric was on to something.
If our decision in this life for or against Christ is what determines our eternal destination, if, as C. S. Lewis said, we are all, every moment, helping each other to a place of either unending glory or horror, why persevere in belonging to an organisation that has not only lost sight of this but is actively encouraging its followers along the road to the wrong destination?