It seems like Jon Shuler is a really good guy with a great heart for what needs to be done. It must eat him up to see what ACNA has become. A denomination that gives lip service to evangelism but is really, among other things, just trying to recreate an orthodox, stable, mainline denomination in new clothing. Shuler is not satisfied with building institutions but wants to evangelize as that is what the church is supposed to be doing: making disciples. His blog and his podcast give ample insights into how he sees ACNA.
The bullet points in my last post, drawn from the Stand Firm podcasts he did, touch on some things that I think deserve more focus in constructing a true history of Anglicanism as it exists today. First: money, second: personality problems.
He mentions all the money that was raised from Pawley’s Island in particular. Deep pockets have funded various sectors of “the realignment.” This has frequently been a bad thing. Have you ever been part of a church where a rich donor or two call the shots and the church bends to their will? I have and it is always weird, and sometimes worse. Expand that to the national or international stage and you have some of the problems that exist. He touched on it briefly, and I never see it mentioned much in written accounts, but the donors behind all these movements have more to do with the history than all the various statements, conferences, prayer books, and bishops, and yet you probably don’t even know their names.
Second, personality problems. Shuler frequently mentions the Bob Duncan versus Chuck Murphy split. However, I think you can add several other big names into the mix and find just as many stresses and strains tied to their animosity. Again, almost none of this is in print, but these clerics love to talk and if you are ever around them, you hear it. Why did CANA exist rather than simply joining the already existing AMiA or waiting for ACNA to finally emerge? I suspect it had to do at least in part with personality issues. That’s just one group.
I also think Shuler’s account of how the Rwanda/AMiA blowup happened is wrong in many places. Also, his version of Chuck Murphy as someone who never punched back and just took hits all the time doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. That leads me to one of the main problems with the entire history of this thing: people have overlooked the bad actors in charge in order to further the mission. Shuler mentions how AMiA was attracting “pirates” but he still defends Murphy in relation to Rwanda. There have been and are a good deal of kooks, weirdos, and narcissists who have led these churches and who are tolerated because we don’t want to rock the boat. When your main goal is to just grow, you make mistakes. Church growth doesn’t come from a formula. You don’t create evangelists on an assembly line. I think Shuler is right to want a Great Commission church instead of the lazy mess that is ACNA, but when steps are taken in that direction, they usually backfire—see Via Apostolica.
I’ll move on for now…