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The Episcopalians Go From Smashmouth to Mealymouth

That’s one way of looking at Sarah Hey’s assessment of TEC’s new Presiding Bishop:

2) Presiding Bishop-elect Curry has a lovely speaking voice and will continue to offer nice sermons. This will serve, no doubt, to assuage some of the embarrassment that moderates and not a few liberal Episcopalians felt when they heard Katherine Jefferts Schori’s sermons.

3) Presiding Bishop-elect Curry will say quite a number of pretty things about “Jesus.”  This will be a great relief, again, to those who have had to struggle to defend or explain away the frank and rather coarse unbelief of Katherine Jefferts Schori.

This should, however, be put in the larger context of the Anglican-Episcopal world.  One thing Curry will become is a tool in Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby’s attempt to put the Humpty-Dumpty of the Anglican Communion back together again.  As I noted last year in discussion Welby’s snubbing of the ACNA:

In addition to centralising what it means to be in the Communion, Welby, for his part, is probably stalling for time until TEC elects a new Presiding Bishop to replace Katharine Jefferts-Schori next year.  While it’s unlikely that TEC will choose a less heterodox leader than KJS, their new choice may revert to a more traditionally Episcopalian mealy-mouth style and not KJS’s smash-mouth style.  If they do that, Welby may try to achieve a reconciliation while “holding the keys” to the communion.

TEC has done just that.  And there’s no doubt that they’ll peel off a few here and there, as Tory Baucum is evidence of.  But, in addition to the yawning chasm between the revisionists and the orthodox, we have one more factor at work: institutional inertia.  It’s hard to believe that, having put together their own province with their own army of bishops and one Archbishop, that they would simply revert en masse to TEC.  Sorting out ecclesiastical jobs has always been the bane of Christian institutional unity; it’s torpedoed denominational mergers even when issues such as divide TEC and ACNA are not on the table.

But one should never underestimate the power of Anglican Fudge.  Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.


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