As the Scriptures teach, there really is nothing new under the sun, and the excitement about a possible new “parallel” Anglican Province of the Pure is making me think it’s time for everyone to sit down and have a little lesson in history. More specifically, people need to remember that all this happened once before, 70 years ago in South Africa.
Like the present dispute, the South African schism had festered for many years before finally coming to a head, although in this case the object of seething self-righteous anger was not those with the temerity to insist that God is capable of accepting those who live and love as God made them to do, but rather that other time-honoured scourge of Calvinist children everywhere – Anglo-Catholics.
After a couple of legal tiffs over property in 1932 & 1936, which left the score one-all in the battle to decide who actually owned all the real estate, the Archbishop of Sydney Australia decided to lend a hand – is everyone beginning to see a pattern here? Naturally with WW2 looming the rest of the Communion was a little preoccupied with more disturbing events, and in 1938 the result was a water-tight constitution for the evangelical escapees, who now had a new church recognised by nobody in the world except itself and Sydney.
The introduction of apartheid in 1948 saw the proud schismatics - who now called themselves “The Church of England in South Africa” (CESA), - grow further away from their sacerdotalist brethren, the Church of the Province of Southern Africa (now the Anglican Church of Southern Africa), who remained in communion with Canterbury. The appointment of Desmond Tutu as Bishop of Cape Town in the 1980s really brought CESA’s difference into stark contrast: unlike the wicked godless Liberals of the CPSA, the CESA leadership diligently obeyed the law concerning racially-mixed gatherings, and today shamelessly explain they “were only following orders”.
Which is, of course, not to say CESA ever actively supported apartheid. As their web site says: “segregation along racial lines was never a policy of the Church but was the practice as a result of language, cultural and geographic differences.” That’s quite right – the colored folk simply lived in the poor parts of town that no good white family would dream of visiting, and because the two races were so different it made perfect sense for them to keep separate, particularly given that the law said they should. Less well known is the fact that CESA leadership were physically unable to speak out against apartheid because God had made their hearts out of chickenshit.
All of which is enough background for now, my dear sinners. In the coming week I’ll expound further upon the many implications this precedent has for our own age: never forget that those who fail to learn from the mistakes of the past are compelled to repeat them – or at least end up looking as silly as ±Booby Duncan.
I’m Father Christian and I teach the Bible.