For most of Monday it appeared that only conservative Episcopalians felt angry or disappointed in the Windsor Report. Their expectations were fed by inaccurate Times (London) reports of the Episcopal Church being expelled or, as recently as this weekend, of a "star chamber" judging whether entire provinces should be expelled. It's appropriate, then, that the Times now brings this scorching commentary by John Shelby Spong, the retired bishop of Newark and a pioneer of ordaining openly gay clergy.
Spong blasts the report as "both an effort at damage control and an inadequate understanding of its subject matter." Conservative Anglicans would agree, but for entirely different reasons. Spong sees the report as a concession to "those with a limited understanding of modern life" who "imagine that a debate about homosexuality could be settled by quoting the Bible." Conservatives consider the report a concession to any province that moves ahead of the broader Anglican Communion, so long as it later apologizes for doing so.
Spong reaches his crescendo in this paragraph:
Would Anglicans in the Western world be asked to subscribe to a pre-modern mentality that opposes evolution or demands that the Virgin Birth be interpreted as literal biology? Would we destroy the tradition of the great Anglican scholars of the past and try to place modern minds once again into the pre-modern straitjacket of the 39 Articles? Will we reinstitute a version of the Anglican Inquisition so that we will no longer produce a William Temple or a John Robinson? These ideas are too ludicrous to contemplate.
Well, sort of. Considering the tepid recommendations of the Windsor Report, any talk of "reinstituting" an Anglican Inquisition that never existed truly is too ludicrous to contemplate.