By now it should be clear that the contributors to The Continuum respect the authority and sacramental gifts of the pioneer bishops who, like St. Athanasius of old, have chosen exile from the official Anglican Communion over heresy, and have refused to lay down their calling to ordain and consecrate men, and to establish churches that preach the true Gospel. It should be clear, as well, that we lament the divisions between true Anglicans whose causes of division have nothing to do with charges of unrepentant sin or heresy, which are the only two legitimate reasons for the kind of disunity we see.
"Donatism" refers to the error of those who were all too harsh, unwilling to welcome back into the fellowship of the Church those who had lapsed out of fear during the early centuries of persecution. They lost the necessary idea of forgiveness, and lost their compassion as well. “Old Beef” about, for example, certain consecrations at a place called “Deerfield Beach” somewhere, whether they were right or wrong, are no proper grounds for a new Donatism that keeps schism alive and well, as if it is a precious thing to be nurtured and protected for all coming generations.
Unless people are in a state of unrepentant sin, or heresy, rather than in a state merely of disagreement, it is time to put away Donatism and old beefs. Frankly, what I mentioned above (Deerfield Beach) is an example of nothing more than disagreement: It is wrong to demand that people repent of something they believe to have been right (unless it is proved by scripture, objectively, to violate a commandment- which is most certainly not the case). Unless the charge can be made of unrepentant sin or ongoing heresy, drop it.
From the very beginning of the CC movement the Continuing Anglicans were going their own way, each of the original bishops deciding that the others were not good enough, and would not build a pure and perfect sort of “Anglican” Church. Despite that failure, and despite the divisions into jurisdictions, and despite the many imitators who have taken advantage of religious liberty to create their own “provinces,” the CC movement has grown and flourished. In reply to the many who want to write our obituary, we are alive and constantly growing larger.
The reason is simple: the basic idea of maintaining orthodoxy as Anglicans is right and good, and a better alternative than staying loyal to Canterbury where ever that means being part of churches that teach and practice heresy (about which I quote the words of Saint Maximos the Confessor concerning the then heretic Patriarch of Constantinople: “We are not in communion”). And, for us it is a better alternative than swimming the Tiber, as if we could accept Vatican I or other Roman innovations. As the late Fr. Louis Tarsitano put it in an e-mail to me, “the only valid reason for being Anglican is rejection of innovation, whether it is Roman innovation or Protestant innovation.” It is also a better alternative than becoming Orthodox, and pretending that the latest version of ancient Christianity is perfect and pure, while rejecting basic Christian doctrines such as Atonement (which is absolutely necessary and in the Bible, like it or not) in order not to be “western”- even if being "un-western" amounts to a denial of genuine Orthodoxy itself.
Not for us all this. We are Anglicans by conviction, believing it to be the best way to be both Catholic and Evangelical without any double-mindedness. We see the truth and prophetic power of The Affirmation of St. Louis. There is no getting rid of us. What some of the older bishops need to understand is this: coming up behind them is a generation of future bishops who will not cherish and defend the old divisions. They will throw away old beefs, and choose forgiveness over Donatism. The little kingdoms of men will vanish away. We respect the sacramental power and the authority of their office; but as the CC moves into the future, the younger bishops will leave behind Donatism and Old Beef.