• RSS Subscribe to Blog

  • PAGES

  • RECENT PONDERINGS

  • RECENT COMMENTS

    Steve on SAINTLY?
    Paul Nicholson on SAINTLY?
    RGE on Calling the Shots
    Walter J. Tanner on MARRIAGE EXTENSION
    franiel32 on IN THIS COMPANY
  • ARCHIVES

  • BLOG STATS

    • 112,936 hits

WHITHER THE CHURCH?

The Anglican Communion staggers on into the New Year, battered and in imperfect communion. This past year has been tough for those who believe in “Communion” aka Church. Of course in a divided Christendom every use of the word “Church” with either a capital or small “c” falls short of its precise definition or the hope of its calling. If the two words are not precise synonyms, one can’t have one without the other. Rather like love and marriage, sacramental communion is at the heart of what we mean by Church and church.

Mere Anglicans are offered two remedies for our systemic malady. Our GAFCON co-religionists through their proposed rival American Province offer what appears to me to be a romantic and anachronistic vision, summoned from a day when “Anglicanism” was young and tied unevenly to the Continental Reformation. Whether the charred shades of the Edwardian bishops or  even the views of their more radical sectarian successors would adapt easily to the modern separatist scene is quite another matter. Certainly the ideal of a confessional form of Anglicanism tight on doctrinal interpretation and easy on ecclesiology, now relegated to adiaphora is quite another matter.

Oddly their mirror image seems similarly romantic and confessional. Despite often sneering rejoinders to separatists, those who largely govern TEC propose an appealing version of a 60s vision of peace and light, perhaps in blissful dysnjunction with the reality of the society in which conservatives and liberals have conspired to seduce us all with what has turned out to be greed, and a “me” centered lifestyle. Our present economic collapse is the proof of that pudding.  The TEC Establishment would love to enshrine their new morality in Canon and regulation, probably enacted next year at General Convention, forming a corpus of “doctrine” as formidable as those which emerged from Jersusalem in 2008. If the Communion refuses to accept these new principles many are just as willing to secede from the Communion as are many in Gafcon. A North American independent Church looks good to them.

Those who propose a Covenant as a remedy to these dis-eases, may seem equally willing to embrace a “doctrinal” solution. I tend to see the drafts of a Covenant so far presented less in terms of a doctrinal proposal as a presentation of a portrait or a family history. The Draft Covenant reminds us who we are and whom we serve. It speaks to an authentically Anglican voice or perhaps harmony of voices, the sum total of that which has and continues to describe the Anglican choir and its repetoire. Like any other adjectival construct, the Covenant so far has attempted to “describe and limit” a noun. The noun is the word Anglican.

The framers of the final draft of a Covenant must seek to say who we are without being too restrictive and what we believe without being wildly broad. If we lose our liberality and civility, our legitimate breadth in an attempt to rein in our radicals on both sides we will blur our portrait. If we give too greater latitude to “novelty” we will suggest a much too radical role for a Communion for which inclusion and tolerance denies the role of wild speculation and internal conflict, for living into inclusion involves a moderation not necessary in groups in which the majority rules. Perhaps the Covenant should finally frame our unwritten Constitutional principle as Anglicans that no section or group however temporarily ascendent should enact rules which violate the principles of any other significant constituent “party” within the Anglican comprehension.