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GAMALIEL

Well like it or not, and I tend not to, most of the GAFCON leaders are members of our Communion. What are the bounds of dissent? Strangely enough this is the central question raised by the Anglican Covenant. Any competent historian will note that we have fought our doctrinal wars lustily and with little restraint other than that self-imposed by an occasional attack of charity.

 

 

So TEC struggles with the right and limit of self-expression, even for bishops and those who commend the Covenant do the same. That both seem to reach different conclusions is par for the course in our comprehension.
By the way, this isn’t the first time that the Diocese of South Carolina embraced a theology not generally received elsewhere in TEC. In the early 19th Century is was the center of a Calvinist revival which spread through the South and was largely responsible for the growth of TEC westward. The polemics indulged in by the factional journals and sermons of the time make our current conflict look wimpy. Because we have always been remarkable hospitable to new (or old) movements there has been a constant shift in opinions, always resisted by those who gained ascendancy the last time!  What seems “progressive” becomes “traditionalist” when threatened. And yet through our history this very ability and liberality has renewed and refreshed us. Gamaliel might be our patron saint.
More than once in our history as a distinct face in Christianity we have slipped into coercion in a fit of insecurity and fright. The results have never been pleasant or honoring to God. Our vocation is to be comprehensive, our practice from time to time is to be exclusive.
Now if TEC concludes that it must save its life by excluding those who dissent from its policies, it may well lose its life as Anglican. Knowing one is right is heady medicine and easily morphs into repression.
I have no idea who has reported the Bishop of South Carolina to the Disciplinary Board. I have read some of their supporters moan that their diocese has been taken away from them, reproducing the Low Church laments when states like Illinois were taken over by Anglo Catholics in the 19th Century. My advice would be to let well alone. If South Carolina can stay in TEC, despite cavils and dramatic language and canonical amendments, let it. We have so much see to do if we are to stem our Provincial decline.

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