A Few Things All Anglicans Should Know

November 21, 2006

I don’t usually post things like this, but I’ve had quite a few discussions with folks who like to look at the Anglican Communion as a governing body for the church’s autonomous provinces which are held together by the mystery of the bonds of affection in the Holy Spirit.  I do get tired of writing about the antics of the Church.

As pointed out on Fr Jake Stops the World, the Archbishop of Capetown in South Africa recently made some statements calling to light some of the lesser publicized but equally important prounouncements of Lambeth, the worldwide gathering of all Anglican bishops:

  1. ++Ndungane is disappointed at the overwhelming attention paid to resolution 1.1 (on human sexuality)
  2. Resolution 2.2 describes the Lambeth gathering as a “consultative body.”  Those looking for a papal replacement– whether in a single person, council, committee, or gathering of any kind will not find it in Anglicanism.  We just don’t place that kind of authority for doctrine in our leadership centrally.  While some look to 1.1 as an authoritative doctrine for the church, it simply isn’t.  It is a consultative, not authoratative, pronouncement.
  3. Resolution 5.13 reasserts the agreement between the bishops of the church to respect the autonomous borders of each province, which have been violated most recently by Nigeria and other orthodox provinces.
  4. A resolution to condemn gay and lesbian people was defeated at Lambeth, which should be noted given the way that 1.1 has been interpreted.

Of course the same thing can be done in the Windsor report, and we can extract “Orthodox” things that have been taken out of context and blow apart the assertions that have now been made by the so-called “Windsor-compliant” bishops.

We really do see the church differently.

What is concerning to me is not that we see the church differently.  God has created different kinds of people, with different experiences to bring to the lens of interpreting scripture and with different gifts to the ministry.  There is really no wonder that with such a big God we see God differently.

What concerns me is the willingness of a few to project their view of God on so many– the willingness not to reach out in common bonds of affection to look for ways to grow together but instead to draw up fences around themselves in order to try and dig heels in to make sure that grow is limited in the direction they desire.

That is just so clearly a human condition of brokenness that of course it is difficult to reconcile.

Of course, they would say the same thing about me.  The difference is that I’m willing to live together despite the difference.  In fact, I think it is in those differences that we are called to live.  How boring would it be if we were all the same?  If we all agreed all the time?  God’s too creative for that.  That’s not the creation he imagined.

But some cannot live without a stark black and white reality– only the “right” and “wrong” answers that they can theologize out of their very limited existence.  We are all limited.  How can any of us possibly be so arrogant as to assume that we can have all the “right” or “wrong” answers?  Only by living together in the shades of grey can we have any hope.  Only by reconciling in Christ Jesus can we find our salvation.  Not only reconciling in a relationship with God– but reconciling with each other.

That is our calling.  What a shame that we choose not to live up to it.


2 Responses to “A Few Things All Anglicans Should Know”

  1. EFOH Says:

    Keep the focus on justice, not condemnation. It was a move toward justice when people began to realize that it isn’t reasonable to throw gays into jail or to demean them socially. Now that they’re organizing to make homosexuality the equivalent of the marital act, it’s a move toward justice to prevent naive young people from entering a life that involves destroying the physical and emotional well-being of partners.

  2. Jeff Says:

    I’m not sure what you mean, EFOH. If you mean that the orthodox are trying to keep young people from entering a homosexual life, that is a contradiction. It is a well-established fact that gays and lesbians do not choose our orientation. Why would we choose to be oppressed? Rather we go through a long and complicated journey of coming to terms with the fulness of who God made us.

    Rather I would agree let’s focus on justice– for the young gay person who feels isolated. The church has not provided any resources for him to cope with his orientation, likely neither has his family, his school, nor his friends. Perhaps he contemplates suicide as his only way out. It is also a well documented fact that suicide among GLBT teens is much higher than among their straight counterparts because there is no justice among these communities– no support, no compassion, no empathy.

    Yes, let’s do focus on justice for the young in our community. Not by preventing them from achieving their full potential as you suggest, but by enabling them to achieve it in honoring the relationships that God gives us in full equality within the institution of the church.


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