My Thoughts

March 23, 2007

My thoughts on the weeks events?

The bottom line is that I believe the House of Bishops did what it had to do, and I am happy about that.  They have been backed into a corner by forces that have, over a period of time, twisted the Anglican Communion into something that looks much more Roman than it does Anglican.

From the House of Bishops’ Communication: “It is a very serious departure from our English Reformation heritage. It abandons the generous orthodoxy of our Prayer Book tradition. It sacrifices the emancipation of the laity for the exclusive leadership of high-ranking Bishops. And, for the first time since our separation from the papacy in the 16th century, it replaces the local governance of the Church by its own people with the decisions of a distant and unaccountable group of prelates.”

I wrote about the power of the laity and the “common man” a few days ago here.

I remain tremendously sad, though, for our Church as a whole.

Anglicanism is scarred.  The Episcopal Church may be on the verge of emerging from this mess stronger in our tradition as a result of really trying hard to keep the tensions that have always allowed us to be a via media; balancing the issues of community and with justice for each person; the common good and the need for individualism; law and freedom; authority and and empowerment.

But our global brethren have not remained in those tensions with us.  Even though we in the Episcopal Church are doing what we can to be the light of the world, trying to maintain those tensions which define us as Christians, the Primates with the notable exception of one) have sacrificed justice for community; they have given way to empowerment for authority, they have let freedom be overly restricted by the laws of doctrine.  The tension – the mystery of the via media that we are called to live with and listen with as a particular people of faith who call ourselves Christians seems to be gone to an extremity.

Of course, it isn’t all over yet and we don’t know what will happen.

I rejoice and celebrate for what our Bishops have done because of the theological implications on our tradition and our view of orthodoxy in our church.

Orthodoxy as something which always struggles and is never quite sure of itself is something much more reassuring to me than a monolithic orthodoxy that is impassible and has all the answers, or an orthodoxy which is selectively used to decide how we must govern ourselves going forward.  Somehow the latter two definitions of orthodoxy are just too easy and I don’t think we are called to lead an easy life.

I give thanks for being a part of such a tradition as ours in TEC, for I truly don’t know what I would have done if the Bishops had complied with the Primates requests.

But I am also sad for the catholicity of the church– not because I think anybody’s salvation is at stake, or anything mystical.  But I am sad for a church which valued the tension and understood that unity did not mean uniformity, as it did in the days of our reformation.

I think that time may be gone in Anglicanism.

Even as I have certain professors in school who uphold the teachings of the primates and some who uphold the teachings of the House of Bishops in polity, authority, and doctrine; I see that Episcopalianism may be becoming divergent from Anglicanism.

That makes me sad.  I am happy to be a part of the tradition which values the tensions I have mentioned, but at the same time I am sad that so many in the larger tradition are walking away from them and devaluing what has always been primary in our Anglican experience- our common worship and experience of doing what it is that the church does that forms us as creatures that believe in our Lord Christ Jesus.

j

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