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Posted on 03/02/2005 8:40:25 AM PST by sionnsar
Add the Dean of Southwark Cathedral, Colin Slee, to the growing list of Anglican liberals who think that the Anglican game is just about over:
There is a lot in theology about holding apparently irreconcilable polarities in a creative tension - "God is three and God is one". For many of us, however, that is harder to do, so we want the contradictoriness resolved; and so, of course, does the Christian right. Rowan Williams is grappling with a cultural change within the Anglican communion. Its historic inclusive generosity is in peril, and forces are at work that are no respecters of the communions founding genius - the ability to hold diversity together in generosity. I have great sympathy for him. Nobody wants to be the archbishop who presides over disintegration. But when unity becomes a priority it can throw a strategy for progress off course.
I agree with Colin here although he and I are not talking about the same thing. To me, the Anglican Communion ought to consist of Christian churches whose job it is to advance the Gospel of Jesus Christ. To Slee, the Communion is an entirely political entity pursuing entirely political goals. Hence his reference to a "strategy for progress" and his eagerness to cast aside Scriptures which get in his way. It's only natural that having to associate with people who will eagerly tear out pages of the Bible whenever the culture wants them to would be a hinderance to what I think the Church ought to be while having to say "No" to this or that favored group would be a hinderance to him.
Soon the Church of England may not be so broad and accommodating. In the national census, 73% of the population said they were Christians, of whom 52% said they were Anglicans; yet of those, the Church of Englands own figures show only about 4% - 1 million - attend church regularly. Millions of self-professed Anglicans have given up. Forget about evangelising the nation, the Church of England would do itself a lot of good if it understood why so many Christians have disappeared. It could be many times its present size without converting a single soul.
That's simple. For the last 50 years or so, the Church of England hasn't believed much of anything. It has become indistinguishable from the culture around it because too many of its ministers and bishops don't really believe the Gospel they preach every Sunday. Christians are supposed to be the salt of the earth but the Church of England lost its saltiness a long time ago. And you know what Jesus said happens to salt that is no longer salty.
The statement from the meeting of Anglican archbishops in Northern Ireland last week carries the tired mantra: "The victimisation or diminishment of human beings whose affections happen to be ordered towards people of the same sex is anathema to us." This carries less and less weight. Tolerance is a negative virtue inclining towards self-righteousness. Generosity reflects the gospel much more completely, a positive virtue that costs the giver.
Translation: it is no longer enough that we welcome homosexuals to worship in our churches, treat them with decency and respect and vigorously condemn those who would insult or brutalize them . "Generosity" requires that we ignore words that are written in our Bibles so they won't feel bad. Why, among all sins, homosexual activity is so favored is unclear; one doubts that Colin Slee would be as "generous" to BNP members, say. But that probably has something to do with the fact that at my old Episcopal parish, I don't remember ever hearing a sermon about the sin of adultery, probably because such a sermon would have hit way too close to home.
Humanity does not learn the lessons of history, which is littered with examples of tolerance gone wrong. We marked the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz in January, where homosexuals were burned; the Weimar republic tolerated extremes within its membership for the sake of unity. It is not enough to declare victimisation anathema. The church has to act against it, and to do less is to undergird homophobia with a "moral" justification. We need to embrace costly truthfulness. People are routinely oppressed as homosexuals in developing countries. Meanwhile HIV and Aids in Africa claim people at the level of the tsunami disaster every week. It must be a heterosexual problem because we are assured there are "no homosexuals" in Nigeria, Uganda and elsewhere.
Ballgame. Thanks for playing. With the employment of the reductio ad Hitlerum, Colin Slee officially loses the argument. The "logic," of course, is flawless. Nazis didn't like homosexuals. Nazis killed homosexuals. QED, conservative Christians are Nazis. One could be a twit here and point out that Jesus never said anything about "homophobia," whatever that is, and therefore nobody's undergirding anything at all with a moral justification since there is no such sin.
The archbishop is charged to hold together the Anglican communion, but he has a moral dilemma of deep spiritual seriousness: "Is it right to achieve a good by the wrong means? Who gets sacrificed along the way?" In small ways we all know that dilemma. For him it is on a global scale and therefore all the more ghastly. Perhaps the millions who have given up on the Church of England could mobilise their prayers for him. He has mine.
Granted, the Dean was down three games to none and was facing a rested Curt Schilling. But that was a pretty good at-bat just now and Slee's quite right. Is the Anglican Communion, as it is presently constituted, worth the compromises that someone will have to make? Like Slee, but for obviously an entirely different reason, I think it is not worth saving and that the sooner the split comes, the happier both conservative and liberal Anglicans will be.
Hm. I thought he was charged with preaching the Gospel to the Anglican Communion. Let's not put politics above the Good News.
"But when unity becomes a priority it can throw a strategy for progress off course."
Isn't 'unity' their, NCC's and WCC's utmost priority?
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