Skip to comments.Bishop Duncan M. Gray Swings and Misses
Posted on 07/30/2005 6:32:28 PM PDT by sionnsar
Since we were birthed out of the Church of England, a brief look at our English history provides an important insight into our present situation and personality.
In the 16th century, the Protestant Reformation exacted a bloody toll in England. A succession of monarchs beginning with Henry VIII produced an ecclesiastical pendulum swing from Protestantism to Catholicism to Protestantism.
The political, social and religious fabric of the nation was under enormous pressure.
However, early in the reign of Elizabeth I, a new direction was charted. Queen Elizabeth refused to take sides in the theological disputes and through acts of Parliament she directed that the unity of the Church of England would be based not on doctrinal conformity (as the Protestants demanded) or on magisterial authority (as the Catholics required), but on a common liturgical worship.
Thus, from our earliest moments as a distinct Christian community, liturgical worship, the act of saying our common prayers together, has held us together in the midst of remarkable theological diversity and conflict.
Read it all. It is so very sad to see a bishop once again parlaying the ECUSA hierarchys offical party line which is: to be Episcopal means to agree to disagree agreeably, we have been through struggles before, and this is yet another struggle through which the church will find her way.
The problem is the hidden theological assumption here that all theological differences are the same. They are NOT.
I would remind readers, and the bishop, of this section of the Windsor Report:
This does not mean, however, that either for Paul or in Anglican theology all things over which Christians in fact disagree are automatically to be placed into the category of adiaphora. It has never been enough to say that we must celebrate or at least respect difference without further ado. Not all differences can be tolerated. (We know this well enough in the cases of, say, racism or child abuse; we would not say some of us are racists, some of us are not, so lets celebrate our diversity). This question is frequently begged in current discussions, as for instance when people suggest without further argument, in relation to a particular controversial issue, that it should not be allowed to impair the Churchs unity, in other words that the matter in question is not as serious as some suppose. In the letters already quoted, Paul is quite clear that there are several matters - obvious examples being incest (1 Corinthians 5) and lawsuits between Christians before non-Christian courts (1 Corinthians 6) - in which there is no question of saying some Christians think this, other Christians think that, and you must learn to live with the difference. On the contrary: Paul insists that some types of behaviour are incompatible with inheriting Gods coming kingdom, and must not therefore be tolerated within the Church. Difference has become a concept within current postmodern discourse which can easily mislead the contemporary western church into forgetting the principles, enshrined in scripture and often re-articulated within Anglicanism, for distinguishing one type of difference from another.
I also remember Bishop Tom Wrights words back in February of this year:
The situation is indeed new. We have not been this way before; and the Lambeth Commission was challenged to map out, cautiously, the new territory we have entered. Never before in the Anglican Communion has there been a moment when, after each of the four so-called Instruments of Unity have advised against a particular action, a Province or a Diocese has gone ahead with it unilaterally. I repeat: this could have happened in many different places on many different topics. The current presenting issues, on all sides, are in that sense accidental and irrelevant in terms of the questions handled in the Windsor Report and the questions we must address today. That is why, incidentally, there was no point in the Commission either repeating what the Instruments of Unity had already said or, for that matter, attempting to overturn it, as though it were some kind of supreme court above the Instruments themselves. Its job was to ask what we should do when the Instruments have been ignored. (Further, incidentally, lets not get paranoid about the word Instruments; instruments are things you play music on, and the point is to make sure were playing in harmony and in time with one another.)
The point is that you cannot simply say we agree to tolerate and share differences because we are Anglicans; there are different kinds of differences.
It will not do for a hypothetical him to say Jesus is Lord and for a hypothetical her to say Jesus is not Lord and then to say the act of saying our common prayers together, [will hold] us together in the midst of remarkable theological diversity. It is false to say she believes racism is serious and he believes racism is no big deal but the act of saying our common prayers together, [will hold] us together in the midst of remarkable theological diversity. It is untrue to say she thinks eucharist can be optional, he thinks eucharist is crucial, but the act of saying our common prayers together, [will hold] us together in the midst of remarkable theological diversity. NO. No, no, no, no, no.
Meldenius famous saying captures the essence of Anglicanism: in essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, and in all things charity. But the key is there is NOT toleration of difference when the matter at hand is considered to be essential. And it is the judgment of the majority of the Anglicans around the world that this matter touches on theological matters so vital that it would, and now in fact has, torn the fabric of our communion at its deepest level.
Read and ponder what Bishop Wright said again: The situation is indeed new. We have not been this way before Indeed. The fact that so many in the ECUSA hierarchy still do not understand this is a tragedy of mammoth proportions.
KSH (emphasis mine).
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