Skip to comments.The Very Rev. Peter Cook: St. Michael * All Angels, Lake Charles’ Rationale For Joining The ACN
Posted on 11/27/2006 7:24:32 PM PST by sionnsar
WHY JOIN THE ANGLICAN COMMUNION NETWORK?
The other week our vestry voted unanimously to join the Anglican Communion Network (ACN). This was in addition to the following: we have been members of the American Anglican Council (AAC) since 1999, we are part of a diocese that recently voted at convention to be a Windsor Diocese fully supporting our bishop, and unbeknownst to us our parish now has website listing as a safe church, in other words reliably orthodox. With all these gold star awards why should we also join the Network?
It makes us no more orthodox now than when, after Minneapolis 2003, we hung a banner across the front of our church proclaiming: St. Michaels is a Bible-believing church within the World Wide Anglican Communion.
In todays climate where meaningful communication is often reduced to sound-bites, the phrase Bible-believing is code to some meaning soundly orthodox, to others code for literalistic or narrow minded. To give another example, nowadays speaking of traditional values gives assurance to some, but can even imply hates gays to others.
Why is this? Why do the same sound-bites send both positive and negative coded messages? The answer has to do with modern cultural assumptions about the nature of truth. Rival truth claims which once were held as logically incompatible nowadays come together. They move back and forth like Ying and Yang. They either oscillate in friendly interchange, or they stand in hostile confrontation. In philosophical terms, laws of logic, and in particular the law of non-contradiction, have been replaced by dialectic. Philosophers trace this back to Hegels notion of truth as thesis attracting antithesis, until it evolves or emerges as synthesis, thus creating a new thesis or truth cycle.
For those Episcopalian now proclaiming a revisionist gospel, truth has become a continuum: ever new understandings, ever new forms of consciousness or experience. It is why Frank Griswold misinterprets John 16:13 literally to herald new or pluriform truths. Process theology has been with us a long time now.
Any attempt to retain a biblical Gospel once delivered to the saints immediately attracts cultural opposition. The German theologian, Friedrich Schleiermacher, was aware of such when he wrote, On Religion: Speaches to its Cultural Despisers, (Eng.Ed. 1799). The mere positive character of religious truth, the sheer assertiveness of gospel hope and redemption, attract denial and contradiction.
That doesnt make gospel speech or proclamation meaningless or impossible. It simply makes it, as it did for Schleiermacher, more necessary though more difficult, difficult because such opposition usually emerges in subtle or strange forms. Whereas reasoned apologetic always used to be the discourse of the day, in post-modern times assertion too often comes by way of shouted slogans, even bumper stickers. These in place of respectful discourse. The problem is particularly acute when Christians, of all people, despise and turn the Gospel into something it isnt. Witness Pauls reason for writing to the Galatians, who he accused of turning to a different gospel. In Pauls mind there was only one gospel. Its meaning was only too clear.
Evidence has long been mounting that the Episcopal Church is in process of turning to a different gospel. The signs should have been obvious: applying principles of political correctness to the persons of the Trinity; removal of general confession from liturgy personal confession of sin out, class-action confession of sin in (racism, sexism, homophobism); no longer seeing gospel mission as Christs great commission (Mtt.28), but redefining it merely as social justice; words of traditional doctrine invested with new content; Anglican Articles of Religion and Creedal Forms discarded or ignored.
So, why join the Network? Answer: it makes clear which side we are on, and makes sure we have joined the fight. When Archbishop Rowan Williams suggested back in 2003 that orthodox Episcopalians form a network, he was giving encouragement to those who wanted to remain true to traditional Anglican teaching. Thats why AAC parishes and dioceses started joining the Anglican Communion Network. The Networks claim is to stand firmly on traditions common both to ECUSA and to the Anglican Communion. Windsor dioceses are in principle no different, except in so far as they still reach out in hope that other Episcopalians will submit to Anglican Communion claims, as set out in the Windsor Report.
In any event, if Global South Primates have anything to say about it when all the Primates of the Communion meet next February, a definitive choice such as Joshua once voiced to Israel will soon be upon all of us as Episcopalians: Choose this day whom you will serve, whether
the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord (Josh.24:15).
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