Skip to comments.[What it means to be] In Communion
Posted on 01/16/2007 5:44:34 PM PST by sionnsar
Much has been said with regard to whether one person, sect, or group is in communion with another. The Anglican Church of Canada is boasting that it is finally in full communion with the Lutherans. The conservatives within the Anglican Communion are claiming that they are in impaired communion with (pick one), Michael Ingham, the entire diocese of New Westminster, the entire Anglican Church of Canada, all of the primates who are part of churches doing naughty things, and so on, and so on. The liberals, on the other hand, normally claim that communion is not broken or impaired because we have enough in common that we are all still in communion with each other.
There seem to be two meanings of the words in communion. The first is the most obvious, and that is that the people or groups in question literally can gather around the same table, given institutional rules and practices. Thus, Anglicans are not in full communion with Roman Catholics, because we cannot share their table. We are in communion with Lutherans, though. And so far, all Anglicans in the Communion are in communion with each other (by definition, I guess).
The second meaning is more tricky, and it is the communion which transcends institutional structures. Those who claim that they cannot take communion with liberals are claiming that there is a deeper meaning to being in communion than simply to being allowed to share the same table. The question for me is what the meaning of this deeper sense of communion is. I tend to think of it as the communion of saints - that all who are in the Body are in communion with each other because we are in communion with Christ. Because of institutional squabbles, and the fact that the Body of Christ is not a visible body, this does not correspond to those who are in institutional communion with one another.
The difficult question is what the relationship should be between the true communion and the institutional communion.Ive been trying to work this one out for ages without the benefit of having time to read all of the materials that would make my attempt easier. So far, I cant seem to generate an answer. That I cannot take communion with a like-minded Roman Catholic but can with an Anglican who appears to not even be a believer is puzzling to me. Perhaps, however, thats just the effect of the brokenness we experience in this life.
You knew I'd comment! The author left out the primary element, indeed the only element that really means anything, to "communion" and that is that our bishops believe the exact same things. The rest of it is either institutionalism or theological fuzzy cuddliness!
"The difficult question is what the relationship should be between the true communion and the institutional communion."
I think I might have phrased this a bit differently, given the prior paragraphs. "It seems that many Anglicans have difficulty with what the relationship should be...etc" would seem to be what the author was heading for. For myself, the question is only which comes first and that would be clarity about whether one is in communion with Christ. The institutional communion should then follow. The muddle comes when one puts the institutional cart first which is what has happened in global Anglicanism.
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