Skip to comments.What Sort of Realignment?
Posted on 02/03/2007 4:35:54 AM PST by Huber
As considerable attention focuses on discord in the Episcopal Church, a deeper reality is easily overlooked. Differences over human sexuality and the direction of church life merit consideration. There should be widespread discussion of what are momentous issues. But it becomes tempting to define the state of the Episcopal Church in terms of the divide over sexuality. Instead, by other parameters the Episcopal Church and other denominations are in the midst of a historic realignment. It is a shift that has less to do with the departure of a few parishes than with a refocusing of church life. Some might say that the Episcopal Church is in the midst of a spiritual awakening.
Periodically, American life has been remade by a pervasive religious awakening. Historians speak of two Great Awakenings, one in the 1740s, which awakened the ideal of religious freedom, and another in the early 19th century, which inspired various forms of charitable work. The fruits of these awakenings remain as both basic religious ideals and major social institutions.
Various writers have sensed the possibility of a new burst of spiritual energy that would instill new religious and moral direction. Historian Martin Marty has foreseen such realignment and noted that shifts in religious allegiance over moral issues such as homosexuality are only one aspect of it. The bigger picture concerns the building of faith anew, within and among the churches. Beyond conflict over sexuality the meaning of faith community is being discovered anew.
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