Skip to comments.Laodiceans: The Rev. Haller hopes Anglican marriage saveable
Posted on 06/02/2006 6:57:42 PM PDT by sionnsar
The Rev. Tobias Haller really hopes the Anglican marriage can be saved:
To listen to some folks these days, one would think that consensus was the cornerstone of Anglican identity. On the contrary, in the past the genius of Anglicanism has been the ability to stay together in the same church even with serious disagreements on core matters of faith. The classical Anglican settlement emerged, after all, in response to strong theological differences about the Eucharist itself, as the Book of Common Prayer managed to give each side room to stand by acknowledging both views.
Sigh. The Elizabethan Settlement was between two contending groups of CHRISTIANS who, while they differed greatly on forms of worship and other matters, shared a common set of beliefs and assumptions. It was not between Christians and Ethical Culturists. But, says Haller, we did it in the case of divorce. Perhaps we can do it again.
This kind of comprehension (as opposed to compromise) is at the heart of our traditional approach to disagreement. Fifty years ago, when bitter debate took place over revising the rules on divorce and remarriage, the elegant solution was local option: bishops were given power, diocese by diocese, to recognize the end to one marriage and allow another, following any guidelines each chose to go by. As an added safeguard, each priest was given the canonical right to say no to any request for marriage that could cause a crisis of conscience. This settlement is still on the books.
Nothing quite like someone shooting the legs off his own argument. ECUSA did, in fact, negotiate that particular minefield. But given the current state of Holy Matrimony in the culture in general and ECUSA in particular, a question suggests itself. Should it have?
Does Haller seriously mean to suggest that two contending views of divorce still exist relatively equally in ECUSA? How can they when my refusal to marry two divorced people can be insouciantly undercut by my more lenient colleague in the next parish over?
Cant we discover the same sort of comprehension in our present disagreements both within the Episcopal Church and the wider communion? If we can be flexible about the Eucharist and matrimony, why not about same-sex relationships and ordination? Can we not find some way to enact canonical protection for the sake of conscience on both sides even if it means a patchwork of episcopal oversight and a novel polity based on affinity instead of geography? The question should not be, How do we split? but, How do we stay together? for better, for worse.
See divorce answer above. The longer orthodox Christians remain in ECUSA, the more marginalized their opinions will become.
What if we removed ecclesiastical divorce from the table, even as an option? What if we were to agree on one thing: that we have to stay together even if we disagree about other things? What kind of accommodations might we work out?
If the church cannot get along in spite of differences of opinion, how can we witness to a world that does no better? If we cannot even coexist with each other let alone embody the exemplary love that Christ said would be the hallmark of our identity of what use are we to the world or to ourselves?
If Bob Duncan were pronounce at great lengths about the heresies and apostasies of ECUSA but end his sermon with a declaration that we in ECUSA "have to stay together even if we disagree about other things," how seriously should anyone take his words? Does anyone seriously believe that Louie Crew or Susan Russell would have declared that "we have to stay together even if we disagree about other things" if GenCon 2003 had told New Hampshire to take another run at it?
Of what use would ECUSA be to the world if we split up? Of what use is ECUSA to the world now? When the world notices ECUSA, it sees a church that doesn't seriously believe much of anything. Religious institutions like that influence nobody and never will. If Islam, for example, had been some sort of vague Arabic philosophical school, it wouldn't exist today.
I don't know why Haller or anyone else thinks the world would be impressed by the sight of two groups with irreconcilable, mutually-exclusive views staying together in some religious institution. Elijah's famous question still resonates today. "How long halt ye between two opinions(1 Kings 18:21)?"
And then there's this:
And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth(Revelations 3:14-16).
Believe what you want but believe something. The sooner this ridiculous charade is ended, the happier all of us will be.
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