Things To Come

Several things will happen within the next eighteen months or so. (So far, I’m on safe ground.)

One seems increasingly likely: the Episcopal Church USA will find a polite and careful way of declining to accede to the Windsor Report. It will take this as a matter of justice, of the development of doctrine, of the Holy Spirit doing a new thing, of resistance to bullying. It seems moderately likely that the rest of the Anglican Communion will determine that the ECUSA has not adequately attended to its requests (with some resistance from parts of the UK, and I don’t know about Canada well enough to say). The decision-makers involved will decide that ECUSA has decided to “walk apart.”

Some body of US Anglicans will receive formal recognition from the remainder of the Anglican Communion. This presumably would not constitute a simple replacement of ECUSA, since I doubt anyone wants to annihilate the bridges that might in a beautiful world lead to a rapid reconciliation — but it will be clear that the on-going work of the Anglican Communion in the USA is being done by an agency other than ECUSA.

Some catholic-minded Anglicans may be blessed with Benedict XVI’s permission to join the Church of Rome while retaining Anglican patterns of life and worship (corrected, of course, to reflect the magisterium’s teaching). The extent of this inclusion could vary from simple encouraging the Anglican Use of liturgical forms, to establishing an Anglican Rite Roman Catholic Church, with an infrastructure that reflects typically Anglican ecclesiastical order (again, aligned toward Roman authority).

Of course, all of this may be rendered moot; ECUSA may meet the expectations of the Primates and Consultative Council and Lambeth bishops. The signs of the times, however, seem to be pointing otherwise; a significant proportion of voices I hear express a sense of possibly being well shut of communion partners who don’t share ECUSA’s current sensibilities.

Hence the prospect of my uneasy dilemma: although I take very seriously my vow of obedience to my bishop, yet I don’t understand my ministry as deriving its sacramental basis apart from a lived connection with an arguably catholic communion — and if ECUSA opts out of communion with other Anglican bodies, I’m in a fix. Here are some alternatives, none ideal.

  • I could just sit tight, with my bishop and diocese, in what will have become de facto another Protestant denomination. In that instance, I’d be dissenting from the notion that such a situation suffices for the sacramental life of the church and its people, even though I agreed with the policies and practices of this group at the surface level.
  • I could try to align myself with whatever supplementary or replacement body maintains its connection with the Anglican Communion. That would be awkward, since I’d be dissenting from the presenting basis of that group’s claim more truly to be sustaining the catholic faith in the Anglican tradition. Formally speaking, though, it would be no different from being a dissenting Episcopalian of ten or a dozen years ago; I could always have joined a Protestant denomination that recognized the theological legitimacy of same-sex relationships, but that would have entailed repudiating my allegiance to the church catholic. At the time, I was unwilling so to do, and the fact that the church(es) changes around me doesn’t necessarily alter my sense of priorities and obligations.
  • I could seek a canonical relationship with a non-ECUSA, non-American-substitute diocese. I know some English clergy and bishops who might conceivably be willing to enlist me as serving under them. (I don’t know about the canons at this point, but since plenty of clergy serve in situtations where they aren’t canonically resident, it seems possible so long as I’m not rector of a parish).(Or I could move to Britain, or somewhere else.) In that circumstance, I’d be dissenting from the overall theological position of the Anglican Communion, but doing so from within an unambiguously Anglican situation (again, as the pre-recent ECUSA).
  • I could look into the Anglican-Use/Rite Roman Catholic body. In that case, I’d be removing myself from the distinctly Anglican tradition altogether, which would make me feel queasy and upset my wife horribly (don’t worry, Margaret, I’m just talking through the alternatives), but would with a stroke resolve tons of problems about doctrine and polity. In that case, I’d be dissenting from a broad array of magisterial teachings disciplinary rubrics, but I’d be doing so in a context in which the ground rules for obedience and dissent were at least quite clear.

Whatever I do, the bonds of solidarity that weave my life with those of the saints to whom I’m answerable will be impaired; some will be cut off altogether, others frayed.

On especially vexing aspect of this mess lies in the peculiar polarization to which I’ve adverted before, whereby participants in this struggle occlude the extent to which “being the church” has always involved reasoned disagreements about what the church is and should be about. Instead, many all around me are dead set on winning, vindicating their sense that theirs is the exclusive tenable vision of which the church should be like. But the church has never been a place where a single vision of itself prevailed; the church has always dealt with internal dissent. The question is, which dissents are tolerable, on what terms, to whom? (The least likely, most outlandish possibility above — that of joining the Roman Catholic church on some terms — actually might entail the greatest latitude for intelligible dissent, under the peculiar circumstances; thoughtful contemporary Roman Catholic theologians espouse views very similar to those I advance, with the recognition that that’s not what the church itself teaches [yet].)

Whatever happens, I’ll end up something of an inexplicable oddity to people around me, whether as a bereft catholic spirit among those who have become comfortably Protestant, or as a “reassessing” committed Anglican among ascendant “reasserters,” or as an Anglican heart in a Roman world. I’ll be testifying to the theological soundness of catholic allegiance (with its attendant frustrations and injuries) to sisters and brothers who value their vision of justice over a commitment to bearing with predominant, disagreeing sisters and brothers — or testifying to the theological soundness of an understanding of human sexuality that affirms the sanctity of particular relationships that the church to which I’ve pledged fidelity and obedience itself rejects.

Good thing I didn’t get into this racket for the sheer fun of it. For the time being, I’ll pray that we remember that the church has strayed into very swampy terrain before, that God will guide us out, through, past, and even within the swamp if we open our hearts to the Spirit, and that on the whole, I’m a relatively insignificant part of a salvific purpose much greater and wiser and more encompassing than I can imagine. . . .

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29 Responses to Things To Come

  1. dave says:

    The extent of this inclusion could vary from simple encouraging the Anglican Use of liturgical forms, to establishing an Anglican Rite Roman Catholic Church, with an infrastructure that reflects typically Anglican ecclesiastical order (again, aligned toward Roman authority).

    This has already happened- there are several Anglican Use Roman Catholic parishes, mostly in Texas, using an adaptation of the BCP called the Book of Divine Worship which uses essentially the Roman Canon, and is laid out like a missal with the ordinary in the center and the readings before and after.

  2. Holly says:

    AKMA, my heart goes out to you and others who may have to face such a decision. I still pray it won’t come to that.

    I’ve read through this posting several times and still am having trouble grasping parts of the argument. IF ECUSA comes to be judged by decision-makers as having “walked apart”, how will that make ECUSA de facto another Protestant denomination? How is it any more (or even as much) “Protestant” as Henry’s break with Rome or the American colonial church’s break with England? If the bonds of catholicity withstood those ruptures, why would they not withstand (God forbid!) this one?

  3. Derek says:

    I think your assessment’s pretty fair–it’s where I see myself. I don’t fully agree with any of the parties that either are in power or want to be in power. Personally, I blame the protestants for the notion that a church is a collection of people who agree on doctrine. I always thought one of the things that made us Anglican/Episcopalians more catholic is that our unity is based in what we do together — the BCP — rather than a confessional document that says what we agree to think. If unity is about thinking the same things, any exercise of thought is inherently schismatic. If unity is based in what we pray together — the Daily Office and the Eucharist — there’s quite a lot we can think and disagree on and the historic language of the Offices and the Mass will keep orienting us to the God who keeps us and leads us into his own Truth.

  4. bls says:

    I hope very much that someone will pay attention to what you’re saying here, and what to kinds of conflicts this whole situation has created for individuals, as well as for the factions. And I beg ECUSA to simply accede to the Windsor Report – I think all this has gone way over the line at this point, and that there are many more important things we ought to be doing. And I don’t think the Windsor Report is actually asking all that much.

    But I have to say that I suspect that it wouldn’t be enough for the “reasserters” anyway. Some have said as much.

    I hope, too, along with others, that I am wrong and that somehow this situation can calm down.

    There is one other possibility, though, isn’t there? If ECUSA seceded from the Communion, might not other Provinces also, for the same reasons? And might not other “liberal” groups – some of the Independent Catholic groups and others – want to be part of such a thing, too? (It would be almost unbearably silly to have these various Churches aligned simply on the basis of sexual issues, I have to say….)

  5. Chris Jones says:

    Derek,

    I’m puzzled by your intimation that the Church is not (among other things) a collection of people who agree on doctrine. The Church has been, from the beginning, the body of people who continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine; and surely the fathers of the council of Nicaea regarded it as important that Christians should agree on doctrine. It makes me wonder what Church it is that you are talking about.

    Agreement on doctrine does not mean what we agree to think. It means what we agree to believe, teach, and confess because those ideas are not the results of our thoughts, but instead have simply been given to us. These are not the ideas that we think, they are the ideas we think with, as E. F. Schumacher (of blessed memory) expressed it.

  6. Chris Jones says:

    Fr Adam,

    I too sympathise with you in the unwelcome choice you may well be forced to make. Whoever is right (if anyone) in the current Anglican unpleasantness, it is clear that the Anglicanism in which you have lived and worked, to whose holy ministry you are ordained, will no longer exist. So it was for me; I was raised in the Anglo-Catholicism of Dix, Mascall, Farrer, and Ramsey. It no longer exists, and I will always lament its loss.

    Like Holly, though, I am perplexed by your apparent opinion that the authenticity and catholicity of ECUSA depends on her continued communion with Canterbury. I fail to see why ECUSA would be any more or less a “Protestant denomination” than she is now. If you can regard your ordination as valid and your Church as authentic and catholic despite her being in schism from both Rome and Constantinople, why can you not continue to regard them as such if you find yourself in schism from Canterbury as well?

    Given the range of choices you have identified for yourself, it would appear that remaining authentically and identifiably “Anglican” is an important value for you. When I left ECUSA, this wasn’t as big a deal for me. Had it been such, I might have gone with one of the “Continuing” Churches. But for me, the issue was loyalty to the Catholic faith that I had received through the Anglican Communion, more than to the forms of Anglicanism itself. Perhaps being Anglican as such would have been more important to me if I, like you, had been a priest. But if I may be so bold as to offer a bit of advice, I think you would do well to make that your criterion for how to respond to this very unfortunate situation. Ask yourself not how one can best be an Anglican, but how one can best be a Catholic. I won’t presume to tell you how to answer the question (you’d likely find my personal response to it to be bizarre), but I honestly think it’s the right question.

  7. AKMA says:

    Thanks everyone, for your kind interest — but really, what happens with me is surely a lot less vital than that which is already impinging on so many of our sisters and brothers, who find even our current situation unbearable (for whichever reason).

    Holly, and Chris: What you point to is quite true as sober history. The Church of England unilaterally withdrew from communion with Rome (and historical truth be told, the self-understanding of most of the decisively important church leaders probably inclined toward the deliberately Reformed outlook). At the same time, through chance or Providence or Erastian convenience or sheer force of retrospective imagination, the Church of England wound up in a position of representing the Gospel in Britain in a way different from, say, one in Switzerland who repudiated catholic doctrine as part of her or his definition of the Church. Am I too far off base, here, Holly? I defer to your vastly more nuanced understanding of the Reformation.

    My sense is that when the Anglo-Catholics (as opposed to catholic-inclined Anglican [reformers]) “invented” the notion of the CoE as the English branch of the church, they took the undeniable facts of the circumstances and deployed them to fit this congenial vision of Anglican origins. Not make-believe, not rigorous historical interpretation, but an ad hoc construction, to be believed in and lived out as a sign of commitment to a catholic vision.

    Now, the difference to which I point — if it exists — would be that if I were to continue in a separated ECUSA, I would be more like (say) a Methodist or a Presbyterian than like a sixteenth- or seventeenth-century Anglican. That’s the problem to which I point, though if you can convince me that the difference is slight or even illusory, you resolve one possible conflict for me.

    Chris, yes, I do have some degree of commitment to a distinctively Anglican identity, but as you point out that’s got at best a tenuous existence (if the possibility survives at all). Oh, well. . . .

  8. Sigh.

    I fear I’ve lost my faith.

  9. Scott Erwin says:

    It just further confirms what so many of us believe that you are among the saints of bapto-catholics in the world seeking to remain steadfastly connected the church while still determined to hold on to a radical notion of dissent. That one article about Via in the publication of NABPR might have just called you to far. I know it is far to great a thing for you to recognize your baptististness (not a word, and poor prose) but we wait in hope.

    In all seriousness my heart aches with you my friend but I have no doubts about the scandolous providence of God in your ministry.

  10. Bob Solon says:

    I’m still a bit confused. ECUSA was undoubtedly small-c catholic from 1789 until the first Lambeth conference of 1867, which presumably is the de facto start of the Anglican Communion. Given that, if Lambath Palace or the Primates’ Meeting or whomever declares us out of the anglican Communion, are we still not small-c catholic? Is it *Anglican* catholic which is important? Do we not have a greater claim to Anglican diversity than those who seem to want to suppress all such diversity? I’d argue that, as long as we can follow the PB’s lead and seek to continue to include all sides as long as all sides want to be included, then we are both catholic and Anglican, regardless of what others may say.

    I would also not like to be relegated to one of the “continuing Anglican churches” (the result in fact if we are de-Communionated) but I’m not quite willing to look that eventuality squarely in the eye just yet.

  11. obadiahslope says:

    I wonder if there are even more messier options for the Anglican Communion to take. One might be a “two-speed” communion with the North Americans having observer status at Lambeth for example.
    This would be like the “eurozone” within the European Union: not every country has signed up to the common currency.
    Overtime this might evolve into overlapping networks (Liberal/Catholic and Evangelical) within a looser communion.
    This might make your dilemna more interesting and easier at the same time.

  12. CH says:

    I do not think I could swim the Tiber (my wife certainly won’t). What about Orthodoxy?

  13. Ray Serra says:

    Here is a thought. Why not ask God what he would have you do? It isn’t all that complex.

  14. John Tang Boyland says:

    AKMA,
    As a reasserter moderate, I’m happy to see you (as a reappraiser moderate) agree that the Windsor Report is the only likely way out of the separation of ECUSA from the AC. I hope you can use you influence in the “Claiming the Blessing” crowd for supporting the Windsor report. They respect you.

    For now it seems that we reasserters are alone in trying to get parishes, dioceses, bishops etc. to agree to live within the constraints of the Windsor report. Witness the January HOB meeting in which only reasserter bishops signed the “minority report” that consisted entirely of simply agreeing to the Windsor report terms. The reappraisers were apparently hoping they could bargain for something more to their liking.

    After the latest HOB meeting and EC, there seems some recognition that we need at least to meet the letter of Windsor report, but the reluctance and disrespect are apparent. Furthermore, even in moderate dioceses (such as LA) resolutions that affirm adherence to the Windsor report die through lack of support.

    If the ACN and reasserters in general are seen as the only ones willing to try to fight for Windsor, it will be very difficult for the moderate reappraisers to make any case that ECUSA should be spared being separated from the AC.

  15. Mark Diebel says:

    Thank you for making a comment about this. We, a group of deans, in a Network Diocese, just had a meeting with our Bishop who remarked that a split seems inevitable. He also indicated that since the HoB meeting in Utah that the liberals have hardened their positions.

    Since it is inconceivable for me to join the Network, whose premises remain incomprehensible to me, I will remain with ECUSA and accept the mess into which we are moving.

    Although, I have to say, on one level the mess still includes the proclaimation of the Gospel, its life and its promises, I am not bereft. I think.

    AKMA… I do want to understand and I think it good for a general, comprehensible discussion on what to be Catholic means. R.C. is not the Whole, nor is Orthodoxy (Eastern, Russian, …) E. Radner hasn’t been happy at the behaviors of Christians regarding Communion. Who in particular is Catholic? Why?

  16. Derek says:

    Chris–

    The Church is only secondarily about doctrine. Fundamentally, it is about baptism into the Body of Christ through which we are joined to the life of God. That is what truly unites us. Then come doctrine, liturgy, etc.

  17. Holly says:

    I am much more familiar with the continental Reformations than England, but here’s my “take” on the situation.

    Historical circumstance demanded that the Elizabethan church maintain the widest (and most ambiguous) possible range of interpretations of divisive theological issues. Pushing beyond these generous boundaries wrought civil chaos in the 17th century and eventually their restoration. The Church of England averted the fall into “protestantism” by first maintaining, and then restoring bishops in the apostolic succession. For that reason, too, Samuel Seabury went to such lengths to be consecrated by Scottish bishops of the apostolic succession. If the “Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America” had simply written off apostolic succession and said “we’ll just do it ourselves” then indeed we would have cut ourselves off from the source of our catholicity as have Methodists or Presbyterians — but we didn’t. Nor, will ECUSA if indeed it does come to “walking apart.” Our bishops are apostolic (or, at least as much as any are) — some may be wrong, but they are legitimate heirs of the early church through centuries of succession.

    This is sufficient authority for me, but I am eager to hear what is, for you, the heart of your own understanding of catholicity.

  18. Holly says:

    I knew that I was getting that idea from somewhere. I submit the following from Newman:

    If indeed the Church is essentially one and one only organized body in every age and country, then such an absorption of a branch of it into a nation is nothing else but a formal state of schism. If, on the other hand, her essence consists in her descent from the Apostles, such an absorption, or such a suspension of intercommunion with other branches, as is consequent upon it, may be expedient or inexpedient, allowable or culpable, but does not touch the life of the Church, or compromise the tenure of its privileges. Each diocese is a perfect independent Church, sufficient for itself; and the communion of Christians one with another, and the unity of them all together, lie, not in a mutual understanding, intercourse, and combination, not in what they do in common, but in what they are and what they have in common, in their possession of the Succession, their Episcopal form, their Apostolic faith, and the use of the Sacraments.

    Newman on the Catholicity of the Anglican Church

  19. Chris Jones says:

    Derek,

    Fundamentally, it is about baptism into the Body of Christ through which we are joined to the life of God.

    That sounds good, but it makes no sense if it is separated from doctrine as you are trying to do. There is a reason that one who is to be baptized must confess the Apostles’ Creed before being admitted to the sacrament. Baptism involves a commitment to the lordship of Jesus Christ, and part of being subject to His lordship is an entire and unfeigned confession of the Apostolic faith. Jesus commanded not only that we be baptized, but that we be taught to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. We ought not to presume upon the grace of baptism, to claim our right to participate in the life of God, if we are ashamed to confess the faith of Christ crucified (as the old BCP put it).

  20. John-Julian says:

    I find myself wondrously confused by these exchanges. Mainly I cannot understand how a non-institution called “the Anglican Communion” can ex-Communion-ize anyone. Who can do that? How can it be done? What action or inaction would effect that? Where does such authority come from? And what theological/ecclesiological difference does it make if some neo-Donatist or neo-Wycliffite Archbishops decide that what-they-call-heresy is grounds for invalidating properly-imposed Holy Orders in some other Province of this non-institution?

    After all the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America in 1789 (or whatever) invented the Anglican Communion as the first “off-shore” and independent Anglican Province.

    That new-born PECUSA was apparently fit to omit the Athanasian Creed from the BCP, to select bishops by democratic election — of both clergy and laity, to support those bishops by contributions rather than vast glebe endowments, to include laymen (and, horror-of-horrors, eventually women!) in the synodical structure, to follow the Scottish Church (not the C of E!) by including an epiclesis in the Eucharist, to open its pulpits to non-Episcopally-ordained preachers, to authorize a vocational diaconate, to approve second marriages of (at least some) divorc?©es, to ordain divorc?©es (and those married to divorc?©es), to require seminary education (with few exceptions) for clergy, to admit unconfirmed children to Communion, to open the gift of Holy Orders to women as well as men, and finally to declare (by its highest court) that the ordination of gays and lesbians to the priesthood does not violate ECUSAÔø?s “core doctrines.”

    Not one of these things required the “approval” or even approbation of any other institution or structure in the Anglican Communion outside of ECUSA itself, and more than one of them flew in the face of “literal biblical interpretation.”

    Why, then, has the legal, proper, officially-authorized, above-board, unquestionably-canonical ordination of a gay man to the episcopacy make such a vast conscientious difference? And if the ordaining of gays is such an atrocity, why were none of these outside voices raised in opposition to Gene Robinson’s ordination to the priesthood?

    And I am truly astounded to hear that there are Episcopal clergy who seem to think they have some inherent right to choose their own bishop. I’m an old, old man, and pushing near my golden jubilee of ordination, but as far as I have ever known, if an Episcopal priest dislikes or disagrees with or cannot work with one’s bishop, one asks to transfer to another diocese. I cannot imagine Episcopal clergy who think they have a right to have as bishop whomever they happen to prefer.

    Well, I don’t mean this to be an attack on anyone. It is only an expression of my own utter confusion as I try to understand the problem. It all seems to palpably irrational and ahistorical that I just don’t understand.

    You know, I try to fantasize: Hypothetically, what if God actually wanted gays to be permitted ordination in the Church? I ask myself, if that’s what God wanted, how might God go about that? God certainly wouldn’t bother to try with the Orthodox Churches or with the Roman Church — no hope there. The other straight-out Protestant Churches don’t have historical ordination. And the Lutherans have a “Confession” they need to follow. So where would God look to have his Will done? And how would God go about that?

    I suspect that just to make a point and to give himself a worse handicap, God might go to one of the most conservative states in the Union, have the people in that state/diocese do the utterly unpredictable thing of choosing a gay man in a thorough and unassailable selection process, and then (worsening his handicap) send word of that election to a wide-open, public General Convention (rather than to individual bishops and Standing Committees where people’s votes would be somewhat anonymous) and ask for confirmation — and get it! The odds are absolutely against it at every single step of the way, but it happens. And that, in my experience, is the way God tends to work — unpredictably, and against all odds.

    And increasingly all of this leads me to the suggestion in the back of my brain that something more than theology or ecclesiology must be going on here.

    But I still don’t understand it.

  21. AKMA says:

    Holly,

    That — and your previous comment — make helpful clarifications of a more comforting way of reading the terrain (all the more comforting, since its source lies with Newman!). I’ll mull that over.

    For my part, I was chewing on the possibility that ECUSA might be cut off from the fons et origo of its apostolicity, not in terms of succession, but also in terms of the lived continuity that underwrites claims to apostolicity. On that account, our claims to apostolicity would be speculative (subject to denial by the tree of which we’re claiming to be legitimate branches “by succession”). The difference from the English Reformation, if I’m reasoning soundly, lies in our forebears’ having repudiated the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Rome, and some consequent (alleged) abuses, but not having rejected “catholicity” as a collegial, conciliar principle.

    The longer I think about it, though, the murkier it gets. Luckily, I don’t have to attain spiritual clarity about this in the next day or so.

  22. AKMA says:

    In another part of the essay Holly quotes above, Newman himself quotes Stillingfleet:

    “We have not separated from the whole Christian world in anything wherein the whole Christian world is agreed; but to disagree from the particular Churches of the Christian world in such things wherein those Churches differ among themselves, is not to separate from the Christian world, but to disagree in some things from such particular Churches … There can be no separation from the true Catholic Church but in such things wherein it is Catholic. . . .”

  23. Chris Jones says:

    John-Julian,

    You’re quite right that the Anglican Communion is not “an institution”. It is simply a number of Churches with a common historical origin in the Church of England, who recognize one another as teaching and living by the same faith. As an “institution” each Church is entirely separate from all of the others. The only thing that binds them together is their mutual recognition of having the same faith.

    All that it means to “ex-Communion-ize” is that the mutual recognition no longer exists. Evidently some of the Churches no longer believe that ECUSA is teaching and living by the same faith that they do. So the mutual recognition no longer exists. Since that is the only bond that makes the Anglican Communion a “Communion” – because, as you rightly point out, there is no “institutional” bond – the Anglican Communion is already divided. It is already “ex-Communion-ized”.

    It’s not a case of ECUSA being “kicked out”, nor indeed an invalidation of ECUSA’s Holy Orders. It’s simply a decision on the part of independent Churches that they no longer have the same faith, and therefore they are no longer “in communion” in any real way.

    I don’t see why that is hard to understand. What I, on the other hand, find hard to understand is why people who think historic Christianity has been, and is, oppressive to homosexuals would find being “out of communion” with conservative Anglicans such a tragedy. I should think that they would like to make clear that their faith is quite different from the religion of the conservatives, and that they would regard separation from the conservatives as a badge of honour.

  24. Patrick Ormos says:

    AKMA,

    Thank you for stating very clearly the dilemma in which so many of us now find ourselves. For many, our basic identity as catholic christians is as part of the Anglican Communion, not as part of TEC. In fact, some of us were ordained elsewhere and were able to come here and function just because we were an international communion.

    To join one of the protestant churches, or to become one, is to leave that sense (whether historic or not) of rootedness within the greater tradition of christianity. I trace our roots back to the Celtic Churches, and still regret the decisions of Whitby. It is that tradition of nearly 2000 years of continuous christianity which helps give one that sense of rootedness. If we decide to walk apart then we begin to rupture that communion. If others decide that we are walking apart that same rupture happens.

    It has always been very important for me personally and for me as a priest to be able to point to the international character of the church. How can I do that if the rest of the church won’t talk with us?

    I pray fervently that we will find the grace to accept the WR — as it actually is written rather than as many have tried to spin it — and that this may help us find a way forward with both justice and grace.

    Patrick

  25. bls says:

    I don’t see why that is hard to understand. What I, on the other hand, find hard to understand is why people who think historic Christianity has been, and is, oppressive to homosexuals would find being “out of communion” with conservative Anglicans such a tragedy. I should think that they would like to make clear that their faith is quite different from the religion of the conservatives, and that they would regard separation from the conservatives as a badge of honour.

    Well, you’d be wrong. Our faith is NOT “quite different” at all. We adhere to the official doctrine of the Episcopal Church: the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds. If this isn’t “historic Christianity,” I don’t know what is. If you don’t, then that’s another matter; then our faith might indeed by quite different. I doubt we’d decline to take communion with you, though, either way.

    What you and others seem to be saying – and what seems absolutely incredible to many of us – is that the definition of “historic Christianity” turns primarily on one’s views about homosexuality. Very strange indeed.

    In any case, historic Christianity (and the rest of the world) has been, and is still at times, extremely oppressive to women, also. Should we repudiate living in it completely, in that case?

  26. Chris Jones says:

    What you and others seem to be saying … is that the definition of “historic Christianity” turns primarily on one’s views about homosexuality.

    How could you possibly attribute such a statement to me? I have not so much as mentioned homosexuality in this thread; why do you think the issue is central to my definition of “historic Christianity”?

    My own views on homosexuality are irrelevant here. The point at issue is the teaching that homosexual behaviour is a sin. Some think that this teaching is in error, has justified oppression of homosexuals, and ought therefore to be abandoned. Others think that this teaching is a genuine part of the Christian faith, to which Christians must be faithful. No matter which one of these is correct, it is a genuine difference in faith. Particularly because the two views result from very different ideas about the authority of Scripture and Tradition.

  27. bls says:

    Yes. That’s what I just said!

  28. I’m an Anglo-Catholic, with a lot of affinity for AKMA. Yet I don’t understand his dilemma. Catholicity for Anglicans never depended on being “worldwide”; if it did, we have only had it for a few decades, at best.

    I don’t become “just another Protestant”, or even the least little bit Protestant, just because there is another lamentable schism in the Church Catholic. The Old Catholics are 100% Catholic, yet hardly worldwide.

    I don’t think being a Catholic (whether Anglo-, Roman, or whatever) is actually about “universality” in the old patristic sense. It can’t be, because if so, there is no Catholic Church and hasn’t been for a thousand years. It must be about something different than that.

    And heck, the Presbyterians and Lutherans have world groupings as meaningful as we Anglicans. If we’re Catholic and the Lutherans or Presbyterians aren’t, surely the difference can’t be in the details of the international arrangements. (How many “instruments of unity” do you need to have before you’re official Catholic?)

  29. Chris Jones,
    First, it is plainly false that baptism requires the confession of the Apostle’s Creed by the party baptized. This is true according to the BCP in the case of emergency baptism, and of course is true in the case of infant baptism where the parents, but not the infant, confess. In both cases, confession is not necessary to the baptized. Moreover, it is uncertain that confession has historically accompanied every valid baptism, both in case of those reported in the Bible, and thoseof the early church.

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