Friday, July 14, 2006

To pick up a conversation from Jake's Place

Here's a post I put on Father Jake Stops the World -- a blog of revisionist tendencies, whose commentators are generally intelligent and which Fr. Jake works hard to keep cordial. Orthodox posters, if careful about wording, are not generally abused. It's a great read if you want to get another side to all that's going on in the Communion. I thought Whitehall readers would enjoy taking a stab at this.

There is, though, something I don't quite understand about all this. There seem to be some among us in TEC who are committed first and foremost to TEC, and others who are committed first and foremost to the Anglican Communion. I know there are reasons of ecclesiology that drive many of the latter -- the idea is that our claims to Catholicity (and hence also to valid sacraments, ordinations, even salvation) depend upon our historic episcopal succession from, and continued communion with, the mother church, CofE. I see similar ecclesiologies active in Roman Catholicism and the Eastern churches. What I see from those who are committed first to TEC is a love for the church we've become in the last 40 years, the inclusive church, the church that lets everyone have their own opinion, the church that stands up for civil rights and human rights and all the oppressed -- in short, a liberation theology church. Does this mean that a preference for liberation theology is driving us to make poor ecclesiological decisions? Asked another way, what is the ecclesiological reason behind the commitment to TEC above the Anglican Communion? Is there a precept somewhere in Anglican theology that a church's identity as a national church (because that's what we began as) or as a province somehow trumps its identity as Anglican (given that it is this latter that gives uumph to our claims to Catholicity)?


Jake said...

Had to come check out your sanctuary.

Your comment was quite timely. Today I read Gary Kriss' piece in the Living Church. He made much sense. If you haven't read it yet, do so soon, as he addresses your topic quite well.

In light of the rather cavalier manner in which we entered into this new relationship with the Methodists and adopted the RCL, it is getting pretty hard to deny the steady drift in TEC toward becoming a another Protestant sect.

Thanks for the kind words, btw, but I should caution you regarding recommending Jake's place. I'm a rather radical heretic. But my preference is to be a Catholic heretic, not a Protestant one!

father thorpus said...

Good to see you, Jake. I hope our place here will be as hospitable to you as yours has been to me. Do you perchance have a link to Kriss's piece?

Jake said...

It was in this week's print version. Haven't seen it online yet.

father thorpus said...

Thanks. I think it's in our parish office -- gotta check that out.

The young fogey said...

We seem not to have visited the same blog! Seriously, like another Internet acquaintance, an ordinand, you seem to know how to talk to these people (both born Broad Churchmen and angry gay ex-RCs, com-box regulars at Fr Jake's place), something perhaps I never learnt even though I was baptised Anglican... which may be why you got through a selection conference and were accepted for training and ordination.

Anyway, TEC's stance seems to prove criticism of Anglicanism that says it's all show and structure and no substance.

After all it's only logical that, as Christian belief has been optional since the Pike acquittal and TEC in fact has become a liberal Protestant denomination as the Broad Churchmen have taken it over, finally some of the structure that made it distinctively Anglican should give way. Put another way, if one's church isn't sure there is a God or if he's a Trinity, or if Jesus was really God, who cares if it's governed by bishops? Or as I quoted recently in my blog, such a church refutes itself thus: 'We have bishops because the Bible says so, but we have gay bishops because it doesn't matter what the Bible says'.

Is it any wonder secular Generations X and Y don't take this seriously?

What will happen:

• The Anglican Communion is breaking up like the roughly co-terminous British Empire 50 years ago. Without state coercion the Elizabethan settlement doesn't work. The four Anglicanisms, Catholic, Central, Low and Broad, will go their separate ways.
• As that happens, TEC will leave or be asked to leave the Communion as ++Cantuar shows integrity and tries to do what he thinks is his job, serving the conservative Global South as well as the Northern Hemisphere liberals he personally agrees with. They'll pose as a world church unto themselves for a while, then merge with the other liberal Protestants instead of competing with them for the same shrinking white upper middle-class demographic.
• But the mainline merger into mush will keep shrinking as that class has no use for religion anymore. You'll have a boutique church of adult converts who don't have kids (remember the Shakers?).

I'd never pass an interview with most Episcopal bishops, diocesan directors of ordinands or selection conferences... but that's OK.

Jake said...

The article is now up on the LC site.