Sunday, August 13, 2006

things are not as they seem

I would have never expected to hear these words from Dean Zahl. Yet here they are:

What is this "other" hope? It may well be the alternative of becoming a Roman Catholic. If your ecclesiology has survived the end of apostolic life in the Episcopal Church, then you may well consider entering the Roman Catholic Church. This is a very live option for all of us, and is even more attractive in relation to the present Pope.

Read the whole thing here. He seems to be down, himself, on the whole notion of "ecclesiology." But we don't have to be. One of the entral messages of the Gospel is that "things are not as they seem." And that goes for the Church, which often seems in its local particularity to be anything but holy, catholic, or apostolic.

This, too, must be at the bottom of the Lutheran / Catholic debate over infused vs. imputed righteousness. Luther must have thought that righteousness can't be our own, because we seem to all eyes to be so unrighteous. But, thanks be to God, things are not as they seem.

4 comments:

mmbx said...

WOW! That is a shock!

First Apostle said...

I like your take on this, Father. Zahl notes that both the low church ethos and the high church ethos have "failed". Who says? His piece is definitely a downer. I suppose, however, that we all feel like throwing up our hands in despair somedays - regardless of high church, low church, liberal, conservative, etc... designations.

Jody said...

I'm supposed to either give up on any theloogically tennable ecclesiology or swim the Tiber? All because this tiny speck of a church body known as ECUSA has become a failure? That's bizarre. I didn't become an Anglican because of ECUSA, I did so in spite of it, and ECUSA's failure doesn't nullify the calling of God--it only makes certain practical matters more difficult...but I'm not in a position to complain yet... no lions, burning coals, dissapearances of Christians etc... An institution is dying, and one that has missed many opportunities to serve the Gospel... let us weep for the good that has been lost, but rejoice at the opportunities before us that haven't been before.

Dr. Zahl's article is depressing and as I've read his writings recently I can't help but think he has allowed his heart to be broken by the loss of something that never existed institutionally top begin with.

father thorpus said...

As much as I've seen Zahl as an ideological ally, I've always felt a disjucntion between his ecclesiology and Catholic ecclesiology. Catholic ecclesiology CAN'T give up on itself. That's the whole point of indefectibility. God will never give up on the Church so we can't, either. Would Zahl have jumped ship when all the church 'groaned' to find itself Arian?

The collapse of TEC as an Anglican institution is not the end of the ecclesiological world. Yes, both low- and high-church parties have failed to win over TEC, or failed to stem its rush toward heterodoxy. But even if this result were not attributable to other, non-ecclesological events (as I believe it is -- breakdown in discipline since Pike, etc.), it still wouldn't justify giving up on on ecclesiology. on TEC, maybe, but not on good, sound theology.

If Zahl means what I think he means, he's saying we have now to put our ecclesiological principles, whatever they may be, second in priority to some other concern. To what situation is he referring? Does he mean we should try church-hopping for a while, maybe even Tiber-hopping? Is he trying to give hope to those who, disappointed as he is, can't get to an orthodox Anglican church anywhere? Does Zahl mean to justify a temporary, practical suspension of ecclesiological principle until the whole thing between TEC and the Anglican Communion gets worked out?

If so, I still don't think he should be so discouraging. Worse things have happened to the Church.