Wednesday, July 23, 2008

What is Anglicanism?

A short but hopefully provocative post for my return to blogging.

Having been reading all about the Glasgow East by-election, I happened across the BBC's Lambeth Diary (don't ask me how...) and came across a wonderful quote from the ABofC, Dr Rowan Williams. In the context of whether worldwide Anglicanism forgave the US bishops for ordaining an openly gay bishop (Gene Robinson) "50% of the provinces (individual autonomous national Anglican Churches) or a bit more said that's probably all right" [my emphasis]

Probably all right. Ish. A bit. We think. Well most of us. Some at least.

I don't know whether to laugh or groan, if only because I see this kind of thing closer to home too. I am not an Anglican, but I am married to one (albeit she currently has her 'lines' in the CofS) and so I am (hopefully) not criticising another denomination. What I do hope to do is say, why can large organisations not be a bit more definitive in what they think? Is it the very fact that they're large? I include the CofS in that definition though it's obviously a lot smaller than the Church of England. Regularly complaints are heard in Scotland (and were particularly before the death of Cardinal Winning) that the Catholic view and voice is always heard in the media but rarely that of the Church of Scotland. Usually because there can easily be found two (or more) opposing views among ministers, even in the same Presbytery (or town?). In extreme cases, opposing views from the same minister?

Is this the price we pay for Presbyterianism, for government by the many (or by committee)?

If so, how does this square with Anglicanism, which is instead, somewhat like the Catholic Church, hierarchical, top-down, bishop-led, but crucially (!) has no 'Pope-figure', instead deciding things in Conferences and Synods - again, government by the many?

How can we hope to gain converts, members, disciples or even just fellow-travellers if we hold a vast range of disparate views on (what for some are) vital topics, and seem not to stand for anything in particular, but sometimes fall (in different directions) for anything?

Answers on a postcard please, or comment if you prefer.