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.

4 comments:

Susan said...

Where to start.

I think I'd prefer a comment than a postcard!

And ... yes, that does seem to be a rather long time since you last blogged!

Finally ... funny, when I lived in Scotland I always felt much more aware of the CoS view than the Catholic view, although come to think of it, I had heard of Cardinal Winning, so I must have heard some controversial things from him, but I wonder if that is because being Presbyterian I was more conscious of it when I heard a CoS view?

And I suppose I ought to add, yes, it probably is because it is a very large organisation without one key figurehead that gives a 'final' answer ... Differing interpretations can be accommodated. Funny quote! Is that really what he said?!

Anyway, nice to see you on here! Look forward to hearing more ...

Danny said...

Welcome back to the blogsphere...from the time of the Apostles on wards no one has ever managed to give the final answer... this is Christianity, home of more differing interpretations than could ever go on a postcard...sorry am too brain dead to comment coherently at the mo :-)

scottp said...

hey Dave

blogs rock

anyway whats the question again?
I do know some ministers with the opposing views problems. (probably me)

The whole thing is how much do we give up the definitive corporate view on any topic (as a church body), by nature of being church. Having a disparate group of broken people who are growing together and attempting to work out what it means to live in the world following the Jesus thing.

My comment would be that your observation seems to be based on the assumption that having a definitive view is better.

certainly I would agree that for the current media/society if the church wants to become representatives of one side of the argument being decisive and clear is the way forward.

I think I would point to church history and in Scotland the amount of splits within the protestant church. Being definitive surely brings division, hurt, and brokenness to the church.

Is discussion and working out, constant reviewing, investigating, changing, being reflective and constant is trying to hear God and be wise actually the way forward.

I dunno.
I wonder if as a community of faith we are to keen to focus on the things that divide us rather than the unite us.

I wonder why we focus on that. Is is new people pointing at us tell us we don't agree. Is it the media loking for a story. Is it us who cannot live and worship with those who's theology may have a different take on a subject than our own?

anyway who knows? God?

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