June 9, 2010

Ecumenical Discussions and the Anglican Communion

Episcopalians have now been bounced from ecumenical discussions carried on by the Anglican Communion. (See “Too Much Power Already.”) Surely, this is an indignity that requires a response. I’m not certain what response would best advance the interests of The Episcopal Church, however one might define that. There is little point to simply declaring our indignation.

That said, I think we really have to question the utility of having the Anglican Communion negotiate ecumenical agreements at all. Back in January 2007, I asked the question “Do We Need the Anglican Communion?” At that time, I said
There is value in [the Communion’s negotiating ecumenical agreements], I suppose, both for us and our partners in discussion. On the other hand, individual churches are likely to engage in the discussions that matter most (think of our relationship with the ELCA and our discussion with the Methodists). I realize that many will disagree with me, but I consider the Communion’s discussions with the Roman Catholic Church to be, at best, a complete waste of time, at least in my lifetime. At worst, they allow for unelected negotiators to sell out our beliefs in the name of an elusive Christian unity.
In fact, it has become increasingly obvious that, whereas some elements of the Anglican Communion would like to see a fixed collection of dogma that can be designated as “Anglican,” the theological gulf between churches in the Anglican Communion is considerably wider than that between, say, TEC and the ELCA. In other words, even in the best of circumstances, ecumenical agreements negotiated by the Anglican Communion (as opposed to efforts by individual Communion churches) are going to be either uselessly general or, to one church or another, intrusive and oppressive.

Now, of course, we have Lambeth manipulating ecumenical discussions to exclude certain Anglican churches from even participating. This threatens to redefine Anglicanism away from its special position of theological diversity to one of rigid theological uniformity. Rather than seeking to share the special charism of Anglicanism, we are sacrificing our heritage to gain stature as a world religious power.

Under the circumstances, perhaps the proper response of The Episcopal Church is to say that having the Anglican Communion negotiate ecumenical agreements (as opposed to working together with other churches on mission-oriented projects) has simply become another instrument to destroy historical Anglicanism. We therefore intend to support it neither with our labor nor our money.

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1 comment:

  1. I totally agree with your sayings. There definitely are some elements who are busy in effort to see some success from Anglican community. We should collectively stop it.


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