Sunday, August 3, 2008

Relaxing about the New Anglican Reformation

I get a bit uptight about where the Anglican Communion is heading, especially in respect of its conservative, evangelical, and evangelical conservative tendencies. Ideally we will all stay in one Communion, failing that we will all move in one direction if some kind of separation takes place.

Yet history reminds me of something. In 'the Reformation' a number of reformations took place, each a little different: England was not the same as Scotland, nor Germany as Switzerland, nor (of course) was the Protestant Reformation the same as the Catholic Reformation. Even in the Church of England there were differences in theology: Reformed Catholic, Puritan, Lutheran, and Calvinist elements made up the church of Cranmer and of Elizabeth I.

So I - others too? - should relax about "GAFCON" and "Global South", "Reform" and "Fulcrum", "Wright" and "Nazir Ali" jostling for airtime and visibility. If I do not feel I can sign up to all of the Jerusalem Declaration, I might be on a parallel path, say, with Melancthon who queried aspects of Luther's theology. If I wish conservatives opposed to the ordination of women would lessen their passion for men only in the ordained ministry, I might be treading a track already worn by Calvin, Zwingli and co, as they wished Luther was not so passionately committed to the Real Presence. Perhaps our problem is that, not unlike some of our fierce Protestant forebears, we feel our version of this New Anglican Reformation should win. We make anguished statements expressing our incomprehension that others are not signing up to what we are promoting.

Maybe (lots of hesitancy here) I/we should spend less energy on trying to "win" and more on trying to "strengthen". Global South, as I understand it, at Lambeth, has not sought to supplant or submerge GAFCON, but to build its strength, celebrating overlaps with GAFCON where they occur. No doubt TEC has been working hard at strengthening its base within the Communion (including some of our ACANZP bishops).
So conservatism-for-women's-ordination: press on. Build support. Develop networks. Celebrate what is. Spend no time on what might be if only everyone agreed with me!!

1 comment:

liturgy said...

I think you highlight well the problem with a confessional approach.
The longer the list of boxes to tick, the more divisions there are in the road - until one ends up with a denomination of one.