Friday, June 10, 2011

Scottish Wisdom or Episcopal Babble?

Interrupting this series of sober posts on Trinitarian orthodoxy for a taste of episcopal wisdom, Scottish style. Hold onto your hats:

"I believe that either adopting or not adopting [the Covenant], can be seen as enriching for the Anglican Communion, that we all internally have been enriched by our own diversity."

Anyone care to explain how this is a true statement? Like, being a bit old-fashioned and having studied philosophy at university in the dark ages, 1978-80, I thought X and not-X cannot both be true. Either adopting or not adopting can be seen as enriching. Hmm. I wonder what David Hume, the Scottish philosopher would have made of this statement? But like everything written in this blog, I could be wrong, there could be higher truth and new revelations for me to learn.

It shouldn't make any difference to our estimation of the validity of such a statement, but, if it helps your evaluation, it was said by a bishop, by the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Most Reverend David Chillingworth.

Actually that is quite a good description of of 21st century Western Anglicanism, isn't it, a kind of summary creedal statement for the 2010s:

"We all internally have been enriched by our own diversity."

I am afraid that those Anglicans who believe in limits to diversity, like yours truly, are depriving other Anglicans of enrichment. No, wait. Either depriving or not depriving Anglicans can be seen as enriching for the Anglican Communion ... see, you too, like me, can get the hang of this newfangled logic.

4 comments:

St. Nikao said...

I have the interpretation:

Internal Diversity is A. classical Biblical Double-Mindedness. B. Conflicted, ambivalent. C. Unstable in all ways, feelings, actions, attitudes. D. Feeling blown about, wavering like the ocean in a storm.

See James chapter 1, verses 6-8

James said...

St. Nikao, very observant in pointing out:

Internal Diversity

We must always look at issues of unity and diversity in light of the bigger picture. We in the Communion have our own particular being, beauty, and calling by virtue not only of what we are and what we include, but also by virtue of our particular calling within the body of Christ.

This means: we acknowledge other churches, with their own ways of doing things and callings.

The Scottish Primus seems to have a rather "greedy" notion of church unity - in the abstract sense, as e.g. how it is applied to regular expressions in programming. "Everything belongs to us, is a part of us!"

This is simply naïve. We are not Roman Catholics; we are not Reformed Christians who thoroughly disavow Roman Catholicism. But both of these things which we are not, are a part of the greater diversity of the universal body of Christ which we cherish. Our calling is not to "include" Roman Catholics or more strict Reformed Christians; or to claim Roman Catholicism as belonging to and subservient to the Anglican Communion.

So when considering diversity we must also consider that which we value and cherish, but are not ourselves, and which is not a part of our calling.

Any organization which loses grasp of this is likely to become a sort of Hegelian monster, exalting itself above all else in its attempt at "including" everything beneath itself.

So this statement seems to see "Anglicanism" as a kind of new, alternative religion presuming to incorporate other religions and atheism as part of its "inclusion." Similar "meta-religions" can be seen in Unitarianism and the Ba'hai faith in implicit claims to subsume other faiths unto themselves. The Sea of Faith movement could also be seen in this light.

Given that one of the Primus's predecessors is now a Sea of Faith adherent (though fortunately having had the wisdom to step down from his position), this is perhaps not so strange.

On the other hand, this off-the-cuff remark was certainly not intended to go as far in this direction as I'm describing here - this is simply the general direction of such a remark, though certainly wasn't its intention.

I do think, however, it points to deep symptoms amongst Anglicans, and the utter arrogance we have been showing in the last decades.

Father Ron Smith said...

All I know is - the Scottish Episcopal Church will probably not be 'adopting' The Covenant. They don't seem to have the same problem with women and gays as the Church of England and the Global South.

Therefore, they are reluctant to help in the dis-enfranchisement of their sisters and brothers in Christ in North America.

Lucy said...

"We all internally have been enriched by our own diversity." This sounds like something the Most Reverend gentleman might have said after a particularly saisfying pot luck dinner!

If being internally enriched is what the church is all about, then I suppose it is irrelevant whether X, non-X, or neither is true; what counts is more and more enriching. The truth doesn't stand a chance!