One reason for working on a united church is that it holds us together while we are far apart in the present and allows for a natural coming together at a point in the future when we are closer together.
We often comment on how close Methodists are to Anglicans which begs the question why the bishops of the 18th century C of E allowed Wesleyanism to spin off into a separate church.
We note the closeness of Vatican 2 Catholicism to 20th century Anglicanism (i.e. an Anglicanism that in various ways has refound some Catholic dimensions) and wonder what might have been if the Bishop of Rome in the 16th century had been kinder to the socio-political realities of England.
One question before us today, both globally as a communion and locally in (say) the CofE and ACANZP, is whether our differences should be contained by whatever means it takes because an historically informed prophetic eye can see the future point when we will not be so stretched in our diversity.
On the one hand there is a sociological insight that as our respective societies become used to change we will conflict less over change. Here in NZ we might note that we once used to have a law which criminalized sodomy and today we have no one within the Anglican church pressing for its reinstitution. Arguably, however we understand the dynamics of theological difference in our church today, at a future point the dynamics will be different, likely with less angst and more agreement.
On the other hand there is a history-of-theology insight that as our churches engage with contemporary currents in thinking various radicals proposals to depart from traditional orthodoxy capture headlines, even whole seminaries, but eventually we come to our senses and re-assert that (say) God is Trinity, Jesus rose bodily from the dead, and Mary was a virgin when she conceived her son Jesus.
My prediction is that 100 years from now the dust from the present storm will be well settled and any break in our church would be much regretted. How the dust settles will be of interest to future bloggers. I also predict that it will settle in ways that both liberals and conservatives alive today might find unsettling!