Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Do we have the luxury to be Anglican?

To be honest, not much by way of profound insight has come my way this summer. I have been enjoying the heat of the sun more than its light!

But one series of occasional flickers of brain activity connected with the blog has been about the key word in the blog title, 'Anglican.'

What, in the end, does it mean to be 'Anglican'? Obviously it is a distinctive form of being Christian, so let's assume basic Christianity and lordship of Christ in what follows.

Is 'Anglican' - picking up on some observable traits around the Christmas season - something driven and shaped by choral music?

Noting a Twitter exchange I had with one of our bishops yesterday, to say nothing of the brouhaha in England over which hands are being laid on which gender of prospective bishop, is 'Anglican' all about having bishops?

A colleague the other day rightly challenged me over a remark about obsession with robes, saying that if we start arguing about robes then we have really lost our way. True. But is the converse also true, that if we do not soon have an argument over robes (who should wear them, how many should be worn) then 'Anglican' means a church defined by its costumes?

But through all such musings I remain very concerned, at least in Kiwiland (but anecdotally, for all Western countries) about the state of church life which is marked generally by lack of young people, by scarcity of people aged under 60 years.

Do you ever wonder, as I wonder, whether the wave of secularization of the Western world is becoming a tidal wave?

The challenge, in this perspective, is to re-find the gospel as God's universal message to all people in all generations.

Understanding what 'Anglican' means is a nice-to-have luxury. A far more urgent question needs asking.

What does the gospel mean for today?

If the answer is that we need to worry less about Anglican distinctives and be more anxious for gospel living, will we Anglicans rise to overcome our obsessions?


10 comments:

Father Ron Smith said...

I can only speak for one 'Anglican', Peter, that is myself. My Anglicanism has stood the test of time - 85 years, from Baptism and Confirmation in the Church of England; through many different cultural experiences of Anglicanism in several countries of the world; through the franciscan noviciate; to priestly ordination and beyond.

Despite its so obvious limitations, I find our 'brand' of Christianity to be eminently liveable and logical. I guess that is the word, most apt to our fundamental reliance upon The Word, made flesh in the Sacraments of the Church. With the Apostle Paul, I would have to say: "If Christ is for us, who can be against us?" As long as our lives are focussed on Jesus Christ and his enabling grace; we will survive.

In terms of eternity; I'm not sure youth has a priority over old age - or, I hope not. And anyway, what branches of the Church are doing any better? IO think that sometimes we get defeated by our own air if defeatism.

tachesterton said...

'If the answer is that we need to worry less about Anglican distinctives and be more anxious for gospel living, will we Anglicans rise to overcome our obsessions?'

I absolutely agree with that, Peter.

Tim Chesterton

Jean said...

Yes I echo Tim too.

I believe God works through all His church. Some people definitely relate bettter to different worship styles/traditions for a multitude of reasons but if a church loses sight of the gospel itself as the primary focus it doesn't bode well.

I had the best laugh in ages at church the other day when a 20 ish young fellow goes to me, 'do you ever use these things', kneelers. I said well mostly it is optional, you can choose to or not. "oh my gosh he says" I can't imagine kneeling for the whole service. Trying to hold a smile I said oh no they are only used for parts of it not the whole thing! Then in the preaching the Minister goes and gospel means Good News. So I hear this young bloke go, "Oh wow".

It is my experience younger or new christians encounter the gospel and Christ long before they have their heads wrapped around tradition or or terminology. This is not to say these things aren't worthy of debate or interest, only they are not the main thing.

Blessings
Jean

Father Ron Smith said...

"If the answer is that we need to worry less about Anglican distinctives and be more anxious for gospel living, will we Anglicans rise to overcome our obsessions?" - Dr. Peter Carrell -

If there are no 'Anglican obsessions', Peter (like securing justice for ALL, for instance); why, indeed, would we need to continue to 'keep the Faith'?

Perhaps you have discerned other Faith bodies in Aotearoa without obsessions that you might rather belong to.

I don't know of any such, for me.

Jean said...

A beloved friend a pastor (Anglican) once gave a brilliant distinction of having a faith; and keeping the faith. Until then I hadn't grasped the subtle difference. I thing perhaps, Peter would have to concur, what is being raised here is having a faith alive and present is or can be suppressed by the desire of the keeping of the faith of one's particular denomination/church.

Cheers
Jean

tachesterton said...

Ron, you said to Peter, 'Perhaps you have discerned other Faith bodies in Aotearoa without obsessions that you might rather belong to.'

I didn't read Peter as saying that he was contemplating leaving the Anglican church.

The question to me is, do I have a mandate from God to spread Anglican tradition and culture? I think not, and if I make that a big part of my ministry, I don't think I can expect the Holy Spirit's help.

I think God calls Christian pastors to spread the gospel and make disciples. The colours of the church year aren't quite in the same league as that.

Tim Chesterton

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron

There is nothing distinctive about Anglicans obsessing over justice. Many Christians obsess over justice matters, from all denominations and even from those belonging to none. A good thing such an obsession is too, but it is not an Anglican obsession.

My concern here is whether the tidal wave of disinterest, apathy, indifference, if not antagonism, ridicule and even persecution engulfing the Christian faith in the West is going to be met by Anglicans getting down to basic gospel ministry (which we do pretty well when focused on doing so) or by Anglicans worrying about Anglican distinctives.

My mission in life is to assist Anglicans becoming better Christians, starting with myself as a work in progress needing a lot of progress.

If along the way, Anglicans become better Anglicans, so much the better.

I am not going anywhere and I never understand why you interpret anything I say here as implying otherwise!

MichaelA said...

"My mission in life is to assist Anglicans becoming better Christians, starting with myself as a work in progress needing a lot of progress.

If along the way, Anglicans become better Anglicans, so much the better."

I think we could all follow that one, Peter.

Father Ron Smith said...

I suppose there might be one small consideration to be taken into account when deciding what will be our ministry distinctives (if any) at the moment.

That is the matter of who is employing us to carry the banner. One would presume that is you are employed by a particular faith community, your secondary priority (after that of preaching the Gospel of OLJC) is to further the aims and objectives of your own faith community.

If, for instance, your faith community (which employs you) insists on excluding women and gays from your Church, then it could be incumbent on you to further that cause - unless, of course, you found it to be contrary to your understanding of the Gospel, and then you might leave for another Church. That may be where the really motivating distinctives lie.

I am no longer 'employed' by the Church so am free to follow my understanding of where the Gospel call lies, for me. At the moment, I feel that ACANZP if moving in the direction of inclusivity, which is where I believe the Gospel is leading me. But, that's me!

tachesterton said...

Ron, surely you hold the bishop's licence, do you not? Does not that impose some obligations on you to continue to uphold the official teaching of the ACANZP?

Tim