"There is, BTW, a view widely accepted up here [North America], that the C22 Church will be Catholic, Orthodox, and Pentecostal, with Anglicans reabsorbed by Rome. It supposes that the Anglican Communion will never reach a consensus on doctrinal authority, so that the consequential debates over the urgent issues of the C21 all happen in Rome where, eventually, some clear decision does get made. Just as Anglicans often invoke Roman social teaching as if that were their own teaching, so they may also begin to invoke Roman teaching on sex, political theology, etc. Over time, pastors who need more than a communique or a Lambeth resolution to ground their practise could find themselves relying on better articulated papal decisions. At some point, practical reliance on the Roman magisterium becomes actual reunion.
In the case of SSM, the basic issue is: how should churches who understand marriage in the traditional way respond to civil legislation that defines it differently? Rome's implemented answer to that question will set social limits on the ways in which other churches can or even want to answer it. And in failing to invoke a more than procedural basis for their rejection of the TEC innovation, the Primates failed to settle Anglicanism's authority problem. Every time Anglicans claim an impractically low degree of authority for their decisions, or set them on too narrow a basis, they take a small step toward the reunion scenario."I am intrigued, first, by this prophecy of the Christian future, circa 2200 - should the Lord tarry that long and global warming be merciful - because it chimes in with something Christopher Wells puts his finger on in an article linked to in the Perspectives post:
"We remain unable to articulate and defend the basis of our faith and order beyond what Archbishop Williams called the consensus of the moment. That being so, the next natural question is: How long will the consensus hold? But the deeper and more difficult, essential question is: Why should this, or any, consensus be maintained? On what grounds?
Insofar as the communiqué and its addenda approach these last questions, they announce the majority position in the manner of a placeholder:
The traditional doctrine of the church, in view of the teaching of Scripture, upholds marriage as between a man and a woman in faithful, lifelong union. The majority of those gathered reaffirm this teaching. (Addendum A, para. 4)This is an announcement because no argument is offered, and it is a placeholder because no means of prosecuting the argument are proposed. Would-be apostolic doctrine seeks sources for which the would-be catholic order of the following paragraph could provide structure."
Christopher goes on to suggest a way forward towards a catholic future for apostolic teaching in the Anglican Communion (as opposed to placeholding announcements by the majority):
"Now is the moment — in the run-up to the Anglican Consultative Council’s meeting in April, in preparation for next year’s Primates’ Meeting, setting the stage for the 2020 Lambeth Conference — for the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order and comrades in arms to work carefully and collaboratively to cast a compelling vision and curriculum for our structural and doctrinal future. The objective: to grow, as Lambeth 1920 said, into “the unity of a universal Church” and so articulate “ideals” that are “less Anglican and more Catholic” (Lambeth Conference 1920, “Report of the Whole Committee on some important results of the extension and development of the Anglican Communion” in Ecumenism of the Possible: Witness, Theology and the Future of the Church, ed. William A. Norgren [Forward Movement, 1994], p. 99).
What catholic ideals? Those that express apostolic doctrine. The method unlocks a great storehouse of common and precious property. In his 2004 letter to Rowan Williams following the publication of The Windsor Report, Cardinal Walter Kasper praised the report’s commitment to catholicity but urged redoubled attention to apostolicity, “witnessed in the Scriptures, the early councils, and the patristic tradition.” Christians, Kasper said, have both “synchronic” and “diachronic” obligations, that is, obligations both to today’s “communion of churches” and to the historical “consensus” of the whole Church — beyond the inherent instability of merely contemporary agreement. The particular and universal together, across time, make possible the health of the one Body."
But Wells' invocation of Kasper in support of his (cheerfully optimistic) proposal makes Bowman Walton's observation stand out: Christopher cites a Roman Catholic cardinal as the one who offers Anglicans guidance on how to be catholic and apostolic! Walton's prophecy says that more and more a significant number of Anglicans will look theologically to Rome for guidance because they will not find it in "majority" primatial pronouncements, let alone in "lowest common denominator" type agreements which attempt to articulate common ground between TECian innovation and African adherence to Christian tradition. Christian consensus in the 22nd century - against the ravages of secularism and Islamism - will not only need to include Rome, the prophecy implies, it must include Rome. But will Anglicanism - shorn no doubt of liberal provinces reduced to negligible statistics (including ACANZP unless some dramatic turnaround occurs) - be strong enough to be a distinctive voice in that consensus? Or will we both meekly and cheerfully accept the Pope as "the" Christian spokesperson? (As, on a number of matters these days, we already do so).
Walton's comment also intrigues me, secondly, because it highlights the need for some very cool, considered, compassionate, constructive, civil. contextual theological discourse about the Western reality on the ground: couples who are married in the sight of one of God's agents (the state) but not (or not yet or sort-of-but-some/many-of-us-have-questions) in the eyes of another of God's agents (the church).
This is quite a big topic which I may well come back to in a separate post, suffice to say that I am personally not hearing many Kiwi conservative Anglican voices articulating how we respond to same-sex couples who come to church cheerfully acclaiming their married status.
It is such a trap to start making noises which suggest they have come to a church which thinks of two classes of marriage and it is as alarming a theological trap to think that mere embrace of all marriages as "equal" solves all theological conundrums of the day about marriage. Cue the relevance of the slow, creaking but incrementally developmental adjustments of Roman social theology from which many Anglicans have in the past learnt and will continue to do so.
But do Anglicans necessarily need to wait for Rome to speak before getting ahead of such questions of our day?
I'll post now, incomplete though this post is ...