Thursday, May 12, 2016

Two integrities an impossibility?

Yesterday's post generated some great debate in the comments, particularly around the (im)possibility of "two integreties". I think an objective verdict might be that I am mostly on the losing side :)

While we await what our GS is cogitating, compromising, creatively creating (or, just a boot for touch?), let me have another go at Anglican possibility of "two integrities".

If you look back to the post prior to yesterday's, to the one where I added a section on the question of the meaning of the eucharist, then you will see in that post and in the comments, that there is significant difference in Anglican understanding of the eucharist.

There is, of course, a range of views on the eucharist, and there are Anglicans such as myself who hesitate to "fix" what my view is, partly because I am impressed with great arguments for differing views and partly because I seriously wonder if the mystery of the eucharist and its meaning is best represented by holding several views in tension. But what is clear is that some views held by Anglicans are incompatible and are not capable of being held together in tension. Transubstantiation and Memorialism do not a marriage make!

(Note: I am not saying that Transubstantiation and Memorialism are compatible with written Anglican doctrine as represented in (say) the Book of Common Prayer and the Thirty-Nine Articles; I am merely saying that some Anglicans hold those views).

Is there a case for saying that we are a church of "two (or more) integrities" on eucharistic theology?

If there is, then the "one integrity" of the church is that in our constitution, creeds and common prayer books we have so written what we believe about the eucharist that the Anglican church is capable of being a single, large room in which multiple views are held.

Perhaps this is the challenge General Synod in Napier is facing today as it edges its way towards a decision: how to be one integrity with respect to our constitution, the Church of England Empowering Act 1928 and our formularies while being a large room in which multiple views on blessing of same-sex relationships are held.


Edward Prebble said...

Hi Peter
My response to this post is sort of redundant in the light of (non)developments in Napier reported today, but I wanted to comment anyway.
I found your analogy with Eucharistic theology very helpful. Another analogy, often used by Bishop Jim white, is our long-standing disagreement about pacifism V support for, and involvement in the armed forces.We seem to be able to agree to disagree in those matters, but the current disagreement on sexuality appears too difficult. Very sad.
Another reflection worth making. When you and I were leading the respective "sides" of this debate at General Synod a decade or so ago, it was often said that Tikanga Maori and Tikanga Polynesia would never let the "liberals" bring about change. It is profoundly significant that those two groups, despite their own internal disagreements, are both saying we should move on the issue, and are magnanimously allowing Tikanga Pakeha more time.

Peter Carrell said...

Nice to hear from you Edward!

Back in those days, I wonder if either of us thought the matters we then debated would take the long-winding course they have taken till today?

Yes, I am aware of the militarism/pacifism thought from +Jim.
Again, as with the eucharistic thought, there is no specific doctrinal/constitutional assent which is problematic for either a militarist or a pacifist.

Can we find a way forward re sexuality which does not create difficulty around what is assented to?