Friday, November 21, 2008

Insights from opportunities

I find that when given the opportunity to speak on something I learn and receive new insights and gain a new perspective on a matter. Last night I had an opportunity to address a meeting at a local parish on the topic of the Anglican Communion and Sexuality. This morning I had opportunity to join with Archdeacon Robin Kingston to speak to a conference of Diocesan Secretaries/Registrars from Australasian dioceses about the Communion and developments within it. Out of those two occasions, including the inevitable post-delivery conversations, I have been led to reflect on two (possible) keys to the future of the Communion.

One is the need for some of us to become a little broader in our theology, churchpersonship, interpretation of Scripture, and general openness to others (including that they may be right and we may be wrong). A case in point is the vexed relationship between CEs (conservative evangelicals) and OEs (open evangelicals) within the Church of England. Last Saturday at an important consultation (NEAC) something went badly wrong with an attempt to gain support for a motion seeking to support beleaguered Anglicans (read the plethora of comments here to get the flavour). Admittedly from a distance, the attempt seems to involve a narrow outlook which would have been successful with a bit more width.

Another is a need for some of us to become less broad in our theology etc, and to acknowledge constraints and limitations to the diversity appropriately, if not also legitimately containable within Anglicanism. A case in point is the cause of Anne Holmes Reading, an Episcopal priest of some 25 years standing who is on the way to being defrocked because she is also a Muslim and sees no incompatibility with also being a Christian. I say 'cause' because Anne herself is being disciplined by TEC - though the cynic in me wonders if this would have been so, say, 10 years ago. That cause is now taken up by St Matthews-in-the-City, a notable if not controversial Anglican parish in Auckland, NZ. Thus Glynn Cardy in a thoughtful piece takes up the cause, as does at least one other Anglican priest in the comments which follow. At the core of the case advanced is an unwillingness to recognise ultimate difference between Islam and Christianity. Oddly, of course, such refusal is scarcely possible from the Islamic side of things! Now all sorts of things can be said at this point, and I am sure Glynn would capably respond to them. My simple point is that an Anglicanism this broad is not an Anglicanism that is going to find an agreed solution to its present difficulties.

Neither will an Anglicanism as narrow as that experienced last weekend at NEAC when a motion was proposed and opportunity to amend it was denied!

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