Saturday, June 12, 2010

Koinonia or ekklesia?

Mark Harris has a strong commitment to the Anglican Communion being a fellowship or koinonia and not a church or ekklesia. He outlines his case here. I am wondering if he actually gives a helpful guide to a future restructuring of the present Communion into two entities not based on sex.

What if we had an Anglican Fellowship and an Anglican Church? What if those who cannot stand the Archbishop of Canterbury exercising any kind of meaningful leadership beyond the borders of England, who loathe the thought of some kind of Anglican commission on doctrine with teeth, and, of course, who worry lots about an Anglican Covenant, gather together in ways which smack not of popes, magisteria, and inquisitions? Positively, that is, what if there were a Fellowship of Anglicans who like meeting together but do not wish to subject any element of local Anglican church life to such meetings?

Then, what if those who find the present Anglican Communion inadequate have opportunity to become a global Anglican Church? That is, those who find it a commissioned and supported leader, a meaningful conciliar structure, a resolute and unabashed commitment to Covenant, and an intentional journey towards common doctrine short of being a global church, are empowered to join the dots into a solid line, and develop 'Communion' into 'Church'?

All could be happy! Note the two previous paragraphs offered possibility for changes to the Communion which mention nothing about differences over human sexuality.

Then, here is a lovely possibility, from time to time representatives of the Anglican Fellowship and the Anglican Church could meet as the Anglican Communion, presided over by, say, the most recently elected primate.

Addendum: Anglican Curmudgeon neatly encapsulates the differences in approaches between those Anglicans defending a koinonia vision from the encroachment of an ekklesia vision ('the left') and those promoting an ekklesia vision ('the right'):

"The bottom line is that the right recognizes the authority of the Archbishop to act, and is thankful that he finally acted. The left, on the other hand, concedes no such authority to the Archbishop, and regards his action as arbitrary and unlawful -- and what is worse, discriminatory."

Curmudgeon's whole post is long, but worth reading for its analysis of TEC's inner polity versus expectations of the Communion's (non-)polity.


Anonymous said...

Let me see if I can get this straight: you are advocating that the way you run your church, about 1% of the total size of the Anglican Communion, is the model for the way the Communion worldwide should be run!!! Hmmm… So the *cough* “unity” of your small church’s common life is the standard the Communion should aspire to?

You have previously berated evangelicals for the tendency to disunity, and rightly so. Maybe it is the illusion of being able to find a united and uniting set of beliefs in the Bible that needs to be questioned. In this post you appear to allow for more than one way to be church together – so there’s no Biblical specifics about that. Bible-believing Christians are for and against infant baptism, divorce, women in ministry and leadership, the need for ordination, the place of bishops, the list goes on, and on, and with every issue another division. The lack of agreement on such essentials appears not to dissuade you from putting enormous energy into arguing about the Bible’s place in homosexual ethics about which the Bible says little to nothing beyond what might be drawn from it in relation to heterosexual ethics.


Peter Carrell said...

Hi Alison,
No I do not think you have got my argument straight at all!

I am arguing for the Anglican Communion to evolve into a worldwide church, with a standard of unity much higher than what we currently enjoy in ACANZP.

Only the naive would think that such evolution is easy or that securing agreement on essentials is straightforward. But I think it is worth a go. Not least because often we Christians disagree about the headlines, but if we get beyond them, we find a lot more agreement on substance.

Is the alternative, of the Communion as a koinonia easier? Yes and no, I suggest. Yes, in so far as no great agreement is expected between those in fellowship. No, because if common ground becomes less and less then fellowship has less and less meaning.

I am putting quite a lot of energy on one of my other sites into the Bible and homosexuality because that is something our church is putting energy into through its series of Hermeneutical Hui. When the series stops I imagine I will either wind that site up, or pursue other hermeneutical interests through it.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the clarification, Peter.
My point remains, especially now you have clarified yours: if you cannot get the level of unity you seek within your own small church, there is no hope of seeking it wider. First attend to what is in your own eye...


Peter Carrell said...

Yes, Alison, but the team working on a world Anglican Communion becoming a church, headed by ++Rowan, and supported by the likes of ++Thabo, would not need my inferior talents, indeed would probably be impeded by them.