The genesis of this post is not division within the Communion or in ACANZP over homosexuality. There are - believe it or not - other faultlines in the Communion and in our church and it is the general, longstanding aspiration of this blog to argue for Anglican unity and away from division, so the concern here is that we look again at the theological "why" of always working collaboratively to bridge faultlines and thus prevent them from becoming chasms.
What is church? Just about any answer you or I read in a book on "ecclesiology" (study of church) is more or less going to be along these lines: that church is people gathered together in response to the call ("klesia") of the God of Jesus Christ to meet for prayer, praise, proclamation and participation in the eucharist, and from such meeting together, to engage in practices of pastoral care and provision for the needy.
Critical to understanding what it means to be church is:
(1) God forms the church - God, not us, is in charge - Jesus Christ, God's Son has been appointed Lord of the church;
(2) church is people bound together, united as one body of people by virtue of God calling all to come together - yes, each individual is called by God to respond to Jesus Christ as a matter of "personal" salvation, but a series of discrete saved individuals is not "church". Church in the NT is always associated with cooperation, collaboration, community and communion of the saved ones.
More, of course, can then be said about "one body of people" because Paul develops the notion of such a body (= group, community, association) as a visible, physical representation of the body of Christ on earth: body of Christ means the association of people is (should be?) a union of people knit together like organs and muscles and bones in a human body, held together by ligaments etc and contained within one skin.
Unity of the church, in Pauline theology, is not a slogan but a reality of understanding who we are in relation to Christ through whom God has called us into being the church: a communion, a union, a body of people actually like a human body which is both "in Christ" (Christ is our Lord, our life together as communion/union/body is life within the very life of Christ) and "Christ in us" (Christ through the Spirit lives within the church, empowering us to be what we are called to be as church).
Put in different words, we should not, when faced with faultlines, let alone church-chasms, resort to pleas to be "united" or "more united", as though obeying a command to be united is more important than living out the reality of union.
We should, instead, talk about what it means to be church, to live out what God has called us to be, to work together on how we either overcome our differences (an NT example is found in Acts 15) and/or live with our differences (an NT example is found in Romans 14) and/or respect our differences (an NT example is Paul's exposition of the body of Christ in 1 Corinthians 12: we cannot all be toes or ears or hearts).
"Talk about what it means to be church" means we gather at the table of discussion - we do not stay away from it - even if we are struggling with gathering at the table of the eucharist!
All this, of course, can be approached in similar but not exactly the same way, via Johannine theology of church, because in that theology, unity of disciples of Jesus is paramount (John 17), and (com)union of disciples together in Christ and indwelt by Christ is Christ's vision for the future of his mission (e.g. John 6); and John 21 specifically envisions the church of difference and different personalities remaining the one church of Christ, of those who obey the command, Follow me.
Although I write as Pākehā , everything here relates to important Māori concepts and life-practices of whanaunatanga (relationship, kinship, connection, unity) and manaakitanga (hospitality, generosity, respect, support).
So far, so "church" in general. Church understood biblically and theologically means staying together, being present to one another, and resisting temptations to walk apart on different pathways.
There is a specifically Anglican aspect to church staying together and not letting faultlines develop into chasms. It goes like this.
Rightly (so Catholics, Orthodox, some Lutherans and Methodists might say) or wrongly (so others might say), we Anglicans have a settled on being an episcopally-led, synodically-governed church, bound together in various ways (so dioceses (are) compact(ed)/contract(ed) together to form a province/national/international church;* so provinces/national/international Anglican churches voluntarily come together in bonds of love and affection to form the Anglican Communion).
Our commitment, both in love (in Christ, for one another, for God's church) and in specific promises made when (e.g.) being ordained, being licensed to a lay or ordained position, accepting office such as churchwarden or synodsperson, as Anglicans, is then to abide by the lawful authority of our bishops (and archbishops) and of our General Synod/Convention/like and of our local synods.
As Christian Anglicans we should, of course, go above and beyond any mere duty ascribed by canon or statute or liturgical rubric, so "to abide by the lawful authority etc" is not only about obeying the rules but also living into them - growing and developing relationships with one another in Christ, including those in authority over us, whether an individual such as a vicar or bishop or archbishop, or a committee/synod/council whom otherwise we might be tempted to cast aside as a bunch of faceless bureaucrats! [A temptation, I must confess, I have not always resisted through my lifetime!]
Put more simply, Anglican church members are members of the body of Christ and members of a specific body or association of people with agreed rules, procedures, officers and governance groups, and thus as both kinds of members, have obligations to the well-being and good order of the church, and the well-being and good order of the church is always about our union/communion with one another in Christ.
Faultlines may develop, chasms should not.
*ACANZP is an international church, covering the jurisdictions of NZ, Fiji, Tonga and Samoa; likewise TEC is an international church, including a few countries other than the USA; etc.