Jan 25, 2012

THE GLORY OF ANGLICANISM: ¨...I am tired of people telling me that I am not as Christian as they are simply because I think differently than they do¨

Dr. Rowan Williams, The Archbishop of Canterbury and The Reverend ¨Canon Librarian¨ Doll of Norwich are kidding themselves/others if they do not recognize the Anglican Covenant as a punishing document

¨I am tired of the wrangle though. I am tired of people telling me that I am not as Christian as they are simply because I think differently than they do. I have always thought that Anglicanism was based on not ‘having a window into men’s souls.’ I will never deny anyone communion at the table I serve because it is not my table to guard. It is the Lord ’s Table I serve and from what I read in the Gospel, Jesus fed all who came with abundance left over.¨  Muthah+

¨A white paper has been written for the Bishop of Norwich by a C of E which is being recommended by the Archbishop of Canterbury in support of the Anglican Covenant. Written by the Canon Librarian of the Norwich Cathedral, Peter Doll resurrects much of the froth and bother that began to be developed in the US some 10 years ago as the extreme conservatives in the US House of Bishops began to lose power. There were accusations of lack of collegiality, appeals to history, uncertain theologies, lack of catholicity, etc. by those bishops then and Doll seems to return to their arguments.

It begins with a nod to the academic delving into the history of Christianity in the US with all the appropriate footnotes, but it is a history of the American ‘popular church’ that is no more characteristic of the Church in which I have served for the past 30 years than a barrel of monkeys. And after his nod at scholarship he goes on a 5 page rant about how ‘un-Anglican’ and even ‘un-Christian’ TEC is because we have been so high-handed in what we have done by consecrating openly gay and lesbian clergy to the office of bishop. It is interesting that there is no reference to the Anglican Church of Canada who did many of the same things.

Doll was born in the US and a Yalie, and perhaps feels that he is an authority on all life in America. But it is clear from his writing that he has no experience of the church he is supposed to be writing about. He has spent most of his adult life ordained for the C of E, living in the culture of the UK. The C of E and TEC are not the same but we come from the same roots.

Doll’s statement : ”The American religious experience is like no other, and even if American Anglicans have historically identified themselves as standing apart from evangelical Protestantism, as being a cut above socially and intellectually, their actual experience is nevertheless deeply imbued with these same primordialist assumptions” is not only not true in the Episcopal Church since WWII, it is offensive to those of us who find their spiritual home in a church that straddles the catholic/protestant abyss today in ways never appreciated in other parts of the Communion. It is clear he has a singular prejudice against the concept of a faith rooted in experience with nips and digs at the evangelicals that are presently ascendant in American politics and the Methodists for their lack of orthodoxy (really?) and then paints the whole American religious canvas as gnostic.

The American Episcopal Church IS a unique church. That is part of the glory of Anglicanism. All our national churches are unique to the cultures we serve. We do provide an alternative to the Calvinistic and Roman Catholic strands of Christianity that make up the majority the Christian experience here. We are a small presence in the total mainline tree of Protestantism in the US. But we do like to think that we provide a place for a thinking person’s response to faith. We are a vital leaven in the whole Christian loaf that makes up the US.

Unlike the C of E, we are not an academic-bound church. We have good theological schools and have produced fine teachers, but we do not expect our bishops to be scholars. Like the Lutherans we put much more emphasis on the pastoral duties of our bishops, priests and deacons. We find ministry to those in the pew, the celebrations of the sacraments and service of the needy lively ways to live out what it means to be the Church of Christ in our area. We believe that these stem from our Baptismal covenant and are central to how we not only experience faith but also how we share it. In other words, the laity is the primary order in the church not priest or bishop.

We are aware that we are not only a church in a very powerful country but in 9 other nations of the world. TEC often stands in opposition to the actions of US national interests as a voice for the poor, disenfranchised and the voiceless. We too stood with South Africa in her fight against apartheid. And it was the dogged work of Bishops John Walker and Archbishop Tutu that brought the US sanctions that finally helped topple the moneyed interests in South Africa. TEC too has voiced our concerns against the misuse of power that often accompanies global industries which pollute or disorient local economies. We try to address the issues of our day in the light of the Gospel. We are not the church of the moneyed class any longer.

We are truly trying to encounter this new era of technology and post-modernism with the message that the Incarnation is present now as it was in times past. Granted this newness is not going to look like it always has, but it will continue to challenge a new era by inviting a whole new generation into the intimacy with their God. Now, if that is what is to be called ‘cultural imperialism,’ so be it. It seems to me that this is what mission is about. It is also what happens when there are great movements in history that change the way that people embrace the truth of their existence in relation to their surroundings. We need but see the movements in faith history over the past 4 millennia to see what is happening in our world today.

In the past almost 10 years, I have found it almost comical that TEC is blamed for GAFCON leaving the Communion. We have forced no other church to force people or churches or dioceses from the common Table. We have not demanded that others think or act the way we do. We have gone ahead and acted on 40 years of study and ministry to best serve the people we have in our Church. We find that honesty about sexual orientation is preferred to hiding behind celibacy or denial. We believe that both the scientific and spiritual communities have spoken to the issue of homosexuality clearly and it is important to address the injustices of furthering discrimination as we have done on issues such as slavery, racism, colonialism and sexism. We do not demand other parts of the communion to believe as we do. But we do expect that when we send our leaders to be in council with other parts of the Communion that they will be respected and welcomed as Christ just as we would welcome and respect the leaders of other churches....¨  please read it all,   HERE

The Reverend Canon is kidding himself if he does not recognize the Anglican Covenant as a punishing document

·  Thanks to Stone of Witness, sidebar
·  Thanks to Muthah+ , Texas

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