Monday, August 30, 2004

We Are Living Out Our Identity

Simon Sarmiento, of Thinking Anglicans, points to a recent column in the Church Times by the Rev. L. William Countryman, Sherman E. Johnson Professor in Biblical Studies at The Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, California.

Here's a brief excerpt;

...Distant observers might assume that the Episcopal Church in the US is equally riven by parties, but they would be mistaken. In the C of E, both the Catholic and the Evangelical Right are highly organised for purposes of church politics, and have been so for a long time. In the US, the organisations currently dedicated to pulling the Church apart are of quite recent origin, and are apparently fuelled by a few large donations...

...(American Episcopalians) are the one traditional Christian alternative to the Puritan legacy of theocratic rigidity in the United States.

That legacy has shaped most American assumptions about religion, including the assumption that "real" Christianity is always legalistic and oppressive. There are liberal alternatives to this legacy, but Episcopalians are something else — the one expression of historic Christianity that has continuously resisted the temptation to know the mind of God better than God does.

Since we don’t profess to know the whole mind of God, it makes it easier to remain in communion with one another, even though we disagree on many things. Theologically, we are divided; just like the C of E. There is no single official theological stance, but we live with that by staying in conversation.

This is why we will survive our current conflicts, and be the stronger for them: for we are living out our identity. Again and again, the mean-spiritedness of right-wing American Evangelicalism has turned out to be our single most potent tool of evangelism. There are signs that the American public is once again tiring of its theocratic program, notably in its refusal to get behind the campaign for an amendment to the federal constitution foreclosing gay marriage...
Read the whole thing here.


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