Monday, July 17, 2006

Kriss: "No Longer Catholic"

The Living Church has an article up now that I referenced in comments a few days ago;
No Longer Catholic by Gary Kriss, former dean of Nashotah House. Don't let the source, or his resume, allow you to develop preconceived notions about his place in the Church. He has some difficult things to say to both sides of our current unpleasantness. Here's part of it:

General Convention cannot speak for Anglicanism as a whole, but its actions on several fronts indicate very clearly that the leadership of this portion of the Anglican Communion, the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, now regards our church unequivocally as a protestant denomination. In truth, this is nothing new, but General Convention 2006 has put an exclamation point on it...

...The Elizabethan Settlement which held us together for four centuries has unraveled. Under the terms of the Settlement, we had diversity and even deep divisions. It was often a struggle to hold both local provinces and the whole Communion together, but we did, and even devised the Quadrilateral, which defined the terms of our common life and identity. Now, however, covenants in the style of protestant confessions of faith and the balkanization of the Communion by means of the realignment of parishes and dioceses, are simply ways of denying reality. The archbishop’s (and the Network’s) apparent vision of a multi-tiered Anglican Communion in which some are members and some are merely associates can be nothing more than a protestant debating society, not the branch of Christ’s one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church we once claimed to be.
When Bishop Swing was developing the United Religions Initiative, he noticed a strange thing. A Muslim would sit down to work towards common goals with a Christian, but sometimes had difficulty sitting at the same table with another Muslim sect. A Christian would work with a Buddhist, but would sometimes refuse to participate if another particular Christian group was present. The deepest divisions were within the traditions.

It seems to me that if we are to work for Christian unity, it is essential that we have a good grasp of what it means to be an Anglican so that we do not have to constantly be on guard against the loss or dilution of our traditions through close contact with other denominations. If we have a firm grasp on who we are, we won't have to weigh and sift every prayer, statement of belief or theological stance to see how and if it fits within our tradition. We will know, because being a Christian within the Anglican tradition will be part of the very essence of who we are. Then, instead of being defensive, we can freely share with others the gifts that Anglicanism has to offer.

I wrote a bunch of other stuff about this which I just erased. This topic hits too close to home. But, as there was some interest expressed in comments for a discussion of ecumenism, I'll go ahead and post this. Most likely I'll just listen in on your discussion this time.


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