Saturday, January 06, 2007
My Third Reason for Remaining Anglican
What follows is my response to an anonymous correspondent who left an insightful comment on my previous post It's all Greek to me?? Hardly... (18 December 2006). Within this response I elaborate briefly on my third reason for remaining Anglican.
ANONYMOUS: What separates Rome, the EO, and the Anglicans is ecclesiology more than any other thing. If one was to believe that the Church is defined by the Pope that person would have no choice but to be in communion with Rome. If one was to believe in the ecclesial ultimacy of the EO that person would of course join the EO. If one wants to be eclectic or inclusive, they go to the Anglicans. The red herrings of molester-priests in the RCC, xenophobia in the EO, or apostasy amongst the Anglican episcopate is really not relevant. Objectively speaking, either all three groups are wrong in their ecclesiology or one of them is right. Your personal comfort because of socialization or a desire for a particular liturgy shouldn't trump or determine how you define "Church" as you confess it in the Creed.
LEXORANDI2: I couldn’t have said this better myself. THE theological issue separating Romanism, Byzantinism, and Anglicanism is ecclesiology, which leads into my third reason why I remain an Anglican: Anglicanism views eclecticism and inclusiveness as a virtue, if not the very heart of true Catholicism.
In this respect, Anglicanism looks more like the pre-schism (pre-1054) Church than do the alternatives. When I look at the Roman Church or the Eastern churches (or the Oriental Orthodox bodies for that matter), I see eminent apostolic churches that hold essentially to the same faith that I do as an Anglican. Nothing in my Anglican ecclesiology prevents me from affirming them, or any of the baptized, as full brothers and sisters in Christ, nor forbids them a place at the Table. Paradoxically, it is my affirmation of the same that prevents the very fellowship with RC's and EO's that I as an Anglican so desire. So, in this respect, what I see in Anglicanism is what I believe that Rome or Byzantium SHOULD BE.
ANONYMOUS: If the writer had a firm allegiance to his ecclesiastial affiliation he wouldn't have even had the thought of switching; in fact the mere thought of joining something that defines out of the Church his entire tradition post-1054 would have been less than appealing. RC's and EO's don't daydream about being anything but what they are because they have a strong position on what they are confessing about "Church" in the Creed. Anglicans need to develop the same strength, but how can they when you can gather a group of conservative Anglicans and no two agree on the past or the future?
LEXORANDI2: Given the present troubles within our Communion (to which Rome’s troubles with “molester-priests” or Byzantine xenophobia hardly compare), it takes a rather hardhearted person not to understand the fears and, yes, even doubts, that weigh heavily on the minds of many otherwise committed Anglicans as they see their tradition unraveling around them in the face of overt apostasy, and perhaps even - God forbid - the beginning of the end of the Anglican experiment. I also find your generalization of the comparable allegiances of RC's and EO's amusing in that I know perhaps ten times more RC and EO converts to Protestantism (and Anglicanism) than I do the reverse. Hmmm... I wonder if any of these converts ever "daydreamed" about being something else before they jumped ship?
Like I suggested before, when I look at Rome and Byzantium I see communions that should, in the interest of a more consistent catholicism, be more "Anglican." This should be a matter of concern for someone like you, because I suspect that I am not the only Anglican "daydreamer" who feels this way. If Anglicanism falls irreparably apart, there will no doubt be many Anglicans finding new homes in one of the two remaining apostolic communions, which inevitably means that these communions will indeed become more "Anglican" over time. Perhaps this will mean the end of ecclesial ultimacy? (As they say, every cloud has a silver lining.)