Friday, June 01, 2007

Over at Stand Firm: Hospitality and Heretics

Stand Firm's Matt Kennedy recently wrote an article of interest entitled, Hospitality and Heretics: The Necessity of Discipline in the Anglican Communion. The article itself is what I've come to expect from Matt: a well-written, impassioned argument for the federal conservative view. But the comment section reveals the essential flaw in the fed con view, and why a presumed Communion set up in the fashion that fed cons envision will never work.

In the providence of God, the Church used councils to deliberate controversial matters, and, yes, actually to DEFINE dogma, not merely to reiterate scriptural teaching, as Matt seems to be saying in his remarks (one commenter does a good job challenging Matt on this point). Conciliarism as a process for discerning what the Spirit is saying to the churches is often messy, political, and (in the ancient world) has even been violent. And in the aftermath of a council (i.e. the period of reception for a council's teaching), things could even be worse. As unholy as it sounds, like or not, orthodoxy triumphs by virtue of being the "last man standing" after a conflict has subsided.

The Anglican Communion is a very young community of churches, ever inching their way to a conciliar model of community life and discipline. We are not there yet, and the present struggle is by no means the first or last challenge that will threaten its very existence.

In short, I think Matt should have started with Acts 15 rather than with Matthew 18.

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