Thursday, August 28, 2008

Fr. Will Brown Comments on "A Word in Time"

I don't typically link to the comments from other blogs, but I thought this entry by Fr. Will Brown (a Covenant contributor ) over at Titus OneNine was brilliant.


I think, to shuck it down to the cob, we should not start a new group. Part of what it means to be an Anglican (perhaps the biggest part) is our commitment to discern these kinds of things (blessing same sex relationships, etc.) with our brother Anglicans. That’s what, in part, 1998.1.10 is all about. But the disciplinary stuff (e.g. what happens when a diocese doesn’t want to be part of its provincial structure but does want to be part of the Communion?) is no less a task for common discernment. In short: to be Anglican means to look for Anglican answers to these questions. Who enunciates Anglican answers? Well, over the past century and a half, the common life we lead as Anglicans has kind of indicated that we look to the ABC, Lambeth, the Primates Meeting, and the ACC to answer these kinds of questions. The problem is that the answers aren’t binding, because hitherto they haven’t really needed to be binding. Now the task is to mutually (as a Communion) discern a way to agree to be bound by Anglican answers (the answers of the Instruments). In other words, the task in front of us isn’t just for the Communion to tell TEC that TEC is wrong. The Communion has done that already… repeatedly (cf. 1998.1.10 and the various statements ever sense, most recently at Lambeth). We have to go back a step further and figure out a way to agree to be bound to one another more tightly. THAT’S what takes time. And rightly so. Its a sea change in the common life of Anglicans. And many of us think its a change for the better, because it will be the foundation not only for the solution to the current problems, but for future problems too. There will be not merely a resolution, but a MECHANISM for coming to a resolution. The lack of the mechanism is Anglicanism’s Achilles’ heal—i.e. the fact that there really is no legitimate way for the Communion to speak to TEC with authority. TEC is correct in pointing out that provinces are largely autonomous. But we now see that this kind of autonomy is disastrous. (That should be no surprise to anyone—autonomy literally means being a law unto oneself, and that just SOUNDS, prima facie, terrible unGospel—and it is.)

To recap: being an Anglican, at this point in time, means being willing to invest the time and psychic (aka “soulish") energy necessary to lay a foundation for a renewed Communion with stronger and deeper trans-provincial (aka global) relationships—deepening our koinonia, our fellowship, our communion with one another. And concomitantly relinquishing some of our (unChristian) autonomy. In short: finding a way to live into the truth that “what effects all should be decided by all”. Above all else now this means patience and a willingness to endure the birth-pangs. But the result, if we can just endure to the end, could well be a deepened, renewed, and sanctified Anglican Communion, able to carry the Gospel to the unbelieving world all the more effectively precisely in virtue of our visibly deepened and renewed love for one another. The world will see that we are committed to one another, that we patiently bear one another’s burdens, that we willingly forego advantage and individual “success” for the sake of one another. And the world will find that compelling, because people want to LIVE, and because the world only knows self-seeking, isolation, violence and exploitation: which all lead to death.


Augustinian Successor said...

But actually the comment amounts to a "cop-out" of the real issue (singular) facing the Anglican Communion. If I may put it, the crisis of authority in the Anglican Communion is precisely not institutional or structural in nature but epistemological. That is the nub of the problem. The moral of the story is: Whatever happened to Scripture?

Whatever happened to the external clarity of Scripture?

Third Mill Catholic said...

"Whatever happened to the external clarity of Scripture?"

ANSWER: It was highjacked by fundamentalists who would impose a hermeneutic upon Scripture that distorts it after their own image. Sad but true.