Dispatches from Anglicanland

Tobias Haller, Mark Harris and the Modern Churchpeople’s Union have all written essays worth reading recently.

Tobias on the debate over the blessing of same sex relationships :

[I]f there is no willingness to engage these questions, if we are simply at a standoff — none of us able to convince the other of the truth of our position, or even to discuss the matter with some degree of mutual care and willingness to perhaps change our minds — then our challenge is to see if we are able to live together in harmonious disagreement, and wait for time itself slowly to winnow truth. I am certainly willing to do so, as I think there are far more important matters facing us, about which we do have significant agreement, and our efforts and resources would be well spent in their pursuit.

Mark on the state of the Anglican Communion:

It … feels to me like the ninth hour, the 3 PM time when it seems, well, finished. It feels somehow as if The Episcopal Church is experiencing that strange time when the curtain of the Temple is torn, when the death comes, and when all things new are not yet known because not yet experienced. It is quiet in Episcopal and Anglican Land perhaps because we all know that The Anglican Communion of our particular expectations is done, finished, dead. What the Anglican Communion might become is another matter. Whether or not any of us would particularly like to be part of that is as well.

And the MCU thinks that Rowan Williams and Tom Wright are full of stuff when it comes to delineating the problems that beset the Anglican Communion:

Both insist there is an Anglican consensus that homosexuality is immoral, and on that basis blame the Americans for acting contrary to it. Outside the higher echelons of church bureaucracies this seems a bizarre claim: in normal English usage ‘consensus’ means ‘general agreement (of opinion, testimony, etc.)’ (Concise Oxford Dictionary) or ‘general or widespread agreement among all the members of a group’ (Encarta Dictionary). The current controversy is precisely about whether homosexuality is indeed immoral, and as long as debate continues nothing could be clearer than the fact that there is no consensus.

What Williams and Wright mean by ‘consensus’ is not in fact consensus at all; they make no attempt to appeal to a general agreement. They appeal instead to a few central authorities, chiefly Lambeth 1998, primates’ meetings and the Windsor Report, plus what they claim the church has always taught. Far from being consensus this is better described as ‘a principle, tenet or system’, or perhaps ‘a belief or set of beliefs that a religion holds to be true’. The word being defined here (Concise Oxford Dictionary and Encarta respectively) is ‘dogma’.

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