Presiding Bishop Frank Tracy Griswold has offered his first extended comments on our recently concluded General Convention and on the Archbishop of Canterbury’s proposal for a two-tiered Anglican Communion.
He writes of Rowan William’s plan:
“I note here that a two-tier solution to our present strains raises serious questions about how we understand ourselves as being the church. I am put in mind of Paul’s understanding of the church as the body of Christ of which we are all indispensable members in virtue of our baptism. I think as well of Jesus’ declaration in the Gospel of John that he is the vine and we are the branches and that apart from him we can do nothing.
Such a two-tiered view of our common life suggests to me amputated limbs and severed branches without any life-giving relationship to the One who is the source of all life. A pragmatic solution in this regard is at the expense of the deeper truth that the eye cannot say to the hand, I have no need of you.
With respect to the future, the Archbishop proposes a long-term process rather than an immediate solution, and in his Address to the Synod he spoke of that process and of looking “more fully at the question of what sort of ‘Covenant’ could be constructed…”
Here I am put in mind of the Archbishop’s observation in another context that in Baptism we are bound together in “solidarities not of our own choosing.” Communion is costly and difficult to live in the concrete, and it is impossible to do so without the love, which is the very life of the Trinity, being poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit.”
In the wake of General Convention, it is refreshing to hear any of our Church’s leadership respond to Canterbury in an un-obsequious manner. But I still think a two-tiered communion is worth exploring as a way out of our present difficulties. I am not a theologian, and I have no philosophy of “what it means to be church,” I am just sick of butting heads with people over the same old issues using the same old arguments when we should both be about other business.
It is possible that the Church is diminished by divisions, but it is also possible that it is enhanced by the energy that can be released when one segment of the Church defines itself clearly and sets about its mission.
By the way, any chance that we can arrange for Paul’s analogy about the body and its members to get a few days off.