Love trumps dogma

Daily Reading for July 23

The current state of the Anglican Communion is tenuous. Of all the issues confronted in the church’s two millennia—persecution, war and famine, the rise and fall of nations, of economies, of political systems, of churches—why should this great expression of the Christian faith be shaken to its core over issues of sexuality? Why should the ordination of homosexuals, particularly to the episcopate, be so cataclysmic for Anglicans today? . . .

At our best we are, like most healthy families, composed of individuals very different from one another, occasionally disapproving of these differences, but respectful of them, and in any case committed to preserving the family—not because of some ill-conceived chauvinism or vague notion of inclusivity, but because we love one another. That is the essence of Anglicanism. If at present we are not at our best, perhaps it is less because some people are right and some are wrong than because in our eagerness to be right, we have forgotten to love.

To identify the issue as love may seem to over-simplify it, but there is nothing easy about loving across battle lines. For women and gays to love those who appear to want to deprive them of full membership in their church and of equality as human beings is not easy. For those who believe the church is abandoning its core beliefs, loving those they see as attacking those beliefs is not easy. So much seems to be at stake: in the first instance, full humanity for particular children of God; in the second, the integrity of the church. . . .

So why not simply go our separate ways? Because to do so would break faith with the very heart of Anglicanism—the legacy of Cranmer and the Elizabethan Settlement. To divorce because we don’t agree on matters of belief would be to give up on what has been the noblest impulse of the Anglican dream: that all our understandings of God and God’s will are limited, that love trumps dogmatic belief, and that it is possible to build a Christian communion embracing people who can’t agree on what a Christian communion is.

From “Why the Anglican Communion Matters” by Frank C. Strasburger (Forward Movement Publications, 2008).

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