What We Have in Common

What can Episcopalians who have taken sides in our current conflict actually agree on theologically? An Episcopal seminarian and blogger has invited other Episcopalians to think about where they might agree instead of focusing on how others might be wrong.

Sarah Dylan Breuer, who was a member of the group formed to recommend responses to the Windsor Report in time for last year’s General Convention and is currently a student at the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Mass., has been thinking of what would happen if the people involved in the conflict in the Episcopal Church could work diligently on their theological points of agreement, rather than their differences.

Breuer, who calls herself a progressive, has invited all Episcopalians especially conservatives, who often call themselves “reasserters” to take part through the comments section of the post “An invitation especially to ‘reasserters'” on her blog Dylan’s Grace Notes.

The experiment has shown up with links on several Anglican and Episcopal blogs, both liberal and conservative, on both sides of the Atlantic.

The keeper of Father Jake Stops the World, notes that the goal of her exercise was not an invitation to debate but, as Breuer writes, “to come up with the greatest number and most specificity possible while still allowing broad agreement.”

Another blog that issued the invitation was TitusOneNine, which is kept by the Rev. Dr. Kendall Harmon, Canon Theologian of the Diocese of South Carolina, who posted the invitation with his typically succinct invitation to “check it out.”

Breuer’s initial list can be found here and looks like this:

* Jesus is Lord.

* Jesus and the God who created the universe are one.

* The Old and New Testaments were inspired by God, and are useful for teaching and Christian formation (a la 2 Timothy 3:16-17).

* Jesus of Nazareth was an actual historical person who was born of Mary, gathered disciples and taught, healed, and confronted evil powers in ministry the first-century Roman province of Palestine, and was crucified under Pontius Pilate’s authority.

* Jesus of Nazareth was and is the Christ of God.

* The God of Israel raised Jesus of Nazareth from the dead. I know some Christians struggle with this, but I believe this was a bodily resurrection, and the tomb was empty (and John Dominic Crossan never persuaded me that there was no tomb).

* Jesus’ disciples met the risen Jesus — some had visions, some corporeal encounters (though Jesus’ body was different in some ways — e.g., he didn’t seem to need doors to be opened or unlocked to get into a room), but in all cases reported in the New Testament it was Jesus they met.

* I think the list of canonical books in the New Testament is a good one. There is no non-canonical gospel that I would have liked to see in the canon, and no book currently in the canon that I’d exclude if I could.

* I believe that the kingdom of God was inaugurated in Jesus’ ministry, and that Jesus will come again to realize fully his work among us

* I believe that the God of Israel has chosen Jesus, the Christ, as judge of the nations.

* I believe that Jesus is really present in the sacrament of the Eucharist.

* I believe that Jesus is really present wherever people gather in his name.

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