My friend David sent me a link to a recent article from the Church Times, a newspaper from Britain covering issues of the Church of England....and wider Anglican Communion.
Please read the original article here http://www.churchtimes.co.uk/54116 before continuing.....I’ll wait....
First of all Kudos to Mark Oakley! I thought it was a wonderful article.
I just want to highlight a few sections for further comment....
“The division, however, is not really between conservatives and liberals at all. It is much more serious than that. It is a division between, first, those who are willing to say that other Christians, who have different views or lifestyles to themselves, are still, nevertheless, Christian, and have a Christian integrity that must be part of the Church; and, second, those who think that this simply cannot and must not be the case.”I would add to this that those who have decided to ‘leave’ the Anglican Church by forming alternative structures of authority are doing so not because they have been “driven out” but rather because the vision of loving compassion and inclusion that has grown within the church over the past century has not fit well with their own preoccupation with sin...and punishment. This preoccupation with sin (whatever its root) has been thinly veiled behind the term “Christian integrity” (to use Oakley’s term) or “Orthodoxy.”
“These people [from the first group] believe that the Church is a Noah’s ark, where every animal has to budge over in the straw to let someone else nestle down. This is a Church where friendships count for more than sound-bites, and which understands that something of God is shadowed every time a believer forgets that Christian faith is an exercise in humility. This has been the Anglican spirit at its best — with a resistance to over-definition of doctrine, in preference to worshipping together in common prayer.”Again, right on the spot! Where is the humility in this jostling of power and vituperative language over who represents the ‘true church?’ Have we forgotten that the central Anglican tradition of common prayer is not based so much on common doctrine as it is on the willingness to gather together, despite our differences? Noah’s Ark! Brilliant! Come on in! Let’s ride out the storm together.
“It is not so much that the Bible neatly answers all our questions, as that it questions all our answers. Its treasures are not yielded up overnight, at whim, or as ammunition. The only ultimate uniformity on offer is the constant fidelity of God towards us all.”Alleluia! I have never met another person with whom I have shared 100% agreement in our understanding of Scripture. Does that mean we are in some way fundamentally divided? I hope not...I’d be awfully lonely.
“This is not about conservatives and liberals. It is about the survival of the Anglican soul. There is middle ground — and it is where we should all be at times, for the sake of one another and the message of reconciliation entrusted to us.”Amen. Thank you Mark...and thank you David.