28.6.11

The Anglican




Anon tells me - Rachel, step by step you are moving in the liberal direction, though you are scarcely aware of it. Your last post of "marriage equality" suggests you have great difficulty even understanding the matter from the evangelical, biblical perspective. When you start looking at things in abstract "justice" categories, instead of the clear teaching of Scripture of the redeemd life in Christ, you will end up endorsing the liberal viewpoint. 

I can write well on the evangelical, biblical perspective, my tutors will testify to that but I am aware too that life is a lot messier on the ground. Academia can become an ivory tower indeed and I have left that tower now. Now by this, I am not saying that I also champion relativism. I have learnt also about our postmodern resistance to truth and authority. As I told Anon, and I do not think I have too many worries about doing so, vulnerability being scary but also something I think I am called to, I am happy to work these things through here and out loud. In 2009 ABC said 'perhaps we are faced with the possibility rather of a ‘two-track’ model, two ways of witnessing to the Anglican heritage. . . To recognise different futures for different groups must involve mutual respect for profoundly held convictions.' (2009, 2502)

I reckon part of my problem is that I do not want to have to choose between these two tracks. I have much to learn from journeying with people along both and no doubt there are other tracks I am yet to discover, (this blog investigating more the evangelical position than say, the Anglo-Catholic, for example). Perhaps Open Evangelicalism is a kind of evangelicalism grappling with its Anglican identity, perhaps Open evangelical fails to identify me but then that is the problem with labels afterall. Pluralist puts me in this category. I think I probably do too but not as quickly now. Every time I label I also begin to construct caveats, imagine small print etc.

Paul Avis, in his recent book, The Identity of Anglicanism, concludes his chapter on ‘Anglican Ecclesiology in the Twenty-first Century’ with an assessment of the state of Anglicanism today which does much I think to highlight the strange country Anglicans inhabit and why perhaps my often clumsy attempts to dialogue on all sides can sometimes mean that I appear to be something of strange creature, who knows not what kind of creature it really is.

“Anglicanism does indeed attempt to hold together elements that are opposed in other traditions – though not without strains. It defines itself as catholic and reformed; orthodox in doctrine yet open to change in its application. Its polity is both episcopal (and its bishops have real authority) and synodical – an unusual combination in a church that has maintained the historic episcopate. It acknowledges an ecumenical council as the highest authority in the Church, but is not opposed in principle to a universal primacy and virtually never has been. It confesses the paramount authority of Scripture, but reveres tradition and harkens to the voice of culture and science. It tries to be neither centralized nor fragmented, neither authoritarian nor anarchic. It is comprehensive without being relativistic. This interesting experiment has endured and evolved for nearly five centuries; in spite of the present difficulties, I believe it is worth persevering with.” [Paul Avis,The Identity of Anglicanism: Essentials of Anglican Ecclesiology(London: T&T Clark, 2007), pp. 168-169.]

I believe that it is worth persevering with too and there is something inherently optimistic about Avis's position. The uncertain certainty of Anglicanism felt like a haven when I first started to discover it, a relief from the dogged certainty of the more free evangelicalism I was sampling. Anglicanism has held together so many types over such a long period of time with losses along the way but losses often impoverish and so we should remember that and continue to try to hold on to one another. 

6 comments:

Pashfish said...

Hi Rach,

The Anglican is indeed a strange creature. Be blessed in the run up to Sunday it is God who is forming you and the shape? Well slowly it will be revealed...

GB


Paul

Rach said...

Thanks so much - we are indeed rather weird and wonderful. Looking forward to joining the strange creature. Will follow your journey over your remaining time - happy blogging.

Pluralist (Adrian Worsfold) said...

Just to call you Open Evangelical is rapid shorthand. I think if you were only that, I'd be less talkative and take fewer liberties too probably.

If there is a trajectory followed then the issue of being female and in ministry has caused a change, as it does with many women. The fact that many a Conservative Evangelical rejects any kind of headship causes a strain and breakaway.

The other movement detected has been towards the whole Anglican ship. You also had something of a jolt in the United States, seeing a different Anglican-whole perspective and an active social gospel that cannot afford to reject individuals.

You've also encountered people like Lesley; perhaps you haven't met them physically and knowing them. You have obviously decided to deal with her.

My interest has also been in some of your preferred authors, who you see as evangelical, but their poststructuralism and all that leads down avenues that I also inhabit; had I been at your college I'd have said some of these are wearing the Emperor's New Clothes.

My focus is different. I stretch across to Anglicans and Liberal Catholics and just sit in a Unitarian space. I talk to you because there is an openness not visible in many an open evangelical. Your live chat with me at one time was a bit bizarre in places, like a green garage door or something, but that was just a lot of fancy and a kind of you that might get looser in its attachment, simply because it is, like the garage door, a bit unhinged.

So yes you are more liberal especially given your intellectual source uses and observations of culture, but you are also more institutional.

I'll send you a private message for comparative purposes.

Have a good retreat and enjoy your entry into the caste.

Random Arrow said...

Thank you for your bio-like notes. Informative for me.

I’m not in your camp. I appreciate delving into how different others differently think. So, thanks.

I see Episcopalian wars and empty Episcopalian churches dotting California’s central valley over theological flame wars. I don’t have answers. Some grief. Other Episcopalian churches (rurual poor Nevada) dying no matter how accommodating and controversy-avoiding they try to be.

As a justice-practitioner in daily life, I do agree with the warning against abstract justice categories. But my Quaker-esque/Vineyard readings of the bible are not an ally for you in this warning (Bible second, Spirit first - I know the accusations of anarchy).

My practice/praxis of daily justice-work are, however, on the side of Anon’s warnings against poetic seductions of abstract justice.

It’s a long – and painful – way from theory to practice. And when practice-facts get ugly, it’s easier to escape into abstractions and into the narcissism of abstract theology. And even the category of "messiness" can indulge that narcissism of the abstract.


Take it from a narcissistic pro ...


Cheers,


Jim

Rach said...

Thanks Random Arrow - love your profile piccie

Steve Caruso said...

Best. Illustration. Ever. :-)

Peace,
-Steve

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