26.6.11

SPREAD the Marmite

Well, I have to say, I find SPREAD a little distasteful. I love Marmite btw but not the latest flavour the GAFCON affiliated organisation have created. The assessment of the Anglican Church they voice to attract support to their organisation, is not very judicious.

They describe the Anglicanism of 1998 - 2008 as 'toxic' by implication. I do not find it toxic. Moreover, I marked my commitment, in this Church and its 'reformed Christian faith as classically expressed in the Anglican Formularies, the Thirty-nine Articles, the 1662 Book of Common Prayer and the Ordinal.'

GAFCON do not hold a monopoly on the Anglican faith.

They also quote Richard Hooker, of whom I am a great fan. But their choice of quotation implies that this Church about which I am passionate is listening with one ear to our Saviour and another, false prophets. They seem to completely miss the point that Richard Hooker's was a generous orthodoxy in which he argued that those mistaken were unlikely to be damned. Mistakes are made on all sides, by the Gafconites and the rest of us. Hooker insisted very much on something rather akin to indaba - a listening process, so that we might all learn from each other and together. He was less antagonistic and more optimistic. Scripture is infallible but it doesn't pertain to governing every detail of our life with prescription, we need reason to work out how our lives might be led according to the supernatural duties of scripture. We understand what is morally right by looking at human nature as God has created it. Hooker is less enthusiastic about tradition and holds fast to the supremacy of Scripture but he expects us to be thinking beings and rather like Tom Wright's five act play idea, asks that we work out how the church conducts itself based on what has been revealed to us by God with the understanding that the church will change as it adapts to new times and different cultures. There are, of course, some absolutes, particularly pertaining to salvation.

At least this organisation says that they do not intend to be schismatic, which is all too well if they champion Hooker who encourages unity in all things, unity within the church is essential and motivates the way Hooker addresses his opponents with a 'Charity which hopeth all things, [and] prayeth also for all men,' (Hooker, Op. cit. BOOK V. Ch. xlix. 2). GAFCON want to accuse us less of a 'toxic' drift and pray for us, if they are to do anything. Hooker trusts that although,

...contentions are now at their highest float...that the day will come...when the passions of former enmity being allayed, we shall with ten times redoubled tokens of our unfeignedly reconciled love, shew ourselves each towards [the] other...(Hooker, Op. cit. Preface, Ch. ix. 4).

Rowan Williams believes Hooker's methodology proved Hooker opposed any position that 'refuses the work of interpretation or that pretends that history has come to a halt,' (R Williams, The Richard Hooker Lecture, transcript).

Before SPREAD speak again of this church as 'no longer fit for purpose when confronted with deep theological confusion in which evil is held out as good and good as evil,' they should attend again and more carefully to Hooker. Because although as a church, we argue and debate, and at times the world reckons that there is little love amongst us, we should speak words to one another, like Hooker, in his controversies with the Puritans and the Romanisers, that prove that we

...labour under the same yoke, as men that look for the same eternal reward of their labours ...in bands of indissoluble love... as if our persons being many our souls were but one, rather than in such dismembered sort to spend our few and wretched days in a tedious prosecuting of wearisome contentions...(Hooker, Op. cit. Preface, Ch. ix. 4).

8 comments:

Peter Carrell said...

Best wishes for your ordination, Rachel!

Suem said...

Agree. Congratulations on your upcoming ordination by the way:)

Peter Carrell said...

Best wishes for your ordination, Rachel!

I am linking to your post this morning ...

Rach said...

Thank you, friends.

Great Peter - some good commentaries are beginning to appear on this new development, yours being one of them. You raise some interesting issues - I think this all matters to me because I am evangelical but working within current structures, I too hope that AMIE realises that there are evangelical Anglican churches that are kingdom-building.

Curate Karen said...

Thanks Rachel for the enlightening post - I was not aware of SPREAD. I agree totally with your assessment. To be reformed and evangelical does not necessarily mean we all fit into the GAFCON mold.

Prayers and blessings for your impending ordination. You are truly a blessing to God's kingdom - and it is all about the kingdom that God so desperately wants us to embrace.

Anonymous said...

Is this the Hooker of faith versus the Hooker of history?
Rachel, iti s understandable that you are not keen about a group that is not particularly keen on women priests. But I wonder if you are really aware of what is happening in world Anglicanism - or even in England? Note how that "evangelical" bishop James Jones now endorses homosexual relationships. This is the church you are now seeking to lead.
Evangelicals have been excluded.

Anonymous said...

Rachel, step by step you are moving in the liberal direction, though you are scarcely aware of it. Your last post of "marriage equality" suggest 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 thwe redeemd life in Christ, you will end up endorsing the liberal viewpoint.

Rach said...

Anon - it is a shame you will not give your name - it is the policy of this blog to not normally accept anon contributions, however, I make an exception.

In fact take the above as an analogy for someone who avoids a kind of rigidity of approach to things. The reason why I blog is that I seek to work things through in community. Many of these issues are not part and parcel of your average day in parish, they are informing actions but they are not often explicitly being wrestled with. The real business on the ground takes on another dimension somehow and I thank God for that.

In 2009 ABC said ABC '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)

You are right in some ways, I reckon 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 even yet to discover, this blog investigating more the evangelical position than say, the Anglo-Catholic, for example. See my latest on Avis for more. Thanks for your observation.

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A little background reading on the two theological integrities in the Church of England regarding women in ministry.