February 16, 2008

Not near so much like a Communion

In the preceding post but one, Jane R made a comment about how difficult some people find it to understand that Anglicans do not form a single world-wide church under a single government, but rather a communion of self-governing churches.

This is certainly true in our relationship with Roman Catholics. I was reminded of the comments of a Cardinal some years back, who complained, I believe to Archbishop Runcie, that they never knew where they stood with Anglicans, because the Americans could go ahead and have women bishops while England didn't. "We don't know who we're talking to" he said, or words to that effect. The implication is that if only Anglicans could learn to be a bit more organized and centrally governed, they would be much easier for Rome to work with than they are at present.

In the context of the present disagreements about the chaotic nature of the Communion as a whole, and the development of a Covenant to give it a firmer and more cohesive form of — government is too strong a word — rational organization, in which I perceive the influence of certain Romeward impulses at a number of levels, I was reminded of this wonderful interchange from Pride and Prejudice, by the inimitable Jane Austen:

"I should like balls infinitely better," she replied, "if they were carried on in a different manner; but there is something insufferably tedious in the usual process of such a meeting. It would surely be much more rational if conversation instead of dancing made the order of the day.''

"Much more rational, my dear Caroline, I dare say, but it would not be near so much like a ball."

We could well continue to strive to bolster greater centrality in the organization and governance of the Anglican Communion, which might please the Roman Catholics and other Carolines of this world, giving them someone to converse with without the need for fancy footwork; and at the same time transform Lambeth from a gathering for fellowship and prayer into a Synodical Body for the Purpose of Settling Issues — both would be ever so much more rational, but then neither would be near so much like the Anglican Communion.

Tobias Haller BSG

22 comments:

Jane R said...

A fine analogy (and yes, Jane Austen is so much fun -- are you watching the PBS series? I finally caught up with it last Sunday night since our local station had put it at such a bizarre hour) which reminds me of the title of my friend Jay Johnson's book, Dancing with God: Anglican Christianity and the Practice of Hope.

And thanks, Tobias. Even more to the point, the problem (and this is more what I was trying to emphasize) isn't just 1) the Church vs. Communion understanding but also 2) the way the media is playing the Anglican story and thus the way it is received and perceived by the broad public -- and 3)the gap between the macro-level shenanigans (though heaven knows they sometimes go local, as witness various congregations in DioVA, DioSJ et al.) and Episcopal and other Anglican daily church life at the grass roots.

This is also true, by the way, of the Roman Catholic Church.

In my quarter of a century as an adult RC, before I emigrated to the Episcopal Church, I spent a lot of time explaining to people (still do, actually) that the RC Church is not like a central bank with branches. It is much more chaotic and organic in its real life than either the media or some of its hierarchy portray it. Change does not always happen from the top down. Local parishes and the Vatican don't always march to the same beat.

That said, of course there is hierarchical and central representation, reflecting the RC hierarchical governance. But this representation at the judicatory level does not accurately represent what is going on in local RC congregations. I know this to be fact. (E.g.: lay people may not preach in RC churches. Right, and I was preaching in RC congregations, regularly, at Sunday Eucharist, for two decades from the 1970s to the 1990s. And I wasn't the only one.)

Eugene Kennedy's 1988 book Tomorrow's Catholics, Yesterday's Church: The Two Cultures of American Catholicism is helpful in this respect. Some of Kennedy's observations are unique to U.S. Catholicism, but some are valid for the RC Church in general.

There's a whole other topic here on mutual perceptions of each other among RCs and Anglicans, but I'll save that for a day when I have a bit more time. I've been mulling a post on that for nearly a year because I encounter perceptions and misperceptions that disturb me in this regard. A friend of mine who sits on the U.S. committee of the official RC/Anglican dialogue(whose acronym escapes me) and I have even talked about writing an article about this together. He's an RC theologian who spent a year at General and is deeply involved on the theological side of the dialogue.

Thanks as always for your thoughts and your thoughtfulness.

Tobias Haller said...

Oh yes, Jane R -- the whole media issue is important. My mind just went off with the Covenant and Communion matters as that is so much in my thought at present.

But it is so true that the media misunderstand the churches almost as much as the churches misunderstand each other -- and dare I say, themselves!

Over the years I've served in the official capacity of Explainer To Media; and it is a nearly hopeless situations. Years back I worked in the Communication Office of TEC and at General Conventions helped out in the Press Room explaining things to reporters from the secular media. I was always the one turned to by the rest of the staff to Reveal the Mystery of The Vote By Orders.

At the last GC I was one of the "press briefers" from the House of Deputies, and tried to do the same. Many of the questions presumed more structure to the Communion than exists -- and reporters who think all churches must either be like [their idea of] Rome or the Southern Baptists found it very hard to grasp our dare I say unique model. They wanted to map it onto what they thought they were familiar with. (Don't we all do that all the time, by the way!)

And yes, I'm catching the odd bit of Austen on PBS. Delightful wit!

Grandmère Mimi said...

"Much more rational, my dear Caroline, I dare say, but it would not be near so much like a ball."

Exactly. And Jane Austen has wit and wisdom to offer for nearly every occasion - at the very least, if only by analogy. And if you hadn't hooked me already, Tobias, you'd have me hooked now.

My bêtes noires re the media are the labels "Episcopalian Church" and "Episcopals" meaning people. Distinguishing between the noun and the adjective seems a simple thing.

Anonymous said...

Jane,

As a new RC, and old TECer, my comment would only be that as a RC I can pray and hope, with realistic expectation,that the Holy Father and the hierarchy would correct abuses such that you mention, as a member of TEC (I realized) such hope was unfounded. Some folks like it that way, I did not.

Trooper

4 May 1535+ said...

Tobias & all,

I recently came across a tract, "There are Thirty-Five Million of Us!: The Episcopal Church Around the World," by the Rev. William C. R. Sheridan, later VIII Bishop of Northern Indiana, written back in the late 40s or early 50s. Bishop Sheridan was eminently conservative, a loyal son and trustee of the House of the BVM at Nashotah, initially opposed to women's ordination, pained in his later years by the whole affair of Bishop Robinson's ordination.

All that being said, here is part of what Fr. Sheridan wrote:

"Before finding out how strong we are, we must remind ourselves what we are. The Lambeth Conference of 1930--Lambeth Palace has been the official residence of the Archbishops of Canterbury since 1197--declared the Anglican Communion to be a "Fellowship within the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of those duly constituted Dioceses, Provinces, or Regional Churches in Communion with the See of Canterbury." In short, this Family of Sister Churches--the American Episcopal Church is a member!--is voluntarily bound together by its determination and desire to uphold and spread the Catholic and Apostolic Faith as taught by our Lord Jesus Christ, as set forth in a Book of Common Prayer translated in many languages, and as witnessed to by individual Anglicans everywhere when they say, 'I believe in one Catholic and Apostolic Church' at every celebration of the Christ-commanded Eucharist.

"The world-wide Anglican Communion is really made up of three groups or categories. First come the completely independent or autonomous national sister churches[...] In the second grouping are the Churches in China, Japan, West Africa and East Africa. They have a large measure of self government[...]though they are not yet self-supporting. The third category is made up of the many other dioceses and missionary districts scattered around the world [...] These many dioceses are, or course, in widely different stages along the way to becoming independent." (Bold in the original, italics added)

Again, I don't want to appear to enlist Bp. Sheridan on a side of the larger argument which would only have distressed him: but what he had to say seems to be evidence that even a very conservative Anglo-Catholic fifty years thought of the AC as an association of independent Churches (and of jurisdictions headed toward independence), rather than as one international Church.

-Your neighborhood Carthusian martyr

David Austin Allen said...

Trooper,

What is interesting to me is that those of you who say that you have left TEC, just can't leave TEC alone. You have this ingrained need to keep coming back and getting in your digs.

If you are truly gone, then be gone with you. God's blessings on you in your new fellowship with the RC. Put all that energy that you use to search the progressive Anglican blogs and post snide comments. into truly going out to serve the Lord.

Mary Clara said...

Interesting post and comments! I look forward to hearing more in due course from Jane about the realities of RC life on the ground and misperceptions between Episcopalians and RCs.

I share David Austin Allen's puzzlement about Trooper's comment and his/her ongoing inability to abide comfortably amongst the Romans and give up plaguing us Episcopalians. The comment itself is odd; I couldn't find any mention of 'abuses' in Jane's comment or Tobias's post. If there is a concern with correcting abuses, I don't think historical evidence suggests that the RC hierarchy is more likely than the Episcopal Church's decision-making process to be effective in doing so. Trooper simply found his/her spiritual needs unfulfilled in TEC and made a choice to move to a more congenial polity and a set of moral teachings. I gather from having read his/her posts over a period of time that like many who swim the Tiber, Trooper did so in search of a type of authority that the Episcopal Church does not claim. Sometimes the need for absolute (institutional or theological or moral) authority which motivates the convert is still unsatisfied as long as his old mates fail to acknowledge the compelling validity of the reasons for his conversion (If they did so, presumably they would have to convert, too!).

Tobias Haller said...

Thanks to all for the additional thoughts.

Trooper, it is certainly true that some people want a greater sense of "teaching authority" in their church. The problem is, in the RCC the authority is not really exercised much more than it is in TEC. Occasionally some bishop or other, or the Holy Father, will lower the boom (not always to good effect, as in the case of JPII's rebuke of Fr. Ernesto Cardenal). But I know for a fact that just as often the authorities will close one eye and look the other way -- and I don't just mean in the scandals concerning sexual abuse of minors. So it seems that what some people prefer is an expectation of or potential for discipline, even if it never actually happens. And for that Rome is a much better fit than Anglicanism. Mary Clara sums this up rather well, I think.

The same goes for the what our friendly Carthusian points out: the nature of the Anglican Communion has always been different from that of Rome. Nothing has changed in recent years -- in fact, the idea of a tighter bondage in Covenant is what marks a departure from our past. Again: those who want to be part of a centrally goverened world-wide church have, in this country anyway, an excellent example to choose: the Holy Catholic Church of Rome. So if that's what one wants, I say, Go with God to love and serve the Lord.

What does seem odd to me, though, as David notes, is that so many of those who leave TEC for Rome (or the East or other quasi-Anglican bodies) continue to keep an eye at all on what goes on back in Sodom. I would say, Remember Lot's wife. I mean, I left the Roman Catholic Church when I was 14 and have never really been all that much interested in it since. I do very rarely note some liturgical development (as liturgy is one of my main interests and tasks, as former chair of my diocese's liturgical commission) but I have little curiosity or interest in the doings of a church which, on the whole, I have rejected. Yet when I visit the "reasserter" blogs, I find that a goodly number of the commenters are folks who, like Trooper, have already left TEC. I'm not sure what is at work here, though Mary Clara offers a psychological hint I find strongly suggestive, but it is a fascinating phenomenon nonetheless.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Trooper, I left the RCC some years ago, but I never visit the websites of Roman Catholics to tell them how much better things are for me in TEC, than when I was a member of their church. It would nover occur to me to do that.

I have many friends who are RC, and I never suggest to them that they would be better off if they joined TEC.

Mary Clara speaks wisdom.

JCF said...

For some folk, others having a different belief-system from one's own, is to engage in an "abuse" that needs "correcting."

The long arm of theocracy just can't extend far enough for such people: disagreement ANYWHERE is a threat to their peace of mind EVERYWHERE.

They just don't like it---and that's all that matters.

Lord have mercy!

Anonymous said...

You all were quite thoughtful in your responses, and I find it odd myself that I still visit TEC blogs and follow "the news." I don't know how exactly to explain myself, except to confess, that when I was in TEC, I really felt that these ecclesial opinions were part of what TEC was. And I find it odd that I was so wrong. I suppose that I'm reaching out to someone to validate that I wasn't wrong for 40 years, that things have just changed. (Though, I led a fairly Anglo-Catholic existence for a while.) Anyway, I don't mean to be intrusive, or troll-like, I just hoped (even by negative example) to prove myself wrong... or right, as the case may be.

VIVA IL PAPA
trooper

Anonymous said...

Let me say to begin with I am not and have never been an Episcopalian. If you wish to psychoanalize my appearance here you will have to look to other explanations......

But seriously, the reason that non-TECers might be interested in TEC could have something to do with disagreement with your basic premise, that TEC is a wholly autonomous organization that can do what it wishes and it's nobody else's business.

I am old enough to remember something called the ecumenical movement. In the mid-twentieth century there was still much excitement about the prospect of the reunion of the churches. But it did not happen; the center didn't hold.

Maybe it was a pipe dream all along, but I am always baffled when one of your posters, as in an earlier set of comments, wonders aloud why Canterbury cares about keeping a bunch of Africans in the Communion. He, too, is old enough, I think, to value that old ecumenical spirit, knowing well that there can be no reunion of churches where serious internal divisions exist.

It is mainly sexual ethics, now, of course. But as the implications of total autonomy take hold, other departures from catholic conceptions of the faith are following. The notion of communion without baptism, for example, which is being justified as a species of evangelization, is nothing very new. It is a Baptist conception of the sacraments ousting a catholic one.

Why should anyone care? Maybe we shouldn't. In any case, it is a sign of the times, I suppose, that the hope once raised by the prospect of the overcoming of old schisms is now commonly replaced by a frank horror that such a thing could happen. We are again, so many of us, psychologically, heretics facing heretics, rather than "separating brethren" seeking to heal old divisions.

--rick allen

Tobias Haller said...

Trooper, thanks for your note. I do think that many, particularly in Anglo-Catholic circles, did like to nurse the notion that somehow TEC was "just like Rome without the pope" -- failing to recognize just how significant that difference is! Fr. Paul Wattson, the founder of the Society of the Atonement, went through that kind of a realization when he left TEC for Rome just about a hundred years ago.

I wrote an essay on him (and Wm Reed Huntington) and the two different models of ecumenism they represent. It was originally a seminary paper, but it was later published by Fr. Wattson's own Society of the Atonement. It's called Shadows of Unity. You might find it interesting, as might Rick.

Rick, I think it is a stretch to go from the Anglican concept of autonomy-in-communion to the notion of "total autonomy... that can do waht it wishes and it's nobody else's business." Anglicans don't make that claim: we have never claimed to the "the One True Church" with authority over all Christians, but merely to be a collection of national churches in communion. I find it ironic that you seem not to recognize which church it is that has made such historic claims (you know, Dictatus papae and Unam Sanctam and all that sort of thing.) I realize things have mellowed a bit in recent years, but is still seems to me that the Holy Catholic Church of Rome does still feel it is, as a whole, not to be judged by any other authority than itself.

Mary Clara said...

Trooper, I think I can understand how you feel. I went to catechism classes in the Anglican Church of Canada back in the 1950s and later was confirmed in TEC. Over the decades my church life has taken me to a variety of parishes and cathedral communities in New York, Washington and Baltimore, and now in Canterbury. I thought my exposure to Anglican tradition was reasonably broad. However, sometimes I read about what is going on under the heading of Anglicanism or Episcopalianism in other parts of the country or the world, and my jaw drops! Truly there is a lot of variety under the big tent. However, "VIVA IL PAPA!" is an exclamation I've never heard from an Episcopalian! I am glad you have found a spiritual home with a model of authority that works for you. There was never going to be a Papa (or equivalent) in Anglicanism to whom you could appeal to rule on the things that matter so much to you, and to enforce those decisions. We simply lack the mechanism (and the will) to be a top-down organization. We have another way of discerning God’s will for us and passing down the tradition from one generation to another.

Rick Allen, as long as you have been hanging around, I am surprised at how you seem to misunderstand our sense of autonomy as Episcopalians. For us, as for Roman Catholics, Christian life has to be lived in the tension between the global and the local, the general and the particular or vernacular. The Anglican Communion leaves individual provinces to work out their Anglican identity, praxis and theology according to their own circumstances and cultural contexts, and then gather together, pray and share Eucharist, compare notes and learn from each other. Perspectives and practices can get corrected and refined in that way as the Spirit guides us. The idea is not so much that we are free in our particular province to do as we like without concern for other Christians or the world at large; rather, we *take responsibility* for working out what God is asking of us in our local or national context and in our time, always with reference to the Gospel and our tradition (both teaching and liturgy). We work to maintain global and ecumenical relationships and cultivate unity in Christ, which is not the same as uniformity in thinking and practice.

I too am old enough to remember the heyday of the ecumenical movement. It did not produce an institutional reunion such as many hoped for at the time. It did however start a lot of good conversations which are still going on, lots of cooperative ventures and fellowship, shared worship, and mutual teaching and learning. I would venture to say that in the foreseeable future there will not be, and should not be, an institutional reunion of most or all churches, even the liturgical churches, because Rome would be unable to make any meaningful compromises. The Vatican would set out terms which would simply be impossible for those of us in the Reformation tradition to accept. Nearly five centuries on, the reasons for the Reformation have not been rendered obsolete but continue to be valid and indeed compelling. The doctrine of papal infallibility, for example, only makes it that much more essential to preserve the Protestant principle.

In practice, Roman Catholicism can be quite pluralistic and let a thousand flowers bloom at the local level. However, the Vatican (or the bishop or the cardinal) can step in at any moment and pull the plug. Roman Catholics are comfortable with that, I gather, because it goes along with the assurance that one is part of the one and only 'real' church (as the Pope lately informed us), the one with the infallible leader, which holds the exclusive keys to the Kingdom. This is a bargain we Episcopalians are simply not interested in making. We believe we have absolutely nothing to gain, in terms of our assurance of being saved through Christ, by submitting to Rome. Nor, however much we may love them and pray for and with them in an ecumenical spirit, do we feel we owe it to Roman Catholics to satisfy their sense of ecumenism by falling in line with their view of the Church and tailoring our current decisions with a view to some ultimate reunion with them.

In a similar way, we care about the feelings and opinions of other Anglicans around the world and try to keep in touch and in step with them as much as possible. Sometimes, however, the dictates of conscience and joint discernment make it necessary to act in ways they do not like. We may discuss, consult and negotiate, but where disagreements cannot be resolved we cannot depart from what conscience demands of us. Again, we are *taking responsibility* for acting as we believe God calls us to act.

The reaction from some of our fellow Anglicans is very much like your complaint about the failure of ecumenism, Rick. We are accused of betraying the ideal of 'unity' through our willful actions. 'Unity' translates to a demand for conformity in belief and morals, a substitute for real unity in Christ, and thus an idol. Threats are made: if you do not meet our demands we will leave, the Communion will be shattered, and it will be all your fault. The guilt will be upon your head for further fragmentation of the Body of Christ.

Of course, the present uproar involves TEC and some other Anglican bodies formally declaring themselves to be at one with all God's children, rather than being united only with those Christians who agree to exclude certain people from the circle of holiness on the grounds that they love differently. These are two different senses of what being one in Christ means, and they cannot be reconciled. It would be immoral, in my view, for TEC to submit to the pressure to preserve ‘unity’ in the Anglican Communion by betraying the integrity of our fellowship which places our LGBT sisters and brothers on an equal footing with all.

It is when the ‘unity’ card has been played by our fellow Anglicans in a coercive spirit that you will find Episcopalians reacting by saying, well, if they feel they must go, then let them go, we will just have to manage without them. It is not that we don’t care about them; it is that we have a duty to uphold what has been shown to us as true and ethical. We are not acting for our personal comfort and convenience or as a matter of fitting in culturally. We are acting for the sake of those both near and far who are subject to discrimination, abuse, intimidation and violence on account of their sexual orientation. We are acting for the sake of those who will come after us, whose lives need not be lived under such a cloud. We are acting, as best we know how, for the good of the whole (catholic, universal) church. We are acting in love, not only for those who agree with us but for those who do not.

To elevate ecumenism (as institutional reunion) or Anglican unity (as enforceable via the proposed Covenant) to a norm is, in my view, actually sinful as it represents an idolatrous literalization of our unity in Christ into an institutional form. It is also an inflation. Only God can unite God's people. His Kingdom is not an institution. Perfect agreement and absolute truth are not meant to be institutionalized in this world. Life on the earth plane inevitably involves conflicting perceptions of truth, differing needs and gifts, cultural clashes, wrong turnings, wanderings in the wilderness, joinings and partings, and things mostly not coming out even. This is, I think, why many of us are drawn to the Anglican way. It provides a vehicle to carry the tradition forward that affirms the divine absolute, yet accepts the partial nature of our access to truth and unity in this life. It brings us together as the Body of Christ in the Eucharist without taking itself literally as the ultimate arbiter of salvation. It helps us avoid confusing the Gift with the box it came in.

Jane R said...

Changing the topic ever so slightly... I just popped over at the Episcopal Cafe and there is a piece there about daily church life in the Era of the Current Unpleasantness that is worth a look. (See my comment up at the top on the gap between macro-shenanigans and daily church life at the grass roots and my comment a couple of threads ago.)

The "abuses" Trooper referred to, Mary Clara, were things like the fact that I was preaching at Sunday Eucharist as a lay Catholic woman with an M.Div. (same training as my ordained colleagues) and that this was and is not a unique occurrence.

I did eventually, after a quarter of a century, leave for a church that ordains women (I will leave tales of the long, long, long, arduous, Episcopal ordination process for another time, like a year or two from now --others have been writing eloquently about it on other blogs in any case)-- but I doubt that the cat will go back in the bag or that the long arm of Rome reaches to all Roman Catholic churches. In fact, that was part of my point.

Trooper, I wish you well. Remember that we are sisters and brothers in Christ. (Speaking of the Society of the Atonement...)

I've settled very happily in the Episcopal Church, but I also stay in close touch with friends in faith in the RC Church, and remain an active member of the CTSA (Catholic Theological Society of America). But not everyone in the Catholic Church loves the CTSA! A whole other story, that. I need to get some sleep. Blessings, all.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Tobias, a well-written and interesting article you linked to-- thank you for it.

A cradle RC with no connection to Anglicanism in my family background, my interest in Episcopalian and other Anglican blogs is somewhat ecumenical in nature but even more in the theme of the "canary in the mineshaft." I'm on the lookout for arguments for deleterious theologies (e.g. women's ordination and gay lib) that start in the mainline churches but then end up being espoused by certain Roman Catholics. Better to become acquainted with these ideas and arguments while they exist before outside Roman Catholicism than to have the deer-in-the-headlights look when a parishioner asks me after Mass about some suspect theology.

My newest bete noire: distribution of Holy Communion before baptism. I'm wondering how many years shall pass before I start hearing about this topic at my parish? At least I'm forewarned.


FrMichael

Tobias Haller said...

Thanks to all for the further comments, most especially Mary Clara and Jane R for untangling some of these themes.

Fr Michael, thanks for your kind words on the essay. I continue to number many Roman Catholics (mostly religious, given my own work and concerns) among my friends and colleagues.

Your "canary in the coal mine" approach is interesting; though I'd suggest that history tends to show that at least some of the "innovations" that begin in Anglicanism do end up being adopted in Rome. It usually takes much longer than a generation, of course, but such things as the common cup and vernacular liturgy did eventually enter into Roman practice. Women's ordination? I think Rome will adopt that, eventually, probably sooner than anyone thinks. I've already noted how the Vatican has placed loopholes along the way in the various pronouncements, most importantly backing away from the "reasons" given in Inter Insignores and relying more on the question, "Does the church have the authority to make this change?" For, of course, it does -- or rather it has the power to decide that it does. I suspect we will see Roman Catholic women ordained before we see a wide adoption of a married clergy, but that's just a guess, based on the difficulties a married clergy create for deployment and support. But a celibate priesthood including both men and women? I can see that happening. As I've pointed out in other posts, the Eastern Orthodox are discussing this very seriously, and have even gone so far as to begin to unpack the theological error inherent in forbidding ordination to women. The East, however, is stuck with the practical difficulties of making changes in practice in the absence of a Council; Rome does not have that particular problem.

As to communion of the unbaptized, while I think it a subject warranting study, I see no compelling reason to change the current practice. I favor "baptism of the uncommuned!"

JCF said...

And as the unfortunate canary was sent down the mineshaft to test for toxic gases/lack-of-oxygen, so too are you USING us, FrMichael?

Rather "deleterious" and "suspect" ethics on your part, if you ask me. (But of course I don't represent/represent to be anything other than fallible, so what do I know...)

Anonymous said...

jcf--

My metaphor of the canary broke down when it came to your point.

TEC's canary is flying of its own free will into the mineshaft: I didn't send anybody there.

Peace, FrMichael

JCF said...

FrMichael, let me be more clear:

I pray for your conversion to Christ.

Not so much for your own sake: as a Christian, I'm a universalist and, like it or not, we'll be stuck w/ each other in heaven! *g*

No, I pray for your conversion FrMichael, for the sake of those whose lives you make a living hell, as you go about "on the lookout for arguments for deleterious theologies (e.g. women's ordination and gay lib)."

Lord have mercy on all---

Anonymous said...

jcf--

I'm guessing a debate here about the heresy of universalism would be quite off-topic to the original post and also to how this thread developed about why non-Episcopalians lurk about TEC blogs. I gave my reason.

Nonetheless, you do your side of the debate no favor by being a partisan of universalism. Whereas the NT treatment of homosexuality is quantitatively slight, Our Lord's insistent warnings about Hell and the reality of judgment are considerable. Your private belief contrary to the clear teaching of the NT makes me question your use (and indeed knowledge) of Scripture and how, if at all, it informs your Christian faith.

Meanwhile, if you are sure I'm making my parishioners' lives a living hell, you are more than welcomed to pray for my soul. I will keep you in my intentions during my Rosary tomorrow.

Peace, FrMichael

Tobias Haller said...

Fr M and JCF,

You've each made a "palpable hit" on the other, so at this point I'm going to close the discussion, as it has wandered far from the original topic -- which is the nature of the Anglican Communion. (We did take a side trip into why non-Anglicans might be interested in this discussion.)

The subject of universalism is interesting in and of itself, and the extent to which universal salvation is or isn't consistent with the witness of the NT. I do not accept Fr Michael's assertion that the NT is "clear" on the subject, but neither do I think an easy Universalism is clear either. But, as I say, this is a huge topic for another time and place.

So future comments to this post irrelevant to the primary topic will at my discretion not see the light of pixels.