June 11, 2011

Glittering Prizes

Word from Scotland:

The Most Rev David Chillingworth said: “The prize is a global church held together by the richest of aspiration and the most minimal of structure... But we are human — the question is whether we need some structure and some boundaries to help us to live up to that aspiration.”

If a global church is the prize, I'll take what's behind door number two.

If I aspired to be part of a global church there's one down the block. And I've always thought inspiration was more important than aspiration.

Besides, holding something together by aspiration reminds me too much of those Monty Python apartment house blocks built by hypnosis.

I do not think there is, among the members of the Anglican Communion, a common or forceful aspiration towards world-churchdom. If I am mistaken, I await the great groundswell of support for the Anglican Covenant, about which I've seen little enthusiasm apart from a kind of desperate urgency from some quarters.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG


WSJM said...

"If I aspired to be part of a global church there's one down the block."

You got that right, Tobias.

I'm afraid there are lots of folks out there whose attitude seems to be, "We should be just like Rome, except with me as Pope."

There are also folks who seem to be saying, "Anglican unity is so important that it is worth throwing some people under the bus."

The Monty Python folks also got it right. (Maybe we should pass that YouTube clip over to the Comprehensive Unity blog!)

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Thanks, Bill. Of course, even a "world church" would cease to exist if people stopped believing in it...

I guess I just don't understand the attraction. Or perhaps I understand it but don't share it?

June Butler said...

I read Bishop Chillingworth's entire introduction, and he uses "church" to refer to both the global "Anglican Church" and the Scottish Episcopal Church. I fear the "Anglican Church" label train has already left the station and won't be coming back.

So. We will have the local church, the parish, the province as church, and the world-wide "Anglican Church". I don't get the attraction, either. Been there, done that, don't want to do it again.

Will there be an official name change from Anglican Communion to "Anglican Church"? Which of the Instruments would decide on the name change?

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Bishop David is chair of the Indaba reference group of which I'm a member, so this is all the more surprising to me. Maybe its his "primus' hat" that leads to this "church" blurring.

Jon said...

Could you define what it means to talk about a world church? I get the impression that you and the Primus are working from very different definitions of that term.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Dunstan, I am not sure what Bp David meant by this, and we may be working from different understandings. I can say how I understood him, and what I object to.

It seems to me that he is saying the Anglican Covenant will lead to a minimally structured international institutional entity. That is what I take "world church" to be. That it is minimally structured rather than strongly structured would distinguish if from the Roman Catholic Church.

The problem, for me, is in any suggestion of an "entity" called "The Anglican Church." I am a rather fierce defender of two notions:

1) that the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church subsists as an entity without any institutional structure whatsoever, consisting of all the baptized, who join in various configurations of fellowship in which the gospel is preached and the sacraments thereof are administered.

2) that the Anglican Communion is, within this larger unregulated and unstructured entity, a subset, fellowship, or coalition of particular or national churches, lacking any central unifying government, and hence autonomous (or to use the more precise term as employed by our Eastern kin, autocephalous).

From this it is perhaps clear that I adopt a "holographic" model for the fulness of the term "church" -- based on Article XIX: the universal church (1) subsists in its fulness within each particular or national church (2). Our fellowship is weakened by the loss or diminution of communion between these various entities -- but we do not need to become a single world-class entity in order to be "church."

It may be that David and I are in fact very close on this, or, as has been suggested to me off-line, he was misquoted and said "world communion" where the press reports "world church." But it was the quotation to which I was reacting, not the person. (I do try not to personalize such conversations across differences of opinion! On this feast of G K Chesterton surely it is clear that friends can disagree and remain friends, as GKC was with GB Shaw.) If misquoted, then I have no bone to pick and the point is moot.

But "Anglican Church" has in fact become a more frequent usage in the primatial contexts, and it is against that I am protesting. I am all for a communion based on affection and aspiration, with minimal structure. I do not think the proposed Covenant points in that direction, due largely to the principles of division and relational consequence referenced in Section 4.2.

Mary Sue said...

Every time a bishop speaks a little more about the Anglican Covenant, I become a little more congregationalist.

MarkBrunson said...

There already is a global Church - just each church is too self-absorbed to realize it!

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Exactly, Mark. If we would stop trying to "institutionalize" the Spirit, we might get somewhere. Jesus already Incarnated the Body of Christ for us, and all we need to do is stop fighting with each other...

June Butler said...

Tobias, what you say is so very right and true.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Thanks, Mimi. Reality is our friend!

June Butler said...

Tobias, your words in the comment above are now "institutionalized" on my wee blog. They're too good to be buried in your comments.

June Butler said...

Tobias, you did not misquote. Bishop David posted links to the texts of his "Charge From the Opening Service of General Synod" and his "Speech on the Anglican Covenant". He uses the terms "world church" and "global church".

Here's the link to the post on his blog with further links to his addresses at GS.