January 29, 2012

More on Doll's Paper

Another thought struck me this morning concerning Peter Doll's essay in support of the proposed Anglican Covenant. Yesterday I read Lionel Deimel's exhaustive response to Doll's paper, and I commend him for his endurance and effort, though he reminds me that the danger in such thorough fisking is that one is drawn into the largely fantastic tar-pit, and the simple wrongness of the thesis is lost in the multitudinous wreaths of assertion piled on high. It is helpful that Lionel calls him on a few factual errors, but these tend to be lost in the shuffle of vague assertional legerdemain.

For the simple fact is that Doll's paper rests on faulty premises leading towards a predetermined conclusion. It makes basic confusions of concepts: speaking of unity when he means uniformity, or of "communion" when he means "institutionalism." He appears not to recall that Anglicanism has historically rejected conciliarism as the means to settling disagreements, preferring a balanced comprehensiveness-in-autonomy that has been a characteristic mark of Anglicanism since the Articles of Religion and the Elizabethan Settlement..

In the long run, for all the high-falutin' language, the Anglican Covenant holds conformity to peer pressure as both the highest value and sole indicator of "communion." It is, thus, suited for an adolescent body, but not for self-differentiated adults. Perhaps the reality is that much of the Anglican Communion is not prepared to live in the adult Christian world where difference of opinion — even on important matters — does not and cannot sever the robust reality of communion in Christ. Perhaps much of the Anglican Commuion is frozen in the realm of middle-school "conformity to the in-group or exile" model of fellowship. But I know which of these models is the actual strength of Anglican Christianity, and the one of which I hope to remain a part.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG

UPDATE: an additional thought.
To use an analogy, Doll is like someone for whom the essence of matrimony lies in the wife's vow to obey her husband; all the rest is beside the point in that view. Needless to say, this is an inadequate understanding of a responsible adult relationship: one of the reasons that particular vow has dropped from the liturgy! (Even in England — though it is still there as an option in the "Series One" liturgy — so this is not another surmised American thang.)

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