Saturday, December 26, 2009

I'm not sure if anyone follows this blog anymore, given my long absence from writing anything meaningful on these pages. I've left it standing, however, because I think that the older posts have something to offer (and I always have the "good intentions" of writing something new). If there is anyone out there who still visits these pages from time to time, I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year!

Another reason for my absence is that I sometimes feel that it would be best to simply be part of the local church, leaving the contentiousness and fractiousness of the online face of Anglicanism to one side for a time. However, we continue to see the drama of this fractiousness lived out in "the real world." Rome "invites" disaffected Anglicans into the "fullness of the faith" and the media has a field day with it, when it was (and is) nothing more than the Pastoral Provision writ large. However, this news does again make us face the decision as to what we Anglicans want to be--Anglicans or Romans? Some will be happy (or happier) making the move to Rome and the aura of stability that this offers. Others will move away from this. We have seen episcopal movements from the Anglican Church in America to the Anglican Catholic Church and from the United Episcopal Church to the Reformed Episcopal Church/Anglican Church in North America. If we look for the reasons behind these moves, we will hear those who moved explaining that they did so because they believed their new home offered them a place to be more fully Anglican.

As the Anglican world continues to undergo sometimes turbulent change (even within the traditionalist bodies and the Continuum), let us pray to be ever mindful of what Anglicanism was always meant to be: A Via Media between groups in error, the radical reformers on the one hand and the Church of Rome on the other. The Church of England was to be tolerant and charitable in non-essentials, but Catholic and Orthodox in the foundations of the faith. However, in the mainline churches of Anglicanism the non-essentials became almost everything: If you said anything was essential (like the Trinity) you were a de facto fundamentalist. In many of the Continuing Churches the essentials became whatever the bishop (or rector) felt to be essential, down to the manner of bowing and when and where the people should genuflect and make the sign of the cross (it's all spelled out in the little booklet that often replaces the Book of Common Prayer in the pew).

What unites Anglicans must be a common core that we have from the Bible, the ancient Councils, the doctors and fathers of the ancient Catholic Church, and the historic liturgies of the Anglican Communion. It is here we will find our unity and how strength. If we seek it elsewhere, in becoming as close to Rome in faith and liturgy as possible or in replacing our orthodox liturgies with pale imitations, we will lose the essence of Anglicanism itself.