Thinking Anglicans

Schism is not the greatest evil

Paul Gibson has written an essay Why I am not afraid of schism which appears on the Anglican Church of Canada website.

The bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada were recently reported to be “alarmed” by the prospect of schism in the Anglican Communion (Anglican Journal, December 2007). The current controversy in the Communion over issues related to homosexuality appears to have created a mood or atmosphere of anxiety and fear, as though schism were the greatest evil that could befall the church and which should be avoided at all cost.

In the remarks which follow I will propose that schism is far from being a catastrophic situation, let alone the most desperate condition that may overtake a church, and that, in the words of President F.D. Roosevelt, there is nothing to fear but fear itself.

First, let us go to the biblical background…

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Cheryl Va.
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This is a worthy paper. One major potential schism I did not see mentioned is the whole question of Paul (nee Saul) himself. Here is a soul that is struck blind by Jesus in his glory on the road to Damascus, where he was going to persecute and murder Christians. Yet, after being struck blind, he arrives to be healed and annointed by one of Jesus’ followers (Acts 9:1-19). Paul goes on to become one of Christianity’s great founding leaders. However, the anointment of Paul was so controversial that the disciples did not accept him and left sent him back… Read more »

Robert Leduc
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Robert Leduc

As someone who supports the full inclusion of all persons at all levels of the church, I have to say that I’m singularly unimpressed with this article. Whether or not schism is unavoidable is open to debate, but there is no reason to view schism as anything but a highly undesirable outcome per se. I’m sorry – I can’t see schism as good, even though I see inclusion as good. If there is so little regard for the church as the Body of Christ, why should I not just be entirely on my own and cultivate my personal relationship with… Read more »

drdanfee
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drdanfee

I really liked Gibson’s remarks. Makes me think that Canada, too, is getting ready to slowly but surely move on from all the over-heated conservative believer preoccupations with the obvious fact that a range of discernments and methods is available with no single, clear, absolutely comprehensive high intellectual or moral winner available who takes all and is entitled to do so in ethics or doctrine or theology. From any number of non-conservative angles, this historic Anglican leeway still appears viable, fair-minded, and tilted towards peace across our hot button differences. If so, let us move on to keep on, as… Read more »

counterlight
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counterlight

The Episcopal Church avoided schism in the American Civil War, unlike the Presbyterian, Methodist, and Baptist churches. It did so by saying nothing about the burning issue of the day, slavery. This was NOT a proud moment in our Church’s history.

I agree with Paul Gibson that institutional integrity is not an end in itself, nor the greatest good.

Pluralist
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_why should I not just be entirely on my own_

It is rarely the case – it depends on what your principles are. There is usually some group or inheritance that is near (until a new set of problems arises).

Anglicans have principles that separate them from Romans and Orthodox and Methodists and Lutherans… Some of them may be such old arguments that they fade away. It is just that, at the same time as old arguments die, something like two Anglicanisms becomes more sensible – perhaps.

Columba Gilliss
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Columba Gilliss

Sometimes separation may enable the Gospel to be God glorified and preached more widely. When I am tempted to fear separation I remember that if the vision that resulted in Methodism had remained confined within Anglicanism it could never have flourished. Just as clumps of lilies and other plants become more vigorous when broken apart, so it may be for all human groups, including us.

Ford Elms
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Ford Elms

When Henry VIII, of blessed memory, wanted unjustly to get rid of his wife, he was king of a small, weak, politically unstable kingdom. The superpowers of the day were far more powerful the him, and loyal to Rome to boot. Yet he broke with Rome anyway, and dishonoured the king of the most powerful nation at the time in the bargain. He then proceeded to rub everyone’s noses in it by murdering two wives and divorcing two more. Yet the Anglican Church, which owes its existence as a separate entity in Western Christianity to this shining example of the… Read more »