Thinking Anglicans

August Bank Holiday opinions

Mark Vernon writes for The Guardian about Rowan Williams and Francis Spufford on being a Christian.

Elizabeth Kaeton writes at Daily Episcopalian Is the Anglican Communion a Gift from God?

Nelson Jones writes in the Spectator Atheism+: the new New Atheists.

Paul Vallely writes in the Church Times about Pussy Riot: A protest founded on the Gospels.

Andrew Brown writes at Cif belief that If we are to cope with climate change we need a new moral order.

Giles Fraser writes in the Guardian I believe in God. I don’t believe in God.

Andrew McGowan writes at Eureka Street that Vatican prefers tanks to talks to achieve unity.

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Rod Gillisc.seitzJonathan JenningsRoger AntellFather David Recent comment authors
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Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

Re The Anglican Communion as a gift from God, such language is very problematic. It tends to put the institution on a pedestal, and champion internal political hegemony, usual in favor of power, over true unity based on justice.

Churches make mistakes. The Anglican Communion is in many ways a Victorian era institution struggling with identity in the wake of colonialism.

Father Ron Smith
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Dear Rod, a tough criticism, but maybe true – except for some of the more emancipated colonial churches, where justice can be seen to overtake some of the more un-just traditions.

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

Thanks for the rejoinder Fr. Ron, I’m always interested in your posts. A little elaboration, I’m thinking of the very different contexts that various local “Anglicanisms”, if that’s a word, face across what was formerly “The Empire”. In Canada, we are dealing with the horrific legacy of the [Indian] Residential Schools, which sadly, most of our Canadian society, except interestingly the Churches that were so culpable, would like to forget, if our National Truth and Reconciliation Commission is any indicator. I’m also thinking of the efforts of Anglicans/Episcopalians who are trying to adapt moral theology to meet the challenges of… Read more »

rjb
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rjb

To say that the Anglican Communion is a gift from God – which I would take to be axiomatically true – does not mean that it is an unqualified good, never mind that it is intended simply for our peace and comfort. Such a view takes a rather saccharine view of God’s gifts, which include suffering and soul-searching as well as sweetness and light.

Father Ron Smith
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“One of the issues is governance, in Canada, for example, our General Synod is still very much influenced by our House of Bishops,and so we have a kind of kinder gentler feudalism at work which makes impairs true synodical government. The HoB is in many ways a Victoria throw back.” – Rod Gillis – Precisely, Rod! The Church of England General Synod is in much to same situation – still inhibited by and enclosed in the colonial understanding of monarch bishops – who seem to think that clergy and laity in Synods need to keep their place, and that, for… Read more »

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

I think, rjb, that one might prefer to say that the Kingdom of God is a gift from God. To the extent that the Anglican Communion, or any church for that matter, seeks the kingdom, lives out the values of the kingdom, then it has a nature of grace about it. This allows the caution, pointed out decades ago by Pannenberg, that the Church ( any church) ought not to confuse itself with being the kingdom on earth. But your use of the word saccharine is interesting. The outcome of an emphasis on sweetness and light tends to generate a… Read more »

Bill Dilworth
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Bill Dilworth

rjb, that’s a very insightful comment.

It occurs to me that saying something’s a gift of God doesn’t preclude its misuse. You could fairly call lots of things gifts of God, but I’m hard-pressed to think of any that can’t be misused and abused in one way or another. Even things like grace and faith, which are indisputably free gifts, can be twisted.

Father David
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Father David

The Anglican Communion – a gift from God – a treasure? Nah!!! more of an aberration. However within the Communion at its head we have indeed been blessed with many gifts and treaures from God – I think particularly of Archbishops Temple, Ramsey, Runcie and Williams. Each one of the first three followed successively by Archbishops Fisher, Coggan and Carey – who were outshone as ornaments of the Church by their immediate predecessors. I hope and pray that Rowan’s successor proves to be a gift and a treasure from God but if recent trends in archiepiscopal appointments continue then sadly,… Read more »

Roger Antell
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Roger Antell

I was more concerned in Elizabeth Kaeton’s article about her statement that she “loves Jesus unconditionally” which might suggest a degree of superiority that lacks self-awareness. But to the main issue. I can’t but observe that the main reaction here has been to think of the Anglican Communion in terms of hierarchies and governance, which to me misses the point. We are all the people of God, and the Church is not defined by its leaders but by the members and the presence of God’s Spirit. I have had the immense privilege for the past 6 years of serving as… Read more »

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

I find it difficult to take issue with the fine sentiments of Roger Antell, especially when he writes “The one thing that has impressed time and again … is how the church everywhere is looking for ways to be an effective Christian witness through local projects as a gift of God to local people, delivered through local churches.” However, congruence is one of the main principles of integrity and ethical action. One cannot divide those who may be well served on the outside from those minorities who are not so well served on the inside. (Supplementary,how are women in any… Read more »

Jonathan Jennings
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Jonathan Jennings

I watched the cathedral at Renk in Sudan being dedicated; a total triumph for the local Anglican community and built with the help of Episcopalians who didn’t simply give money but turned up in the heat to help. I’ve been given tea under the shade of the trees in western Africa by the local Mothers’ Union who rejoiced to share with us everything they had; I’ve listened to Joan Chittister speak on Benedictine Spirituality in an Anglican Church in New York; I’ve visited Anglican aid projects in Pakistan and listened in awe to their witness despite the huge risks they… Read more »

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

@Jonathan Jennnings “..like so many of his gifts, we are incapable of recognizing it as one”.

Interesting. I think the same thing might be said of Anglican bishops with regard to women.

c.seitz
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c.seitz

Thank you, Jonathan Jennings.

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

@c.seitz. Pleased you like Mr. Jennings catalogue of great moments in Anglicanism. I like them too–as long as they are understood to point beyond Anglicanism to Christ, and beyond Jesus the Christ himself to the kingdom which Christ proclaimed.

Understood in that way,they run less of a risk of being a read as a form of provincial cheerleading aimed at obscuring the ways in which the church falls short of the kingdom.