Sunday, 14 January 2007

some American views of the Communion

The recent flurry of announcements from Lambeth and elsewhere concerning the Covenant Design Group, the Panel of Reference re Fort Worth, and the question of who will or won’t sit down with whom in Dar es Salaam, have led to a flurry of opinions by several American Episcopalians, collectively questioning the desirability of continuing membership of the Anglican Communion. I have listed a selection of these below.

Lionel Deimel
9 Jan Do We Need the Anglican Communion?
11 Jan Advice to the PB for the Primates’ Meeting
11 Jan Just to Be Clear …

Jim Naughton
9 Jan Revisiting “The Question”
10 Jan Revisiting “The Question”: Stewardship

Mark Harris
9 Jan Drip, Drip, Drip: Are we dealing with water torture or fresh springs?
11 Jan The Vocation of the Episcopal Church. (scroll down).

Marshall Scott
11 Jan Patience Through the Pain of Waiting

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Comments

Lionel Deimel probably has the key phrase "The Episcopal Church has become the co-dependent enabler of this behavior." Jim Naughton's paper is lucid and clear and very succinctly explains how the Episcopal church has been that co-dependent enabler.

Marshall Scott comments that "If, as Archbishop Tutu has said, what holds the Communion together is that “we meet,” when folks stop coming to meetings the Communion will change." But Naughton's paper rightly points out that certain folks had already been restrained from coming and participating. In that sense the Communion had already excluded parties.

If they wish to formulate a puritanical misogynistic negligent communion, let them do it. But we don't have to be silent or enablers of what they have done. Silence infers consent. If we are silent, let the public record show that it was an imposed silence so that history records that it was a communion formed through rape.

And that if another communion needs to be formed, let history show that it was a communion formed with full knowledge and consent of those who chose to participate. That the parties chose to break with repression, slavery, negligence and corruption, and to not be codependent enablers. God does not intimidate, demand or rape. Men do that, not God.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Sunday, 14 January 2007 at 8:29pm GMT

Well, it seems there are schismatics on both sides of this issue. I was beginning to think that the middle was disappearing, but this new push opens it up again.

I wrote a reply on Mark Harris' blog which was censored. I wrote that there's plenty of time to make the decision he's urging today. No one knows how the covenant is going to turn out and be received. It might not be a big deal to say "No, thanks." It might even become something we can live with.

Posted by: ruidh on Sunday, 14 January 2007 at 9:49pm GMT

Lionel Deimel
9 Jan Do We Need the Anglican Communion?

Having just read this, right now it feels like the answer. (It might feel different in the morning).

I think that TEC leaving the Anglican Communion would solve its problems and by and large, ours too. I think it would call the bluff of the minority of reactionary TEC bishops -- they'd have to leave -- or look very unprincipled (odds on ?!).

TEC could get on with its mission, and I could it imagine a pacification of the AC. It would show the forces of reaction that their big stick, their ultimate trump card, can't trump us and our truth. The reactionary Archbishops and bishops would be left to face the basic truth of things. I think it 'd be good for other liberal provinces like those in the UK. We can manage without the AC and indeed I have managed fine for some time without the C of E. These people have no hold over us, if we SAY they haven't --i t's all in the mind.

I t might help Rowan Williams too.

Liberal theology, pluralism of thought, of social policy and action, can get on fine on the ground.

I hope TEC and those who take counsel for them will consider this option -- even considering it will cause a shift, I believe.

Brilliant !

Posted by: laurence on Sunday, 14 January 2007 at 10:08pm GMT

laurence - I hope TEC walks as well, but for a different reason.

TEC has been hemorrhaging membership, is heretical and apostate. More akin to the Universal Unitarian Fellowship than a Christian church, it needs to go away, wither, and vanish.

Posted by: clr on Monday, 15 January 2007 at 12:05am GMT

The scenario works in various ways:

A Covenant is produced that is unacceptable to many, possibly at both ends, and then the process would be to produce others - in other words, leaving is delayed beyond the point where various provinces declare they are out of communion with this and that, and it gets down to parishes all over Anglicanland.

But if TEC leaves, then the Covenant would be unacceptable on the liberal end (surely) but we'd expect TEC to work on its own basis of faith and to reach out to others. They would form their own links and again it would come down to parishes.

It is just possible, but highly unlikely, that a Covenant is purely about processes and manners, and be aceeptable to TEC hanging on and then Akinola and company would be forced to produce their own, and they'd seek their alliances. Some parishes would want that foeign oversight.

One way or another, it sort of ends up in the same place.

The effort with the Anglican communion seems misplaced. In the end the crunch points are what the Churches do, and whether they stay together as provinces or splinter to realign. Whilst Anglicans may splinter, even other denominations may themselves undergo structural changes and attach.

Posted by: Pluralist on Monday, 15 January 2007 at 1:06am GMT

Funnily enough Sunday the local Anglican church trouped down to the Methodists for its Covenant service, as part of an exchange. They had visited us the previous week. Preaching was exchanged.

The Anglican congrgation can easily add to the Methodist and fit in their church, and vice versa. The Methodist Church faces a final end by about 2050 if it carries on like it is.

Now the Church of England pretty much recognises it fully and completely now, or it will, despite its lack of bishops. American Methodists have bishops but they derive from a priest doing it (he didn't find one in Scotland like TEC did). But the Chairs of Districts can become bishops and no doubt there can be a laying on of hands for all of them that doesn't and does appear to be reordination. Anything is possible when it is wanted.

In the end, that is what all this international stuff boils down to, an comes to what is necessary and unacceptable. The fact is what some regard as necessary others find unacceptable. Then out of that separating the now incompatibles comes opportunities.

British Methodists when separated from the Church of England found opportunities that actually meant further separations. The reasons they did so mainly died away, and they came back gain. Already the decline of traditionalist Anglo-Catholicism has meant more opportunity regarding making something more wanted and therefore possible with Methodists. And the opportunities will be ecumenical.

Posted by: Pluralist on Monday, 15 January 2007 at 1:20am GMT

Great Lionel. We agree on something. You do not need the Anglican Communion, and the Anglican Communion certainly does not need you. Take your TEC agenda and your Presiding Bishop and please leave NOW. There is no need to wait until February or until you are kicked out. Just pack your bags ASAP and GO before more damage is done.

Posted by: GB on Monday, 15 January 2007 at 3:04am GMT

a rather sensible set of postings.

I can assure you that many Episcopalians are starting to ask why we should be so scared of not being allow to continue in the club.

We lose not a bit of our Anglican heritage or our prayer book or our church's valid orders if we are no longer having to worry about being threatened for accepting gays and lesbians in the church and ordaining women. For the average parish and diocese in America little will change. The fights will stop and we will be able to devote our time and resources to growth and outreach instead of fighting off attacks by the so-called orthodox.

Posted by: Dennis on Monday, 15 January 2007 at 6:49am GMT

Leaving the AC would open the door for more vicious church planting in TEC from any old province which wants to. Don't forget the logic of that. How successful such reactionary forces might be in the American context is a different matter though.

Posted by: Neil on Monday, 15 January 2007 at 9:47am GMT

You know what, Neil? We do not care if you call us reactionary. BELIEVE IT. "Reactionary" is a political term, and it is your side which is playing a political game. We are interested in religion and theology. Our term for our position is "orthodoxy", and we do not mind being labeled as such. BELIEVE IT OR NOT.

Posted by: GB on Monday, 15 January 2007 at 1:08pm GMT

It's about time to stop the profligate use of the word "orthodox". The word means "right belief", and we ALL believe we believe rightly.

What those who style themselves as "orthodox" really are is "homodox" - wanting to believe the same thing forever. Those who are willing to change are "heterodox".

Only God will decide who is really "orthodox". Our opinions do not matter. It is idolatrous to think that we can really make this decision for God.

Pete

Posted by: Peter on Monday, 15 January 2007 at 2:31pm GMT

So, given these writings, are liberals as willing to admit that they are the schismatics as they are of proposing that their be a split?

Posted by: Tony on Monday, 15 January 2007 at 3:19pm GMT

Peter - You are correct. It's like the conservative right trying to call themselves "patriots," or "pro-life." It should not go unchallenged. It is the use of language to frame a debate whereby one party sets the terms to their own advantage.

The "fundementalists" (smile!) use of the term "orthodox" should be challenged at every time.

C.B.

Posted by: C.B. on Monday, 15 January 2007 at 3:28pm GMT

Well, Pete, the orthodox definitely want to believe the same thing forever. You are facing a hardsell if you want to get them to use the term "homodox" to describe this position, however. In your belief system, the terms "heterodox" and "orthodox" could both be used to describe the same position. For us, orthodoxy means those doctrines taught by Church and Scripture from the earliest days. It is not a matter of what each individual thinks.

Posted by: GB on Monday, 15 January 2007 at 3:49pm GMT

GB- please, something a little more edifying than 'yah, boo, you smell' wouold be appreciated.

The words 'our term for our position is orthodoxy' is one which every group and sect has used from time to time to distinguish itself from its opponents (Montanism, Nestorianism, Monophysitism, etc etc). Semantic content, nil

Posted by: mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) on Monday, 15 January 2007 at 4:01pm GMT

GB,
There have been countless millions of Christians through the ages who would not agree with you, I venture to bet, on the nature of Biblical authority, ecclesiology, the nature of sacraments, and numerous other issues. Curiously, while there is so much theological disagreement between you and them, they also call themselves Orthodox. Why don't you go argue with them over which group has the stronger claim to the title (you'd lose, I bet) and let the rest of us get on with discussing our disagreements. I don't care if you call me heterodox, or a "reassessor" or a "liberal" or whatever it is you feel you need to call me so can comfortably put me into one of the groups that you think you can identify so you can claim to be better, purer, holier, more traditional, or whatever, than I am. I'm a Christian, trying to practice the Catholic faith as best I can, learning more and more about it all the time, and examining my life to see how I can better live up to its teachings. Believe it or not. I fail a lot, but I keep trying. "Liberalism", whatever else that means, does not mean faithless, you know. The trouble is that by fitting me into one of the groups you identify, you end up making assumptions about me that aren't true, judging me unjustly, and then getting even more isolationist. We might not be so far apart as your labelling of me as the "other" would lead you to think, but that'd be scary, now, wouldn't it, to be faced with the fact that your stereotypes are wrong? Believe me, I know. I am often forced to face the fact my anti-Evangelical prejudice is wrong. It's spiritually benefical in the long run, though.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Monday, 15 January 2007 at 4:09pm GMT

Apparently CB and clr have bought into the Big Lie that Harmon and his ilk have spun.

Donatistism, a biblical inerrancy that would make Calvin and Luther cry "idolatry," and a narrow concept of doctrine and theological language that would make the Spanish Inquisition blush do not make for orthodoxy.

Posted by: John Robison on Monday, 15 January 2007 at 6:00pm GMT

I have just had the deep misfortune to listen (Radio 4's PM programme) to a far-right French MEP claiming how his coalition in the European parliament will stand for the preservation of 'Christian values'.

It struck me how the self-styled 'Orthodox' lambast the rest of us for our contribution (as they see it) to the rise of feminism, homosexuality, family breakdown and the rest.

As an exercise in empathy, I ask them to imagine how they would feel to have the excesses of the far right agenda laid at their door, on the grounds that the proclamation of Christian Values usually involves defence of the family, anti-gay thinking etc etc. I think, quite properly, that they would feel slighted.

Regard it as a request (in the light of one posting on this thread) for a little clarity and charity....

Posted by: mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) on Monday, 15 January 2007 at 6:11pm GMT

And the usual "Unitarian Universalist" epithet appears at last; that's so 1970s, really. And "hemorrhaging membership" is old-hat, too; attendance is up since the early 90s.

These folks are really, really out of touch with the reality of what's happening. Either that or else they are deliberately bearing false witness.

I guess time will tell.

Posted by: bls on Monday, 15 January 2007 at 6:18pm GMT

bls:
"Either that or else they are deliberately bearing false witness."
I linked to this before:

http://www.americananglican.org/atf/cf/%7B0124EFED-8D9A-4067-9C7C-969A768F1648%7D/ets_updated4-1-05.pdf

This is one of the things that, I believe, leads to the kind of comments you decry. I leave it to others to decide whether or not they think it constitutes false witness. I know what I think.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Monday, 15 January 2007 at 6:54pm GMT

Jim Naughton, Daily Episcopalian, has published a letter by TEC's Bishop of Bethlehem, PA, Paul Marshall, which appeared originally on the HoB/HoD Listserv.

Paul Marshall, appropriately, starts out with Pauline theology and the Apostle's engagement with Christians who disagreed with him. Then he narrates the failures of ++Rowan Cantuar, since 2003, to engage personally with the elected leadership, ordained and lay, of TEC, while spending countless hours listening to +Bob Duncan, the self-appointed "primate" of the reasserters. Instead of meeting with TEC's bishops as a body, ++Rowan keeps sending his CofE bishop emissaries, denying, however, in ambiguous statements that they are his representatives. ++Rowan is just playing games with TEC rather than seriously engage in Pauline dialogue with as diverse a group as TEC's HoB. Is ++Rowan attempting to play Peter rather than follow St. Paul's model of leadership?

++Rowan Cantuar is the first ABC to have shunned TEC's elected leadership. Only one brief visit to the USA to raise funds for the AC Office during his term! Too, he cancelled the only scheduled meeting with TEC's leadership. What an appalling record for any ABC since the end of WW II!

Posted by: John Henry on Monday, 15 January 2007 at 7:13pm GMT

All this infighting between the opposite ends of the spectrum is awful, and most un-Anglican. the Anglican vision only works if different members are willing to see things differently from what they normally would... to allow themselves to be challenged.
Does the Episcopal Church need the Anglican Communion? Probably, but the Anglican Communion also needs to Episcopal Church. As soon as one voice is no longer heard, Anglicanism failed. what could possibly be of such importance that we can no longer share Communion together? That we fail to see Christ working in another person's story of faith? Those calling for schism on both sides of the argument are forgetting some basic Anglican, and indeed Christian, values.
Just for interests sake I'm gay and an Ordinand. Im an Anglican because I believe Christianity is best when informed by both Catholic tradition, Reformed insights and contemporary understanding. This great vision of our church is failing, to the point that Im not sure the Church I believe God calls me to work within will even exist in a few years time. The fiercness of this debate is now threatening to destroy faith.
Can we please stop threatening each other and just pray together?

Posted by: Tom on Monday, 15 January 2007 at 8:29pm GMT

The underlying point of the linked comments seems to me to be finally moving in the right direction of no longer wishing to be presumed to be agreeing to participate - with Canterbury, Tanzania, Abuja, and others - predicated full tilt and nothing less - on just those closed and categorical ConsEvs starting assumptions whose tags are prejudicial if not false witness against so many of us in TEC.

Just take a brief happenstance poll of all the tag names used to tell us just how inferior, wayward, pagan, filthy, silly, and dangerous we are by new ConsEvs definitions. Unitarian is thrown at us as if Unitarians were dogs eating their own vomit, creepy people who spend their lives in the gutter, and goodness knows what else.

Have any of these foul-mouthed ConsEvs folks, whose lips move so easily to form the standard taglines and narratives of false ConsEvs witness, ever even read a biography of Reverend Thomas Starr King? His papers, sermons, lectures and the like rest in the archives of the Bancroft Library at UC, Berkeley.

(Try: http://www.uua.org/uuhs/duub/articles/thomasstarrking.html )

(What is making these ConsEvs Anglican Realignment folks so very, very, very angry? Why,... scholarly inquiry, ... alternative occupation of more than one discernment core framework at a time, ... and that huge discernment bugaboo - staying open-minded to learn of one's mistakes and to correct one's errors. What awful stuff, then. What awful, Unitarian dog vomit stuff.)

(I am sure many of us would disagree with this or that view TSK held, but surely we can still see that he is walking a spiritual pathway, sincerely, and with due diligence - and that may indeed bring us nearer to him than we expected to be as non-Unitarians, so far as we love God and love him as neighbor?)

Posted by: drdanfee on Monday, 15 January 2007 at 8:31pm GMT

Peter

I loved your comment "What those who style themselves as "orthodox" really are is "homodox" - wanting to believe the same thing forever. Those who are willing to change are "heterodox"."

Ford, you articulate an issue that the thread today also brings up. People are choosing not to call themselves evangelical, not because they don't believe and trust in Jesus, but because they don't want to be associated with cruel and selfish theology.

Having the biggest soap box with the biggest media coverage does not make for the best theology. Robust theology understands that many parts of the bible involve moving between two or more loci of tension. Simplistic theology acknowledges cliffs on one side but is blind to the cliffs they are running towards on their own side.

Robust theology understands that complacency leads to self-righteousness, accepting institutionalised poverty and systemic violence; whereas a lack of faith leads to nihilism, narcissm and/or hedonism. Neither extreme is healthy.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Monday, 15 January 2007 at 8:44pm GMT

>TEC has been hemorrhaging membership, is heretical and apostate. More akin to the Universal Unitarian Fellowship than a Christian church, it needs to go away, wither, and vanish.<

As a matter of information, the Unitarian Universalists have had a small but steady growth in the United States, where it quite well defined in its libralism. It stretches from the historical Unitarian Christianity of Kings Chapel Boston through to its other "rational" position of religious humanism, to other more spiritual and arguably comparably "irrational" positions of Eastern mysticism and neo-Paganism. Some of the churches specialise, and some have groups representing the different positions. The Church is a deposit of American literary Transcendentalism.

Now in terms of the intellectual geography of theological ideals, there is plenty of space for a moderate, thoughtful and critical Christian Church such as TEC can be. There is plenty of space beginning, say, at the Kings Chapel position. Perhaps if it opens up around an appreciation of the diversity of Christianity in the pre-Nicene days, that diversity kept breaking out, that the Reformation had liberal as well as authoritarian directions, and both modernism and postmodernism is an opportunity for breadth, TEC might well occupy this space of tolerance and for human values very well. And so might other Western Anglican Churches too.

Posted by: Pluralist on Monday, 15 January 2007 at 8:50pm GMT

As a matter of misinformation:
"As a matter of information, the Unitarian Universalists have had a small but steady growth in the United States, where it quite well defined in its libralism."

As a matter of information, Sydney Ahlstrom in his standard work, A Religious History of the American People that there were roughly 100,000 Unitarians in 1900 (pp. 985-986) and the highest number I could find for Unitarians today was from 1993. That number is 204,000 in North America. If you go to the Unitarian Universalist Association website and add the numbers of their congregations together (I didn't find a total number), I think you'll find it to be rather underwhelming. This is a model for The Episcopal Church?

Posted by: Tony on Monday, 15 January 2007 at 10:16pm GMT

The numbers game.

From it's organization, The Episcopal Church has claimed a membership of from 1-2% of the population -- a remarkably steady performance. It is never going to be a majority church because it does not offer what most people in the USA think a church should (viz., the former rector in my home town -- under whom the parish was growing because of his outreach to the gay & lesbian community -- told me that the people who WERE leaving were going because he refused to tell them what to think).

But TEC has had & should continue to have a powerful witness as a leaven in the loaf.

Posted by: Prior Aelred on Tuesday, 16 January 2007 at 12:04am GMT

And your point Tony is...?

My point is that the UUA holds its own and has indeed grown slowly in the contemporary religious climate. It is a minority provision. That is not, though, my main point - rather that it occupies a slot in the American religious landscape and it leaves plenty of space for the Episcopal Church, and a wide space too, where it can express modern and postmodern Christian theology and into some traditional stances, and add to that a range of liturgical practices from the experimental to the evangelical and high. If it wants to overlap with New England Unitarianism it can, and with some of the continuing Anglican sects it can. That's it.

The topic here is TEC, its range, the UUA and the USA religious landscape; the UK is somewhat different. I am though going to buy for myself Dennis Wigmore-Beddoes' Yesterday's Radicals, reprinted in 2003, which is a scene setter and important work for Anglicans and Unitarians in the UK in Victorian times (both Churches inherit many patterns from then) and into Edwardian times, when there was co-operation and why they could never quite merge their efforts.

Posted by: Pluralist on Tuesday, 16 January 2007 at 1:57am GMT

The point isn't whether the Unitarian Universalist fellowship is growing or shrinking, whether they have a good model or a bad one.

The point is, we Episcopalians are ***Trinitarian Christians*** and we're bloody tired of being wrongly labelled, merely because we have a different view of theological anthropology (believing that God created gayness, and that gayness is therefore GOOD---despite gay people being sinners just like everyone else. Sinners saved by our Divine Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, like everyone else! :-D)

Posted by: JCF on Tuesday, 16 January 2007 at 6:56am GMT

Well if you look at it, definitions of trinity are rather more complex than simple doctrinal definitions (if they are simple) and Unitarians are sometimes not quite unitarian in implication. So the notion that there is a hard and obvious wall between them is not so. It was not pre-Nicene (and surely they were Christians) and it was not in aspects of the Reformation either. The intellectual geography of theology is rather more continuous.

Posted by: Pluralist on Tuesday, 16 January 2007 at 2:23pm GMT

But, JCF, you're not an Evangelical, therefor you aren't a Christian. At best you're some sort of subChristian. So am I.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Tuesday, 16 January 2007 at 3:01pm GMT

Pluralist, my point is that the Unitarians have fared even worse than the Episcopalians as a percentage of the population. To go from 100g in 1900 to 204g in 1993 means that Unitarians are a much smaller portion of a much larger national population now. ecusa has a similar, but not as dramatic diminishment. In fact, we have been decreasing as a percentage of population and in sheer numbers. This is not a picture of health, and neither is the picture from the Unitarians.

Posted by: Tony on Tuesday, 16 January 2007 at 7:38pm GMT

Tony:
my usual gripe: such statistical titbits need detailed analysis to show things like of the increase in the population of the USA since 1900, how many are from (eg) Hispanic RC backgrounds and so on.

An analogy exposing the flaw in your raw data would be to maintain that Islam in the UK has been wonderfully successful as a missionary and expanding faith on the basis that it has increased from a handful of adherents in 1900 to a couple of million today without correcting those figures to account for the fact that the last century has seen large-scale immigration from those parts of the world where Islam is normative. The raw data is so skewed as to be meaningless.

Posted by: mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) on Tuesday, 16 January 2007 at 10:52pm GMT

The numbers game gets us nowhere but the ability to renew is important.

I've spent many hours over some days achieving (I hope) a smooth account of the Kanai, a Jewish group who starting from about his death to 70 CE believed Jesus (Yehoshua/ Jshua) was the Messiah. It has only 300 adherents left in the whole of Europe. The message it displays has its own importance, a maintenance of the most primitive Jewish Christianity that we too easily forget and which puts into relief the changes from Paul, Greek culture and Roman power. Kanai is still caught between a rock and a hard place, and whose members are recording their tradition.

British denominations at their most successful, that is up to 1913 when by growth they felt their importance and influence, still failed to match the increase in the population. Soon those denominations were hit by actual decline, as well as a loss of optimism from the First World War and, later, the severe decline of middle class involvement and collapse of the Sunday School movement.

We have it predicted that the Methodists and URC are finished by 2050; the British Unitarians are down to a pathetic 5000 now and ought to be finished by 2050 (the age distributions are the same). The C of E is a little better off. However, set against the C of E, the URC and Methodists have no contemporary unique selling point, and could well fold. Oddly, the Unitarians will still have a distinctive position. New recruitment these days into a church tends to be virtually random (some Unitarian chapels have had remarkable turnarounds from near death - York was one), but it is possible to market denominations that occupy a particular space, and this is what I am saying about TEC, can be about the C of E, has been about the UUA and can be about the Unitarians in Britain.

Posted by: Pluralist on Wednesday, 17 January 2007 at 3:00pm GMT

Perhaps this would be the place where somebody could explain to a poor EU-nuck what this "unitarian" thing is.

It is often mentioned on American web sites, but never explained. I have no idea.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Thursday, 18 January 2007 at 10:56am GMT

I am all with Cheryl by the way.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Thursday, 18 January 2007 at 10:57am GMT

This Unitarian thing... If you look in the Bible there is no doctrine of the Trinity, and this was noticed by some reformers. It was noticed in Transylvania (Rumania) in the 1500s and a Bishop Francis David (pron. Dah-vid) eventually became Unitarian and so did his King John Sigismund. They were able to because Turkey was nearby. Socinus out of Italy thought David had gone too far, but set up a Socinian Church in Poland. That was crushed by the Jesuits, and Unitarians in Trnaylvania suppressed by Austro-Hungarian power, wiped out in Hungary. It is village Unitarianism now.

In England 2000 ejected CofE Puritan ministers 1662 decided they could rely on the Bible alone for their Calvinism. With their congregations suppressed, there were no Presbyteries. These still parish oriented churches became Arminian and drifted in a liberal direction.

Later ideological capitalistic liberals took up a more denominational form of biblical Unitarianism (miracles, resurrection etc.). This went further than the first named Unitarian chapel set up by ex-Anglican Lindsey who used an Arian version of the BCP 1776. But German criticism and liturgical breadth, that of the parish mentality, was successful in 19C. From this a minority religious humanism grew.

In the USA congregationalists often became Unitarian. The likes of Emerson were ejected as too radical, and a new more humanistic movement grew, which merged back into the Unitarians. Merging with Univesalists in 1961 created a more radical movement than in the UK with a majority religious humanism and latterly neo-Paganism. Kings Chapel Boston; it is a one off "museum" to past Unitarian liturgy and style and retains its Anglican ethos.

Posted by: Pluralist on Thursday, 18 January 2007 at 3:29pm GMT

O dear! shouldn't have asked :-(

Looks like the Greek Orthodox charge of Christomonism is to the point... but what on earth has any of this to do with the present troubles in the Anglican (no longer) Communion?

How did it get from Transylvania to the USA? Bram Stoker?

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Thursday, 18 January 2007 at 8:19pm GMT

... or should that have been King Kong?

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Thursday, 18 January 2007 at 8:40pm GMT

>How did it get from Transylvania to the USA? Bram Stoker?<

I remember when Don Cupitt, the Anglican priest, and far more radical than many a Unitarian, had something dismissive to say about Unitarians, and yet was in a Camridge college play as Dracula. Dracula, I thought, should not insult the Transylvanians.

They were entirely separate developments. They didn't even know about each other until the nineteenth century. Central European Unitarianism has two bishops and a catechism, whereas Anglo-American Unitarianism is about being creedless. However, the UUA (as might be imagined) has the money to help develop congregations.

The other place of concentrated Unitarianism and also village based is in the Khasi Hills, India. More jokes vicar? That was from a local rejection of Welsh Calvinists in the area and a chance meeting with an American Unitarian, in the area due to I think an interest in the rationalist Hindu Brahmo Samaj, and later over in the UK Ram Mohan Roy worshipped in Lewins Mead Unitarian Chapel, Bristol. The Hindu monotheist body meets the Unitarian and UU (and more groups) in the International Association for Religious Freedom.

Posted by: Pluralist on Friday, 19 January 2007 at 12:57am GMT

All it has to do with it is space to occupy in terms of religious provision.

But it has got something else to do with it, means and ways that religious liberalism come about. It is about secularisation and religion, about liberty of thought and religion, about having a place in the market place and appeal, about making sense in this culture.

People say they believe in the Trinity, but if people say what they mean by that today many would horrify their forebears. The Unitarians of that time would be happy with many modern definitions of the Trinity, for example symbolic and social ones, but called it Unitarianism. Over the decades both these groups - the UUA/ Unitarians and Episcopalians have moved to the theological left. Even todays fundies are pansies compared with those of the past.

I'm someone who has read both, and see how they did it, and the differences are fascinating (including in the 1960s and 1970s, but they have both gone in the same direction.

(Once upon a time all Unitarians were trinitarian fundamentalists. But they did not know that then.)

Posted by: Pluralist on Friday, 19 January 2007 at 1:05am GMT

Pluralist asked
"More jokes vicar?"

The current going rate at St. Mary's for the insertion of a specific line, phrase or sentence into a sermon varies from a bag of liquorice allsorts up to a bottle of port, though occasionally one-liners may be put in place for charity. Please contact my agent for details....

Posted by: mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) on Friday, 19 January 2007 at 10:45am GMT

I tend to provide paintings and drawings as means towards charitable inserts. I once did a cartoon strip of Unitarians about Unitarian issues. It was too controversial when published. People recognised themselves.

Posted by: Pluralist on Friday, 19 January 2007 at 9:23pm GMT

The issue seems to me to be breadth and boundaries of the Church, and what it does.

The reason I am Anglican rather than Unitarian is one of spirituality and practice, plus my view that from the historical Jesus to the Christ of faith there is a wealth of resource for reflection: notably a sacrificial relationship hopefully inclusive with others around us and a practice that reflects this.

In the 1920s a Free Catholic group arose. It never went anywhere. It was sacraments without creeds. Conversations with a number of Unitarians dismiss it even now as an oddity, and I suppose it was. Plus the position of many Unitarian Christians now is defensive, and it is not my way to be defensive. I wanted people of difference to be togther, and believed that symbolic worship could be developed freely. But the long Puritan shadow was everywhere. I do not leave church services now in frustration in a way I did so often.

My practice-theological position is roughly equivalent to the Daniel Liechty end of postliberalism. It is also slightly Buddhist in practice first and then critically evaluate beliefs from that. That means a practice alongside a theological openness regarding doctrines. There is usefulness in a spiritual path too.

I would hope that TEC is going in this direction (it does not exclude doctrinal belief, it just does not demand it) and would be a beacon for others. However, I do not have a good track record in Churches doing what I fancy, and don't actually expect it.

Posted by: Pluralist on Friday, 19 January 2007 at 9:41pm GMT

Centre - Christ.

Boundaries - not so much.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Tuesday, 23 January 2007 at 9:45pm GMT
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