Another Adventure in Anglicanism

Dr. Ephraim Radner has a fascinating article about the future of Anglicanism:

Who are the predominantly younger theologians and priests clustering around The Living Church’s Covenant blog? Or “A Tribe Called Anglican”? Or those who read more individual blogs like “Creedal Christian” or “The Conciliar Anglican”? Or those who have contributed to the recent book Pro Communione? Or who attend seminaries like Wycliffe College or Duke Divinity School? They are the future of Anglicanism in North America, that is who; and they are the reason why I am not so much worried about The Episcopal Church as eager simply to see the inevitable fruit of faithfulness whose seed is well-sown.

David Virtue has a response article, in which he basically calls Dr. Radner delusional:

Perhaps the most delusional paragraph in Dr. Radner’s riff is this, “To be sure, there are obstacles to be overcome and burdens to be assumed in such a vision: money, jobs, energy and endurance. But when Jesus tells his disciples, ‘Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom’ (Lk. 12:32), he does not do so in the face of comfortable times, but of hard ones – of funds dispersed, of antagonistic opposition, of lonely testimony. Yet this is just when he tells them of this certainty. And it is just for such a time that promises are given by God and made sure. ‘He has torn… and he will bind us up… Come, let us press on to know the Lord; his going forth is as sure as the dawn’ (Hos. 6:1-3).”
What world is he living in? After six years of Jefferts-Schori’s reign of terror, picking off Radner’s fellow conservatives one by one, does he really expect a different fate, especially with the feeble forces remaining after years of knee cappings, departures, and defrockings under the direction of TEC’s well-funded legal team?

In a previous article, Dr. Radner reflected on the decline of the Episcopal Church:

Well, let’s admit to facts: The Episcopal Church is dying, having lost a third of its members in the last 10 years, and the decline still humming along; it has fewer and fewer young people and children as a proportion of its membership, fewer baptisms, fewer confirmations; and less and less money; it is closing more and more churches, watching dioceses disappear, go bankrupt or face merger; it’s seminaries are shutting their doors; it has produced little theology of note in over 20 years; its church planters and evangelists have mostly left; and its budget is shrinking and in line to be slashed yet further, with national programs and personnel falling by the wayside within a vacuum of missionary planning.

Last week, Chuck and I were talking about an article about the Anglican Church in Canada and he turned to me and said: “Why are we in this denomination again?”

Chuck’s question keeps bouncing around my head and I can’t shake it. Like the Chinese fortune cookie meme, every time I think of a good thing about the Anglican tradition my head silently, but automatically adds, “but why are we in this denomination again?” because always lingering in the background is this inevitable rupture that has been rumbling and groaning and heaving in the Church.

There is so much that is attractive about Anglicanism:

The worship.
The liturgy.
The rhythm of the church calendar that carries us on the journey of Christ’s life.
The weekly practice of communion that nourishes the soul.
The scholarly acumen of people like N.T. Wright, Alister McGrath and Dr. Radner.
Our little church in Moose Jaw.
Our new priest. (He is a NT scholar by training and it shows! Last week he preached an entire sermon on one tiny word in Ephesians: “Therefore”! How awesome is that?! )

But then I read about the chaos and shenanigans and fighting and politics. I read of priests denying the saving power of Christ, or worse denying that God exists at all!

“Why are we in this denomination again?”

It’s said with a sigh and a broken heart; not with anger or malice. The whole mess is wearying more than frustrating.

It’s just a matter of time, they say. It will all have to come to a head. But it hasn’t yet.

The Church is straining under the pressure and the tension and the uncertainty. And while tension and uncertainty can be a good thing, especially if framed in terms of mystery, in this case the strain is toxic.

“Why are we in this denomination again?”

And yet, there is a niggling stirring deep in my soul. I can’t definitively define it, but there is this still, small voice urging me to wait, to pray, to listen and to worship.

“Why are we in this denomination again?”

Because God is saying this is where we’re supposed to be at the moment. We are not released to go elsewhere. There is work that God needs to do in our lives, and this is where He’s doing it.

  • http://dellssue.blogspot.ca Susan B.

    I admit I am, perhaps selfishly, glad that God has not permitted you to leave us just yet. If we all leave because of the present problems then there truly is no hope for the future of our denomination. There may come a time when all we of more traditional or conservative stance have to leave, but for now I am grateful for every new person in our denomination and the hope for good change that could result.

    • http://cdntheologianscholar.wordpress.com Amanda

      Thanks Sue!

  • Bev

    hehe Boy, can I relate. I am mostly settled on being there for the local congregation and try to ignore what comes out of GC.