Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Class, using the Socratic method, let us examine

the following sentence and all it implies:
...a senior bishop will urge the Church's governing body to placate traditionalists...

Let us begin by defining some terms, then we can ask some impertinent questions.

"senior" - in the Judeo-Christian tradition, the elders of the ecclesial community are the most experienced, the most trusted for their wisdom.

"bishop" - Anglo-Saxon Biscop, Busceop, German Bischof; from the Greek episkopos, an overseer, through Latin episcopus.
The Gospels point out how, from the beginning of his ministry, Jesus called to him some Jews, and by a very diligent instruction and formation made them his disciples. After some time, in the Galilean ministry, he selected twelve whom, as Mark (iii, 14) and Luke (vi, 13) say, "he also named Apostles." The origin of the Apostolate Iies therefore in a special vocation, a formal appointment of the Lord to a determined office, with connected authority and duties. The appointment of the twelve Apostles is given by the three Synoptic Gospels (Mark 3:13-19; Matthew 10:1-4; Luke 6:12-16)

...that the universally acknowledged authority of the Apostles, even in the most heated controversies, and from the first years after Christ's death (for instance in the Jewish controversies), as we read in the oldest Epistles of St. Paul and in the Acts, cannot be explained, or even be understood, unless we recognize some appointment of the Twelve by Jesus.

"Church's governing body" - General Synod of the Church of England. It is a legislative governing body that decides matters of discipline and practice.

"traditionalists" - a euphemism promulgated largely through the news media. A "traditionalist" Anglican is difficult to define since it refers only to a member of an ecclesial body whose defining characteristic is that has decided not to decide matters of dogma or doctrine, leaving open to individual interpretation crucial questions of ecclesiology, apostolic succession, and, ultimately, matters of dogma. But one may say generally, that a traditionalist Anglican is one who holds true the first dogmas of Christianity as summed up in the Nicene Creed that they recite at their services: the existence of a personal trinitarian deity who created all things; the divinity of Jesus Christ as the second person of that trinity; the incarnation and virgin birth; the death and resurrection of Christ for the expiation of sins; the establishment by Christ of a church whose mandate is to preach to all nations and baptize - with water - all nations in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. They seem, again generally, to hold some notion of the inerrancy of the Christian scriptures and to what is usually referred to as "traditional" moral code based on the Ten Commandments.

As such, they qualify as Christians. So, in reading articles about "Anglican traditionalists" we can fairly safely substitute the term "Anglican Christians".

Now, to return to the sentence above, we ask if it tells us anything useful about the Anglican Church.

The "senior bishop" is the leader of the ecclesial community. According to the scriptural explanations, he is supposed personally to embody what the ecclesial community believes.

But here he is seen to be "personally opposed", though still pastorally responsible for, the "traditionalists" whom we have determined are synonymous with "Christians". He recommends, he "urges", that the "governing body of the Church" "placate" the Christians within it. This would presuppose then, that he is not, himself, a Christian or a representative of Christianity, but of this new, and as yet undefined and unnamed thing.

Anglicanism, according to its leadership, is now distinct from Christianity. It is facing a decision now whether to support any legislation that would "placate" or tolerate Christianity within itself. The questions being asked at the General Synod seem to be not, "Will we turn ourselves towards Christianity, or will we continue to move apart from it?". They seem to be asking instead, "Since our first assumption is that we are not Christians ("traditionalists"), will we continue to tolerate Christians in our midst?"

So, I have to ask, how does a Christian justify retaining his connection with a body that is essentially opposed to his Christianity? Why does he remain an Anglican when it has been shown by their own words that the Anglican Communion is an anti-Christian organisation?

Just asking.

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