Muddle

Muddle July 11, 2010

Is the Archbishop of Canterbury muddled headed, or is it simply Anglicanism which is muddle headed? I think I have actually been imprecise in charging the ABC with being muddle headed, when it fact, it is not him as much as Anglicanism as a whole.

How could anyone hope to be clear headed and clearly spoken when he has to head up such a denomination? Here’s the real situation. Anglicans have liberals who deny the existence of God, the supernatural, any vestige of a traditional understanding of the Christian faith and they also have conservative Evangelicals who are virtually Biblical fundamentalists. They have Anglo Catholics who believe in the real presence, have monks and nuns, go on pilgrimages to Marian shrines, call their priests ‘Father’ and whose liturgy is more Catholic than the Catholics. On the other hand they have priests who have the same orders who deny all Catholic doctrines, put leftover communion bread out for the birds and proudly bear the name of Protestant. They have proponents of homosexual marriage and those who think homosexuals should be put in jail. Some would die to have lady bishops some would die if they didn’t have lady bishops.

All of this is held together under the banner of ‘unity’, but how can anyone hope to hold any of it together at all without being totally muddle headed? It’s impossible. That’s why there is a typical sort of Anglican clergy speak which goes like this: “I think I would like to say that in some way there ought to be a way forward which does not alienate anyone and yet attempts to propose a truth statement which may, if I am not pushing it too far, expresses what might be called ‘truth’ in a way that is a propositional statement which is descriptive while it is not prescriptive. This is to say that if we cannot find a way forward then it is best, perhaps to return to a discussion stage when we might sit down and without being dogmatic or judgmental listen again to one another to see if there is not in fact a way in which we can walk together while we are still fundamentally walking apart. Of course this will be a demanding and challenging journey which will in many ways for some of us (indeed all of us in one way or another) be at its heart paradoxical if not seemingly contradictory. However the seeming contradiction need not be a real contradiction even though it feels painful for some us to continue to live and what might be called a creative tension……. blah blah blah.

And in this Anglicans seem to glory.

The fact of the matter was spoken pretty clearly by Cardinal Newman when he said, unless there is an infallible authority Christianity divides into the latitudinarian error or the sectarian error. The latitudinarian sacrifices unity of doctrine for unity of form and the sectarian sacrifices unity of form for unity of doctrine. Anglicanism is the perfect example of the latitudinarian error. You may now believe and behave in just about any way you like as long as you stay on board the ship.

This is praised as being ‘inclusive’ but why is ‘inclusivity’ necessarily a virtue and how on earth can the Christian Church be totally inclusive? It cannot. By definition it excludes people. It excludes all those who are not baptized and have not faith in Christ. Every church, even the Anglicans, must draw the line somewhere and say, “Sorry, you can’t be a member.” If it cannot do this, then it is indistinguishable from the society around it. Catholicism is inclusive inasmuch as it invites all to be Catholic on an equal basis. It is exclusive in that it recognizes that some are in full communion with the Holy See and others are not.

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