This article tells us that the Archbishop of Canterbury urges Anglicans to resolve the tensions and seek unity. Not exactly a show stopper…
One of the things that made me join the Catholic Church was the realization that the Anglican Church never did have unity. It had the appearance of unity. Have you ever been to one of those family meetings where some renegade uncle turned up who had run off with someone else’s wife, and there they were pretending nothing had happened?
That’s what it was like functioning as an Anglican priest. You lived constantly with total contradiction between what you believed and the reality. Example: an Evangelical Anglican priest could be in the next door parish to an Anglo Catholic priest and have a liberal in another next door parish. One believed in the ‘Real Presence’ went on pilgrimages to honor Our Lady of Walsingham, had Eucharistic Adoration and reserved the sacrament while a man ordained by the same bishop had ‘Communion’ once a month, did not reserve the sacrament even for the sick, used spongy white bread and grape juice for communion and tossed out the leftovers for the birds. Meanwhile the liberal was busy marrying homosexual people and campaigning for ‘women’s reproductive freedom’ (code for abortion) which both the Anglo Catholic and the Evangelical abhorred.
So this was ‘unity’? No, it was simply that the English abhor the idea of embarrassing scenes. They are a nation of appeasers. They would rather muddle through than fight.
The reason they were able to maintain this illusion of ‘unity’ for so long was that the mistook tolerance for Truth. They thought tolerance was the highest virtue, and why was that? Because long ago, before anyone could remember, the whole idea of objective truth had quietly disappeared from their philosophical vocabulary. The Anglo Catholic tolerated the Evangelical and the Evangelical tolerated the Anglo Catholic and they all tolerated the Liberal because all of them believed, deep down, that theology is simply ‘the way we choose to talk about God’.
Since that was the case, the Anglo Catholic, the Evangelical and the Liberal all concluded that both their beliefs and their behaviors were provisional. They were nothing more than a metaphor. “You prefer to do things in an Anglo Catholic way. I prefer to do things in an Evangelical way. We are all worshipping the same God, we simply use a different vocabulary.”
I used to think this underlying relativism was simply a case of the Anglican Church following the current philosophical trends of the society it was in. But then when I re-read my history I came to realize that it was written into the Church of England’s genetic code. The Elizabethan Settlement was basically the ruling that everyone would have to tolerate everyone else, and that the most important thing was to maintain visible ‘unity’. I began to realize with some horror that rather than the Church of England simply imbibing the relativistic spirit of the age, she was one of the historical movements that helped to foster and establish the nihilistic relativism of our age.
Finally, when I became a Catholic I had people say, “Ah yes, but we have just as much division in the Catholic Church. Why we have gay priests and those who are pushing for women’s ordination. We too have liberals.”
Sure, it’s true that some Catholics disobey the Church’s teaching. Many more are ignorant of it. The huge difference is that the Catechism, the Papacy, the Magisterium is there. The whole world may disregard it, and the number of faithful Catholics may be miniscule. It doesn’t change the truth. Truth is not determined either by the number of people who live by it or believe it, but whether it is true or not. If it’s true it’s true whether anyone believes it or lives by it or not.
Unity does not consist of endless toleration of every belief and behavior imaginable. It consists of individuals rallying around a central revealed Truth no matter what the cost. They rally around this belief and this body of believers even if they know they are hypocrites and fail to live up to their belief. They rally around this body of belief and body of believers because they realize it is bigger than they are, and because it is revealed truth they should conform themselves to it rather than expecting it to conform to their wishes.
Many years ago I came across this account by an Orthodox priest which I still find wholly compelling.http://www.great-torrington.org.uk/documents/spiridon.htm#FROM ANGLICANISM TO ORTHODOXY
I’m sorry, but the Almost Rev’d Archbishop of Canterbury — besides being scary theologically — is just SCARY LOOKING! Every time I see his picture, I think “bad Santa”. (Coincidence? I think not)BTW, as a former Lutheran pastor, I can relate to your comments on the Anglican communion… sadly, the ELCA is not far behind.