Wednesday, November 28, 2012

On the General Synod Vote and Toleration All Around

"It is now generally conceded, that those differences, which were once held to divide the Christian sects from one another, (as whether or not Confirmation were a necessary ordinance of the Church), can no longer be thought to place any obstacle against unity and charity between Christians; rather, the more of them we find to exist, the more laudable a thing it is that Christian men should stomach, now and again, these uneasy scruples, and worship together for all the world as if they had never existed" -- Ronald Knox Reunion All Around

The current Archbishop of Canterbury and the next Archbishop, apparently, are convinced that the first and great commandment of the Anglican Communion is toleration of diversity of theological convictions. We may think that tolerance is neither a theologically nor an historically tenable first principle.  I certainly do not. Whenever I hear about about the vaunted virtue of Anglican tolerance I think inevitably of St. Margaret Clitherow. She would say that the notion of Anglican tolerance is flat wrong - excuse the pun.

But there it is. Anglicans are to be tolerant of the TEC abandoning whole hog Christian sexual morality and of the uncanonical deprivations used to enforce compliance. But the Church of England cannot tolerate those Evangelicals and Catholics who cannot accept women bishops. Everyone knows that the only thing that is intolerable is orthodoxy, that "which has been believed everywhere, always, by all." So Dom Gregory Dix: "the sign of a bishop is a crook and the sign of an archbishop is a double cross." It is just politics and the kind of pernicious politics which breeds cynicism and contempt. The reason that we do not need to take Rowan Williams and Justin Welby seriously is because they do not take themselves seriously. 

We can paraphrase the ousted Bishop of South Carolina  now past-the-sell-by-date dictum: "we will try as hard to stay in the Anglican Communion, as the Church of England tries to keep and protect its Evangelical and Catholic minorities."

"Thank God, in these days of enlightenment and establishment, everyone has a right to his own opinions, and chiefly to the opinion, that nobody else has a right to theirs. It shall go hard, but within a century at most we shall make the Church of England true to her Catholic vocation, which is, plainly, to include within her borders every possible shade of belief, Quod umquam quod usquam quod ab ullis" (Ronald Knox, Reunion All Around).

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