Monday, October 15, 2007

Thursday, September 06, 2007

A very brief summary of something on which I have been musing:

For the past four centuries Christianity in the West has taken forms both Catholic and Protestant. A new alignment is emerging that will become clear over the next fifty years or so. The new arrangement will be world wide and will take into account the Orthodox Churches as well as indigenous expressions of Christianity emergent in much of the Global South. The new alignment will go by many names and each name will carry a nuance different from every other.

The essential shape of the alignment will be on one hand Churches whose primary focus and means of communion is centered on doctrine. These churches will often be hierarchical in form and will exercise a fairly ‘high’ form of church discipline based on church teaching, however promulgated. The alternative will be Churches whose primary focus and means of communion is found in covenant relationship.

In the divine gift of Church Unity these forms of Church will need each other.

Some protestant denominations will disappear or otherwise divide along these lines. Those elements of whatever remains of the Anglican Communion who favor an emphasis on covenant relationship as they read their own tradition have the possibility of becoming a genuinely Catholic world wide communion formed around the communion table. It is not yet clear whether we will be able to look to Canterbury for that leadership.

If this comes to pass, The Episcopal Church will inevitably take a different form and role from that of the past. We already know that denominational identity means little to those seeking faith, meaning or Christian community. We will need to recover a sense that what we value is the faith and our way of living it, rather than talking in a way that appears to be first about the value of denominational identity and structure.

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