Wednesday, November 26, 2008


November 26, 2008

Two of my favorite journals arrived in the same week: The Anglican Theological Review (Fall 2008, Vol.90, No.4) and The Journal of Anglican Studies (Vol. 6.2, December 2008). They both contain articles offering cautionary notes with regard to the proposed ‘Anglican Covenant’. In ATR, Christopher Craig Brittain writes Confession Obsession? Core Doctrine and the Anxieties of Anglican Theology, arguing that the notion of ‘core doctrine’ (sometimes expressed in terms of the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral—see your Prayer Book) is a slippery thing and not as foundational as it might seem. In JAS, Frederick Quinn writes Covenants and Anglicans: An Uneasy Fit recalling us to our Anglican roots that declined the confessional route in the Reformation and chose a path different from that of both Rome and Westminster.

These ideas become important in a series of articles about Anglican Christianity in Asia asking questions similar to those I asked during a visit to the Anglican Church of Brazil as to why anyone would want to follow this path outside of English Heritage. The answer keeps on building on those roots which provide a serious and relational alternative to purity type churches.

The purity church is taken on in some ATR articles, but none more so than an excellent piece by the Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford, an Episcopalian formerly at Yale and someone whom I enjoy and respect: Marilyn McCord Adams. She has written Shaking the Foundations: LGBT Bishops and Blessings in the Fullness of Time. Her argument is compelling and straightforward. Liberals should not compromise their conscientious content-beliefs while in the majority. It si legitimate and desirable that beliefs that were once held by a tolerated minority who could not set institutional direction should now be given unqualified institutional form as an expression of good news made incarnate, and conservative beliefs should become a tolerated minority. Compromises like flying bishops and ‘moratoria’ and a pan-Anglican covenant, all at the expense of LGBT Christians, are ways in which the conservative minority is attempting to ensure a conservative expression of the faith for a long time to come. The way forward, she argues, is to give institutional expression to liberal content-convictions by authorizing the ordaining and blessing of non-celibate LGBTs. You can read this in our parish library.

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