characteristics of communion

I am dismayed by GAFCON, by +Canterbury’s responses, and by many of the responses to the responses.

There is little love in our Anglican fallacy of a communion at present, and little wisdom in what comes from the official mouths.  That Canterbury could say that the ‘tenets of orthodoxy’ spelled out in the document will be acceptable to and shared by the vast majority of Anglicans in every province, even if there may be differences of emphasis and perspective on some issues is laughable. The whole reason that the Anglican Communion is in this mess is that at least one  of the “tenets of orthodoxy” is not merely a “difference of emphasis” but a heartfelt and pain filled issue tied to justice and understanding within this 21st century culture.  Add to the sexuality issues the desire to enforce the 39 Articles, the apparently literalist view of scripture  – these are not issues of perspective which can be brushed under the carpet or ignored..

Friend and colleague Kenny wonders if the lunatics have taken over the asylum.  and he’s right to do so.  GAFCON cannot be ignored or sidelined, but neither can GAFCON be bought into wholesale by an Archbishop speaking in such broad terms for the whole anglican communion; and neither can GAFCON simply reject the voices it does not wish to hear and create a “communion within a communion”.

Elizabeth Kaeton ( a new blog i found today) gives an interesting comment on the whole issue, and offers her (almost) 39 articles – characteristics of a communion of faith.  I hope she doesnt mind me reproducing them here.  Wise words (my one ammendment is present, non italicised).

I believe in a communion which is less a place and more a state of being.

I believe in a communion where my passionately held beliefs about who God is and why Jesus came among us and how the Holy Spirit works in our lives can be held in healthy, respectful tension with those whose equally passionate beliefs about the persons of the Trinity differ sharply from mine.

I believe in a communion where discussions of the different theological positions about such issues as the atonement, the resurrection, the virgin birth, the ascension, and the assumption of Mary are lively, intelligent, and even hotly debated, and understood to deepen, not threaten or diminish the faith “first received”.

I believe in a communion which honors all sort and condition of humankind – old and young, rich and poor, male and female, and of a variety of skin color, sexual orientation, economic, social, educational, physical or intellectual status and cultural contexts.

I believe in a communion where different thoughts and conditions of humankind can be lived out in peace, without fear of ridicule, humiliation, shame or punitive consequence.

I believe in a communion which understands that, to be human is to be flawed and faulted but not “wretched;” that we are not, by our nature, “miserable offenders,” and that humanity, like all of God’s creation, is “good,” by the gift of grace, freely and undeservedly given.

I believe in a communion which believes that Jesus died, “once, for all,” and that we are made worthy, through Him, to stand, not constantly grovel, before God or each other.

I believe in a communion where my status of ordained priesthood, and that of all my duly ordained sisters and brothers, despite our human condition or theological position, is recognized and respected and we are allowed to love and serve the people whom God has called to our care and leadership.

I believe in a scriptural communion which understands Holy Writ to be ‘the words of the Logos’ – a guide book not a rule book – written by holy people who, inspired by their love of God, attempt to understand God’s action in and love of the world which God created.

I believe in a human communion which recognizes and, indeed celebrates, that no one in this life is infallible and nothing in this life is inerrant.

I believe in a communion where religious intelligence, imagination and creativity are qualities which are held in equal esteem to doctrine, discipline or organizational structure.

I believe in a communion which sees the empty tomb as an invitation not to death but resurrection, not to an ending, but to change and transformation, not to scarcity but abundance.

I believe in a prophetic communion where justice walks hand in hand with mercy as the people of God strive to walk humbly and attentively with God toward reconciliation with ourselves, our neighbor and our God.

I believe in a baptismal communion where the ‘priesthood of all believers’ is not a quaint theological theorem, but a deep commitment to honoring the ministry of all the baptized at all levels of sacramental grace and structural governance.

I believe in a eucharisitic communion where boundaries of time and space are suspended – past, present and future as well as heaven and earth are made one – and we are fed and nourished to become the one we are called to be in the grace of the One we profess to serve.

I believe in a worshiping communion whose rich variety of liturgical expression respects and reflects the cultural context from which it has its origins – including language, music, movement, and dress.

I believe in a communion which is driven by the Great Commission of Jesus and ardently believes that love in deed is love, indeed.

I believe in a communion for whom evangelism is a way of life, not a programmatic effort; where members are not only invited through the church door, but welcomed in from the ‘highways and the hedges’.

I believe in a reconciling communion which seeks first the mind of Jesus and the Realm of God in the ordering of our common lives of faith and in resolving disputes and disagreements.

I believe in a communion which, first and foremost, is constellated and held together by the mind and sacred heart of Jesus, and not simply ancient creeds, modern church resolutions, or the invitational whims of prelates in present power.

I believe in a communion which respects human intelligence and reason and is courageous enough to open our eyes, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to see the outstretched hand of God in our human experience, leading us into new understandings of God’s on-going revelation.

I believe in a communion which respects the history and tradition of the Anglican Church, and strives to live into the radical orthodoxy of the Sprit of Anglicanism, which holds fast to its great tradition as the ‘roomiest room’ in all of Western Christendom.

I believe in a communion where the desert is dry enough to bring all of our temptations and all of our sins; a place where we may look squarely into the face of Evil and wrestle with our own demons.

I believe in a communion where limping is seen as evidence of God’s visitation, having wrestled with an angel or two, and we are allowed to continue the pilgrim’s walk, ministered to – and by – human angels in the community of saints.

I believe in a communion where the baptismal water is deep enough to do all our dyings and fresh enough to enter into all our rebirths.

I believe in this communion because I know it exists. I have seen it and lived into it and know it to be true. I have committed myself to being a contributing, faithful member of this Anglican Communion and seek to work with Anglicans around to world as we strive to take the best of our past, our best present selves, and together live into the future, fashioning ourselves into the image God had of us when we were first given this sacred and mysterious gift.


2 thoughts on “characteristics of communion

  1. Kenny says:

    Love the new 39 Articles, but how am I supposed to remember all of them as I count the 39 buttons down the front of my cassock?

    Actually, the cassock is 33 years old. I’ve lost a few of the buttons, but I always tell folk that these were the Articles I couldn’t accept!

  2. AR says:

    This idea of communion has some huge flaws. You are trying to extend communion to more people around you but are shutting yourselves out from communion with those before you. You are seeking dimmension and losing coherence. You may achieve some things with this, assuming anyone but you and her notice it in this amazingly disunified union you have, but certainly not a Church. It may be hard for you to imagine how desperately sad it makes me to read this.

    My Church already believes something very like 6 and 7. Thankfully, we don’t have to worry about whether we are making it up or whether anyone else in our so-called communion gives a tinker’s wingfeather that this is the way we see it. We ALL believe this together, and we are bolstered in our belief by the fact that everyone before us believed the same.

    Hopefully someday people will realize that by its very nature, the Church is not something that people can just make up, and recreate when it goes bad. The protestant experiment has failed.

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