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Hallo again to all.

We have for years watched sadly as some Anglicans, who firmly believe that they have a monopoly on the truth, push aggressively either to change the global church or to divide it into 'those who agree with us' and 'those who do not'. The rhetoric is never one of opinion, but of fact. 'The Bible so clearly says that you are wrong.' This is nothing new; Christian history shows that such divisions have existed since the earliest days. Each branch will call the others heretics or worse. The enthusiastic student of history quickly learns that human nature never changes.

Because the major national churches are so inept in their use of the internet, and think that 'online media' means television, we get a steady flow of questions from people who would like to consult a church authority but can only find us. Today this question arrived:

Would you please take moment to explain the differences in the Anglican Religion and the Pentecostal Assembly Of God Religion? We are considering accepting an exchange student who claims to be Anglican (or is it more commonly known as Episcopal?) Do you study the inspired word of God? what version do you prefer? I am just looking for the major differences. Thank you for your time.

Now there is schism. After some reflection, we wrote back with a letter that began this way:

It is all the same religion. We are Christians. We believe in Jesus Christ, the only Son of God. 'Pentecostal Assembly of God' and 'Anglican' are the names of two different denominations of Christianity. Our guess is that the major differences will be matters of style, not belief.

There are churches worldwide that are affiliated with the Anglican Communion. In the United States and Scotland they are called Episcopal; in most other countries they are called Anglican. Each country has its own book of hymns and its own book of prayers, but we all use the same Bible and we all have similar traditions.

In a world of people who think that being Anglican is possibly not Christian, it seems to us to be almost inconsequential to further divide our church along cultural lines. The people who are asking to split the church are the ones who most frequently call such a split 'dire' or 'catastrophic'. This week's News Centre has a link to a column by Christopher Howse in which he reminds us that a century ago, the schismatic issue was not sexuality but incense and reserving the sacrament. And we well remember the moral outrage about a man marrying his deceased wife's sister (see our issue of 8 October 2000).

Not long ago we attended a Sunday service at an Anglican church that is not in communion with the See of Canterbury. Other than the average age of the parish members, which was more than we are accustomed to, it all seemed to us to be less alien than had we teleported back in time to 1836 and attended an in-communion service in Virginia.

We're not advocating anything here. We're just observing that the use of words like 'catastrophic' and 'implode' is the rhetoric of political conflict, and that there are many things in life that are far worse than churches dividing along political lines.

See you next week.

Brian Reid's signature
Cynthia McFarland
Brian Reid

Last updated: 12 January 2003