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:
Now there is schism. After some reflection, we wrote back with a letter that began this way:
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.
updated: 12 January 2003