Monday, January 18, 2010

Three from MCJ
  • Ecumenism good and bad. Pope Benedict’s remarks highlight two competing definitions of ecumenism prevalent in interdenominational relations today; one honest and the other, I believe, dishonest. The honest definition is that espoused by Pope Benedict/the Roman Catholic Church, and the Orthodox Churches. This type of ecumenism seeks to reinstate the fullness of the unity of the Church through theological dialogue not for the purposes of hammering out compromise, but in understanding how differences arose and in genuinely healing the breaches between ecclesial communities. These groups understand that communion, “common union,” is the end result, not the means of realizing unity. This, however, is a slow, sometimes painful process in which progress can take decades. Nevertheless, progress is being made, especially between the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Roman Catholic Churches. While not yet reunited, these groups now enjoy closer relations than they have in centuries. The other definition, the dishonest one, is the one that seems to be prevalent amongst many Protestant groups in the World Council of Churches. Papering over their differences, they share communion without “common union” and without true unity. This definition, taking a relativistic view of doctrine and dogma, invariably leads to a least-common-denominator type of Christianity or even interfaith fuzzy-wuzzy goodness. Taken to its extreme, one ends up with people like Ann Holmes Redding who mistakenly believed that she could somehow be both Muslim and Christian. Jesus gave Himself up to death for the whole world. Mohammed killed his enemies in cold blood and instructed his followers to do the same. How she thought she could reconcile the two is beyond me. Because that poor woman was as relativistic about Islam as she was about Christianity. The Episcopalians both were extremely kind and did the right thing about her (suspended her for a year to cool off then kicked her out of the ministry when she didn’t repent).
  • There are a few denominations that I know won’t compromise their core beliefs to win popularity points. Catholicism is one of them, and the one with the most notable and high-profile hierarchy and leader. Hence, this is why people get their undies in a twist about us, time and again. Because it’s not a denomination.
  • Dr Tighe on the Pope’s offer. No surprises really. The American Continuers probably won’t come on board. The “highest authorities” in the TAC seem to expect a significant number of refusals of the “Roman Option” among the laity, clergy and parishes (and one or perhaps even two of its bishops) in its USA province, the ACA (= Anglican Church in America) — a province which in October 2006 reckoned the number of its active, communicant, and registered members as 5,245 — while expecting insignificant or even negligible losses elsewhere... and I understand that within recent weeks a retired bishop of the TAC has moved to another Continuing Anglican body. On the other hand, they also expect that, once the “ordinariates” are up and running a “significant number” of clergy and parishes from other Anglican jurisdictions will seek to join up, weary of their continuing fragmentation and of the mirage-like continually receding prospects of greater unity among them. No doubt we will see in due course, when the time to “put your money where your mouth is” arrives. As I define Anglican Continuers aren’t Anglicans. Anglicans are invited to Lambeth.

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