Wednesday, August 09, 2006

A Federation: Is it Real Unity?

Image and video hosting by TinyPicI just learned that there is a new site that talks of a 'Federation of Anglican Churches'. Such an ecclesial structure begs more questions than it gives answers to. It seems to me that a federation does nothing more than say 'we want to give the appearance of unity but we like our autonomy too. Just in case you ask us to do something we don't want to do, we reserve the right to claim an autonomous jurisdiction.' I'm not sure a Federation gets to the heart of Jesus' High Priestly Prayer. Is this another instance where we simply come full circle again to the question of authority?

Don't get me wrong, I find it encouraging to work towards unity. The only way unity happens is equal submission one to another (Eph. 5). It's easy to claim submission when everybody agrees with the way something is going--it's altogether something else to submit when you might like it another way. That is when submission is really tested.

The site mentions a number of Articles that one must submit to in order to be an active member of the Federation. With reference to one's adherence to the 39 Articles of Religion in the constitutional framework what happens if there is a disagreement with the language or theology within the Articles of Religion or what if something within the Articles makes superfluous what the Church has learned since their acceptance? How does the Church continue to grow in its understanding of the Scriptures and Tradition? A Federation like this seems to me to be something very similar to a Presbyterian model of confessional subscription. For example, what if one can make a strong scriptural argument that Christ is objectively present in the Eucharist where the righteous and wicked alike receive Christ when they receive the elements; though one is for blessing and the other for judgment? How else can one be guilty of 'profaning the Body and Blood of the Lord' unless they are partaking of the Body and the Blood of the Lord objectively? Many Anglicans do not hold to a 'dynamic receptionism' that teaches that there is only a 'Presence' by reception in the one who receives with faith. According to many examples in the history of Anglicanism and the Church Catholic, this would not be acceptable as the teaching of the Church. The 39 Articles (at least the titles) would contradict what many understand the teaching of the Fathers and the Scriptures to say on this issue. A very strong case can be made for an objective presence in the elements as one example. Matter of fact, many Anglican fathers held to such a position throughout the history of Eucharistic theology in the Church of England.

A lot of the political difficulties surrounding the Church in England since the C16 have gone away. I do not find it very helpful to continue to try and fight these same battles today when we live under such vastly different circumstances and changes all around the Church in its theology and practices; not to mention the changes in the political environment.

This is only a few examples. I have many more concerns with the language of a theology of the Church that is being used for establishing a Federation that before it even gets going we are using words like autonomy within constitutional formulations. What sort of theology of the Church is set forth with language like 'autonomy?' Is that not the problem facing the Anglican Church in the West? Does it not continue to just leave the Church open to the charge of Puritanism that exchanges one Pope thousands of miles away for thousands of Popes one mile away?

What do you all think about it?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

To bad they didn't choose the term "CONfederation." Because then their acronym would be "CACA."

5:15 pm  
Blogger Jeff said...

Hey Anonymous, if we all wear our tinfoil hats we'll be protected from all nonsense. Pass the good song around. It's what we've all been waiting for.

6:16 pm  
Blogger Jeff said...

forgot the link: http://eclectech.co.uk/mindcontrol.php

it's in a new post on the main page of the blog.

6:17 pm  
Blogger Mark said...

As I've mentioned on my blog, FACA members have a great deal of intercommunion and pledge to work toward even greater unity amongst themselves.

Yes, ideally, we'd all be one big happy church. This isn't it, but it's real progress.



10:23 pm  
Blogger J. Gordon Anderson said...

Honestly, I alternate between the desire for corporate unity among the Anglican diaspora churches and not caring about it at all. I ask myself, "What is there to gain by being part of a large 'corporation' that I am missing now?"

11:15 pm  
Blogger Death Bredon said...

Please forive my cynical (fallen) nature, but I am a bit skeptical.

The REC broke on narrow lines, as did APA.

The "St. Louis Movement" broke on broad lines and is fractured but unitified in allegiance to the St. Louis Statement.

Every other attempt at a para-Church organization within Anglicansim has always been REC-lite or St. Loius-lite. They have never amounted to a hill of beans.

And now that REC is moving up the candle, the only options are for low-church Armenians to go Methodists, low-church Calvinist to go Presbydestinarian and for High-Churches to join the Continumm and fight to unite it.

Vote with your feet. The Established churches are beyond redemption save by divine intervention. In the mean time, use your powers of natural intervention!!!

4:23 pm  
Blogger J. Gordon Anderson said...

I guess I should qualify what I said above. The FACA apparently is not about corporate unity, I suppose (at least at this point). As it says on the site:

"The Federation was formed in 2006 to provide a vehicle for communication, fellowship and cooperation between the various Anglican Jurisdictions in the Americas. On this site you will learn about the goals, privileges and procedures for membership."

I guess the greater vision is some level of communion, as per the quote in the blue sidebar. But at this point the goal is just 'fellowship' and 'cooperation' as it says in the above quote.

Jeff, maybe you should e-mail your questions and comments to Ray Sutton. I am sure they'd appreciate your input!

6:28 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I highly doubt they're looking for, or would appreciate, input. This outfit was created as an afterthought for the purpose of saving face in the abortive efforts to unite the REC and the APA into a single jurisdiction.

1:23 am  

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