05 August 2008

What To Do?

Alan Jacobs responds to Peter Ould at exactly the point where the rubber meets the road in the ecclesial mess that is the Anglican Communion:

But let me address this issue more directly. I left the Episcopal Church and joined a new Anglican church largely because I did not want to have my son instructed in beliefs I do not share. Consider this: the man who is now the rector at the parish I left — a wonderfully kind and generous man, by the way — preached, on Easter Sunday no less, that it does not matter whether Jesus was or was not raised physically from the dead. Now, I happen to think that it matters very much whether Jesus was or was not raised from the dead, and unless I am tragically mistaken, St. Paul did too (see 1 Corinthians 15). I am glad that my son, instead of hearing this sermon, heard a sermon from Father Martin Johnson that joyfully and boldly proclaimed the fact of the Resurrection.

What does Peter Ould have to say to me? He does not believe that All Souls’ Church should exist, at least in its current form, so what options does he think were legitimate and appropriate ones for us? Is it his view that we we obliged to remain at our former church and allow our son to receive false teaching — and not just from the pulpit — which we could then, presumably, correct once we got home? Or would we be allowed to form a new church as long as it had no bishop other than TEC’s — an independent church, say? How about becoming Baptists or Presbyterians or Methodists? If Ould’s concern is the maintaining of catholicity, and catholicity requires bishops whose territories are geographically distinct, then attending any of those non-Anglican churches would violate catholicity just as much as attending a church affiliated with the Southern Cone would.

As far as I can tell, then, Ould is saying that the only way for my wife and me to avoid sin in this matter is to allow ourselves and our son to be instructed in heresy. This strikes me as a deeply strange notion of what it means to be orthodox, and one that my wife and I cannot accept. The notion that violations of traditional ecclesiastical polity, especially in the post-Reformational age, are to be taken as seriously as violations of creedal orthodoxy and Biblical moral teaching — well, that’s just wrong.

Here's the whole thing. Here's Peter Ould's piece (which, as Jacobs himself points out, has considerable merit).


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