An honest Anglicanism

From William Countryman in Witness Magazine:

“Any proposal to create separate, overlapping jurisdictions based on differences of belief and practice will effectively dismantle the Anglican Communion, whatever good face may be put on it. There is no possible purpose for such jurisdictions other than the exclusion of those with whom one disagrees. And this is precisely what Anglican tradition has been so averse to doing.
“Some appear to desire an Anglicanism that is as dogmatically uniform as Roman Catholicism or the more conservative varieties of Presbyterianism. One can only ask why any one would think such a phenomenon could be called ‘Anglican.’ I do not mean to say that there are no limits to Anglican belief and practice. Of course there are! But we cannot rule out the possibility of new perspectives creating new questions in new or changed cultural contexts. This first happened, for us in the United States, when the American Revolution replaced the monarch with an array of elected governments and abolished all religious establishments. It happened again to us because our nation abolished slavery in the nineteenth century and again because our culture insisted that the equality of women be recognized in active and practical ways.
“It is happening again now because our culture no longer categorizes lesbians and gay men as evil monstrosities or even as psychological problem-cases. The Christian Right has responded by arguing that such categories should be reinstituted and enforced. Their failure to persuade the Senate to enact a constitutional amendment against gay marriage suggests that the country is rejecting that argument. The Episcopal Church, on the other hand, has begun to ask rather how gay men and lesbians whom God has called to faith can live lives that accord with it. We believe this is the faithful course in our context.
“If this is of God, the entire Anglican Communion will benefit by our pioneering efforts. If it is not, then we shall benefit by continuing to be part of the same Communion with those who disagree sharply with our decisions and urge us to reconsider them.”

The Rev. Dr. L. William Countryman is the Sherman E. Johnson Professor in Biblical Studies at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, Calif.

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