I recently came across a well-designed web page, laying out a grand “new direction” for the Roman Catholic Church and signed by many self-professed theologians (most of whom bask in far more obscurity than me), as well as other Catholic lay persons, and which gives opportunity for each of us to add our 3 cents in as well. In other words, read it and sign it (actually please do not sign!). So I choose to do instead give my thoughts here. The link to this document is as follows:
and at first glance it sounds both compelling and worth further study. It isn’t.
Having spent nearly a year of my life within the Anglican Communion, and some of that time fairly recently, as well as formally studying Church History through a local seminary from that perspective this last fall, I will just say that each of these ideas or concepts could be lifted (ummmm…most likely are in fact!!!) from their collective “scratch pad.” There is little or no theology or philosophy within this proposal which was not bantered about during class at one time or another, and primarily by other students in fact. So while I hear what they are saying, I will categorically say I have “heard it all before.” And many of those reading have as well.
My limited experience with Anglicanism is that the primary difference between her and Rome is not doctrinal, but rather the glaring lack thereof. And it is in fact a point of pride with many of the good folk I studied with. They as a group presently do many of the things suggested here, lay people “voting” on doctrine for instance (as if it were even up for a vote under any circumstances), or whole segments of the Communion simply ignoring the core 39 “Articles of Religion” which were laid out during the Elizabethian settlement. The second is a direct result of instituting the proposed “not-so-new” idea of allowing local Bishop‘s synods more authority and de-centralizing from Rome. See:
for more detailed information on these articles and their historical and present impact upon Anglicanism worldwide. Again, or the lack thereof.
My point is this–if these supposed “scholars” really believe and feel as they say here, why not simply become Anglicans in the first place and not attempt to re-rudder the fundamental teachings of a 2000 year old Roman Catholic Church with 1.2 billion members? I say “supposed” not in questioning their credentials, but in attempting to point out the utter lack of original thinking here. I could have written this document, even while sleep deprived, and I am quite far from an authority (plus I would not bother to pretend such audacity anyway, since I would be found out in short order to say the least). This is lay people “trying or dying” to become the hierarchy. Pure and simple.
I am sure Bishop John Shelby Spong would have gladly endorsed it, but he is not Roman Catholic. He, in fact, is Anglican, and in good standing, of course. So is his polar opposite, NT Wright. And J I Packer. And Archbishop Tutu. And Eugene Robinson. And Katharine Jefferts Schori too. Anyone, of any or no theological persuasion, can become a Bishop in Anglicanism in our day and age. And that is not to condemn or rip apart the above list of people. Many of them are deeply caring and dedicated to the Gospel of Christ. So again that is not my point here.
My point is this though. Houses built upon the sand do not stand during storms. And authentic unity costs more than beach mud, water, and wading, and writing petitions. It may cost you your life. And your theology. And mine too. That however is what the Church is all about. Truth and love. Love and truth. Not either but both.
- Has the Church lost its way? (inheaventhereisnoreligion.wordpress.com)
- Oh Come, Oh Come Emmanuel…blessed Advent and Some News (catholicboyrichard.com)
- The Absconding Hierarch by Robin D. Laws (ancientscroll.pl)
- Anglican vote fails to reassure conservatives (wnd.com)
- Turmoil after Church of England votes against women bishops (rawstory.com)
- As The Next Archbishop of Canterbury, Can Justin Welby Save The Anglican Communion? (world.time.com)
- Eleven Anglican Sisters to be received into the Catholic Church (catholicherald.co.uk)
- A Survey of the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) (frstephensmuts.wordpress.com)
- Understanding the Crisis in the Church of England (patheos.com)