Should Anglicans Welcome Schism?

So for the third time in as many days, more Anglican church discussion. I had thought that I’d leave the topic for a bit, but having read an opinion piece by Damian Thompson entitled ‘Anglicans should welcome a schism’ in yesterdays Telegraph, especially comparing it with the sermon that we got at St James on 11th June from the soon-to-be assistant to the Bishop of Europe, currently a chaplain at Wellington College.

Looking at the sermon first, being Trinity Sunday, it paralleled the Trinity with the Church, the Trinity being an example of three distinct and different entities that are part of one whole. The essential thrust of the sermon was that this is how the Church should be. The essential point of the sermon was that Church unity was of primary importance.

Contrast this with ‘Anglicans should welcome a schism‘ which is based around the premise that the Anglican Communion has essentially not been a communion since parts of it failed to recognise all the priests ordained in other provinces after the first ordinations of women. The general gist of the article is that we’ll all be better off with the Anglican Communion as we know it gone. However at least part of the purpose of the article seems to be to wind up as many different Anglican groups as possible (which from the comments he seems to have done).

For example he describes the behaviour of George Carey on his foreign trips is described as ‘quasi-papal’, says that ‘some bishops of the Episcopal Church have more in common with a crystal-gazing Californian housewife than George Herbert‘, and says that many parishes in Australia have fallen into the hands of Protestant iconoclasts whose hatred of Popish practices makes Ian Paisley look positively ecumenical’. He also seems to lay the blame for the increasing radicalisation of parts of the Church of England at the door of the Anglican Communion. Whilst the article as a whole is pretty provocative, it does make some interesting points, and certainly the point that the communion hasn’t really been in communion for years reminded me of the furore when I was a child when, pre the ordination of women an American woman priest came and celebrated communion in an Anglican church in London.

On reflection, I have to say that I tend to agree more with the Telegraph article than the sermon two weeks ago, not least because all the arguments and politics seem to me to be totally missing the point – what is the point of a church that spends it’s entire time arguing over technicalities, over who can and can’t be members, rather than actually doing the work the church was set up to do? As I’ve said before, I’m finding the whole thing increasingly tedious, and seriously, having to put up with more of these kind of arguments up to Lambeth 2008 and beyond doesn’t exactly fill me with joy. However I fear that that will be what we will get, as both sides regard themselves as the true Anglicans. This is probably where I disagreed most with our preacher two weeks ago, as he said that the Church was weaker for different groups threatening to leave. This assessment is totally opposite to what I see – no group is threatening to leave, they all want to stay, but instead it’s one group wanting another to leave, or be forcibly ejected… None of the groups are going to leave willingly, and I doubt that any group will be booted out either, so we’re left with the ridiculous situation of everybody claiming to be in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury, whilst not being in communion with each other.

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