April 17, 2009
The Anglican Communion Institute’s conference, Anglicanism: A Gift in Christ, has just concluded. In typical ACI fashion, the table was set with rich food: Lectures by the Rev. Dr. Ephraim Radner, the Rt. Rev. Anthony Burton, the Rev. Dr. Philip Turner, The Most Rev. and Rt. Hon. Dr. George Carey, Dr. Cheryl White, and Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi.
As we all know, the big criticism perpetually leveled at ACI is that they “don’t do anything.” It’s certainly true that they don’t advocate breaking catholic order for the sake of catholic doctrine. Holding fast is doing something. Or, as a retired general officer of my parish likes to say, “just because I don’t panic doesn’t mean I don’t care.” Standing up for decency and order is, in and of itself, laudable. Despots can get things done more quickly, but if you rush a miracle, you’ll get a rotten miracle.
The lecture that will undoubtedly make the biggest splash will be Lord Carey’s. He was fourth in the line up, connected, and hit one out of the park. You all should look forward to reading his lecture on the Anglican Communion Institute’s website. Essentially, he demonstrated that the Communion is not a new invention, but a century-long work of the Holy Spirit. He argued so clearly that the heart of the problem is authority—and if we do not use what authority we have as the case has been—the result will be separation and fragmentation, which aren’t gospel values!
The big take away for me is a reminder of the richness of this tradition, why it’s worth defending. That was expressed most completely in worship. In short: no liturgical shenanigans. No changing pro-nouns. No monkey business. Just, let your guard down, give yourself over to the grace of decent order.
The richness of the Anglican tradition also came through in the appreciation of formation. It should come as no surprise that a group of teachers should tell us how important school is. But, it is. Sadly, we know too well how hard it is to get a decent argument out of a liberal. Shoot, the emphasis on empathy is so pervasive, the idea that love equals acceptance of everything but decency and order, that scripture, tradition, and common sense are all emptied of their authority. All we can argue about is how strongly we feel things, or perhaps who is more victimized. I'm so bored with the "I'm more of a victim than thou" thing--and the willingness of so many to fall on the sword of self-loathing and guilt.
Was that a rant? Probably. Anyway, the point was driven home again and again: for the tradition to work authoritatively in people’s lives, people have know and practice the tradition. So, I shall go home to my parish, renewed in my commitment to stand firm, to commend the faith once delivered, and to hand on what was handed to me, the gift of salvation in Jesus Christ our Lord.