Friday, February 16, 2007

Dean William McKeachie of South Carolina: Ersatz Anglicanism

Just a follow-up, for whatever it's worth, as we gather for Bishop Salmon's "retirement" gala while at the same time, ironically enough, looking over our shoulders in the direction of Tanzania. Last week's Church of England Newspaper just arrived with Graham Kings's and Michael Scott-Joynt's articles, among others -- so cogent, so even-handed, almost encouraging! But now the Communion Sub-Group's report has been published, and it seems that my fear about "815" spin has been largely realized. I'm afraid that TEC, from the point of view of anything recognizable as biblical theology, evangelical conviction, or catholic ecclesiology, is on the verge of becoming a bad joke, although neither I nor my long-term ecumenical friends are laughing. Can not the English primates recognize sheer disingenuousness when it is as naked as it was at last year's General Convention? Surely a bishop as theologically rooted and grounded as Rowan Williams, whatever his liberal bent on certain issues, cannot take seriously the utterances of Katherine Jefferts-Schori, in one interview after another, about the meaning, message and mission of the church? Forty five years ago I was brought to faith largely through the human agency and mentorship of holy priests, many of whom were of homosexual orientation but who had no inclination whatsoever to confuse their condition of fallenness with the agenda of social justice. Quite the contrary. They, poignantly enough, are among those utterly betrayed by the self-serving shibboleths of the kind of "inclusivity" that has no room for conversion or orthodoxy. The name of the game, in terms of what seems to be playing itself out in the "western" branches of Anglicanism, is the very opposite of Elizabethan comprehensiveness. If Tanzania can't stem this tide, or (to change the metaphor) if the goal-posts are being effectively moved by the ecclesiastical bureaucrats in London and New York, many more of us than have so far given up on classical, historic, Canterbury-defined Anglicanism, will find it impossibly hard not to do so, at least if what Paul Zahl has discerningly called the ersatz christianity of TEC continues to be embraced by Lambeth.


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