Thursday, January 12, 2006

The Future, Part III

Canterbury Trail has another response to the post in Kenesis on the future of ECUSA:

I think that we need to go back to our roots and reaffirm some basic doctrines and beliefs. This does not mean that we make any less room for those who question, or who doubt, or who see things differently. Welcoming, and listening, and affirming the different ways that God speaks to us is in our DNA…but I believe that we still need to have some sort of foundation…some sort of fundamental commitment to a form of “mere Christianity,” if we are to offer a cohesive witness instead of a noisy din of dissonant voices.

I think there is going to be a lot of resistance to doing this. It's hard for me to imagine an ECUSA stripped of its traditionalists and summoning up more nerve to anathematize the next Spong.

But the other issue is more basic. Actual teachings of Jesus from the gospels and actual teachings of the epistles are gravid with moral dictates. Commitment to the Quadrilateral by the bishops is mostly easy, therefore, because the four principles do not make reference to any moral issues. It is also therefore mostly meaningless. To the Catholic and Orthodox, catholicity and orthodoxy do not end where moral teaching picks up.

And indeed, the issue is likely to back up into basic creedal issues because the gender/sexuality issues which are driving the split now are also driving an effort to make fundamental changes in God-language. I question whether ECUSA could ultimately resist, for instance, the urge to reword the creed in language which Orthodox and Catholic believers, in conformity with their traditions, could no longer say. That would in effect abrogate the quadrilateral, but when push comes to shove I have to suspect, if not claim, that the liberal moral vision would prevail and that ECUSA's claims to any kind of orthodox faith would be increasingly open to challenge. In ECUSA, I do not think that 'mere Christianity' is safe; I think that in a conflict between it and liberal morality, the latter is likely to win, with the church paying no more than lip service to orthodox belief, while in reality positively rejecting its tenets.

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