Monday, 5 February 2007

Anglican tragedy

The inexorable march of the Anglican Communion towards self destruction seems unstoppable. Jonathan Petrie, writing in this morning's Daily Telegraph, reports on the latest developments under the headline Drive to bar liberal from Church’s crisis summit .

It is difficult to fault the logic of the same paper's leader writer who advises the Archbishop of Canterbury in a piece entitled Challenge for the Church to abandon the Communion and concentrate on holding together the Church of England which is itself riven by dissent on many of the same issues.


Fr. Dwight Longenecker said...

Cardinal Newman observes (and I paraphrase) that without an infallible authority a church must either fall into the latitudinarian error or the sectarian error. It will either preserve unity of form at the expense of unity of doctrine, or preserve unity of doctrine at the expense of unity of form.

One might add that, given enough time, without both unity of form and unity of doctrine a church that retains one will eventually lose the very thing it sought to retain.

Thus the Anglican Church which has always fallen into the latitudinarian error of seeking to retain unity of form at the expense of unity of doctrine, is now losing the very unity of form it has sought so long to preserve.

Stephen Wikner said...

In the currently unfolding Anglican saga, the great cardinal's line of argument will very probably be vindicated. However I wonder what he'd have made of the present state of his (and your) adopted Church: one in which its authority is widely questioned or ignored and where claims to unity of either doctrine or form can scarcely be held up as an exemplar to those of us still on the other side of the fence.

In your piece the other day on Ely, you wistfully mention St Etheldreda's Roman Catholic Church. A month or so ago I went to their principal Sunday morning mass. Admittedly their parish priest was away but oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. What a shambles even for a lttle parish church.

Yes, I look forward to reading 'The Path to Rome' but unless the Roman Church can sharpen up its act particularly at grass roots level, I'd be greatly surprised if many current Anglicans will be taking that path.

Fr. Dwight Longenecker said...

yes indeed, the Catholic Church has its problems. The big difference is that we have the magisterium...the teaching authority of the church which remains firm. This does not mean, by any stretch, that all Catholics abide by it. Sometimes it becomes nothing more than a wall to crash against, but still the wall is there.

Think of playing tennis. The Anglicans are trying to play tennis without a net. The Catholics have kept the net up. Many Catholics are god awful tennis players and keep batting it into the net. Some have given up the game altogether and others pretend to play squash on the tennis court.

One should not choose according to the awful tennis players, nor be dissuaded by the quality of play, but by which court keeper has retained the net.