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January 04, 2008



This was an interesting essay. I referenced it in a posting at SF.

"For any church, the central question about polity should always be: What is the best way to organize ourselves to make the best use of our resources in bringing people to God?"


I'm OK with remaining "Episcopal," actually. I think it's a necessary corrective to the (especially American) "rugged invididualist" philosophy. Clergy, especially, I think - because they have so much power at the parish level - need to remember that they are "under authority," and so do all of us. (Our Bishops are "under authority," also - the authority of the General Convention).

But I take your point anyway. It's something like "states' rights," I guess; there are times when "states' rights" becomes an excuse for parochialism, bigotry, and repression. That's when a higher authority has to step in.

But then you get something like the Catholic Church hierarchy! This is actually a really hard question, and I don't think one size fits all.

- bls

(Anyway, the David Grizzle stuff is entirely conjecture, isn't it? And I don't know about others, but I do feel a loyalty to the Episcopal Church as well as to my local congregation.

Many of us do, I think, who aren't accepted elsewhere. So I'm not so sure how true that is.)

- bls again

R. Eric Sawyer

As much as I respect David G., for me it is quite different. When as a young adult I experienced what I understand to be God’s leading into a particular Episcopal parish (Redeemer, Houston) I understood that direction to be into the deep end of the pool. I was not to wade in, and take the things I liked at Redeemer, but to join myself with everything that meant: the DOT, ECUSA, the AC, the English Reformers, the “catholic” faith (I was from a congregationalist – Baptist - background) the apostolic fathers, etc. Sort of like enrolling in a school, the student’s free choice extends to whether or not he will enroll here or there. In the act of enrolling, he must surrender a portion of his freedom for a student’s responsibility to sit under the authority of his teachers. Later, he regains his freedom as a master of the subject. It was in this spirit that I had my children baptized (while I wrestled with paedo-baptism, and its implications), the presence of Our Lord in the Eucharist, etc. There was a great deal that I would have passed by at a surface level had I not by obedience been obliged to confront.
In doing so, I entered in to a world far richer than the Christianity I had experienced or understood.
The congregationalist polity certainly bypasses our present distress, and for the reasons you note. But it is a solution like amputation. “Yes, we can solve the problem caused by your diabetes (and I am diabetic). We can cut off both your feet and put you in a wheelchair.” It does relieve the symptoms we are experiencing as a church, but it is hardly palatable. And it does nothing to remove the underlying disorder. There will be more to come: blindness and kidney failure in one case, further splintering in sectarianism in the other. Still, “If thy right hand offend thee…”
The connection to the Church through the Anglican approach to of Christianity is not something I will abandon lightly.

I do not hold a roman view about succession, and what it means to be in the succession. But the connection seems important.

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