Anglicanism in America, II

One of the things this blog will chronicle is my reaction to what is going on in the Anglican church. I should give a history of this here, and at some point I will, but life is crazy right now, and I don’t have that long of a break from work. Maybe this weekend.

Someone I love dearly and respect highly blogged this morning about discernment and the church right now. I commented on his post, but wanted to expand on what I said there. He describes those labeled “liberals” thus:

Liberals strive to uphold love as the primary focus of the Gospel. They value “inclusion”, “acceptance of all”, “justice”, “making a home for the outcast”, and “making the Church and the Gospel relevant and timely for all people”. These positions are definitely authentic to the Gospel. But the besetting sin of such a position is departure from discipline and failure to call people to change for the better. When these positions are taken at the cost of the Biblical and historic understanding of the Faith, then this viewpoint has become unbalanced. It leads to division, outrage among others in the Church, and controversy. Whenever someone emphasizes love at the expense of truth, then something is wrong.

and “conservatives” thus:

Conservatives strive to uphold truth as the primary focus of the Gospel. They want to uphold the doctrines the Church has accepted as authoritative, traditional moral standards, and so forth. These positions are also definitely authentic to the Gospel. But the besetting sin of such a position is rigidity, judgmentalism, and threats of separation. When these positions are taken at the cost of the Biblical and historic understanding of love and charity, then this viewpoint has become unbalanced. It also leads to division, outrage among others in the Church, and controversy. Whenever someone emphasizes truth at the expense of love, then again, something is wrong.

My problem with both of those is that it would be nice if they were true.

The ones called liberals don’t really seem to be practicing love, as he describes it. They have a veneer of love, and they may even think that’s genuine. However, they don’t love the conservatives. They don’t try to include them or tolerate them or reach out to them when they’re rejected or oppressed. The church I’m currently a part of was once basically outcast in our diocese. The liberals did not reach out, did not try to reconcile with us (until our current bishop), because they considered us conservative. It seems like true love requires us to love our enemies, not just the people we like. All of this makes me wonder if their talk of love and tolerance is anything more than a nice face to put on their desire for power. Even if I give them the benefit of the doubt and believe that they are genuine in their pursuit of love even though they are deficient in its practice, I think that for the love to be genuine it needs to include the conservatives as people who are loved.

On the conservative side, I’m not sure if everyone is fighting for truth, or for traditional values. Since I would consider myself more on this side than the other (though I would take offense if someone told me I emphasize truth over love), this is a much more convoluted issue for me. I know that most conservatives believe that they are fighting for truth, but I’m not entirely sure if they’re fighting for it because it is truth, or because it’s what has been believed for years and that needs to be upheld. It seems genuine (and even loving!) to fight for truth because it’s truth. To fight for it because it’s not change seems a little more dubious. If the application of truth to a particular social situation changes, we need to be open to changing with it. If changing the application would be trying to change the truth, we need to hold on to the truth. From what I’ve read thus far, it’s really hard to tell why conservatives are taking the positions they’re taking, and that disturbs me.

In the end, I disagree with these grounds as a distinction between what makes a person liberal or conservative in this debate. I think that this distinction offers us a good beginning for finding out what actually delineates the positions, but it’s too simplistic for the long run. It scares me that people might take this and run with it.

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