Monday, March 16, 2009

Churches talking past each other

I AM a priest from the Episcopal Church in the United States, and I found myself sitting in the gallery of the General Synod last month, watching it discuss the Anglican Covenant pro cess (Synod, 20 Feb ruary). I was in London to speak to an inter national counter-terrorism con fer ence, as I am a Professor of Religious Studies, and my research involves the psychology of religious terrorism.

I felt honoured to attend the Synod. Most of the discussion focused on the possible impact of the Covenant on the Church of England, but, as it progressed, I found it increasingly hard, as I heard the American Church pilloried and de-scribed in misleading, if not incorrect, ways.

As far as I remember (I did not take notes), one speaker said that the American Church was “preaching a new gospel”; another said Americans were “tearing the fabric of the Communion apart”. I got the impression that some of the speakers felt that the schismatics (as I think of them) were being persecuted by lawsuits, and needed to be protected from the American Church.

I wanted to stand up and defend my Church. I have been a priest for 40 years, and I regularly read the church Fathers and the Anglican divines; I hardly feel as if I am “preaching a new gospel”. No self-styled traditionalist has been “driven out”, asked to leave, or forbidden by the Presiding Bishop from teaching or preaching.

1 comment:

Bruce Robison said...

Phil Ashey, former Pittsburgh colleague and friend, one-time rector of St. Stephen's Mckeesport and now a priest of Ugandan jurisdiction and director of the AAC, has written a response to James Jones, linked here:

I find myself somewhere between the call and response on this one. I think both Jones and Ashey have half the target in view, but neither can hear the other side. Which I guess confirms the heading of Jones's piece.

Bruce Robison