Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Communion, Order, And Dissent Or “The Revenge of Puss And Boots”

A lengthy but good paper by Phil Turner from ACI-

I owe it to my readers to provide an explanation of a puzzling title. What does a discussion of “communion, order, and dissent” have to do with the well-known and well-loved children’s story of Puss and Boots? Remember, in the story, the hero can only reach his goal if he listens to a despised cat that he must take as his companion on the way. It would seem that the point of the story is that attention must be given to what we might otherwise despise if we are to succeed in our more “high flown” endeavors.

My point is that hierarchy, the subject of this conference, is an aspect of church order, and both have become something like the cat in Puss and Boots. We cannot reach our more noble goals without these unwelcome sources of help. Nevertheless, for some years we have neglected these despised companions, and as a result our church and our communion are in a terrible mess. Indeed, our seminaries do little or nothing to introduce future clergy to the importance of church polity. I remember when I was in seminary the arguments about church order that so engaged the Reformers were mentioned, but only in passing. Polity, we were told, is a subject we ought to “bone up on” because there would be polity questions on our General Ordination Exams. The message was clear. Hierarchy and order are not very important subjects. Yet, here we are at the beginning of the 21st Century faced with fiercely debated polity issues. The debate centers on the communion wide challenge of an Anglican Covenant and on a domestic legal battle over the meaning of the constitution and canons of The Episcopal Church (TEC). The former challenge might produce a divided communion and/or result in TEC becoming a second track form of Anglicanism. The latter might produce a change in our constitution effected by a secular court rather than constitutionally mandated procedures.

More here-


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