Friday, October 9, 2009

The Hygienic Church

A "clean room" completely sterilized.

Bishop Peter Selby has written an outstanding critique of the Anglican Covenant and of Archbishop Rowan William's reasoning supporting it. It is posted in full over at Fr. Mark Harris' Preludium. Here are some highlights:
The analogy with current goings on in society and church is inescapable: we live in times of increasing fear, and out of that come desperate measures, for example, to control immigration – which means of course controlling immigrants, at whatever cost to their physical and mental health. But it also means trying to shore up the defences of our communion against the incoming tides that threaten; some of the things that are said about TEC lead me to think it has acquired in some minds some of the characteristics of a virus, to be warded off at all costs. Alongside ‘café church’ and ‘messy church’ we now have ‘hygienic church’, a place where we can be sure that the taints and errors of others will not harm us. The difference is, of course, that whereas initiatives like ‘café church’ and ‘messy church’ are pioneer ventures alongside mainstream church activity, ‘hygienic church’ is presented as an aspiration that will benefit us all. It is not – at least not yet – being suggested that we exclude from membership those with whom we disagree, only that we find ways to make it clear who the proper members are and who may speak for us or in our name. The Covenant proposal if accepted – I should perhaps say ‘when accepted’ since people tend to go to what they have been told is the only show in town if they are told that often enough – will have that effect even if not everyone who supports it has that intention...

Above all what we need is not to take our eye off the issue, that of the treatment to be accorded to LGBT people and the ways in which they have – over many generations, not just in the last few decades – sought to live lives obedient to the gospel within the cultures in which we all, sexual majorities and minorities alike, seek to do just that. To leave that issue behind in favour of the worthy but secondary issue of how to keep the Anglican Communion together will stunt our discernment – and not keep the Anglican Communion together either. The Archbishop says the enterprise is ‘becoming the Church God wants us to be, for the better proclaiming of the liberating gospel of Jesus Christ’; but that means engaging in the search for the truth together, not settling for the stalemate which is what his paper actually advocates...

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