Monday, 9 July 2012

Is this really "why Anglicanism is dying"?

Thanks to Anglican Mainstream for this link. The article mentions the late Fr. Austin Smith, a Passionist priest who I met when he visited Ushaw College (seminary) when I was a student. Austin Smith was certainly a pioneer and I had, and still have, great respect for him, but he was politically as well as spiritually motivated and his views and opinions were a mix of paternalism, sentimentality and true love for the "poor" and alienated of our society; a good man but hopelessly befuddled (in my opinion). There were a lot of good priests, both R.C. and Anglican (such as the late Nicholas Stacey) who saw themselves as engaging with the real needs of city people. To a great extent this was true, but their analyses of the situation were often infected with sociological and political ideas which tended to push them to the liberal wing of the Churches and towards a kind of theological re-think which, like Liberation Theology, was ultimately intellectually and also pastorally limited and dangerously naive. The Anglican Communion has done great things in engaging with the poor, ironically, especially in the Anglo-Catholic wing, but so much of that (and here we would have to say, generally, this is true of the more Evangelical wing) this was infected with the kind of paternalism which issues in the kind of balderdash mentioned in this article.

However, I do not believe that this is why Anglicanism is dying. I would even suggest another way of talking about the "demise" of Anglicanism. The best of Anglicanism will not die because the "best" is of Tradition and a balanced view of Scripture. The question now seems to be, where will this survive? In another and more defined (and limited) enclave? In individual parishes more and more isolated from the mainstream? Or, is it just possible that the initiative provided by Pope Benedict through the Ordinariate has at least a major part of the answer? What the stronger Evangelicals will eventually have to face is a realignment of Christianity that is both episcopal and sacramental with a mature and inevitable acceptance of Tradition leading, again inevitably, to a proper understanding of Scripture. It seems to me that this is where Christianity is heading. The future lies in the ultimate reconciliation of East and West and for this to be achieved, the "West" will have to be brought together under the Petrine Primacy. Logically, this is the only way.

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