22 August 2007

Clavier's thoughts on bishops

Tony Clavier+ has written a thoughtful piece on bishops, communion, and autonomy. I suspect that neither right- nor left-leaning folks will care much for what he has to say. He's appealing for a genuine Communion, the mutual interdependence so often spoken of, but rarely contemplated in practice. This would suggest that neither ECUSA nor Nigeria may go it alone. I for one find Tony's writing compelling.
If the view triumphs that constituent Provinces are totally and completely free to do as they please, if that is what autonomy means -then I doubt there's much Christian to salvage. Who among us is so autonomous that she or he may do exactly as one pleases? Even God doesn't claim such an autonomy! If the view triumphs that individual provinces or groups of them are free to determine the ecclesial status of another Province without some mutual agreement that in a specific area they are free to determine the limits of communion, then what we mean by Communion is rendered nonsense. If provinces are free to set up shop in another jurisdiction unless mutual consent or at least an authoritative consent by the instruments of unity has been forthcoming, then what we mean by Communion is merely anarchy.

I have said elsewhere they I don't approve of deadlines. Well we have one coming up. I hope our bishops won't take umbrage about the deadline imposed by the primates, won't let pride assert itself, resist a "Bushish" response, don't wrap themselves in a Cause which assumes the mantle of total Gospel at the expense of that which is affirmed in our baptisms. I hope they will be humble in asserting that which they believe they are called to say and that say that clearly and will be equally clear in striving to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Jesus prayed that "They may be one." Please Lord, make that our prayer. It would be tragically odd if Twenty-first Century bishops by action or inaction embrace Sixteenth Century means and methods and rend the church for the sake of whatever. Do I believe that schism, who ever is responsible or who ever walks apart is worse than heresy? I think I now believe that schism is heresy and heresy is schism for both tear apart that very fabric designed to enable us to learn from God and from one another in God.
Those on the left are quick to point out the infractions of Nigeria, while wanting to press ahead of the Communion on teachings related to human sexuality. Those on the right are quick to criticize liberals, while wanting to violate the boundaries and authority of others. Suppose we said that we must live together? How would that change our collective behavior?

Let me be clear. I believe (as does nearly everyone in InclusiveChurch, I should think) that all orders of ministry and sacraments of the church should be open to all of God's children, without regard especially to sex and sexual orientation. At the same time, I believe that there are individuals, congregations, dioceses, and provinces who do not share this view, and they should not be compelled to agree. Imagine if people on the right and left cared passionately about those with whom we disagreed. Perhaps those of us on the left would act more empathetically and show some genuine humility. Perhaps those on the right would be willing to see that we agree on the central core of Christian teachings.

I commend Tony's essay, and I share his prayer for unity.

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