Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Pope Envy

I really enjoyed catching bits of the Pope’s visit. The Eucharist celebrated at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in NYC was something to behold. The transcendent quality of the service was moving.

I love being a priest in the Episcopal Church. Our “middle way” has always resonated with me. Intuitively, It just feels right.

However, the centrality of the papacy is somewhat attractive. When someone asks me what the Episcopal Church teaches about a particular subject, a nuanced explanation is required. It must be nice to be able to point to an encyclical and say, this is the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church. It evokes a kind of clarity that some must find comforting. It must also lead to a strong sense of identity as a Roman Catholic.

Yet, in my heart of hearts, I prefer the messiness of Anglicanism. Faith is somewhat messy business. We have clarity offered in the revelation of God revealed in the Bible. We have clarity offered in the history of the Church. It is the application and understanding of revelation that is messy.

We might understand much about a particular subject addressed by the Bible. We might even understand the situation a particular scriptural text addresses. It becomes much more difficult to take a text and apply it to a present situation that might be very different. This difficulty is compounded when there is no absolute authority to settle the matter.

This perceived weakness of Anglicanism, I would argue, is a strength for those that can tolerate temporary ambiguity. At its best, Anglicanism is built to settle these matters in community. As a catholic tradition, we make use of all the resources at our disposal to reach conclusions. It is not tidy, and maybe stresses an internal sense of identity, but it is our way.

We are a catholic and apostolic tradition. There is a core to the Christian faith. We have it. Why can’t we accept that, and combine it with our messy way of interpretation? If we did, we might understand more about our faith and our identity as Anglicans.


Country Parson said...

I note that you are not getting a lot of comments these days. I wonder whY? I enjoy your posts, but I must admit that I don't enjoy trying to decipher the coded letters I have to transcribe in order to comment.

Chris+ said...

I don't know...

Btw, is there a way to turn off the authentication. I think it is a hassle as well.

I am enjoying your blog.


Chris+ said...

Hey CP,

I figured out how to turn off the verification.