Christopher Seitz: New Season for Anglicanism?

General Convention / Religion

Christopher Seitz makes an interesting observation –

“One could almost say there are ‘two churches’ and mean by that nothing whatsoever about sexuality or even theological difference. There has emerged a democratic spirit so ruthless that it has exposed itself as totally at odds with Anglicanism and Anglican polity. ECUSA has become a deeply American phenomenon of denominationally enfranchised democracy, with Bishops deferring to it, until their own identity is virtually at death’s door.”

Can the Church of God function as a democratic body? Could that really be what we need to assert as the true local TEC adaption of Anglicanism?

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Episcopal bishop, dad, astronomer, erstwhile dancer...


  1. The assumption of Seitz’s thread of thinking is that Anglican Christian doctrine is uniquely upheld and mandated by the Anglican episcopate. The Episcopal Church’s democratic style of legislating theological principles along with issues of polity has been present since thhis denomination’s inception. I don’t know enough about other Anglican Churches systematic legislative structures but I doubt that bishops singularly mandate all matters of church in all Anglican provinces and dioceses. I infer that the Anglican Church of Canada, the Anglican Church of New Zealand and liberal provinces elsewhere have “two-housed” legislative councils.
    Regardless, the Episcopal Church’s Constitution and Canons prescribe the Episcopal Church’s current legislative composition. The fact that the House of Deputies deferred to the House of Bishops in this case does not equate to the reality that the Episcopal Church’s membership should hand over all matters of doctrine to its episcopate. I doubt that we would have witnessed the election of ++ Katharine Jefferts Schior during GC ’06 if Episcopal Bishops possessed singular canonical authority in the 1970s and 1980s.

  2. Paul Martin says

    I doubt very much if a response from the House of Bishops would have been satisfactory from the Network’s perspective. This is the same House of Bishops which assented to +Robinson’s consecration at GC03. The Bishops could certainly have responded more quickly, and perhaps with more coherence, but the substance of the response would likely have been quite similar.
    Seitz’s comments are illuminating in another way, however. The remark about legislating doctrine is nothing but an overstatement to make a point: that, in his view, doctrine is a fixed and Revealed Truth which is not subject to debate in the first place. Thank you, very much, Mr. Seitz. If you had been clear about this from the beginning, we could have saved ourselves a considerable amount of trouble. If you believe that faith consists of the passive acceptance of a body of doctrine handed down by the experts, then the answers are in the back of the book and we really don’t have anything to talk about. If, on the other hand, you believe that faith is a relationship with a living God who may have a little more yet to say to us, then yes, we have some work to do. And that, Mr. Seitz, was what GC06 was all about.
    Seitz and his friends look at General Convention and see nothing but chaos. I look at the same debate and see intellectual vitality. That, in the end, may be what puts us in different churches.

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