Christopher Evans: Betwixt and Between, Anglicanism as a Pilgrim’s Way

Centrists / Religion

Christopher has responded to my request for thoughts from folks about what it means to be a moderate or a centrist He’s posted his thoughts here Bending the Rule: Betwixt and Between: Anglicanism as a Pilgrim’s Way

I’ve posted a just a few paragraphs from his long and thoughtful critque of people who claim the description of “moderate”:

The claim to moderation, it seems to me, tends toward implicity if not explicitly suggesting that one’s own stance is more objective, less emotional, more rational, less one-sided because one is moderating between extremes: the right and the left, who are not engaging in the process in the proscribed manner or who are making claims to direct access to God’s Spirit mediated through their experience and/or person and/or Holy Writ that threaten the continuation of the process as we have done it to-date or as we see to be the best way forward. For regardless of where we find ourselves in all of this, all that we claim is mediated; the claim to unmediated access to God (and hence absolute guarantee of final truth or certainty) is a falsehood and at heart denies our bodiliness in one way or another or that God works through said.

At heart, this claim can itself tend toward suggesting that one will come to a God’s-eye view on said matters as worked out in process in conversation toward consensus, for only God can see so clearly or so dispassionately, can be so truly reasonable and even-handed, being no respecter of persons. It is it’s own claim, or the claim of “the many” as the case may be, to the Spirit, however understated or mediated through process and reflection, and it is, though often denied, a claim to the Spirit by experience through said process (remembering that as I understand it, experience of God is always mediated, though the loci of this can be various) couched within Holy Writ, Tradition, and Reason in community operating a certain way. Conversation and consensus are the hallmarks of this process and its claims to saying something about truth.

But a consensus is no more a guarantor of truth than is a claim to the prophetic; neither is long and lengthy rich theological reflection among interlocutors any more guarantor of truthful closure on a said matter than the celebration of an unofficial, even perhaps illicit, rite recycled from parts past to celebrate same-sex love offered to God in thanksgiving and praise before a transdenominational gathering.

And that I think is the key to Anglicanism as via media as I understand it. We have few guarantees and lots of approximations. We must live muchly by faith and not overly by sight. Absolute certainty alludes us on so many things and we must live with a certain degree of existential angst, which is mete and right and proper in my estimation, for certainty makes a claim that we have arrived, that we’ve gotten God all sewn up, so all is safe, secure, and comfortable. The Kingdom of Heaven, however, is not so easily tamed or contained. Our Truth being a person, Jesus Christ, with whom we are in relationship, and indeed Persons-arising-eternally-in-Relationship, complexity and some final inscrutibility are ever present. In this life, we approximate, rather than arrive in our use of our sources and in our facing one another at the Holy Altar-Table. This is my understanding of our via media.

The Author

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

1 Comment

  1. You have a wonderful spirit, *Christopher! I wish I had thought to make some of these points, but I couldn’t have done so as well as you.

Comments are closed.