Diana Butler Bass on “churches” in the Episcopal Church


Jim Naughton has posted an excerpt from an interview that Diana Butler Bass gave earlier today. In the interview she’s asked about the contention right now that the Episcopal Church is actually two churches under one roof.

Her response:

“I do not believe that there are only two sides in this dispute — I can identify five distinct groups of Episcopalians.

Yes, there are two parties in tension: Old-line liberals and radicalized conservatives. This is the fight we most often read about in the media. However, you point out a third possibility, a centrist party that is trying to navigate between the two extremes (Bishop Peter Lee in Virginia would represent the centrists). From my own research, you are right. The extremes aren’t the whole story.

However, there are two additional groups, and these two are far less noticed. I refer to these groups (they don’t have a clear ‘party’ identity) as ‘progressive pilgrims’ and ’emergent conservatives.’ These two groups tend to see ‘issues’ like this one as secondary concerns to the practice of Christian faith and are more concerned with things like the practice of hospitality, living forgiveness, practicing reconciliation, learning to pray, feeding the hungry, caring for the environment, and maintaining the Anglican practice of comprehensiveness (being a church of the ‘middle way’). They may lean slightly left or slightly right on ‘issues,’ but reject partisan solutions to theological problems. Both progressive pilgrims and emergent conservatives are far more interested in unity than uniformity; and they appreciate diversity in their congregations as a sign of God’s dream for humanity to live in peace.”

I’ve often said something along the same lines, though not nearly as eloquently. I’m happy to agree that there are multiple “faiths” at work in the Episcopal Church right now. I can see at least two, possibly (probably!) more. Five seems like a decent number, but depending on the criteria it may be more than that even…

But so? Why is this seen as a problem that needs to be fixed? Anglicanism a catholic expression of Christianity and has a pragmatic polity and theology that allow a diversity of theological thought that is gathered together in prayer and worship. Yes, there are multiple “faiths” in the Episcopal Church. That’s how it’s supposed to work. The fact that there is, is proof that it is part of classical Anglicanism.

Read the rest here: Diana Butler Bass on the state of the Episcopal Church

(Via Blog of Daniel.)

The Author

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