Salvation & the Church

Centrists / Religion

There’s been some discussion in the blogsphere of late about trying to figure out various group’s motivations within the Anglican Communion.

One of the new ideas that I’ve seen bandied about is that there’s a large group of various strands of institutionalists at the center of the political spectrum in the Communion. (I think the terms used are “conservative and progressive institutionalists – or something along those lines.)

I’m not sure I can figure out if the term institutionalist is being used in pejorative way though. If it is, then I think the following post on the theological blog “Inhabitatio Dei” might be used to somewhat redeem the term:

“Here is my theological proposal: to speak of salvation is to speak of the church.  Or, put differently when we say that God in Christ has saved the world, what we are really saying is that he has established the church.  This is a radical claim, and I think that Ephesians 2:14-22 sheds some light on it.

For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it.”

As a very old fashioned Pusey-ite, I have a great deal of sympathy with this idea.

Read the rest here: Salvation & the Church

(Via Inhabitatio Dei.)

The Author

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


  1. Ah, how nice to see someone identify himself as an old-fashioned Pusey-ite. Of course, as a self-proclaimed Hobartian, I am naturally distrustful of such Oxonian novelties, but at least your heart is in the right place.

  2. Thanks o’ hobartian one.
    For those who are not familiar with the terms, please note that I’m not being anachronistic when I say that I’m a Puseyite rather than describing myself as an Anglo-Catholic. (I’ve been described by my fellow presbyters as a “prayer-book catholic”, which is something I’ll accept with a few niggles.) I have the same concerns that Pusey had about the directions that Anglo-Catholicism ultimately went in.

  3. I’m not sure I can figure out if the term institutionalist is being used in pejorative way though
    I’ve seen it used in a negative way when “institutionalist” is taken to mean someone who has more regard for the organizational structure and self-perpetuation of the man-made institution than care & concern for the Body of Christ. I’d agree that there’s a problem when institutional self-perpetuation becomes a compromise of the Gospel. However, I think not all of the parties in the debate are using the same term in the same ways.

  4. How can we not in some sense be institutionalists?
    We finite creatures “this side of the new creation” cannot live without institutions, nor without structures with procedures, limits, checks, which notice, is not primarily or firstly about the structures or organization in se, but about being a people. The structures, orders, ways of doing things are meant to foster relations on the human order that however (dis)analogously–I say this because we cannot as creatures relate exactly to one another as God does (as Tanner and Volf would caution)–mirror the divine life.
    The question to ask then is when our structures compromise the Good News by which and for which we exist as the Body. And, my suggestion would be there will be disagreement about this. What looks like reform to one is deform to another. What one determines will destroy what is needful to keep us living together, another sees as that which will necessitate others leaving. We are living with a might of such tensions at the moment. And we cannot make easy claims as Anglicans to authority or institution given we broke with authority and shattered institutional unity. We have to live with such tensions and contradictions. There are some suggestions of what our institutions should become that I could not abide within–I might as well return to being Roman Catholic. So I think it depends on what exactly is being preserved as insitution but what is being proposed for the future.
    My own suggestion would be to keep talking to one another and allow enough space for differing consciences to abide. Hence my post on Basic Christianity.

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