The Baltimore Declaration Revisited

The Anglican Scotist makes an interesting point in a post today on the Baltimore Declaration and how it is being used in the “Great Unpleasantness” today:

“The Baltimore Declaration did not put down the most important principles governing separatist opposition to GC2003; it tells only part of the story. Among the most important of the missing:

Christians are obligated to break communion with material heretics, i.e. those sincerely mistaken about the faith.

Sometimes I wonder whether this is among them:

There is no distinction between material and formal heresy; any mistake about the faith is sin implying broken communion.

There is no room for an error in the new Anglican Communion of the separatists. The fact that GC2003 acted bona fide, sincerely, to the best of its ability and knowledge, having discharged epistemic responsibilities is of no importance. I think those principles are false; the Scriptural evidence for them is insufficient–and I think much of the Episcopal Church recognizes their falsehood.

Of course, those rules are impossible for the Church to live by. The separatist camp includes factions with incompatible accounts of the faith who have agreed to put aside their differences for pragmatic ends. In reality, then, the principes should be something like:

Christians are obligated to break communion with material heretics only if they are from the Episcopal Church and against separation; any mistake about the faith is a sin only for an Episcopalian against separation.

Of course, viewed in the light that way, these principles are ridiculous. The separatist movement afoot in the Anglican Communion seems not rooted in the faith of the Creeds and catholic Christianity, but a morally indefensible mean-spritedness incompatible with Scripture. Am I wrong? As I said before, I must be missing something. No?”

(The Baltimore Declaration was a document signed and distributed by a number of concerned Episcopal clergy back in the ’90’s. It consisted of a series of points made that rejected what those clergy saw as an alarming drifting in the orthodoxy of the faith of the denomination.)

Read the rest: The Baltimore Declaration Revisited

Author: Nicholas Knisely

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

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