Catholicity

I have my monthly post published on Episcopal Cafe today. It’s an attempt for to write out my thinking on what it means to be a catholic-christian in a time when the Church is clear and present danger of schism:

“In the days leading up to the meeting I came across a reply to a comment on someone’s blog. The original post mentioned that ‘Rowan Williams was willing to sacrifice biblical truth for the sake of maintaining unity.’ A few comments later someone replied to the effect that she ‘was right that Rowan might sacrifice to maintain unity, but that she misunderstood the reason why. Rowan was willing to compromise because he understands maintaining unity as biblical truth’.

That comment has been stuck in my brain ever since. It gives me a way to express something I’ve been struggling to put into words for years. I am a catholic Christian in a way similar to my reading of where Rowan Williams is coming from. I believe the Body of Christ looks like the wide diversity of human experience – intentionally and not by accident. This is not a belief I brought with me into the Episcopal Church, but it is one that I have grown into as I have prayed the liturgy and read the bible with the people I have met in this denomination.

It is because I am a ‘catholic minded’ christian that I have never been able to find any internal resonance for myself with the idea that ‘we’ or ‘they’ must now walk apart from each other.

I am for Jesus, like just about every other voice in this moment. For me that leads me to confess that I am for the greatest amount of communion with the largest diversity possible.”

Read the rest here: Daily Episcopalian

Author: Nicholas Knisely

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

2 thoughts on “Catholicity”

  1. It’s just this kind of Orwellian twist on language that drives us somewhat intelligent converatives crazy, namely, the use of ‘catholic’ to mean, really, diversity, a democratic approach to truth (nb see Closing of the American Mind), inclusivity, in short to refer to the real revisionist engines and NOT to refer to the church catholic spread out through time and space.
    When you say “It is because I am a ‘catholic minded’ christian that I have never been able to find any internal resonance for myself with the idea that ‘we’ or ‘they’ must now walk apart from each other” I wonder if there is anything which would cause you to walk apart. Would you have been able with a clear conscience to work in Spong’s diocese with him as your bishop? If not, would that be walking apart? Would you have trouble if, say, a majority of your church were teaching that ‘marriage should not be restricted to two conjugal partners’? Let me know and I can give you the name and address of the speaker at a Province I gathering last year who promotes just that. OK, it’s not the majority view, but where are your lines.
    And, to repeat an oft made point, it is a bit much for those who voted, as you did, before gaining any consensus, for that which ‘would cause a breach of the sacramental unity’ at a fundamental level, as warned by the Primates, to turn around and say “Look who is walking apart.”
    And ever richer to preen and call oneself a ‘catholic minded’ Christian when you have not listened to the voices of the wider communion, and those in it with enhanced responsibility. Anyone with an ounce of true catholicity in himself, or herself, would have said, in the wake of what has happened since 2003, ‘Yikes, maybe we were wrong.” But you don’t do that.
    And note, please, how you admit the church is ‘broken’ in one post only to turn around a day or so later and take a cheap shot at the conservatives in TEC by comparing them and their attempt to realign with a group from the Republican party. Yeah, it really sounds like your taking the catholic-minded approach. Hah.

  2. Hmm. In response to your last point, my intention was to show the similarity in rhetoric between groups on the right of the political spectrum and their words that the Republican party is too far gone and needs to be abandoned and new more conservative group put in its place – with the language of the religious right in the Episcopal Church who are planning the same thing.
    That’s the opposite of being “catholic” as I use the word. “c”atholic ecclesiology as I understand it in the Anglocatholic tradition has the central idea that the Church and Society is an imperfect mixture of belief and disbelief. Our role is not reject the impure parts but lovingly to serve those parts that they might be convinced by our actions and repent and be saved. Leaving or driving out the impure is not faithful to the call we all have to ministry and work in the place where God has placed us – which is is key Benedictine concept as well.
    I’m curious how you read what I’ve written to say that we should not listen to the rest of the Communion? I’ve never said that – at least not intentionally.

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