This is a continuation of an ongoing discussion with Mommy. I am probably more-so confused by what she is saying than I am saying so to be clear–we both affirm High Anglicanism but I happen to be in a Continuing Anglican tradition and she is in union with Canterbury so I have several clarifications I want to make in this inquiry to what she is saying.
First off, in regards to excommunication, excommunication reveals to us what already is. As St John says, “They went out from us, but they did not belong to us; for if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us. But by going out they made it plain that none of them belongs to us.” (1 John 2:19). In my own opinion, excommunication is a serious matter of the faith. Excommunication is pretty much establishes that said one is not a part of the communion and shall not par-take in the communion because they never did in the first place. This ties in with the main question as to whether the Episcopal leaders in support of homosexual marriage should have been excommunicated or merely told they were wrong about this issue. Further, whether ACNA, the Anglican Church in North America, which has made many appeals to Canterbury to be fully established with the CofE and has only broken with the Episcopalians in terms of the Episcopal leaders approval of homosexual unions, should have been excommunicated. The fact of the matter is that excommunication over a soteriological concept within the CofE hasn’t happened even though this is one of the main causes of Church divisions over the years, while excommunication over the major doctrines has happened.
I want Mommy here to know what I am saying. An outsider to the CofE looks at this in complete bewilderment. The leaders feel perfectly qualified to say what sin is but do not do anything to establish that this is their belief other than mere disciplinary action. In the meanwhile, a group that has not defied the CofE’s established beliefs on human sexuality is actually excommunicated and revealed to be not a part of the communion. How does this look like in actuality to someone like me who is an outsider? For me, it does not look like the CofE actually says it believes what it believes or is doing contradictory things. For outsiders to the CofE, this looks like a failure to define what sin is. I am not saying that Christians are to be followers of the law. What I am saying is that law is necessary to expose our sins (Rom. 7:7). It is therefore critical for followers of Christ to agree on what the law is not so that we are bound to the law trying to follow all of its rules but so that we become conscious of our failures to maintain the law and realize we are sinful people. It is interesting to point out that the CofE still recites the decalogue. So contrary to what has been said to me about my view of the law, I have not contradicted St Paul’s points on its importance. Rather, I just am well aware that the Christian life is one which wrestles with what is sin and to not agree on what sin is for Christians is serious.
Continuing onward, she then claimed that my church was in rebellion from its American heritage to the monarch. Other than the concept that the monarch represents Christ for members of the CofE, for most outsiders to the CofE the statement is nonsensical. But if it is true, what it feels like to me is you are saying my church is inherently sinful (1 Sam. 15:23). It is possible that you have thrown out the law and embraced an antinomian position but such is not the position of the Church throughout the ages. For my own self as a Continuing Anglican in an ecclesiastically High Church movement, I do not see myself as being a Christian within Anglicanism only but as a Christian a part of a whole tradition. But this shows also that High Anglicans themselves are a mixed bunch. My own church is far more Anglican Papalist than it is Protestant and we do not agree that the Church stands and falls on the monarch. Such is an introduction into Christian theology in the 16th century which does not to me seem defensible to any degree. But you say I cannot stand with Fr John Keble if I believe this is so because Fr John Keble did believe this. Where in Fr John Keble’s writings does he say so? To me, it sounds like this notion that the CofE stands and falls on the monarch of England is simply a basic stance that many Americans actually think–primarily the Bible speaks of politricks. For people outside the CofE and especially people like me who see the English Church as just one wave in the Apostolic Church, this statement comes out as gibberish. As a “huh?!? Why should we be so obsessed whatever and whoever a monarch is as the basis of our Church?” It may make sense to you as someone who grew up in the CofE but for me, an outsider, who did not grow up in the CofE, it makes absolutely no sense. It sounds as if there really ought not to have been much reason for a Reformation in the first place. Did the monarch just want power?
Please be more considerate about my confusion Mommy. I am a genuine inquirer as of the moment as some of the recent actions and views on ecclesiology relating to your own Church are puzzling me more-so than anything else. Please consider me an outsider deeply confused and in need of solid explanation asking genuine questions in regard to this. I am told one thing in regards to the CofE, that it views itself as a branch of the one true Church and not the sole true Church, yet as an outsider, I see totally contradictory things happening–primarily that it sees itself as the one true Church and this is especially more manifest when you lay out the charge of rebellion against whom you perceive as the representative of Christ against my own Continuing Anglican body and not only that but then say that the Church stands and falls on the monarch. This may be the view of the CofE but is it actually the view of the Church of Christ? Here in America, something that we do not obsess over is nationalistic tendencies and we even have a tendency to oppose as heretical outright nationalism. I think this is a good thing because in our worship, we are reminded that we are not in servitude to an earthly monarch regardless of whether we are Lutheran, Presbyterian, Catholic, Orthodox, or Anglican but that we are reminded we are numbered amongst the divine body which supersedes that of any union to a monarch. This is why many Christians such as myself will be completely and utterly confused when you say things such as the Church stands and falls on the monarch and lay out as rebellious those Anglicans who are not in union with the monarch. Because for us, as you affirm that the monarch is the representative of Christ, it sounds as if you are accusing us of rebellion against the divine.
And one more thing–it felt to me like you were attacking my own church for walking out of the Anglican Communion over the issue of women’s ordination. The provisions the CofE are great and we can most certainly live with them not having to acknowledge the validity of even Low Anglican orders, however, this is the case only in your country it would seem. The CofE as it operates in America, does not provide provisions for those whose conscious does not feel it fit to allow women to be ordained. Essentially, we were forced out by your own Church because we could not reconcile women’s ordination with Apostolic Succession which for us, reigns superior to the monarch of England. It is now known in the case of the ACNA that no matter how much our position in regard to women’s ordination might be acceptable under provisions in your Church, Canterbury wants nothing to do with us. So again, we agree on issues relating to sin but that doesn’t matter to Canterbury if we aren’t in union with the Episcopal bishops out here who force us to do things against our consciouses, against what we believe and profess to be the Gospel! Do you not see how I, as an outsider and as a Continuing Anglican might be a little frustrated with the way your Church has dealt with issues in recent years? Yet all you say is that my Church simply rejects the dogma of the CofE (which as you admit isn’t even the dogma of the totality of Christianity) and stands in rebellion against who you perceive as a representative of Christ. If we are in rebellion against the representative of Christ that is the exact same thing as you saying we rebel against Christ himself for that which represents Christ is Christ. You charge my Church with being inherently sinful! Do you not see how this sounds to me as an outsider to your Church?
Please understand I am merely taking on the role of an outside inquirer and this may be a solid opportunity God has given you to exercise your spiritual gift of love.