What I want to suggest about what has gone wrong is this: you all remember the Elizabethan settlement. We say that Mere Anglicanism and Mere Christianity are actually he flowering of that settlement.Read the whole thing here. Thanks, Matt.
And what has happened is that that consensus has disintegrated. The substance of the settlement, not the idea itself, has disintegrated. A new consensus has to emerge and we are a long way from that.
The systems that characterized the Elizabethan settlement, there were three:
1. Anglicanism was agreed to be under the Word. Are we there now? No. We use these words sometimes but they no longer have the same meaning. The settlement was that the church was to be under the Word.
2. The second thing that was true is that the Settlement: was under the prayerbook. We don’t have that anymore. There is nothing in terms of our prayer that is common. There is nothing that might lead us to believe that what we pray is really what we believe. We no longer pray the same things so we no longer believe the same things. The book has collapsed. The book was our magisterium. We did not have a Roman Magisterium. We had a book. It was our articulation of doctrine. It was the theological construct in which we prayed. But just like the word that we believed judged us rather that us it, the book has collapsed.
Third: the Settlement exchanged an international leader for a local leader (pope to king). All this took place under British systems. Theses systems were remarkable. Even after the collapse of the Empire everyone was still under the systems. Who calls the primates together? Who gives the mandate to the ACC and who appoints the General Secretary? The consensus that had existed that was the settlement and the settlement worked in a system.
The system has worked, the settlement has worked for 400 years, but the agreement that authority rests in the bible, in the prayerbook and the English church system…all of that is collapsing
What I am suggesting is that sustaining a Mere Anglicanism that is catholic, evangelical, pentecostal, and reason, is not working under the old settlement.
The Elizabethan Settlement produced two great streams that are engaged in mortal combat.
The first stream is white, western, and progressive, used to the system. The settlement created the modern world, in fact, and it is white, it is western, and it believes in progress.
It actually also produced the Global South: Brown, southern, and traditional. Most of us would identify with that second stream today. That is new.
How that great consensus that produced an Anglicanism that was truly conducive to the maintenance of Mere Anglicanism is an incredible thing. But these two realities, these two parts of Anglicanism, western progressive and southern traditional, again vast oversimplifications, these two worlds, are no longer coexisting under the settlement. For Mere Anglicanism to survive a new settlement is required.
The bad news is that the old consensus is in horrendous disintegration. This is somewhat familiar
Between the Christian consensus about what it was to be an American and the multicultural consensus that has emerged in the last 30 years, the change came about through a massive disintegration. US history in a way familiar to us all, the journey from one consensus…from colony, to nation…cost blood and incredible ways of rethinking and destruction to this very church, so much that it did not come back to life until 20 years after the revolution.
The Reformation moves from the catholic consensus about England to a Protestant one before the same century is over. Henry is divorced and becomes the supreme head of the church. Cranmer, Fisher, Latimer, Ridley are martyred
And ultimately a settlement is found. But everything disintegrated in between.
The Church is not the same. It moves from consensus to disintegration to consensus again. And if the good news is true that God works all things together for the good, and if we do not trust that we are in real trouble.
And of course, you know how the story ends, we know that God is in charge and that he wins.
What does all this mean?
The disintegration means that a new consensus is on the way.
Friday, February 01, 2008
Matt Kennedy Liveblogging from Mere Anglicanism Conference: Bishop Duncan speaks of the "New Settlement"
BB NOTE: Matt Kennedy is live-blogging from the Mere Anglicanism Conference in Charleston, including the extraordinary remarks from the moderator of Common Cause, the Bishop of Pittsburgh. Its important to read the whole thing, but here's a highlight on the "New Settlement." From here: