On the website of the Traditional Anglican Communion there is the text of an address given by the Right Reverend George Langberg at the Conference of the Fellowship of Concerned Churchmen in June. The address provides much food for thought on the idea of Christian Unity and what it really means.
Jesus prayed for us to as one as He and the Father are one. We obviously have fallen short on this.
After deploring the concept of shopping for a denomination, the Rev. Langberg makes some very remarks about we re-establish the unity that Jesus so ardently desired.
Maybe the problem is that we have all been thinking way too small. If, in the light of John 17, we were trying to rebuild The Church, reconciling and uniting all of Christ’s followers, we would be forced to deal with the issues which define a follower of Christ, rather than the minor issues and major egos which keep various groups of Anglicans separate from one another. Even differences between Anglicans, Catholics, and Protestants melt away when we begin talking about what makes one a “follower of Christ,” rather than what defines a “true Anglican,” a “real Catholic,” or a “good Protestant” – all terms unknown to Jesus, we should remember. The inherent flaw in our multiple “Anglican unity” efforts may just be that we are putting our energy into trying to repair one dysfunctional piece of the Church, rather than the shattered Church itself.
Conservative Anglicans, by even the broadest definition, comprise considerably less than 1% of the world’s Christians. If you were trying to repair an article of pottery which had been broken, would you begin by looking for small fragments to glue together? Of course not. The only logical way to rebuild the broken vessel would be to start with the largest intact piece and re-attach to it, one by one, the pieces which had broken off.
This is what the TAC is trying to do. But even the TAC realize that they are but small component of Anglicanism that should desire unity. Perhaps they are merely the catalyst for something bigger.
If we are to realize Jesus’ vision for his Church, the Anglican component will obviously be much bigger than the TAC. Chemists routinely mix two or more ingredients to form some new and useful compound, and it is not unusual for a catalyst to be required to start the reaction necessary to produce the desired end product. It may be helpful to think of the TAC and its petition as catalysts in the unity process, rather than as main ingredients.
This is a new, more robust ecumenism, unlike earlier efforts – one which recognizes full communion as the sign and product of unity, but is not afraid to explore its role as an agent of unity as well. The end game is not some special status for the TAC, but an open door through which all faithful Anglicans can come home as Anglicans who, in the words of the Athanasian Creed, “keep the catholic faith whole and undefiled.” It is not a quick process because, as one Vatican official told us, “You have forced us to consider questions we haven’t thought about in 500 years.”
Something bigger indeed. Time will tell, but this is certainly the hope of many orthodox Anglicans and Catholic alike.
This is an historic time in the life of the Church, not a time to sit on the sidelines, and not a time to let our own personal preferences or hang-ups keep us out of the game entirely. If Christ’s clearly-stated will for his Church clashes with our individual inclinations, the problem is ours, and we need to fix it.
As God calls us forth from our comfortable little enclaves and we move like Abraham into uncharted territory, we need to “let go and let God” rebuild His Church, ready and willing for Him to use us as He sees fit, whether that be as architects and engineers, or simply as a batch of cement.
Read the entire thing, it is well worth your time.