1/25/2005

Response to the Pastoral Letter of the Network Moderator

I posted this on the House of Bishops/ House of Deputies listserve in response to the "Pastoral Letter" of Bishop Duncan, moderator of the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes. That letter can be read HERE.

Regarding The Moderator's Pastoral Letter:

The Moderator writes, "Anglican Relief and Development has soared beyond our wildest hopes."
I think we ought all rejoice with the Moderator that divided as we are there is none the less real commitment on all sides to responding to those in need in the world.

He also wrote in his Pastoral Letter the following:

Remember, no matter
what the appearances, “[He] has overcome the world,” (Jn 16.33)
and his word to us is that we are to “Be of good cheer.” Jesus spoke these words to the first followers, just as He speaks
them to us. To be sure…their challenges were no less daunting
than ours. That the entire and undiminished Christian Faith has
been passed to us has to do with their unflinching stand. We can
do no less in our day.
I am puzzled about just who the "us" is that he speaks of in "the entire and undiminished Christian Faith has been passed on to us." Just who is the "us" that he references? Perhaps the "us" is the Network. I presume that "us" does not include the rest of us in the Episcopal Church outside the Network.

Would the "us" include Eastern Orthodox folk, or Roman Catholics? I don't think they think so. The Orthodox pray for the orthodox churches as the true church, and the Romans disavow our ordinations in general. Is the "us" some part of the community of churches that think of themselves as Anglican, none of whom are understood by either the Eastern Orthodox or Romans to hold the "entire and undiminished Christian Faith." The Moderator might think these churches in Anglicanism hold the entire etc, but a whole crowd of prelates, patriarchs, synods, and such would disagree.

And what about the interestingly strange group of churches that are in conversation: "the Network, the AAC, Forward in Faith, the Anglican Mission in America, the Reformed Episcopal Church, the Anglican Province of America, the Network in Canada, the Federation in Canada, and the Anglican Communion in Canada". How are they all holders of the "entire
and undiminished Christian Faith that has been passed on to us"? Particularly when they do not seem to agree on a wide variety of issues.

The entire and undiminished Christian Faith has indeed been passed on to all Christians, not entirely by the "unflinching stand" of any group within the Christian community, but because the truth of the Gospel stands even when the most committed fail.

The Moderator says "We are all one river – flowing at this point in different channels – whose source and end are together." I would hope that is true, not because any one of these groups holds the entire and undiminished Christian Faith, but rather because each in their humbled
state as broken bodies, as broken as all the churches of Christendom including the Episcopal Church and every other church in the Anglican Communion, have the same source and end in Jesus Christ.

And by the way, the moderator states that the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes is commonly called the Anglican Communion Network. He may be right, but it is because the Network decided to call itself that, and for good reason. It is a simpler name, good for public chewing, and it makes it sound as if somehow the Anglican Communion in some way has authorized a network of really really faithful churches, and that this is that network. There is the mask in the throne room and there is the reality, and no amount of behind the scene wizardry can make the Network the great and terrible OZ.

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