Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Lambeth Can Be What It Wants To Be
Written by Rev. Dr. Ephraim Radner
Tuesday, 05 June 2007

Why the wrangling over Lambeth? If nothing else, the present debate over invitations to and attendance at the upcoming Lambeth Conference offers an important opportunity to reflect on the character of the Church as a body that gathers, takes common counsel, and makes representative decisions. Specifically, some of the public statements over these matters being offered by various parties within the Anglican Communion expose some deep misunderstandings as well as some marvelous opportunities. One of the main expressions of misunderstanding lies in the stated desire – first declared by certain American liberals, and now taken up from their own side by some American and some African conservatives – to leave the Lambeth Conference behind as a gathering unworthy of their attendance. Writing as a conservative myself, I must address the latter group most explicitly.

It is true that we find that it is hard and perhaps impossible any longer to “recognize” our church within the liberal hegemony dominating TEC. And it is natural that we would feel, as a result, a certain anger driven by sadness, disappointment, and alarm. It is even natural that such feelings would motivate us to seek separation from that which seems alien and heretical to us, and to attempt to forge links with a form of Christian belief and practice that coheres with our own self-recognition. But all of this need not and should not drive us to refuse to meet within the larger church in a Christian spirit and confront our differences and their effects. Such refusal, it seems, runs counter both to Christian charity and to the way in which Christians have sought to settle differences over the ages (see below): namely, by gathering in council to deal face to face with matters that divide.
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