22 July 2008
By William Murchison
History's humongous wheel turns and turns and turns again. Over time, mud and sludge accumulate on even the sprucest institutions. Take the 500-year-old Anglican family of churches, Christianity's third-largest, after Rome and Eastern Orthodoxy.
With Anglicanism's biggest family event under way -- the every-10-years gathering of bishops and archbishops in England -- what the world sees, accurately or not, is a family in moral and spiritual disarray.
Anglicans -- whose main American franchise is the two-century-old Episcopal Church -- seem unable to agree on anything. Especially on religion -- an odd state of affairs for a religious enterprise. The steady, stately commitments that Anglicans formerly took for granted in the Christian message cut little ice today. Observers see the communion as likely to split -- to the extent it hasn't split already, “liberals” on one side, “conservatives” on the other.
Political labels of this sort have obvious limitations in a religious context. Would the bodily resurrection of Christ be a “conservative” doctrine? A liberal one? What about the atonement? What does Ronald Reagan have to do with all this anyway?!
For all that, Anglicanism's public troubles proceed from the takeover of Western Anglicanism by theological activists whose purpose is the remolding of Christianity into something less like the old-time religion than like the platform on which Barack Obama will run for president. the rest