Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Light in the Darkness

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
- John 1:1-5

In my daily "blog habit" I track a dozen or so blogs (see sidebar), one of them being Pluralist Speaks, a blog from across the pond in England. Sometimes it is very interesting, other times less so (like all blogs, including this one, I suspect!). After celebrating the Feast of the Epiphany last night, I was interested in his latest post regarding the alleged drift of the Episcopal Church (and by extension the Church of England and the Anglican Communion) towards Unitarianism. Since he has both some background in Unitarianism and apparently no apprehension about such a drift, he is more qualified than most to identify its presence or absence. After a fairly lengthy post, he notes:
So for Unitarian drift you need a really humanising Jesus according to how science understands the development of humanity, that the Christian Bible is but one view of something much wider, that the Pauline origin tradition gets replaced by a broader view of religion and salvation, or that there needs to be something like a frequent interfaith approach to ordinary church services. Liturgically there needs to be revision towards variety and simplicity and actual theological change involved.

This is not found at The Episcopal Church, or the Anglican Church of Canada, or at any other Anglican Church. It's not that it cannot happen: it can. It just isn't.
As we enter the Epiphany season, where we celebrate the light of Christ coming into the world, it is worth taking note that no official creeds or formularies have been changed or rescinded by official action of General Convention. I don't expect it to happen this summer either. To be sure, we as a denomination are much more lax about requiring conformity with doctrines or creeds than we are in enforcing our polity, but unless and until I am required to believe something plainly contrary to scripture, I think I'll stick around.

That is not to say, however, that the average person-in-the-pew isn't pretty darn fuzzy on exactly what Christianity is, much less the Episcopal flavor of Christianity. There has not been a consistent effort (or often interest) in enhancing biblical and liturgical literacy among folks. In my experience, people generally do what they do because that is what they've always done and there often is not very much interest in going much deeper than an hour on Sunday morning. Much like evangelism, I think the decline in TEC is due less to a sort of institutional slide into Unitarianism than to a decline in people's interest in exploring, enhancing, and sharing our faith. Perhaps a good Epiphany exercise might be a commitment to fanning the flame of faith and passing it along to others.

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