Hope for (the Anglican) Communion: Introduction

In four parts, I am going to post the paper I wrote for Philip Turner, in an independent study course at ETSS called “Authority and Communion in Global Anglicanism.” Here is the introduction:

This life is revealed, and we have seen it and testify to it, and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us – we declare to you what we have seen and heard so that you may have communion with us; and truly our communion is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.” (I John 1:2-3)

How can one discern if homosexual practice on the part of a Christian disciple or believer can be faithful to God apart from deep, empathetic, listening-and-responding communion and relational interaction with fellow members of the body of Christ, including with those who are homosexual? The answer of this paper is simply that one cannot. This is what the theology of embodied, personal communion which underlies the Windsor process, including the proposed covenant, articulates, and this is a major reason why this process, including its covenant, should be supported.

This paper is an argument that the proposed covenant is an attempt more fully to embody personal communion in the global Anglican family of churches, and that, in the main, to reject this (or some similar) attempt is implicitly to opt in favor of (an inherently violent) competition between individuals.

After developing and showing some ecclesial implications of the concept of person in contrast to that of the individual, I will proceed to demonstrate the importance of this global Anglican moment in light of the global situation confronting the human race. Finally, I will end with two ecclesiological examples of embodied personal communion: the Eucharist and the Episcopate.

My argument is not simply that to reject the proposed covenant is to reject this theology of embodied personal communion; however it is not far from that, either. I grant that it is theoretically possible to be in full agreement with every aspect and every implication of the communion theology articulated in this paper (rooted in the Windsor Report, The Virginia Report, and The Cypress Statement) and still oppose this covenant. However I do think that many people who resist this development are failing to see what the real issues are, in at least three areas: the nature of personhood, the demise of the modern nation-state, and the nature of the church (as exemplified in the Eucharist and the Episcopate). These three “subplots” undergird this debate, and clarifying these issues as well as showing how they relate to the Windsor process and the proposed covenant should go a long way to at least clarifying the debate.

Proceed to Part I of this Essay.

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