Our Vaunt Stilled: Incompleteness, Disagreement, Exploration, and the Spirit of Anglicanism

Descriptions of traditions tend to make them seem more perfect and more successful than they in fact have been. Perhaps better to leave this work to our neighbors, who probably have a more jaundiced view!

Anglicanism once had a monarch who could settle disputes, which is a mechanism with deep problems of its own, but at least it was clear. But once we entered the modern era, and Anglicanism spread to other countries (such as ours), the question of how to resolve disagreements, became more vexed.  The question at hand, and the underlying questions of how to decide, how to read the Scripture, whether to make room for dissent or not, have gone hand in hand.

Anglicanism has a history which is one long fight- catholics and protestants, modernists and traditionalists, etc.  There is really no era in which this was not so, although at key times in our earlier history there was a deeper deposit of agreement behind what was being fought about. 

Meanwhile, our history since the Reformation has presented us with an on-going imperative to seek reunion. Rome is our historic mother, the eastern churches our non-papal cousins, the Methodists the lost branch of our family. We all struggle with the same issues of interpretation which the modern era has thrust upon us. Archbishop Michael Ramsey liked to talk about a pervasive sense of incompleteness which drives us ecumenically and is itself a source of humility.  We are not self-contained, and this self-awareness ought be found in our parish as well as our denomination. It will become yet greater as denominationalism itself becomes problematic in the coming generation.

What passages of the New Testament are crucial in thinking about disagreement and incompleteness?

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