Consultation Report: ‘Communion and Disagreement’ hosted by TLC, VTS, Texas, and Dallas
- Professor Sonderegger, of VTS exhorted us to consider anew the Windsor Report. She agreed with it that the debate is not a ‘matter indifferent,’ nor may it be reduced to ‘context’ She wondered if we might not think of it as a truly theological debate, a ‘difference of the schools’ as in Roman Catholic history. (Of course the need to make liturgical decisions, in matters of real moral disagreement, as Professor Wes Hill, pointed out, makes this tack more difficult.)
- Running through the consultation is the possible distinction from the Primates of walking together, but closely vs. at a distance. (Christopher Wells’ paper stressed this idea). If this is so, then might analogies from ecumenism fit those latter relations? In these cases we recognize one another as fellow baptized Christians, but with nuance. Wells pointed out that this was true of St. Augustine’s view of even the heretical Donatists.
- All of this highlighted our fruitfully anomalous circumstance: those in CP would live out this possibility of walking together as a Communion but at a distance, but close up with our fellow Episcopalians. This makes us, though we be few, a complicated and ‘interesting’ group in the Communion.
- The C of E’s ecumenical officer, Jeremy Worthen, distinguished between apostolic communion (is the other body a Church?), ecclesial (can we share our common life fully?), and issues short of either. The distinctions may help us imagine differentiated communion.
- The point of my paper was simply that John Henry Newman with his concept of development of doctrine and its tests had the right question, and that pursuing such a discernment requires patience and making room for the traditional view on the part of our own Church. peace +GRS