Thursday, 1 November 2012

Thoughts on the Anglican Via Media Between Protestant and Catholic

Richard Beck over at Experimental Theology keeps getting amongst me. This morning in his review of Chris Haw's From Willow Creek to Sacred Heart, a case for Roman Catholicism, in which he (Beck) notes: 
The problem is this. Protestantism worships at the altar of individualism. In this Protestantism is the great handmaiden of the Enlightenment. The highest authority in Protestantism isn't God or the Bible. The highest authority is the individual conscience. If you don't like the particular teachings of a church you just walk away. Or start your own church. Thus the history of fracturing, spiting, and ramifying we've seen throughout Protestant history. There is one Catholic church. How many Protestant churches? Exactly. That's the point. And the problem. With the individual conscience as the final arbiter there is nothing that holds Protestantism together.

But Chris's argument goes even deeper. These divisions within Protestantism are often motivated by the conceit that you can get beyond or behind the tradition to the "real Jesus." But as Chris points out, there is no Jesus outside of the tradition. There is no pure Jesus, a Jesus uncontaminated by the tradition. In fact, the tradition is what gives us Jesus. Thus, to love Jesus is to love the tradition that brings you Jesus. The two are of a piece. To love Jesus is to love the church tradition that brings you Jesus.
All here

To the extent that we Anglicans are Protestant, we share that, especially as individual conscience is made our highest authority for matters such as sexuality, on Jesus being the only way to salvation and even financial stewardship, but especially as we continue to fragment. Even our Catholicness is a fractured, disconnected thing. 

Sigh.