We could, like the Methodist Church has recently done, simply extend our current practical incoherence into our teaching. We could move to a position where, as a church, we state that we uphold and support contradictory teachings. This would also fail to address either problem and appears to ignore Jesus’ stark warning later in Matthew (and also in Mark and Luke) that “if a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand”.
We could, and should, through the LLF discernment process, make one more attempt to see whether we really can find some agreement as to what would be the rock on which we should be building, whether something that has not previously been recognised by the church as rock might nevertheless be a solid foundation we can all recognise as faithful to Jesus.
It may though be that, lamenting our lack of common mind, and renewing our commitment to keep seeking such a common mind, we have to begin to consider seriously what changes our collective double-mindedness renders necessary in how we structure our common life. How can we create sufficient space or distance to enable each view to find expression in an episcopal structure which has some form of agreed teaching that in turn authorises consistent practice and so has intellectual and moral integrity without generating the level of conflict now sadly so common? How can we allow each group of Anglicans to build on what they believe to be the rock and to avoid building on what they believe to be sand?
Because we are here dealing with competing and contradictory visions of faithfulness to Christ, of the holiness to which we are called in Christ, of our created human nature, and of the ground on which we are to build communities of disciples, this is a much greater challenge than that we have faced and struggled with in relation to women priests and bishops. And because our received ecclesial structures are those of episcopacy within a geographically ordered national church and a global Communion this is a much greater challenge than the ecclesial questions faced by the URC and Baptists and others with a different church structure. The sad history of Anglican provinces and the Anglican Communion over the last 20 years confirms how great a challenge it is. But it is a challenge which we must perhaps now face and, as far as possible, face and seek to resolve together, across our differences.
‘Can @churchofengland ever bridge its differences on #sexuality?’ Worth reading this article @goddardaj @Psephizo website. https://t.co/sN5PvPgGJZ
— Graham Kings (@GrahamRKings) February 2, 2022