(AAC) Embracing Good Disagreement For Real Change

The decision announced Friday that the Global South bishops will sit during Holy Communion during all of Lambeth’s Eucharistic services sent shock waves through the Anglican Twitterverse. It was bold. It was clear. It was divisive. But is division truly a bad thing? It is often assumed that it is, in all forms and at all times. To say it can actually be good is controversial. Archbishop Justin Welby stated at Lambeth that “division doesn’t matter,” that essentially, you can disagree and yet still be united. At other times he called division downright unacceptable and wrong. But the scriptures and reason point to the reality that often division, if not an end in and of itself, is good if it leads to a greater good: true unity.

This true unity is both created by and expressed through Holy Communion. It is a unity set in “one faith, one Lord, one baptism.” Certainly Abp. Welby would say all these things are true of the various churches together at Lambeth, that Communion should be taken by all because, despite our disagreements, we do share one faith, we do have one Lord. But can those bishops who worship with Muslims or engage in pagan ceremonies or deny the physical resurrection of Christ be said to worship the same Lord as those who hold to a biblically orthodox view of God? Or can those who deny the validity of the Scriptures or the Creed or who allow for sexual immorality in the Church be said to hold the same faith as those who continue in orthodox dogma and praxis? Reason would say no. At times one has to wonder how much reason is left in Canterbury.

If our faith can be expressed only by the most minimal of qualifications, what was the point of synods and councils in the Church’s past? Why all the effort? Would Sts. Peter and James have had to facilitate a disagreement between Jews and Gentiles at the Council of Jerusalem? Why wouldn’t St. Paul simply accept Judaizers along with orthodox Christians, saying that, though they believed different things, they were really all one? What was the point of the Ecumenical Councils? Should the Arians and the orthodox simply have communed together? After all, both parties called Jesus “Lord.” They both believed He was divine. They just disagreed on how divine he really was.

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Posted in - Anglican: Analysis