…the issue goes beyond an interchange of views. What has happened is that TEC has demonstrated repeatedly an incapacity or unwillingness to deal with the views of the rest of the Communion with actual Christian responsibility. Such responsibility is assumed in council and by respecting the decisions of council.
TEC will do this on several bases: Communion councils have no legislative authority, she says, and therefore do not require adherence; majority votes by global South patriarchs are intrinsically undemocratic, and so should not be granted power; the Kingdom of God favors diverse viewpoints, and so uniform actions in the Communion are actually unfaithful. But the main reason TEC gives for not deferring to the decisions of the Communion’s representative bodies is that she is being “prophetic”, and therefore is being called by God quite precisely to oppose and subvert these decisions.
The self-given prophetic mantle is a claim that is difficult to argue against, by definition. But it is worth noting that the convenience of this difficulty is itself a major part of the problem in the Communion: TEC has adopted a self-identity that cannot be questioned and overturned, and thereby she has become impervious to all reason. This is not just a matter of style, as though the point is “let’s all tone down our rhetoric” ”“ a suggestion one hears a good bit, as if talking more quietly would solve our problems. No: at issue here is that TEC has laid out a way of approaching disagreement that brooks no compromise, and therefore makes impossible constructive engagement altogether. On this matter, I commend a fine essay by Cathleen Kaveny in the recent volume Intractable Disputes about the Natural Law: Alisdair MacIntyre and his Critics (Notre Dame, 2009). Kaveny, hardly a right-wing shill, ably points out how reasoned moral discourse in America especially has been utterly eviscerated of common avenues of engagement largely because of “prophetic” commitments to ideological fixities that finally amount to self-blinding.
But there is more to this prophetic self-designation: its effect of moral intransigence is simply contrary to the specifically Christian vocation of deferring to the Body, a vocation that asks that we “not insist on our own way” (1 Cor. 13:5), and “count others as better than ourselves” (Philippians 2;3)….