Posted today was a Living Church article by Mark D. Chapman of Rippon College, Oxford. It is again one of those appeals to the Anglican Covenant as a ‘way forward’ in its appeal to ‘catholicity’.
I think I am getting less ‘catholic’ as I get older. Maybe it is the move to TX where everything is Baptist, but I don't think unity is all it is cracked up to be--especially if unity means conformity. Maybe I am speaking heresy. (I have been known to do that.) I am not the kind of American that believes that individualism is the be-all and end-all of religious experience. I believe desperately in community—the kind of community that allows us to live together with respect and generosity. I am one who believes in the commonweal—that human society must work together for the betterment of all. But the key word is ‘work together.’
We can laud “Instruments of Unity” all we want, but it is NOT the so-called Instruments that hold us together; it is the hard wrought friendships and willingness to listen to those who are different from one another that makes for the kind of oneness that God calls from us as Church and Communion. Just as dogmatic statements do not win folk to the banner of Christ any longer, doctrinal argument leave the younger generations cold. The more we call for doctrinal commonality whether it is regarding Scripture or in ecclesiology, the less we will be able to tell the story of Christ to those who need to find ways to make sense of their world, their surroundings, in the witness of a God who came to live among us.
For a post-modern age we need to be willing to open our idea of what unity means. Unity must in a new age be a constant call for community rather than law or structures. If there is anything that the Post-Modern Era is going to call from us is a broader understanding of community, a broader image of the commonness that we all hold in Christ Jesus. And in this sense we are ‘catholic’ –universal.