Wednesday, 1 February 2012

So What if Diarmaid MacCulloch Opposes the Anglican Covenant?

So, Diarmaid MacCulloch opposes the Anglican Covenant, and there is no doubt that his addition as a patron of the No Anglican Covenant Coalition is an appointment of substance, certainly for his understanding of ecclesiology in many different Reformed and Catholic institutions. You'll get a better quality of writing and insight than, say, in that recent Doll paper, and if Rowan Williams has ordered that to be distributed you have to wonder if that is the best they can do.

But there is a weakness in Diarmaid MacCulloch's appointment. He is like me: he isn't actually a Christian (if still a Reverend) and can only be a friend of the Church of England. My comment is now from the outside, and so is his analysis.

This was made clear in his series on A History of Christianity on BBC 4. His position regarding the Bible was surely non-committed (and I agree) and he, like me, understands Christianity to be a 'cult of an individual' (that is, Jesus of Nazareth).

I do not think Jesus of Nazareth has any special powers or privilege of place, and the position regarding the Bible is a personal break from identifying with the Christian communities that produced the 'post-Easter' faith that colours the presented view of Jesus of Nazareth. People on the inside identify with those communities, and obviously the proto-orthodox that became orthodox. His comments were to come at this from the outside too.

My position regarding the Anglican Communion Covenant is that it will freeze the Church of England and do it damage, but whether it has the Covenant or not isn't going to persuade me to join up. I made the decision after a long consideration that I don't believe the essentials believed by most Church members, and for a while I was increasingly 'hanging about' and only participating in choice chunks of its liturgy. I'd stopped taking communion.

In the end it is up to the Church of England and the other Anglican Churches whether it adopts this thing or not. The issue won't affect me, though I'd campaign even harder for complete disestablishment. Frozen by such an international contract, I would not want this institution to have any influence on the law on marriage, for example. It is already pretty ethically bust.

The issue won't affect Diarmaid MacCulloch either. He might turn up for the odd Evensong, but it is a culturally religious (if still religious) involvement, surely. I'm impressed with his view that Eastern Europe in the early days of the Reformation was an example of pluralism well before the 'West' was born as we now know it - a result in part of Socinian and Unitarian Churches apparing in that band of geographical space. As such, then, this appointment to the No Anglican Covenant Coalition is that of yet another liberal. I would have thought it needed some right wingers in Church terms and from within.

But, yes, the arguments are bound to be of the highest quality.

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