Monday, November 16, 2009

Via Media

Some passing thoughts on what we in Episcopal land call the via media, the middle way. When Hooker, back in about 1595 or so was writing his treatise he spoke about the middle ground between Calvinisn and Roman Catholicism. He came up with the concept of scripture, reason and tradition, the three legged stool, though I do not think Hooker used that term. We have, over the years since Hooker died (1600) managed to hold a pretty steady course. Now, it seems, to quote one of the clergy in the Anglican diocese of San Joaquin, the three-legged stool has one leg (scripture) longer than all the rest.

The evangelical/orthodox side of the house, both that which left as well as that which contemplates leaving of late, seems to completely reject the three legged stool preferring to elevate scripture to a pinnacle that many of us cannot seem to fathom. These folks have "jumped the creek" and now stand squarely on the side of in errant scripture in toto. Furthermore, their emphasis seems to be on biblical translations that are done without regard to some of the earliest translations/earliest works. Any superficial research leads one to some other biblical scholars who find a completely different idea. Furthermore, the emphasis of the orthodites seems to be found in the old testament rather than the new testament.

The liberal side of the house is becoming as strident as the orthodox folks. All the while trying to be coy by wordsmithing the 1994 changes to the constitution and canons as well as the Anglican Covenant as well as the Windsor Report. We, the liberal side of the house elected to not insist on sitting down and working out the fine points of full inclusion when we confirmed the policy.

And so, we find ourselves at a crossroads. We say we take the middle road. We say we are all inclusive but are we really?! Have we decided that it is time to jettison all those who no longer agree with full inclusion instead of talking and praying and talking and praying and talking and praying. How do we pass D025 and C056 now and continue to dialogue with those that do not agree?

I have no snappy answers but I suspect the following: if we do not find a way to return to the middle ground - to create again the dialogue that has kept us going since 1789 then we may lose our beloved church.