Monday, March 28, 2011

Michael Ramsey Concerning Unity

The Church Times, an English church news paper, has published "The Anglican Covenant: a Church Times guide." It provides a collection of essays for and against the proposed Anglican Communion Covenant. It ends with an annotated Covenant which is quite helpful.

This is a nice compliment to the Study Guide to the Anglican Covenant published last month by the Anglican Communion office.

The whole thing puts me in mind of something from Michael Ramsey who was a widely respected theologian and the fondly remembered Archbishop of Canterbury from 1961-1974:

A word about unity. In the seventeenth chapter of St. John it is recorded that Christ prayed for the unity of his disciples. If you are trying to be a Christian, I am sure you are concerned about that. But notice also that, in the same prayer, Christ prayed for his disciples that they become holy, sanctified; and he also prayed that they might learn truth – “sanctify them in the truth.”

Unity, truth, holiness: the three are inseparable. Because of its connection with truth, Christian unity cannot be based on theological vagueness or indifference. And as for holiness, the implication that we are drawn into that togetherness with one another which Christ desires if we are also being drawn into that togetherness with him which is our call to be saints.

Re-union, then, goes with the recovery of truth, and with the reconcecration of lives. Each is urgent in its demands upon us. Neither of these however can be faster than the others; and there is a divine urgency and a divine patience.
(Introducing the Christian Faith, p. 76)

The re-union Ramsey referes to is ecumenism across Chritian traditions, but it seems relevant to nurturing "union" within the Anglican Communion over against the scandal of disunion or schism.

A basic challenge to the unity and faithfulness of any Christian body is how to live together in light of both the divine urgency and the divine patience.

I also wonder if we are able to make the distinction between the classic comprehensiveness of the Anglcian tradition and the "theological vagueness or indifference" against which Ramsey warns.

No comments: