Tuesday, November 27, 2007


As the Anglican church wrestles with whether and how to hold together in the face of its bitter disputations over sexuality, authority and textual interpretation, Rowan Williams continues to hold out for a vision of Christian communion-in-difference as a prize worth struggling for. He is right to do so, and at their recent gathering Inclusive Church spelt out how this involves seeking costly unity rather than cheap unity. Rightly understood it can be more hopeful for a community to argue peaceably than to split forcibly.

The church ought to be a 'contrast society' founded on principles of justice, love, generosity, hospitality, determination, forgiveness and faithfulness, too. But when it patently isn't functioning as such, and when those who talk or act-up a breakaway demand more and more as the price of a highly conditional loyalty, the resulting legitimation of injustice now on the basis of a continually deferred promise of tranquility tomorrow risks confusing ecclesiological principle with deceptive romanticism, substance with flattering rhetoric. Here is a warning about 'cheap unity' we might all heed:

Unity that is dictated by the powerful is not unity. Unity at the cost of the poor and the oppressed, at the cost of the integrity of the gospel, is not unity.
- Allan Boesak (South Africa)

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