Just a thought, but one of the objections being levelled against the FCA is that it is an ‘unholy alliance’ of Catholics and Evangelicals, sharing a widespread opposition to ordained women and homosexual practice, but divided on almost everything else that matters, such as ecclesiology, theology of priesthood and ministry, doctrine and use of scripture, sacrifice of the mass, praying to the saints and for the dead, lay presidency at the eucharist, episcopal authority, Mary, etc (I quote from elsewhere).
Now maybe I’m missing something here, but isn’t this almost exactly what the opponents of the FCA think the Anglican Communion ought to be —a church which unites people who can disagree completely about absolutely all the above, but who are united in their commitment to the purposes of the Church?
So what is the difference? Isn’t unity in disagreement just what they want from the Anglican Communion? Why does FCA attract the ire of Anglican ‘inclusivists’ for forming an alliance which embraces exactly the kind of breadth they think Anglicanism should include?
My guess is because they can see that FCA types are different from themselves, in that in the different ‘wings’ present at the FCA launch, these things have been seen as issues of what Francis Schaeffer used to call ‘true truth’ —issues on which there is a right or a wrong —whereas for themselves they are a matter, ultimately, of ‘opinion’, where I am entitled to mine and you are entitled to yours.
What annoys them is what they (rightly) see as a possible inconsistency —people who ought to disagree acting as if they agree. And as I have said already, there are deep and serious issues here.
But what they fail to see is their own ‘beam’, that this is just the kind of Church they want: one where we can all ‘disagree in unity’ —with maybe a bit more prominence for women priests and a bit more acceptance of homosexuality, but without even (in some cases) insisting on these. That, after all, would be the Open Evangelical position, would it not?
Perhaps the real difference then is the understanding of truth —that, and the view of what are the purposes of the Church. The real problem is surely that the unity of the FCA is seen as a threat to the unity of those who dislike the FCA. Both want unity, but it is the kind of unity, and the issues of unity, which are creating the hostility.
Revd John P Richardson
11 July 2009