Monday, 9 February 2009

Synodical Govenment

An interesting article in this month’s New Directions on the subject of the General Synod of the Church of England.
From the perspective of a Province in our ecclesial community which has had a form of Synodical government since its separation from the C of E in the 1920s, things look slightly different.
Whilst agreeing with the author that synods inevitably emphasise factions and divisions within churches, it would seem that in the Anglican situation they have simply served to draw out already existing weaknesses and fault lines in our theology and ecclesiology.
Inevitably, they have made us even more dependent upon the passing values and preoccupations of contemporary secular society: Anglicanism since its separation from Rome has never needed much encouragement to stray in the direction of Erastianism, the existence of synods even partly composed of those without theological expertise and training has served to exacerbate our problems in that regard.
But, having said that, would we have fared any better in terms of fidelity to scripture and tradition had we been governed solely by our bishops?
There simply is no consensus or any workable mechanism even to decide what we mean by fidelity to scripture and tradition.
The problem is not so much the presence of a synod but the absence of a magisterium. Our difficulties lie in our continuing separation from the Universal Church. Would it be going too far to say that it is not so much a problem of contemporary Anglicanism as a problem with Anglicanism per se?

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