How did the Anglican Communion get to be in such a mess, anyway? This is, after, a denomination which, on paper, at least, has an evangelical creed. Indeed, it’s technically a Reformed denomination.
It if were to actually adhere to the 39 Articles it would be in pretty good shape. So what went wrong?
Ironically, the thing that attracts Paul Owen to the Anglican tradition is one if the main things that has taken it over the cliff.
Dr. Owen things that individualism is the ruination of the church. He wants something more conciliar, more Catholic, more authoritarian.
There’s a word for that: elitism. Now there are two related ways in which ecclesiastic elitism will kill a church over time.
1.To begin with, elites tend to be more liberal than the rank-and-file. They get swept up in the latest academic fad. They are prey to intellectual pride and the academic shame-culture. They take their cue for the secular opinion-makers. They lead lives more sheltered from the dire consequences of liberal social policies.
The whole dynamic is self-reinforcing. They live and move within their own elite subculture of life-minded elites who read the same writers and share the same lifestyle.
By contrast, church polities in which the clergy sit closer to the ground are more resistant to cultural alienation between the clerical class and the laity. They stay in touch with the rank-and-file because they are literally in constant contact with their flock, enjoy the same lifestyle, and so on.
2.In addition, a top-down polity is irreformable. Once the hierarchy is corrupted or secularized, there is no higher court of appeal. They are answerable to no one below them. And this lack of accountability is another self-reinforcing factor.
The Anglican tradition will survive this current crisis, and be better for it. This is a refining process. Realignment is under way.
But it will only survive in spite of its polity and ecclesiology. It will survive by casting off the shackles of apostolic succession. It will survive by holding fast to sola Scriptura. It will survive by embracing a nomadic ecclesiology (Heb 11), by living in a portable tent rather than a monolithic Temple (Acts 7). It will survive by being more Protestant and less Catholic. It will survive by following the example set by the Lutherans and Presbyterians and, yes, by the Baptists as well.