A little bit of excitement around here because for some strange reason a post of mine got picked up by the anti-Episcopal Church faction. I wrote the post out of my longstanding and growing disenchantment with Episcopal Church structures and the profound disconnect between what happens on the national level and life in parishes.
But the same thing is true of the blogosphere, especially when it comes to those most engaged in the conflcts over Anglicanism. I can only assume that there are parishes in which such issues are the focus of vibrant debate and conversation, but in my experience an issue like the relationship of the Episcopal Church to the Anglican Communion rarely rises to a level beyond intellectual curiosity. Many parishes are focused on survival; others are seeking ways to embody the gospel and to share it with their neighbors. Those that are riven by such conflict are very often victims of individuals (lay or clergy) or small groups for whom such things are matters of personal agendas.
The reality is that denominations are becoming less important for the life of Christians in America. Some of that trend may be due to actions taken by those institutions over the decades, but in fact those who would put the blame for decline in the Episcopal Church to its “revisionist” theology are going to have to rethink their arguments now that even the Southern Baptist Convention is beginning to report declining numbers. No one can claim the SBC to have a radical agenda (except for the anti-Calvinists).
No, we are living in a very different culture than the one that existed thirty or fifty, or a hundred years ago. Institutions across the board have lost their power. Individuals make meaning for themselves and are shaped by consumerism. Will Christianity in America go the way of Christianity in Europe? Perhaps, but I have my doubts about that. And even if it does, there is a deep religious yearning at the heart of every human being that can only find its rest in God. If churches can continue to feed souls, they will continue to thrive, no matter what happens to institutional structures.
Which brings me to my last point. One blog labeled me “one of the most vocally revisionist priests” when I was in the Diocese of Upper South Carolina. I will admit to being vocal, then and now, but revisionist? I doubt there are many priests in the Episcopal Church, or indeed in any of the breakaway Anglican groups, who are more thoroughly Augustinian in their theology than I.