Finding common ground – as Lambeth begins…

Recommended reading for today is this article by Canon Alyson Barnett-Cowan, an ecumenist from the Anglican Church in Canada. Worth noting is that she approvingly cites two Roman Catholic initiatives of which I am aware, as a basis for what Anglicans can do.

For instance, the principles of the late Cardinal Bernardin’s Common Ground Initiative, denounced by Catholic sectarians (an oxymoron, yes, but it is true) as “selling out,” are things worth noting for both liberals and conservatives in the Communion—and of course elsewhere. I think the tragedy is that within the Roman Catholic tradition, especially where it is the Established Church by custom and formerly by law, such dialogue is increasingly impossible, even if consistent with the principle established by Thomas Aquinas that one should learn from those with whom one doesn’t agree—for after all, both are seeking the truth.

For Christians, truth is not ultimately propositional. It is difficult for a modernist conception of the world to see that, I think, and that this particular mind-set has crept in even into a tradition that has consistently recognized this reality. Truth is ultimately found in a person-in-relation (and by person, it is not the modern conception of who a person is), who declared himself to be the Truth. And every time we try to limit what Christ says to our horizons of understanding without simultaneously negating those limitations (as Rowan Williams would urge us to do), Christ slips out from under our grasp and says that, as Barnett-Cowan would imagine, we are wrong. We will only know when the end comes, which can come… any moment now.  


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