A resent developments in the Church of England have many of us, particularly laypeople, in a dense fog. We are on
a journey through time, confused by the sayings we have repeated and taken for granted all our lives: ‘One Church, one Faith, one Lord’, ‘That they all may be one’, ‘Through the night of doubt and sorrow Onward goes the pilgrim band’.
It would be interesting to see a great chart of all the major changes, not merely in the Church of England, but in the Church Universal, since its first foundation. It would look like a family tree, with constant new births, deaths and marriages.
We should see at what point, say, Methodism began, and how, and to what extent it has been reabsorbed into the parent stem, and learn about the Copts and Armenians and Shakers. We should run it past our own time to the Second Coming of Christ, when it seems that everything will have been sorted out, all Christians will be one as citizens of the Celestial City.
For us, today, it is difficult to see how. The story of Anglican attempts to draw closer to Rome over the years since Newman is not a happy one. It has been prejudiced on one side by our leaders’ convictions that if they individually flounce over to Rome and whistle, their flock will happily follow them over; on the other side, a similar conviction has provoked Rome to legalistic obstructionism, ruling out interchangeability and sharing of altars in order to retain their sense of superiority, and sticking to that in our own time, behind an apparently generous offer of an Ordinariate.
Once again, our leaders have jumped across the water and whistled, leaving behind the indignant flock whom they are supposed to be leading, and strengthening the determination of many of us to stay in the Church of England, under whatever leaders can be found to share our interests.