The Church is in a full-blown civil war over doctrine, as Dan Hitchens observed earlier this week in a carefully argued and fully evidenced article.
Coincidentally, the Church of England’s doctrinal civil war has taken a
new turn at the latest sitting of the General Synod, with heated
debates over same-sex relationships.
Michael Fabricant MP suggests in
the Telegraph that Anglicans should jettison their “conservative” wing.
In the same newspaper, the devout and passionate Andrea Minichiello Williams makes a convincing case for Christian tradition.
The Williams article makes one very important point: “The Church
can’t give its blessing to same-sex marriages when its sole source of
authority does not.” She is completely correct to pinpoint the question
of authority as crucial. If anyone is proposing change, one must ask by
what authority do they act?
When a change cannot be backed up by
Scripture (crucial for all Christians) and by Tradition and the
Magisterium (especially crucial for Catholics), then there can be no
presumption that change is right.
When Scripture, Tradition and
Magisterium are not merely not silent on the matter, but explicitly
forbid what is being proposed, then the matter is even more clear-cut.
This is not “fundamentalism”, a charge often levelled at people like
Andrea Minichiello Williams.
If the Scriptural foundation of the
Church’s teaching – any Church’s teaching – is removed – then it follows
logically that no teaching is to be regarded as absolute, and thus no
teaching is to be regarded as worthy of belief, for all teachings are
from now on, in theory at least, open to radical revision.
If we look at the sort of Church that Michael Fabricant is
envisioning, it is a Church without any foundation at all, except the
vagaries of public opinion. Contrary to what he thinks, such a Church
would simply fade away.
It would, for a moment, seem terribly up to
date, but that would last merely a few years. It would come to look
increasingly desperate as it struggled to keep up with every vagary of
public opinion, which is hardly coherent and ever fluctuating.
Catholics cannot be smug about this, for the same pressures that
afflict the Anglicans are now being brought to bear on us.
Those who are
proposing change need to be confronted with the question of authority
and challenged to show us where in Scripture, where in the Magisterium,
and where in the Tradition is there anything that can be used to justify
communion for those living in irregular unions.
They would have a hard
task to find any useful evidence for their position. Moreover, they have
advanced no argument of merit, as far as I can see, that suggests that
change in this matter is desirable or necessary.
Meanwhile, Catholics should look at the Church of England, for what
is happening there today represents our future too unless we are not
merely careful, but faithful to what we have received.
civil war began at the Lambeth Conference of 1930.
Ours is just beginning, and will, perhaps, run for many a year yet.